I first met Tim Perkins at the 2017 National Championship/Open in the early morning hours as we waited to find out who had won some money. I had known about KBF for less than two months, had signed up for the Open (my fourth tournament ever) because I always wanted to fish a big tournament, and was sitting there all alone – I knew no one. Tim walked over and introduced himself and we started talking. Since then, we have shared a lot of water as he came up to fish subsequent National Championships and other KBF events.
Who is Tim Perkins… what is his life like?
Tim is a kayak angler from Heflin, Alabama (halfway between Birmingham and Atlanta) and he is known by everyone who fishes any amount at all. His southern personality can fill a room and get the attention of those around him; plus he can catch fish!
He fished professionally for a long time, then got out of it before meeting up with Drew Gregory and RiverBassin. That was the beginning of his time fishing in kayaks. He prefers skinny water but has the ability to be a threat on any body of water. That ability has not gone unrecognized in the industry either. He is the regional representative for Wilderness Kayaks southeastern team, has relationships with Torqueedo, Red Line, Pure Fishing, Abu Garcia, Ray Marine, and CableZ. Since retiring last May, he is finding more time to spend on his one addiction; fishing.
Tim Perkins | More Than Just a Kayak Angler
He retired after 34 years of teaching elementary physical education, coaching and driving the bus in the small community with a population of just under 3500 people. Twelve of those years was spent running an alternative school, but he found true reward teaching in a Cleburne County Elementary School. “It was so rewarding working with kids.”
Tim and his wife Michelle.
Tim met his wife, Michelle (Moore) Perkins, early in life but they didn’t spend all of their lives together. They eventually got back together after a ten-year gap and have been together since that day.
“She moved back home and we tell each other now that it was meant to happen that way. If we had gotten married when we were young, we would have killed each other!”
Several years ago, the couple turned an old rental house into Merry Little Lambs Early Learning Center in Heflin.
His thirteen-year-old twins, Fisher and Berkley, are still adjusting to dad putting them on the bus instead of driving the bus, but they are still very close.
“They never knew anything about me but daddy at school. I would load them on the bus, be at school, drive them home. They didn’t know anything else!”
Tim Perkins | Family Is Everything
Tim and the boys.
The pair came as a bit of a shock to Tim and his wife. Tim came home to find her a bit upset.
“I am pregnant, and it’s twins,” she told him.
Tim replied “What!”
“But you know what man, that’s been the easiest thing we’ve ever done. They have been such a blessing. We named them John Berkley and Joseph Fisher. Joseph Fisher was named after my best friend and John Berkley was named after my grandfather. Joseph and my grandfather John were two of the best fishermen I have ever known.”
“I fished with Joseph every weekend and was called in to practice one Saturday. On the way home, I passed a wreck and found out it was him. Man, it’s amazing how the good Lord takes care of you sometimes. It was just not my time.”
“I pray every day that God just makes it ok for me. God, I know you know what I need, but just make it ok.”
Michelle and Tim had five kids together but suffered one of the greatest losses a parent can endure when their son Hunter was in an accident coming back from iCast in July of last year.
“He was one of my pride and joys of life. And, uh, that kind of took the air out of my sails for a little bit. I mean it was like, well, the kayak community was just totally awesome, I could not, I mean there were people from everywhere, I mean everywhere. That’s the things that give me those good days. Sitting through that funeral, I needed that. To know how many lives that boy had actually touched, that’s what we are all supposed to be doing. I told my wife, you know what, I know this sounds awful but Hunter was like the big ‘ole neighborhood dog. Dude, he would go over here for a little while and they’d feed him, then he would go over there and they’d feed him… he was just a roundabout. Just full of life man!”
Tim has spent a lot of the last year changing his lifestyle to teach the twins how to live. It was hard on them, but they are making sure to make memories. “It is the one thing I try to say to them every day; we are out to make a memory today boys. Let’s make a good one.”
Tim and the Flukemaster Gene Jenson at Logan Martin.
I have to say, my conversations with Tim have always been easy. It is as if we have been life long friends. Whether we are talking about family, his early days kayaking with RiverBassin, or just about why were are at the Paris Fairgrounds at three in the morning… it is always pleasant and fun. Walk up to him at the next event and ask him to talk about his fishing history. It will be an adventure.
There are a lot of social media posts concerning the use of motors on kayaks during competition. The opinions cover the entire spectrum; from total acceptance to complete distaste for the option.
