Growth of Kayak Fishing

The Growth of Kayak Fishing Over the Last 10 Years

If you were to graph the growth of kayak fishing over the last ten years, it would follow the path of an exponential function; slowly increasing, the turning upward swiftly.

Growth of Kayak Fishing(1)

I used to fish Yellow Creek in my old beat up Jon boat and never see a single kayak. You would occasionally see a canoe or two, but never a kayak. Then four years ago, I could go to the same place on some days, and it felt like I could walk across the creek using kayaks as stepping stones.  

The first kayaks I started seeing were the small sit inside type, but it was just a couple of years (or how I remember it anyway) before those were replaced with the sit on top versions; with all of the gadgets people could attach.  

I can remember running through the television channels before I had a kayak and seeing Jim Sammons and Chad Hoover fishing out of them; thinking to myself, “Hey that looks like a great way to get on the water!”. These two may not have been the first in kayaks, but they have introduced many of us to what the sport is about.

Now the growth of the kayak tournaments is hard to keep up with! 

The Growth of Kayak Fishing | Tournament Growth

KBS, River Bassin, and tons of local trails started popping up allowing a lot of opportunity to compete out of the plastic boats. KBF had several events throughout the U.S., Hobie had a few opens that allowed you to try to get into the Hobie Worlds. Redfish events on the coasts were ramping up to full swing. 

Kayaks were everywhere and it felt like it happened overnight.

It was just a few years ago, the first KBF National Championship was held; then they partnered for the first FLW event last year! Now they have a Pro Series that allows you to try your skill on a slightly different level.  

Then came the Hobie Bass Open Series last year; a different format for anglers to compete for two days on some of the best bodies of water in the country.  This series culminating in the Tournament of Champions which pits the best on the Hobie trail against each other.

Now, the old standard for everyone who grew up thinking about being a professional bass fisherman – BASS – is beginning its inaugural kayak season with five events. The first was held in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the Bassmaster Classic! It was the catalyst that got some of the top kayak angler’s national recognition. Hopefully, that allows some of them to consider doing this full time… with real sponsorship deals!

One thing for sure, it doesn’t seem like the sport has peaked. We are still pedaling/paddling up that exponential curve as fast as our kayaks will take us. If you haven’t jumped aboard yet, this is a great year to get your feet wet.  

You can still start in the grassroots clubs, move to some KBF trail events or to the Hobie BOS…or just dive off into the BASS events!  The choices exist, and I do not see it slowing soon.

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

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Mike Cheatham


May 2016, sat in my first kayak. October 2016, skunked in my first tournament. Spring of 2017, placed 11th in the KBF Open and have chased the addiction since. Fishing is the one place my mind gets quiet, the place I have always found peace. To do it competitively with a great bunch of folks is just a bonus. To have an opportunity to combine my love for fishing with writing...I feel like I have finally found a place in this world! I do have the support of a wonderful woman who understands my need to be on the water; she supports my dreams is truly good.

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