Kayak Fishing Tips | Adam Rourke’s Top 5 Kayak Fishing Tips

As kayak anglers, we’re constantly hearing plenty of kayak fishing tips… but not all of them are in our best interest. A kayak fishing tip may work well for one angler and not for the next, keep that in mind as you read through my top 5 kayak fishing tips!

Kayak Fishing Tip #1: Fish What You Know

If you’ve been fishing for any amount of time, you know that there is no shortage of promotion and advertising for new baits constantly. With fishing growing in popularity, there is no shortage of options for new baits and techniques. This is great for anglers as we always have something new to try. As an angler, it’s essential to constantly be growing and advancing your skills. If you’re just out for a weekend fishing for fun, feel free to try new things but never lose sight of the techniques you’ve had success with.

If you’re someone who’s into tournament fishing, you’ll know that events rarely go the way you planned. I travel a lot during tournament season and often times I don’t get the chance to pre-fish before an event. With tools like Google Maps and ANGLR, we can give ourselves a bit of a sneak peek and anticipate what our plan will be but until we get there we can’t know anything for certain. During tournaments, I strongly recommend avoiding trying new baits or techniques as they can really contribute to the mind games we play with ourselves throughout the day. When fishing places you don’t know, stick to the baits you do and you’ll have much more success.

Kayak Fishing Tip #2: Surround Yourself With Supportive People

There are many local fishing clubs all over the country. One of the things I love about the kayak fishing community is how friendly and supportive people are. Get to know these people, share tips and tricks and you’ll only strengthen that community and group of people. Being involved with a great group of anglers has helped me improve so much. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t share anything that you do and keeps secrets, you’ll find yourself needing some support one day and it won’t be there.

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The community of kayak anglers is one of the things that separate this sport from the traditional bass boat communities.

Kayak Fishing Tip #3: Re-tie Your Knots

Throughout the course of a day spent fishing, it can be easy to get in the groove of catching fish cast after cast. With every cast, fish are fighting the strength of your line and also causing damage to it depending on how their hooked. While bass don’t have teeth, they do have lips that are extremely abrasive and scratch up the end of your line, especially around your knot. A good rule to practice, is to re-tie your knot after every 3 fish caught, more if possible. If you hook into a really large fish, take a second to re-tie, even if your knot still feels strong.

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There’s nothing worse than losing a big fish, so it’s good to do everything within our control to prevent that from happening.

Kayak Fishing Tip #4: Take Care of Your Gear

Now this is an obvious one, and one I need to work on the most. We spend a lot of money on nice gear and tackle and it’s crazy how little time we can spend maintaining. This tip ranges from your kayak or boat to your rods and reels. After each trip, it’s a good idea to take a look at your gear to see if there is any damage from the trip that you may not have noticed while you were out on the water. Doing this, can make sure your gear will last you a long time and is functioning properly.

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At least once a year, break your reels down, clean them and lube them up. You’ll be surprised how much this makes your days on the water easier.

Kayak Fishing Tip #5: Put in the Time

If you follow anglers on social media, it’ll seem like they’re just constantly catching giant fish. For some of them this is true but for others, this is a result of hours and hours spent on the water figuring fish out. Whenever I’m asked what people can do to improve, I always say, “Just get out there and spend time on the water.” If this sounds overly simple, it is. Anglers who have success fishing have spent hours and hours on the water, figuring out where the fish are and what they want. It may seem like some of this stuff comes easy to them but it may not have always been that way.

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We all know that person who’s always out fishing, try to be that guy.

Why Anglers Prefer Kayak Fishing in a Sit on Top Kayak

Featured Image Credit: Scott Beutjer Fishing

My first exposure to kayaks was as a young boy in Alaska as they educated us on the lifestyles of the Eskimo hunting for whales. These kayaks were typically constructed by creating a frame from whalebone or lightweight wood, then stretching the skin over this frame and sealing it with whale fat to keep it watertight. These were all custom and built to fit the owners, and were used to hunt and fish for food.  The finished product was what we know as a sit inside design; it was what was known. Fishing in a sit on top kayak wasn’t even considered yet!Sit on Top Kayak(3)

Inuit man and his kayak. Photo Credits: http://collectionscanada.gc.ca

The Beginning of the Sit On Top Kayak Movement

While the initial commercial introductions were geared to the whitewater crowd, this is no longer the case. New markets opened up and the manufacturers adjusted to become more competitive. This changing demand led to better designs for white water, sea kayaks, the occasional kayaker, weekend anglers and tournament anglers. Now, just about any style of kayak is available; sit in, sit on, hybrids.

While you will see a few anglers in sit in kayaks on the tournament trails, especially local events, hardcore tournament anglers will opt for the ‘sit on top’ styles. These sit on top styles are becoming increasingly advanced offering more deck space and storage. The primary reasons to consider a sit on versus a sit in would be the extra storage and accessibility to gear, measuring/photographing fish and comfort.  

