Well, just like that the 2019 fishing season is over. It seems like just yesterday we were loading up my minivan and trailer for the 2019 KBF National Championship in Louisiana. Overall, this season has been a great one. I’ve met some really great people and have had the opportunity to get involved with a few great companies.
There were points this season when things just felt relentless, from tough conditions to multiple tournaments back to back, I definitely spent a lot of the summer exhausted. Don’t take my previous statement as a negative, I spent my summer exhausted from doing something I love. It comes up every so often in conversations with co-workers or other people interested in where I go most weekends, you cannot compete in this sport unless you love it.
Traveling and competing in events takes up a lot of time, money, and energy. Thanks to social media, the sport of competitive kayak fishing seems glamorous and effortless but what you don’t see is the hours spent driving to the next event or the hours spent organizing tackle. This probably sounds like complaining, but I’m just trying to communicate the passion and dedication it takes to be involved in this sport.
Okay, with all of that out of the way, here are some of the high-level numbers from this season. My 2019 tournament season started in March and ended in September. In that time, I competed in 14 events and put about 15,000 miles on my van.
Yes, I drive a minivan, there’s nothing better for road trips. With all the travel comes a lot of routine vehicle maintenance, most of which I do myself.
My Tournament Season
As I mentioned above, I competed in 14 tournaments this season. Those 14 tournaments are made up of the 2019 KBF National Championship, 2 KBF trail events, the Maine Yak Anglers trail, KBF State Challenges, a KBF One Night Stand, and another event for charity. These events were all fantastic, even the ones where I didn’t do so well. I always have fun at these events, the people really make the kayak fishing community special.
The first event of the year was the National Championship. This year’s event was held in Shreveport, Louisiana. Competitors were able to choose from 6 different bodies of water to fish, Caddo Lake, Cypress Bayou Reservoir & Black Bayou Reservoir, Cross Lake, Lake Bistineau, Wallace Lake, and the Red River.
After competing in the 2018 National Championship, with over 750 anglers competing on one body of water, the idea of having 6 options was fantastic. The reality set in quickly when we arrived in Louisiana and started pre-fishing. The challenge with any tournament, especially one of this size, is blocking out the noise from the locals sharing tips to other anglers sharing top-secret intel about what baits are catching fish. It’s hard to not get caught up in the rumors and for some reason, the folks in Louisiana were more willing to share information than most.
On the drive down from New Hampshire, our plan of where to fish and when changed multiple times based on messages and information we received during the drive. Once we arrived we met some state troopers who insisted that Caddo Lake was going to be the place, regardless of how many other anglers would be there. They turned out to be right and that’s where we ended up. The event didn’t go well for me, I caught a few fish but nothing close to what I needed.
That’s tournament fishing for you.
I fished two other KBF Northeast Trail events this season, one on Lake George and an event on Lake Winnipesaukee. In both events, I didn’t do as well as I would have liked.
On Lake George, I caught the biggest bass of the event but failed to enter the Big Bass Brawl so that didn’t quite work out, either way, it was still a great catch.
After the National Championship, I returned home and started preparing for the inaugural year of the Maine Yak Anglers trail. I’m thrilled to be a part of this club. Maine has a rapidly expanding group of great kayak anglers, huge shoutout to Jason Gardner for the work he’s put into getting this club off the ground! I won’t go through each club event but overall the season was decent. There was some tough competition this year which is the best way to grow and learn as an angler. As always, I got to meet some really great people while also reconnecting with old friends.
At the start of the 2019 season, I made the decision to resign from all of my sponsors in an attempt to evaluate the gear choices I was making and try out some different options. In doing so, I made some changes to my gear and tackle that ended up being major advantages for me this season. A couple of key changes, the first was the change from using monofilament line to using P-Line’s Fluoroclear. The Fluoroclear line is a copolymer line that has a lot of advantages while being super strong and durable.
My second big change, upgrading my reels to the new Shimano SLX DC reels.
These reels have completely changed the way I use baitcasters by making everything extremely simple. Being able to cast just about any bait into the wind has just been a game-changer for me. I know that term is thrown around a lot, but ask anyone who’s used a DC reel and they’ll confirm that there’s nothing like it.
Towards the tail end of the 2019 fishing season I was approached with an amazing opportunity, I was offered a spot on the Bonafide Kayaks and YakAttack team. This created a bit of anxiety for me initially as I had to change kayaks during a season but the transition ended up being really smooth and I’m extremely happy with my decision. Both Bonafide and YakAttack are companies that are aligned with my values and what I think is most important about the sport of kayak fishing. Both of these companies produce quality products that they stand behind and as a result make this sport that much better.
The 2019 season certainly didn’t go the way I had anticipated, but it was a great year. Now I’m stuck waiting for the 2020 season to roll around!
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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