OCEANSIDE, Calif. (July 5, 2022) – Catching both a competitive field and a stellar bass population off guard, Justin Largen bet on bucketmouths rather than bronzebacks to rack-up an impressive win at the 2022 Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole® two-day catch, photograph and release (CPR) Lake Winnipesaukee event.
“This really turned out to be an epic show,” said tournament director, Cody Prather. “Eighty anglers came to sample the super bass action in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and they really had a great time. Day 1 witnessed 51 competitors break the 80-inch mark while 68 pulled full five-fish daily limits. Day 2 was nearly as good with 44 anglers topping 80 inches and 55 limiting out. That’s great bass fishing anywhere in the U.S.A. The field was highly competitive, too, and included world renown bass pro Mike Iaconelli, plus an assemblage of top-tier Hobie B.O.S regulars, as participants from as far away as Texas and Tennessee made the trip north.”
In the end, it was the 37-year-old Largen, of Roanoke, Virginia, who managed to close the deal with a two-day ten-fish total measuring 183 inches. Matthew Zapala, 32 of Albany, New York, built on a fourth-place Day 1 finish to climb into the second slot with 178.50 inches, while Justin Lacasse, 41 of Johnston, Rhode Island, finished third after leading the first day of the event. Bassin’ Big Bass honors for the tourney’s largest fish went to Jason Cassetty, of Beech Grove, Indiana, for a 21-inch lunker largemouth corralled in the final hours of the competition.
For their efforts, Largen, Zapala and Lacasse took home checks worth $5,000, $2,750 and $1,950, respectively, while Cassetty pocketed $500. Additionally, AFTCO Angler of the Year (AOY) points were awarded throughout the field. The top three finishers also punched tickets to the 2022 Hobie Tournament of Champions (TOC) on Caddo Lake, November 11-13, in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana. The TOC is a three-day 50-angler championship with a $100,000 payout guarantee and $45,000 first-place prize.
“This is my first Hobie B.O.S. win,” said Largen, who tipped his hat to the keen competition, noting that spots two through seven on the leader board all fell to the northern fleet. “I expected this to be a highly contested tournament,” he explained. “A lot of northern anglers come down to Virginia to compete and they always seem to do really well, so to win one up in New Hampshire certainly feels special. I knew a few things would have to go right for that to happen.”
Actually, Largen got off to a slightly bumpy start. He had found a few patches of worthwhile smallmouths during pre-tourney practice sessions before locating a stretch of bucketmouths holding under docks. “The smallies weren’t big enough to get me where I needed to be, so I decided I’d work that largemouth stretch on Day 1 and see if I could put together a decent limit before trying to grind out Day 2.”
The first bass Largen hooked was a “very solid” fish, but it cut the line on a boat prop. After that, however, things went smoothly as the Virginian, fishing from a Hobie Outback 12 with 180 Mirage Drive and Kick-Up Fins, used spinning gear to toss a Texas-rigged Missile 48 Goby Bite pattern worm with a 2/0-light wire hook. In short order he had a nice limit and continued working hard to cull his way to a second-place Day 1 finish with 90.25 inches of bass – all largemouths.
For Day 2, Largen headed to a back-up spot where he had found a few more largemouths during practice runs. “Those fish were in a highly trafficked area, so I was amazed nobody had found them,” he revealed. Switching to a Missile Quiver 4.5-inch spade-tail stick worm, he pulled four nice bass before heading back to his Day 1 docks and filling out his limit.
Zapala, meanwhile, limited out both days with the smallmouths. He had planned to look for some shallow topwater action with the bronzebacks but couldn’t get that bite to light up, so he changed course and headed offshore to work a drop shot in 30-foot depths.
“The finesse bite really was on fire,” recalled Zapala, “I was catching a ton of 17-inch fish but had a hard time going bigger. My largest bass was a solid 19-incher on Day 1. Still, the smallmouth fishing was amazing and I’m pretty happy with my finish considering the tough competition here and that I qualified for the Tournament of Champions. Justin’s winning performance was insane – that’s a heck of a largemouth bass limit for this lake.”
Lacasse was pleased with his performance as well. He led the field while tossing Ned rigs and Shakey Heads in less than two feet of water on Day 1 but found the smallies moving from shallow to deep on Day 2. That required a shift out to 25-foot depths to stay on the fish. “I’m not sure if it was two hot days in a row, or perhaps some heavy boat traffic that pushed those fish off the banks. Still, the action overall was absolutely first rate.”
Largen, Zapala and Lacasse each made it a point to thank the Lakes Region Tourism Board and the surrounding community for their tremendous support of this event, as did Prather. “This really turned out to be a great contest,” concluded the tourney director. “This was the northernmost stop on our 2022 tour, and Lake Winnipesaukee really showed out with impressive catches of largemouths and smallmouths on both days. At times, it seemed like the entire lake was producing with anglers catching tons of high-quality bass from the shallows to well offshore. The weather was amazingly warm and sunny, and the community and tourism board were gracious hosts. I don’t think things could have gone any better.”
Justen Largen would certainly agree.
Up next on the Hobie® B.O.S. Series Anchored By Power-Pole® schedule are the Susquehanna River event in Harrison, Pennsylvania, July 30-31, (sold out), and the Wolf and Fox Rivers event in Appleton, Wisconsin, for which registration is currently underway.