Are you ready for kayak bass tournaments? The majority of kayak anglers agree that tournament fishing can be an exciting and enjoyable experience. Often times a new tournament angler just needs a few encouraging words to get them signed up. Recently, I interviewed some of the top finishers in the newly formed North Texas Kayak Championship about their experience in the tournament scene.
Coach P: If you were trying to convince a friend to fish the next kayak tournament event, what advice would you give them?
Lake Palestine champion, Joey Montgomery: Just have fun! It’s fishing, and we do it to enjoy it, not to get rich. After that, I would say go with what you know, the things you have confidence in is what you will fish better.
Lake Palestine 1st runner up, Ace McLaughlin: Sometimes I have to calm myself down when I make a mistake, like not netting a fish, just because I’ve done it a 1000 times and the fish hops off the hook at the boat. I remind myself why I am there, just to have a good time with some great anglers!
Lake Palestine third place finisher, Mat Fentress: I had an absolute blast! This was my first kayak tournament, and I was very anxious. I’d say that for anyone considering joining tournament fishing, do it! I have fished tons of big bass boat trails and the friendliness of fellow anglers really is different in kayak tournaments. I’m looking forward to fishing many more kayak tournaments in the future!
Coach P: When deciding to fish the Palestine event, how did you start your basic strategy?
Joey: I was just back from the KBF National championship, and I wasn’t fully convinced to fish another tournament right after getting home. But I called up my buddy that was getting into kayak fishing and tournaments and told him if he wanted to go, I would go too. I started looking at the lake, pictures and watching a few videos of people fishing the lake. I saw a few pictures of Kickapoo that I liked. After talking to my friend, we decided to go there. The morning of the tournament I headed out to the island that was right off the bridge of the north end of the lake. I started throwing a Spro popping frog, and had a few blow ups, but couldn’t get anything to take. I made my way around the island to where there was an opening between the two islands and a lay down. I threw the frog in, and had another blow up, but no take. I pitched a Denny Brauer baby structure jig with a net bait mini kicking b as a trailer with the tips dipped orange. As soon as it hit the water the line started swimming away. I reeled up quick and yanked the rod back driving the hook into the fish. I landed it as quickly as I could, snapped a few pictures and then let it go. I flipped right back to the same lay down and got another bite that came loose right at the boat. After a while more not much was happening and I decided to make my way to the bridge. I found a few fish holding close to the concrete slope in some grass. I caught 3 of my biggest 5 (two 18’s and a 20) all on the jig. After fishing there for a bit, I decided to try the lay down again. On the first flip back in I saw the side of a fish roll and the line jump, then the fight was on! After a few runs and a tangle into the tree I managed to net the fish, a nice chucky 22 incher. The last fish was back at the concrete slope by the bridge. I was lucky to figure out a pattern and stuck to it as long as it was catching fish.
Mat: This being my very first kayak tournament I was nervous, but excited! I read a lot of fishing reports, guide reports, and Facebook posts to get a general idea of what was happening on the lake. I knew the lake was high and off colored with recent rains and expected that many of the fish had already moved up and a few more were starting to move up as well. I had every intention of catching them on squarebills and chatter baits but that never panned out. First thing that morning after a decent paddle in my new Diablo Amigo, I started off throwing moving baits. I hadn’t gotten any bites where the fish should be, so I picked up my flipping bait, a black and blue zoom speed craw, and went to work. On my third cast with it I picked up my first keeper. A few casts later I missed a fish that would have been easily 8 lbs. At that point I knew I was onto something and just stuck with it all day. I quickly realized that flipping out of a kayak is extremely difficult and if I wasn’t able to stand easily in my Amigo, I don’t think would have done well at all. I was around a ton of big boats and a couple other kayakers but wasn’t seeing many people catch fish. It was a grind and I stuck with the flipping bite and throwing into the craziest stuff I could find. It wasn’t an easy limit as I didn’t get my fifth fish until late in the afternoon.
Ace: I didn’t have a master plan worked out either. I looked at some maps and saw that everything north of the bridge towards Kickapoo was shallow and flat. So I went up there in hopes of finding some beds. I tried top water early, but couldn’t get a bite. Then I went to flipping. Throwing my good ole Texas rigged worm, a black with blue-flecked stick worm, and a chartreuse and green pumpkin Grande Bass. Every fish of the day came off those two things. I tried a couple of other things, but if it ain’t broke…. I actually talked two of my friends into going that day or I wouldn’t have even gone myself. I’m certainly glad I did!
So there you have it, straight from the top finishers. If you are looking for a great kayak fishing experience, call your friends, or make some new ones, and take the plunge! You will find great company, and skilled anglers that are willing to give you tips and advice to really get you hooked! You might even get lucky and find that elusive pattern that brings you home a win.
Until next time, this is Coach P wishing you tight lines and good times.