Tag Archives: Heddon

Tournament Recap – KBF Bella Vista 2

Kayak anglers from several states descended on the seven small lakes nestled in the Ozarks around Bella Vista, Arkansas. The second KBF tournament in Bella Vista this year yielded more than 200 bass, but few giants.

Bluebird skies and fish in transition toward fall patterns didn’t make it easy on the field. Of the 41 anglers who entered, 35 (85%) carded a keeper while 24 (59%) turned in a limit. These results were expected as Bella Vista lakes are known for an abundance of 11-12″ bass. Big bass were harder to come by with only seven of the 202 (3.5%) being at least 18″ in length.

I was lucky enough to win the event with 73.5″ including a 20.50″ kicker. Travis Ueke took second place with 72″, Dorman Hughey placed a close third with 71.75″ and James Harding finished fourth with 69.25″.  The largest bass of the day went to Travis Ueke with a 21″ largemouth.

Lake Avalon. Photo by Marc F. Henning

The top ten finishers:

  1. Jason Kincy (AR)
  2. Travis Ueke (MO)
  3.  Dorman Hughey (MO)
  4.  James Harding (MO)
  5.  Jason Adams (AR)
  6.  Hans Bentz (MO)
  7.  Joshua Martin (KS)
  8.  Jason Cossey (AR)
  9.  Chris Jones (AR)
  10.  Chris Connolley (AR)
Angler Recap Roundtable

Some of the top finishers shared their experience in Bella Vista including what lake they went to and what worked for them:

Where did you go, what lakes did you fish?

Jason – I was actually driving to Loch Lomond, but about halfway there I turned around and headed to Lake Windsor, just felt that was where I needed to go.

Travis – We went to Lake Avalon. We were going to launch at Lake Windsor but there were a few people there unloading so we wanted to get out on the water and looked at the other place we wanted to fish and decided to go there.

James – I went to Lake Windsor.

What worked for you to catch fish?

Jason – As the norm, I started the day with some topwater and picked up a few on a Heddon Zara Spook. Mid-morning I switched over to a Texas rig YUM worm on steeper banks and caught a few more. Slowly as the day went on I was able to cull by .25″ at a time it seemed. Finally around 12:30 I caught my kicker with a YUM Dinger up shallow and that made all the difference.

Travis – No real major keys to finding them…it was early so I decided to throw a jig, which I typically throw about 90% of the time.  I got a bite on my third cast up along a brush pile. A couple of casts later I got another 12″ fish, so I worked it a little as well as throwing a top water which didn’t prove to work. I then went back to the jig and caught the 21″ fish in about 5 ft of water…so needless to say I worked docks with a jig most of the day. I tried a handful of other things however, but the jig worked for me.

James – Started with some topwater early but had no takers. Then I saw a bass up shallow feeding, so with that observation and the clear water conditions I picked up the spinning rod with light line and started skipping a wacky rigged Zoom finesse worm under any overhanging tree branches which provided shade. I would then slowly drag the worm back to the kayak. Bites were light. The two larger bass were in the very back of coves in a few inches of water.

Any particular fishing story related to the day?

Jason – Early on I mixed in some drop shot fishing with my topwater and twice lost decent fish when my knot tying my leader to my braid broke loose. This has never happened before and was very frustrating, so much so that I put the dropshot away for the day. Back to the drawing board with my knot!

Travis – Really no particular story, but it was a wonderful place to fish, truly a gem in Arkansas.

James – After figuring out there were some quality bass in the backs of coves, I paddled to the back of one.I skipped my worm towards a hollow laydown , a very large bass picked up the worm and headed into the hollow log only to escape out the backside throwing the bait.

Any observations about Bella Vista or the lakes in general?

Travis – My observation of the area is that it seems to be a great place to fish not only for boats and of course kayaks, but it seems like a great place to banks fish for the kids of the community!

James – Thanks to Bella Vista for opening the lakes up for the tournament. Several homeowners came down to ask about the kayak anglers on the lake, giving me the opportunity to educate them on kayak fishing. I hope to return to the beautiful community of Bella Vista again sometime.

