2019 KBF ANGLR of the Year October Update | Headed to La Crosse

Featured Image Credit: Scott Beutjer

The 2019 KBF season is winding down… we have seen the National Championship won by Mike Elsea on Caddo Lake, Cody Milton crowned at Bienville while a group of anglers piled up in Jeff Fader’s spot, and Clint Henderson win the first KBF/FLW event on Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Arkansas. 

Over 1000 anglers have driven thousands of miles; slept in campgrounds, hotels, VRBOs, Airbnbs, in the backs of trucks or in the front seat with a snoring buddy as Wal-Mart parking lot cleaners blew trash from under vehicles. Batteries have run out of juice, tires have blown or gone flat and trailer bearings have failed… vacation time has been exhausted (sick days too)… and many Waffle and Huddle Houses have been overtaken as anglers chased coveted KBF ANGLR of the Year points in five separate regions across America.

The top three KBF trail series tournaments (1800 possible points) added to their top score in a regional final (600 possible points) comprise most of the points. But the final event of the year, The Trail Series Championship to be held in La Crosse Wisconsin on October 17-19, has a potential 1200 additional points. 

With 95 points separating first and tenth place, and only 210 points between first and twenty-fifth; this is still anyone’s title to win. 

The weather forecast and rising water levels are combining to make the championship on the Mississippi River even more challenging for competitors. The current will play a factor for many anglers, affecting their ability to hold position or even reach certain spots, but the field is stacked with some solid sticks. The AOY’s from each region, past members of the “Ten”, and a couple of competitors who fished their first full KBF year are at the top.

Let’s meet the top ten as we head to La Crosse.

#10. Danny Uribe – California; 2019 Western Regional AOY

2019 KBF ANGLR of the Year(1)

Danny’s story of how he entered kayak bass fishing is one that is very familiar to those who follow the kayak fishing community. He fished out of a Ranger boat before settling into a kayak.  After years fishing with the Stren series, and getting heavy into saltwater tournaments including Bisbee’s Marlin tournaments, he was given an opportunity to work and travel with Accurate Reels and later started his own freshwater bass rod company; Uribe Fishing Products. While at a visit to a central California tackle shop for a seminar, he ran into a kayak fisherman who said that he really liked the Uribe rods for kayak fishing. 

He said ‘dude your rods are great for kayak tournaments’ and I said ‘kayak tournaments?’ and he told me about KBF so I looked it up, it seemed interesting. I really liked the idea of CPR, not putting fish in the Livewell and killing them.” 

The “man vs. man and athletic aspects” of the sport really appealed to him. 

From the get-go, you have to make really good decisions… you can’t carry 50 rods… it is way harder to win a kayak tournament than a boat tournament. You have to be very methodical… your practice has to be very good, you have to make good decisions.”  

So Danny bought a Feelfree Dorado last November and didn’t pick it up until January.  He used the weekend to learn the kayak, went to a couple of local lakes to get a better feel for it; then headed to Lake Havasu for a KBF event. 

His first time in a KBF tournament was his fourth time in a kayak.  

I hadn’t fully grasped that I couldn’t move like a bass boat.  I killed my first four hours just paddling around to end up back where I started.”  

Even though he had spent time traveling instead of fishing, Uribe landed in 7th place after settling down and focusing on fishing. The experience taught him a lot and he leveraged that experience to finish 6th on San Vincente and 4th at Otay; the only three events he was able to make this year.

So leading the AOY race in the western region, Danny loaded up his wife Rebecca and headed to Clear Lake for the regional championship. 

It was her birthday.  I went out Thursday at 6:30 and pedaled around at spots I planned to fish… on the way back I threw a swimbait and caught a fish… then I spent the rest of the day in Napa with my wife.” 

His success has landed him a spot on the Native Watercraft team (with other opportunities in the works) and he plans to fish three to four of the 6 regional events next year out of the Native Titan. He also has plans to travel to Guntersville for the KBF National Championship… but is doubtful that he will make it to La Crosse. 

It is killing me not to make it!” 

He gives credit for being able to fish first and foremost to the Lord, then his wife Rebecca who supports him even while “dragging her to Clear Lake to stay in a junky hotel with nothing around for miles”. His work designing outdoor products for companies and his rod company provides the funding.

Uribe gives high praise to the kayak community. 

I am not afraid to tell people where and what I did. Everyone is so open to sharing everything. When I fished boat tournaments, when you showed up to the awards, the only people there are the winners. When I showed up to kayak tournaments, everyone is there… everyone is chatting… I was a nobody in the kayak community… now everyone welcomes you and talks like I am one of them. There is no drama like the boat tournaments. In the kayak community, everyone is congratulating everyone… no one is bumping their chests… everyone is humble.

Note for Uribe: The offer to bring a spare Hobie for the tournament is still on the table for you Danny, if you decide to fly in!

#9. Josh Stewart – Tennessee

2019 KBF ANGLR of the Year(2)

Josh with Randy Howell at the Hobie BOS at Lake Guntersville.

Unless this is your first exposure to KBF or kayak tournament fishing in general, you know the name – if not, you will. Josh has become one of the more consistent anglers on any trail; this year alone he punched his second ticket to the Hobie Worlds, winning on Guntersville and placed second in the Hobie event of Kentucky Lake; won the KBF trail event on Kentucky Lake (read more about that tournament and Josh), placed tenth in the first KBF/FLW event on Lake Ouachita and just finished fifth in the Tennessee State Kayak Championship. He is one angler with a good opportunity to say he has been one of the KBF Ten every year. Trailing the leader by only 85 points also leaves him with a chance to be the AOY. 

In the race for the southeast region AOY, with his methodical presentation and persistence, Josh finished third behind two others in the top ten this year; Cody Milton and Rus Snyders. In addition to the Kentucky Lake win, he placed 12th at Santee Cooper and 8th at Chickamauga; allowing him the opportunity to fish for AOY and hopefully compete in the Ten next year.

He is already qualified for the Hobie TOC, the National Championship and is smashing them on all trails across Tennessee. He fishes as a member of the Jackson Kayak Team, the YakAttack team, and is on the pro staff for Hog Farmer Bait Company and All Pro Rods

Josh will be in La Crosse for the KBF trail championship. Last year at an Open on the same water, he finished 6th under similar water conditions, so he is a favorite to take home the win. 

Stewart is a humble guy who credits his grandmother with teaching him how to fish in the creeks close where he grew up and says his mom is now involved; she is trying to learn more to beat him.

#8. Erick Simien – Texas

2019 KBF ANGLR of the Year(3)

Erick, like Danny Uribe, is enjoying success in his first full year on the KBF trail.  

He had fished last year’s National Championship after qualifying through the NTXKC – a KBF partner organization. 

I finished awful (at Caddo)… but pre-fishing was amazing, I had plenty of opportunities, they just kept coming unbuttoned. I only had two fish in the kayak and they called me ‘two fish Erick’”.  

He said that he tried to slow down and use a wacky rig, but got frustrated and moved to a jig

He openly shared how he ended up in a kayak, and his story is similar to others too. 

I fished all my life, grew up fishing. I quit drinking a little over eight years ago and needed something to decompress… I wanted something to get off the bank and my wife surprised me with an older model Ascend for Christmas. In the first few months, I could only sit in it for a few hours, but it got easier. I finished 2nd in a north Texas trail event and wanted to get a better kayak, so I sold it and picked up a Diablo Amigo.” 

Erick is still shocked by his 2nd place finish in the KBF Texas Regional behind Matthew Scotch.   But with solid finishes, 2nd on Ray Roberts, 13th on Belton, and 4th on Toledo Bend, he found his way into the Texas regional championship on Lake Fork where he finished 5th on day one. He was able to move up on day two. 

I didn’t catch my first fish on day two until 11, then 12:30 caught my second.  I had gone to a place and saw a gator earlier, I went there and caught my last four fish.”  

After day two, he had moved into 3rd place in the tournament and into 8th in the KBF AOY standings. 

Erick is unfortunately not going to La Crosse. His job selling hair care products to hairstylists only allows him so much vacation time, so he is out. “I would love to quit and just go kayak fishing” but for now, he like the rest of us has to work. He has no sponsors… “my wife tells me I need to get better at posting on Instagram”… so he plans to work on that next year. 

When I asked if he planned to chase the points next year, he shared some concern that with the realignment of the KBF regions he may not be able to make as many events with only one being close in Texas. 

I liked it being in Texas. I may do it on a shoestring budget… do some camping… I will see at the last minute what’s going on.

#7. Richie McMichael – Kansas; 2019 Central Region AOY

2019 KBF ANGLR of the Year(4)

Richie is not unfamiliar with having success on the kayak trails; entering a couple of KBF events in 2017 before diving into KBF for 2018, finishing 7th in the AOY race. He fished in the Ten at Bienville and was quick to repeat what a lot of us have said at one time or another. 

I wish I had a do-over at the event. My goal was to win AOY last year, but the event on Lake Erie killed me… and I didn’t end up well at Bienville.”  

This year he has won the Central Region AOY, finished 5th on Lake Fork during the Hobie BOS event (qualified for the TOC) and is currently in the same position he held at the end of last year.

A 6th place finish at Big Hill, an 11th place finish on the Madison Chain of Lakes, a 4th place finish on the Mississippi River and 3rd at Mark Twain shows his ability to win and be competitive… and that he knows how to find them on water that will be in-bounds for La Crosse. Richie is in position to get another chance at the Ten (though not at Bienville next year) but may not make it to La Crosse. He appraises commercial real estate for the county and has some training that he may not be able to reschedule. 

I am hoping they understand, but when they are paying for it, it is hard to say that I am not going to make it.

When asked how he ended up fishing in the kayak, his story sounds a little familiar.  

I was burnt out on the boats. You can break even at best. A buddy of mine, Josey Stillman, started the Northeast Kansas Kayak Anglers and another buddy of mine kept wanting to fish it. I kinda resisted it for a while, I still had a bass boat in the garage and didn’t see the point of the whole kayak thing. I ended up breaking down and giving it a try. You have to do it and see what it is like to really understand. I didn’t do any research. I went to Bass Pro and bought an Ascend and started doing it. I didn’t stay in it long… a guy came down from Nebraska in a Hobie and was pedaling all over the lake and holding position… by the next tournament, I had a Hobie… now I have the 360 ordered and am waiting for it.”  

