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Kayak Fishing Superstitions | Do They Float Your Boat?

I was sitting in Kentucky Lake’s Ginger Bay eating a banana when I learned I was not supposed to eat a banana in a boat. 

I was also catching bass on topwater during a snowstorm on the same trip… so I’m not sure I really believe in that superstition, or any for that matter.  

Since that trip, I’ve learned that there are many superstitions surrounding boats. Before my research, I had no idea that telling someone good luck was bad luck. Try telling Kristine Fisher it is bad luck to have a woman onboard the next time she is beating everyone else. 

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Jean Wilson even has a custom banana mount for her ride!

And how do you explain to every red-haired person that they are doomed before they launch? Anyone whistling on board is extremely annoying and distracting, but bad luck? Dolphins good, sharks bad — well, that that seems like more of a statement on the reality of the food chain. And I love a red sky in the morning or at night – it is just kind of cool.

Kayak Fishing Superstitions: My ‘Behaviors’

I like to call them my behaviors. There are a couple that I follow for each tournament. 

Having my duck on the boat – it was given to me by my wife, so it is a part of her with me always. 

Before each launch, I say “here we go” out loud as I push off from the ramp.  

It was the way I set up my gear that allows me to follow steps while launching: step in the boat with your right foot. It just naturally forces it, so I got lucky. (Oh wait, can I say lucky without being unlucky … maybe if I am on the couch and not the kayak?)  

I named my boat for fun, so I am not “tempting the seas” in an unnamed vessel. And, as much as I love what I named my first Hobie (BoHobien Rhapsody), I have refused to rename it. (Or use that name again … so maybe I am superstitious?) But the reason I don’t launch on Fridays has nothing to do with it being a bad idea… it has to do with bad career choices that have left me working much later in life than I meant — and I can’t always get off on Friday.  

Kayak Fishing Superstitions: My ‘Wasted Cast’

I was a bit surprised to find out how many of you make a “wasted” cast away from your intended target before you officially consider yourself fishing the event. It seems that this is a highly copied behavior along the kayak trails. Not sure if there is a superstition involved, but there seems to be a very strong tradition among many anglers.

Marlin Cassady explained this a bit.  

“I always do a short cast for my first cast. Seems like every time I catch a fish on the first cast, the rest of the day is slow. So, I short-cast and reel it in fast.”

Kayak Fishing Superstitions: The ‘Ignored Leaderboard’

I never look at the leaderboard during the day. Not sure of everyone else’s reasoning, but for me it was the added pressure of knowing.  

Brian Aliff agreed.  

“I never look at the leader board or check my placement. Not sure it’s a superstition but I don’t want to know, it adds an element of pressure, and the stress makes me make mistakes I could otherwise avoid. I can deal with bananas if they’re in chip form.”

Not looking at the leaderboard can be hard with so much social media and texts. All of your friends want to encourage you, but some of us don’t want to hear it! I had to tell my wife not to even call, because I can hear how I am doing in her voice.

Kayak Fishing Superstitions: Some Other Superstitions

Matt Spencer

“I pour a little of my coffee onto the floor of my kayak and let it drain out so the fish can wake up and have a nice trail of coffee scent.”

Chris Condor

“Don’t have my first ‘on-the-water dip’ until after the first fish. Or whenever I start fiending with withdrawals, whichever comes first.”

George Nemeth

I have a dedicated spot for one particular rod that never changes. Where the rest go don’t really matter and they’re roughly in the same areas day after day but the finesse jig rod is in the same place every time.

My main superstition is I always pay the ramp launch fee and have a current fishing license. It seems not everyone is as superstitious as I am on that subject but that’s my biggest one. Karmically speaking, I can’t afford any bad juju and not paying my couple bucks seems like a great excuse for the universe to spit the hook on me. (NOTE:  This is actually on the top ten list if you google “superstitions”… pay your debts!)

Nathan Hartley

Sometimes I will go out on an empty stomach as if I’m trying to live off the land or something. Funny enough though I’m strictly catch and release. So it’s just psychological I guess.

Then there is Ryan Marshall who has to kiss every fish. Having met him, not sure that is so lucky for the fish.

And Ron Himmelhaver has a fish dance.

“Super secret, mystical dance that was passed down to me by my father.”

Kayak Fishing Superstitions: As For Mine

I’m not superstitious. I don’t walk under ladders because stuff may fall. I don’t break mirrors because I am fairly certain it increases your chances of being cut. 

And spilt salt should be cleaned up. But if you throw it over your shoulder, couldn’t that just increase the chances of folks walking behind you slipping on it?  

But … is there something to all of this?  

I don’t know. I did learn that looking like a pirate is a good thing, so maybe that night in my late teens when I got drunk and pierced my earlobe with a corsage pin was good. My parents definitely did not share the belief that I had done a good thing – but then they were not seafaring (ok, kayak bassin’) folks. 

And I did catch myself looking for a cat to sit beside my duck on Amazon for the next season after reading all of this.

Just like the fact that I shouldn’t have been throwing a Rapala Skitterpop in a snowstorm (but I was catching fish), I cannot un-know anything I learned!  

So, this is the outfit I am considering for 2020.

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What are your kayak fishing superstitions?

Opening a Can of [Motor] Worms | The Kayak Motor Debate

Can I be honest for a minute? 

I am going to open up a can of worms so we can start a (hopefully) healthy conversation in our community. Actually, I am not opening the can, it has been opened already with the introduction of larger electric kayak motors.

The debate about whether we should allow trolling motors in kayak tournaments already has anglers on both sides of the fence, eliciting responses ranging from apathy to anger. But, with all of the new (higher profile) trails, having and using motors on kayaks is about to get more attention in the kayak world due to ratings on certain kayaks. And the safety implications of the larger motors.

Let’s Kick Off This Kayak Motor Debate

Now, I know that this is not going to sit well on social media (I’m already seeing posts in my mind as I write this) – especially those who have already invested in motors and are arguing that “mine is OK” or “mine has no rating so it is OK” – but the kayak ratings labels are not consistent or always clear as to what motor is acceptable. 

And even bigger — with very few exceptions — the kayaks documentation does not specify how or where to install a motor.  

That is why I called it a can of worms… and after the last couple of weeks they are out and I don’t think they are going back into the can.  

I am going to be upfront where I stand:  I wish we didn’t allow motors at all. (Unless an angler has a documented condition that requires them to use the motor.)

Kayak Motor Debate: Safety and Regulation

I love the Hobie BOS events for this fact… but I am not naive enough to think that since they have been allowed on certain trails that their use will ever be discontinued. I wrote an opinion on this topic and ended it with the fact that I will eventually move toward a motor too. So, now (in my mind) the conversation needs to shift toward safety and regulation.  

How many of you have pedaled up on standing timber that was just below the surface and felt your kayak starting to roll? 

At a paddle or pedal pace, you have time to react. Now picture that same treetop with your kayak skipping across the water at 5 or 6 or more mph… would you still have that time to react?  Would that additional speed push you past a tipping point and dump you? With these motors, should we be required to use a kill switch?  These are all questions I’ve been asking myself.

Kayak Motor Debate: The Legalities

Then the next question, who is at fault? I had this conversation with a fellow kayaker:

“I mean if I make a vehicle and put a tow rating of 5,000-pounds on it and you crash towing 10,000-pounds, you are at fault. If I don’t say the vehicle has a tow rating but offer a hitch when I sell it, I’d assume I’d be liable if something happened. Is that not the same thing here?”  

I do not have a crystal ball, nor am I an expert on the subject. But I do work in a highly regulated industry and am very aware of the documentation and standards that must be followed to eliminate (or just define) liability and keep the consumers (and the companies) safe.  

So, the first time someone is injured because Pat Kayaker exceeded the capacity of their ride by placing a large motor on a garage-rigged mount in a nationally viewed kayak event, we are all going to get some unwanted attention.

So I have this question for y’all. 

Who Regulates the Kayak Industry and Safety Standards for Propulsion via Kayak Motors?  

Just because the rules say I can have a certain horsepower, or pounds of thrust, is it OK to strap it to any kayak in any manner and blast across a lake? Is it safe?

Just ‘cause you can, should you?

Mine has a 400W rating. That means I cannot attach a larger motor and be compliant. Does that mean a DQ at check-in when I use a motor that exceeds the ratings?  

It seems that answer is yes — at least for KBF.

KBF Rules on Kayak Motors  

Unless specifically prohibited on the Event Page, use of a single electric propulsion unit per watercraft in KBF-sanctioned competition is approved with the following restrictions:

  1. Competitors must comply with all boating regulations pertaining to motorized kayak/electric-propulsion watercraft registration, use, and operating restrictions for the designated fishing area. Violation will result in disqualification from the Event.
  2. Electric motor used to propel a watercraft:
  3. must be attached to the kayak in a safe manner for operation, and
  4. may not exceed the lesser of (a.) manufacturer’s labeled Maximum HP/Thrust Capacity, (b.) 3 HP, or (c.) 155 foot-pound thrust. Violation of either condition will result in disqualification from the Event.