More Tournaments in Bella Vista?

By all accounts after two KBF events this year in the Village, anglers really enjoyed the variety of lakes to choose from, the ample availability of pavilions and ramps and the high numbers of keeper bass. As a local, I was proud to welcome so many out of town visitors to these beautiful local waters. Hopefully KBF will be back in Bella Vista in 2018.


Recent articles: Bending Branches Pro Carbon; Booyah Flex II Review

 

Grinding – Hickory Creek Recap

The 2017 finale for Natural State Kayak Anglers was an exercise in patience and perseverance on a pleasant August day in the Ozarks. I love Beaver Lake, it is a beautiful body of water and we’re fortunate to have such a great reservoir this close to home. I also love it when we have kayak tournaments at Beaver, it really is great practice to tackle other large bodies of water such as Table Rock, Dardanelle and Kentucky Lake. The only problem is that Beaver can be at times…well…the Dead Sea.

As I wrote in the tournament preview, Beaver hasn’t been friendly to kayak tournaments in August and September – giving up only FIVE limits in a past event on this nationally known fishery. Surely this year would be different!

Nope. 

Of the 38 anglers who hit the water for a 5:45 start, only FIVE once again turned in a limit (15%). A solid number of anglers (30) did card a keeper, which isn’t a bad number overall. On a day when any keeper was a good keeper, Terry Brown swooped in from the KBA to take first place with 70.50″ while Carson McBride hit a buzzer beater (more on that later) to finish second with 70.25″ for the day, and I was lucky enough to finish third with 68.50″.  Decland McDonald ruined the dink-fest by catching a 20″ largemouth for Big Bass, and John Evans had second Big Bass with 19.25″.

Here are the top ten finishers:

  1. Terry Brown
  2. Carson McBride
  3. Jason Kincy
  4. Dwain Batey
  5. Roy Roberts
  6. Declan McDonald
  7. Jason Thomas
  8. Rance Richardson
  9. Cole Sikes
  10. Wayne Johnson

Congrats to all anglers for sticking with the grind and working all day long. Also congratulations to Dwain Batey who took NSKA Angler of the Year honors – he had a great season!

Angler Tournament Recaps

Below are some summaries of how the top finishers found their fish:

Terry Brown – I launched at the start from the ramp in Hickory Creek recreation area and paddled 2.5 miles to the pin shown in the map below first thing Saturday morning. I started out working topwater but had no luck, so after an hour of trying various other things I picked up the T-Rig Zoom Ole monster (Junebug) and pitched at wood cover along the bank, caught my first one in 2 or 3 casts, and another one on the same point a couple mins later, the pattern held up all morning, had a limit pretty quick, caught a few more and culled up my bag and just fished my way back to the ramp with only a couple of misses and two lost fish on the way. Simplicity wins the day.

The winning spot was a 2.5 mile paddle from the launch ramp. Putting in the work can yield results.
The winning spot was a 2.5 mile paddle from the launch ramp. Putting in the work can yield results.

Carson McBride – I put in at the ramp close to the swimming area in Hickory Creed park. I know that area very well and knew of a shallow hump that goes way out that is covered in brush. I got to my spot early and waited for the start time. I was hearing lots of fish bust everywhere around me. I tried to get on a topwater bite and a squarebill but it wasn’t working. I knew fish were moving and active, so I picked up my swim jig and fished up shallow and quickly picked up a 13.75 and not long after my kicker 18.75, then caught another 13.00 and 10.00 and 10.25. I tried to cull all day long but it wasn’t working. I had the lead all day long and was under pressure just trying to catch one. At 2:59 I caught a 14.50 incher which gave me a 4.50 inch cull and put me up to second place at the last minute.