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Photo Credits: Caney Fork Outdoors

The newer sit on top kayaks, designed primarily with the angler in mind, allow room for mounting accessories, rod storage and offers tackle storage space. On tournament days, you can find kayakers carrying as many as ten rods and several tackle bags in addition to the newest depth finders and GPS devices; these require rod holders and mounting locations to keep them all easily accessible. With sit in kayaks, there is a lot of room inside, but limited space on the surface. This lack of deck space makes your gear less accessible during a day on the water. You are basically sitting in the entrance to all of your storage locations, blocking access, instead of spreading your equipment across the deck.

The Benefits of a Sit On Top Kayak

I personally find the biggest issue with a sit in kayak is measuring and photographing fish. Once you have finally landed the catch of a lifetime, you want to get it on your measuring board, photographed and released as soon as possible. With a sit on top version, you have the ability to set your board up on one side of the kayak with the fish facing downward.  I also add a net to the side the fish is facing; if you have ever tried to measure a bass in a kayak, you have lost at least one to the same motion…it curls, raises its tail, then ejects itself over the side. I often see guys doing this in their lap (your choice), and with the sit in kayak, you are forced to do this across the opening or on the smaller deck in front of your body.  I have lost too many large fish on tournament days to not take all precautions possible.

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All fish seem to try and escape with the same motion from a measuring device!

Kayak fishing tournaments can be a few hours or all day. Some online events will even find anglers spending the day and most of the night paddling or pedaling across miles of water to find bass. I don’t know about everyone else, but I like to be comfortable. Sitting inside a kayak on a small pad with my legs extended in front of me for hours would leave me unable to get out at the end of the day. The new higher end sit on top kayaks come equipped with seats that are as comfortable as a recliner; adjustable bottom, back and lumbar support. Many can even be removed and used at a campsite to substitute for a lawn chair if needed.

Now, I will tell everyone that before you choose any kayak get out on the water in it. Don’t spend five minutes doing donuts off the end of the ramp or dock; pedal/paddle it for some distance, stand up, move around and think about what you are going to do in it. What will you take with you and where will you place it?  Are you going out for minutes, hours or even days on end?

Think very seriously about what fits you. Maybe you want to hunt seals or whales, maybe you are more of a whitewater enthusiast or just maybe tournaments are your future. Sit in it, on it and beside it; then make the choice.

Kayak Fishing PFD | The Best 3 Options for Kayak Fishing PFD’s

Featured Image Credit: Scott Beutjer Fishing

Like many things in kayak fishing, the best choice of a kayak fishing PFD (personal floatation device) is subjective and varies for each angler. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you wear one. Many anglers think that they’ll just swim to shore if they fall in, but you never know how you’ll handle a situation like this so be safe. Here are my thoughts on the best 3 options for a kayak fishing PFD.

Kayak Fishing PFD – Inflatable PFD’s

Inflatable PFD’s are controversial to some as they’re not always viewed as the most reliable. However, when fishing, anglers need as much room to move as possible. Often times when wearing an inflatable PFD, anglers can forget they’re even wearing it.

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I’ve found myself getting into my car to leave a ramp with mine on.

Depending on the model you choose, inflatable PFDs have a cylinder that fills up when it’s exposed to water. Once it fills to a certain point, the PFD automatically inflates to protect the person wearing it. If you’ve used one of these, you know that they are prone to go off unexpectedly during rainy days or in the case of being dropped on a wet surface. It’s a good practice to carry a replacement CO2 cartridge just in case you need to replace it while on the water. These replacements can be expensive over time and this PFD option tends to be more expensive than more traditional PFD styles. Other styles of inflatable PFDs require the angler to pull a cord to inflate the air bladder. This style tends to be less reliable as it relies on the angler to aware enough during an incident to remember to pull the cord.

Kayak Fishing PFD – NRS Chinook

A type III PFD is the official designation given by the US Coast Guard. A type III PFD is one of the most common types on the market, if you have a life jacket that’s intended for fishing, it’s most likely a type III. These PFDs are stuffed with foam and are extremely buoyant. As kayak fishing increases in popularity, more companies are making their PFDs with kayak anglers in mind.

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A great example of this is the NRS Chinook, probably one of the most popular choices for kayak anglers, this PFD is designed with a foam pad that sits high on the back to avoid pressing up against a seat. The Chinook also comes with multiple pockets and attachment points for accessories like the ANGLR Bullseye! This PFD is outfitted with multiple straps and zippers to ensure a custom fit for any angler.

Kayak Fishing PFD – Kokatat Leviathan

Like the Chinook, the Leviathan is a type III style PFD that uses foam to float an angler to the surface in the case of an emergency. This PFD is designed with the angler in mind and offers maximum range of motion for casts, paddling, and landing fish. Also, like the Chinook, this PFD has a high back to avoid interfering with a kayak seat, ensuring comfort while out fishing.

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This PFD has ample storage and accessory space for things like your cell phone or snips. A unique feature to this PFD is fleece lined pockets that keep your hands warm during those cold days out on the water.

No matter what kind of kayak fishing PFD you choose, be sure to wear one! This simple device will save your life in those scenarios we never want to happen or expect to happen! If you have a different PFD you prefer, let us know in the comment section below!

Kayak Fishing Accessories | The Top 5 Accessories You Need

Featured Image Credit: Scott Beutjer Fishing

Choosing your kayak fishing accessories is easily one of the most fun and interesting aspects of the sport. As companies continue to innovate and release new products, there are plenty of kayak fishing accessories on the market that make the life of an angler much easier. Here’s my top 5.

