It’s hard to sit here and put into words what an amazing week I just had. I knew that it was going to be an experience like none other… but it was beyond my expectations! I’ll start at the beginning.
My journey began on November 3rd when I left Toronto after the first snowfall of the year, and 2 degree (celsius) weather…
and arrived to 25 degree weather in Texas!!
It was my first time in Texas. I arrived at the airport and met up with Nate, the other Canadian competitor. We waited for our luggage and weren’t at the airport long before we were greeted by Morgan from Hobie, and we all headed back to the hotel. Our first night was spent at Hampton Inn in Bastrop. I met a few people that day and got settled in. It was so exciting knowing that 42 anglers from around the world were making their way into Texas for this event!! Other countries included; Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and USA.
The following evening we had our first gathering at Austin Canoe and Kayak, where we received our jerseys, got to meet each other and get more info on the event. It was starting to feel real by this time!!
There were 2 other women in the competition. Nina and Henna are anglers from Finland!
November 5th – Pre-fish day on Lake Bastrop. We met for breakfast, drove to the location and got to see our kayaks for the first time! We all fished out of identically rigged Pro Angler 12s and I LOVED mine! Each kayak had our name and country flag on both sides. It was really great while on the water, as it really helped with getting to know anglers names! The kayaks were also equipped with Lowrance fish finders.
We loaded our gear, launched our kayaks and floated/peddled around until all anglers were in the water. We gathered behind the starting line (the Hobie flags), stood for the national anthem and then were counted down for blast off!!
Hobie divided all the international competitors into groups and assigned US anglers as leaders to show us the ropes of bass fishing in Texas for the pre-fish day. I thought this was a really great idea! One of the most amazing things about this competition was that everyone helped everyone. Anytime I would run into another angler on the water, we would exchange information and even locations and cheer each other on. I thought that was pretty amazing!!
Justin was one of the leaders of our group! He was really helpful, thanks Justin!!
It was really tough deciding what gear to bring since I wanted to bring all of it! I had it down to 5 rods, and a few Plano boxes of the bass gear I am confident with back home. I found the bass fishing so much different in Texas! I started fishing shallow during the pre-fish but didn’t have any action at all. Justin mentioned that he was marking a lot of fish in deeper water so I began working to find active fish. I found a point and tried an X-Zone Slammer on a drop shot and that’s when I started landing fish. I caught all my fish on Slammers that day. This was a catch-photo-release tournament so we were each provided with a ruler and fish had to be a minimum of 14 inches.
I also did some pre-fishing with Jerome and Cedric from France! I worked on my french speaking skills a little bit, that was pretty cool! I caught a lot of fish but it was difficult finding fish over 14 inches! I did decent in a spot of 18 feet of water where I was marking a lot of fish that were active just off a point. I was happy that I at least had caught some fish during the pre-fish and looked forward to Day 1 of the tournament!
Go team Canada!!
After pre-fishing, it was time to move to Oak Thicket Park where we stayed for the rest of the week. We stayed in cabins there and it was a nice spot!!
Day 1 of the tournament – 7am blast off on Lake Bastrop!
I didn’t feel satisfied with the results from my pre-fish so I decided to try new water in search of bigger fish. I regret making this move because I caught a lot of fish under 14 inches and feel I should have gotten my limit first and then try to upgrade to bigger fish. It was tough on me because I didn’t find any fish to measure in. I talked to some other anglers that had the same result, and then talked to anglers that did well. The following day was a new lake, so I looked forward to a clean slate and different water. Next stop, Fayette County Reservoir!
Day 2 had a better start for me and brought my confidence back up!
I spoke with different anglers about what they used and how they did on the previous lake, so I tried some of those techniques and it paid off. Thanks to Morgan for giving me some hooks and Justin Dingwall for giving me some tips on how he caught fish on a senko, among other anglers that also shared advice. I rigged up some 5 inch Trigger X Flutter Worms in shad colour Texas-rigged weightless and fished super slow! I caught a lot of fish this way! Back at home I fish fast and move around a lot, so I really had to force myself to slow down. I casted up high to let a lot of line out, let it sink down, drag on bottom and then twitched it lightly. Within minutes I had a lot of hits, but they were short so I moved the worm up the line and then was able to land fish when the hook was better centred on the bait. I was fishing on the outside of timber where I marked a lot of fish, and it was in about 8-13 feet of water. The electronics were so helpful! I couldn’t find a 3rd fish over 14 inches, so I measured in 29.75 inches on day 2.