Jason Kincy – I also launched at one of the Hickory Creek rec area ramps and had identified an area with buck brush that was just off a creek channel and started out there. Like everyone else I started out with topwater and didn’t do very well for the first couple of hours. It seemed to me that the fish just weren’t shallow so I paid attention to activity off-shore and if there were shad flipping the surface within range I attacked it with a Heddon Zara Spook with a Fish Allure scented tab to try and draw up some bass. This method caught me three of my keepers, including my two largest. This ended about 9:30 and then I went back to working areas around bushes and docks and picked up a few more on a Pop-R and on small texas rigged worms. Once the sun came out around 10:30, I had a hard time catching anything else. Was happy on the day to finish third, but lost three fish that I believe could have put me in first place.

NSKA River Valley

South of the tunnel 10 anglers competed at Clear Creek and had definitively better results than their NWA counterparts:

  1. Chris Nemeth 86.50″
  2. Shane Oakes 86.25″
  3. Christa Hibbs 77.50″

Big Bass was a tie between Shane Oakes and Chris Nemeth for 19″. Congrats to all of these anglers, as well as the NSKA River Valley Angler of the Year – Christa Hibbs!

Final Thoughts

I really want to thank Jeff Malott for being the tournament director for NSKA, this is a lot of work and adds a lot of fun for the participants. Although Beaver Lake can be a tough venue, I hope we can continue to have tournaments out there. Also, after a year heavy with road runners and online tournaments, it was a really great experience to launch from the same area. My first year fishing, almost all events were like this and it is great. These are always the best tournaments from a competitive standpoint, but also for the camaraderie of being around others. I met a couple of new faces on the water and chatted with them about the day and now have connected on Facebook. I was also about 50 yards from Carson when he caught his buzzer beater and was whooping and hollering. Relationships and being around other anglers is a great part of the sport, next year I hope we have more events where we’re all in the same vicinity.

The Arkansas State Championship is next up at Dardanelle in October! Time to get your Arkansas River on.

 

Lake Wilson Fishing

Was doing some Lake Wilson fishing at the local Thursday night yakpot and caught this 5.5 lb largemouth bass on a Rebel Pop-R to win Big Bass for the evening. I was fishing back in the flat where the creeks run in and was throwing a Heddon Zara Spook when this giant blew up on it but missed. Grabbed the Pop-R and threw it in there letting it sit with a couple of small twitches and then it was pulled under.

Lake Wilson Fishing - 5.5 lb largemouth while kayak fishing.
Lake Wilson Fishing – 5.5 lb largemouth while kayak fishing.

My full gear setup on the Zara Spook rod included 12 lb P-Line Floroclear, Owner Stinger Trebles, Dobyns crankbait rod and Fish Allure scented tab. For the Pop-R I had 10 lb P-Line Floroclear, Owner Stinger Trebles, Dobyns crankbait rod and my awesome Shimano Citica baitcast reel. Like always, I had my MTI life jacket on board and on my body – wear a life jacket!

Was tough that night with Lake Wilson Fishing, but this big bite made it worth the trip.

Fish Allure Tab Placement – Walking Baits

I’m a big proponent of throwing topwater lures, particularly walking baits in spring. One of the reasons I like a walking bait this time of year is that if you can work it correctly, it will stay in the strike zone for an irritatingly long time.

For hard baits, particularly topwaters, using Fish Allure scented tabs can help improve your chances of a bite. I’ve written previously about these water activated adhesive scents designed for hard baits.

It’s easy to determine where to add your Fish Allure tab to a walking bait such as a Heddon Zara Spook.  Because the tab is activated by water, I want it to stay in the water as much as possible, so I’ll place the tab on the belly, just in front of the first hook on a two treble Spook or between the first and second hook on a three treble Spook.

Below is Fish Allure pro staff member Fred “Boom Boom” Roumbanis talking about using scented tabs to catch more bass. Check out Fish Allure on Tackle Warehouse and order some today.

RTT Kickoff Classic Tournament Recap

This past weekend I competed in my first tournament of the season. The 2017 Razoryak Tournament Trail Kickoff Classic brought together the top kayak anglers from around the state of Arkansas for a three day online event open to fishing any public waters. This a brief recap of my 8th place finish out of 56 anglers.

