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In 2014, New Jersey’s Tom Michael headed south to Kentucky Lake for the inaugural Hobie Bass Open and won it all -including a ticket to the Hobie Fishing World Championship.

In 2015 local angler Tyson Peterson pushed Tom off the top rung, but Tom proved his mettle when he surged out of his day one 15-spot to seize second place. As the fourth annual ‘HBO’ approaches, we asked Tom the secrets to his success.

Have confidence in what you’re fishing. In 2015 it was almost 11 when I found another school of fish on the second day. Keep your energy level high and believe in what you’re doing.

Go wire to wire, from the beginning to the end. When I was about to give up last year, that’s when I made my run.

Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for boats and play it safe at all times.
Make a plan and stick to it. Fish to your strengths. Find the fish. Know bass behavior. If you think like a bass, you’ll find them. Don’t fall into the trap of chasing reports.

Get your rest at night. It’s a huge lake. It can tire you out for two days.
Most of all, have fun, make friends and enjoy yourself. Sometimes this form of fishing gets guys too wound up. If you enjoy what you’re doing, sometimes the rewards come. If you feel good you fish good.

Take on Tom and the rest of the field on June 10-11, following the captain’s meeting the day prior at tournament host site Kentucky Dam Village on Kentucky Lake. The format is 3-fish per day Catch Photo Release.

Fish whatever ‘yak, canoe or SUP you like. One hundred percent of entry fees will be paid out with a ratio of one place for every 10 entrants. Even better, the top two anglers will qualify to fish under the bright lights of the next Hobie Fishing World Championship.

Bonus winning tip: Don't let the glitter boats bother you. There are plenty of bass to go around on trophy factory Kentucky Lake. Photo by Christina Weber.