I tried a bit of timber fishing because it was there and too good to pass up! I threw a jig and no hits, and then a black flutter worm Texas rigged with a 3/8 ounce bullet weight. I pulled one small fish out of there, but it didn’t measure. It was time to head back to the launch.
The stage for the results ceremony
After coming off the water, we filled out forms and submitted our SD cards from our cameras, unpacked our gear and went back to our cabins to shower and get cleaned up. We met again later on for the results ceremony each evening and then had dinner under a huge pavilion. It was so much fun chatting with everyone about their day and learning so much about all different types of fishing around the world. Some of the competitors had never caught bass before! It was incredible to be surrounded by so many different anglers from different countries but we all understood kayaking and a passion for fishing. It was evident in any language!
Day 3 – We met around 6am to set up our gear and eat breakfast, and launch again at 7. I couldn’t believe it was day 3 already…..
Lots of room in these kayaks! The storage is remarkable!
Jose from the US!
Josh from Australia!
Benton from the US!
Getting ready for the national anthem. A special surprise on the last day… Jackie Smith sang! Jackie is a retired NFL player that had a huge impact on the creation of the Hobie Mirage fishing kayaks. It gave me goosebumps when he sang and it was a real honour to meet him.
It was the last day and I decided to try for bigger fish and throw crank baits and fish hard and cover a lot of water hoping that it would work. It paid off in a short amount of time as I landed this 19 incher on a chrome Rapala Rippin’ Rap! I was so happy I screamed and cheered and a few anglers peddled over to congratulate me and snap some pics! I was so happy and so were they – that was truly amazing. Thanks for the awesome pic Merv!!
I fished hard and covered a lot of water but found myself successful again just outside or around the timber in anywhere from 6-13 feet of water throwing the Rippin’ Rap. I had a 19 and 15.75 inch fish and needed one more to get my third. The wind really picked up on this day and I moved into a bay to try and avoid it. I couldn’t find any measurable fish there so decided to tough it out and head back out to where I fished in the morning. My heart still aches over what I am about to share with you…
With about 30 minutes left of the tournament, I hooked into the biggest largemouth I have ever laid eyes on. It was pulling drag and turned my kayak.. it surfaced once, dove back down and came up again…. then freed itself!! It would have been my third fish… an absolute tank and my personal best largemouth!! AHH! A couple of people saw my fish and came over to see if I was OK.. haha. I just have to get back to Texas someday!!
I want to congratulate Marty Mood as the new Hobie Fishing World Champion!!! Marty is such a nice guy, very humble and a great angler!! He helped me with my fish finder on the pre-fish day and that was key for me to catching all my fish. Thanks Marty, well deserved!!
THANK YOU to all the sponsors, and everyone that helped to make this event possible. I had the time of my life and made many new friends, great memories and hope for the chance to see you all again someday! It was really hard for me to say goodbye!!
I took so many photos, but there’s a few more I would like to include. Thanks to anyone that read through this whole blog!
One last thing…. the event was filmed!!!! I will keep you posted on when it will air on TV! 🙂
Thanks again to everyone that made the event such a huge success and a week I’ll never forget!!
Get to meet you and fish with you some.
Fantastic Ashley!!!!!! Looks like a great time. What an adventure. Great blog 🙂
Glad you had fun in TX! Bass are great at slipping loose! Tricky little stinkers! We love H&H spinnerbaits, if you get back to TX try one!
Thank you for Sharing Ashley, Your Gramma and I have been waiting for your blog and I will share it with her tomorrow. Too bad about the FISH THAT GOT AWAY that would of been a sweet fish to add to your catch of the day…We are looking forward to the news as to when we can see you on the TV show of this event …We Love you and Very proud of you. Love Aunt Kim
Congrats on a great trip and experience!
Sounds like a great experience 🙂
Very cool Ashley! And to think, to fishing 'bug' came back to you on little old Raccoon Lake. 🙂 Tara
Great blog Ashley! Glad to have had an opportunity to come out and meet you and the other competitors – even though I was just an overnight kayak guard :). I showed your site to the other marketing guys and we all agree if you ever want to guest blog with us, we'd love to have you! We get all kinds of people on there and always love sharing great kayak fishing tips/experiences from outside sources. Anyways, keep up the good work and tight lines.
Fantastic blog Ashley- very well written. I love your passion for the sport and this trip to Texas in particular. That passion really shines thru in your writing and photos.
Great work Ashley. Too bad about the big one that got away. I guess that's fishing.
Looks like you had a blast anyway with many great memories. Keep up the fantastic work.
Great write-up on the adventure. Very nice Blog!
Great job, Ashley! Sounds like an awesome experience!