Regardless of where you stand, they are accepted on the KBF and BASS trails and it will be a hard sell to change that direction. Having written about motors, and sharing my opinion, I felt I should give you the perspective of two guys who are advocates for their use and have enjoyed success with them from their NuCanoe’s.
Cody Milton and Derek Brundle are two anglers having a great amount of success on the kayak trails. If you have not heard the names, you have not been following kayak bass fishing. Derek is coming off a KBF Rookie of the Year win and Cody just absolutely hammered the fish during the second BASS Nation event on Lake Fork utilizing a motor.
NuCanoe Additions | Cody Milton’s Trolling Motor Thoughts
Cody fished with a Torqeedo for years until recently joining with NuCanoe. He is now powered by a Motor Guide Xi3 and is definitely a motor guy;
“I don’t know how many events I will fish anymore without motors. The motor has become such a part of how I fish and practice now. You don’t have to fish tournaments that do not allow them to find big events to fish.”
“I am not like a lot of kayak people, I don’t really just like pure kayak fishing, so I like the motor. The way I like to fish, the motor really makes it nice for me.”
Milton also shared that he likes the amount of water you can cover. “It allows me to cover so much more water, and it really fits my type of fishing.”
NuCanoe Additions | Derek Brundle’s Trolling Motor Thoughts
Derek agrees with Cody about the motor being integral to his success, and how he fishes.
He has a more personal reason for leaning toward motors though;
“A little over five years ago I was diagnosed with cancer and had some pretty extensive chemo and radiation treatments which basically destroyed all of the muscles in my neck. If I paddle or pedal all day I cannot even move at the end of the day. I won’t say it is a necessity, but it works out for me.”
Brundle also runs the MotorGuide on a NuCanoe. “I use a MotorGuide 55lb thrust/12V Xi3 with the pinpoint GPS bow mounted on my kayak. That thing will hold you in 2 to 3-foot of a spot. It will also top out at about 4 or 4.3 mph.”
“I run an Amped Outdoors 100ah battery and run it all day long. I have been running the lithium for a good while and it is half the weight of a lead battery. I feel like I need to run far away from everyone, especially kayakers, and find that one secluded spot… so I make a 3-5 mile run to a spot, then fish my way back. I can get there in an hour, and I am not fatigued.”
Derek was also clear about his opinions on a foot control model but gave a friendly warning about the remote option.
“I have tried the foot control, but I am a fan of the hand remote because it tucks behind the PFD. Make sure you get familiar with the remote! The anchor button is close to the left button, it will stop you and spin you around; just a word of caution from experience!”
NuCanoe Additions | Same Opinions… Different Reasons
Both share the same opinions about motors; Cody seeing more in play while Derek is in favor of a little more restriction.
Milton feels certain that the world of kayaking tournament fishing will never see a completely motor-less future.
“I don’t think there is any way that motors are ever going to go away now. The more that people use them they become more of a crutch or staple; more people will be using them. I don’t think you are going to have a competitive series that doesn’t allow motors in the next year or two.”
“I don’t know how many events I will fish anymore without motors. The motor has become such a part of how I fish and practice now. You don’t have to fish tournaments that do not allow them to find big events to fish.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see them allow two motors. I think once you have Torqeedo and MotorGuide becoming sponsors for bigger events, I am pretty sure they will begin to allow two motors. I hope they allow that.”
Brundle has a slightly different take on how the future should play out.
“The motors are a game-changer for sure. Our local club allows up to 70lbs thrust – keeping the motors to a single battery 12V system. It limits weight, torque, and improves safety.”
We discussed safety and adding too large a motor and agree that there needs to be more limiting that has previously been set in the rules for some trails.
We all see that motors are here to stay, and if these two are any indication, they are going to play a larger role in the success of anglers as the sport expands.
Many of us are living in areas that require us to limit how much time we spend in public. All of us are in a world that is unfamiliar; a world that requires “social distancing” to fight the spread of a virus, to protect not only us, but those whose paths we may cross – we have a social responsibility (like it or not) to protect everyone.
For the collective kayak tournament fishing “we”, this time is a struggle. Major events have been indefinitely postponed; tournaments, seminars and shows canceled. The big gatherings of friends, with hugs, handshakes and conversation are being paused as we are limited to online only events in communities where those are allowed; KBF even changing the importance of the Challenge series in an effort to keep some normalcy for those who are allowed on the water. It is a different feel for sure.
