Have kayak, will bass fish
A few weeks ago, I dropped in on a bass fishing tournament that featured a very unique approach: kayak fishing. The tournament was one of several organized by Adirondack Kayak Bass Fishing, or Adirondack KBF for short. They are aligned with both state and national KBF organizations that are continuing to grow in popularity.
This event was held on Lake Champlain and drew more than 30 anglers from all over northern New York, and a few from beyond. A national KBF trail tournament held on Lake George earlier this year attracted more than a 140 kayak anglers.
It’s not hard to figure out why competitive kayak bass angling is catching on. First, anyone with a kayak and fishing rods can join in. You’ll also need a smartphone for photographing your catch and registering for the tournament through an app called Tourney X. A PayPal account is also required for paying registration fees and perhaps collecting prize money.
With that, it’s as simple as showing up and joining in the fun – and the competition. Some anglers, like Justin Queary, of Carthage, N.Y., and his father, Alan, had some seriously rigged fishing kayaks. Both had pedal-operated boats with fish finders, plenty of tackle storage, steering systems and even a wheel system.
Others had the basics: typical but stable paddle-powered kayaks with some rod-holders and a few other trinkets. Ben Sopczyk, one of three tournament organizers for the Adirondack KBF, talked of an angler who placed in the money fishing out of what he called “a Walmart special.”
“Outfitting a boat is great,” Sopczyk said. “But a lot of the things are creature comforts. There are tools that you can use. A fish finder might help you confirm where the fish are, but it’s not going to help you catch the fish. If you know the body of water, it doesn’t really matter.”
Kayaks are extremely mobile and anglers like the fact that they can get where other boaters can’t. For example, they can penetrate a shallow, vegetated bay where even the finest of bass boats will remain primarily on the outside flippin’ and pitchin’ – in many cases, kayaks can traverse in only inches of water.
What’s really attractive about KBF at all levels is the catch-and-release format – or catch, photograph, release (CPR, as it’s called). Participating anglers have a measuring tool on board and obtain a special ID code for each tournament. When they get a bass in the boat, they take a photo of it on the measuring board with the ID code. Using the Tourney X app, they submit the fish and the app does the rest, which sure simplifies things for organizers.
Length, rather than weight, is the measuring standard, and anglers are routinely registering five-fish totals in the 75- to 90-inch range.
As for the tournaments, many are one-day events, but others take place over the course of two days. Better yet, a few last even longer, including an upcoming 10-day event that will encompass public waters in both Adirondack and Catskill state parks.
So if you’ve got a kayak and like to bass fish, consider giving KBF a shot. Judging from what I saw at Lake Champlain, you’re bound to have some fun.