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2017 Arkansas Kayak Fishing State Championship – Preview

Lake Dardanelle will once again be invaded this year by the top kayak anglers in Arkansas as they compete for the 2017 Arkansas Kayak Fishing Championship on October 14 and 15. This will be the second time around for the State Championship on Dardanelle and should be a good one.

One of the interesting things about this venue is the ability for anglers to choose from a wide variety of water to fish, stretching from the Hwy 109 bridge near Clarksville all the way to the Illinois Bayou spillway at Russellville. There is a definitive advantage that should be had by those in the KBA circuit in central Arkansas, these are home waters for many of them. I’m still very unfamiliar with most of Dardanelle and hope to check out some new spots prior to tournament day. What I find interesting is the consistent response I get every time I ask someone about Dardanelle – basically they say something like “Hard to figure them out, different every day.”

This map marks the boundary lines for the 2017 Arkansas Kayak Fishing State Championship
Past History on Dardanelle

Equipped with all of these options of where to fish, anglers experienced pretty good results compared to the average local club events. Of the 66 registered anglers, 79% (56) carded a keeper, while 29% (19) turned in a limit. It took a very solid 83.75″ by Jason Cossey to win last year, with three anglers breaking the 80″ mark. Terry Brown caught the biggest of the day with a 21.25″ largemouth (which I’m guessing was on a worm).

I’ve heard from many how difficult October can be on Dardanelle with fish in transition to fall patterns, so it will be interesting to see how this year compares.

2017 Championship Details
As qualifiers descend on the Dardanelle area, here is some info to help you get the most out of the event:
  • Pre-fishing is CLOSED and will open up on Friday, October 13, don’t fish on Wednesday or Thursday!
  • Garett VanWie and Jeff Mallot are the tournament directors in case you need help or have a question.
  • Captains meeting is Friday night at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday morning at 5:30 a.m. – you need to attend ONE of these.
  • There will be a Big Bass side pot for those interested in the fatties, it is an additional $10 due in cash at the meetings.
  • Natural State Custom Furniture is once again making some awesome trophies which are sponsored by Ozark Kayak.
  • YUM baits is awarding a bonus $500 gift card to 1st place, $150 gift card to second, and a $100 gift card to third place.
  • H24 is sponsoring the tournament HQ site, and Village Adventures is sponsoring the TourneyX leaderboard.

Another big change is going from a one day to a two day event. Tournament director Jeff Malott explained, “The “fish in” has been on Saturday in years past, however, with low participation we decided to change the main event to a two day cumulative format. Staying on fish for two straight days will help determine a deserving State Champion.”

This burning boat on Lake Dardanelle means nothing in regard to the event, but who doesn’t like a good action photo? Source: Rivervalleyleader.com

Championship Advice

The previous two Arkansas State Championships have been won by Jason Cossey, will it be three in a row? Jason was willing to answer a few questions in advance of the 2017 event:

What is the secret in preparing for a State Championship event?

Cossey –The secret to preparing for a championship is cleaning your gear and making sure you get the tackle side of things squared away. I always start with new fresh line, sharp hooks and check all your eyes on your rods for wear and tear. You need to have an open mind and confidence in yourself, and your gear that will take you through the day. Diet is another biggie, plan on getting snacks and drinks with electrolytes to keep you pushing through the day! I usually drink a bottle of Pedialite before and after each event.

This year is a two day event instead of a one day tournament, how would/should this change an angler’s approach? 

Cossey – This year with the tournament being two days I think managing your fish is important, not relying on day one fish to carry you over to day two. Instead of beating up the fish in one area, catch a decent limit on what you know then go hunt new spots for the next day or find a big fish out off shore that way if needed you can revisit spot one on morning two. Just because there are 15″ fish on a stretch doesn’t mean you should catch every one on day one.
What advice do you have for first time participants?
Cossey – My suggestion is simple. Soak up info given to you from reliable sources. But avoid chatter, look for your strong suit and go with that. Don’t change styles or baits you have confidence in because you heard that Joe snatched a 21″ out of a certain creek on Tuesday on something you never throw…you will be sad at the end of the day. And calm down, I will get in my boat, say a prayer and relax a minute before I start fishing. It’s easy to get all jacked up, but you gotta look at it the same as if you are fun fishing on a Wednesday.
Good Luck and Have Fun
Qualifiers who haven’t signed up should do so on TourneyX and get ready for the weekend. Hopefully we’ll have some time to fellowship and tell fish stories before and after being on the water this weekend.

