Ewing Minor placed 5th in the Hobie Bass Open Series Tournament of Champions on Caddo Lake. He also finished runner-up in the BOS Angler of the Year race.
His daily numbers were 87.25, 86.25, and 96.25 for a tournament total of 269.75 inches.
“On Day 1 I showed up and caught a bunch of fish but no big ones. At the end of the day a big storm rolled in. There was lightning everywhere. I had basically given up. I had right around 80 inches.
“I started hauling tail to get away from the storm and by the time I got near the ramp the lightning had settled down so I decided to fish one last little stretch and I caught 2 solid fish that culled almost 7 inches for me right after that storm rolled in and got them fired back up.
“That saved, basically, my whole tournament. It gave me a shot to do something.
“Then on Day 2, after that big cold front hit, I showed up to where I had caught those 2 good ones at the end of the day and the water temp had dropped 12 degrees overnight. I fished that a little bit and said ‘I don’t feel good about this’. I moved on to my next spot which the previous day had been in the upper 60’s and really dirty but the wind had blown in some clear water and that water was extremely cold. At that moment I decided I needed to go find some deeper water with that water temp dropping.
“I figured they would be leaving shallow water and going toward wintering areas since that cold snap hit, and that’s where I ran into Brady (Storrs, TOC Runner Up).”
Storrs was quick to credit Minor with an assist on the final day of competition. And one good turn deserves another. On Day 2, Storrs gave Minor a tip about what would become the second most productive spot on Caddo Lake all week. It was a stretch just inside the mouth of a big creek. “I had looked in there in practice and thought it could be something good but didn’t catch any quality in there in practice, just small fish. I thought it could be something that when it gets, cold I could maybe come in here and get a couple of bites and fill out a limit.
“I ran into (Storrs) and I knew he was leading after Day 1, and I asked him what he was fishing and that I would make sure to stay off of it. He told me to fish wherever I wanted, that I had a shot making it to Hobie Worlds (A reward Minor would realize for his high finish in the AOY standings) and he didn’t want to mess that up. But I didn’t want to intrude on his water.
“A fish blew up right next to me. He said ‘you should probably fish right there’.
“At this point we were within 50 yards of each other. I made a cast and caught an 18, took a picture of it, caught a 17 which gave me a lot of confidence. Of course, I was thanking him profusely at this point.
“I had 86.25 and moved up 7 spots to 10th place that day. I was feeling totally confident I could catch fish with what I figured out that day. I went back and started there on the final day. In the first hour of the day, I had good action just throwing a lipless around a small grass flat on the edge of the river channel. They seemed to be pulled up onto that early in the morning.
“Once I put that 5th fish in the boat I figured that would cut me a check and get me to where I could settle down and focus on getting a few big bites. I went up in the river to a channel swing bank that I had caught some fish on the previous day. I tried targeting them with a jerkbait like I had the day before and I caught a couple of small ones, nothing much going on, but I noticed the fish would occasionally blow up along the bank. I had been fishing timber out away from the bank but I noticed they were pushing bait up against the bank so I threw several different baits with no luck. Eventually, I picked a small glide bait. It was about the size of the bait they were eating, and every single fish that blew up that I threw at ate my bait.
“I went up and down the same 100 yard stretch of bank for the rest of the day, catching fish on every single pass.
“I could see fish holding in that deeper timber, just off the bank, with my Livescope, but I couldn’t get them to fire in that. I think they were suspending out there in the timber and when bait ran along that channel swing, they would push them up against the bank and that’s when I was able to get my bait in front of them when they were active. If they weren’t chasing bait, it was really hard to get a bite.
“I caught, probably, 30 fish in the 16-to-18-inch range and had a blast out there throwing that glide bait.
“And I was able to get that one 22-inch fish that really helped send me toward the top of the leader board.”
The glide bait played a major role in Minor’s success. “The majority of my fish that final day came on a glide bait. The fish would come up and pin the baitfish against the cypress trees and I would throw my glide bait up wherever they would come up chasing bait. Almost every time I got bit it was, compared to what I was catching the other two days, big, quality fish.”
Minor stayed a step ahead of the weather and most of his competitors. “I was near that big grass flat that a lot of people in the Top 10 caught fish off of and I think with that cold weather those fish were leaving the grass and coming to that deeper water.”
When he speaks of deeper water, Minor notes that the channel bend he fished the final day had depths to 14 feet – a relative abys compared to what the rest of the field was fishing.
A young angler who has recently had great success fishing the collegiate ranks for Carson Newman University, Minor made some veteran adjustments throughout the TOC. “Every single day I caught them in a different way. On Day 1 I caught them on a Chatterbait and a speed worm. On Day 2 I caught them on a lipless crankbait and a jerkbait. And on Day 3 I caught them on a lipless crankbait and a glide bait.
“I only practiced for a day and a half, so I didn’t have a whole lot to base my fishing off of, but enough to where I felt like I had a good starting point. I think the key to my success was staying open minded, trying to stay with the fish rather than getting caught up in what the fish were doing the day before.
The glide bait that played so prominently for Minor was “about a 5-inch bait, shad profile. The fish were blowing 4-to-5inch shad out of the water. So, it’s a smaller glide bait than people think of when bass fishing. They think of your 7’s and 9’s and 6’s. But it’s something I was able to get them to react to. It was the perfect size and profile for them. I’d say about 80-percent of the fish I caught on that glide bait had the tail of a shad sticking out of their throat where they had just eaten one. They were definitely feeding up, super fat, full of shad. They had realized that it was suddenly becoming wither after all that mild weather leading up to the tournament.”
Minor said the Z-man Jackhammer anchored his efforts on Day 1, when he caught his 3 best fish on it. He finished his limit on the speed worm. On Day 2, he shifted gears and opted for a 1/4oz, gold/black back lipless crankbait. “I switched up from the Jackhammer to that lipless because there’s something about a lipless crankbait. They still eat it when that water temp is dropping. The Jackhammer, even though it’s not as loud as a lipless, it’s a much more aggressive presentation. I think they were getting a little wary of that. There were also a lot of people in the tournament throwing it so they were getting accustomed to that bait coming over their heads.
“On Day 2 the jerkbait played a huge role as well, just Livescoping along that timber.
“Day 3, that same quarter ounce lipless, gold/black back color, and that small glide bait.”
“I was using all Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon line. All of my fish came on either 15 or 17lb InvizX.”