Kayak Fishing Accessories: Cal Coast Donkey Leash

If you’re a kayak angler who competes in tournaments, you’ll understand the importance of being able to manage your fish while you prepare yourself to photograph the catch. Previously, I used fish grips with some paracord attached to my kayak in order to keep my fish in the water.

Overall, fish grips are great, until you make the mistake that I did and grab them by the release handle. During the first hour of a tournament, while I was still waking up, I landed a decent-sized fish and prepared to photograph and measure. When I was ready, I reached down to retrieve the fish but without realizing it, I grabbed the release handle. In that moment, the fish and I made eye contact for about three seconds before it sped off. Now, this isn’t a knock on the product, this was my fault, but this is also when I decided to look for something more foolproof.

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During my search for a product that would protect me from myself, I discovered Cal Coast’s Donkey Leash. At first glance, the clip looks really small, especially compared to the fish grips. I did a quick search online to see how it worked and I was really impressed.

Unlike fish grips, the Donkey Leash is a plastic clip that goes inside of a fish’s lip and locks down. It doesn’t hurt the fish, it closes just enough so that the fish can’t get out of it. To secure the clip, it has plastic teeth that keep the clip closed. This is a huge advantage as it almost entirely eliminates the chance to accidentally release a catch. Ever since I purchased this product, I haven’t lost a fish. This product has completely reduced my anxiety about securing a fish off the side my kayak.

Kayak Fishing Accessories: Lowrance Hook2 7” Fishfinder

When I first started kayak fishing, I resisted having any electronics to keep my setup streamlined and simple. Since then, it’s become extremely easy to add a fishfinder to a kayak with minimal effort and modifications. Admittedly, I don’t know all of the ins and outs of fishfinders. So when I made a selection, I made sure to select a simple unit that was easy to use.

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I ended up with a Hook2 7” with the SplitShot transducer and maps.

This was my first time with anything from Lowrance but I haven’t regretted the decision for a second. The Hook series is really streamlined and user friendly. The model I selected has sonar, maps and down-imaging which is all I need. If you compete in tournaments, you know the value of being able to see what’s going on under the water. On those days where the fish don’t seem to be where you thought, a fishfinder can be your saving grace. The 7-inch screen is extremely clear, easy to read, and tells me everything I need to know about where I’m fishing. The basic features prevent me from overthinking while out on the water. If you’re looking for a reliable fishfinder, consider the Hook2 series.

Along with this great graph, I also use ANGLR’s fishing intelligence software on the water. Being able to track all of the data associated with my catches has changed the game for me! When paired with the ANGLR Bullseye, I gather all of that data with the click of a button. It’s something every kayak angler should look into!

Kayak Fishing Accessories: ForEverlast Generation 2 Net

If you’ve read my previous article on fishing nets, you already know how essential this accessory can be for ensuring you land a majority of your fish. As someone who isn’t the most coordinated, I need equipment that isn’t going to be easily lost should it venture over the side of my kayak.

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Knowing this, I discovered the Foreverlast Generation 2.

This net is really wide and covered in foam allowing it to float if it ends up in the water. The short handle is great for staying out of my way while casting or pedaling to the next spot.

Kayak Fishing Accessories: YakAttack Black Pak

The YakAttack Black Pak is something that I initially wasn’t interested in because of the price. At the time, I was using a basic milk crate to store my tackle and fishing rods. After a day of fishing in the rain, I discovered that all of my plano boxes were full of water. It was that day, that I decided to take the plunge and buy one.

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Right out of the box, it’s clear that this is no ordinary kayak crate.

It’s extremely sturdy and allows for all kinds of add-ons. It isn’t water tight but having a cover is a really effective way to keep all of your tackle stored and mostly dry. Occasionally, I use mine to mount a GoPro camera. It’s much easier to modify a plastic crate instead of modifying the hull of a kayak. While it’s not the most flashy accessory for your kayak, it’s an essential in my eyes.

Kayak Fishing Accessories: Ram Mounts

When it comes to adding accessories to my kayak, I try to avoid drilling at all costs. This was one of the many factors that lead to me purchasing a Hobie Pro Angler. The H-rail provides a really strong and reliable mounting point for a variety of accessories. When it comes to accessories, Ram Mounts cannot be beat. These mounts are extremely simple and strong, I never worry about them breaking. Currently, I use a Ram mount for my fishfinder as well as a mount for my phone. These products are really high quality and are super reliable.

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Kayak Lights Installation | Installing the Yak Power Button LED Lights with Adam Rourke

When it comes to safety, there are few modifications that can have a larger impact than adding lights to your kayak. Over the years, options for kayak lights have become more and more advanced. If the idea of drilling holes into your new kayak scares you, you’re not alone.

Companies that produce kayak accessories have been hard at work trying to find innovative solutions that make adding lights and other electronic accessories easy and less intimidating. Companies like Yak Power have come up with easy to install, fool-proof accessories that anyone with a basic understanding of hand tools can handle.

