KBF Central Regional Trail and Pro Series at Lake St. Clair

The KBF Central Region Trail and Pro Division event on Lake St. Clair was held May 25, 2019 out of the St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township, Michigan. It did not take over ninety inches to make the top twenty like it did in 2018, but it didn’t disappoint. The winning lengths fell short of the popular guess of over one hundred inches, but only by one and three quarters of an inch; all of this as anglers fought wet weather and high winds.

KBF Central Event at Lake St. Clair: Weather Conditions

The wind was definitely a factor during pre-fishing and the event. One angler lost his kayak to the wind when he got out for a minute but it was eventually found, and another rolled trying to ride the waves back to the jet ski launch. A few even learned the feeling of being sick due to the rolling waves (myself included).

It was quite the ride coming off the lake on Saturday.

Eric Siddiqi, the winner of the trail event, had to cut the top off a water bottle to bail water after the waves kept coming over the bow.  The lack of a seal on his older Hobie’s hatch had allowed enough water to cause the boat to start listing to one side. The day was further complicated by the fact that a bolt had come out of his Torqueedo mount due to the continuous waves. Taking on water and losing the use of his motor forced a need to start drifting back early to make sure he made it with his kayak on top of the water.

Jeremy Baker, the winner of the Pro division, was fighting the same conditions on his home lake.  His plan to sight fish was affected by the unusually high water and the size of the waves, they made it difficult to see deep enough into the water and attack the beds from the right angle to trigger strikes. This was not helped by high boat traffic in the area he had chosen to target. While he did have some struggles during the day, it was not due to the weather.

KBF Central Event at Lake St. Clair: Tale of the Two Winning Anglers

KBF Central Event at Lake St. Clair: Eric Siddiqi’s Event Recap

ANGLR team member, Eric Siddiqi, headed to St. Clair just off a third place finish in the Hobie Open on Kentucky Lake the week before, and having won the Hobie Battle on the Border there last year; earning him a trip to Sweden for the Hobie Worlds in Australia. So it was with a bit of confidence he began his pre-fishing.

The days before the event didn’t allow for the best pre-fishing conditions, but they were representative of what the anglers would experience. I personally arrived on the only good day to pre-fish and met an angler at the Metroplex, Robert Moss, who said he had waited out the waves on Thursday while talking with Siddiqi before deciding to bail; as Eric headed out to fish.  “That dude is nuts!” he told me. But Eric credits fishing in those conditions as part of his success on St. Clair. KBF Central Regional(1)

“I knew if I could fish in that wind, I had a chance. Thursday really helped because I knew the conditions already. When the wind picked up, I started culling up!”

The fish had been there on Friday, and even though he knew people were catching them deeper, a 20.5 inch smallmouth early on Saturday let him know that his bite was there. The drop shot with a 12” trailing leader and a 3/8 ounce tungsten weight fished on a St. Croix rod with a Shimano C14 spinning reel was the key that helped him land 98-inches and the win. He had tubes, ned rigs, swimbaits, and heavier weighted options rigged for the day but “the drop shot was all they wanted”.

Talking with Eric at the ramp, you may not see the dedication he has for fishing. He seems a bit laid back for an angler that intensely studies maps, spends hours watching videos finding all the info he can find about bass fishing and learns all the new baits and techniques. You will not find him to be the first guy on the water during pre-fishing, but you will see him searching for places to eat at the end of the day; often leaving the water too late to find open restaurants on the road because he was covering miles of water searching for bass. He has lost 18-20 pounds this season alone by being so focused on fishing and missing a meal or two.

In his fourth full year of kayak angling, he credits this effort with the consistency he has been showing at the KBF and Hobie events. He looks for the bait, and the current flow; not dying by the luck he had during pre-fishing, but being open minded.

“I ran 12 miles chasing ledges on Kentucky Lake but they were not there, so I moved to a different bite. I prefer deep fish for their consistency.”  

“They are like us, they are always going to stay close to the fridge so they don’t move far.”

Eric plans to keep doing this as long as he can and will be back at St. Clair at the end of June. He gives credit to Cal Coast, ANGLR, Fishing Online, YakAttack, Torqeedo and Lowrance for being behind him. He is also hoping to get a nod from Hobie one day (just in case they are reading).

KBF Central Event at Lake St. Clair: Jeremy Baker’s Event Recap

Jeremy Baker on the other hand was relatively unknown in the kayak bass world. He spends his weeks like most folks in the kayak tournament world doing their day job, his is installing gas services. The St. Clair win was only his second KBF event, his third kayak tournament event. His previous experience had come in bass boats in FLW BFL events and as a co-angler for over 20 years.