First of all, congratulations to the top finishers:

  1. Dwain Batey – NSKA
  2. Rob Barnica – NSKA
  3. Terry Brown – KBA
  4. Scott Acord – KBA
  5. Justin Brewer – NSKA

The tournament was a bit disappointing to me because I felt like I had really dialed in Lake Swepco in Gentry, Arkansas, in recent weeks, catching a lot of quality fish. After a week of record high temperatures, a windy cold front moved in and turned everything upside down and I just couldn’t adjust well enough to be a top competitor. I also made some mistakes that cost me early on a couple of big fish.

Friday – Day 1

I hit Swepco on a day of very high winds and temps in the 40s steadily dropping into the 30s later in the day. Even with this, I stuck with my plan to start out with some topwater (Heddon Zara Spook) on this power plant lake and although it generated some bites, I lost the first six fish that I hooked, including a couple of large ones. It wasn’t the hooks, clearly something was off with my hookset and technique which was resulting in the bass pulling off. After this setback I was pretty dejected but remembering my pre-tournament plan I transitioned to a Norman Mad N crankbait and picked up a good sized and a mid-range keeper fairly quickly.  Later on l I hooked into an absolute monster (using a YUM Dinger) which I fought for what seemed like forever…until I pulled up a 4-5 lb catfish and I literally went on a verbal anti-catfish rant. Not wanting to give up, I stuck with this YUM Dinger approach and picked up a couple of keepers to add to my total but still only had one good sized bass. Now was the time of day where I was ready to go to my bread and butter approach with a Norman Deep N crankbait, which yielded me a 17″+ and 18″+ to round out my limit for the day, finishing with 77.25″ for day one where I was feeling pretty good in the standings until my buddy Dwain Batey submitted 90″+ that evening! For a great recap of his eventual tournament win, go give this a read. This pushed me down to 3rd for day one, which was good but I was frustrated about missed opportunities that day.

Saturday – Day Two

The cold front had really set in and temps were below or at freezing until late morning so I didn’t hit the water until around noon. As expected, nothing that worked for me on Friday was working today and I really scrambled to try and increase my limit total, trying all sorts of techniques. A pretty neat (but bittersweet) experience was sitting on the water within just a few feet of Rob Barnica as he was pulling in big fish after big fish. He was on fire with those bass and kept pulling in one after another…I believe I saw him catch four between 17″ and 21.5″ in about an hour. Although I was in the same place and throwing a very similar bait, they didn’t like my technique and didn’t bite for me. A big mistake I made on this day was spotting a big bass on a deep bed that was hard to get to, but I didn’t stay there and try to get it to bite. After putting in a bit of time on it I moved on not wanting to waste my day, in retrospect I should have stayed as long as it took since that one fish would have made my Saturday successful in upping my total. As it is, I only added a few inches and finished with 84″ on the day, culling with a couple of mid-size keepers that I caught on topwater again. (People say I’m addicted to topwater baits…)  At the end of day two I’d dropped to 5th place.

Sunday was the third day of the event, but after seeing the leaderboard after day two I could see that a win was no longer possible I decided to sit it out and spend some time at home. When the tournament ended I had fallen to 8th and finished in the top 10 which is a minimum goal for every event I enter.

A couple of equipment/setup keys I’d mention that I believe really helped in this event:

  • Was able to really give my new Shimano Citica 7:2:1 reel a workout as my main topwater and crankbait reel. It was smooth as silk and was really impressed with it.
  • As usual I used Fish Allure scented tabs on my hard baits which helped give me a good confidence boost, particularly on topwater baits.
  • Two of my keepers in my best five came on a crankbait I had never used before, but had ordered a Norman Mad N for this event to match some baitfish I’d been seeing shallow while prefishing – this definitely paid off.

All in all it was a good warm-up for the year which got me back into tournament mode and also let try out some new equipment and some new rod/reel setups under pressure.