Richie fished with the Northeast Kansas Kayak Anglers, winning AOY several times but now fishes a lot of the Moyak tournaments. He likes that the club seems to be growing and is getting some sponsor attention. 

I have caught bigger limits out of a kayak than I ever did in boats. I cover tons of water, cover as much as you can… then slow down. Slow down and get upgrades late in the day… slow down and catch the stubborn fish. A lot of people try to finesse them to feed, I just don’t do the finesse. I am more junk fishing at times; jigs, spinnerbaits and cranking.

I asked if he had any sponsors and he replied that it was just he and his wife. 

I think the attention is lacking for the guys who are not on any big sponsorship. I am kinda a quiet guy, haven’t really done the whole ‘getting on teams’. I’ve just been fishing. A buddy owns a company, I am going to try and do something with him.”  

So, if you’re looking for a solid angler to represent you, consider giving Richie a call.

#6. Dylan Fuqua – Illinois

2019 KBF ANGLR of the Year(5)

I met this young man at the Hobie Open last year.  He and his father had just picked up his kayak and traveled down to fish. They had been fishing on Lake Barkley without success on day one, and I offered some advice. What I didn’t know that day was that he had picked up his kayak swinging a baseball bat. 

Dylan is schooled online but wrestled and played football with a school (“I got tired of being in a cast”); and played travel baseball with one of the best teams in Illinois for over five years, as pitcher and shortstop. His dad had introduced him to the kayak community… he liked “fishing and competing, so you put fishing and kayaking together, I was in!” Dylan wanted a Native Titan 12. His dad told him “hit a home run at your first at-bat, I will get you one”.  Young Mr. Fuqua now fishes out of a Native Titan.  

That determination comes through in conversations with the fifteen-year-old and is evident in his accomplishments this year. He calls the Santee Cooper event his first real KBF tournament; with a 2nd place finish in the trail event and being the first winner on the KBF Pro Tour speaks to how real it has become for Dylan. He also won the Madison Chain tournament, placed 6th on the Mississippi River and followed that up by landing in 10th at the Central region championship.  He now sits in 6th place overall for KBF AOY and will be in La Crosse… well, he has to miss five days of driver education classes (something most of us would not have missed and all he is allowed to miss) in order to attend, but “one of the spots I fished is in-bounds so hopefully there are some good ones there”. 

Though he fished a lot of tournaments without catching limits, Dylan has proven that he can hold his own with the best. Despite that fact, he was not allowed to fish the FLW events because he was not 18, he still came to both events to be around the anglers. He jokingly talked about the events. 

Those are the rules. I kept getting emails saying I was qualified, but they were just teasing… my baseball coach always told me to play against someone better to get better. If you lose, you gotta suck it up and try again later.”  

He is hopeful that there will be a chance for him to fish on the Pro events using what he calls his style; “power finesse” – throwing Texas rigged creatures and ned rigs. 

I like fishing bluff walls, throwing a ned rig, letting it fall and reeling it in… throw it out and reel it in… finesse lures fished fast.

FishUSA talked with Dylan and he is now on their pro-staff, but he credits his dad with being his biggest supporter. 

My dad helped me a lot this year. Getting me to all the tournaments, getting me there on time and helping me pay for things. I love him. It has been a fun year.

#5. Rus Snyders – Tennessee

2019 KBF ANGLR of the Year(6)

Rus Snyders with Steve Owens.

The Tennessee State Kayak Championship was held on October 12-13th on Lake Chickamauga.  93 anglers showed up to fish Friday evening and Saturday with hopes of being crowned the state champion. Rus Snyders took home that honor and now heads to La Crosse to try and establish himself as the AOY for KBF. 

He has had a good year with wins during KBFTN events, a 3rd place finish at Santee Cooper, 13th at Guntersville, 11th at Chickamauga, 3rd at Kentucky Lake (read about KY lake and Rus here), and 4th at Lake Lanier. He was 10 points ahead of Cody Milton for AOY going into the Southeast Regional Championship; Cody finished 4th and Rus landed in 8th, allowing Cody to win AOY. Both guys are now in reach of the top spot.

I have had a pretty consistent year. Ever since getting in a kayak, I have been more consistent; I was not doing that in a bass boat. The difference is, I used to fly down the lake to the next spot, in a kayak, before you say it is not working… you just buckle down and try new techniques, keep an open mind. I didn’t realize until recently that I have been able to get a limit on every single TourneyX event. A lot of this year I was fishing for points, my goal was to get AOY in the southeast. I picked Santee Cooper over the Hobie event to try for points.

Rus is one of the most solid anglers fishing KBF this year, and is known in Tennessee as one of the best-prepared kayakers; going to an event with plans A, B, and C in case something doesn’t pan out. He may not be one of the most recognized anglers in all circles, but that is only because he hasn’t dedicated the time to chasing points until this year.  

This consumes your free time if you chase it. I had fun chasing it this year. I am doing it for fun and to be part of the community… I could be out making money, but I enjoy this… but I have to get back at work soon. I am not certain about committing to next year yet. I am 100% certain that I am doing the National Championship and both Kentucky Lake tournaments; the Hobie and KBF.

Rus is a team member at Hook1 and carries iRod as a sponsor. If you need some power washing done in the Nashville area, give Rus a call or check out his site; Nashvillepowerwash.com. If you want to learn from a guy who is capable of finding fish, he also has a guide service; look for http://www.kickfishing.com. Those will most likely need to wait until after La Crosse; he is planning to win it.

#4. Derek Brundle – Massachusetts; 2019 Northeast AOY and Potential Rookie of the Year

2019 KBF ANGLR of the Year(7)

This seems to be the year for new introductions into the top ten for KBF. Derek has only been in a kayak a couple of years, but today he sits in 4th place for AOY and has a 50-point lead over Danny Uribe for rookie of the year. The facilities manager for a social services company in the Boston area had one goal in mind when he started the season; make it to the National Championship. He punched his ticket to that event during the April state challenge, then won the May challenge… then never looked back. 

This is my first year in KBF – it been great, that’s for sure. I have been fishing my whole life but recently got into kayaking and got a chance to get on team NuCanoe. I was fishing local clubs and directing one of the local clubs for NEBassin and just wanted to get into the next level. I wanted to fish the larger-scale tournaments on these larger lakes. I used to fish in a bass boat, but it sat in the yard after I bought the NuCanoe, so I sold it. We even bought a camper so my wife can travel with me to the tournaments.

On the northeast trail, Derek missed the Lake Anna event before starting with a 6th place finish on Lake George where he had an 83-inch limit of smallmouth on his first five casts (then caught 25 more fish from the same spot), this was followed by a 4th place finish at the Chesapeake, then another 4th place finish at Winnipesaukee finished out the trail. At the Northeast Regional Championship, Derek lost to Casey Reed by two inches but sealed the AOY title with the 2nd place finish.

Research (and a black and blue jig) is the key to his success.  

I watch a lot of YouTube, the old FLW and Bassmaster videos, and look to see where they are fishing. I go on google earth and zoom down to eliminate water, using it to get waypoints and to choose where to fish. I pay attention and look for things in the background… then use Google Earth to find them.

This year he concentrated on offshore fishing. His ‘go-to’ now is to find something offshore, the fish will reload and he can keep catching them. The rougher the day, the nastier the weather, the fishing seems to pick up offshore. If he can keep my pursuit out there on the water and upright, he feels like he is in it. He uses a Motor Guide on his kayak to “anchor” and hold the spot.

Derek is a guy who pours his own jigs and says that if he has a box of 100 jigs, 80 of them will be black and blue. When we spoke, he was getting some ready before the 19.5-hour drive to La Crosse.  

My wife is going with me, so we are going to drive straight through to be there by Wednesday.

There are a few sponsors he wanted to mention; Tightlines World Wide, Larry the Lizard custom baits, McCain hi-performance and Thrasher Sports Apparel. He already has plans to attend all of the northeast and mid-Atlantic events for the 2020 season. But for now, La Crosse… then, perhaps the Ten?

#3. Cody Milton – Arkansas; 2019 Southeast AOY, 2018 KBF AOY

2019 KBF ANGLR of the Year(8)

One of the most unassuming anglers you will meet in a kayak, Cody greets you with a smile, and then generously shares the knowledge he has acquired during his time on the trails.  

He also recognizes the skill in others and offers praise to his competition. I had the pleasure of fishing close to Cody a couple of times this year and was a little surprised by how much water he covers during a tournament; picking apart cover, picking apart the competition. And if you get a chance to see him launch and reload his kayak in the “Cody Milton/FishUSA” van… don’t pass it up. But do not underestimate him, this dude can flat catch ‘em.

Last year, he took on the best and before the season ended – before it was announced, everyone knew who had won the 2018 KBF AOY. This year, the field is stacked up and isn’t as clear; but Cody is always a threat to find fish and best the competition. A 4th place finish at Santee Cooper started off the season, then a 6th place finish at Guntersville and 2nd at Chickamauga (read about that win and more about Cody) left him 10 points behind Rus Snyders for AOY. At the Southeast Regional Championship held in Alabama, Rus was 13th and Cody 14th on day one. Day two saw Cody find them and he finished that day three places ahead of Rus; with his total inches enough to finish 4th overall with Rus in 8th. The win sealed his bid for the southeast AOY. Cody also finished 4th in the East-West Harbors event in the northeast region to add points for the KBF AOY. 

He grew up in a fishing family and that may have helped develop his skills, but having talked with him on several occasions, it is easy to see why he is successful. He studies, and studies and then covers a ton of water pre-fishing to test what he found during that study. Not everyone you speak with will discuss the information they gained by talking with local biologists. His success has gained him some recognition, and put him on a few teams; FishUSA, Accent Fishing, BRD jet – kayak wraps, Proangler Hub, Anglr and All Pro Rods.

Since Cody is definitely going to La Crosse, you should keep your eyes on the leaderboard; he is going there to win.

