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
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.
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
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
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.
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: Day Two Standings
2019 YakAttack KBF Southeast Regional in Florence, Alabama: Final Standings
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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