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

 

Carolina Rig Summer Bass Fishing Setup

When the weather heats up for summer it is time to break out the Carolina Rig to catch bass. Finding the bass can be difficult in the summer and getting them to bite can be even more challenging. One thing I really like about Carolina Rig summer bass fishing is how versatile it can be – allowing me to fish it quickly in areas to locate bass, but also can really slow it down to entice a bite.

Carolina Rig summer bass fishing with Reins tungsten sinker, Owner hook and YUM Ribbontail.
Carolina Rig summer bass fishing with Reins tungsten sinker, Owner hook and YUM Ribbontail.

For my Carolina Rig summer setup I use a fairly lightweight and downsized rig. For the weight I’ll use a 1/2 oz Reins tungsten slip sinker. Using a tungsten sinker allows you to really feel the bottom to detect cover, and the Reins slip sinker comes with an insert which reduces abrasion of your fishing line. For line, especially at night I like to use the extra strong P-Line CXX co-polymer line with t blacklight visibility.

Reins slip sinkers have an insert that protects your line while using the Carolina Rig.
Reins slip sinkers have an insert that protects your line while using the Carolina Rig.

For the hook, I use the super sharp Owner hooks, and the size will vary from 3/0 to 5/0 depending on what bait i’m adding to the Carolina Rig. Add in a swivel, beads and a mono leader and you are all set. Leader length also varies, but I’ll generally have a longer leader in daytime and a shorter leader at night. Type of rod can vary to taste, but overall I will use a Dobyns jig rod so it is stiff enough to cast the rig as far as possible.

Plastics for Carolina Rig Summer Bass Fishing

One of the great things about a Carolina Rig is how many options you have for plastic baits. Although I have some favorites, it can be good to have a few options available and cycle through them until you can determine what the bass will bite. Some of the YUM bait options I’ll use include a Ribbontail worm, YUM Dinger, Christie Craw or a Wooly Hawg Craw.

Good luck with your Carolina Rig summer bass fishing!

 

NSKA River Road Runner Recap

Predictions prior to this year’s river focused event said that there would be a lot of fish caught, and some big limits turned in. These predictions were mostly correct regarding the Natural State Kayak Angler’s River Road Runner from the weekend. Due to the heavy canoe and tube traffic on some area rivers in June this should be called the “Ya’ll catching anything?” event. For the most part, NSKA fishermen were able to say “Heck, yeah!”

None of the groups of floaters on the river that day looked like this.

In the tournament preview article, Jeff Malott and Sam Philip almost hit big bass on the nose, while Sam was ultimately the closest in predicting the winning length.

On a sunny, breezy, day in June, 26 of 38 (64%) anglers were credited with a limit. Although there were some big fish caught, there weren’t very many.  Only five fish 17″ or larger were caught, by a total of four anglers. Having a good kicker was key to placing near the top in this event.

I was lucky enough to finish 1st for this event with 81.5″, Dwain Batey 2nd with 78.75″ and Jonathan Brewer 3rd with a solid 76.25″ limit. Big Bass was won by John Evans with a 20.25″ largemouth, while I won runner-up Big Bass with a 20″ largemouth.

The Top 10 looked like this:

  1.  Jason Kincy
  2.  Dwain Batey
  3.  Jonathan Brewer
  4.  Jeriamy Vann
  5.  Faron Davidson
  6.  Tim Hotchkin
  7.  Jose Rodriguez
  8.  Roy Roberts
  9.  Josh Sherrill
  10.  John Evans

Angler Recaps

Jason – Not knowing hardly any rivers in the area at all, I went to the Elk River, the one with which I had at least some experience. Started out throwing my favorite baits (topwater) but only caught a few small ones. After switching to a squarebill I caught a 17″ off a log, and was catching some others off wood with a ned rig. One of these bass had a large craw claw (2.75 inches! Who knew they had crawdads that big in the Elk?) in its throat that had a blue/green color to it. This clued me in to what they were feeding on, so at this point I pulled out a YUM worm in blue laminate with a claw-like tail. From that point forward I spent most of the rest of the day dragging that worm slowly around logs and wood.

