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Thursday, 25 September 2014 00:00

Bass Pro Shops Pony Creek 2014

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Teaming up with Bass Pro Shops and Yak-Gear.com provided for what would be an excellent turnout for an early fall kayak fishing tournament near Council Bluffs, Iowa. Retail giants like Bass Pro are noticing the growth of kayak fishing across our country, especially here in the Midwest region.

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.

Last modified on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 08:24

Kayakjak’s passion for fishing started as a youngster fishing small freshwater ponds in Southern California and combing the area beaches with a surf rod. Growing up as a military child often put him in new environments with unique fishing challenges. He has lived in Nebraska since 1976 and graduated from college with a teaching degree of which he has put to use educating youth the last 31 years there. He also holds a Master Degree in Educational Administration. Marty is very active helping the youth of his community with various programs including a before school program called, “Early Birds” and other various activities including a State Championship Archery team, youth football, basketball, and fishing in schools program. As Nebraska’s only kayak fishing guide Kayakjak will work hard to provide his clients with a “unique” fishing and learning experience.

Marty Hughes (Kayakjak) is a highly respected and very experienced guide with over 42 years of angling experience. He has fished from a kayak for the past 15 years in Southwest Nebraska lakes and ponds. He has been Featured in NebraskaLand Magazine April 2003 and the Omaha World Herald in June of 2005. Kayakjak’s objectives include events for wounded veterans, environmental improvements, and promoting the interest of kayak fishing in the Midwest. He has organized many kayak fishing tournaments throughout Nebraska. Kayakjak's Outfitters offers professional kayak fishing instruction for any experience level. He can tailor guided trips to meet the needs of a complete novice or more advanced kayak anglers. Guided trips include Emotion Kayaks and all the equipment a person would need for a fun, adventure filled trip! Our goal is to provide for advanced kayak fishing instruction and an excellent outdoor experience for our clients. We are very blessed to offer these services in some of Nebraska's most scenic backwaters. "A Unique Experience, Everytime!"

What others have said:

Spring time in Benkleman has its challenges when it comes to fishing. kJ, Marty or KayakJak, take your pick, he'll answer to any of these names. I'm partial to KayakJak. This is a guy who's passion for the world of kayaking and especially kayak fishing is unsurpassed!
I've had the honor and privilege to have spent 2 days kayaking and fishing with KayakJak. As noted above, spring time fishing has its challenges. I've never met KayakJac live and in person. Talked to him a couple of times on the phone and pestered him for information by email and watched several videos of him on Utube. From the first minute of meeting him, I had the feeling that we had been friends for a lifetime. That's what type of guy he is. No hype and no air about him. KayakJak is the real deal, the Indiana Jones of kayak fishing.
Being new to the sport of kayak fishing, KayakJak's approach to the "newbie" was terrific. He's very professional without the stuffyness that sometimes follows a professional guide or instructor.
Talk about going out of his way to make your trip into a lifetime memory, I swear this guy planted some fish so I could experience what it's like to catch a fish from a kayak. While giving me space to practice some of the tips he had for me, KayakJak scouted ahead and found the hiding places of the ever elusive LMB.
Geez- I've just read thru the above, kinda sounds a little hokie and like he paid me to say the things above, no I paid him! And not near enough for what I got!

Jim B.



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