When asked why he jumped straight to the Pro Division he will tell you that is where he wants to fish because the “quality of anglers is not different in the kayak, most of these guys could compete on any level”. He likes “the simplicity and newness of it.  It feels like you can still be a part of it all.”

Jeremy had left tournament fishing for a while (giving up the dream of being a pro), but bought a pontoon boat to carry his daughter out swimming. He started seeing “all of these fishing kayaks” on the water and started thinking it would be a way to get him back into tournament fishing. He bought an Ascend and started testing the waters, but later traded it and some cash to a young boy trying to get rid of a Hobie PA14.  

The transition to kayak fishing has been less than smooth. Like anyone new to kayak tournaments you have to learn how to manage the fish after the catch. In his first KBF event last year, he finished 7th but had a 22-inch smallmouth jump off the board that may have given him the win, but he also had deductions. Jeremy seemed to know what he had to work on to win and was focused on getting better at the catch management side of kayak fishing.

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“It is very different than throwing them in the live well! You have to hold the fish on the board with your oversized phone in one hand and get a pic!”  

This year, he figured it out. Fishing on a spot he knows to be a spawning flat that produces every year, he found 98.25 inches of bass by throwing a St. Clair Crayfish made by Wayne Carpenter of Xtreme Bait and Tackle on St. Croix rods with Quantum reels. He fished these after trimming the tails to keep the fish from just picking them up and dropping them. He bet on this for the tournament, leaving tubes and drop shots alone as he targeted spots where he had found mostly males during pre-fishing.

You can listen to Jeremy’s interview of the event on Scott Beutjer’s Weigh In.

KBF Central Event at Lake St. Clair: Why the tale of two anglers?

“I had been watching the pro side on TourneyX all day and knew I was leading. But when I got back, I looked at the trail side and wasn’t on it.”

As they announced the winners Jeremy felt his “Happy Gilmore moment” fade, the crowd was a bit confused too. In order to compete in the Pro Division, an angler has to sign up for the trail event also. Siddiqi had won the trail event, but finished second in the Pro Division behind Baker.  

KBF requires that you have a separate identifier for the trail vs pro event, and these must also be submitted to two events in TourneyX. Eric and several others had been bitten by this rule during an event on Guntersville earlier in the year. It is stated on the KBF pages, but there had been some communication trying to clarify before the event. Some discussions are following, but Jeremy is looking for the good in it all.

“The hardest thing was this is my home town lake. It is hard enough to get a win on this lake, then you get it, and there may be an asterisk on it.”

Jeremy may be an unknown at this point, but he doesn’t intend to stay that way. He is determined to follow the kayak tournament trails and be competitive. He is going to fish with the Michigan-Ohio kayak anglers and KBF.

“I plan to fish as many events as I can. I’m looking forward to the FLW championship in August.”

Both Eric and Jeremy plan to be in the Hobie BOS event at the end of June on St. Clair. If you are able, this will be an event to attend.

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Kayak Fishing Tournaments | What You Need to Get Started

So it’s time to get started into your new adventure, your first of many kayak fishing tournaments!

Let’s run through our checklist:

  • Kayak; check.
  • A paddle if it is not a pedal kayak; check.
  • A rod and reel; check.
  • A PFD; check

Well, now you are ready… except there is just one more thing.

Enough confidence to overcome the fear of entering; well, why not?

It can be a bit intimidating trying to figure out how it all works. What you need to know, what you need to carry, and what to do or not to do. Anyone who fishes on local trails, KBF events, or the Hobie BOS has asked the same questions of themselves; deciding at some point to give it a try.

Kayak Fishing Tournaments: Use the Helpful Community to Your Advantage

Fortunately, the kayak community is full of welcoming and helpful individuals who are more than willing to teach you the ropes. There are kayak clubs across the country where you can get your feet wet (hopefully not everything you brought with you) with many even offering beginner events; events that allow you to learn the basics in a no pressure tournament style.

In our local clubs, it is accompanied by a get together with kayak demos, hot dogs, burgers, and door prizes; everyone wins something. It is an opportunity to meet people and fish while deciding if you are interested in a little competition. The guys more familiar with tournaments follow along with newbies to coach them through the day.  A quick search on Facebook or the internet will find local groups or you can download TourneyX to find tournament events in your area.

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Intro to a kayaking tournament with demo day – Nathan Wood teaching Daniel Elkins how to measure a fish.