And it seems true for BASS in some capacity, they just exclude the final sentence that a violation will definitely result in DQ, so it is not as clear.    

B.A.S.S. Rules on Kayak Motors

Penalties for rules violations may include the following:

  1. Reduction of competition hours as determined by the Tournament Director.
  2. Loss of one or more fish caught in potential violation of rules or regulations.
  3. Disqualification from the tournament in question.
  4. Disqualification from future B.A.S.S. events, which may be from a specific number of events, a specific period of time, or may be a lifetime disqualification.
  5. Any different or additional penalties determined by the Tournament Director including but not limited to monetary fines and/or reduction of points towards championship qualification. 

So, it seems that the rules state it is not OK to exceed ratings in tournaments if your boat came with a label from the manufacturer.  If it doesn’t, I am guessing that will reach some level of clarity soon enough.

What Side of the Fence are YOU on?

2020 KBF The TEN Recap | Kayak Bass Fishing Kissimmee, Florida

“Hosted by Kissimmee Sports and Experience Kissimmee, the 2020 KBF Dee Zee The TEN pitted KBF’s top 11-12 anglers of 2019 in a two-day fish-off on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in Florida.  This event is invitation only. Eligible competitors ranked among the top 10 (this year 11 due to a three-way tie for tenth) in the 2019 KBF Angler of the Year points race.”

2020 KBF The TEN: Going ‘All Out’

All of the competitors praised Chad Hoover, Scott Beutjer, and the sponsors for how well the event was run. From the accommodations, to the meals prepared each day, then lunch for the next day — there was not one angler who felt that KBF and the sponsors did not go all out.  

Derek Brundle, the 2019 KBF Rookie of the Year, was very excited about how KBF treated him. 

I had heard about what being a part of the TEN was like, but it was way beyond what I imagined. Catered meals every night, boxed lunches and snacks, tons of stuff on your beds, Yeti coolers, Dee Zee boxes, Columbia gifts, Yak attack stuff, Ketch boards, an Anglr Bullseye, just so much stuff.

Rus Snyder echoed Derek.  “The experience was just over the top! Chad and everyone just took care of everything. Usually that is a pain in the butt, coming off the water, getting ready and then finding food and all that stuff. I didn’t have to worry about that at all! Just getting that extra time, and it was like everyone had their own king size bed – like each had a big hotel suite.

2020 KBF The TEN: Sworn to Secrecy

It makes me want to work harder to be in the TEN… but I am not going to lie, this was the most difficult recap I have ever tried to put together. With one or two exceptions, the anglers were as tight lipped about where they were fishing as a Florida strain bass that was shipped to the arctic circle and dropped in a pool of water.  

There was information that was said to me, that I promised not to publish leaving me feeling like I had just heard confessions that I must now take to the grave. Then the next guy would tell me “he was at this lake…I was next to so and so… yeah, I talked to them while I was pre-fishing the spot he won in” but I already had promised to keep that information secret.  

A redacted account of my interviews would leave the page looking like a top secret document released to the public… maybe leaving page numbers visible. So I am going to write little about where, some about how – and not much about anything!

Rus was slow to release anything about the event.  

I gave some of the smaller lakes a chance… not sure I want to mention the lake. This lake, well, I don’t want to say that either — so, just call it one of the smaller lakes. Right before I got there — well, this is off the record too…

Then Rus gave me one of the best lessons in fronts, Florida and bass fishing far down south. But the lesson was off the record — sorry.

Ken Wood explained why he didn’t want to talk much about it during his cryptic answer.

When asked “Where did you fish the Ten?”, he replied: “.…..uhhhhh…I really don’t want to say, but uhhhh … there were some unique spots there. But they are coming back here, and just in case I make it to the TEN next year — I told everyone where I fished Lake George, and I wish I had not, so I would rather not talk about it.

And there it was. They have confidence (or hope at least) that they will make it back there next year and want to keep their secrets secret.

Even newcomer Allen Sweat from Florida didn’t want to talk. He had won the Tenvitational fishing one of the “secret lakes”, and though I did find out later the name of that lake and who had fished around him… well, a promise is very important to me so I ain’t telling!

2020 KBF The TEN: Here’s What I Can Tell You

The event was run in conjunction with the Tenvitational which saw 32 anglers, plus seven already qualified for the Ten. The winner, if not already a member of the Ten, would become the 11th man (twelfth this year due to a tie) and compete for the top spot.

Several Anglers in the Ten did not fish the Tenvitational. Instead, they used the opportunity to get in some extra time pre-fishing.  

Cody Milton commented on the decision.  

I didn’t fish the Tenvitational. Most of us at the top didn’t; it gave us more time on the water because we didn’t have to get off the water. They had to leave at three, and we kept searching. It was tough, but you got more bites early in the morning, then late in the afternoon. And if you found them in the afternoon, they were there in the morning.

Rus Snyders shared his feelings also.

I felt like it was going to be smarter to not focus on being in a tournament and focus on eliminating water. Several of us decided to not do it because it allowed us to go back later in the afternoon on the first day of the Tenvitational and expand on what was found earlier — develop more patterns.

But one angler was in it, trying to get the top spot and a place in the Ten.

2020 KBF The TEN: Allen Sweat’s Tenvitational Recap

Allen Sweat, who would eventually finish 6th in the Ten won the Tenvitational to get the final spot.

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“I was actually running late on the last day of the Tenvitational, so I pulled my kayak up under some palms and in some reeds, and ran to make the check-in time! They were telling me we need you at the TEN house and I was like I have to go back and get my kayak. All my stuff is there!”

Born and raised in Athens, Georgia, Alan has lived in West Palm Beach, Florida for 20 years. He is a father of four children who fishes when family and work affords him the opportunity.  

“I work in finance for the aerospace industry and had to make some calls on Friday after I won the Tenvitational because I really didn’t expect to win. I had to move some stuff around. I have been bass fishing since I was twelve, but I am brand new to kayak fishing. I fished BFL, club-level, non-boater, team tournaments, etc. Last year, I basically fished challenges down here in Florida. I saw Kissimmee as an opportunity to step up and fish a larger event.

I pre-fished one day a couple of weeks before the tournament, then fished three days before the start of the Tenvitational. I spent most of that on Kissimmee, but it just didn’t feel right. I didn’t get a good read, the water color was just a little off. I went back to the spot that I had fished two weeks before, I had actually caught one close to 9-pounds.  

“Basically, during pre-fishing the fish were more up spawning or in a real strong pre-spawn stage. I caught them on a black and blue jackhammer with a gambler trailer. I caught ‘em good doing it.  

“During the tourney, it was warm, then it was cool in the morning and then the wind would lay flat. For me, I thought it was bad being from Florida. I had to slow down and catch them with a black and blue Gambler Fat Ace in a 6- and 7-inch length. 

“It wasn’t dead fishing, but I was hitting isolated clumps of Kissimmee grass… just slow, painful fishing — the kind everyone hates when they come to Florida.

I knew that I was in an area with fish, so I didn’t leave — I just kept grinding. When the wind would blow, I went back to the chatterbait and caught some. I kept trying topwater but it never happened. I would catch my last fish at the last minute. On the last day of the TEN, I only caught five fish.”

2020 KBF The TEN: Brad Case’ Recap

Brad Case, fifth place finisher, went down on the 20th to get ready.  

“Pre-fishing I caught, one… I caught two… everybody was saying ‘I caught 10 and 15’… I just said ‘go ahead. Keep catching them! Burn your spots!

On day one I fished the same place that Matthew Scotch was fishing and it was supposed to be my primary. And I knew there wasn’t going to be any boats or air boats because the ramp was closed. The night before the TEN started, I was lying in bed thinking that I had gone to one spot, made three casts and caught one fish and I said that is where I am going tomorrow, and finished 2nd on day one in the Tenvitational. 

And then I went to a different spot. Everyone asked why I was leaving fish and I said I am saving them for the TEN.

So day two of the Tenvitational, I went back to the spot where Allen Sweat was fishing and he was struggling. Ken Wood was also there and he was struggling with only three fish. I turned around and Allen caught four in the last twenty minutes!”

(Brad did tell where this was, but since I was asked not to tell, I will not say it out loud… but I will not forget it either.)

“Everyone thought I messed up and didn’t do too well.”

But Brad had just left fish for the TEN. He finished 6th day one and 3rd day two, ending up fifth overall throwing a white chatterbait with a little orange in it.  

Brad said he could see the fish.

Sometimes they wouldn’t hit the chatterbait. I would throw it on the shore and pull the bait off the shore and they wouldn’t touch it. But I would throw that worm and they would nail it. I would throw it up in the muck. I was using a Texas rigged X-Mas colored Gambler worm with an 1/8 ounce weight.”

2020 KBF The TEN: Cody Milton’s Recap

Cody Milton, the fourth-place finisher, was a bit more open about what he was seeing and where.  

“I saw a lot of shiner guys within a 200-yard stretch. I saw a 9-12 caught, two sevens, a six something and 15-20 five pounders. For every 10 fish they caught I might get one bite.

