Kayak Fishing Tournament Gear Guide

Ryan Herzog is a competitive kayak angler who’s participated in a number of Kayak Fishing Tournaments including several consecutive seasons of Texas’ Kayak Angler Tournament Series (KATS). See what he recommends bringing out on the water for your next kayak fishing tournament.

Kayak Fishing TournamentKayak tournaments are sweeping the nation.  With their growing in popularity, many folks find themselves competing in their very first event.  With that, comes a degree of uncertainty of what as is needed to get out and compete. The following is a list of items that you may find handy when considering on competing in a kayak fishing tournament.

Kayak

While this may sound like a given, there are several aspects that you need to consider when selecting the right kayak for you to fish in a tournament.  Will you be fishing a lake, river or bay?  What will the weather be like?  Do I want to stand or sit?  Which is the best all around kayak for me?  These are just a few of the questions that you may find yourself asking. Visiting an event like an Austin Canoe & Kayak (ACK) demo day, where you can literally try out numerous different kayaks all at once can really help answer these questions. Also be sure to check out their lineup of fishing kayaks online.

Paddle

Like kayaks, paddles come in different lengths and weights.  There are variations for virtually all body types.  Selecting the right paddle can be the difference maker when it comes to a full day on the water.

PFD

Personal Flotation Device (PFD/Life vest), not only is it a good idea, it is required that you wear one in most tournaments.  There are various types of PFDs, from the low profile, auto inflate to more fishing oriented life vests with various pockets and compartments for putting pliers, terminal tackle and other kayak fishing related items at east access.

Camera

Since most kayak tournaments are CPR (catch, photo, release), a good camera is required.  Some good features to look for would be:  Waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof, flash and ability to accept SD media cards.

Hawg Trough

Using the Hawg Trough to measure a HAWG!
Using the Hawg Trough to measure a HAWG!

The “Hawg Trough” is a measuring board that has pretty much become the standard for measuring fish in kayak fishing tournaments.  In addition to bringing your Hawg Trough with you to a tournament, it is advisable to do a couple of things to it.  First, would be to darken the measurement increments with a sharpie.  It makes it much easier on the judges.  Secondly, make sure you have a way to secure it or to make it float because it will sink.

Stake Out Stick/Anchor

Being able to hold a spot in a tournament can be essential to your success.  A stake out stick, which come in various lengths, usually anywhere from 5-8 ft, can help hold you in place.  It’s pretty much what the name says it is, a stake that is shoved into the mud and used as an anchor point.  In places deeper than the stake out stick will allow or on rocky bottoms when the stake out stick will not penetrate, an anchor may be the best course of action to hold in place.  Both can be used in correlation with an anchor trolley system.

Anchor Trolley

An anchor trolley system is comprised of a two pulley system, cord, bungee and nylon ring.  One pulley is secured to the bow of the boat and the other to the stern.  The cord loops around the pulley system and is connected to small section of bungee.  The bungee is then typically connected to the nylon ring.  The cord allows for the positioning of the nylon ring along the length of the boat thus creating endless anchor point scenarios.  The bungee provides shock absorption.  Used correctly it will take the hassle out of anchoring into the wind.

Electronics

This Pro Angler is rigged for tournament kayak fishing!
This Pro Angler is rigged for tournament kayak fishing!

Electronics like fish finders and/or GPS can be essential in providing water temperature and a layout of the surrounding underwater area.  Some are simple as they only provide the depth of water you are sitting in while some will provide exact GPS locations, down scan imaging, weather updates and various other bits of information.  Deciding what you would like to accomplish by using a fish finder, should help you decide which model is right for you.

Battery

With any electronics you add to your kayak, you will need to find a way to power them.  In most cases a simple 12v battery will power all electronics for the day.  Others may use a battery pack of AA batteries to make the 12v needed to power the unit.  Be sure to check the power draw of your electronics to ensure you choose the right solution for you.

Waterproof case

It is a good idea to always have some sort or waterproof case to protect your items that you do not want to get wet.  Whether it is a dry bag or hard case, this minimal investment can save you big from ruining your phone, key fobs or whatever else you want to keep dry.

Food/Hydration

Having the correct food and drinks can make for a great day out on the water.  While trying to pack a light as possible for a kayak tournament, the last thing that a lot of guys will think about is food and/or drinks.  Pack foods that will not spoil and are high in protein.  Keeping up your energy for the entire day can be difficult but can make the difference in a tournament.  Beef Jerky and granola bars seem to be favorites with the kayak fishing community.  Freezing your drinks the night before eliminates the need to bring a cooler.  The drink will melt over the course of the day providing something cool at almost any point during the tournament.