#2. Casey Reed – Virginia

2019 KBF ANGLR of the Year(9)

We are not sure when we first met, we couldn’t remember as we talked, but are certain that we will always remember the day we fished at Bienville in the location where Jeff Fader had crushed them all day during the KBF Tenvitational this year. It was one of those days that defines what our kayak community is about and who we are. (read about that day)

Casey Reed is not a newcomer to KBF. He is one of the guys you might see no matter what corner of the United States there is a tournament; he puts in the miles and the time to be competitive. He first fished KBF the year they began the National Championship and has been fishing since. Last year, he was 11th in AOY points going into the Tenvitational with a shot to make the Ten. In 2019, he mentions as his best year, Casey finished 5th in the southeast event at Santee Cooper, 1st at Lake Anna, 24th at Lake George, 6th at the Chesapeake event, 22nd at the East-West Harbors and finished third in the northeast behind Derek Brundle and Russell Johnson.

I had a few good events and a few crappy events.  I sucked at both of the FLW events, but I did well at the right events. At Lake Anna, I caught over one hundred fish and had a nice limit fishing docks. At the Chesapeake, I fished tidal water for the first time, but there were docks and I was able to scratch out a limit.” 

Sitting in 2nd place going into La Crosse, Casey is doing nothing but planning for the event. 

I want to fish some of the pro events next year, but I am just focused on this year right now… I’ve worn myself thin with work and fishing.” 

And like many of us, he has run out of vacation time. 

I have been begging to be able to hit the next two events, but my boss works with me. They watch the trackers from work and support me. My boss used to tell me if I didn’t finish in the top ten percent, I’d have to buy him lunch.  After a while, the guys started betting among themselves.”  

He will tell you that he is either rigging his kayak, fishing, sleeping, or working at the Liberty University Snowflex Center. “Before I started fishing, I used to snowboard a lot. They built this place in my backyard and I have been there ever since. I was pretty darn good at it, won a little here and there.” 

Casey started in a Pelican sit-in kayak that his girlfriend had bought him for his birthday. It wasn’t long before he was rigging it up with flush mount rod holders, an anchor trolley… then he started seeing other rigs and began upgrading kayaks. He now fishes out of an Old Town Predator PDL and is on their pro-staff, is a member of the Dakota Lithium team and just signed a deal to work with FishUSA.

This guy is hungry for a big win and has the skills to make it happen. Casey will be giving his all to take this one home… his boss may just be buying dinner.

#1. Matthew Scotch – Texas; Texas Region AOY

2019 KBF ANGLR of the Year(10)

Matthew Scotch is one of two Texas anglers in the top ten, but he stood alone this year when it comes to performance.  

It feels that this Culinary School trained chef has definitely made the right choice when he moved to kayak fishing and guiding. In what has been an unprecedented season, Matthew not only dominated the Texas region, he pulled out a 2nd place finish to end with three wins on the KBF trail! 

Where do we start? 

NTXKC events; Lake Lewisville – 2nd, Lake Gilmer – 3rd, Lake Worth – 5th, Ray Hubbard – 1st, Lake Grandbury – 1st.

KBF events; O.H. Ivie – 1st, Ray Roberts – 1st, Toledo Bend – 1st, Sam Rayburn – 2nd, Belton – 5th and then 4th in the Texas regional championship on Lake Fork.

Then we add a tie for second place, 3rd place finish on Lake St. Clair in the Hobie BOS (read more about this and Matthew) event and it all adds up to an incredible year worthy of recognition.  But then in addition to NTXKC AOY and the KBF Texas region AOY, Matthew shows up last weekend to win 1st place in the Lonestar Throwdown.

He was very open about what helped him be able to compete this year. 

This year Texas had a region, so we had the opportunity and I went after it… I got to fish events that were not over 6 hours away. I might fish KBF events, but with the miles to Arkansas for the new regions, I may not be able to do it again. The longer you pre-fish, the farther away… the more money it costs for events… so the traveling has been difficult…. buying fishing licenses, places to stay, food. It is great to have all of these options with Hobie, KBF, NTXKC, and others coming along, but it is still hard to travel. If the prizes were higher when you win, you might be able to afford it, but living farther south and east like Texas, it is just hard. It isn’t financially feasible for most guys to go.

Matthew is on the Hobie Fishing Team, sponsored by NRS, Accent Lures, and Mariner Sails. His guide service, Lonestar Kayak Guide or on Facebook is something to check out, but he feels that it is time for the sport to represent the anglers; showcase those who create the community.

We need to promote the stories from the events. The things that happen, the success of the anglers at the events – get them some opportunities to be able to afford more of the travel and offset some expenses at the same time.

I asked him about his approach to fishing and he seems to have a more philosophical approach to being successful on the water.

Time on the water is so important. I just take it one tournament at a time… like football, baseball or other sports… take it one bass at a time, one tournament at a time. I don’t circle dates on a calendar. I don’t spend time talking about tournaments in the past… I move on to the next… if you talk about the past, you compromise your future. There is no need to gloat, being humble is part of being successful to me. The fish today do not count tomorrow… the experience is important.” 

We talked on his way to La Crosse and he shared some of his thoughts on the event.  

There are things I like about La Crosse, the water being high levels the playing field a bit. I like to think I can pick where fish will be, so I am coming with an open mind – no preconceived notions about what to expect.

Talking with Matthew heading into this event… I’m pretty sure he has a solid plan; a plan to take it all this year.

2019 KBF ANGLR of the Year October Update: Final Thoughts

So there you go, the top guys and a little about them and how they landed at the top of their respective trails. Many guys are already on the water in La Crosse; some of us are at our jobs counting the seconds before we can roll out, some wishing they could make it. A part of me is wishing I had decided to sit on the sidelines and just watch this play out because it is shaping up to be a memorable event! But that isn’t how we are wired once we start doing this – these ten know that… we have to chase it… we have to sleep at ramps and in parking lots if that is what is required to be a part of the kayak tournament family. 

Regardless of your status for this event, follow along… it is shaping up to be an incredible finish to another great season of KBF events. See y’all in Wisconsin.

Kayak Paddle | A Guide to Selecting the Right Kayak Paddle

Featured Image Credit: Scott Beutjer

Selecting a kayak paddle for me was a simple process; once I had some idea what I planned to be doing on the water. I knew I was not (still am not) adventurous enough to drop over falls in a kayak, so there is no way I can offer you advice on that; I am a kayak bass tournament angler, not a whitewater enthusiast – looks cool, but it is not for me. However, I can offer you some things to consider when standing in front of a wall of paddles at your local outfitter.

Your Kayak Paddle Needs to Reach the Water

First, the paddle needs to reach into the water. 

You might be saying at this point, “Everyone knows this….who is this guy?”

Well, I can tell you I have seen too many people pick up their first paddle without thinking about the distance to the water. A paddle that works well in your smaller Wal-Mart kayak will force you to bend excessively in a larger sit on top kayak and be virtually useless in the newer, wider models on the market. 

The movement required to move the boat will wear your body out, even on short trips, and cause the boat to track differently. Each time you reach down to the water, your body and the boat follow that motion.  So consider how far is it to the water. Sounds simple… but again, I have seen too many folks regret a purchase over this simple oversight.

Kayak Paddle(1)

Joy Cheatham gliding across the water in her Hobie.

Kayak Paddle, Pedal, or Motor?

Second, you need to ask yourself if you are going to primarily paddle or pedal (or motor).  There are purists whom I respect greatly, guys who feel that the sport should be for conventional paddlers only; sit in (maybe on) kayaks. And many more who feel that putting a motor on that kayak is sacrilege, despite the popularity of Torqueedos and other motors on the market. Regardless of your stance, or personal choice, you will need a paddle on the kayak as a method of propulsion; even if it is for backup only. So pick the paddle that fits your intent.  

If you plan to be a pure paddle kayaker, pick up the paddle and hold it out in front of you. 

Is it heavy? 

Does it feel comfortable? 

Remember, it is going to become a part of you for the time you spend on the water. If you are fishing; it is going to be picked up, put down, picked up and used several hundreds of times during the day. If it feels too heavy then, on a hot summer day five miles from a launch or take out point, it is going to feel like lead.  

If you own or plan to get a pedal kayak, the weight is not as much of a consideration. A lot of pedal/motor kayakers do not even carry a full paddle, or just use the paddles that come with those boats. A Hobie, for instance, comes with a paddle that is more than adequate as a backup; and most guys carry it in two pieces. Another viable option for pedal yaks is a Backwater Paddle, a shorter paddle (held in one hand), that allows you to make short strokes to turn the boat or back up.  

Now, I am going to add some free advice about paddles and pedal yaks… unfortunately, the drives can break, the props can be damaged, and the fins distorted by running into submerged objects while running across water. If you can see your vehicle, no big deal. If you have pedaled for a couple of hours away from that vehicle and were planning on pedaling to get home, it will be a very long trip with an assault or half paddle.  

So, my advice, carry a full paddle. I had a buddy use a piece of wood he found, way upstream from a launch, to get back. This effort makes paddling with a short paddle seem like a lot of fun!

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Matt Spencer as he fishes along a rip-rap bank in his NuCanoe.

Kayak Paddle | Decide How Often You’ll Be Fishing

Third, be as honest as you can with yourself. I first bought a kayak to enhance our camping trips because I had a bass boat in the garage. My intent was to use it once in a blue moon, then I got paid in a tournament and was immediately hooked… and haven’t been out of the kayak except to work and sleep. This will not be true of everyone, many of you will buy one with the intent of using it a lot, but you have to honestly define “a lot”. 

My brother bought a couple of Wal-Mart kayaks so they could get out on camping trips too. He bought some sit-in kayaks with the cheaper paddles. He used them a few times and will use them very minimally forever. The choice to go with a less expensive boat and the paddle was the best choice for him. If you are just thinking about giving it a try, I suggest you go with the less expensive options until you are sure; if you are sure, seriously consider a better paddle.

Kayak Paddle | Know Your Price

This brings me to the last thing I would recommend you know before you get in front of that wall of colorful paddles; how much are you willing to spend. There is nothing wrong with buying a paddle that fits your price range.  There are several brands that are relatively inexpensive and more than adequate, then there are high-end paddles for those who spend every weekend on the water. 

Choose for you, choose what fits you.  

