Team America is headed to the Netherlands (Europe!) for the Fourth Annual Hobie Fishing World Championship. They will take on the best the globe can offer on the waters of Vinkeveen Plassen not far from cosmopolitan Amsterdam October 5-11, chasing pike, zander (walleye) and perch. Kayak Fish caught up with the members of Team America in the days leading up to the big event.
Tom Michael, Inaugural Hobie Bass Open Champ
KF: You earned your spot by winning the inaugural Hobie Bass Open. That's legit! You really wanted to earn a return ticket, didn't you?
Michael: You know it! After having such an awesome time in Australia with teammates and fishing for the third annual Hobie Fishing World Championship, I wanted more. Once I heard it was going to be a freshwater bass event on beautiful Kentucky Lake to qualify I started planning to attend right away. It was a real treat to fish Kentucky Lake as we only have a few big, deep lakes in New Jersey and I always wondered how I would do on a major lake.
Also big thanks to Marshall County Kentucky Tourism for sending me!
KF: Do you think it will help that most of this year's team earned their spots by winning qualifying tournaments?
Michael: Each year there has been an awesome group of quality fishermen attending. This year hopefully will show that fisherman from anywhere in the country can put their skills up against other anglers for the opportunity to fish such a great event.
KF: Last year you were in the hunt, ultimately finishing 9th. What did you learn from the experience? If you get out to another strong start, will you do anything differently in the hopes of sustaining your success?
Michael: Last year with having little practice time on the water, I had to go with my gut feeling where to fish and it paid off. I had hope the weather forecast they predicted was not going to materialize as I was running over an hour up river to fish. It did not. With winds predicted over 30mph in afternoon they wisely cut the finish time by two hours. I simply ran out of quality time in my spot. I learned to get some protected spots in your bag but it is hard to do with limited practice. So I think I’ll stick to my gut feeling.
KF: You’re going from Australia to Europe. Other than colder weather and water, what are you expecting?
Michael: I’m expecting to just have a good time again and let the chips fall where they will. It takes away the pressure and you can really enjoy yourself. One thing for sure is I like fishing in cooler weather. It feels just like fall season in northeast, my favorite time of year.
KF: You're a bass guy. Do you know much about catching pike, zander and perch?
Michael: I like to think of myself as a fish guy, I’ll go wherever there is water, salt, fresh, lakes, rat-ponds of New Jersey. I have been studying up on all three species and good friends having been helping with tips and lures.
KF: Now that you’ve gone through a crash course on learning an unfamiliar fishery once, will it be easier this time? If so, what will you tell your teammates to help them prepare?
Michael: I hope it is easier as last year I did not catch a bream in practice and decided to fish my strengths. That would be my advice plus just take it all in and enjoy yourself as tournaments sometime can consume you.
KF: In 2013 homestanding Aussies went 1-2-3. What will it take for a visiting angler to get onto the podium?
Michael: Home field advantage is always going to be tough. Being prepared, having a game plan and some confidence [can turn the tables]. I’m sure we will have a visiting champion one year, maybe just maybe this year. If I come back World Champ it would be one hell of a birthday present.
This is Michael’s second consecutive appearance at the Hobie Fishing Worlds. He is an avid member of the South Jersey Kayak Bass Fishing Club, and fishes for Hobie, Finatics, Power Team Lures, AFTCO, Power-Pole, and many more.
Hobie's worldy anglers will compete in identically rigged Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12's outfitted with Lowrance electronics, Ram Mounting Systems and Power-Pole micro-anchors. Live weigh-ins will take place on each of the three days of competition with anglers weighing three fish per day. Follow the action on the web at Hobiefishingworlds.com.