Sun protection

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not preparing for a full day in the sun with it reflecting off of the water directly at you.  Items like sunglasses, cap or hat, a buff, sun block and chap stick are essentials.  With today’s fishing clothing, you can even wear long pants and sleeves without burning up.

Tackle/Rods & Reels etc

There's really no limit to how many rods you can bring...
There’s really no limit to how many rods you can bring…

Always make sure you have the proper tackle for the task at hand.  Pre fishing during the allotted times can ensure that you are properly prepared with the tackle that you think you will need that day.  Making sure your reels are in good mechanical order and that your line is not old and damaged can help ensure a successful day as well.

Landing Net

good net is something that you may not use on a regular basis but can be the difference in between landing a key fish and securing a victory and finishing 20th.  A net can also determine on whether or not you will get a handful of hooks when you go to lip a fish or not.  In a tournament I always use a net on a keeper fish.  I just do not see the need to take the chance.

First Aid kit

You may never use it BUT first aid kits are one of those things that you will be glad you have when you do need them.  Most times you can stow these out of the way and access them only when you need to.

Extra Clothes

It is always a good idea to take a change of clothes with you, especially during the winter months.  You never know when you may need to get out of cold wet clothes.

Bug Repellant

A good bug repellant can make a HUGE difference in the comfort level of a tournament.  It is especially handy for the overnight tournaments,

Lights

Texas Parks and Wildlife requires that all kayaks have a 360 degree light to be displayed from sunset to sunrise when not at dock.  Most are LEDs that are pole mounted and battery operated.  Additional LED lights can be wired in for safety and visibility.

Sharpie

In most tournaments you will write a code on your hand as well as record your score on to a score card.  It is advisable; to use a black sharpie as it shows up very well.

So what do you bring when you fish a tournament? Let us know by commenting below!

Hobie Pro Angler Fish Finder Install

Ryan Herzog is a competitive kayak angler and recently shared his Hobie Pro Angler Fish Finder installation on the Austin Kayak Fishing forum. This content has been re-posted with his permission.

I recently picked up a Humminbird 998 with side imaging. The first issue that came to mind was where/how to mount the transducer. I knew because of the side imaging, that the transducer would not work up in the transducer covey that already existed on the Pro Angler. After some thought and seeing how the Mariner guys mounted their transducers off of the back, I figured that would be the best option.

First thing I had to do to install my new Hobie Pro Angler fish finder was to make a small modification on the H-bird metal mounting bracket. I drilled out the middle slot to 1/4 inch so that I could mount a RAM 1″ screwball.

I then mounted one of these to the back hand rail of the PA:

RAM Part # RAM-B-231ZU (ACK Special Order).
RAM Part # RAM-B-231ZU (ACK Special Order).

From there, I stole the 3.5″ RAM arm from my existing FF mount and put it all together:

After much deliberation, I decided to have the exit point of the cable on the high point of the back of the boat using the Hobie Thru Hull Wiring Kit to ensure a good seal on the hole. Left a little slack in the cord for adjustments. Once I have it fine tuned out on the water, I’ll seal everything up.

Just an FYI for PA owners. Here is an inside shot (Video) of the boat from the back hatch looking towards the drain plug.  You can see the rudder lines and the pully on one side. The back is clear for the most part:

2013 Hobie Pro Angler 12 – Fishability & Transporting

About a month ago, I was fortunate enough to pick up a brand new Hobie Pro Angler 12 from Austin Canoe and Kayak (Burnet Rd. store). I decided to give it a very in depth review and in this section focus on how it fished. You can find what I had to say about the features of the kayak, some basic first installations and the seating system. After several trips out in the Hobie Pro Angler 12 (or PA12), I can honestly say that it is one mean fishing machine!

Hobie Mirage Drive

The Mirage Drive is an amazing piece of engineering. Being that it is completely removable and adjustable makes it unbelievably easy to adjust to fit your needs and to just use in general. Once installed, the initial adjustments only take a second. Once to your liking, you simply place your feet in the peddles and go. There really is not much of a learning curve at all.

Speed of the boat is pretty good for a kayak this wide. It is not uncommon to get up to 5mph+ though sustaining that speed over a long distance could be challenging. 3 to 4 mph seems to be a more comfortable cruising speed over a longer distance. Steering is a bit hair pin which does take a little bit of getting used to. Over compensating on the rudder control can put you sideways pretty quickly. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really a non issue though. Since the kayak is so responsive, the turning radius is very small and allows you to make adjustments very quick. It does come with a paddle that can be used to minor adjustments. I take it with me every time out but have rarely used it yet.

Standing Up in the PA 12 is simple.