My first adventure in front of the paddles, I picked out a really cool looking one… had Ryan at Caney Fork explain that it needed to reach the water… got attached to the design… then found out how much it was going to cost. I have since learned that as expensive as that first paddle was, it was barely a middle of the road paddle when it comes to cost. I was fortunate enough to win some money fishing tournaments and upgraded to the Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon (then another after I backed over that one at a ramp… not a good day) and prefer that over any paddle I have picked up since. But before you pick one up, and get attached to it, make sure you are willing to spend the amount required.   

I am not a paddle expert. 

I may not even be able to play one on TV, but I have offered up the things I would think through if I ever buy a new paddle. Also, read the reviews and the selection guides offered by companies; not just one, but many. I Googled it, so I know there are countless guides out there for selecting paddles. Bending Branches, Werner Paddles, and others have some very informative sites that can give you specific details on the shape of the paddle, length of the shafts, etc.; and I recommend that you research those sites and read reviews. 

The paddle can literally become one of the most important parts of your day on the water, even if it is only to push offshore or to get you back when your other propulsion methods fail, so make sure you are able to reach the water with the best paddle you can afford.

Hands-On Review of the Feelfree Lure 11.5 Fishing Kayak

Owning a Feelfree Lure as my first fishing kayak is a lot like getting a corvette as your first car. Being a new driver, you really don’t even have the experience necessary to fully appreciate everything that it is capable of. But, that’s the situation I have found myself in and I am very thankful and happy to share it with you. 

In June of 2019, I knew I wanted to get into a kayak and I knew I wanted to get into one that would be able to grow with me as I learned how to fish from a kayak. I did a TON of research and you can read more about my final list of kayaks and the complete selection process in my off the bank series here

The Feelfree Lure 11.5 is an Incredibly Fishingable Kayak

This post is going to provide a brief outline of what I have liked (and disliked) most about my Feelfree Lure 11.5 fishing kayak. I’ve spent three months fishing out of the kayak an average of once a week and I could not be more excited to share this experience with you. 

I am just going to provide a call-out list of my favorite things in no particular order to give you an idea of what has really tickled-my-fancy about this kayak so far. 

Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend this fishing kayak to anyone, no-matter where their angling skill level and experience. It’s a blast to fish from.

What I Love About the Feelfree Lure 11.5 Fishing Kayak

The Wheel in the Keel

The wheel in the keel system that Feelfree has patented is very useful. Simply grab the molded front handle and lift to about waist height and you’re ready to roll.

Literally.

The wheel is fully engaged and rolls extremely well. I LOVE not having to mess with a taxi or kayak cart of any kind. I simply roll my kayak over to my car. Throw it on top. Drive. Take it off. And roll it to the water. It’s so simple, fast, and easy. I love this feature.

The Seat

First, this is a very comfortable seat and this was important to me when selecting my yak. I planned to spend a lot of time in it. Second, it’s extremely easy to adjust. I’d say it’s the most simple and easy seat to adjust on the market. There’s a small red strap towards the bottom front of the seat that hangs. I simple grab it and pull the seat up or give it a quick yank directly upwards to drop it lower. It’s so easy and simple.

Feelfree Lure

Why does this matter?

Because I love the ability to transition from high to mid to low seat settings throughout my fishing trips.

Why does that matter?

Because if I am in current or in wind, it’s very nice to be able to drop the seat super quickly and have a lower center of gravity and more aerodynamics to efficiently paddle. When I get to a spot I can quickly transition to a higher position for better fishability. It’s just awesome. 

The Appearance

This thing just looks cool. I love the unique desert camo mold that this kayak comes in. It has a nice and flat profile that just looks lean and mean compared to many of the other kayak hulls on the market. There are some very tall profiles out there. This kayak just looks clean, hydrodynamic, and stable. And, it is.

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I simply love how this thing looks.

The Versatile and Removable Center Pod Console

As your on the water it’s very convenient to have this accessible and water sealed pod to keep valuables, chargers, phone, keys, etc. Feelfree has designed this center pod to be very flexible in use. It comes with pre-drilled and sealed holes to run wires for electronics or transducers.

It’s also very easy to remove if you’d like for storing.

I have mounted a Ram Mount X-grip to the top of mine where I keep my phone running the ANGLR app while fishing. I keep a power bank inside the main compartment and run a lightning cable up through their pre-fabricated hole. It works extremely well. I just throw my Iphone on the mount when I hit the water and I am ready to go without having to worry about power. In the future, I can even swap this pod out for the Feelfree pedal drive system. 

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The Walkable Deck and Overall Layout

This one is pretty straightforward. There is plenty of room between the seat and where the center pod and elevated bow begin. I can take a few shuffle steps easily for rotating while standing in this boat without running into space issues.

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I like how it’s a nice clean and clear area for standing.

I feel everything is where it should be. Rear stern storage is also very well laid-out and I can quickly access tackle and other items with plenty of storage. 

The Stability

This was very important to me as I knew I wanted to be fishing standing up often. I love to power fish and there’s just something about power fishing and covering water that doesn’t feel right sitting down. You get extra visibility for sight fishing as well when you’re standing.

This kayak feels very stable when I am standing. I go from sit to stand in this kayak constantly. Oftentimes I don’t even use anything to stabilize myself when transitioning and stand up completely un-assisted. This kayak handles all my fumbling around on my feet, rotating while standing, rookie hook-sets and all my shenanigans with ease. The hull design is very stable for standing yet it wants to move in the water. I love it.

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The Built in Paddle Storage

When you’re done paddling and need somewhere quick and easy to stow your paddle, having a quick and easy place to put it is incredibly important. Think about how often you will switch from paddling to casting and you’ll have a good understanding of why this is.

Feelfree nailed their built in paddle storage.

They placed two built in locations on either side of the kayak where the paddle rests perfectly on a molded perch that is perfectly integrated into their molded handles. You can quickly secure the paddle into this slot with a built in bungee that is easy to fasten with one hand. I use this feature constantly and I have really grown to appreciate the thoughtful design.

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The Molded Handles

Now, you don’t really think about handles as one of the big features of your kayak until you try to move said kayak. These things aren’t a powder puff to throw around. They have some girth. After loading this thing on top of my Ford Explorer and then unloading it the first time, I was incredibly grateful for the nice molded style handles that Feelfree provides on all four sides of this kayak. They are solid, convenient, and absolutely essential after hauling this thing around for the past three months.

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Lots of Goodies Come Stock

Rod mounts. Adjustable foot pegs. Rear storage bungees. Crate straps. Rod leashes. Seat storage pockets. Tackle box storage inlays and bungees. Paddle management. Handles. Tracking. 

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What I Don’t Love About the Feelfree Lure 11.5

Nothing is perfect. After fishing in this boat for the past three months, here’s the things that I’d change if I were Feelfree.

The Seat Upper Back Support Isn’t the Best

The upper seat support seams to hit your back a little bit lower in the lumbar area than it should. It can cause some discomfort after spending six hours or more on the water. Feelfree does sell an upgrade to fix this issue and I will most likely be grabbing the upgrade. 

The Standing Strap

This kayak (and many others on the market) comes with a strap to help you stand from sitting position. It is attached to the deck right in front of the removable pod in the Lure. I found this to be completely unnecessary and it mostly gets in the way. I removed it after the first two uses. Not a big deal at all. Just not something I loved. 

Tracks Need Adapters

Another minor gripe that I have run into was the track system on Feelfree kayaks. They require an adapter in order to use many aftermarket accessories. This was easily fixed with a pack of adapters I got on Amazon, but it would be nice if they were just the standard track size that played nicely with most of the other big players in the aftermarket kayak accessory space. 

Front Bow Storage Cannot Fit Rods

I’d love to be able to store some rods in the sealed front hatch of this kayak, but I haven’t found a way to get them to fit properly. This would be a nice feature when transporting and storing the yak.

Final Warning… 

I have to warn you, if you’re thinking about getting into kayak fishing, it’s very addicting. Especially in a boat like the Feelfree Lure. I have found myself constantly thinking about the next time I can get on the water and where to take the kayak next. It truly is the best anti-depressant and stress-relief I have found. I truly feel free while I am on the water (see what I did there?).

To quote my buddy Shaye Baker…

“Once you go, you know. And now I know.”

Fish Bump Board | The Top 3 Kayak Measuring Boards

When kayak fishing tournaments started using the Catch, Photo, Release (CPR) format, a consistent and accurate kayak measuring board was needed. In the early days, the main fish bump board used was the Hawg Trough. The Hawg Trough was great; it was light, cheap, and reliable. 

As tournaments progressed and expanded, other options have arrived offering many advantages and differences from their predecessors. While these measuring boards may not seem all that flashy, you can’t win a tournament without them, so take the time to pick out the option that works best for you.

Fish Bump Board #1: Ketch Board

I can still remember getting ready for the 2018 KBF National Championship and seeing the advertisements for the lime green KBF Edition Ketch board. At first, I saw a really expensive Hawg Trough, but after getting my hands on one in person, all of those assumptions went out the window. 

The Ketch Board is KBF and Hobie approved for their tournaments and is one of only a few approved measuring boards for these events. One thing I hear all the time from fellow anglers are comments about the price of the Ketch Board. At first glance, it is expensive. When you consider how many plastic boards you break over the years, it ends up being about two and a half of those and trust me, your Ketch Board isn’t going to break.

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The first thing you’ll notice about a Ketch Board is the quality. 

Each Ketch Board is made of milled aluminum, there’s no question that this board is going to last a lifetime. If you’re someone who’s into a specific color, Ketch offers custom colors and engravings allowing anglers to build their own unique design or represent their local club. The quality of the powder coating applied allows great visibility of the measurement lines making the judge’s lives much easier.

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Now, with that build quality, comes a less than buoyant product, so be sure to grab a Neverlost Leash to protect your investment. 

Ketch Boards are 100% American made, and if you ever get a chance to chat with some of the folks from Ketch, you’ll know you’re getting the absolute best quality product. Grab yourself a Ketch board, you won’t regret it!

Fish Bump Board #2: YakGear Fish Stik

The YakGear Fish Stik is a natural evolution from the classic Hawg Trough, constructed out of more durable plastic and being able to fold closed to be stowed safely out of the way. A bit of a disclaimer before going on too far about the Fish Stik, be sure to purchase the KBF and KATS approved versions of this product if you plan to use it for fishing tournaments. These boards have darkened markers and numbers making it easier for judges to review fish. 

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Another key advantage to this product that should not be understated, it floats!

