Kayak Tournament Fishing: America's Fastest-Growing Sports

Fishing

Fishing

Abigail Scott

Abigail Scott
Professional Kayaker

Updated on 6/3/2023

When I was 25 years old, I entered my first kayak tournament fishing. Since then, I've been hooked. When someone brought in a flyer for a local kayak tournament fishing, I was in an archery store working on a customer's compound bow when someone else brought in the pilot. Suddenly, as I was clicking the lighter to burn the ends of the thread, I decided that I wanted to enter the competition. At the end of my shift, I had spent $800 on a previously owned fishing kayak I had purchased. I quickly located a life jacket, got an old milk box to use as a storage space for my equipment, and joyfully arrived at the venue early on the event day. I finished in third place, and ever since then, I've been addicted.
I began by entering every local tournament I could find, and eventually, I qualified for national competitions held all across the nation. After spending the previous two years fishing in my hometown, I decided to make fishing my full-time occupation and have been successful in doing so as a kayak angler. I was victorious in the 2021 Hobie Bass Open Series Tournament of Champions, which is considered to be the most prestigious competition in the sport of kayak fishing.

The Origins And Development Of Kayak Fishing

 Development Of Kayak Fishing

Development Of Kayak Fishing

Kayak fishing competitions have been held in saltwater and freshwater bodies of water for more than a decade. Marty Mood, Chad Hoover, Marty Hughes, and Jim Sammons are just a few of the names considered pioneers of the sport. Competitive kayak fishing is the subset of the sport that is expanding at a rate greater than any other subset because it is so easy to get into (all you need is a kayak and some fishing gear). Compared to fishing from a bass boat, the overhead costs are significantly lower. You don't need to spend more than a thousand dollars on starting kayak fishing, even though top-of-the-line fishing kayaks can cost more. Because less cash is at risk, the environment is often friendly, encouraging even more people to participate.

Pro Kayak Fishing Tours

Pro Kayak Fishing Tours

Pro Kayak Fishing Tours

There are now three national-level routes for professional kayak fishing: the Hobie Bassmaster Outdoors Series, the Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF), and the Bassmaster Kayak Series (BASS). Every competition in the series has an open-style framework, meaning everyone may sign up and compete. You may sign up through the websites for the trail, or you can utilize the tournament management software TourneyX and FishingChaos. The KBF holds a tiny pro-level circuit, but anglers have to qualify for it.

The beginning of the season occurs at the end of January and continues until the beginning of November. There are nine to ten open competitions and a championship held by Hobie, ten to fourteen stops and a championship held by KBF, and five to six matches and a tournament held by BASS. The entry fee to participate in the opens is around $260 for both BASS and Hobie, and it is $115 for KBF. The opening competitions in the regular season are one or two days long, while the Hobie and KBF championships are three days each. The kayak itinerary visits many of the same lakes the professional bass fishing groups visit. Lake Fork, Lake St. Clair, Lake Champlain, Lake Kissimmee, Lake Chickamauga, Lake Guntersville, and Lake Hartwell are just a few of the lakes included on the itinerary as regular visits.

The Fishing Code For Kayaks And Its Rules And Regulations

Fishing Code For Kayaks And Its Rules And Regulations

Fishing Code For Kayaks And Its Rules And Regulations

The regulations for each of the three trails are relatively comparable, with a few minor exceptions. There are "lines in" and "lines out" timings that indicate when anglers are allowed to put in and take out their lines. Anglers can launch their boats from any public ramp. Anglers are provided with a one-of-a-kind identification that must be visible in the submitted image to be considered valid. The method for cataloging your bass consists of three steps: capture, photograph, and release. There is no provision for keeping fish alive on kayaks as there is no live well.
Additionally, the bass is returned to the water promptly and maintained in good health using this procedure. The photographs are then uploaded to a tournament management app, which tallies the combined lengths of the angler's five longest fish and displays an overall scoreboard. The winner of this event will not be determined by weight, as it is in bass boat contests, but rather by the overall length of the catch.

The only significant difference between bass fishing in a bass boat and fishing in a kayak competition is that you can't simply pack up your kayak and move from one side of the lake to the other as you can with a bass boat. In addition, there won't be any significant weight after the day. Anglers who fish from kayaks approach a lake in the same fashion as those who feel from boats; the only difference is that kayak anglers cannot access as much water at once.

Kayak Anglers Compete In The Bass Boat Anglers Tournament Series?