I was on a giant grass spot on Kissimmee. It was really messed up, the water color in 95 percent of the lake was horrible. There were a few different areas where the water was really clear. But they were all a long way from the ramp. I went from 3-4 inch clarity to 3-4 foot with beds everywhere. It is a pretty famous spot on Kissimmee. I planned to get on one or two bed bites, and that just didn’t happen.

Day two, I got a strong west wind, and I was on the east side of the lake. And by 8 a.m. it was just as chocolate as the rest of the lake. It created a spot about a ¼ mile from where I was where the water was gin clear.  I caught way more fish on day two, but never caught a female. I probably caught 20-30 fish on day two. I thought if I could get 8-9 good bites a day I could have caught 90-plus inches both days.

I thought the conditions were going to be better. I thought I was going to wear them out on a spinnerbait. But I caught them on a senko and a swimming worm.

You had to pitch the senko right at the edge of the grass or pads and let the wind pull it in, or throw it back in a little bit.

The wind got so strong that I was pedaling, Torqueedo’ing’, and paddling… dead into the west wind. I had to bail water twice as I headed across the lake, the wind was 20-25 miles an hour.”

2020 KBF The TEN: Derek Brundle’s Recap

Third place went to Derek Brundle, the KBF 2019 Rookie of the Year who is going to be a guy to watch in the future. He left Massachusetts on Saturday morning, driving out of 28-degrees to find himself in 58 degrees on Sunday morning. Brundle, Rob Pagnano and Matt Conant had driven through the night and slept at Toho Marina till the sun came up.

“We went down Saturday morning before the tournament. I wanted to leave Friday, but I had to do a show with New Canoe. We got to Toho Marina at 3:45. I crashed for an hour and a half and woke to a big bass tourney staging for the day.

We headed over to Richardson’s fish camp and launched from there. The weather was good. Pre-fishing for me that first day was terrible, I only caught a single 14-inch fish. Rob and Matt did well, they were excited because they were fishing the Tenvitational.

On the second day, we went down to Kissimmee and launched out of the state park and found some decent fish. We all caught fish there.

We planned to use Tuesday to decide if we were going to fish there or at least narrow down the spots.  Everyone else seemed to be going other places, so we had either place to ourselves.

I went as far south on Kissimmee as possible on Tuesday and found some fish. My buddies did not. I told them that we can fish the Tenvitational wherever, but that we were going to this spot for the ten.

We started at Kissimmee state park, but it was a gamble. You had to wait for it to open, then we had to get off the water early to make it to check in.

Day two, I told them to pick. I was just scouting. We went back to Richardson’s fish camp and I headed south, they headed north. My day started out slow, I ran into Casey Reed and we ate lunch and talked about how it was all going.

I found some reed patches and hydrilla based off a conversation with Casey… I caught my personal best there — around 9-pounds. I was just looking down and happened to see it. I drifted off and hit my pinpoint GPS and started fishing it… threw a senko in there 30-50 times. 

She picked it up once and dropped. It had been 35 minutes. I threw my chatterbait next to the bed and was just running it past her trying to get her to react. I saw her getting agitated. Now she will bite something. I had tied on a VMC spinshot with a 3.5-inch Castaic jerky jay with a 2-inch leader down to the drop shot, it looks like a little shiner or something. I pitched it in and as soon as it hit the bottom it bowed my rod.

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And It was the lightest rod I have with the biggest fish I had ever seen. She took off toward the pencil reeds. I grabbed the spool on my spinning reel with one hand and leaned back with the rod in the other hand. It was only 10-pound test, so I figured I was going to lose her. For some reason she just turned and started swimming into open water. 

I started to net her and she dove straight to the bottom and I thought I was going to lose the biggest fish I ever hooked! 

I caught almost everything on a white chatterbait. I was throwing the jackhammer but they wouldn’t hit it, so I switched to the cheap ones and they started hitting it.

I guess it was the different vibration or frequency, but I was catching a lot of fish. Most of my fish were within a foot of the kayak.”

Derek ended up second in the Tenvitational.

“I went south to Kissimmee. I had in my mind that I was going back down to the spot I had found. The average was 16-plus. And I had caught a 21-incher as well. The conditions had not been right there, with 25 mph winds and muddy water. I heard that you had to be in clear water, but I caught 25-plus fish just running the banks, so I thought that I had found something special. The film guys were following me a bit… with Beutjer and Jensen. And the fish turned off.

What had happened was that the water went flat slack. I started bouncing around and they started hitting a senko on Kissimmee grass flats. After that, I put everything down and started throwing the senko. It was just one of those magical days. I ended fourth after day one.”

2020 KBF The TEN: Brundle’s Day Two

“On day one I was heading out and saw a school of fish off to my right. And I threw in and caught one on a chatterbait. I decided to save it for day two.

I turned on my side scan and the fish were still there… so it was lights out for the first hour. I caught 30-40 fish! Then, I went a long time without any bites.

I caught one flipping some lily pads, and they started again. I lost a good one right before I had to leave. Probably seven or eight pounds!

2020 KBF The TEN: Ken Wood’s 2nd Place Finish

Ken Wood, in his second TEN appearance, would finish 2nd by dropping all he had learned in pre-fishing during the Tenvitational and taking a risk.

2020 KBF The TEN(3)

The lake I fished for the TEN I hadn’t pre-fished it at all. After day two the lake I fished at the Tenvitational, I didn’t like my chances at all. I was in ninth… but two inches out of first. I was catching them on a chatterbait throwing up into the slop, some on spinnerbaits.

“Day two I only caught three fish and it took me all day. I should have stayed on my spot longer, but I am glad I didn’t because I don’t think I would have done well. I knew I did not want to go back there.

I picked a random lake I had not even pre-fished. I didn’t do well on any of the lakes I had pre-fished, so I looked at this one and it looks good. I didn’t hear anyone talk about it, so it was either good or bad.

Day one I still caught most of them on a chatterbait. Rocky Ledge Tackle out of New Hampshire, makes a spinnerbait that I was using as well. It is like a swimming spinnerbait, the wire and the head are separate, it causes it to go through the water like a crankbait.

I had one fish at 9 AM then lost one at 11 AM which crushed my spirits a bit. I was fishing a spot that looked like someone had cut out a spot to water the cows and I caught a 12-inch dink. I told myself that if I had to catch dinks I didn’t care. I was fishing in 6-inches of water as I moved back into the pocket. I caught a 12.75, then a 17-something and on the way out I caught a 20-incher on a spot that I had passed on the way in. I moved to similar spots — and I caught a ton of fish.”

2020 KBF The TEN: And The Winner Is – Rus Snyders

In the end, 2019 AOY Rus Snyders continued his winning streak by taking first at the 2020 KBF The TEN.

“I was there the Sunday before the tournament. Sunday and Monday a bunch of us just crashed a house with Jody Queen and some other folks until the TEN house was open.

Sunday afternoon I fished out of Toho marina and got skunked.

I talked to some of the guys and learned that some of the smaller lakes had as much or more potential than the bigger lakes. The Kissimmee chain just had a Bassmaster Opens event there the week before with 200 boats and it got hammered. The first couple of days of pre-fishing was behind a cold front. Only got a few bites, but found one area where I got several bites.  

The rest was one bite here, one bite there.

I heard a lot about Kissimmee, I know there are big fish in this lake. But it is just so big, so I moved back to the smaller lakes.

On day one, I had the area pretty much to myself, catching them early on weightless flukes in areas where bass boats would not be able to get too.

I started punching through some weeds and then there was a field of lily pads. It was hard catching them out there, because there were just so many. The key to the lily pad bite was being super stealthy. I would stake down and fan cast, starting ten feet around the kayak, then twenty — then I would kind of move a little more. I was spooking bass. As soon as I saw that, I would just sit, look at the scoreboard and wait before making casts.

I was changing colors a lot with the water clarity and light. I was throwing creature baits – I kept a bunch of colors at my feet.  If the water was clear, I would throw a green pumpkin with some sparkles… then if it got overcast I would throw darker colors. Not sure it made a difference, but I kept doing it.

On the second day, I was worried I had caught all of my fish. Pre-fishing I was seeing a lot of fish. Went back, and it was a steady rain, started off with a fluke. The first three fish I caught were 18-plus inches. And I could tell they were not the same fish I saw during pre-fishing.  

I fished a log that I had bumped one day, I dropped my bait over the spot and a 7-plus pounder did a cartwheel over the log, but he wasn’t hooked. I threw right back in there and it hit it again. I couldn’t believe it.

It got caught up on the log. It was right under my kayak, but the log was 7 feet away. I finally got it loose and it was a 21.75 and close to seven pounds.

Then I went out into the pads and still needed to cull. I would go a while with no bite, then get several. I went back into the shallow later and got 20-plus.

This was the first tournament that I caught over 100 inches!”

2020 KBF The TEN: Leaderboard

2020 KBF The TEN(4)

It was extremely fascinating to talk with the top KBF anglers of 2019, and like I said earlier, very difficult to put together a recap. The confidence that these guys have—almost knowing they will be back next year—kept them from telling me much… but it didn’t stop them from taking the top spots. 