Standing in the PA is a breeze. The various seat positions allow for a pretty seamless transition from sitting to standing and vice versa. Not only does being able to stand in the kayak allow you to stretch your legs, but also give you a higher vantage point for sight fishing and flipping structure. Setting the hook on a fish is also not an issue. As long as your feet are far enough apart to provide you with with the proper base, you’re good to go. Not once have I felt uneasy to off balance while standing.

I would consider the Hobie PA 12 one of (if not) the top boat for kayak tournament bass fishing. Being able to hold a position on an offshore target in deep water and have your hands free to fish can be a real difference maker. Conversely, the PA’s ability to have the fins folded up under the kayak and venture into thick reeds make it a great shallow water boat as well. This versatility allows for the PA to fit pretty much all fishing styles. If you take the amount of features that are packed into this kayak and combine them with the speed, maneuverability and stability that it has, you get one complete package that is pretty much unmatched. 

Sail Mount or Pliers Holder?

While I love my paddle kayaks and will never give them up, the Hobie Pro Angler 12 and the mirage drive has opened my eyes to a new way this tournament season. I am really looking forward to many years of tournaments and just fishing in general out of my PA12. On a side note, I did find a fishing related use for the sail/accessory mount. It is the perfect size to hold a pair of pliers. Since I throw crankbaits so much, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fumbled around looking for my pliers. This certainly puts them right in front of my face. 

PA 12 loaded onto cart.

While the PA has some weight to it, it’s really not difficult at all to move around. The rigid handles make things extremely easy. I already had a cart and so far it has been working great. When I’m ready to transport the kayak from the launch to the truck, I simply lift the bow of the boat and place it on to the cart. From there, I simply grab the handle on the back of the boat and wheel it over to the truck.

Wheeling the PA is no problem.

Once wheeled over, I simply re-position the PA on the cart so that the bow is down and then load the kayak into the bed of the truck stern first. I use ratchet straps to secure it to the tie downs in my truck bed. I add a red flag to the bow handle for transport and that’s it. If I ever find that my current cart no longer meets my needs, I would more than likely go with the “plug in” heavy duty cart that Hobie makes. It seems like it does a great job of getting the balance of the kayak in a somewhat neutral position for easy transport.

All in all I could not be happier with my decision to get into a Pro Angler 12. If you are looking for an all around great fishing platform, I would certainly take a look at the Pro Angler 12. Read more about the features of the kayak, the seat and the installations I made

In all it’s glory.

2013 Hobie Pro Angler 12 – Features

About a month ago, I was fortunate enough to pick up a brand new Hobie Pro Angler 12 from Austin Canoe and Kayak (Burnet Rd. store).  This review is done in parts and you can see the other articles where I  discuss the seating system, some basic first installations and, of course, how it fished.  Let’s start with the features:

Pivoting Tackle Management System

The Pro Angler has a large hatch with the pivoting tackle management system. This is absolutely great. The hatch is built to last and provides a space big enough to actually put a bunch of stuff in.

When you open the hatch, the tackle trays pivot up and are right there for you to access.

For me, the absolute best use of this space is to put items in the boat that I do not plan on taking out. For me, it’s terminal tackle. Things like, worm hooks, weights, swimbait hooks, carolina rigging items, shakey heads, scrounger heads, Paydirt Ball ‘n chains…etc etc.

Front Hatch

The front hatch is secured by two bungees and is pretty spacious. It is easily accessible while out on the water while sitting or standing. The white hatch liner insert is removable to allow for even more storage.

Rod Tubes

The PA comes equipped with 4 horizontal rod tubes near the front hatch. I have stored rods up to 7’6″ with very little to no overhang. My 8ft crankbait rods will fit but they stick out past the gear pockets.

Back Hatch

The back hatch is located between the seat and rudder and provides additional storage options including an oval hatch with a gear organizer. I will probably end up using this for first aid related items. Things that are always good to have but you won’t need them every time out.

Flush Mounted Rod Holders

Additionally, the PA 12 has two pre-molded flush mount rod holders near the rear hatch, one on either side. Each rod holder has it’s own rubberized cover that keeps water out (or in my case, those dang bees that think they own my garage).

Crate Compatibility

Even though the PA 12 has ample rod and tackle storage, I still wanted to be able to affix my crate to the boat. Before I had gotten the boat, I had already planned out how I was going to attach the crate. I had plans to install an extra set of pad eyes to accommodate it. When it came time, I quickly realized that there was nothing to do except to clip the bungees to the perfectly placed tie downs that already existed. Man these guys thought of everything!

 

The Seat

Rudder Control

The rudder is spring loaded and is released by pulling the rudder cord out of the cam.