Another large crawfish claw shows from the throat of my 20″ bass.

My biggest fish, a 20″ largemouth bass came off some submerged brush and when I hooked it I was sure it was a gar or catfish or something because it just would not surface. Once I caught this fish a bit after noon, I knew it might be possible to contend. About 30 minutes before the end of regulation I hooked a 15.25″ to cull a 13″ and was hoping at that point that I had enough to place a top three. Four of my top five fish came from that worm imitating the craw claw, so I was very fortunate to spot that and have a great YUM bait to turn to. The rest of that rig setup was a 3/8 oz Reins slip sinker, Owner all-purpose worm hook, 12lb P-Line CXX Floro, Shimano Curado70 and Dobyns rod.

Dwain – Last year was my first year to fish kayak tournaments and the River Road Runner event last year was by far my worst finish, so this year I really wanted to make a better showing. I had intended to pre-fish some rivers in the year between these events, but never did. So I got on trusty Google Earth and tried to find an area within bounds that looked like it was deep enough to use my pedal drive and might hold larger fish. I settled on an area of the Illinois River in Oklahoma near Watts that looked like it would be a good fit.

I started off the morning throwing a buzz bait, and it paid off quickly with a limit of fish, including my best of the day a 17.75 inch largemouth. I milked the buzz bait bite most of the day, but shortly after catching my best Smallmouth bass of the day on it I discovered an area that I could catch fish on a crankbait. It was an area about 200 yards long that was around 4 or 5 feet deep from the shore out to about 10 feet from the bank, and then also had a flat where the water became shallow between two pools. I first found the fish in the shallow area, and then followed this area up the bank. I was cranking the Skirmish Baits MP7 (a small squarebill), and it was producing both Smallmouth and Spotted Bass. I caught about 10 fish on my first pass, and one of them was a nice Smallmouth that gave me a decent cull. A second pass produced more fish but no culls, so I switched to an M9 squarebill which is a larger profile, and caught a very nice Spotted Bass on the same run with the larger bait. That was my final cull of the day, and I was more than happy to get a 2nd place finish in a river event since 99% of my fishing is on lakes. The area I found happens to be really close to my house, and I’ll probably go back during the year and refine my knowledge of the area, and up my river fishing game.

Jonathan – I chose the Elk River to fish this event this year, and started off fishing a topwater bait.  Caught a limit within the first 30 minutes and two of those I was able to use for my best five. After that they were still busting the topwater but I think they were seeing it too well so I switched to my personal go-to bait on rivers and creeks (the Wiggle Wart). I was able to add three more decent fish to my limit on that bait.  Overall, I couldn’t tell you how many fish I caught – it was a blast.

River Valley – Lee Creek

On the same day as the NWA event, those in the River Valley had an NSKA river event on Lee Creek. I’ve fished there twice now, one time was good, one time was really bad. Looks like they had a tough day out there, with only four of 16 entrants turning in a limit. The winners were:

  1.  Toby Bogart 74. 75″ (Plus Big Bass at 18″)
  2.  Scott Accord 70.25″
  3.  Lloyd Mize 66″

Congrats to these kayak anglers!


Read recent articles: Lake Wilson Fishing, Reins Slip Sinker Review

 

YUM Thumpn’ Dinger Scores at Night

First round of night fishing for the year and hit a jackpot with this FAT 21.25″ largemouth. Caught in transition from deep water to spawning areas by hopping the YUM Thumpn’ Dinger along the bottom.  Gear setup: 3/0 Owner Worm Hook, 1/4 oz Reins tungsten weight, 15 lb P-Line CSX, Dobyns worm rod, Shimano Citica reel.

Bass are moving up for spawn, caught this tank just after dark on a YUM Thumpn' Dinger rigged Texas style.
Bass are moving up for spawn, caught this tank just after dark on a YUM Thumpn’ Dinger rigged Texas style.