That doesn’t mean our only option is to sit on the couch and binge watch Netflix (though the new season of Ozark was awesome!), or wonder when our next roll of toilet paper is going to appear on shelves. This is a chance to prepare, to clean gear…to spend time with your significant other so when the season does ramp up you can say “I did spend time with you this year”. I know that after each season, I had lists of “gonna get that done” or “clean that up” stuff I never got around to getting around to… so now is the time.
I put together a list of “five things I can do while quarantined”. Yours may differ, but by just writing them down, I felt better about the fact that I cannot be out.
Quarantine Fishing Activities #1: Inspect & Clean My Gear
Unlike some of you, I don’t stop in mid-season to clean my reels or check the eyes on a rod. Until a ceramic insert pops out of a rod tip, I never know I have a problem; I have even lost a couple of fish before I realize I have a jagged edge on that tip; one that is fraying my line. I know that one of my spinning rods had an eye come off during last season and I just shoved I back in… now I need to find out which one it was and repair it. While I am there, it is a good time to change my line.
I survive 40-60 hours of working my day job, then fish a tournament every weekend which doesn’t give me a lot of free time.
I have become very good at ignoring a tiny squeak or annoying squeal on my Shimano baitcaster and spinning reels. And the last time they were cleaned was… well, seriously fishing as much as possible for three years… so… now is as good a time as any to clean ‘em all up.
Quarantine Fishing Activities #2: Organize Tackle
I thought I had a handle on tackle organization until I talked with one of the hottest anglers on the kayak trail, Rus Snyders (see article), last year. I felt like the Yoda of tackle management was speaking and letting me know that “ready; I was not”.
Look at separating your plastics, putting them into some inventory scheme that you can understand and get ready for the water. I am even making a list of things I am short on or need to buy the second I break out and end up at Academy or Bass Pro.
It is a good time to put stuff in bins, change hooks, take out lures that you never plan to use and clean those that are your favorite.
I took cleaning lures to heart. My wife wasn’t happy to find topwater lures and crankbaits in the dishwasher among the forks and spoons… but I was using the dishwasher… and we are spending time together…
Quarantine Fishing Activities #3: Inspect the Kayak(s)
I am fortunate to have a brand new Hobie 360, so it has seen little time on the water. But I also have four other kayaks that I use for demo purposes, or to take others fishing with me. I know the last time I looked for hull damage or leaks was the 12th of never.
Right now is a good time to flip those kayaks over and run a light inside and look for light showing through the hull. Places where you have run them very thin will be exposed. Check any plugs or even look for loose foam blocks under the deck; tighten screws, grease drives, etc..
I just sold my PA12 and spent a day fixing the skeg where I had shoved a stick in to keep it up after the rope broke on a tourney day – two years ago. My guess is a lot of you have tied, wired, wedged or just removed something that needs some attention….?? And don’t forget to remove that Berley Pro Transducer cover… I found a couple of my favorite lures in there!
Quarantine Fishing Activities #4: Review Maps, YouTube, and the ANGLR App
Tournaments will begin again. Between now, and then, I plan to spend some time looking over maps of lakes (and Google Earth views) I know we will fish this, or next year. I took the time to create a remote power source for my Hummingbird Helix so I can sit on the couch and drop way points and scour Lakemaster in preparation for upcoming events. While on the unit, I can also learn more about its controls. It is a nice time to set up views, shortcuts and just play with the unit.
If you journal your trips (or use the Anglr app), this is a great time to relate the data you have collected to potential tournament dates. There are benefits to taking a scientific approach to your day on the water. If you are not journaling or tracking… download the Anglr app here… it is a great time to learn something new when you are between old YouTube fishing videos…
Quarantine Fishing Activities #5: Review or Create Fishing Goals
For me as a tournament angler, I love the competition, but I love the community so much more… it is not really about my hope of being the number one angler, but more about just being a part of it all. I know that. I have no illusions about why I will be here as long as I am able to get in a kayak – I just love the people in the sport. I have been blessed to fall into the writing gig; writing about my adventures. But for you; what do you want to accomplish?
What are you doing when it comes to fishing; doing it for fun, for sport, to avoid family gatherings? Make a list of why you do it, evaluate what is important to you.