Kayak Lights Installation: Basic Items

To add lights to your kayak, you’ll need a few basic items:

  • A power source (battery)
  • A Fuse block
  • Wire
  • Wire connectors
  • Wire stripper/crimper
  • Quick connect battery adapter
  • Lights
  • A switch

Kayak Lights Installation: Installing Yak Power Button Style LED Lights

In this article, I’ll be sharing the process of installing button style LED lights from Yak Power. These lights are a great option for folks who want to minimize drilling and still get a super bright LED. For the install on my kayak, I decided to go with the Green lights. I wanted to put two on the outside of the hull and two on the inside so that I could see inside the kayak while fishing at night or during the early morning hours.

To power my lights, I’m using a 12-volt 15 mah LFP Bioenno Power battery with a marine grade fuse block. Yak Power does offer their own fuse block accessory but if you’re familiar with basic wiring, you can save yourself some money by building your own. As you can see in the photo below, the fuse block is attached to the waterproof container where the battery is stored. By no means am I a master with wiring but this option works great and has room to expand if I decide to add more electronics.

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This battery is also used to power my fish finder.

To get power to the fuse block, you’ll need to run a wire from the positive and negative terminals on the battery to the appropriate terminals on the fuse block. While you’re working on this, be sure to remove a fuse from the slot you’re looking to add to, otherwise you’ll be going through a lot of fuses while you get your connections set up.

Once the battery and fuse block are set up, determine where on your kayak you want to install your lights. If you’re looking to use the button lights from Yak Power, you’ll need everything in the photo below.

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One of the best features of the Yak Power button lights is that they are threaded and do not require a backing plate to securely fasten to your kayak’s hull. This makes installation in some of the harder to reach areas of you kayak possible and take a fraction of the time. Connected to the light is 12-feet of wire which should be more than enough to make it to your power source. The Yak Power products use an auxiliary style connector, similar to headphones, to plug into the included adapter. A drill bit is also included in the kit to ensure the proper size hole is drilled.Kayak Lights Installation(5)

Once you have a hole drilled and the lights securely in place, you’ll need to connect the lights to the included adapter.

This adapter is great and ensures that two lights will be powered on at the same time and controlled with a single switch. A big piece of advice for anyone attempting this install, the wiring on these quick connect adapters was reversed for me. When I connected the Yak Power adapter to another, the polarity was reversed meaning the red wire was actually negative and the black was positive. It took me about three blown fuses to figure this out. I’m not sure if this is done intentionally but I hope sharing this helps save you the headache.

Once the quick connect adapter is attached to the lights, use a wire stripper/crimper to strip and attach battery connections to the end of the wire and fasten the negative to the fuse block and the positive to your switch. Once the positive wire is run to the switch, run an additional wire from the switch to the fuse block. This switch should be in between the wire from the lights and the fuse block, which allows it to cut power to the lights and function as a switch. Once connected to the fuse block, add the appropriate fuse and press your light switch. Hopefully your lights turn on and look like this.

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These lights look small but they are extremely bright and are plenty for early mornings and late nights.

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KBF Central Regional Trail and Pro Series at Lake St. Clair

The KBF Central Region Trail and Pro Division event on Lake St. Clair was held May 25, 2019 out of the St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township, Michigan. It did not take over ninety inches to make the top twenty like it did in 2018, but it didn’t disappoint. The winning lengths fell short of the popular guess of over one hundred inches, but only by one and three quarters of an inch; all of this as anglers fought wet weather and high winds.

KBF Central Event at Lake St. Clair: Weather Conditions

The wind was definitely a factor during pre-fishing and the event. One angler lost his kayak to the wind when he got out for a minute but it was eventually found, and another rolled trying to ride the waves back to the jet ski launch. A few even learned the feeling of being sick due to the rolling waves (myself included).

It was quite the ride coming off the lake on Saturday.

Eric Siddiqi, the winner of the trail event, had to cut the top off a water bottle to bail water after the waves kept coming over the bow.  The lack of a seal on his older Hobie’s hatch had allowed enough water to cause the boat to start listing to one side. The day was further complicated by the fact that a bolt had come out of his Torqueedo mount due to the continuous waves. Taking on water and losing the use of his motor forced a need to start drifting back early to make sure he made it with his kayak on top of the water.

Jeremy Baker, the winner of the Pro division, was fighting the same conditions on his home lake.  His plan to sight fish was affected by the unusually high water and the size of the waves, they made it difficult to see deep enough into the water and attack the beds from the right angle to trigger strikes. This was not helped by high boat traffic in the area he had chosen to target. While he did have some struggles during the day, it was not due to the weather.

KBF Central Event at Lake St. Clair: Tale of the Two Winning Anglers

KBF Central Event at Lake St. Clair: Eric Siddiqi’s Event Recap

ANGLR team member, Eric Siddiqi, headed to St. Clair just off a third place finish in the Hobie Open on Kentucky Lake the week before, and having won the Hobie Battle on the Border there last year; earning him a trip to Sweden for the Hobie Worlds in Australia. So it was with a bit of confidence he began his pre-fishing.

