The event was on March 30, but I need to start a day earlier. On Friday, I decided to ride by the ramp to see how many might be there to pre-fish. I was glad I got there just in time to talk to Will Yang and KB Xiong, from the Hmong Kayak Fishing Club, as they where putting in. I held them up about an hour just talking, and left them to look around. After coming home from work, I saw KB had posted his catch for the day on Facebook - a nice 21.5” sow, and boy was she heavy! I excited about the upcoming day of fishing!
The morning arrived, and as usual I was running behind. I got to the ramp around 6:25 a.m., and was greeted by 22 anglers chomping at the bit to get on the water; more than expected, and more than I was really prepared for. But as always there were more than enough people there happy to lend a hand. Allen and Heather from SHO Baits helped with registration and talked to participants about their products, which helped to keep everybody patient with me. With everybody signed in and identifiers passed out, all were in their boats waiting for the signal to go. At 7 a.m. I gave the go ahead. Everyone left in all directions, with me trailing about 30 minutes behind.
I started fishing about 8 a.m. For the first half-hour, I paddled around just watching other guys, and talking to them as I went. These guys are serious fishermen, and all were hard at work. I found a few fish shallow to start out the morning. Then there were no fish shallow for a while, and then around noon they seemed to come back to the shallows. For all who fished, the bite seemed to be tough!
Around 2 p.m., I started back to the ramp. The weather for the day was perfect for the anglers. At the ramp, the warm winter clothes had given way to tee shirts and flip flops. Around 3 p.m. there seemed to be a convoy of kayaks headed in to the ramp. Everybody seemed to have the same story: lost a few, and had a hard time even getting a bite! Most said that the fish were around but would not hit anything.
Will Yang and I started to go through the pictures and judge the fish, and it became clear that this had not been the great day of fishing I had hoped for. Most had caught at least one fish but no one had a limit! First place went to Hobie pro-staffer Brad Knight from the Upstate Kayak Fishing Club, with a four-fish total of 53.5”. Brad worked hard and covered a lot of water in his Hobie “PA 14”. He was rewarded for the tough day with a $230 cash prize and a gift certificate from SHO Baits. Second place went to another Upstate Club member and SHO Baits pro-staffer, Saturday Mel, who paddled his Wilderness Systems “Ride 135” probably more than any other angler to find his 39.25”. Saturday left Russell with $138. Third place was Pao Yee Thao, a member of the Hmong Kayak Fishing Club, who found the best fish of the tournament. He only had two fish for the day, but both were better than any other fish caught. Those fish were good for a third place prize of $92, and the bigger of the two was 19” and won him $115 Yak City Big Fish pot along with a gift certificate for $25 from Yak City!
The numbers don’t do this tournament justice! From the smiles on everybody’s faces, I feel sure all had a good time. These tournaments are designed for both the veterans and all the guys new to the sport. Our intent is to take away the intimidating nature that some feel when entering and fishing a tournament. If someone out there is thinking about trying a tournament for the first time, they should look into our next stop at Lake Hartwell on April 27. We had six anglers who had never competed in a kayak bass tournament before, and they all told me that they would be back for more!