I talk to a lot of anglers who say they want to try some of the bigger events… use the time to pick one; or more. There is no reason to feel like you are not ready. Sign up. Join BASS, join KBF… this will not last forever… come on out.
I look to Scott Beutjer as an example. I had no idea who this dude was a couple of years ago, I don’t know if anyone did. He told me the first time I met him he wanted to be immersed in it all, to make kayak fishing his life. He set some goals for himself and I am watching him achieve them while helping others (including myself) to be as deep in this kayak world as they want to be. I bet a lot of you know him now.
What are your dreams? Write down if you want to be a full-time angler, a photographer, a writer… or just a guy who fishes to fish and what you will do to get there.
These times are different. If you can get out and fish away from others, do it; there is no better “social distancing” available to you. I am unable for health reasons and I consider you lucky.
If you are deemed essential in your industry, field or job and must go out daily; do so with care and awareness that maybe you are healthy, but the person you just passed may not be and is at risk. This is not a time to be all about “me”.
Hope to see you all on the other side of it all, in the meantime… let’s take the time to reflect on how fortunate we are, and all that we have. Please do not forget those who are standing in the middle of a room full of beds risking their health and their families to keep people alive. If you get a chance to thank them… it is free to say it.
There is something new happening in the kayak fishing community. With tournaments brought to almost a complete standstill, people are finding more and more ways to remain competitive and in the public’s eye. For the past couple of weeks, Scott Beutjer Fishing has hosted the FishUSA 5 live shootout presented by Cashion Fishing Rods.
Five anglers are chosen to fish (by invite only), in the no-entry-fee events for a $1000 prize. In addition, Rogue Fishing Co. has put a $250 BIG BASS BOUNTY on the table to sweeten the pot. The live events give anglers and their sponsors some air time amidst all of the social distancing; also allowing the rest of us to follow along online.
FishUSA 5 Live Shootout | Format
The 5 Live Fishing Facebook page sets the format;
“These five anglers will launch from five different states across the country at 9 am (ET) on their chosen body of water. They will have thirty minutes until lines in, from there it will be a two-hour shootout in the best five fish format (CPR). The live stream hosted will broadcast all of the action live, with play by play commentary and on the spot angler interviews. Anglers have been given instructions to fish any body of water they choose as long as they are able to broadcast the YakAttack Camera View.”
Those who have competed so far have had great things to say about the format, but also admit that it can be extremely different when compared to a normal tournament. The winner of the first event, who had his limit in no time at all, Derek Brundle of Massachusetts, said that the event was “2 hours of heart-pounding, gut-wrenching pressure that either works out or it doesn’t.” From his finish, I would say that it worked for him during the initial event where he took the first check back up north. He was paired with anglers Jody Queen, Josh Stewart, Jamie Broad, and Casey Reed.
Brad Case, a Mississippi angler who took home the win during the second live event, also commented about the pressure of an online event. “It is a whole different style of tournament to fish. Just two hours. And the stress is there. You have to fish like there is no tomorrow”, while Alabama’s Tim Perkins shared Brad’s mentality that there are no second chances. “That’s basically it. Your swinging for the fence, base hits don’t count! You got to be on fish and your regional area has to be lined up as well.” These two anglers battled Jamie Denison, Dylan Fuqua and Mike Elsea.
We all fish tournaments, but they span an entire day or days. The 5 Live format has it narrowed down to a very specific timeframe.
Jamie Broad of Louisiana said of that short window to fish; “It was the fastest-paced 2 hours of fishing I have ever been a part of. I can’t wait to do it again.”
FishUSA 5 Live Shootout | Preparing For These Events
So how do you get ready for the events? A couple of Virginia guys, Jody Queen and Casey Reed, shared similar views. Jody, always a solid angler, thinks “the strategies are different for the anglers. Do you go for a quick small fish limit or swing for the fences?” Casey thought that those decisions are the most critical.
“This two-hour format leaves no room for mistakes. Makes your decisions so much more valuable.”
But, Indiana angler Mike Elsea believes that flexibility is just as important. “It’s a 2-hour mental test. You gotta be on your game and be able to make decisions instantly.”
The format with multiple venue(s) comes with challenges. Putting five anglers on five bodies of water in different states, then tying all of that together for a live presentation is not simple. Perkins and Queen were quick to point out some lessons to future competitors. Tim wants to remind them that “phone signal is probably the most overlooked factor!” Jody shared his thoughts on this too; “don’t forget also that you are at the mercy of your phone signal.”