Fish Bump Board #3: Hawg Trough

The Hawg Trough is an absolute staple of any competitive kayak angler. I would be willing to bet that every kayak angler who competes in tournaments has had a Hawg Trough at one point in time throughout their career. 

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The Hawg Trough is a cheap and reliable option for anglers of all levels and can even be customized for additional strength or to help it float in case it finds itself overboard. 

There’s not a whole lot to the Hawg Trough other than its a cheap and reliable measuring board for CPR tournaments.

Setting Up a Kayak for Fishing | Mike Cheatham’s Kayak Setup Tips

So, you are headed out fishing in your kayak. By now you have all the basics and are looking at all the stuff to carry on the water, stuff you think you will need. There is a simple question you need to ask yourself; where do you plan on fishing this weekend? I ask you to ask yourself this question because it will be critical to setting up a kayak for fishing.  

If you plan to drop the kayak off an embankment and fish some hard to access water, you may not want to load up several tackle bags or all the attachments you own. If you are going to back down to a nice ramp and fish open water, the considerations are different.  

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Robert Guigar fishing a small creek.

Setting Up a Kayak for Fishing: Take Only What You Need

I am among the worst at carrying things I don’t need, packing entirely too much gear on top of my kayak “just in case”, but I did learn on a recent trip to rethink that practice. I dropped my kayak into a smaller creek, loaded up all of my rods and tackle and headed upstream. I hit a spot with light rapids… snagged my rods on a tree, had it pull my Engel cooler over because I couldn’t get stopped soon enough, and came home missing one of my favorite Mojo Bass rods. 

Now, I stop and ask myself where I am headed and what to expect.

Setting Up a Kayak for Fishing: Preparing for a Shallow, Moving Water Outing

Skinny water fishing (shallow or narrow creeks) can provide unique challenges. First, you will not want to have several rods standing up behind you, these will snag every tree or bush you pass. I can tell you, there is nothing more fun than reaching behind you hoping to catch your rods just in time to see them disappear underwater as they shake loose from a tree that pulled them out of your kayak (second warning). If this occurs in rapid water – it is challenging to control the kayak while trying to retrieve them. Second, there is always the potential to get hung on an obstruction. These can cause anything from simply being stuck on the bottom or a log, to getting spun sideways and over into the water.  

One of the first videos I saw when learning about kayaking was of my friend Anthony Shingler’s adventures on a local creek. I watched as everything inside his kayak exited and created a debris field as far as the camera could capture. So this leads to another important consideration on these types of water, especially if you expect a faster water flow; attach stuff to your kayak.  Bungees, leashes, rod holders, tackle storage options with the lids in place can save you a lot of grief. You should think about buying waterproof tackle storage boxes, carry a dry bag with wallets and/or phones (and extra clothes) to keep things dry should you capsize. You should also use any storage space under hatches on these trips.

If you are going to be shallow for long stretches, you will most likely not need to worry about dealing with a depth finder either. When you can feel the bottom with your rod, or even see the bottom, all that cool side imaging will not really provide you much value. I fished out of a small jon boat for over twenty years without any depth finder at all because I stayed in water from six inches deep to ten feet. It was the style of fishing that provided me the most happiness, and it would have only provided me the added knowledge of water temperature.

Setting Up a Kayak for Fishing: Preparing for a Deeper, Calm Water Outing

Now, if you are going on a calmer body of water you still need to think about not taking too much, but you have more options. Rods can be stored upright, you can feel better setting tackle boxes and bags in the kayak because you have a smaller risk of being on the receiving end of an overturned boat. It will be easier to stand up and stretch or fish standing up, and digging through all the extra stuff behind your seat will be much easier. I would still encourage you to leash some items down, and use waterproof boxes; the only time I ever flipped my kayak I was sitting on the boat ramp – so it can happen anywhere.

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Tom Monahan ready to launch.

The latest depth finders will be of greater value on larger and more open bodies of water. They help you to locate humps and grass lines, or to simply navigate with charts. You can find fish on ledges and stumps you might pass over without fishing and set waypoints to use on future trips.  Couple this with data you have collected from the ANGLR app over time and you will start looking like a real pro…. okay, maybe you’ll just catch more fish.

Make sure you attach a flag (like the YakAttack VisiCarbon) to make your kayak more visible to boats on larger bodies of water. This can help when you are in swells, or if there are a lot of personal watercraft buzzing around. Also, wear your life jacket on any trip you plan. I know it is more comfortable to fish without it hugging you, but it is the one thing that can help you make it home; so others can hug you.  

I cannot stress enough the importance of a PFD when kayaking.  

Again, when setting up a kayak for fishing, make sure you know where you plan to fish. Consider the plan for each trip, they are not all the same, so be prepared for the body of water you are fishing. Lay out your rods and tackle with location, water conditions and even what species you are targeting in mind. Twelve rods on board, rolling over rapids, with all of your tackle could end with you missing a Mojo Bass rod or with your friends making a video of your stuff floating off into the distance.

Hobie Bass Open Series | Hobie BOS 2019 Lake Guntersville Recap

With a feeling that it was as much a gathering of old friends and family as a tournament including many of the top kayak anglers, the final event of the inaugural Hobie BOS season was held at Lake Guntersville on September 21st-22nd. Under the direction of AJ Mcwhorter and Kevin Nakada, with Frank Stapleton helping to keep things flowing, 81 anglers gathered at the Guntersville Town Hall for the captain’s meeting.  

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Russell Johnson prepping outside of the Guntersville Town Hall.

The competitors were discussing pre-fishing across the 69,000 acres of water that lay between Nickajack and Guntersville Dams, inspecting the new Hobie 360 prototype model and enjoying a barbeque and a cake that was brought out to celebrate Matt Brook’s birthday. Matt is a Hobie team member who had helped to coordinate the event and the crowd sang happy birthday before he welcomed us to the area.  

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Shortly after, professional bass angler Randy Howell spoke to the crowd about his impressions of kayak tournaments and the camaraderie that is prevalent among our community.  

Randy, like many bass boat anglers, has discovered the beauty and simplicity of our sport and talked about pedaling a Hobie close to his home and maybe one day, joining us in a tournament.  He also offered advice about where the fish might be found on Guntersville, his home lake, and shared stories of his success during the Bassmaster Classic. If you get a chance to hear him speak or share stories, you will find him to be quite down to earth and entertaining.

Hobie BOS 2019 Lake Guntersville: Pre-Fishing

Comments about pre-fishing ranged from “I did alright” (code for smashed ‘em) to “I couldn’t find a fish” to “I was all over them for the last two days, but not today”. Many of the anglers had spent anywhere from three to five days on the water; some had come every weekend for the last month, and all were excited by the possibilities when hitting the water.

Grass seemed to be a key factor and the lures, well, the reports seemed to show that you could throw about anything if you found the fish, but frogs were successful early; chatterbait, spinnerbaits and soft plastics were the next top choices.

Tennessee angler, Steve Owens, had several locations where he had found fish. Matthew Brannon, Jesse Halverson, and several others reported being on schools that were active most of the day; Russell Johnson and Matt Ball had traveled far south and felt they had located some fish – and hoped “they would fire up in the morning”.  Josh Stewart had come to Guntersville, had some gear issues, drove back home, then back to the lake – so he had not been on the water a lot; he was pretty quiet about what he had found but has had success on the lake in the past fishing toward Nickajack.

Hobie BOS 2019 Lake Guntersville: Day One

The water temperatures were a bit lower as the launch time neared, fish were popping across the water and hundreds of bass boats were launching for several local tournaments. Everyone expected to see a lot of traffic, but with kayaks, it is easy to get into places that they will never find accessible on tournament days. Some anglers still reported interactions with boat anglers and losing their spots to guys who could get there first.

Several anglers found success early with topwater baits. I personally had a very sensitive bite that would turn off by nine, so I fished quick and pulled 83.25-inches with a Stanley ribbit frog and a Rapala Skitterpop before the sun killed my bite, and this was true for many anglers.  

Josh Stewart caught them on frogs and senkos as he pulled in 97.5-inches on day one and was leading the crowd with the second-place angler on day one, Alabama angler, Tim Van Polen, was only 4.25-inches behind. Tim had borrowed a kayak, fished his first kayak event, and taught everyone watching that any day can be your day!

Matthew Brannon had planned to catch a limit of bass then move to a ledge. He was fishing in the same area as his wife Amanda. They were throwing spinnerbaits on day one, when it was hung in the grass, he would rip it and the fish would react. His bite turned on later than most, but he found them in a pocket and stayed after them. He was only 2.5-inches behind the second-place angler with a 4-inch lead over fourth place.

After day one, the top twenty were easily within range of the top spots, 32 anglers did not catch a limit and five anglers on the board did not record a fish. But one of the best stories of the day came from an angler who only recorded a single fish.

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A day-one bright spot!

Glen Landstrom had fished a frog for almost three hours, but there hadn’t been wind in the area he was fishing and the wind was key. A solid twenty-inch fish was the only opportunity, but it missed the frog after blowing up on it.  

“After twenty minutes, I came to terms and moved on. Around noon I figured with the lack of wind and high sun the fish had pushed far back under the pads, so I moved in ever so painfully slow.”  

Then Glen pulled out a 10” ribbon tail in watermelon candy color.  After feeling that the watermelon seemed to blend in with the vegetation just a bit too well in the heavily stained water, he switched to a 10” Okeechobee Craw ribbon tail and tested it by dropping it next to the front hatch.  

“I was standing… yo-yo’d it a few times… in a flash, she came up from the hydrilla and crushed it!”  

The catch, a 23.5-inch fish, was the largest of the event bit while he was testing the visibility of the lure. He thought he had found the winning ticket, and stuck with it over day one and most of day two with nothing to show for it.  

“I should have pulled out and went to search for numbers instead of size, but it is what it is.”  

Glen is a solid angler, if you check out his TourneyX profile you can see that he, like many of us do, just had a bad tournament.  

I was able to ask him a little about what he does when he isn’t fishing, and what got him into kayaking.  

“I own a flooring and remodeling company, self-employed more or less, so it takes all my free time other than the time I spend with my girls. I guess I started about 6-years ago when I lived in Florida fishing the back canals and the big O in a simple Sun Dolphin. I’ve been tournament fishing now for 4 years from a yak. I got into it simply because I sold my bass boat through the move and had to get back on the water. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of help from my fiancé Stacia Meyer procuring some sponsorship from Picasso Lures, K9 fishing line, and tacklegarage.net.”

Hobie BOS 2019 Lake Guntersville: Day Two

On the second day, some anglers who had found fish continued to catch them and others struggled. Josh Stewart ended the day in fifteenth place while Steve Owens and his good friend Ryan Lambert had turned the tables. Ryan had finished eleventh on day one but was tied with Chris Walters and Adam Shepard for third on day two.  

Matthew Brannon was the only angler from the top ten on day one to make that list for day two. He caught fish all day using a Picasso Shock Blade, lipless crankbait and a Zoom Speed worm.  

Steve had been fishing with Chris Walters, and they had a few places to choose from on day two. Chris had pre-fished a small cut off the main river and the fish seemed to move in and out during the day. After day one, Chris was in twelfth place and Steve was thirty-third, but day two saw a big shift for Steve.

They had pulled into that cut and in forty-five minutes, Steve had recorded 82.5-inches after switching to an Owner brand underspin and throwing it in the grass. He and Chris talked about moving, but Chris told him to “stick with it… you might be in this”.  So the two set up a “milk run” and kept rotating through the spot all day.  After going to his truck to cool off, Steve thought they may be down in the grass, so he picked up a Rage Menace and a rod with 12-pound test on it. 

“The 15-pound test I was fishing wouldn’t let it fall into the grass, but the 12 seemed to work better. I flipped it in there and jiggled it and it dropped… next thing I know, I landed a 20.75-incher. I flipped it back in and caught a 17-incher.”  

He said he needed one more good one, and it wasn’t long before he landed a 20.25-incher.

“We were whacking them in front of a bass boat, and it wasn’t long before the boat had pulled up the trolling motor and headed out!”

Steve credited rooming with Rus Snyders and Adam Riser for setting the tone of the tournament.  

“Those guys are great! The atmosphere was just kinda chill, and it made it easier to focus on fishing. I made up my mind that I was going to listen to that little voice telling you what you should do.” 

It worked out for Steve who measured an impressive 98.25-inches.

Hobie BOS 2019 Lake Guntersville: Final Standings

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The top nine gather around to see how the cards will play out.

Josh Stewart, arguably the best angler on the Tennessee River system, had gone to his location on day one and found Ryan Lambert, Jordan Marshall, and others in bass boats at his chosen location. On day two, other kayak anglers who had pre-fished the area also moved to the same part of Lake Guntersville. He had only found four fish until late in the day and knew that Steve Owens was climbing the leaderboard and was a bit worried. But the Tennessee native is never one to give up and is very meticulous in how he attacks an area and found his fifth fish to hold off the charge from Owens to win the event and punched his ticket to the Hobie Worlds for the second time. 

Steve Owens had moved from thirty-third to second and Matthew Brannon landed third; both winning a berth in the Hobie Tournament of Champions. Clayton Shilling, Eric Thomason,
Ryan Lambert, Chris Walters, Jordan Marshall, Cole Kleffman, Ron Champion, and Kristine Fischer tied to round out the top ten. Five of the top ten coming from Tennessee.  

First Place: Josh Stewart

Hobie BOS 2019 Lake Guntersville(5)

Josh Stewart with AJ Mcwhorter on stage after winning the event.

Set to attend his second Hobie Worlds, in the running to be the only angler to repeat as a member of the Ten in KBF every year, an angler with an incredible list of wins and top finishes across both trails and a pretty cool dude on top of that; there is not much else to say that he doesn’t say every time he launches his Jackson on tournament day. Josh’s dedication to the sport, ability to find fish under the most difficult of conditions and his humble attitude all combine to make him one of the best in the kayak bass fishing world. He is very aware of his abilities on the water but doesn’t seem to let it go to his head and is willing to tell you how it all happens and share some of his techniques.

Sponsors have taken notice – and more should; he is a member of the Jackson Kayak Team, the YakAttack team, and on the pro-staff for Hog Farmer Bait Company and All Pro Rods.  

Second Place: Steve Owens

Hobie BOS 2019 Lake Guntersville(6)

Steve Owens with his second-place check.

A conversation with Steve Owens is easy. He is an extremely open and friendly guy who grew up with his family “a hard baseball throw from each other” along the banks of Nickajack Lake and is very active in the Tennessee kayak community when he isn’t working in maintenance at a concrete plant in Chattanooga; a plant that his grandfather had worked at for many years.    

He was crappie fishing his whole life, but had never really bass fished or been in a kayak when Ryan Lambert started talking about kayaks.  

We rode to Asheville to pick up a kayak… then I started pan fishing out of a kayak. Later, Lambert fished a tournament and told me “man, you have got to get into this!”. 

“So I bought an All-Star rod from Nik Brown who lives down the road from me, bought a Rooster Tail… threw it and caught a 16-inch bass.”  

He decided to fish a Chattanooga Bass Yakkers tournament the next weekend, four and a half years ago and has been kayak fishing since.  

“I don’t know if it is something primal or not, but I enjoy kayak fishing way more than fishing from a boat. It is like bow hunting and I feel like I have conquered something that day. It is more like you are on the fishes level when you catch them from a kayak.”   

After his initial kayak, Owens traded a 1911 Sig for a Jackson Big Rig because he needed something sturdier to fish out of; then realized he needed to get a pedal drive and bought a Native Slayer Propel and has been in a Native ever since.  

He is now on the Native Team and one of the organizers for Native’s Watercraft Tournament of Champions kayak tournament to be held on Lake Guntersville October 5th, on the Hook1 team; and pro-staff for Picasso Lures, Denali rods, Power Team soft plastics, Kayak Kushion, Line Out Custom Tackle, and Dakota Lithium.  

Third Place: Matthew Brannon

Hobie BOS 2019 Lake Guntersville(7)

Matthew Brannon with his third-place check, also held by professional angler, Randy Howell.

Matthew of Charleston, South Carolina is a kayak angler who spends more time on the water than about any of us. He is an electronics technician with the Coast Guard who spends long periods patrolling on a 418-foot national security cutter. He recently made chief and may be moving; potentially affecting his ability to fish tournaments but not to spend time in the outdoors.  

His father, a Navy man who fished semi-professionally, carried Matthew with him chasing the bass fishing trails. He had a radio talk show for a bit, rigged bass boats for people… that is where he got started in bass fishing.

“I was living where Katrina hit and had a couple of boats and fished tournaments. I sold them when I moved to Alaska… then bought a john boat to get on the water… sold it, but needed to get back on the water.”

Matthew was later in Jacksonville and saw some folks fishing from a kayak and figured it would be a fairly inexpensive way to get back on the water.  

“I went to Black Creek Outfitters to demo a Wilderness Systems Ride 135 and was going to get one.  I ran into some Hobie kayakers who convinced me to try one and ended up in a 2009 Hobie PA14.”   

Matthew is now on the Hobie team and on staff for Picasso Lures, River to Sea, Lews, Kistler Rods, Pro-Cure bait scents, Vicious Fishing and a TourneyX ambassador.

Many of you on the kayak trail recognize Matthew and his wife Amanda and can read about their adventures as the Outdoor Power Couple on the blog. Matthew and Amanda, both very active in the kayak community will be at the Worldwide Women’s Fishing Federation’s event on Lake Taneycomo October 10-13th, and Matthew says he is doing some cooking. It appears that registration is closed, but you can reach out to Kristine Fischer, Mel Ashe, or Amanda Brannon for more information.

Planning a Fishing Trip: How to Plan a Kayak Trip With the ANGLR App

Featured Image Credit: Scott Beutjer

One of my favorite parts of the ANGLR app is the number of different ways it can be used. The more I use this app and the more updates are released, the advantages offered are only expanding. When I first started using the app, I thought I would simply track my fishing trips and mark good spots to fish and areas where fish were caught. I soon realized that I was only utilizing a small sliver of what the app could provide. 

During the days leading up to a fishing tournament, anglers are constantly sharing tips and information with each other and while I appreciate the communication, I’ve never cared for a last-minute change in approach. I’ve been around many anglers who’ve completely changed their game plan based on some information they heard from someone that turned out to be third or fourth hand. Using the ANGLR app to breakdown a body of water, I’m able to see things for myself and target areas that I think will be productive based on my confidence baits.

Here’s a rundown of how I plan a day out on the water using the ANGLR app.

Planning a Fishing Trip: Find Water

This probably seems silly to read at first, but there are plenty of weekends that come up where I’m set on going fishing just not certain as to where I want to go. To assist in my decision, I open the ANGLR app and take a look at what’s around me. With satellite imagery or topographic imagery, I’m able to easily locate a body of water and assess it’s accessibility. 

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There have been plenty of times when I’ve located a body of water close to my house that I never knew existed. Some of my biggest bass this year have come from small bodies of water that aren’t popular fishing spots. These fishing holes would be tough to find without detailed maps. The ANGLR app’s topographical maps can even give you a sneak peek of what the depths look like on a pond or lake before fishing it.

Planning a Fishing Trip: Check the Weather

As a kayak angler, it’s really important to be aware of the current and forecasted weather conditions. Kayaks these days are super stable, but they can only do so much when the weather gets bad. Not only does ANGLR Premium provide a live weather radar, but it also provides a 72-hour wind map which has become a staple in my fishing preparation. 

Knowing what the wind is going to do allows me to decide if it’s safe to go fishing but also where the fish should be active based on the wind direction. The weather on the ANGLR app is regularly updated and can be checked while you’re out on the water as well just in case something changes. 

Planning a Fishing Trip: Logbook

For years, I’ve planned to start a fishing journal where I record the details of every fishing trip I go on. I had the intention to start, but I’d never actually done it. Well… until this season.

Now, the ANGLR app does it for me by tracking your trips, catches, and waypoints that you record with the Bullseye. Come next season, I’ll be more prepared for events when I can just refer to the previous trips on a body of water. I’m looking forward to using this historical information to help me ensure my pre-fishing and events are more focused and my approach is more effective.

Kayak Fishing Apps | The Top 5 Kayak Fishing Apps

There has never been a better time to be a kayak angler. Advances in the design of kayaks and their accessories have provided all kinds of advantages for the kayak angler. To go along with kayaks and their accessories, developers have created kayak fishing apps that put a whole world of information within the palm of our hands. 