The days before the event didn’t allow for the best pre-fishing conditions, but they were representative of what the anglers would experience. I personally arrived on the only good day to pre-fish and met an angler at the Metroplex, Robert Moss, who said he had waited out the waves on Thursday while talking with Siddiqi before deciding to bail; as Eric headed out to fish.  “That dude is nuts!” he told me. But Eric credits fishing in those conditions as part of his success on St. Clair. KBF Central Regional(1)

“I knew if I could fish in that wind, I had a chance. Thursday really helped because I knew the conditions already. When the wind picked up, I started culling up!”

The fish had been there on Friday, and even though he knew people were catching them deeper, a 20.5 inch smallmouth early on Saturday let him know that his bite was there. The drop shot with a 12” trailing leader and a 3/8 ounce tungsten weight fished on a St. Croix rod with a Shimano C14 spinning reel was the key that helped him land 98-inches and the win. He had tubes, ned rigs, swimbaits, and heavier weighted options rigged for the day but “the drop shot was all they wanted”.

Talking with Eric at the ramp, you may not see the dedication he has for fishing. He seems a bit laid back for an angler that intensely studies maps, spends hours watching videos finding all the info he can find about bass fishing and learns all the new baits and techniques. You will not find him to be the first guy on the water during pre-fishing, but you will see him searching for places to eat at the end of the day; often leaving the water too late to find open restaurants on the road because he was covering miles of water searching for bass. He has lost 18-20 pounds this season alone by being so focused on fishing and missing a meal or two.

In his fourth full year of kayak angling, he credits this effort with the consistency he has been showing at the KBF and Hobie events. He looks for the bait, and the current flow; not dying by the luck he had during pre-fishing, but being open minded.

“I ran 12 miles chasing ledges on Kentucky Lake but they were not there, so I moved to a different bite. I prefer deep fish for their consistency.”  

“They are like us, they are always going to stay close to the fridge so they don’t move far.”

Eric plans to keep doing this as long as he can and will be back at St. Clair at the end of June. He gives credit to Cal Coast, ANGLR, Fishing Online, YakAttack, Torqeedo and Lowrance for being behind him. He is also hoping to get a nod from Hobie one day (just in case they are reading).

KBF Central Event at Lake St. Clair: Jeremy Baker’s Event Recap

Jeremy Baker on the other hand was relatively unknown in the kayak bass world. He spends his weeks like most folks in the kayak tournament world doing their day job, his is installing gas services. The St. Clair win was only his second KBF event, his third kayak tournament event. His previous experience had come in bass boats in FLW BFL events and as a co-angler for over 20 years.

When asked why he jumped straight to the Pro Division he will tell you that is where he wants to fish because the “quality of anglers is not different in the kayak, most of these guys could compete on any level”. He likes “the simplicity and newness of it.  It feels like you can still be a part of it all.”

Jeremy had left tournament fishing for a while (giving up the dream of being a pro), but bought a pontoon boat to carry his daughter out swimming. He started seeing “all of these fishing kayaks” on the water and started thinking it would be a way to get him back into tournament fishing. He bought an Ascend and started testing the waters, but later traded it and some cash to a young boy trying to get rid of a Hobie PA14.  

The transition to kayak fishing has been less than smooth. Like anyone new to kayak tournaments you have to learn how to manage the fish after the catch. In his first KBF event last year, he finished 7th but had a 22-inch smallmouth jump off the board that may have given him the win, but he also had deductions. Jeremy seemed to know what he had to work on to win and was focused on getting better at the catch management side of kayak fishing.

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“It is very different than throwing them in the live well! You have to hold the fish on the board with your oversized phone in one hand and get a pic!”  

This year, he figured it out. Fishing on a spot he knows to be a spawning flat that produces every year, he found 98.25 inches of bass by throwing a St. Clair Crayfish made by Wayne Carpenter of Xtreme Bait and Tackle on St. Croix rods with Quantum reels. He fished these after trimming the tails to keep the fish from just picking them up and dropping them. He bet on this for the tournament, leaving tubes and drop shots alone as he targeted spots where he had found mostly males during pre-fishing.

You can listen to Jeremy’s interview of the event on Scott Beutjer’s Weigh In.

KBF Central Event at Lake St. Clair: Why the tale of two anglers?

“I had been watching the pro side on TourneyX all day and knew I was leading. But when I got back, I looked at the trail side and wasn’t on it.”

As they announced the winners Jeremy felt his “Happy Gilmore moment” fade, the crowd was a bit confused too. In order to compete in the Pro Division, an angler has to sign up for the trail event also. Siddiqi had won the trail event, but finished second in the Pro Division behind Baker.  

KBF requires that you have a separate identifier for the trail vs pro event, and these must also be submitted to two events in TourneyX. Eric and several others had been bitten by this rule during an event on Guntersville earlier in the year. It is stated on the KBF pages, but there had been some communication trying to clarify before the event. Some discussions are following, but Jeremy is looking for the good in it all.

“The hardest thing was this is my home town lake. It is hard enough to get a win on this lake, then you get it, and there may be an asterisk on it.”

Jeremy may be an unknown at this point, but he doesn’t intend to stay that way. He is determined to follow the kayak tournament trails and be competitive. He is going to fish with the Michigan-Ohio kayak anglers and KBF.

“I plan to fish as many events as I can. I’m looking forward to the FLW championship in August.”

