Except for Kyle Patrick himself.
The pro from Cooperstown, N.Y., put together a stellar week of work that yielded a three-day total of 53 pounds, 11 ounces. Admittedly, Patrick did so on a lake where he never would have anticipated winning.
“It’s hard to take it in right now; it really is, because this is the last place I would think this would happen,” Patrick said. “People always say, when it’s your time, it’s your time. I genuinely could not do anything wrong this week.
“I had my prop go (on Day 2). I had a lower unit issue in practice. I had all these things stack up, but I just kept catching them.”
Patrick started strong by turning in a Day 1 limit of 19-15 and sharing the lead with JT Thompkins of Myrtle Beach, S.C. Adding a second-round limit of 15-6, Patrick slipped to second, just 1 ounce off the lead.
Championship Sunday saw Patrick step on the gas with a limit of 18-6 that secured the win by a margin of 3-4 over Japanese stick Daisuke Kita. Patrick won $44,134 and earned an automatic berth in the 2024 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota scheduled for March 22-24 on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees near Tulsa, Okla.
“It wasn’t like I was doing anything special, I was throwing a jig and a dropshot around brushpiles and docks,” Patrick said. “I guess I just found the right spots.”
Patrick said he caught a few keepers each day on a dropshot with a Missile Baits Magic Worm, but a 3/4-ounce football jig with a Missile Baits Chunky D trailer tempted all of his limit fish.
As he explained, flexibility and an open mind were essential to his final round success. Starting on a spot where he had caught fish the day before, Patrick nabbed two 4 1/2-pounders right off the bat. After that, he just went fishing.
“I did not fish any of the same water, other than that one hole,” Patrick said. “I had seen bait pushing into this area (earlier in the event), but the fish weren’t loaded in there. There were just two big ones on brushpiles.”
Patrick caught one more fish on that spot — a barely legal keeper — and decided to pull the plug.
“I pulled into another spot where I had gotten bit in practice, and it was very different from the docks I was fishing earlier in the week,” he said. “It was a flatter bank underneath the dock and then a pretty good drop right at the end of the dock. I ran that pattern the rest of the day and caught my fish.”
Hailing from Ostu Shiga, Japan, Kita kept himself near the top all week and finished second with 50-7. He placed seventh on Day 1 with an 18-pound limit, then added 13-10 to make the cut in 10th place. On Championship Sunday, Kita caught his biggest bag — 18-13.
Banking on big bites from fall bass looking to start their seasonal gluttony, Kita committed to a DRT Tiny Klash glidebait. Fishing this hefty bait around docks, Kita said he hit approximately 200 spots on Day 3.
“I couldn’t get bit more than once at each spot,” Kita said with translation assistance.
For much of the day, Kita held the bottom spot with one small keeper. An afternoon flurry would deliver a scorching run that saw him boat two 5-pounders within about five minutes.
“It was slow in the morning because of the cloudy skies,” he said. “But when the sun came out, the fish moved closer to the docks and I was able to catch them.”
John Garrett of Union City, Tenn., placed third with 47-12. His daily weights were 16-6, 15-6 and 16-0.
Coming off a fifth-place finish at last week’s Open on Watts Bar Reservoir, Garrett leveraged the momentum that he partially credits to his expanded family.
“My wife (Morgan) and I had a baby girl last month and my wife told me (my momentum) is because I have a new girl,” Garrett said. “I told her, if that’s the case, we’ll have one every year if I keep catching them.”
Garrett said he caught all of his fish on a dropshot with a Strike King Filler Worm and a Texas-rigged Strike King Rage Cut-R-Worm. He fished from 20 to 50 feet.
As part of the Yamaha Power Pay program, Garrett took home a $2,000 bonus.
Patrick won the $500 Garmin Tournament Rewards bonus.
Thompkins leads the Bassmaster Open Elite Qualifiers standings with 1,480 points. He is followed by Garrett (1,461), Trey McKinney of Carbondale, Ill., (1,417), Robert Gee of Knoxville, Tenn., (1,372) and Japanese pro Kenta Kimura (1,355). The top nine anglers in the Opens EQ standings will receive an invitation to compete in the Elite Series.
For complete EQ standings, visit Bassmaster.com.
The Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau hosted the tournament.
2023 Bassmaster Opens Series Title Sponsor: St. Croix
2023 Bassmaster Opens Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2023 Bassmaster Opens Series Premier Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Dakota Lithium, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Progressive Insurance, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2023 Bassmaster Opens Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Daiwa, Garmin, Lew’s, Marathon, Triton Boats, VMC
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting-edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Strike King Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship, Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series powered by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota.