Bass

With national sponsors and big-time promoters, kayak competitors are gaining popularity and recognition.

The popularity of kayak fishing is at an all-time high and B.A.S.S., the world’s largest fishing organization, has formed a new tournament trail aimed specifically at kayaking enthusiasts. The Bass Angler’s Sportsman Society isn’t just jumping on the kayak fishing bandwagon or following a proven path with this new tournament series.

B.A.S.S. basically built the bandwagon and paved the path dozens of other organizations have followed since it was founded in 1967 and built the first national bass fishing tournament trail. Bass fishing was becoming popular, bass specific boats and other gear were being developed and local clubs and tournaments were increasing.

You don’t have to look very hard these days to find a kayak in the bed of a truck or strapped to the roof of a SUV. People are fishing from kayaks all over the world and they’re doing it everywhere from big lakes and rivers to small creeks and ponds. In places where largemouth and smallmouth bass are found, they are a favorite target for yaker-fishers.

Just as in the 60s, Kayak clubs have been found and local tournaments are being held. There’s also a smattering of regional as well as a few attempts at establishing national tourney circuits. None have risen to the top. B.A.S.S. is betting their gravitas in the fishing tournament business will put them and their kayak anglers as much in the spotlight as the current Bassmaster Classic and the contending anglers fishing it, have enjoyed for decades.

To that end, B.A.S.S. officials announced the schedule for the inaugural Huk Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series. (Huk sportswear, a longtime supporter of competitive fishing has signed on as a sponsoring partner.)

The trail will feature five regular-season events in 2020 on well-known bass fisheries across the country with a championship to be held in conjunction with the 2021 Bassmaster Classic. This new trail will give kayak anglers with a yen to put their skills to the ultimate test an unrivaled opportunity to show what they can do from a small craft.

The inaugural kayal tournament was actually be held in conjunction with the 50th edition of the Bassmaster Classic in Pell City, Alabama on March 5. The Classic competition kicks-off on nearby Lake Guntersville the next morning. Other events will be held on Lake Fork in Texas (March 14), Chickamauga Lake in Tennessee (May 23), the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin (Aug. 15) and Clear Lake in Lakeport, California (Aug. 29).

Entry fees for all of these events will be a modest $250, and each tournament will pay 30 places. The total purse for each event will be $30,000. More important, is the chance for contenders to network with and show their talents to potential sponsors. Winning a tournament or two is great, but the top fishing pros regard their winnings as “fun money.” They “earn” their money from sponsors and their ability to promote the gear they use to be competitive in the contests.

One big departure for this (and other) kayak tourneys is there is no “end of the tourney” weigh-in where the participants show up to display their catch. Instead of scales to measure pounds and ounces, anglers will practice “catch, photograph and release” to determine the standings. There’s no livewell on kayaks to hold the bass caught by the participants so catch, measure, photo and release is a perfect option.

When an angler catches a bass, he or she will photograph the fish lying on a measuring board and submit the photo through a special mobile app provided by TourneyX. The boards will measure each fish in inches down to a quarter of an inch, and the angler with the longest five-bass limit will win.

Once a participant submits a photograph via the TourneyX app, it will be posted, real-time on a leaderboard available for both contenders and their followers to view online during the tournament. This info will certainly be used by the tournament anglers and allow them to adjust their strategy during the day. This info can also be used by kayak fishing fans to follow the progress of the tournament from anywhere.

If you want more information, start at www.bassmaster.com. If you are ready to sign up for one or more of the remaining tournaments go to: https://ssl.palmcoastd.com/app/bass/registration/kayak/2020.