- Kentucky Lake, Kentucky
- Home of Big Bass
The third time was the charm for Jay Wallen of Lexington, Kentucky. After finishing third the past two years, Wallen has battled through to take the Hobie Bass Open win. This was year four of the tournament that took place on Kentucky Lake in Marshall County, Kentucky, June 10-11, 2017.
“I’m so happy I pulled it off so I can go to the Hobie Worlds 7,” commented Jay. “That’s what this whole thing is about. I just couldn’t be happier.”
Wallen went into the final day of the two-day “CPR” (Catch-Photograph-Release) kayak fishing tournament with a very small, one-inch lead. A crowd of anglers was chasing close behind and he felt the pressure. Changing up from day one, he hunted his fish on a ledge farther north, closer to the dam where he’d finished the first day on a furious flurry. However, on the final day the bite proved to be a grinder. He averaged one fish every two hours, but they were good ones.
Wallen’s three-fish daily limit was anchored by a 20-inch largemouth that he said he probably should not have caught. The jig pulled right at the boat, but he got the net under the fish before it hit the water.
“That’s when I knew I had a chance. I didn’t think I had it won, but I had a chance,” he said.
Wallen fished clean, converting all his bites and it proved essential. With just 30 minutes of fishing time left, he culled an 18-incher, giving him a daily total of 56.75 inches. It was just enough. His two-day total of 115.5 inches narrowly beat his closest challenger.
“The biggest thing about this tournament is you compete against your peers and some of the best kayak anglers out there,” Wallen went on to say. “That’s what makes it special. You do this in front of all your peers and a lot of them are happy for you. We’re all for the most part, friends.”
The win earned Wallen a check for $4,000, but it was the trip to the Hobie Fishing World Championship 7 that has him most excited. The World’s destination is expected to be announced in July. Wallen is ready, wherever it winds up. “You could put it on the moon for all I care! I’m ready to go, to represent team USA,” he said.
Joshua Stewart of Waverly, Tennessee nearly matched Wallen inch-for-inch, but ultimately finished second with a total of 114.25 inches. He fished a jig in shallow water in the New Johnsonville area of Kentucky Lake. Stewart earned $2,500 and an invitation to the Hobie Fishing Worlds 7. “This is the biggest one, the most meaningful finish of my kayak fishing career,” he said.
Drew Russell of Louisville, Kentucky, rounded out the top three. He earned $1,700. “I was shooting for a top ten finish, so I’m thrilled with third. I’ll be back. We’ll get it next year,” he said of just missing the Hobie Worlds. Russell fished worms and jigs on ledges and points.
The Hobie Bass Open paid out to 12th place. There is always a 100% pay out of angler entry fees in this competition. 115 anglers fished the adult division.
The youth division was won by Jaxton Orr, who compiled an impressive two-day total of 102.25 inches. He was followed by Will Stumbo (95.5 inches) and Cole Kleffman (83.75 inches)
Kentucky Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau and Hobie Worldwide sponsored the 1st place winner to attend the Hobie Worlds. Additional sponsors included lodging host Kentucky Lake Dam Village State Resort Park, the host city of Calvert, Hobie Polarized, Lowrance, YakAttack, Bassin’ Magazine, RAM Mounts, St. Croix, Daiwa, Power-Pole, Mustad and Gerber.
This year there are two new US and Canadian qualifying events for Hobie Fishing World Championship 7: the Shasta Bass Kayak Classic and the 2nd Annual IKE Foundation Celebrity Pro Am Tournament Kayak Division hosted by Hobie’s own Mike “Ike” Iaconelli. Ike’s event will be special. It will be a star-studded occasion contested on the non-tidal sections of the Delaware River and includes dinner on the illustrious battleship, USS New Jersey.
The full Hobie Fishing Worlds “7” North American qualifying event schedule is as follows:
1) The Shasta Bass Kayak Classic, March 25-26 – 1 qualifying spot
2) The Jamaica Bay Kayak Fishing Classic, May 18-21 – 1 qualifying spot
3) The Hobie Bass Open, June 9-11 – 2 qualifying spots
4) The Border City Classic, June 24-25 – 2 qualifying spots
5) The 2nd Annual IKE Foundation Celebrity Pro Am Tournament Kayak Division, July 7-8 – 1 qualifying spot
Since 1950, Hobie has been in the business of shaping a unique lifestyle based around fun, water, and innovative quality products. From their worldwide headquarters in Oceanside, California, Hobie Cat Company manufactures, distributes, and markets an impressive collection of eco-sensitive watercraft, with subsidiaries; Hobie Cat Australasia, in Huskisson, NSW, Australia and Hobie Cat Europe, in Toulon, France and independent distributors; Hobie Kayak Europe and Hobie Cat Brasil. These products include an ever-expanding line of recreation and racing sailboats, pedal-driven and paddle sit-on-top recreation and fishing kayaks, inflatable kayaks, fishing boats, surfboards, stand-up paddleboards and the new Hobie Mirage Eclipse™ Standup pedalboards, plus a complementary array of parts and accessories. www.hobiecat.com
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