Spotlight: Yak4It Tournament of Champions, Heddon Video, Fishing with Kids, Lurenet.com

This recent spotlight features one of the most exclusive kayak bass fishing tournaments in the country, a product feature, tips for fishing with kids and one of my favorite tackle sources:

The Yak4It Tournament of Champions at Lake Fork, Texas, is coming up in November and I’m excited to have qualified again this year to compete. This tournament is by invitation only and qualifiers are selected from tournament circuits or events around the country yak4it-toc-300x257based on how the anglers have performed in those events. This is the second year in a row I will be competing representing Arkansas along with other qualifiers from the state. The tournament is held at famous Lake Fork and Lake Fork Marina and Motel serves as the epicenter of the event. Last year was my first time on the lake, am hoping for a better finish this year.

As the tournament season begins to close, I want to thank brands who have shown the support for me this year on the tournament trail: Bending Branches, Dobyns Rods, YUM, Booyah, Rebel, Norman, Smithwick, Arbogast, Cotton Cordell, Bandit, Bomber, Heddon, Fish Allure and Stormr.

Heddon is an old school fishing brand that I love to throw because I simply catch fish with these lures. Here is a nice video from Heddon showing off some pond fishin’ with a Pop’n Image.

Kayak Fishing Blog is my favorite website for reading about kayak fishing topics and once again they have a great article, this one on 15 Tips for Kayaking with Kids. Taking kids out on the water is a great way to create a legacy and grow the sport. Make it a great trip by using the tips in their handy infographic.

If your local big box store doesn’t carry some of the plastics or lure variations you need, check out Lurenet.com for baits. This site carries only certain product lines (including some big ones like YUM and Booyah) but has the deepest selection from within their offerings. For example, I like to use the YUM 10″ Ribbontail worm in Black/Blue flake, but this is a hard one to find. Lurenet.com has it and a lot more.

Applying Scented Tabs to Hard Baits

Many bass fishermen use scent on their baits when looking for an edge in creating a bite. When using a crankbait, topwater or otherfa1 lure there is a way to add scent to help trigger strikes – applying Fish Allure tabs.

Fish Allure tabs come in various sizes to fit different types of lures.
Fish Allure tabs come in various sizes to fit different types of lures.

Unlike spray-on or gel scents, Fish Allure scented tabs can be applied to hard baits and will not immediately wash off once in the water. When water hits the tab it activates the amino acids. This puts out a scent designed to help convince the bass they are chasing live prey. The tabs last for up to 60 minutes in the water, so you can be confident it is working.

Using Fish Allure Tabs
This Bandit 100 is ready to catch fish with the tab placed right behind the front treble hook.
This Bandit 100 is ready to catch fish with the tab placed right behind the front treble hook.

I utilize Fish Allure tabs the most on topwater lures like a Heddon Zara Spook or on a squarebill crankbait like the Bandit 100. When applying the tab I try to place it where the bait will stay in contact with the water but the tab is protected from the harshest action of the lure. After 60 minutes, simply peel off the tab and replace, or, if finished with the lure before time is up you can dry off the tab and use it again on the next trip.

On a Zara Spook I will place the tab just in front of the front treble hook.
On a Zara Spook I will place the tab just in front of the front treble hook.

For tournaments or other outings where I’m tying on early or the night before. You can go ahead and add the scented tab in advance – unlike other oils, gels or sprays. Fish Allure comes in various scents. I generally prefer to use the Shad scent on most baits. If you are looking for an edge in your fishing and something different than what others are using, try Fish Allure.

Boost your confidence when fishing for Largemouth Bass, Spotted Bass or Smallmouth Bass.  Improve your success with hard baits by using Fish Allure tabs.

 

Kayak Fishing Tournament Packing List

What gear do you need for a successful run in a kayak fishing tournament or kayak bass tournament series? The dog days of summer are about over and it is almost time for fall tournaments and year end championships to take place. Whether a first time tournament angler or a seasoned pro, you have to make sure you have what you Kayak fishing tournamentneed before a day on tournament waters.

I have competed in different types of tournaments and tournament trails – including single day events, year long trails, weeknight yakpots and online kayak fishing tourneys.