Once the rudder is deployed, you have one main steering handle (pictured below on the left) and one trim control (pictured below on the right). There are interchangeable so you can put them on whichever side you prefer. Steering with either one works for me. They are very simple to use and extremely responsive.

Mirage Drive

The mirage drive is a piece of cake to install each time out. It slides into this large scupper and is secured by these locking mechanisms.

 

Handles

The PA 12 has a little bit of weight to it, but it comes equipped with two great handles. They really make it a breeze to move around. Front handle is pictured on the left and the rear handle is pictured on the right.

That’s it for the basic features. See some of the first installations I’ve made on it, including a fish finder mount and anchor trolley, here. Be sure to keep an eye out for my fish-ability review that I will be adding after a couple more outings with it! Thanks for reading.

2013 Hobie Pro Angler 12 – The Seat

About a month ago, I was fortunate enough to pick up a brand new Hobie Pro Angler 12 from Austin Canoe and Kayak (Burnet Rd. store). I decided to give it a very in depth review and in this section focus on the features of the seat. You can find what I had to say about the other features of the kayak, some basic first installations and, of course, how it fished.

The seat in the PA 12 is extremely comfortable and has several adjustment points. The front legs sit inside of a couple of cleats that keep it in place.

The back of the seat has two sitting heights. The low position, where the back of the chair sits back in the groove of the boat, pictured left, and the elevated position, pictured right.

The seat position can be easily be adjusted by simply leaning forward and pulling the tether marked “seat”. This will adjust the high position seat holder out of the way so that the seat can be lowered with ease.

The other main adjustable features of this seat include the lower back support which can be increased or decreased by a twist of this knob.

The thigh height adjustment which is accessed by a simple twist of the right seat handle.

The seat also lifts up to provide more standing space. As you can see the cord for the thigh adjustment is still in place. This can be removed by simply unhooking the cord from the left side of the seat. Just don’t forget to put it back when you’re done!

With the seat lifted up and the thigh adjustment cord moved there is plenty of space for storage and standing. You can also see the strap that holds the under the seat tackle storage. There is enough room for a couple of nice sized plano boxes.

As you can see, Hobie put a lot of work into making their Pro Angler seat. I look forward to putting it to the test and you should keep an eye out for a fish-ability review that I will be adding after a couple more outings with the kayak! Thanks for reading. 

2013 Hobie Pro Angler 12 – Basic Installations

About a month ago, I was fortunate enough to pick up a brand new Hobie Pro Angler 12 from Austin Canoe and Kayak (Burnet Rd. store). I decided to give it a very in depth review and in this section I’ll focus on installing a fish finder and anchor trolley. You can find what I had to say about the features of the kayak, take in depth look at the seat and, of course, read how it fished.

Fish Finder Installation

When I first got the boat home, my first objective was to install my Humminbird FF. The PA has a recessed area with a “Lowrance ready” transducer install bracket/plate. The plate is removed by unscrewing 3 brass screws. Here is a shot of the exposed area.

The Humminbird transduer does not fit into the bracket “as is”, so at the time I made do with some zip ties and components that came with the Humminbird transducer. After a little research, I found that Hobie makes an adapter that allows for a clean install of the H-bird transducer. I had to swing by ACK San Marcos to pick up a stake out pole and the guys over there were more than happy to order a couple of them for me (one for a friend). A week later, they were in.

Installing the transducer to the plate with the adapter was PIECE OF CAKE and took all of about 3 mins.

Run the transducer cable up through the scupper and into the pre drilled pass through. The PA comes with a tree of rubber inserts so it’s just a matter of selecting the correct insert for the cable you are running.

It takes a little bit of effort to get in and reach the back side of the insert to screw and unscrew it but it’s not anything that cannot be done in a matter of a few minutes. The cable(s) are then run to the front of the boat (either left or right side) and run through the fitting. Same as the one in the back, you must select the correct insert to compliment the cable configuration you have. The accessory mounting boards on either side give you endless options on where and how to mount your fish finder. I choose to use a RAM mount and it works great.

One thing I noticed after my last trip out, was that the space between the transducer and the flat area of the transducer bracket plate had filled with mud. I don’t think it’s really an issue at all but you find yourself going through the muck and mud on a regular basis, it might do you some good to take the 30 seconds when you get home to run a hose in the scupper under the seat (where your transducer cable comes out). It should flush out pretty good just by doing that.

Anchor Trolley Installation

After a trip out in the PA 12, I decided to install a anchor trolley. There is a specific trolley kit for the Hobie 12/14 so keep that in mind when you purchase one. It was a breeze to install as all you have to do is remove the plastic caps from the brass inserts on the boat and screw everything in. It’s really that simple.