How Much More Advanced Can Stand Up Kayaks Get?

I was standing in the garage looking at the brand new Hobie PA14 with the 360 Mirage drive and thinking about how far we have come from the “original” kayaks.  

It is one of the most stable and maneuverable kayaks on the market. It offers an incredible amount of deck space, high gunnels, a large front storage compartment, an in-deck tackle storage option and plenty of room for H-crates or tackle (coolers, etc.) on the back. The H-rail system allows you to attach almost anything (depth finders, nets, cup holders, GPS, etc.) so you are only limited by your imagination. The Hobie is powered by pedals or paddle and now can turn 360 degrees.  

Some are outfitted with Power Poles, Anchor Wizards; you can even attach a Torqueedo to the back of the kayak to allow for shorter times between fishing spots. This is just one of the new models on the market.  

So how much more advanced can the kayaks really get and still be legal for tournament fishing? 

What is the Definition of a Kayak?

Traditional kayak – Photo Credit: http://www.iro.umontreal.ca

I tried to find a true definition for “kayak” to help me find the limits. It is less defined than I expected, but here is the Merriam-Webster version:

Kayak

: a light narrow boat that has both ends tapered to a point, is propelled by a double-bladed paddle, and often has a closed top except for an opening in which the paddler sits with the legs extended straight out in front:

a : a traditional boat that is typically associated with the indigenous peoples (such as the Aleuts and Inuits) of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland, is usually made of a frame of wood or bone covered with animal skin, and is used especially for hunting and transport 

b : a boat that is based on the traditional kayak and is typically made of plastic or fiberglass and is used especially for recreational purposes

You can get a portable kayak that resembles the traditional style too. Photo credit: orukayak

If you look at the BASS tournament guidelines for their definition, they get a bit more specific:  

B.A.S.S. Kayak Regulation Guidelines

  • Watercraft propulsion is restricted to paddle, pedal, pole, or electric motor. (See electric motor restrictions, below.) 
  • Unless specifically prohibited, use of electric motors in competition is approved with the following restrictions: 
    • Electric motor must be attached to the kayak in a safe manner for operation. 
    • An electric motor used to propel a watercraft may not exceed the lesser of (a.) manufacturer’s labeled Maximum HP/Thrust Capacity, (b.) 3 HP, or (c.) 155 foot-pound thrust.
    • Competitors must comply with all boating regulations pertaining to motorized kayak/electric-propulsion watercraft registration, use, and operating restrictions for the designated fishing area.
    • No more than one electric motor may be attached to a kayak regardless of combined horsepower/thrust/power rating. 
    • Motors with dual props operated by a single power source are permissible as long as the unit is manufactured and sold as a single unit.
  • Vessel must be 9’ minimum and shorter than 18’. 
  • Vessel that the manufacturer identifies and sells as a kayak, including inflatable kayaks and modular kayaks, Stand-up paddleboards (SUP) and Canoes. 
  • Other watercraft specifically approved as exceptions in advance of competition by B.A.S.S. Management 
  • Catamaran style personal fishing vessels complying with all other regulations will be eligible. 
  • No “Homemade” Kayaks, Sailboats, Jon boats, pirogues, coracles, rowboats, dinghies, skiffs, float tubes, inflatable rafts, or rigid inflatable boats (e.g., Zodiac), pontoon boats, pontoon-style pond boats, twin-hull watercraft, or similar. 

KBF and the Hobie BOS definitions are very similar; KBF does not list the length requirement.  

What I was surprised to find was the lack of a width requirement.  If that door is open, how wide can I make the kayak? With one dimension of flexibility, how much more is possible?  And, catamarans are allowed?

Catamaran

: a vessel (such as a sailboat) with twin hulls and usually a deck or superstructure connecting the hulls

Is something like this CraigCat Elite or their Catch It version allowed if marketed as a kayak?

As long as I don’t make it myself, I can have a 5-8 foot wide catamaran to fish in the kayak tournaments as long as I do not exceed three hp or 155 ft pounds of propulsion and it is between 9’ and 18’ in length.

By allowing these style boats, the possibilities are endless.  

I can add virtually anything that is on a typical bass boat without a width restriction.  I know this may seem like a stretch and some will argue the point, but based upon all rules defined by the large tournament trails, the kayaks can get wider — becoming platforms to stand on. 

The reality is that I see this changing the first time someone challenges the no-width rules.  

Should the Rules be Changed?

So back to my original question; how much more advanced can the kayaks of today really get?  I personally think that for the “kayak” as just that, a kayak… we are already pushing the limits.

There is room for new hull designs, different hull materials, storage options, different motors, fish finders, seats and possibly advancements in propulsion methods, but to call it a kayak and stay within those boundaries defined by tournament rules will make it hard to add tons of… wait…

There is no height limit either. 

Maybe more storage under the deck, rod storage… 

I have seen technology explode in my lifetime, so I am hesitant to draw a ceiling.  

What are your thoughts?

Z-Man Jackhammer – How Jody Queen Makes It Hunt

Featured Image Credit: Chad Hoover

When I first started fishing kayak bass tournaments seriously, I heard the names of anglers who others liked and respected. I wanted to know the anglers at the top. As more time passed, I was fortunate to meet all of them. I made friends on and off the water with many and still enjoy those friendships today.   

I still remember the first time I talked with one of the more respected kayak anglers, Jody Queen.  

We ended up at the same ramp in La Crosse, Wisconsin while pre-fishing for a KBF event two years ago. He and long-time friend, Brian Aliff, were getting their kayaks ready to launch. He had no idea who I was or where I was from, but he talked to me as if we had known each other for years.  

That is just the kind of guy Jody is to people.  Not only is he one of the most consistent competitors in the kayak world, he is just a cool dude who is willing to share.

Z-Man Jackhammer: Jody Queen’s Favorite Bait & Technique

I gave him a call the other day, curious about his favorite technique – looking for some info from a master. Having talked with him at different events, I thought he was going to tell me a jig.  

During an event at Cedar Creek in Kentucky, we talked about his success fishing grass edges with a swing head jig, and he had talked about jigs a lot at other events. 

I was a bit surprised when he told me a chatterbait, more specifically, the Z-Man Jackhammer.  

Then he told me about last year. 

I made over forty thousand dollars with the Z-Man Jackhammer last year! I fished jigs and other things, but that bait has become my favorite. I won the Hobie TOC on Lake Oauchita in Arkansas with one. I learned a lot about chatterbaits this year; I fished it almost constantly. I grew up fishing jigs, but I fished the chatterbait all year.

Z-man jackhammer

Then told  me about his success, specifically, about getting the Z-Man Jack Hammer to “hunt”.

Jody’s Lesson on the Z-Man Jackhammer

If you use a Z-man Jackhammer on a flat like I did at Oauchita, I am usually throwing it in around five feet of water. I am usually fishing in water where I can get the bait back. I would find a stump or log off the bottom partially submerged on a flat and I will throw just past them, and as soon as it hits the water — and it’s a timing thing — have the reel engaged as soon as it hits the water and pop it real good.  It will do a quick flip and a half circle. Then when you start reeling it will straighten out again. I caught 104-inches fishing it just like that on Rodman Reservoir (including a 9-pound 2-ounce largemouth – see video of Jody and Cory Dreyer on the water). 

Jody prefers to throw the Jackhammer on his Cashion rods because of the sensitivity in the rod that allows him to feel the vibration from the blade run all the way down to his palm. The carbon fiber handle allows Jody to feel the moment that blade stops moving, so he’s ready for the hook set instantly. Jody uses rod model F90474B as his choice rod for the Z-Man Jackhammer. This rod, as every other rod in the Cashion line is proudly made in the U.S.A. 

It is a reaction strike you are going to get, like a spinnerbait bumping off a piece of structure. 

I think the spinnerbait has a more lumbering action; they don’t have that hunting quality. The Z-Man Jackhammer will hunt anywhere you pop it. You can be in the middle of a sandbar, you want to make it hunt, pop that bait and it will veer off 6 to 7-inches before it straightens up again and you can keep doing that and it looks like it is hunting all over the place.  

Some trailers make it hunt better than others. You can offset that trailer too, if you want it to really wide hunt. During the KBF National Championship, I was taking a Z-Man Diezel Minnow and bringing the hook out of the back, a little offset. It would run straight as long as I reeled it slow, but as soon as I sped it up, it would shoot off to the side. Those fish would just slam it!  As soon as it started hunting to the side, they were just Slammin’ it!

Green pumpkin and black and blue down south — I use Diezel Minnows, and paddle tail trailers. If I want to keep it higher in the water column, I use the paddle tail diesel minnows. If I want to drop, I use the razor shads.  I usually use the ⅜ ounce… throwing ’em in the grass, throw ‘em in the junk. If you pull it out of the grass and they don’t bite it, let it fall back in again. When you jerk it out of the grass, they will hit it hard.  

It is like a jig, spinnerbait, crankbait and a swim jig. It can mimic so many things.