Kayak Fishing Tournaments: The Bare Essentials

Let’s start with the bare essentials to fish your first tournament; since we already said kayak and rod/reel, we will skip those.

Kayak Fishing Tournaments Essential #1: A PFD (Personal Flotation Device)

I prefer an NRS Chinook for comfort and functionality. Even if a local group does not require you to do so, and all but one I know of does, wear it – don’t just carry it. You are in a small plastic boat.  

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There are several guys on the trail who are only here today simply because they had one on when things went bad.

Note: There are more things that you will need in order to fish the tournament and be in compliance with local laws. Since this is not meant to be a comprehensive list of safety equipment required by every state, club or country, please consult your local regulations, the club or event rules and the Coast Guard. You are required to follow the Coast Guard regulations for all vessels ( regardless of any local event rules.

Kayak Fishing Tournaments Essential #2: A Measuring Board

You need one of the following measuring boards; a Hawg Trough manufactured by Hagen, the Ketch Board manufactured by the Ketch Company or the FishStik Version 2 manufactured by YakGear. Be aware that the FishStik is not accepted by many local tournaments.  

Kayak bass tournaments are CPR (catch, photo, release) and a board is required for the photo.  CPR is a major difference between kayak tournaments and those with larger boats, and one of the most common conversations you will have with non kayak anglers; “Where do you keep the fish?” You take pictures and release them, then either carry your phone to check-in or submit them through a tourney management system like TourneyX or iAngler.  

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Keep some of the pictures, you will get asked about this process and it is an opportunity to educate others about the sport.

Kayak Fishing Tournaments Essential #3: An Identifier Holder

In addition to the board, you will need something to hold an identifier. This is a code that must be in the picture for it to be a valid catch. If you take photos with this code not clearly visible, blurred or partially blocked; your fish will be disqualified. If, for instance, a fish knocks your identifier into Kentucky Lake during the first hour of the Hobie Open in 2018… well, just make sure to secure that identifier or you will have a long ride to check in; a very long ride.

Tourney Tag makes a good tool to manage the identifier. A fellow angler, Jim Strunk, has also created one specifically for the Ketch Boards.  

Kayak Fishing Tournaments Essential #4: A Device to Take Pictures

An electronic device capable of taking pictures and loading them to the tournament management systems. Selecting the correct provider for these devices is virtually impossible; sooner or later you will land between cell towers. This is why I have personally carried an iPhone with AT&T and an iPad with Verizon; and still had to drive over the river and through the woods a bit beyond the speed limit to find two bars!

Some local kayak fishing tournaments will not have this requirement, they allow you to bring the pictures to check in and review them on the spot.

Kayak Fishing Tournaments Essential #5: Knowledge and Skill

Knowledge and skill, well technically, these are not required, but an understanding of how to fish will certainly help. In my first tournament, I ventured out on to the local trail thinking I was the new master angler of the century and immediately posted a double digit goose egg on water I grew up fishing.

Humbled, I realized that I was ready to try and willing to learn, but I needed to hone those skills; and I continue to do so at every event I can find. Remember those welcoming and helpful kayak anglers mentioned earlier, they are a great source of knowledge and love to help the new guys figure it all out. So, skill will come (one day for me…I hope).

Kayak Fishing Tournaments: Final Thoughts

If you fish a few local tournaments you can survive with those items. Honestly, you can compete on any level. I had a young man wear me out on the water with one rod and reel. He was in the cheapest sit-in kayak on the market, with no electronics and a paddle; and he taught this ole boy a thing or two.  So, don’t think it takes the latest and greatest equipment to win or that you are not good enough to compete because you are not set up like some of the road warriors.

Come on out and meet the community, it just might be for you…and it might just be your day.

Lake Mead Fishing Tournament Recap With Mark Lassagne

You may ask yourself what information might be derived from a guy who only caught one fish in two days of a Lake Mead fishing tournament?

Well, first let me say that tournament fishing occurs during a sliver of time when an angler’s only goal is to best the other competitors. And there are two schools of thought during a day of tournament fishing to achieve that goal: catch numbers of bass to fill a limit or catch quality fish (and hopefully fill a limit). I chose the latter—and hindsight being what it is, perhaps it wasn’t the best decision. Nonetheless, the choice I made was based on what I had discovered during practice.

The weather upon my arrival at Mead was post-frontal with an ambient air temperature of 28 degrees, but a warming trend was forecasted to be on the way. The lake was fishing very tough, so much so that merely catching a single bass was difficult.

The only recent information I had was that the fish were staging in the main lake, just outside of coves that contained spawning flats in the back.

