Kayak Angler

Transitioning from a Novice Kayak Angler to a Tournament Kayak Angler

There’s always a transition as you grow in fishing. From bank fishing to wanting to get off the bank, to getting in a boat. Kayaks are perfect for getting you on the water and off the bank. But as you get better and better as a kayak angler, you may want to test your skills and get into tournament bass fishing

That’s the way I felt getting into kayak tournaments. For one, I’m sponsored by Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF). So I really wanted to show people through my videos how to get into kayak tournaments. So I went ahead and tried it myself. And I had kind of lost interest in fishing big boat tournaments. It’s just kind of a different feel at kayak tournaments than at big boat tournaments.

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The Start of Becoming a Tournament Kayak Angler

The transition for me from a regular everyday kayaker to kayak tournaments was just a matter of reading the rules and going out and practicing so you don’t make the mistakes on the tournament days. Some of the mistakes you might make are mainly with measuring the fish and taking pictures. If the fish flops off the board, how do you prevent that? How do you position the fish properly in the picture? 

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There are just a lot of different rules than there are in the big boat world.

I’ve heard a little bit of criticism about kayak tournaments for going by length. Some people say they’d rather fish for pounds than inches, or people will say what’s the difference in pounds and inches and I say ‘Well you play checkers and chess on the same board, but they’re two different games’. It’s the same with kayak fishing and bass boat fishing. 

In my opinion, the length is a better gauge of who is catching the oldest and most educated fish anyway. A pre-spawn 24-incher is still 24-inches after she spawns. So you don’t lose the weight of those eggs. But I really don’t even argue it that way because it doesn’t really matter. It’s just a different game. 

Does Being a Kayak Angler Make You a Better Big Boat Fisherman? 

I do both about 50% of the time. One of the things that I’ve figured out that is totally different from bass boat fishing that I really enjoy is that you have to catch fish right where you’re at. You can’t run 4-miles down the road to another spot nearly as easily. So you’ve got to do a lot more research, a lot more prep work, you’ve got to understand your area a lot more to catch more fish right there where you’re at. 

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That’s the coolest thing.

And you learn more about being stealthy. Since I’ve started fishing out of a kayak more, I’ve started paying more attention to how stealthy I am in a big boat. I tell every boat angler, spend a month kayak fishing and keep track of how many fish bite your lure right at the boat. Because you’re not spooking them. It rarely happens with a bass boat or a big boat, for some reason you always end up spooking them and you don’t catch nearly as many right at the boat as you do in a kayak. 

So what’s the difference between a big boat and a kayak? It’s got to be the trolling motor. The trolling motor spooks a lot of fish. So I stay off the trolling motor a lot more than I used to when I’m fishing out of a bass boat.

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You Have Graphs on Both Your Kayak and Bass Boat. Does the Graph Noise Make a Difference? 

No. I disproved that this month as a matter of fact. I’m currently fishing a monthly tournament for KBF. It’s the state monthly challenge, which is the best 5 fish throughout the whole month of June. I have 109 and a 1/4 inches. And I’m seeing them on my SideScan swim back and forth less than 15-feet away. 

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I don’t think it has as much of an effect as people say. 

I think it’s primarily the trolling motor. I’ve sat on a mega school on Kentucky Lake where I was just catching them and catching them and a bass boat came by and they stopped biting. Then 15 or 20 minutes later they’d start biting again. 

What’s the Biggest Difference From the Big Boat Tournament World to the Kayak Angler World? 

One thing that I have noticed that’s a lot different and that I’ve heard a lot of people mention is the brotherhood. Because we’re in small boats and because we tend to fish a little more crazy waters like rivers and that kind of stuff, we rely on each other for safety a lot and everybody seems to be friends. There are always going to be a few bad apples, but for the most part, we all take care of each other. 

We don’t mind fishing right next to each other on the same fish either. I rarely, if ever, get angry with another kayaker for pulling up on my fish. In the tournament I was fishing on Guntersville, a guy was paddling by me and was like ‘Dude I’m struggling.’ I already had five good fish and he only needed one more fish so I said ‘Dude get your butt over here.’ He came over and parked next to me, I fired the school up with a crankbait and he threw in there and caught his last fish. 

Kayak tournament fishing is more of a culture that’s like, we’re in this together. It’s almost like a unifying underdog mentality sometimes. We have our problems with big boaters that try to flip us and that kind of stuff. But that doesn’t happen as much anymore because a lot of us carry video cameras and have exposed some of that. But even people from the outside that come in and kind of hangout during an award ceremony, they see it. It’s just a cool culture. 

Kayak Angler: Complete Tour of my Tournament Kayak Setup

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

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Gene Jensen is a born and bred Georgia boy who grew up trout fishing under the tutelage of his father. As most freshwater anglers do, he was exposed to bass angling and forever hooked. Today he can be described as an avid bass angler and, at best, that description is an understatement. Gene’s home lakes are Guntersville and Lake Chickamauga. Gene guided on Richmond Mill Lake for five years and it was there he learned he loved to teach people how to fish. Today he owns and operates multiple social media channels, to include his YouTube channel, Flukemaster. He has amassed a gargantuan following of 290,000+ subscribers on YouTube and that number grows every day. Through social media Gene shares his passion for bass fishing but also teaches others to fish. After all, it his motto: “Teaching the World to Fish”. His passion and ability to teach others has propelled him to become a commonly known name in the recreational fishing world. This is not because of special marketing or advertising, but simply because he provides value to his following. More people are able to enjoy fishing because of Gene Jensen

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