Brian Nelli put the competition in an absolute stranglehold this week a the Hobie Bass Open Series Tournament of Champions anchored by Power-Pole on Caddo Lake near Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana.

The full-time kayak fishing guide from South Florida is used to putting clients on exotic fish for his business, Pushin’ Waters Kayak Charters. The unseasonably frigid weather in North Louisiana affected fish and anglers alike, but Nelli found a spot that held up for 3 days and he caught them in a manner that may surprise some – topwaters.

With a final day effort of 101.50 inches Nelli ran his 3-day total to 294.50, nearly a 20-inch margin of victory.

Brian Nelli courtesy of Steve Fields/Hobie BOS

Nelli said the anticipation cost him some sleep last night. He knew all week he was onto something special. “You know it’s going to be good when the first 2 casts of Day 1, you get doubled-up on topwater.  It was a pretty ridiculous bite. I found it early on in practice. I really didn’t catch any fish there, I just kind of watched it.”

By ‘watched it’ Nelli means that fish were visibly schooling and he didn’t need to pressure the area by catching them.

“I had limits, the first day in 10 minutes, 20 minutes the next day and today it took a little longer. But the fish got bigger in the morning today. I culled one today.”

Four of Nelli’s fish today were over 20 inches, The ‘small’ one was 19.25.

Nelli caught his fish on, “The edge of grass, topwater early, switched it up with a worm. I hit the topwater spot early and then moved around the grass flat.”

He posted his best total today in part because he managed his spot wisely. “Day 2, I had to think ‘I’m sitting with 96 and don’t really know if I should fish any more’. So, I left that spot and I started catching 18’s, throwing them back and I was like ‘I just need to stop fishing’ in case I needed those for the next day.

“It was ridiculous. I don’t know what to say about it. It was awesome,” chuckled Nelli, holding his Happy Gilmore check for $45,000.

Given Nelli’s dominance since the 2nd day of the TOC, few were surprised when he was announced the 2022 Grand Champion. By contrast, the Angler of the Year race was much more suspenseful.

And your 2022 Hobie BOS AOY is . . . Cody Milton of Arkansas! Milton has proven himself to be the, arguably, the most consistent kayak angler on any tour. He also won the Kayak Bass Fishing AOY title last month, his 3rd on that trail.

For his Hobie BOS AOY he won $5,000 plus a stout prize package that includes a new Hobie 360, rigged with all the goodies from Lowrance, Power-Pole, and more as well as Tatula reels from Daiwa, and St Croix rods.

“This is really incredible. I didn’t think I had a chance going into today. I almost went to a different ramp because I thought I need to catch, like a super high 90’s stringer to catch up with these Minor brothers.

“It ended up all working out, like it did all year. I don’t know how many fish I’ve caught in the last hour that have absolutely changed a tournament, changed the whole year for me.”

Milton had two fourth-place finishes and a third for his 3 best events. He then placed 8th at the TOC to secure the AOY title.