Kristine Fischer took top honors at last year’s Hobie Bass Open Series Tournament of Champions on Lake Eufaula, Alabama with a 3-day total of 240.5 inches, or an average just over 80 inches per day.
The queen of kayak angling will defend her title on a cypress-studded Caddo Lake that sprawls across the border of Texas and Louisiana.
“Practice has been decent. I’d be willing to bet a total in the low 90 inches per day range, on average, wins it.”
The 2022 TOC will last 3 days and when it’s over, one angler will win $45,000. Total purse to the Top 10 anglers is $100,000.
The lake is full of big bass, but Fischer says the angler who wins it will have to swerve with the coming weather as a cold front will drop temperatures from a high in the mid-80’s during practice to an expected low of 34 degrees at Sunday morning’s final launch.
“The fish have been feeding hard with the full moon, and there’s been a strong south wind for weeks. The front moving in with a strong north wind will definitely be a factor to consider. I know some of my patterns will change.
“I think the angler that is able to adapt daily, if not hourly, will be the one that takes the title.”
Fresh off his sweep of all 3 divisions of the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship, Rus Snyders is preparing for a challenging week of changing conditions on Caddo Lake.
“Today was my 3rd day of practice. I’ve been mixing it up, hitting a lot of different kind of water from dirty to really clear. I’m catching a few in both. My biggest was 20 inches. Everybody seems to be catching a few, including some big ones, but a cold front is coming. That can turn them on sometimes.
“I don’t really know what to expect after the front moves through. I’ve been catching them on reaction baits and topwaters in practice but come tournament time I might have to slow down and drag a worm. No telling.
“It’s windy. It will be blowing from different directions so I’m trying to find multiple areas that will be protected on different days. I might even hit 2 different ramps the first day. Backwater areas will be more protected. That could be a factor.”
Snyders said he saw quite a few anglers in some areas while he had other spots all to himself. Those isolated places could prove important as the tournament progresses.
“I’m not sure if the shallows will hold up, especially the clear water. There are wolf packs of bass cruising those areas but in clear water they are more susceptible to fishing pressure. I’m trying to find a little of both, clear and dirty water. The dirty water fish, it seems like, you can catch one here and one there. Just pick them off throughout the day.”
Snyders noted the water level is about 2-to-3-feet below full pool. “I’ve been here 3 times before and this is the lowest I’ve seen it.”
He also noted that the water temp is about 70 degrees in most areas but that will change as the cold front moves through the region this weekend.
Bailey Eigbrett, winner of the BOS tournament on Lake Eufaula, Alabama this past April is bracing for a challenge. “Practice has been relatively tough, not too tough to get bites, but it’s hard to find consistency.
“The lake is most likely going to fish well on Friday with the pressure system moving through and dropping temps but Saturday and Sunday, I would think, will be much slower and make things very difficult for everyone.”
Eigbrett expects navigation could also become difficult for some, depending on where they fish. “Water is 2 or 3 feet low. The salvinia (floating hyacinth-type plants) can certainly make things interesting, as far as mobile. Some routes may need detours with the lower water levels.”
The salvinia is a story unto itself. There are massive rafts of it on the lake and it will move around with the wind, of which there is plenty this week. It can also loosen up some mats in the leeward areas. When the wind moves the floating plants, it can reposition the fish and make it harder for anglers to get around.
Eigbrett noted the water temps in the main lake were between 69 and 72 degrees “whereas some river areas are 67-to-68”.
Cody Milton, who just won his 3rd Kayak Bass Fishing Angler of the Year title, looks forward to competing on Caddo for the Hobie TOC. He saw the lake plenty at last year’s KBF National Championship. “And I won a tournament earlier this year on Caddo too. I think I’ve won 3 tournaments on Caddo the last 2 years.”
Speaking a couple of weeks ago, before the practice period began, Milton guessed that he wouldn’t be relying on his history with Caddo Lake this week. “I think some of the stuff that’s normally really good, it might kind of be the opposite this year. It’s a super strong grass year down there. The surface acreage has probably shrunk up to almost half of what it usually is. I think it’s going to be hard to get around. I’m definitely taking my paddle boat as well.”
“I’m interested to see what that looks like. I’ve seen it some in late November, but never in early November when we’re going to be there.
“That lake’s always pretty fantastic. It really is.”
The big fish have been biting on Caddo. At least 2 contestants have caught new personal best bass.
“I love catching big fish, but I hate catching them in practice. It’s still fun though, new PB. 8.91lbs,” wrote Matt Millard in his Facebook post on the Hobie BOS page.
Scroll down the same page to see Calvin Dee’s 10.9-pounder. “Smashed my pb today on Caddo. 10.9lbs. 24.5inches.”
Friday’s warm weather could turn out some more giant bass. After that, things will get interesting.