Event three is already lined up and as the anglers learn more about camera angles and how to manage their time; these events are only going to get better. Y’all make sure to check out the next round featuring Cory Dreyer, Matt Ball, Jaxton Orr, Mel Ashe, and Dusty Yakker. It is sure to be a good one as one more person wins a spot in the championship!
Where is tournament kayak bass fishing headed over the next five years? If I had a crystal ball to predict that, I would use it for the lottery… and then I could predict the fact that I would be fishing every day ‘cause I would have lots of money! But, I have no money, no crystal ball and am not enough of an insider to have all the answers.
What I can say is that with the growth of KBF, the Hobie Bass Open Series and a B.A.S.S. Nation Series and high school kayak teams growing across the U.S.; we are definitely growing fast and it is a beautiful thing. You could feel the potential with the short FLW series from last year… but with B.A.S.S., it feels like all of the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. Top anglers from the recent Logan Martin event are being courted by companies; the same companies that just a short time ago seemed a bit less interested. With offers to represent kayak companies, rod companies, bait companies, etc., it feels, at least for the moment, that the opportunities to fish from a kayak full time may be just over the horizon.
I for one am glad to be here at this point in kayak history and sad to be old enough to know that I may miss the summit that others will enjoy. I do see a future where more of my friends get offers bigger than 10% off sponsorships, I see their faces in ads and commercials… I know that they will be the beginning of the kayak education for the rest of the world. They will be the ones who teach the next generation of young kayak anglers how it works… how to carry themselves… how to bring the rest of the world into our community.
Tournament Kayak Bass Fishing | How Anglers Present Themselves
This is the point where I want to play dad (in my dad voice) and tell you that I think all of us need to start considering that eventuality.
At every event, at every gas station where when we are pulling kayaks, when we visit communities for tournaments, it is going to be more important how we present ourselves than ever before. If you have dreams of rising to the top, you might want to think before you act in those settings. There is more media coverage than we have ever seen, and I personally think that we need to be aware of how every interaction affects our image – not just yours.
This is especially critical when it comes to social media. Now before you blast me, I want to share how real this is in corporate America – and with big sponsors, you are going to be crossing from my friend’s lure company to larger entities.
I lead a team of 14 engineers, with four interns reporting to them. Our company runs background checks before we invest in any employee, and in addition, we do some more personal looks into their social media persona. When we get a resume with an e-mail address like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, we search to see who they portray themselves to be and that is all we may ever know about you. If @imagethigh’s social media posts are mid-week debauchery, or rants about my %#$&&*!! neighbor, or that #%#^#& that cut me off… we question if they will fit on our team of engineers. We are also a very culturally diverse company, so posts that talk about how wrong “this or that race/religion/culture” is… or how a single interaction with a person outside of your nationality offended you by just being alive… you are not likely to make it far in the interview process.
Just something to consider the next time you tweet or post.
Now, that being said I want to add one other paragraph on the subject. Again, don’t blast me, just being the old guy in the crowd; consider how you appear to the outside world when you bad-mouth different trails, tourney directors or different opinions publicly. If you are willing to belittle one guy or trail, how can we know that you will not talk bad us when you get a bee up your butt about something we did? Your behavior, the persona you create on social media (whether it is really you are not) is who you are to us. It is you to the outside world… it is how you will be judged by others. I said earlier that I am sad to be the old dude in the room and that I might miss the wave of what is coming in the kayak tournament world over the next years. But I am thankful that there was not Facebook and Instagram to document the years that I was incapable of sobriety… that there is no record outside of my memory and those I hurt.
Turning off the dad voice and returning to the excitement about what is coming.
Tournament Kayak Bass Fishing | A Tsunami of Change
I hope that I am not wrong, but it feels like there is a tsunami of change just off the coast and we are about to get the opportunity to ride that to the bank!
KBF, Hobie BOS, B.A.S.S., the high school trails…the local grassroots and all trails that have fallen to the wayside that introduced new people to our community all have/had a role in that growth and I couldn’t be more ready to see it happen.
I am waiting for the day that I see Rus Snyders, Derek Brundle, Ron Champion, Kristine Fisher or Jay Wallen (or any of you or maybe even me) during breaks in the evening news touting the best cell service for submitting fish – or maybe which tires give you the best ride to the ramp. It feels close. So close.