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Lake Mead Fishing Tournament: Day One Practice

As I launched, I measured the water temperature and clarity. The water in the main lake had about 20 feet of visibility. It was flat, calm, and cold.

I proceeded to hit points on the main lake leading into coves as described above which I assumed would be high percentage areas. Starting with reaction baits such as a crankbait, spinnerbait, and jerkbait, I then switched to finesse presentations. I tossed a Yamamoto Hula Grub, wacky rigged Senko, and drop shot, targeting depths from a couple feet down to 25-feet.

I fished nearly a dozen points before making a move and targeting the back end of these coves with the same reaction and finesse baits.

After fishing the ends of another dozen coves without a bite, I decided to try the steep side of big boulders. Voilà! I caught a 1.5-pound smallmouth. Believing I had found something, I then tried another dozen areas with similar features, without any luck.

Knowing that I needed to find something resembling a pattern, I ran into ‘The Wash’ which is an area with stained water and is well known for good bags. It looked decent. The water temperature was 52-degrees and there was a ton of cover. I tossed a crankbait in and around the flooded brush before trying an umbrella rig and a Senko. Still no bites. Knowing the weather was at the beginning of a warming trend, I decided to come back on the last day of practice, hoping the fish would have moved in by then.

Lake Mead Fishing Tournament: Day Two Practice

I began my day by running to Overton, which is about 20 miles from where I started on day one, fishing the area the same way as I had in the main lake on the first day of practice. This arm looked good as well, with 52-degree stained water and a ton of brush. I tossed a crankbait, chatterbait, and jig around the brush without a bite. Not one single bite on day two of practice.

Lake Mead Fishing Tournament: Day Three Practice

Launching at Temple Bar, I decided to focus on this area as I had done well there in the past. I knew precisely where the bass would spawn and assumed I could work the staging areas nearby. But again, I didn’t get a bite working 10 to 15 different spots.

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At this point I ran to the end of the lake and again found flooded brush. I started with a crankbait and caught a largemouth. Finally!

I went down the bank catching several more bass around the 2-pound mark. Now that I had a clue, I worked several similar areas while moving toward the main lake and caught nothing more.

Believing this to be a “move-up area” – a place to which fish with spawning on the mind will locate – I knew I could return and catch some fish.

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Lake Mead Fishing Tournament: Day Four Practice

Launching close to ‘The Wash’, today’s goal was to check the area again, hopefully validating my theory that the fish would have moved in during the recent warming weather. The day dawned with a good amount of wind and got me thinking that it might be a reaction bait kind of day.

Fishing wind-blown points near the ramp, I started catching bass—good bass in the 3- to 4-pound class.

After working a couple of coves, I felt I had a good thing going. I then went out to the main lake, directly into the wind, looking to expand this pattern. I started with the umbrella rig and caught a number of 3- to 5-pound bass. The first day of the event called for the same strong winds and based on everything I had found to this point, I needed to pursue that pattern. If I could get two to four bites a day, it would be possible to win.

Lake Mead Fishing Tournament: Day One of the Tournament

The tournament organizers decided to make off-limits the area I had chosen to be my starting spot (only to later open it for day two after several anglers had fished there on day one). Though my first spot was off the table, I still had the area where the umbrella rig had produced during practice, and the wind was howling as it needed to be. I was working a two-mile section of points on the main lake and just knew I could catch a few fish.

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By 9 a.m., with zero bites, I started mixing in the crankbait and landed a 4-pounder.

I decided to recycle through the entire area twice more and only got one more bite. Unfortunately, the fish jumped at the boat and came unbuttoned.

Lake Mead Fishing Tournament: Day Two of the Tournament

With the wind laying down and knowing that the umbrella rig bite would be done, I ran 50 miles to the end of the lake where I figured it would be easy to catch a limit of bass. I arrived and proceeded down the bank, tossing the crankbait in and around the brush. I hooked up once, but the fish came off. My non-boater ended up catching three bass from the area on a small worm, moving him into 11th place. I ended the day without catching a bass.

Knowing what I do now – that most of the anglers who cashed a check, including the tournament winner, were fishing in the Overton area – I should have worked that area more thoroughly with reaction baits during windy periods, and flipped in the brush on the one calm day.

Fishing and catching is all based upon the information an angler has at hand. At the end of the day I feel I made the best decisions based upon the information I had at the time. With tournament fishing, decisions are not always the easiest to make, especially when there’s a good chunk of money on the line. The best takeaway from this recap is to continue to try new baits and new areas when tournament fishing.