This work has resulted in powerful applications that allow anglers to access all kinds of information, log information about their trips, connect with other anglers, hold kayak fishing tournaments, and more. Here are my top 5 fishing apps.

Kayak Fishing Apps #1: ANGLR

You’re most likely reading this article on the ANGLR website, so let’s address the obvious concern right off the bat. I write for ANGLR but I’m not obligated to include this app on my list. The ANGLR app is rated at the top of this list because of my own usage and experience.

I first heard about this app at the 2019 KBF National Championship. During that time a friend gave me an ANGLR Bullseye and I started using it immediately. At first, it seemed like the app was more of a tracker, something that you turned on at the start of your trip to see where you went. That seemed interesting to me but not really enough to get me using it all the time. 

When you add the ANGLR Bullseye, the app becomes an all in one fishing experience, allowing you to log your trips, plan future trips, and check current weather conditions. The folks at ANGLR are hard at work as you read this, adding new features to the app itself while increasing the functionality of the Bullseye. 

Kayak Fishing Apps(1)

With this app, I’m able to look back through fishing trips and remember what the conditions were like and what the fish were biting the last time I was there. 

I’ve intended to start a fishing journal for years and with the ANGLR app, I’ve finally done that. With this app, I can track every spot that I’ve fished, every location that I’ve caught a fish, and with the new updates, track the equipment I was using when I made the catch. This app, along with the Bullseye, has changed how I fish.

Kayak Fishing Apps #2: TourneyX

If you’ve ever competed in a kayak fishing tournament, then you’re probably well aware of what the TourneyX app is. If you’re unfamiliar, TourneyX is an online fishing tournament management application that allows anglers to compete in tournaments without requiring them to bring fish to weigh in. 

The app works like this, you catch a fish, place that fish on a measuring device in accordance with your clubs rules. Take a photo of that fish then upload that photo to the app. Once the photo is uploaded, it’s reviewed by judges who determine that the fish is a legal catch or not. These tournaments typically go by overall length and use a unique identifier code and GPS location in order to prevent cheating.

Kayak Fishing Apps(2)

This app has changed how fishing tournaments are run and for kayak fishing tournaments in particular, has completely changed the game. 

If you get a chance, check out TourneyX’s site and their social media pages, Dwayne Walley is always sharing new updates and features that they’re trying out in order to improve the app and its service. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into an app like this and it really benefits kayak anglers everywhere!

Kayak Fishing Apps #3: Navionics

One of my favorite things about kayak fishing tournaments is the number of places I’ve fished that I wouldn’t have otherwise. A major challenge with this is not always having the time to pre-fish or scout out a body of water before a tournament. 

This is where Navionics comes in. If you’ve never heard of Navionics, think of it as a Google Maps on steroids, for water. Navionics offers maps for bodies of water that displays depth, hazards, and other markers on the water. This resource can easily be the difference between catching fish and not. There have been countless times where I’ve spotted a drop-off that looked interesting, gone to that spot, and found fish.

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The number of details on these charts can be overwhelming, but once you get the hang of it, you won’t fish without checking Navionics first.

Kayak Fishing Apps #4: Scoutlook Fishing

Scoutlook fishing is an app that I’ve used on and off for the past few years. It’s a great app for really breaking down weather and how it could impact the fish and what they’ll be interested in. To be completely honest, I don’t use this app much anymore due to the recent additions to the ANGLR app, but Scoutlook is still a trusted back up.

Kayak Fishing Apps(4)

This app has changed quite a bit over the years and now seems to have settled on the weather as a focus, offering some great detailed forecasts.

Kayak Fishing Apps #5: Fishidy

Fishidy is a great platform for anglers to find fishing hot spots while breaking down the water. Known as a map based social fishing app that allows anglers to network their data with others, it’s a great way for anglers to find a honey hole. I have to admit, I’ve found myself obsessing over this more than a couple of times. 

Nevertheless, this app connects anglers from all over the world and lets you follow along on their adventures and fishing trips.

Kayak Fishing Apps(5)

This app offers many great features that will get you acclimated to a body of water in a hurry.

2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama

The weather, though a bit warm, cooperated to allow kayakers to fish under blue skies with little wind in Alabama last weekend. Three Tennessee River lakes – Wheeler, Wilson, and Pickwick – were in play for the 2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama on September 6-7th for the 52 anglers enrolled. The city along the banks of Wilson and Pickwick lakes was the headquarters for the event and the city welcomed the kayakers at the Florence-Lauderdale Coliseum. At the check-in, Chad Hoover announced this venue will be the site for the 2020 KBF Trail Championship; an event to look forward to next year.

2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama: Pre-Fishing

Pre-fishing reports were all over the place. Many anglers reported catching one or two fish over the course of two days, nothing to really give confidence that there was a solid pattern, while others had found schools by Thursday evening.

Kristine Fischer had considered heading back home after a couple of long days on the water under the Alabama sun. It had taken a toll on her as she spent time searching for fish before settling into a spot that showed promise. I personally had traveled almost twenty miles, fishing three locations, to only land a fourteen-inch fish on Wheeler Lake and was wishing I had opted to watch SEC football from the couch.

Steve Leaman and Ryan Marshall, regulars on the trail, had only found small fish along the banks of Elk Creek; while Mike Elsea, Josh Stewart, Cody Milton, Jimmy Mcclurken, Chuck Mizer, and Adam Riser had found schooling bass. If everyone’s fish held up, it was set up to be an interesting tournament.

2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama: Day One  

2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama(1)

Kris Hummel – Tennessee angler fishing a scum line out of his Native kayak.

Tennessee anglers did well on day one with 5 of the top 10 coming from the state. Kris Hummel ended day one in second place fishing in water over an hour and a half from check-in on Wheeler Lake. He found 88.5-inches by mid-day fishing a Stanley Ribbit Frog across the wood.  He had studied videos and maps for weeks in preparation for the event and knew there was a good chance that this would be a successful pattern on tournament day. Kris had found the fish a week earlier fishing much slower, but soon realized they were more aggressive and wanted the frog swimming to hit it. He found the limit early and hoped the pattern would hold up for day two.

Chuck Mizer, finding schooling fish on the southwest portion of Pickwick Lake, was only a half-inch behind Kris. He had fished the lake several days over the past couple of weeks and had found fish in the grass; toward the backs of bays with topwater and senkos.

Craig Dye, still listed as a Tennessee angler now living in Georgia, was .25-inches behind him.  Craig, the Hook1 pro staff director, is always a threat. Whenever his name is on the list of anglers, you can watch for him to be a contender, and on day one – he was in the running.

Josh Stewart was tied with Craig after day one. He had been throwing a Storm Chug Bug and a frog. He found fish on the frog by fishing over leaves that had collected in the areas he was fishing. Josh had brought his Jackson Bite along because it was a much lighter boat. It allowed him to change locations often during pre-fishing, but the pattern he found was late in the week, so he focused on one area.  

Adam Riser, a Tennessee angler originally from Florence, caught 86.75-inches in a community hole he knew from his time as a kid fishing. He had spent his pre-fishing time riding around the area, and unlike other anglers, didn’t require a GPS. 

“I was just driving around a little distracted from nostalgia and fished some on all three lakes before settling on the spot.” 

He stayed in a small area throwing chatterbait, more specifically, a Jack Hammer, letting it fall to the bottom before jerking it up, then letting it fall again. There were a couple he caught on a Whopper Plopper, but he culled them as the day went on.

Places seven, eight, and nine went to Jared Atwell (an Alabama angler), Mike Elsea (the reigning National Champion from Indiana) and Jamie Dennison (one of the more consistent anglers on the KBF trail, from North Carolina).

Tenth place saw the fifth Tennessee angler, Jimmy Mcclurkan, finish with 84.25-inches of schooling fish. Jimmy found fish in a few locations during pre-fishing, but opted to spend his time chasing a group of schooling fish on the north side of Pickwick Lake. He had a quick 80-inches by throwing a Whopper Plopper over a hole in a grass bed in the back of a bay after watching three Osprey diving into the water to pull bass out of a big school, then pedaling over to them. His original plan had been to fish on the opposite side, but the birds changed his mind.  When the Plopper bite ended, he switched to a wacky rigged senko, but had issues keeping them pinned on day one.  

As the day ended, the Tennessee crew and the other top ten anglers fell short of Kristine Fischer’s impressive 94-inches. She had decided to stick it out after almost falling to heat exhaustion during pre-fishing; and showed the crowd her mettle on day one. Fishing to her strength, Kristine had found the fish and was landing them.

2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama: Day Two

Mike Elsea jumped on top of the board early before ending the day in second place fishing a two to three hundred yard stretch he found on the first day of pre-fishing. He avoided the spot during the rest of his fishing but didn’t get a “warm and fuzzy feeling” about any other spots he tried.  

“On day one, I had lost a solid 100 inches for sure… on a 3/8 ounce SinkeRSwim green pumpkin jig with the same color trailer.”  

He also lost some on topwater when they would hit and jump two or three feet out of the water or too close to the boat.  

“I have never made as many adjustments during tournament days as I did for this tournament… and I never missed any on day two. The fish I lost on day two, one broke off – one pulled off on a jig – and a 6.5-pounder just swam out of the net while I was trying to pick it up in the net!” 

He spoke of the day as one that could have been a record-setting day… he felt he should have blown this one out! 

Cody Milton of Arkansas, the KBF 2018 angler of the year, had been fishing on Pickwick both days. On day one, he had been fishing in sight of Kristine, but by nine in the morning, she had 95-inches and he had one fish on the board. 

“Feeling a little discouraged, I decided I needed to move ramps and just look at something different.”  

He found 80 inches in an hour, then went back to find the big fish and found nothing. All of his fish had come on an Accent buzzbait during day one, but he had only managed fourteenth place. On day two, he started where he had caught all of his fish on day one and had a decent limit in an hour. He found grass patches in the middle of the flat and ended up catching 94.5-inches in about forty minutes on a ⅜-ounce Accent Fishing River special spinnerbait.  Before he was done and in third place on day two, he had caught over 50 fish.