Darker waters, darker blades… if they seem to be hitting shad, I will throw a whiter bait with a shinier blade. You can match the hatch with them really well.

Using Electronics To Increase Bites on the Z-Man Jackhammer

Jody and I also talked about his continued growth as an angler.  He shared his experience learning how to better utilize electronics.  

This year was a huge learning curve for me with electronics. I just got my first electronics a couple of years ago, and Kristine Fisher helped me out a lot.  

I pulled up next to her and she was crushing them like she always does. She told me to “look right here, this is my waypoint and this is my stop sign

I said “what do you mean stop sign?

I use the stop sign to show me where to put my boat to hit the waypoints. I used this on Oauchita to mark spots. I marked over 70 waypoints… then I just went around and around, dropping baits on those points.”  

Rus Snyders talked at the Trail Championship this year about marking the grass line every twenty-five feet.  He said if I found a cut, I would back up and mark where the lines went in; he was drawing a line to fish.  

Finding the active fish is the next challenge… one way to tell when you are looking at your sonar if you are looking for bass, flip back to regular sonar and get an orange-ish or yellow return it is most likely a bass. Carp do too, but they stack up different than crappie and bass. I asked him if he minded me sharing this. 

He said “No, go right ahead. I want everyone to catch fish, I want everyone to have fun”.

Jody is one of the few guys on the kayak trails who doesn’t fund his fishing with a day job.  

“This is what I do for a living… this year coming up will be my third year doing this for a living.  This is what I do.”  

But that’s not all …

A Little More Info on Jody Queen

Jody is quite the artist and has another passion he is quick to share with you. He has always created art, but had never done it as a source of income until a few years ago. A serious accident involving his wife, led him to a gallery that displayed some of his art to generate income.  

He has turned that into an effort to help others in his community and now lives at a 33,000 sq. foot school, the Ramsey School.  It houses a non-profit organization that provides a platform for local artists.  

Z-man jackhammer 1

“It is a very depressed area around here, and there are a lot of local Appalachian artists, talent that does not know how to market themselves, and do not really have a place to display their work.”

We are an outreach for those young artists (or established artists) who cannot move outside of the area. We give them a place to display their work. We have been doing it for ten years, and the state is now starting to recognize… we are starting to see grants coming in. I think we have a message to share with the world. My wife keeps everyone in line, and helps to write grants. She is the business part of it.”  

Check out the Ramsey School, look for Jody Queen on Facebook and YouTube.

2020 Hobie BOS at Lake Seminole | Kicking Off the BOS Season

There were 125 anglers who braved the waters to begin the 2020 season at the Hobie Bass Open Series tournament held Jan. 31 through Feb. 2 in Bainbridge, Georgia. 

AJ Mcwhorter and Kevin Nakada welcomed the largest crowd in the history of the series to Lake Seminole, and it proved to be quite the challenge for most who attended.

The Hobie BOS season will see a few changes this year:

  • Dwayne Walley was on site, the BOS choosing to use the TourneyX tournament management system to keep things running smoothly.  
  • Brad Uhl and Bassin Magazine are contributing money for a big bass prize pot.  
  • There are now points for AOY (and great prizes for the top finishers in the AOY race) and alternate paths to the TOC other than just winning events.  

The details of the series, and all its changes, are explained in a comprehensive handbookDownload it.  This is going to be a great year for the Hobie events!

2020 Hobie BOS at Lake Seminole: Standout Stats

Now before we talk about the event, there are some interesting statistics to show how tough Lake Seminole proved to be for the field:

  • Two anglers in the top ten were in paddle kayaks — no motor, no pedals.
  • Day one: 43 did not catch a single fish with only 22 limits from 125 anglers. Only 43 anglers caught more than two fish.
  • Day two: 56 did not catch a single fish with 12 limits out of 125 registered anglers. Only 36 anglers caught more than two fish. This number may be slightly off due to anglers leaving early.
  • And this incredible stat: only four anglers had a limit both days, they were in the top four while fifth place had only 9 fish over two days.

2020 Hobie BOS at Lake Seminole: Pre-Fishing Reports

Reports during pre-fishing reflected the tournament results: unpredictable and scattered for most. There were anglers telling stories of one or two good fish, then nothing. The weather caught a few unprepared anglers.

Kurt Smits admitted he “didn’t even bring any cold weather gear. I have gear so I can fish in zero-degree air temps, but I didn’t bring any of it. I didn’t bring long johns, but I did bring flip flops! Now, I am never leaving the house without my cold gear.

Craig Dye said he fished seven different boat ramps in three days of pre-fishing.  His pre-fishing story really tells the story of the event.

My brother in law, Tyler Bean lives in Brunswick, Georgia. We went down on a weekend before the tournament together, neither of us had seen the lake. We spent a lot of time on Navionics and saw a lot of stuff and we would catch fish everywhere we went. Two guys who supposedly know what they are doing, catching one fish here, one fish there.

Everybody I ran into pre-fishing, I would chat with. You can tell when somebody is catching them, they don’t really want to talk, they pack up their stuff and leave. But everyone was saying they were catching one or two fish, and you could see that they were not lying.

Jake Harshman shared similar results before Friday.  

I caught 5 fish out of Lake Seminole from Monday through Friday.  On Friday I woke up, instead of going fishing I opened up maps and started looking up the river, I cannot fish this lake, I cannot figure out this grass, these fish… so I am going to revert back to what I know.  I live ten minutes from a launch on the Susquehanna River, so I decided to look up the Chattahoochee and the Flint. I started looking for creeks, then drove to some launches. I went to one that looked like no one had been there in forever.  There were no tracks, nothing in the trash cans. I looked as far as I could, and saw some grass. I said this was where I am going. No pre-fishing the area.

Donnie Bennett, Arlie Minton, Jamie Dennison, Jay Wallen, and Kristine Fisher shared my experience.  They had all found fish scattered — one here and one there — but nothing to hang our hats on. Like Craig had said earlier, you could look into the faces of those you passed on the water or at ramps and knew they were telling the truth when they said “nothing, I caught nothing.

Jason Broach shared the struggles during early fishing, but finally found “a little something.

I was there the weekend before and got one bite on Saturday and one bite on Sunday. One on a senko and one on a chatterbait.  I was like ‘this is going to suck’.

The Chattahoochee cleared up some from the weekend before and I had to go try somewhere around there on Friday. I found a little something, I was hoping it would produce five fish both days. I saw fish and thought they were bluegill, but had three fish pick it up and I shook them off.  Then I went out to an island and found one little spot around the corner of an island. There were other people fishing the area, but they went in the opposite direction.

Kurt Smits, a 2017 KBF National Champion, thought he also had figured something out. 

I found them on a hump while pre fishing. I shook off two good fish one day and two good fish on another day.  The fish were not there on Friday. The fish were just so transitional down there. You know what I mean? They were getting ready to spawn before that cold snap happened, then they got pushed back. They were transitioning up and back. They were just all over the place. I think that played into a tough bite for everyone. Quite frankly, they were just moving!

Josh Counce was one of the few who knew he was on the fish.  

I fished every weekend from the Saturday before Christmas until the weekend before the tournament. I only fished the weekends. Every fish I caught was around the current, when I got away from the current, I didn’t find fish. I was trying to stay in Florida to keep from buying a Georgia license.

There was a tourney in 2003-2004 where Gary Klein won a tournament by flipping in the hyacinth mats.  I ran into a spot I found a depression in the area and the fish were just stacked in there. I pulled up and started throwing a jackhammer, letting it sink then slow rolling it back.”  

I was just there at the perfect time. I didn’t find it on a map, the current was going down one of those ditches heading back to the launch, just going with the current. When I got to the end there was a stump there, just a current break and I threw in and caught a five pounder. I drifted back, pulled back up and caught a 3, then a 5 pounder. The depression went from four-feet to six-feet.

I eased up into the hyacinth and threw a senko, hooked a 16-incher and another 5-pounder. I said yeah, I am going to come back here next weekend.

2020 Hobie BOS at Lake Seminole: Stories from the Anglers | Day One

Craig Dye started the day with hope.  

A few days before the event I was looking at a spot way up on the Chattahoochee and saw a little creek.  I had one day of pre-fishing left and decided to give it a try. There was no one around there. I found the creek was blocked about thirty feet up into it, but the water was crystal clear and the Chattahoochee was muddy. This was the first place I had found more than one fish, so I decided to fish there.

It paid off for him. 

No one was at the ramp. No kayaks, no boats… and I caught a limit in thirty minutes. I had 80-inches in thirty minutes. I caught them on a ¼-ounce shaky head with a Senko; alternating between green pumpkin with red flake and blue and black. I did that because it just isn’t a bait you lose fish on. I left at around eleven after catching 8-10 fish, and tried two other ramps without another bite.

Kurt Smits was fishing a weightless zoom trick worm.  

I couldn’t find them on a hump so I had to try something else.  Both days I started junk fishing for a limit with the Zoom trick worm because I knew I could catch a limit junk fishing.

Jason Broach’s fish were still there for him on day one.  

