Held in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, anglers either qualified through regional tournaments or were invited to attend the crowning event held December 8-10. Competitors from 17 countries, including 11 North American World Championship Team members, fished for the chance to be crowned this year’s champion.
After three days of challenging windy conditions, Steve Lessard deservedly claimed the top prize, becoming the first two-time Hobie Fishing World Champion.
Richard Somerton representing Australia took home a hard fought second place, while Matthew Vann of the USA rounded out the podium with his third place finish.
All competitors fished for trout, flounder and redfish from identically rigged Hobie Mirage® Pro Angler 14’s, and outfitted with Lowrance® Electronics, Power-Pole® MICRO™ Anchors, Yak-Attack accessories, Ram Mounts and equipment including Daiwa, Lurefans, Hobie Polarized and AFTCO gear.
“The weather turned on us with high winds and dropping temperatures," says contestant Benton Parrott of Alabama. "The field of competitors was able to overcome and there were lots of big fish caught. The Hobie boats with reversible MirageDrive was a perfect choice handling the wind and currents with ease. Louisiana hospitality was the best you could ask for with friendly faces and amazing seafood served up nightly.”
Bassmaster Elite pro Michael Iaconelli – Ike to his legions of fans – surprised the 49 international competitors when he showed up at the welcome dinner to cheer them on. “Unlike the competitions that I’m involved in, kayak fishing takes more strategy because it is much different and more difficult pedaling to the fish than racing over in a motorized boat,” he says. Competitors got a double surprise when he returned to congratulate Steve on his win and participate in the camaraderie that is an integral part of the Hobie Worlds.
Located in the bayous of Southern Louisiana, 90 minutes from New Orleans, Lafourche Parish is the gateway to Cajun Country and the Gulf of Mexico, offering a distinctly Louisiana “bayou” way of life and memorable experience for both U.S. and international competitors. And then there is the fishing. According to Hobie’s Keeton Eoff, this could easily be the kayak fishing capital of the world.
“We are very proud that Hobie Fishing Worlds chose to host their international tournament in Leeville this year," says the Visitor Bureau's Timothy P. Bush. "One of our best assets is the world-class fishing, and Hobie anglers have been able to experience what makes our area so exceptional.”
Adds contestant Eric Harrison of Massachusetts: “Before coming to Louisiana, I’d never fished for any of the target species. I read a lot about them beforehand and put together a tackle box, but it didn’t work. The lures used here are much smaller than for similar sized fish in New England so I made a few visits to tackle stores. I also went out with guide Kalon Johnson. He’s very knowledgeable and showed me the techniques to go after redfish since I had never caught one before. I did catch my first black drum, a cool looking fish. It was an amazing event!”