Josh Stewart’s pattern held, and he was fourth on day two. He didn’t catch the numbers of the other competitors, only nine or ten fish each day, and some of those were small coming on a wacky rig; but he found enough to stay at the top.

The other Tennessee anglers all changed positions on the leaderboard. Jimmy Mcclurkan was fifth, Rus Snyders sixth, Adam Riser eighth, and Chuck Mizer was just outside of the top ten in twelfth. Eric Cormack of West Virginia jumped to the top ten as did Larry Wood of South Carolina and Mel Ashe of Missouri.

As had been the case on day one, Kristine Fischer topped the crowd just shy of 100-inches with 99.25!

2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama: When the Dust Settled

2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama(2)

Kristine Fischer had remained consistent and topped the crowd by 11-inches to win the KBF Southeast Regional.  

Her angling abilities continue to impress all who are following the KBF and Hobie events during 2019. See her video recap of the event here and her interview with Scott Beutjer on the Weigh-In after the event. Y’all don’t miss the chance to watch and learn from one of the best anglers on the water; period. Her passion and ability are absolutely inspiring.

Mike Elsea finished second with an impressive showing, followed by Josh Stewart in third and Cody Milton at fourth. It would be difficult to find an event that did not find at least one of these four anglers in the top ten. It is shaping up to be an interesting ANGLR of the Year race!

Immediately behind was a cluster of Tennessee anglers who had been around the top on days one and two. Jimmy Mcclurkan had beaten his day one total by four inches to land in fifth, Adam Riser had used his hometown knowledge to pull a solid sixth place, Chuck Mizer was seventh and Russ Snyders at eighth.  

Alabama native Jared Atwell and Mel Ashe finished outside the top ten.  

The 2020 trail championship is going to be something to look forward to… with the totals caught over the two days; it is definitely going to be a good one!

2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama: A Few of the Anglers

2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama(3)

Mike Elsea of the Indianapolis, Indiana area is having a pretty decent year on the KBF trail. 

Any year you win the National Championship is a great start (or so I assume). But like the majority of kayak anglers, he doesn’t spend all of his time on the water. He is a biologist who works with hogs or consulting for deer and turkey management using his degree in wildlife management. But, he also does some double duty as a fitness trainer. Often his days start at 4:30 in the morning and end at 9:00 P.M.    

Mike wasn’t always a kayak angler. He had been a bass boat tournament guy, but as often happens to us all, “life gets in the way”. After time off the water, his buddy started texting him pictures of bass he caught out of a cheapo kayak. Mike bought one himself, did a bit of pond hopping before realizing he wanted to be all in and bought a Native Titan. 

“It put the fun back into it for me. When I was fishing Bassmaster events and not getting a check, it was getting too stressful.”  

He said that “life happening” was probably one of the best things that happened to him.

It might be surprising to know that he won the 2019 National Championship in his first full year as a kayak angler. He had fished challenges last year; his first “meet up” tournament coming at Toledo Bend last fall. His work ethic is very apparent in conversations with him and sponsors are noticing the young man. He is on the Native, Titan Tungsten and Torqueedo teams. Mike was very quick to credit Torqueedo with contributing to his success on Pickwick and speaks highly of the support he gets from Titan Tungsten.

2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama(4)

Left to right – Mike Elsea, Josh Stewart, Jimmy Mcclurkan (bottom) and Adam Riser 

Jimmy Mcclurkan of Dickson, Tennessee is also a newcomer to KBF and the Hobie trail events.  He fished from 2006 to 2012 as a member of the C & O fishing team, winning a BFL event on Center Hill from a bass boat, before dropping off the trail for a few years. Last August, he bought a Hobie PA14 from Caney Fork Outdoors after watching Chad Hoover on the television late one night. Now, he says, “I love the camaraderie and challenge of it all”. 

“You have to plan different and focus more from a kayak.”  

He isn’t sponsored by anyone but his wife, but is a believer in the Hobie and Ketch products and is hoping to get behind those brands moving forward.

Jimmy is a field operations manager for Batten and Shaw. The company mainly builds hospitals but will branch out from time to time. He started with another company sweeping floors, but when they asked him to move to Florida, he moved to Batten and Shaw; working his way up in the company.  

Adam Riser a former native of Florence, Alabama who lives in the Nashville area spent a lot of time when he was younger across the river playing music with the children of some of the famous Muscle Shoals musicians. He left and headed to California to play punk and hardcore music, “the angry stuff that made parents mad”.  

“I got a chance to live on the beach and play music, so I took the opportunity!”  

He used to surf before injuring his back, then he started fishing ponds in 2012 and got consumed with bass fishing. When he decided to move back to the southeast in 2013, he bought a kayak, found KBFTN and has been fishing since. 

“I got over being on the road with bands, but I get that fix now with the tournament trails… it is my meditation.”  

Rus Snyders and he are friends, and he credits Rus with helping him to learn what is the optimal pre-fishing time for himself. He is a member of the Bonafide team, the YakAttack team, affiliated with Hook1 and a pretty solid angler.

If you want a chance to meet Adam off the water, he works in Nashville on a pedal tavern where his girlfriend Jessica is the bartender. 

“I work from 9:00 A.M. to midnight Friday, Saturday and Sunday… often singing Miley Cyrus with a bunch of bachelorettes!”  

Adam is definitely one of the most interesting guys I have been able to talk with on the trail.

2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama: Day One Standings

2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama(5)

2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama: Day Two Standings

2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama(6)

2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama: Final Standings

2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama(7)

How Mike Cheatham Plans a Kayak Fishing Trip with the ANGLR App

This has by far been my least productive year since I started fishing kayak bass tournaments; if you only consider wins vs. well, not wins. And there is a voice inside my head that says this is all that matters, but I know that I have learned a lot; even in finishes below .500. So I work hard at not beating myself up and remembering that I am still a better angler than I was this time last year; and less than I will be this time next year – I just haven’t got it done on tournament days this year. 

New lures, new techniques on new waters and even a new kayak are a part of the growth I have experienced. I have spent more time watching the depth finder (too much maybe?) and understanding what lies beneath the water, more time watching the weather and even more time reading maps; but I am also taking it to a new level with the ANGLR app.

I would be lying if I said I was an instant convert. I have said before that the first time I talked with Derek at ANGLR, I told him that I was not a “journal” kind of guy.  I had never kept pages of documentation about lakes or what worked. To be transparent, I prided myself on just remembering what I used in certain conditions. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I learned to fully appreciate the value of the tool. I want to recount a tournament day to explain what I learned and how I can use the data I am collecting with the ANGLR app.

Looking Back at My Data

I was fishing in a creek during a CAKFG tournament, the place where I go to regain confidence, so I knew what to expect. It was late August, an afternoon tournament on local area creeks, the water was finally down to the summer pool after a lot of rain… and I could see shadows under the water – I couldn’t have been happier with the tournament timing. I knew the fish would be scattered on these spots between the hours of 5:30 p.m. until around 7:00 p.m.; they almost always were and would be busting some serious topwater.  Now, I had pre-fished and had not found them, but knew the possibilities existed for a great day (not the science of why) and who doesn’t love some topwater action.

The thing is, I had always said “they are either there, or they are not” about the creek. And if anyone asks, I will still say that is still true. But, I learned on that August afternoon (though not until after I had pulled into a 5-inch lead over the field) variables I hadn’t paid that much attention to until reviewing my ANGLR data.  

True to what experience had taught me about my home water, I didn’t catch fish from the starting time of 4 until about 5. Then I tossed a fluke over a protruding stick and hooked an 11-inch spot. Then I made it to a point where I could hear the voices of the other anglers who had gone further up the creek and I turned around.  

5:30; I popped a Baby Bass Spook Junior over one of the shadows just below the surface…and hooked a 6 to 7-pound bass! It fought, I got it to the boat, and then it dove under the kayak and cut itself loose on the fins. I thought, “now I will skunk”. It has been that kind of year, but before 7, I had hooked a 19.5, a 17.75 and a few 12’s before finishing at almost 7:30 with a 12.5-inch bass. Then nothing. It was exactly how many days had gone on Yellow Creek, and how many more will go.  

I recorded the trip with the Anglr app, and since I never fish after dark (ever) and got to check in long before the 10:30 time; I reviewed that data. Again, just a few days before, I had fished the same location with topwater and not had luck. I wanted to understand the “they are either there, or they are not” knowledge that I had come to expect from the creek.

Plans a Kayak Fishing Trip(1)

Plans a Kayak Fishing Trip(2)

Plans a Kayak Fishing Trip(3)

The water temperature had been the same, the flow was lower and the barometric pressure and wind had been different a few days earlier. On tournament day, between the hours I caught fish, the wind had picked up, the barometric pressure had seen a slight drop and the flow was slowing from above (around 5:30) to below what it had been (around 7:00) the day I didn’t have luck. And a few days later – I would fish the same location with the exact lure and only have a single blowup on the spook. The water temp had dropped 4-degrees, the water had risen 2-inches, and the barometric pressure and flow were not comparable.

I realize this is a small sample set and to fully understand the creek I have fished since I was a teenager. I will need to collect more data, but now I understand it can only help me to improve and hopefully win more; the science is real. I now have a picture of what affected my day, and what conditions had allowed me to catch fish on my favorite body of water.

Gathering More Data to Further My Learning

Kayak fishing is very different than running the rivers and lakes in a bass boat. Once you choose a location, you are making a commitment to fish an area, so planning is critical. By using the ANGLR app for all pre-fishing and tournaments to record conditions; I can collect data to better interpret what may be happening in similar areas, but also on different days. Before tournaments, I can use this data as a companion to map study, videos, friends and past experience to better form a game plan; helping me to understand conditions that lead to success during different times of the year on different bodies of water.  

It may not make me a winner on day one… but as I study maps, techniques and now my ANGLR data, I will only grow my knowledge and skill. I suggest that if you are new to this technology, as I am, take it somewhere you think you understand and use it to study familiar water. In my professional (corporate America) career, I have worked very hard to keep off the radar… stay off the screen. 

You can have an extremely good life and earn a living being virtually invisible, and life is much simpler. The thought of having that visibility has always been something I avoided, never wanted that bullseye on my back.  That hasn’t changed…but now I am thankful to have an ANGLR Bullseye on my hat.