There was a boat ramp with a creek channel going out to the main river with a pinch point.  I had three fish in the first thirteen minutes. In the creek, I caught them all on a Carolina rigged June bug lizard. On the main river by the island I was using a white Jack Hammer. It was only two to four foot of water, so it was a steady retrieve, then ripping it out of the grass.

Jake Harshman had decided to put all of his hope into an unknown spot.  

I had my kayak at the launch, then sat in my car until 7:30. I was going to let anyone who had pre-fished it go first. On my third cast I caught a pickerel. I made some casts into the grass and caught a few males. I went to the creek mouth and made a cast up the river into an eddy that was forming there. I caught a 19 plus, and I was like ‘hey, nice to see you!‘ I fished the spot for a while and caught a couple of 17’s and was sitting at a decent limit.  I checked the standings and saw 101 inches and was like seriously?!?

I could still see my fish there with the live scope, but I left them for tomorrow. Later, I got closer to my spot and watched a bass boat pull in. I pedaled up towards him and asked if it was ok to approach him… he said ‘I don’t know why you would want to do that!’… but I told him I had been fishing the spot and was trying to manage the spot for a tournament.  He told me ‘I just caught a 6 and a 7-pound fish here…but if you want it, I will let you have it.’ I looked at him and thought – he is really going to leave!”  

Then I sat in the spot and fished a shaky head for the rest of the day to hold it. I kept shaking off fish until one fish picked it up, carried it out to the middle, then swam back. I said if you are going to be that stupid; I set the hook and crossed its eyes. It was a 19 plus fish.

But everyone who opened TourneyX by 8:45 a.m. knew the name Josh Counce. He had posted 101-inches before most had registered a single fish.   

“On day one, I pulled up to the spot, flipped in and before I could engage the reel, a fish was pulling on the bait. On the second cast, the same…then the third. I was fishing the hyacinth mat on the backside of an island where I had found them during pre-fishing.”  

There was also a bunch of anglers whose bites had turned on during the afternoon.  Ryan Lambert, Donnie Bennett, Steve Owens had made a charge late in the day to challenge Josh and Jake for the top spots setting up an interesting day two. 

2020 Hobie BOS Lake Seminole(1)

2020 Hobie BOS at Lake Seminole: Stories from the Anglers | Day Two

Looking at the leaderboard early, everyone expected Josh Counce to slay them again.It wasn’t happening, but the day had just started.  

He and Jake Harshman were slugging it out as many top-tenners slowly dropped out of sight on the leaderboard and were replaced by others.  

Craig Dye was sitting in fourteenth after day one.  

“Last year I had three events where I was just outside the money.  So now, here I was with 9 fish after day two, driving back to Bainbridge knowing that I had probably just done it again.

“My goal was just top ten, so I went back for day two.  After five casts I had a 15, then caught a 15, 16 and 18 within thirty minutes.  I thought, ‘this is awesome. I am going to have a good day.’”

“The Chattahoochee started to rise and backed up into my creek.  Then nothing. I packed it up at eleven and went to Spring Creek looking for a big fish like the 20plus I caught pre-fishing, but never found that fifth fish.  I went to check-in and everyone was saying good job. I had no idea that I had made the top five. When they announced 6 through 13 and I wasn’t one of the names, I thought how in the world am I in the top five with 9 fish!”

Kurt Smits said that on day two he “was Texas rigged fishing a hump with a big TRD or a turbo craw.”  

There was a couple of humps with a clear spot and some rocks.  I found the fish sitting right against the bottom. I didn’t know if the bite on the humps was going to be there, it wasn’t there Friday, then ended up not being there Saturday.  So you just don’t know if it is going to be there or not.”

“The fish I was catching, they were just glued to the bottom.  They looked like they were part of the bottom. I could see them on the Hummingbird.”

Jason Broach was very consistent on both days.  He was the leader after day two.  

“I caught three in the creek and two on the island.  On day two, I had two fish in the first hour. I only got six bites the first day and seven the second.”

Jason did catch a 22.75 incher which ended up as the day two and overall big bass to win the Bassin Big Bass.  

As the day progressed, Josh was unable to repeat his success from day one.  

“Day two, the wind hurt me.  It was harder to stay on the fish because of my ability to control the kayak.  I still caught fish, but I had to move a lot more. On day two I lost a 17 inch fish…this was the fish that probably cost me.  The cameraman was there, so they got it on film. I didn’t get upset about it, I just kept fishing. I caught almost all of my fish on the 3/8 ounce Jack Hammer in Green Pumpkin Shad.  I fish it 95% of the time I am fishing a chatterbait. If I want a different color, I change the trailer.”

Jake’s fish, a shoal of large fish he could see on the scope, were gone.  

“It was a ghost town.  But I still just felt it!  I moved and casted against a bunch of cypress root on a very steep ledge and got a backlash.  As I started reeling back, around 10:30, I got a bite. I realized that the fish were holding real tight to the banks…but they were deeper in the water column than day one.”

2020 Hobie BOS Lake Seminole(2)

2020 Hobie BOS at Lake Seminole: Final Results

In the end, after watching the leaderboard look like a different tournament for most of day two, Jake Harshman held off Josh Counce to win the first Hobie BOS event of 2020 from a spot he had not pre-fished before day one.  

He recounted a story of a text exchange with his wife where he had left her a text at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning.  

“I don’t expect you to be up, but when you do wake up; one, I hope you feel better…two your support of me is unreal.  I am lucky to have you, I love you. I am going to do this today because you are my rock. You make me a better person and I love you.”

Then all day long they continued this exchange with her offering words of encouragement.  At noon she tells me “you are still searching for two.”

“I texted her back; ‘I’ve got this babe…I can feel it!’

And he did.

Jake switched to a ¾ ounce chatterbait and “at 2:40, I caught a nice fish and looked at the leaderboard.  I had a one-inch lead!” And that is where he finished, as the winner.

2020 Hobie BOS Lake Seminole(3)

2020 Hobie BOS at Lake Seminole: Top Five Finishers

2020 Hobie BOS at Lake Seminole: 1st Place | Jake Harshman

2020 Hobie BOS Lake Seminole(4)

Hometown: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Work: Federal Police Officer working for the office of Veteran’s Affairs 
Jake is a member of the Old Town Kayak team, pro staff at  Five Mountain Outfitters, Undercover Baits, promotional staff with Amphibia Eyewear, and I get support from Innovative Sportsman.

2020 Hobie BOS at Lake Seminole: 2nd Place | Josh Counce

2020 Hobie BOS Lake Seminole(5)

Hometown: Smith Creek, Florida
Work: Construction inspector; inspecting bridges.
Josh is a brand Ambassador at Boonedox, prostaff at KVD Line and Lure.

I have a Jackson Big Tuna, a Liska, and a Skipper. I am originally from Tennessee. I am not on the Jackson Team, but I liked the thought of supporting a company that gives local people opportunities. So Jackson guys… if you are reading…

2020 Hobie BOS at Lake Seminole: 3rd Place | Kurt Smits

2020 Hobie BOS Lake Seminole(6)

Hometown: Fairfax, Ohio
Kurt is on the Hobie fishing regional team, Strictly Sail and Kayak in Cincinnati, Ohio, Fishing Online, Yak Attack, Ketch board, NeverLost Gear, Picasso Lures and St. Croix Rods.

2020 Hobie BOS at Lake Seminole: 4th Place | Jason Broach

2020 Hobie BOS Lake Seminole(7)

Hometown: Bluffton, South Carolina  
Work: Assistant marine scientist with the South Carolina DNR
Jason primarily works on growing red drum, spotted sea trout, and cobia for stock enhancement.  He enjoys it, but he has to keep the fish alive, even on the weekends. The only thing that would take him away from it is if he could fish for a living. He is apart of the Hobie regional team and wanted to note that his Lowrance helped him find the fish in the creek. 

2020 Hobie BOS at Lake Seminole: 5th Place | Craig Dye

2020HobieBOSLakeSeminole5

Hometown: Holly Springs, Georgia.  
Work: Valiant Steel.  
Craig manages the Hook1 pro staff.  He’s also apart of the pro Staff with Wilderness Systems, Bending Branches, Torqueedo, Raymarine, St. Croix rods, Rogue Fishing, Dakota Lithium.

Meet the KBF Anglers Competing In ‘The Ten’ on the Kissimmee Chain in Florida

“HOLY CRAP!”.  

The Onalaska Omni Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin filled with Dylan Fuqua’s reaction to Chad Hoover announcing him as the seventh member of the Ten. The crowd in the room, assembled for the KBF Championships on the Mississippi River, cheered for the youngest angler ever to make it to the Ten as he moved to the front of the room.  

Then as the list of names continued, another round of excitement. In ninth place; Brad Case, Mike Elsea and Jamie Broad had tied, all receiving an invite to the Ten. 