Both Eric and Jeremy plan to be in the Hobie BOS event at the end of June on St. Clair. If you are able, this will be an event to attend.

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Kayak Fishing Tournaments | What You Need to Get Started

So it’s time to get started into your new adventure, your first of many kayak fishing tournaments!

Let’s run through our checklist:

  • Kayak; check.
  • A paddle if it is not a pedal kayak; check.
  • A rod and reel; check.
  • A PFD; check

Well, now you are ready… except there is just one more thing.

Enough confidence to overcome the fear of entering; well, why not?

It can be a bit intimidating trying to figure out how it all works. What you need to know, what you need to carry, and what to do or not to do. Anyone who fishes on local trails, KBF events, or the Hobie BOS has asked the same questions of themselves; deciding at some point to give it a try.

Kayak Fishing Tournaments: Use the Helpful Community to Your Advantage

Fortunately, the kayak community is full of welcoming and helpful individuals who are more than willing to teach you the ropes. There are kayak clubs across the country where you can get your feet wet (hopefully not everything you brought with you) with many even offering beginner events; events that allow you to learn the basics in a no pressure tournament style.

In our local clubs, it is accompanied by a get together with kayak demos, hot dogs, burgers, and door prizes; everyone wins something. It is an opportunity to meet people and fish while deciding if you are interested in a little competition. The guys more familiar with tournaments follow along with newbies to coach them through the day.  A quick search on Facebook or the internet will find local groups or you can download TourneyX to find tournament events in your area.

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Intro to a kayaking tournament with demo day – Nathan Wood teaching Daniel Elkins how to measure a fish.

Kayak Fishing Tournaments: The Bare Essentials

Let’s start with the bare essentials to fish your first tournament; since we already said kayak and rod/reel, we will skip those.

Kayak Fishing Tournaments Essential #1: A PFD (Personal Flotation Device)

I prefer an NRS Chinook for comfort and functionality. Even if a local group does not require you to do so, and all but one I know of does, wear it – don’t just carry it. You are in a small plastic boat.  

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There are several guys on the trail who are only here today simply because they had one on when things went bad.

Note: There are more things that you will need in order to fish the tournament and be in compliance with local laws. Since this is not meant to be a comprehensive list of safety equipment required by every state, club or country, please consult your local regulations, the club or event rules and the Coast Guard. You are required to follow the Coast Guard regulations for all vessels (https://www.uscgboating.org/images/420.PDF) regardless of any local event rules.

Kayak Fishing Tournaments Essential #2: A Measuring Board

You need one of the following measuring boards; a Hawg Trough manufactured by Hagen, the Ketch Board manufactured by the Ketch Company or the FishStik Version 2 manufactured by YakGear. Be aware that the FishStik is not accepted by many local tournaments.  

Kayak bass tournaments are CPR (catch, photo, release) and a board is required for the photo.  CPR is a major difference between kayak tournaments and those with larger boats, and one of the most common conversations you will have with non kayak anglers; “Where do you keep the fish?” You take pictures and release them, then either carry your phone to check-in or submit them through a tourney management system like TourneyX or iAngler.  

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Keep some of the pictures, you will get asked about this process and it is an opportunity to educate others about the sport.

Kayak Fishing Tournaments Essential #3: An Identifier Holder

In addition to the board, you will need something to hold an identifier. This is a code that must be in the picture for it to be a valid catch. If you take photos with this code not clearly visible, blurred or partially blocked; your fish will be disqualified. If, for instance, a fish knocks your identifier into Kentucky Lake during the first hour of the Hobie Open in 2018… well, just make sure to secure that identifier or you will have a long ride to check in; a very long ride.

Tourney Tag makes a good tool to manage the identifier. A fellow angler, Jim Strunk, has also created one specifically for the Ketch Boards.  

Kayak Fishing Tournaments Essential #4: A Device to Take Pictures

An electronic device capable of taking pictures and loading them to the tournament management systems. Selecting the correct provider for these devices is virtually impossible; sooner or later you will land between cell towers. This is why I have personally carried an iPhone with AT&T and an iPad with Verizon; and still had to drive over the river and through the woods a bit beyond the speed limit to find two bars!

Some local kayak fishing tournaments will not have this requirement, they allow you to bring the pictures to check in and review them on the spot.

Kayak Fishing Tournaments Essential #5: Knowledge and Skill

Knowledge and skill, well technically, these are not required, but an understanding of how to fish will certainly help. In my first tournament, I ventured out on to the local trail thinking I was the new master angler of the century and immediately posted a double digit goose egg on water I grew up fishing.

Humbled, I realized that I was ready to try and willing to learn, but I needed to hone those skills; and I continue to do so at every event I can find. Remember those welcoming and helpful kayak anglers mentioned earlier, they are a great source of knowledge and love to help the new guys figure it all out. So, skill will come (one day for me…I hope).

Kayak Fishing Tournaments: Final Thoughts

If you fish a few local tournaments you can survive with those items. Honestly, you can compete on any level. I had a young man wear me out on the water with one rod and reel. He was in the cheapest sit-in kayak on the market, with no electronics and a paddle; and he taught this ole boy a thing or two.  So, don’t think it takes the latest and greatest equipment to win or that you are not good enough to compete because you are not set up like some of the road warriors.