Kayak Fishing Tournament Checklist
  1. Hawg Trough and camera – The cornerstone of kayak bass fishing tournaments is that you measure the length of your fish instead of the weight. This Catch Photo Release (CPR) approach requires you to have an approved measuring device like a Hawg Trough on board along with a way to take photos such as a camera or phone. Be sure to understand what is allowed in the tournament rules for submitting pictures and choose the one that works best for you. Tip…practice, practice, practice taking and submitting your photos!
  2. Tackle appropriate for the waters – When hitting the lake or river for a fishing tournament in a kayak, space is at a premium. Think about the water condition. Is it clear or stained? Rising or falling? Temperature? Spending some time here can make sure you have the right baits on your yak throughout the day. Some of my go-to baits on board include Heddon Zara Spooks, Booyah jigs and spinnerbaits, YUM plastics and Norman crankbaits. For an extra boost take a look at Fish Allure scented tabs for hard baits.
  3. Safety gear – Make sure your kayak is lit, has visibility flag, whistle and that you are wearing a PFD.  Here are articles by Paddling.net and NRS about safety gear. Tip…if it is a roadrunner style event or a big body of water, make sure someone else knows where you generally are in case you don’t make it back to weigh-in.
  4. Miscellaneous items – Some other items I always take into a tournament include a watch or clock I can see to monitor time, extra reel and line, snack and drinks, net, sunscreen and foul weather gear from Stormr.
Make Your Own List

Every kayak fishing tournament angler is different and likely has additional tips, but this list hits on some of the main items I’d advise someone to consider having on board as they launch in the next tournament.

Thanks for reading, follow Kayak Fishing Focus on Facebook.

Fishing ‘Walk the Dog’ Baits from a Kayak (VIDEO)

Fishing with a topwater bait from a kayak may require a different technique than from a bass boat. Check out this video for a quick tip on working a ‘walk the dog’ style bait like a Heddon Zara Spook.

Bass fishing with a topwater lure is some of the most fun you can have as a kayak angler. Lures like a walking bait, jerkbaits and flukes must be worked with the rod tip parallel to the water. This can be a bit difficult at first, but with a little practice you can tune in your presentation to catch some big bass.

Gear used in my kayak fishing setup shown in the video include: Native kayak, Bending Branches Angler Pro paddle, Dobyns rod, Ardent Grand reel, and Heddon Zara Spook.

 

Heddon and Booyah Baits Pay Off

The same baits paid big dividends in two tourneys in two different locations this past weekend. Over two days I competed in two road-runner kayak bass fishing tournaments on the Razoryak Tournament Trail.

Western Kayak Anglers held their tournament on Saturday and I took my kayak to Charleston Lake in Charleston, Arkansas. Hoping for an early topwater bite was the right move on this small, shallow lake. Within 45 minutes I had three keepers on my Heddon Super Spook Jr. (Foxy Shad) with a Fish Allure scented tab. Later in the morning I hooked into a giant who broke me off with a hard dive right at the yak, taking my spook with them. I was able to add a fourth keeper later in the day with a YUM Dinger (Cajun Neon) around buckbrush, but fell short of the five I needed that day. Still finished 11th in this event on this tough post-front bite day.

Sunday was a different day and a better bite when 74 kayak anglers in NW Arkansas hit the road for Arkansas Kayak Anglers. I went to Beaver Lake to try and capitalize on a really good 2016 bite. Early on, the spook was working again, netting me threIMG_2937 (1)e keepers on a Super Spook Jr. (Florida Bass) with a Fish Allure scented tab. I’d been experimenting with the relatively new Booyah Bankroll Jig and it did good work that morning. I pulled a nice keeper off of a log and moments later hooked a big one in some brush – which got away thanks to getting wrapped up on the wood. The Bankroll jig is great because of its versatility; I can swim it, flip it or drag it. Thanks to these baits I was able to cull twice and put together a decent limit. There were 30 limits caught on this day but I was able to finish in the top 10 out of 74 for the event and am in 3rd in the overall points race.

Great equipment is key in fishing kayak tournaments, maybe even more than in boat tournaments because you cover much less water. Every bite is critical! Some people ask about my boat setup, so here it is: Native Propel 10 kayak, Bending Branches Angler Pro Paddle, Humminbird Helix 5, and white Hawg Trough.