Observations from the KBF National Championship

Kentucky Lake Largemouth Bass
Kentucky Lake Largemouth

Last week I competed in the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship on Kentucky Lake for the first time, which was also my first time on Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. During my days pre-fishing and during the tournament itself, I came to a few conclusions. (admittedly, some more obvious than others)

  1. These lakes are huge, particularly for a kayak angler. We knew going in this was the case and would need to do a lot of scouting. During pre-fishing I probably spent almost as much time in the Tacoma as I did on the water. This is a lesson learned for next year, narrow the scope of water and spend more time scouting fewer areas.
  2. There are a lot of parts of Kentucky and Tennessee that look like the good parts of Arkansas. And…a lot of parts of Kentucky and Tennessee that look like the bad parts. We appear to all be in this together.
  3. 362 kayak anglers is a big field, even on Kentucky Lake. Every angler there is a good fisherman, which meant they can also read a topo map. The result was that anglers weren’t as spread out as I had hoped, the good water in many cases was very crowded with kayaks pounding the fish for a week. Those that found good water away from the crowd were rewarded.
  4. Top baits for me on Kentucky Lake during the week were a Bomber Deep Flat A crankbait, Booyah Buzz 1/2 oz buzzbait, Rebel Teeny Foxy Shad Pop-R, ned rig, Goldens Paddletail on drop shot and YUM Thumpn’ Dinger texas rigged.
  5. Ledges. I’d heard a lot about ledges and ledge fishing.  I think this worked for a lot of folks, but I just really couldn’t get it to happen for me. Might be the wrong time of year, so may try it again my next trip over there. Still was fun to say I’d fished the famous ledges on Kentucky Lake.
  6. Mom and Pop’s Pizza in Big Sandy is AWESOME. Definitely what is needed after a long day on the water. Check them out next time you are near the south end of the lake. Protip – pay the extra $1 for cheese on the breadsticks.
  7. The captains meeting the first night was a good event and was important to hear the rules and such. The captain’s meeting the second night seemed completely unnecessary, particularly when they moved it back from 4:00 to 6:30 and people had to wait around for an extra couple of hours instead of getting rest and preparing gear for the next day.
  8. I’ve never encountered a bigger bunch of rude, obnoxious and aggressive boaters than I did on Kentucky Lake. I’m hearing this as well from many other KBF anglers. Stories of invading fishing space, attempts to swamp kayaks and dangerously close fly-bys were common. Come on man.
  9. I made a huge mistake this week and really did a lot of exploring to get to know the lake’ instead of my usual strategy of looking for a particular type of water. Although I do know the lake better by fishing in about 10 different areas, it kept me from learning the area I needed to as well as I should have. Lesson learned for next time.
  10. Day one, I roll up an hour early to my selected spot, 449 miles from home and after a week of looking around for the prime location to begin. What do I see? Fellow Natural State Kayak Anglers member Jeff Mallot sitting there in the exact place I’m headed. Small world. If only I’d gotten there two hours early…ha!
  11. Lake Barkley looks really really good. People had told me to go fish there and I tried it. Loved how it looked. I just couldn’t catch fish there. Maybe next time.
  12. If you lose your assault paddle out of your yak on the crest of the big bridge crossing the lake, it will be gone by the time you go back to get it.
  13. Crazy Chicken night (every Tuesday) is definitely worth the $9.43 at Paris Landing State Park Lodge.
  14. There is a lot of talk about how long it took to judge fish and get final results out. I agree that this was a bit frustrating, but really, if you aren’t in the top contenders, it doesn’t matter that much to get your rank after a day or two. I’m more concerned about talk I’m seeing from some about wanting to implement a cut day after day one, or raising the fish limit to 15″ to limit the number of fish to be scored. In my opinion, this is supposed to be a fun, rewarding event, and both of those changes could really reduce the fun of the overall event for most anglers. People like to catch and card fish, and people like to know they will be fishing two full days before they travel. These changes would depress attendance, I know I may not pay the entry fee and travel over there for only one day. For the ‘hardcore’ anglers asking for these changes, guess what? Fewer participants means less entry fees which means less prize money for you to win. Hopefully everyone will see the big picture that a huge event where everyone has fun is the best thing for the sport.
  15. Can’t wait for next year!