Come on out and meet the community, it just might be for you…and it might just be your day.

How to Fish a Chatterbait From a Kayak

One of the first things a kayak angler will hear from other anglers, is that fishing from a kayak is riddled with limitations and disadvantages. As kayaks continue to advance, this is becoming less and less the case. Even before kayaks became extremely stable fishing platforms, there have been a few presentations that are well suited for this type of fishing. One of those baits is a vibrating jig or bladed jig, more commonly known as a chatterbait. So, let’s dive into how to fish a chatterbait from a kayak.

How to Fish a Chatterbait: The Basics of the Lure

Chatterbaits were developed as a mix between a traditional jig, swimbait, and spinnerbait. One of the most prominent characteristics of a chatterbait is it’s distinct blade that’s on top of the jig head that creates vibrations as it’s retrieved. This lure has become extremely popular due to its versatility and effectiveness in a wide variety of situations. On top of versatility, it can be modified by adjusting the blade or adding different trailers that will alter the action of the bait.

How to Fish a Chatterbait: Focusing on the Basics From a Kayak

The biggest differences between fishing from a boat versus fishing from a kayak is a majority of the time fishing from a kayak, you’re sitting down. There are some techniques where this presents challenges, but for chatterbaits, it’s great. When fishing out of a kayak, you’re really close to the waterline. Baits like the chatterbait work best when fished with your rod tip low or pointed at the water. This allows the bait to swim at the correct depth and run true while running through the water. Keeping your rod tip low also allows you to feel how the bait is running and gives you a better sense of what’s in that area in terms of rocks and other structures.

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Setting the hook with a chatterbait is usually really straight-forward, however, in a kayak you need to be careful and manage your movements to avoid rocking the kayak and disturbing the water

Most fishing kayaks these days are plenty stable but if you’re the type of angler who likes to set the hook like you’re swinging for a homerun, you can still have issues. Remember that even the most stable kayak can be tipped, but with these newer kayaks that are highly engineered, they’re stable as possible. Once you’re comfortable with your kayak, you’ll know it’s limits.

How to Fish a Chatterbait: Setting the Hook and Landing a Bass From a Kayak

Overall, the hookset with a chatterbait is really simple. Depending on how the fish hits the bait, you may only simply have to raise your rod tip and maintain pressure on the line. Depending on the time of year or the weather conditions, fish will strike a chatterbait differently. In early spring, around ice out here in New England, bass tend to move slower and as a result, the strike feels as if you’ve snagged something or the bait caught some weeds. In the warmer parts of the season, bass can become more aggressive and it will feel like your bait was hit by a truck (that’s the fun stuff).

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When landing a fish caught on a chatterbait, you’ll want to get the fish into the boat quickly.

That doesn’t mean over power them, but the longer a chatterbait is hooked in a bass, the more likely the bass is to throw the hook. One way to give yourself a major advantage, make sure your kayak and kayak accessories are out of the way. There are a lot of really neat looking accessories that can be rigged on a kayak but the more you have, the more objects your line can get snagged on, so make sure you keep things tidy and out of the way. Consider the direction you cast the most and be sure to avoid mounting things like fish finders in the way. Accessories can be your best friend and then quickly turn into your worst enemy while trying to land a giant bass.

There are a wide variety of different chatterbaits on the market, so get in a kayak and give them a try, you won’t regret it!


Kayak Bass Fishing Welcomes ‘ANGLR’ of the Year Title Sponsor

ANGLR, the world’s most popular fishing intelligence platform, has become the title sponsor of the prestigious Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) Angler of the Year award. Not just for 2019, but for 2020.

Kayak Fishing History

If you’re unaware of the kayak fishing movement, it’s time to wake up and smell the freshly molded plastic. It’s a movement and something that we think has been way overdue.

There was a huge gap between bank fishing and buying a $60,000 bass fishing boat or inshore skiff. We couldn’t be more excited and supportive of the 10-13 foot piece of plastic that is beginning to bridge this gap. The kayak fishing era is now and we’re not going to watch it happen from the shore.

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2018 ANGLR of the Year, Cody Milton with Chad Hoover

“KBF is constantly looking for new ways to enhance the kayak angler’s experience and improve the caliber of competition and opportunities for our members. Because of this we are delighted to be working with ANGLR who shares our commitment to continuous improvement, lifelong learning, and deeper enjoyment of the sport.” – Chad Hoover, KBF Founder and President

“It’s so cool to find another brand who is as passionate about growing this sport as we are.” – Joe Haubenreich, KBF COO

“Kayak fishing has become incredibly popular in recent years and continues to grow,” said Dave Washburn, FLW Vice President of Operations

Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF), the nation’s foremost organization supporting kayak bass anglers, has been a key player spearheading this movement since 2009. The KBF was formed in 2009 to offer kayak anglers the opportunity to compete for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes at premier fisheries around the country. They are currently in their seventh season for live events. KBF offers more than 25 professional-level bass fishing tournaments to kayak anglers. For complete KBF details, schedules and updated information, visit KayakBassFishing.com.