The DeeZee TENvitational, presented by Meyer Distribution and hosted by Kissimmee Sports and Experience on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in Florida, will be held on January 29-30th. It will be immediately followed by the “TEN” on January 31 and February 1st.  The Ten is KBF’s annual recognition “of the most proficient kayak bass fishermen among all KBF members, as measured by [2019] KBF AOY scores”.  It is the goal of every KBF angler who keeps up with the points during the year to land in the top Ten.

For the 2020 event, the Ten, after the three-way tie… and another invite held for the winner of the Tenvitational (unless that winner is already in the Ten), will actually be the “Twelve”.

Let’s do a quick introduction to the eleven, by standings on the AOY Rankings. This is a list of the guys who showed the rest of the crowd how it is done during 2019.  

They were asked to answer a list of “Ten Questions for the Ten” (ok, there was supposed to be 10!) to let you know a bit about each of them.

#1 Rus Snyders – 2019 Angler of the Year, 2019 Tennessee State Champion

The Ten(1)

  • Where are you from?
    • San Bruno is where I grew up, but Nashville, Tennessee is where I have called home the last seven years.
  • Are you going to make it to the ten?
    • Hell yeah I am going to the TEN, not a chance I’d miss an opportunity like that.
  • What is your day job?
    • I own “Professional Power Washing” and specialize in deck and fence restoration.  I’ve also recently started a fishing guide service as well.
  • Kayak Brand?
    • Wilderness Systems
  • Favorite Lake to fish?
    • Clear Lake, California
  • Favorite technique/bait(s)?
    • Fishing a swim jig is probably my favorite technique.
  • Best 2019 Finish?
    • KBF Trail Series Championship at La Crosse, Wisconsin.  Winning this event was a big part in taking home the AOY title.
  • Any goals for 2020?
    • If I could replicate what I did in 2019, I would be more than satisfied.
  • Something personal you would like to share?
    • I just want to thank family, friends and sponsors for all of their support.

#2 Josh Stewart – The only KBF competitor to have been in every TEN event 

The Ten (2)

  • Where are you from?
    • Waverly, Tennessee
  • Are you going to make it to the ten?
    • Yes
  • What is your day job?
    • Painter
  • Kayak Brand?
    • Jackson; Big Rig HDFD
  • Sponsors?
  • Favorite Lake to fish?
    • Kentucky Lake
  • Favorite technique/bait(s)?
  • Best 2019 Finish?
    • Winning the Hobie BOS on Guntersville and the KBF event in La Crosse.
  • Any goals for 2020?
    • Make the Ten again – possibly AOY this time; second the last two. Make the top five in the Hobie AOY. Qualify for Hobie Worlds again.
  • Something personal you would like to share?
    • I throw other things besides a senko.

#3 Derek Brundle – 2019 Rookie of the Year, 2019 Northeast Angler of the Year

The Ten (3)

  • Where are you from?
    • Wareham, Massachusetts 
  • Are you going to make it to the ten?
    • I will be at the Ten and fishing the Tenvitational
  • What is your day job?
    • The facilities manager for a social services company in the Boston area. 
  • Kayak Brand?
    • NuCanoe
  • Sponsors?
  • Favorite Lake to fish?
    • Lake George, NY
  • Favorite technique/bait(s)
    • My ‘go to’ now is to find something offshore, the fish will reload and I can keep catching them on jigs.  The rougher the day, the nastier the weather, the fishing seems to pick up offshore.
  • Best 2019 Finish?
    • Northeast Angler of the Year, KBF Rookie of the year -2nd at NE regional championship Lake Erie.
  • Any goals for 2020?
    • Stay consistent, win a major event, qualify for 2021 KBF NC, qualify for BASSMASTER Classic 2021
  • Something personal you would like to share?
    • Just surpassed the 5 year mark of being cancer free after being diagnosed with stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma cancer! Glad to be alive!!

#4 Cody Milton – 2018 Angler of the Year, 2019 Southeast Angler of the Year

The Ten(4)

  • Any goals for 2020?
    • The main goal I set for myself in 2020, is to win major events. I’ve been able to put myself up there a few times but I’ve always fallen a little short
  • Something personal you would like to share?
    • There’s nothing super personal, something kinda interesting is I haven’t fished since the TOC in Arkansas. I love taking a winter break from fishing. Growing that hunger back to compete is key. I really feel like you have to take time off every year to find that drive again.

#5 Matthew Scotch – 2019 Texas Region Angler of the Year

The Ten(5)

  • Where are you from?
    • Richmond Texas, but really all over Texas. I’ve lived in Richmond, Rocksprings, San Antonio, Austin, College Station, and Fort Worth.
  • Are you going to make it to the ten?
    • Of course! I worked hard to qualify and wouldn’t miss it!
  • What is your day job?
    • Kayak fishing guide for at Lone Star Kayak Guide
  • Kayak Brand?
    • Hobie; Outback
  • Sponsors?
  • Best 2019 Finish?
    • I won fortunate to win 7 events in 2019. My second place finish at the Hobie TOC might have been my most memorable though.
  • Any goals for 2020?
    • Be myself and don’t try to be better than anyone but myself. I want to win every tournament I enter, is that realistic?
  • Something personal you would like to share?
    • I’m single ladies…

#6 Casey Reed

The Ten(6)

  • Where are you from?
    • Lynchburg, Virginia 
  • Are you going to make it to the ten?
    • I’m not sure what it would take for me to miss it, but let’s hope whatever that is doesn’t happen. 
  • What is your day job?
    • I work at a year-round ski and snowboard facility. 
  • Kayak Brand?
    • Old Town 
  • Favorite Lake to fish?
    • Smith Mountain Lake 
  • Best 2019 Finish?
    • I had two first place finishes in the KBF Trail Series. Lake Anna, and Lake Erie. 
  • Any goals for 2020?
    • I’d like to finish in the top 10 again in KBF, and get on stage at a B.A.S.S. event 
  • Something personal you would like to share?
    • I’d just like to thank my friends, family, and sponsors for the support.

#7 Dylan Fuqua – The youngest KBF member to ever make the TEN (15 years old!)

The Ten (7)

  • Where are you from?
    • I am from Carterville, IL.
  • Are you going to make it to the ten?
    • I will be at the Ten. 
  • What is your day job?
    • I’m 15 so I don’t have a job…
  • Kayak Brand?
    • I fish out of a Native Watercraft Titan 12.
  • Sponsors?
    • I am partnered with FishUSA and Native Watercraft.  
  • Favorite Lake to fish?
    • I don’t really have a favorite lake to fish but my favorite lake that I fished this year was the Madison Chain Lakes in Wisconsin. 
  • Best 2019 Finish?
    • My best 2019 finish was in Madison Wisconsin, I got first place in the Pro and Trail series! 
  • Any goals for 2020?
    • My #1 goal for 2020 is to learn how to use my fish finder!
  • Something personal you would like to share?
    • Yeah I just can’t think of anything interesting. Lol!

#8 Ken Wood

The Ten (8)

  • Where are you from? 
    • Originally from Brockton, MA. Currently living in Taunton, MA.
  • Are you going to make it to the ten? 
    • Yes, sir! 
  • What is your day job? 
    • IT Support Technician.
  • Kayak Brand? 
    • Jackson Kayak (Big Rig FD).
  • Sponsors? 
    • No personal sponsors, but the following sponsor the trail I run, Massachusetts Kayak Bassin’: Dakota Lithium, Rocky Ledge Tackle, Radfish Lures, MGC Fishing Equipment and Supplies, Go Bananas Outdoors, and everyone’s favorite masters of marketing, Titan Tungsten. 
  • Favorite Lake to fish? 
    • You’re not supposed to ask that! Haha. Actually, I don’t have any favorite lakes. Sure, I have some local spots I’ve been fishing since I was a kid and love doing so, but I just enjoy the act of fishing, the adventure of it all, and so I’ll fish anywhere and have a blast doing so. 
  • Favorite technique/bait(s)? 
    • Power-fishing spinnerbaits & chatterbaits.
  • Best 2019 Finish? 
    • First place on the TRAIL and PRO sides at the KBF Trail Event on Lake George against 132 anglers. Also took home the Big Bass Brawl prize. 
  • Any goals for 2020? 
    • I’d like to make the top ten again. Last year I feel like I got a lucky break, with a few people higher than me in the standings (I was 14th) not making it to the Regional Championship. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have made it, as a few others ahead of me didn’t do well at the event and dropped out of the top ten as a result, but I still feel like there’s asterisk next to my name going into this year’s the TEN event. 
    • I also want to fish cleaner. Last year some key fish came unbuttoned—two at East/West Harbor and three maniacal smallies at Lake Winnepesaukee—that would have solidly placed me in the top ten going into the Regional Championship. 
    • So… fish cleaner, fully earn it.
  • Something personal you would like to share?   
    • Nope!

