Justin Patrick from Tennessee quietly had a great week at the 2022 Hobie Bass Open Series Tournament od Champions. The host of the Lines In ‘Yak Fishing Podcast (on Facebook and Youtube) may have flown under everyone’s radar, but when the checks and trophies were handed out Sunday evening, Patrick placed 3rd among an elite field of 50 culled from thousands of participants over the course of the season.
With daily scores of 91.50 inches, 87.25, and 95.25, Patrick totaled 274.50 for the 3-day event.
His was a hyphenated practice. “I actually drove down Saturday – Caddo is only about five-and-a-half hours from my house – fished Saturday and Sunday then went back home, worked Monday and Tuesday and then came back.
“All of practice was completely different than how it transpired in the tournament. I was fishing isolated cover during practice, duck blinds, isolated trees out in the main lake. Getting a lot of bites doing that kind of stuff on a jig.
“I was feeling pretty confident about that. In fact, I even found a couple of little sneaky bream beds with some fish on them as well. But Day 1 of the tournament, I went to my primary area and I quickly noticed that things were a lot different than they were in practice. I made an adjustment first thing in the morning on Friday (Day 1). I tied on a buzzbait. I hadn’t caught a single fish on topwater in practice. I’d tried throwing a plopper, the buzzbaits and whatnot, so anyway, they started biting the buzzbait really well. They were tucked in really tight to the bank where the salvinia edge line mixed in with the trees.
“Day 2, of course, the cold front blew through and I pretty much assumed they weren’t going to bite the buzzbait in my area. I threw it for a minute, didn’t get bit on it so I took that off and pulled out away from the trees and started throwing the lipless crankbait. Caught quite a few on it. Had to downsize to a quarter ounce just to keep it above the grass. The grass was really shallow, had about a foot-and-a-half to work with.
“Also punching the salvinia mats. Anywhere you could find lily pads mixed in with salvinia, they would be on it.
“And I picked up one or two on a spinnerbait.”
The weather that had packed bass under the mats on Day 2 began to loosen its grip. “On Day 3, it really pulled them out of all that. I caught quite a few on the lipless crankbait but I also tied on a swimbait and was able to pick up a few with it as well.
“The thing about it is, when I made a pass through in the morning, I caught one of my better fish on a little point. I ran the rest of my water and decided I needed to make another pass through there before I lose the morning bite.”
Patrick returned to his staring point and quickly caught a couple of fish. They were just the tip of the iceberg.
“There were 50 or 60 fish sitting on a spot the size of a dinner table, schooled up in there. One after another for about an hour.
“That’s when I picked up the 22-incher and the 19.”
The action cooled and Patrick rested the spot. “When I came back, I couldn’t get them going on the lipless anymore, but I slowed down with a 1/8oz. Texas rigged Zoom Z Craw and started picking them off again.
What was so special about Patrick’s awesome area? “It was a hard spot. You couldn’t find many hard spots out there, but it was a hard bottom with a few isolated grass patches on it.
“But the wind direction, I think, is what got them positioned there. The was blowing bait across that point and they were just stacked in there.”
Patrick also noted that his fish were coughing up smallish threadfin shad.
He fished the Texas side of the lake, but farther east than any other top finishers. “I was pretty much by myself all week.”
“I turned my electronics off for this tournament. It was all just feeling. As the tournament progressed, I was learning more about the area each day. On Sunday I could feel the bait coming through and there was one or two little spots where I would tick grass. Once I slowed down with that tungsten weight I could feel the hard bottom. It was a pretty specific cast I had to make.”
While he turned off his electronics in order to be stealthier, Patrick said he relied on a different technology to fish places where bass seldom see a lure. “On Friday I was up in the trees with that 360 Drive just maneuvering around those trees , making real tight pitches and casts. I started thinking to myself ‘man, this is one of the reasons I love fishing out of a kayak. There is no way you could get up in here and do this out of a bass boat’. That’s not a bass boat versus kayak comment, it’s just a reality. You can really get into some of those little tight places. It doesn’t have to be some creek 20 miles off the main lake, just little spots inaccessible to a bigger boat.”
When the action was hot Patrick didn’t stop to submit his fish to the leader board, he just snapped the photos to be selected from later after the school quit biting. “When I got back to the ramp there were 10 minutes left to submit fish. I was like ‘man, you caught so many fish, just pull off to the side of the road and do another little quick search to see if you missed one’. Well, at that point, my smallest fish was an 18-incher. I looked and found one more 18 and a quarter. I submitted it. When we got up on a stage, (Tourney Director, AJ McWhorter) said the difference maker was a quarter inch, I was like ‘ok, here we go’!
“Things like that happen and you think it’s got to be for a reason.”
Lipless crankbait was a 1/4oz. Booyah One Knocker, stock hooks were replaced with #6 Kitana hooks. Rod was a Little Miami Outfitters Proteus 7’2” medium heavy. “It’s got a really nice parabolic tip to it, let’s the fish get the bait.” Line was 16lb Sunline FC Sniper on a Lew’s Tournament Pro 7:1 gear ratio.
Buzzbait was a Megabass Jamaica Boa model. Rod was a 7’0” medium heavy Little Miami Outfitters Proteus paired with Lew’s Custom Pro SP reel in a 7:1 gear ratio, spooled with 20lb FC Sniper.
Same rod, reel and line combo for the Texas rigged Zoom Z Craw on a 1/8oz. tungsten weight.
Patrick dishes more details about this and many other fishing experiences on his excellent podcast: Lines In ‘Yak Fishing on Facebook and Youtube.