The Bass Boat Anglers Tournament Series

The Bass Boat Anglers Tournament Series

There is an overlap between the two. Several anglers who fish from kayaks compete in the FLW, MLF, and Bassmaster open tournaments. In addition, several of the top pros in the BASS circuit, including Mike Iaconelli and Jordan Lee, have transitioned into the world of competitive kayak fishing, which has helped draw greater attention to our sport. No of the type of vessel they use, these experts are among the finest anglers in the world. In the kayak fishing events Iaconelli, Lee, and Dave Lefebre have competed in, all three have cashed checks. Kayak competitions have garnered increasing respect over the years, but I don't think they will overtake the pro bass circuits or be as renowned as the Bassmaster Classic. This is something that most kayak anglers are aware of and are okay with. I predict that the sport will eventually develop into a genuine professional series, with higher entrance fees and a stringent certification process to fish on tour.

What It Takes To Make A Living As A Professional Kayak Angler

What It Takes To Make A Living As A Professional Kayak Angler

What It Takes To Make A Living As A Professional Kayak Angler

About twenty fishermen now generate sufficient income to pursue fishing as a full-time occupation as a direct result of the proliferation of kayak fishing. The average open event may pay up to $10,500, while the total prize pool for a championship is $45,000. Consequently, kayak anglers who are reliable have a large number of opportunities to make money. In addition, you have a minimal operating cost. The entry costs are pretty low, and the total price, including gas and housing, is typically less than $500. Although spending $1,000 for a single event is not the norm, it happens occasionally.

Look at five of the most accomplished and skilled kayak fishers currently competing on tour (in no particular order.)

Rus Snyders (Nashville, Tennessee):

Rus Snyders

Rus Snyders

Since he was just 16 years old, Snyders has been competing in fishing tournaments since 1998. Before converting to kayak fishing in 2017, he fished for Bassmaster, Big Fish, and Florida Largemouth.

  • Angler of the Year twice over at the KBF
  • Five times the KBF Trail Champion
  • Four times winner of the Hobie Bass Open
  • Defending Champion of the BASS Series
  • State Champion of the Illinois Series KBF
  • The Ten Champions of the KBF in 2020

Guillermo Gonzalez (Fort Worth, Texas):

Guillermo Gonzalez

Guillermo Gonzalez

He fished during his college career at Texas Christian University and has been competing in kayak fishing tournaments since 2013. He was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Gonzales is one of the few fishermen who still competes in a paddle kayak, which is becoming increasingly rare. The majority of us paddle our kayaks using pedal power.

  • National Champion of the KBF in 2021
  • Hobie Bass Open Champion 2021
  • Two times the KBF Trail Champion
  • 3x Athlete of the Year in Texas Trails

Cody Milton (Searcy, Arkansas):

Cody Milton (Searcy, Arkansas)

Cody Milton (Searcy, Arkansas)

As a teenager, he competed in the FLW and MLF to begin his bass boating career. Since 2016, he has competed in fishing events using kayaks.

  • 2x KBF AOY
  • Four times the KBF Trail Champion
  • One-time Champion of the Bass Open
  • 2019 Winner of the KBF Title in the TEN
  • Champion of the KBF Challenge in 2021

Jody Queen (Bluefield, West Virginia):

 Jody Queen (Bluefield, West Virginia)

Jody Queen (Bluefield, West Virginia)

Kayak fishing is something that Queen, a river fishing expert, has been doing since the year 2016.

  • Seven times the KBF Trail champion
  • the Ten Champion of the KBF in 2021
  • Winner of the Hobie Tournament of Champions for 2019
  • 4x Hobie Bass Open Winner
  • Champion of the KBF Pro Tour
  • More than thirty victories at the top spot

Drew Gregory (Kent, Ohio):

Drew Gregory (Kent, Ohio)

Drew Gregory (Kent, Ohio)

Gregory is well-known for his extensive understanding of fishing in flowing water, and he is the founder of the River Bassin Kayak Tournament Trail. Additionally, he is the kayak angler who has shown the most consistency on the national level.

  • Hobie BOS 2020 AOY
  • 11th position overall average in the KBF during the past three years (500 competitors)
  • An incredible ninth position is where I averagely finished on the national level during my career.
  • Only fisherman to finish in the top 10 at both the FLW Kayak championships (eight times) and the Bassmaster Kayak championships (fourth)

Kayak fishing tournaments are discussed in this article. Visit our site for more information about kayaking.