There are some incredible anglers paddling those plastic boats we see gliding on just about every lake on the Great Plains. They bring more people on board daily with their enthusiasm and their ability to show others how to catch more and bigger fish! With that in mind, Bass Pro Shops enthusiastically supported a tournament at Pony Creek Lake, just south of Council Bluffs, IA. A kayak was up for grabs, along with a couple hundred dollars in accessories sponsored by Yak-Gear.com. Bass Pro also held a drawing for a $250 gift card. Proceeds from this tournament went to support the Heartland Chapter of Heroes on the Water.
The weather had been very cooperative until a few days before the tournament, when a couple of fronts came through and brought several inches of rain! The water rose more than half a foot, and turned a once clear water lake into chocolate milk. Sure enough, the bite would prove to be a challenge with the rapid change in weather. There were several who pre-fished the lake, and found a few nice bass to be cooperative in shallow areas.
The night before the tournament several anglers pulled in to the remaining camping spots and enjoyed an evening of sharing experiences and plotting their strategies for the upcoming adventure on the eighty-acre impoundment. The fog rolled in so thick that night that I lost my sense of direction while arriving at the campground. I would not regain that sense until the sun appeared out of the fog later in the morning, and a beautiful shoreline emerged from the misty gray morning.
Anglers showed up early, getting their kayaks prepped for the lake that was out there somewhere… The fog was so thick you could not see the water from the shoreline. There were nearly thirty anglers who launched and disappeared into the mist. I set out to observe and help, and found anglers catching bass right away! It was a lot of fun to see the strategies used and the excitement generated as fish were landed. Most tried the shorelines, while some went to the deeper water for success. The one common thing I noticed was the camaraderie and friendships made during the day. There were professional, veteran, and first-time kayak anglers who participated, but you could not tell the difference with the friendships developing.
More than fifty largemouth bass were landed, recorded, and quickly released into the murky water that morning. There were only a few anglers who landed and recorded a “full stringer” of five fish. Kevin Workman of Waverly, NE looked to be a favorite with a nice 19.75” fish caught early on, and Ruth Brown of South Bend, NE landed a nice one over 15”.
Kevin’s lunker would prove to be the big fish of the day, and garnered a nice side pot of cash. I also watched Jerry Ward of Mt. Vernon, MO and Tim Gurley of Hancock, IA land nice fish.
However, there was one fellow who flew under the radar all morning: Sean Sladicka of Omaha, NE, who caught a full stringer and took top honors with a 62.5”total. While many anglers were supported by sonar and several-pre rigged rods Sean paddled an entry-level kayak with one rod in his first tournament. He had been kayak fishing for just two months, but came away with a brand new Ascend fishing kayak and nearly $200 worth of Yak-Gear.com accessories. You talk about one happy fella!
Sean was followed closely in the standings by Rick Wallgren of Spring Hill, KS with 58”. Third went to avid kayak angler Scott Schrader of North Liberty, IA who caught 57.5” of bass. The winner of the drawing held at the Bass Pro Shop in Council Bluffs, IA, along with the awards ceremony in Uncle Buck’s Grill, was Tyler Kornfeld from Lincoln, NE.
The trophies were created by veteran Bob Sturgeon, who makes his own lures at Angry Sturgeon Lures from wood gathered in the Northeastern part of Nebraska. We want to thank Bass Pro Shops, Yak-Gear.com, Uncle Bucks Grill, and Angry Sturgeon Lures for their generosity. This tournament also served as a qualifier for the “Tournament of Champions” to be held at Lake Fork, TX later this fall.