#9 Brad Case

The Ten (9)

  • Where are you from?   
    • Florence, MS
  • Are you going to make it to the ten? 
    • Yes.  I will be there by the 21st to start pre-fishing
  • What is your day job?  
    • Retired Military
  • Kayak Brand?  
    • Wilderness Systems ATAK
  • Favorite Lake to fish? 
    • Lake Jackson, FL and next is Lake Eufaula, AL still call it my home lake after 6 years.
  • Favorite technique/bait(s)? 
    • Topwater Frogs
  • Best 2019 Finish? 
    • 3rd place KBF Texas Region Angler of the Year, 9th place KBF Angler of the Year
  • Any goals for 2020?    
    • To fish the KBF Pro and BASS and have fun. 
  • Something personal you would like to share?   
    • You can die more than once. 

#10 Mike Elsea – Winner of the 2019 KBF National Championship

The Ten(10)

  • Where are you from?
    • Mooresville, Indiana 
  • Are you going to make it to the ten?
    • Yes.  I will be going to the Ten.
  • What is your day job?
    • Biologist. 
  • Kayak Brand?
    • Native Watercraft – Titan 10.5
  • Sponsors?
  • Favorite Lake to fish?
    • Tough Question! Toss up between Guntersville, Pickwick, or Sam Rayburn
  • Favorite technique/bait(s)?
  • Best 2019 Finish?
    • 2019 National Champion 
  • Any goals for 2020?
    • To be in a position to fish full-time
  • Something personal you would like to share?
    • I just love this sport and where it’s going. I’m excited about the new opportunities that are coming and wish everyone a great 2020 season.

#11 Jamie Broad

The Ten (11)

  • Where are you from?
    • Grew up in East Texas (Longview). Live in Bossier City, Louisiana now.
  • Are you going to make it to the ten?
    • Would not miss it.
  • What is your day job?
    • Product Line Manager for National Oilwell Varco. I handle the centrifugal pump line of our company. 
  • Kayak Brand?
    • Wilderness systems ATAK 140 and Radar 135. 
  • Favorite Lake to fish?
    • Caddo 
  • Favorite technique/bait(s)?
    • Frog/any topwater 
  • Best 2019 Finish?
    • O.H.Ive Pro Event; 1st place
  • Any goals for 2020?
    • Have fun. Stay focused on finishing top 10 in every event.
  • Something personal you would like to share?
    • I am very thankful for the opportunity to fish with the great group anglers coming to the TEN. This is going to be my 3rd year fishing KBF events. I can’t say I have ever met a better group of people. This group has become a part of my family. 

#12 TBD – Winner of the TENvitational; if not already listed above.

Write your name here!

If you are new to KBF, and thinking that you cannot compete at this level; reconsider. Derek Brundle, the rookie of the year, and Dylan Fuqua, in his second year, rocketed to the top ten against the best kayak bass anglers in the United States. These two guys show that this can be an opportunity for anyone, everyone, to prove their abilities as anglers.  

Please follow along during the Tenvitational and the Ten on TourneyX. Dwayne Walley has made it easy for you to keep up with your favorite anglers as the event progresses and you don’t want to miss it! 

And if you really want a closer look at what is happening; those who are qualified for the Tenvitational, it is not too late to sign up! With this kind of payout….why not?

The Ten (13)

Why You Should Buy a Fishing Kayak Instead of Using Your Recreational Kayak

Today, you can find inexpensive kayaks for sale about everywhere you go.

It seems that I woke up one day, and they were in all sporting goods stores, hardware stores, and even tractor supply stores.

I keep waiting to see them at grocery stores or pharmacies that are not owned by the Walton family.  

They are for sale on Ebay, Facebook, Craig’s List and on the side of the road.  In my twenties, I would have been in heaven to have had all the inexpensive choices.

Many of these recreation boats are a great way to discover if you want to go deeper into kayaking, or for the occasional kayaker to float shallow creeks during the summer months.  They can also be nice to use on small ponds and lakes, or even to paddle distances for exercise. They can also be used as an opportunity to introduce kids to the water.  

Fishing kayak bass tournaments is another thing entirely.  Once you sign up to fish a tournament (often weeks in advance of a date) — and travel across many states — you have committed to rain, sleet, snow, hail, wind, or storms.  Many of the recreational kayaks are not set up for long days of tournament kayak fishing or for large, open bodies of water in less than calm weather conditions.

I’m Not a Brand Basher When Giving Tips To Help You Buy a Fishing Kayak

Now before some of y’all get started, I am not a brand basher and have seen people out in the middle of Kentucky Lake in a small kayak (without life jacketswear a life jacket!). 

I have fished against folks in 10-foot sit-in kayaks who have out fished me, and I know many people who started that way.  There is nothing that says you cannot.

And nothing says you should not fish from them.

But if you are going to fish tournaments more than locally, I suggest you upgrade from those smaller, narrow kayaks to something designed for the more serious kayak tournament angler.

Buy a Fishing Kayak: The Pros and Cons 

Kayaks designed for fishing usually have higher weight ratings that allow you to carry yourself and gear.  They offer storage, mounting locations with options and have seats designed for comfort on the long days. Many now offer pedal options to help you cover water and to better manage weather conditions; all while offering greatly increased stability.  These boats also offer the capability to mount motors.

The down side can be cost.

You are not going to get a Hobie for the price of a Pelican, or a Jackson for the cost of a Sun Dolphin; but you are going to be making a good down payment on a competitive advantage and increased safety on big water.  Most kayak outfitters will work with you to find affordable options to get you in the right boat for the right water, so don’t overlook a local kayak dealer in favor of the big box options.

A Pro Tip To Help You Buy a Fishing Kayak

There are all shapes and sizes when it comes to kayaks, each having an intended purpose.  I will tell anyone who is buying one to demo many different kinds, then demo a few more. Look for a local outfitter, or check out Facebook to find a local kayak group; they will find you someone with the kayak you want to try. 

Buy a Fishing Kayak(1)

Search for demo days like Caney Fork’s Waterpalooza!  

Also, really think through your intended use with each demo. Consider the limitations of the kayak you are sitting in or on during that demo.  And if you plan to spend forty or fifty weekends in one, make the upgrade with your first purchase.

Winter Kayak Fishing | Some Tips & Advice From Mike Cheatham

When it comes to winter kayak fishing, some kayakers in the north are forced to leave their kayaks at home to fish hard water. Some move to hunting during the winter months, or have other pursuits to fill the winter days. But there are still many of us who fish year-round from our kayaks — for bass, crappie, stripers, white bass – for everything and anything that will bite.

My third tournament from a kayak, I left my hog trough in the truck while fishing on Kentucky Lake. It snowed so hard that by the time I retrieved it from the back floor board, the seat on my kayak was covered with snow. I repeated that on Dale Hollow just two years ago. It was miserable, cold, raining, and snowing… but I was fishing dang it! 

I recently followed a series of posts just this week from Jaxton and Jim Orr who had fled south to fish Chickamauga and had some success. So there is that option too. For me, I know the crappie and white bass are biting here in Tennessee and they really taste good soaked in some hot grease.

So I am partaking in winter kayak fishing.

But prepping for a winter kayak fishing trip is not the same as prepping July. You have to be very aware of the weather and really understand the temperature of both the air and the water. Hypothermia is real and with kayaks having a higher chance of flipping than larger boats, you need to be prepared. Learn what to do, how to do it, but more important: learn what to expect should you find yourself in the water.  

Winter Kayak Fishing: A Close Call

Before I owned a kayak, I picked up a friend to fish out of my small jon boat. I knew when he got in the truck he was not dressed for the 20-degree air temps and I should have called it off then, but I had some extra coveralls in my truck that would help him stay warm. 

We fished for a few hours without success, and decided to head in. I asked him to hand me a tackle box, and the next sound I heard was him falling into the barely 50 degree water. He was not wearing a PFD and the coveralls quickly absorbed water. Fortunately for my friend, we were less than 50 yards from the ramp because I could not get him back into the boat. I held his arm as he clung to the side and I used the trolling motor to cover the distance.

In that short time, I had to help him up the ramp and out of his wet clothes. I gave him my coveralls (which would have also pulled me under had I fallen) and cranked up the heat as he shivered uncontrollably.

That day could have been our last.

Be Prepared When Going Winter Kayak Fishing

Since then, I have made myself more aware. But to be completely upfront, I am probably still not as prepared as I should be during the winter months. I do understand that cotton is not good and that I should be well insulated from the elements – not the air, but the water. I also understand that we should all carry extra clothing and a way to start a fire. 

The biggest thing is to ALWAYS WEAR A LIFE JACKET

I am not telling this to keep you off the water in the winter. I will be out the next free day that I can get on the water; 30 or 80 degrees. I will have a dry bag full of essential items, someone will know exactly where I am and when I plan to be home. But most likely, I will not be alone if it is cold. I am careful to prepare for 30-degree weather because I know the reality of what can go wrong.    

Y’all read up on what to consider when fishing in the cold.  Below is a tiny sample of what is available online. Educate yourself on the effects of hypothermia.

This is a fairly comprehensive (although high-level) explanation.

The 1-10-1 Principle explained here is something else to understand.  

I personally feel that this document provides some good information to consider when kayaking in cold weather. 

No matter what you chose to review, just be safe. Winter kayak fishing can lead to some really fun days on the water, just remember there’s plenty of people who want you to come home safe and plan accordingly!