Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Kindy Notches Bassmaster Open Victory at Lake Ouachita

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Jeremiah Kindy has bass fished on Lake Ouachita since he could walk. In fact, he caught his first jig bass as a toddler around a set of islands 2 miles from Brady Mountain Recreation Area fishing with his dad and brother.

This week, he claimed the most impactful victory of his life by winning the St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Lake Ouachita presented by SEVIIN with a three-day total of 52 pounds, 3 ounces, earning the top prize of $44,295.

It was the Benton, Ark., native's first Bassmaster Open appearance since the 2002 Central Open, which was also held at Ouachita.

“This is definitely the most important tournament I’ve ever won,” Kindy said. “It means the world. Just being able to compete and have so many family and friends here. Even if I wouldn’t have won, it would have been awesome. But to get this win is freaking amazing. For three days, I was the best angler on this lake. That’s pretty important.”

With bags of 19-7, 16-5 and 16-7, Kindy outlasted fellow Arkansan Matt Baker, who finished second with 46-13 and third-place Andy Newcomb who finished with 45-12. Although he isn’t currently signed up for the next two Opens in Division II, Kindy plans on fishing both of them, which will make him eligible for the 2025 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic presented by Jockey Outdoors, scheduled for March 21-23 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Since he began fishing tournaments as a teenager, Kindy has earned a reputation from fellow anglers as one of the best anglers on Lake Ouachita. With nearly 200 of the best anglers in the country coming to his home lake, many of whom planned on LiveScoping out deep, he knew he would have to do it his way if he wanted a shot at the win.

“The only way I thought I could win this tournament was to fish to my strengths, and that’s what I did,” he said. “I knew I couldn’t compete with the guys out in the middle of the lake. It set up right. The way we had them two warm days, some females moved up and I got fortunate enough to catch enough of them.”

Kindy’s success revolved around early prespawn staging areas on the main lake where big bass have historically pulled up first. The majority of his bites came up the lake in dirtier water on isolated stretches of bank.

“I ended up catching more than half of my fish up the lake,” Kindy said. “It was just key spots that I know they pull up on first. The places I caught them on, I will catch them in those same places in a month. It lasts a lot longer than people think.”

When the wind kicked up, Kindy moved down lake to clearer water and fished around hydrilla beds. The deep edge of the grass was located in 25 feet of water, but Kindy said the majority of the bass were between the bank and 14 feet of water. Mixed in with the grass were some black rocks, and the bass seemed to hover close to that warmth.

Kindy rotated through three different baits — a Norman Deep Little N crankbait in a chili bowl pattern, a 3/4-ounce Toledo gold-colored Booyah One Knocker and a 3/4-ounce Duo Realis lipless crankbait.

Temperatures rose to 65 degrees on Day 1 and Kindy opened the tournament by catching just under 20 pounds to land in fourth. While warm still, clouds and wind spread over the lake Day 2 and Kindy struggled most of the day, but rallied in the afternoon to take over the lead heading into Championship Saturday.

Air temperatures dropped close to freezing the final morning, which caused some misfortune for Kindy to start the day.

“I picked up my rod with my last Booyah XR75 and I guess my hand quit working. That rod went in the lake,” he explained. “I had my other Trap tied on, so I guess the Lord was telling me to throw that one. That is what I kept in my hands all day today, that Duo Realis one.”

From there, Kindy warmed up and was able to fill his limit by mid-morning around his grass related bass.

“Today was my favorite kind of day, windy and sunny,” he said. “You don’t get a better recipe.”

“It was all main-lake related,” Kindy continued. “I figured out something late yesterday that really helped me out. We had them two warm days and I had been catching them out over the grass. Well, with the cold front, a lot of the big ones stayed up shallow on the rocks.”

After hitting some key stuff early in the morning up the lake and not getting a bite, he returned later in the day and was able to catch three bass in a row to make a couple of key culls. He ended the day close to check-in and sealed the deal with a 3 1/2-pounder.

Entering the day in second place, Baker added 12-3 to his bags of 17-11 and 16-15 the first two days to claim second place.

“I definitely wasn’t fishing this one for second place, but I’m thankful and thankful for (Kindy),” Baker said. “He deserves it. He has 20 more years of knowledge on this place than I do. I’m thankful to be able to stand up on stage with him. That was special.”

The Glenwood, Ark., angler did a little bit of everything this week. Up the lake, he got bites throwing a War Eagle football jig and a spinnerbait. Baker also mixed in a Damiki rig and a jerkbait for bass he saw suspended on cover in the dirty water.

In clear water, he fished hydrilla beds and caught several kicker fish the first two days around that grass. A Booyah One Knocker and Hard Knocker were his best baits around the grass.

While he could see the bass on his forward-facing sonar, Baker struggled early on Day 3.

“They would come out of the structure to look at my jerkbait and it was like they were in slow motion today,” Baker said. “They were not fired up at all. I finally got one giant to eat it and I had him for a few seconds and broke him off. It was one of the right ones.”

After that, he moved into an area where the wind was blowing, began throwing his Booyah One Knocker and proceeded to fill his limit.

“This type of weather is reaction-bite weather,” he explained. “You have to be burning something. I knew it was a Trap day and I picked up the 1/2-ounce Booyah One Knocker. I weighed in my three best fish on it.”

After landing 18-0 and 14-10 the first two days, Newcomb caught four bass weighing 16-7 on the final day. He anchored his Day 3 bag with a 6-3 largemouth he caught with less than an hour left to go.

“Today was terrible,” Newcomb said. “I knew the cold was going to hurt what I was doing, but I didn’t know it was going to hurt it that bad. The bank I started on, I got a number of bites and got three of them to actually commit. I missed the majority of them. From there, it was done. I tried to force that shallow thing.”

The Camdenton, Mo., pro threw a Z-Man Evergreen JackHammer and a wacky-rigged Bait Cave Customs Slim Stick around shallow cover most of the week. The banks he targeted were “the ugliest” he could find. He said they tended to be flatter banks with isolated pieces of wood.

New York pro Zach Goutremout earned $750 for catching the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Tournament, a 10-14 lunker largemouth he landed Day 2 using a Damiki rig. Canadian pro Evan Kung earned $500 in Garmin rewards.

By notching his second-straight Top 10 finish, Georgia’s Paul Marks leads the Tackle Warehouse Elite Qualifier points race with 390 points. Minnesota’s Easton Fothergill is second with 384 points, followed by Newcomb in third with 380, Kung in fourth with 376 and Missouri’s Joe Wieberg in fifth with 371. Alabama’s Tucker Smith (367), Georgia’s Emil Wagner (366), California’s Ish Monroe (360) and Texas’ Dakota Ebare (358) round out the Top 9 in points.

The tournament was hosted by Visit Hot Springs.

2024 Bassmaster Opens Series Title Sponsor: St. Croix

2024 Bassmaster Opens Series Presenting Sponsor: SEVIIN

2024 Bassmaster Opens Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2024 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
2024 Bassmaster Opens Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Daiwa, Garmin, Lew's, Lowrance, Marathon, Triton Boats, VMC

About B.A.S.S.
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 (, 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 presented by SEVIIN, Mercury B.A.S.S. Nation Qualifier Series presented by Lowrance, Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Strike King Bassmaster High School Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship, Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series scored by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic presented by Jockey Outdoors.