Swepco Lake NSKA Recap

Winter had one more blast of icy air to launch the Natural State Kayak Anglers into the 2017 season on Swepco Lake. With air temperatures at 29 degrees at take-off and water temps ranging from 68-75 degrees across the hot water lake, it was an interesting setup for the day.

As discussed in this previous article, historically Swepco Lake has not been friendly to recent kayak tournaments. This year was a different story as many fish were caught, including several big ones. Of the 61 anglers who entered, 85% turned in a score-able fish and 44% turned in a limit. Overall a great day of fishing on Swepco Lake, evidenced by 260 fish caught which included eight big fish at 20+ inches.

First place went to Rob Barnica with 89″ and second to Baron Meek with 88.5″ who both fished most of the day up around the discharge area near the power plant. I came in third place with 87.25″ while David Preston took fourth with 83.75″ and Ethan Dhuyvetter with 82.5″ was fifth.

Top 10 finishers:
  1. Rob Barnica
  2. Baron Meek
  3. Jason Kincy
  4. David Preston
  5. Ethan Dhuyvetter
  6. Roy Roberts
  7. Robert Murphy
  8. Justin Wright
  9. Rance Richardson
  10. Wayne Johnson

Rance Richardson won big bass with 21.25″. View complete NSKA – Swepco Lake Results here.

Rob, Baron and David did not provide a tournament recap, but here are mine and Ethan’s look back at the day.

Jason – A week or so out from the tournament I was feeling pretty solid on a game plan, but that was thrown out when the weather took a nasty turn that weekend. Knowing they had the generators running most of the night before it was clear that bass would be feeding early up toward the discharge but I decided to avoid the crowd and to try and find more unmolested water down on the dam end of the lake.

I wasted some time throwing a bit of topwater and tried a few other different things but did not really get settled in until mid-morning and figured out that a combination of some different YUM plastic baits (Thumpn’ Dinger and Kill Shot) on Owner hooks was the way to go. Most fish were in 12-8 feet of water and bit on a slow-moving presentation.  The bite was good until about 11:30 when the clouds began to break up and then once the sun fully emerged the bite shut off for me. As a last gasp effort to pick up a couple of inches I went up to the discharge area for the last hour but couldn’t cull a fish.

Ethan – I decided to fish this event because I thought it would be a great way to meet people and get out on a lake I’ve never been to. I was very hesitant because of the cruddy weather we had the day prior but opted to fish last minute. Having never fished a kayak tournament, I was a bit nervous that I would screw something up, but Jeff explained everything well so I had no issues.

When I got out, I figured an A Rig would work but after hearing the water temp, I quickly put that down and started tossing a jig. A football jig and a drop shot Roboworm accounted for all my fish. The fishing seemed to be best when there was cloud cover. I was catching my fish on transition banks in 5-10 ft of water, they all seemed to be pre-spawn to me which I found odd with the water temps as high as they were.

 

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.

Plastic Bait Organization for Kayak Fishing

Organizing soft plastics in the limited space provided on a fishing kayak can be a challenge. I tried a few different methods before settling on the one that works best for me.Organizing soft plastics for kayak fishing.

When bass fishing from a relatively small kayak with little
storage space I had to find a system that ensured I had the right plastic worm, creature bait, trailer or swimbait with me at the right time.

Lurenet.com Article on Organizing Soft Plastics

Lurenet.com recently wrote up an article about my system using temperature and technique to keep the right baits with me on the water in an easy to manage way:

Organization Means Everything

While fishing from a kayak offers many advantages over angling from a boat, copious storage space is not among them, which means a smart kayak angler has a well-thought plan before venturing onto the water.

 “Without some type of system, you’re always having to swap tackle and reorganize gear before every trip,” said Jason Kincy, YUM brand Organizing soft plastics with ziplock bags.ambassador and host of the Kayak Fishing Focus website. “Because there are so many types, sizes and styles, soft plastics can be a particular challenge.”

Kincy’s approach to organizing soft plastics is system that incorporates...READ MORE at Lurenet.com