About the KBF AOY Program

Only four years old, KBF’s Angler of the Year (“AOY”) award recognizes season-long, consistent, outstanding performance and commitment to competition in all KBF TRAIL series.

The award is based on a points system. Points are awarded based on performance of KBF members who compete throughout the tournament season. Points are summed up from three primary trails:

  • Top three scores from the 2019 KBF TRAIL Series Tournaments
  • Points from one Regional KBF TRAIL Series Championship
  • Double points from the 2019 KBF TRAIL Series National Championship

See the current rankings!

The New ANGLR of the Year

Cody Milton, the 2018 AOY will be the first official “ANGLR of the Year” title holder. ANGLR also stepped up to sponsor the upcoming 2019 crowning, AND we’ve picked up the future 2020 race as well! We are committed for the next two years and wanted to show our enthusiasm for this segment of fishermen right off the bat.

“To me this partnership is massive, I believe in both companies, the people working for them and the community around them. Some of the best people in the world paddle these little plastic boats. This community is unlike any other, this is something special. AOY will never be the same…” – Scott Beutjer, Kayak Angler and Industry Developer

Much More Than a Sponsorship

We wanted to form a closer working relationship with KBF and their members to learn how we could better serve their community. Chad’s expertise in the Kayak fishing industry will be critical to help us shape the ANGLR app and future development of features for the kayak fishermen.

We loved the play on the name and how well it fits, but we also loved what this title represents to KBF members. It is a symbol of the ANGLR mission in many ways. It represents drive, constant improvement, learning, and commitment to the craft. The title encapsulates everything we stand for. We exist to help anglers constantly improve.

We’re committed to the kayak community and love the passion these anglers exhibit both on and off the water. This community has repeatedly proven they put the angler first, and that’s what we’re all about. This partnership is just the first paddle stroke of many in the journey ahead into uncharted waters with kayak anglers. We couldn’t be more excited for what the future holds!


Photo Credits: Scott Beutjer

Selecting the Right Kayak Fishing Rod Holder for Your Kayak

Featured Image Credit: Anthony Shingler

Out of curiosity, I created a Facebook poll for the members of the Clarksville Area Kayak Fishing group to see how many guys use a kayak fishing rod holder while bass fishing. Definitely not a statistically representative sampling, but since I only use them to hold rods I am not casting, it was an interesting way to learn more about possible uses. If there is anything kayak anglers love to talk about more than fishing, it is how they set up their equipment.

Bobby Brown started the poll with “rod holders are for storing rods, not for fishing”. Now since this guy is a fan of the Ned Rig, I thought that maybe he would use one to dead stick it; it is the only way I could fish a Ned Rig… cast it, put the rod in a holder and forget about it while you eat a snack; then reel it in and get back to fishing with something else.

Kayak Fishing Rod Holder: The Options Often Used

I wasn’t surprised when 79% of the responses were the same since the majority of kayak tournament anglers use holders for equipment while underway. Most of them are stored vertically in holders integrated with standard or modified milk crates, YakAttack BlackPack’s,  the Hobie H-Crate, or any number of creative pvc solutions.  

Several anglers prefer to use the “tube” designs that can easily be attached to GearTrac using one of the mounting designs on the market.  This allows the angler flexibility to store the rods vertically or horizontally to avoid overhanging trees or low bridges.  A friend, Ben Meredith, uses this type of design to secure his equipment while unhooking, measuring and photographing fish.

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When other anglers started to respond that they, “use rod holders while out on the kayak”, I was curious and reached out for more information.

It seems that there are many ways to fish while using them. KBF allows trolling in their bass tournaments, Trophy Catfish Kayak Anglers (TCKA) director Ron Himmelhaver uses a four rod holder setup to chase monster catfish and several guys who responded to the poll will drop worms or minnows while paddling. Ben even has a spider rig setup for crappie fishing that he uses on his kayak, not something I had even considered as an option.

Kayak Fishing Rod Holder: The Crate System

My first kayak, a Jackson Big Tuna, had a Ram Mount attached. It was more than enough to paddle around the local creeks. Within a few months, I decided to fish tournaments and I needed more rods.

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I replaced the Ram holder with a mutated milk crate because I wanted my equipment in front of me; the boat allowed for this setup to be efficient.

Kayak Fishing Rod Holder: The Crate and Cooler in One

It was not pretty, but it was highly functional; in my Hobie PA14, this setup would never work, so I opted for an Engel Dry Box with attached rod holders. It has a lid with latches that I use to store tackle, but can be used as a cooler on hot days. In the Outback, I have an H-Crate because of the types of water I fish in that boat, and I use it to get others involved in kayaking. The crate system is easy to load and unload, making it perfect for anyone to bring some gear along.

It will take you a few trips to decide what is the best setup, but you can start by asking yourself what types of water do you plan to fish and what fits your style.

Just remember to consider horizontal versus vertical storage options if you fish a lot of small water, how many rods you carry and what path you take to get there. Are you using the rod holders to fish, for trolling, or just to transport from one location to another launch?

In the end, it is up to you the angler to decide what works for you. Sit in the boat, paddle/pedal it for a while and see what fits. Your first setup will most likely not be your last and companies are now realizing the kayak market is growing, so you have a lot of options to pick from.