Written by guest blogger and KATS participant, ACK & Wilderness Systems Ambassador Eugene Mora III.
First, let me begin by thanking the ACK and KATS tournament personnel and sponsors. Without the joint efforts of all, this series would not have been as awesome as it was.
The 10 events for the 2014 series were scheduled to be fished on some of the Lone Star States finest waters. Of these events I was able to fish 6, and although my numbers were less than stellar is was an awesome first year on the water.
Being a lifelong fisherman and frequent tournament angler, I came into the kayak tournament scene thinking it would be a simple transition. I could not have been more wrong. It was a game of efficiency. Making sure you packed just what you needed and nothing more was important. Loading the yak with every soft plastic shape, size, and color was not only impossible, it was ridiculous. Just think, I still had to pack every spinnerbait, jerkbait, and crankbait ever produced. Did I mention top water toads and floating frogs?
Other than bait selection, deciding which rods would be chosen for the desired presentation was another battle in itself. Taking 15 different rod and reel combinations would be a bit overboard. Carefully deciding which 5 or 6 were the lucky ones to make the cut was a long thought out process, but a necessary one. Every bass fisherman or woman knows this routine. We do it before every tournament.
Next on the list of things to think about is location. Moving from one fishing spot to another is also very different. You don’t have a trolling motor to ease on down the bank and a 200 horsepower outboard to motor across the lake. Where you go and how fast you get there is up to you. Several factors come into play when planning just how far you want to take your kayak. Winds, boat traffic, and fatigue are all important things to consider.
Once my baits, rods, and locations have been established other accessories were chosen to aid in the experience. For me a small ice chest with snacks and drinks was essential. Along with that I add my anchor, stakeout pole, and a drift sock. These three additions aren’t the only things to bring along, but they were most helpful to me. A sonar system and battery pack are soon to be added to this list of items.
The KATS tournament series of ’14 has since wrapped up and although I failed to make the cut for the championship, the season was a huge success. I cannot say enough how great the series was. Many fish were caught, much knowledge was gained, and many friends made. The staff, volunteers, and sponsors were five star. The participants and fellow anglers were some of the nicest, most polite and helpful individuals I had ever encountered on any body of water.
Truly an unparalleled group of anglers. Thank you.
Not only was Saturday’s tournament the biggest KATS event ever held (94 competitors), it also produced some healthy limits for many and one Lake Austin big bass for Larry Martin (a KATS newcomer). His 26 inch bass has, for now, secured the Fishscale’s Biggest Bass Replica of the Season for 2014, and it will be hard to beat. Larry says he caught the bass on Lake Austin using 8 inch watermelon red lizard.
Ladybird Lake (formally know as Town Lake) was covered in kayaks along the banks and near structure on Saturday amidst the crowded waters of scullers, rowers, and recreational paddlers. Trail runners in the area reported seeing kayak fishermen from one dam to the next on the lake, while a good number also headed towards the various sections of Lake Austin.
This third event of the season has really mixed things up in the leaderboard and overall standings making this one of the most competitive and interesting seasons yet. Sean Mecredy took first place in the Pro division with 97.25 inches for grand winnings sum of $1,366.75. In second, Ryan Herzog earned $745.50 with 96.75 inches also placing him at the top of both the overall series leaderboard and King of the Fish. Third place went to Rodney Bronson with a 96.25 inch stringer for $372.75. Daniel Peters took 4th, and Kevin Hebert fifth, with close limits.
In the Social Division, Larry Fisseler placed 1st with 81 total inches earning a $379.50 ACK gift card. Kevin Tijerina took second for $207 ACK dollars with 77.5 inches. In third, Chris Ordner won $103.50 ACK dollars with 73.5 inches. See the full results here.
Larry Martin’s big bass out of Lake Austin earned him a whopping $680!
Thanks to C-Hunts Ice House on Burnet Road for allowing us to use their space and for providing excellent service! The Local Mobile Yokel (hot dogs and grilled sausages) was there to make sure no fishermen/women would go hungry.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
A 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.
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.
A good bug repellant can make a HUGE difference in the comfort level of a tournament. It is especially handy for the overnight tournaments,
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.
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!
Robert Leon reeled them in on Saturday catching the days’ only limit totaling 85.25 inches and securing first place for over $500 and a custom engraved Yak Attack Blackpak! Sam Gutierrez, a rising star within the KATS crowd took second with 47.75 inches. He is currently also in the lead for Kayak Angler of the Year. In third, Ryan Herzog scored 42.5 inches and a winning big bass of 22.25 inches. Robert Leon holds the current lead for King of the Fish with 130 total inches over the first two events of the season.
In the Social division, Dawson Merrill (13 years old) is keeping his winning streak with a first place finish for an 18.75 inch bass. Larry Fisseler who took first at Decker placed second on Saturdays tourney. In third was a newcomer to the series, Kirk Beverung. See the full results for Lake Conroe here.
The totally free raffle prizes were amazing thanks to our generous sponsors, and most folks went home with new addition to their kayak gear shop! Dan Arnold, a young participant of KATS took home the charity raffle Xsporter 500 Pro, compliments of Platinum sponsor Thule. As always, a special thanks to our 2014 Patron sponsors, Bending Branches, Malone Auto Racks, and Ocean Kayak for their continued support!
Our next event will be in the Austin area covering two lakes, Lake Austin and Ladybird Lake(Town Lake). We are the biggest freshwater tournament in Texas and would love for you to join us. No membership fees, tons of fun, and great fishing! Learn how-to fish a KATS event!
After gathering some kayak fishing footage from our KATS 2014 season kickoff at Decker Lake as well as 2013 footage from competitor Mike Garcia (see his profile and blog on Adventure on The Water), we’ve put together our first ever KATS Teaser Video! Give it a watch and be sure to share it around with your friends:
KATS is short for Kayak Angler Tournament Series, and is known as Texas’ largest freshwater kayak fishing tournament series. 2014 marks the 8th season for KATS and holds 11 events for anglers all over Texas including areas like Austin, San Marcos, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. Keep up to date on all thing relating to the tournament series by visiting www.fishkats.com. See you out on the water!
The KATS 2014 season kicked off on Saturday with the largest field of competitors in the series to date. There were 83 registered anglers that competed for a large prize pot, big bass payout, and a custom engraved YakAttack BlackPak. Windy conditions followed a beautiful morning at launch and made for tougher fishing for most of the tournament.
Steve Garcia, 2012 Kayak Angler of the Year and King of the Fish, took first place in the Pro Division with an even 100 inches. In addition his big bass of 23.25 inches secured the $550 big bass pot and custom engraved BlackPak. Garcia was awarded with $1251.25 and trophy for his excellent performance!
In a very close second place, Marcus Villanueva took home $682.50 with 99.25 inches. In third place, Clinton Holstine, a newcomer to the series, secured $341.25 with 93.75 inches. Both also took home a KATS Decker lake trophy! Robert Dockery has returned to the kayak fishing scene placing 4th place with 92 inches and winning a $100 Malone certificate. And with 91 inches, Robert Supak took fifth and $50 Scotty certificate.
In the Social Division, Larry Fisseler won a $297 ACK gift card with 65.5 inches, with his nephew Nick Fisseler taking second with $162 ACK gift certificate with 33.5 inches. One of our youngest competitors, Dawson Merrill (13) took third and an $81 gift card with a big 21.25 inch bass! A big congratulations to all who placed and huge thank you to everyone for joining us on Saturday! See the full results here!
The next KATS event is coming up fast, the Lake Conroe tournament is scheduled for January 25th! Please show your support to the sponsors who make this series possible! We thank you for being a part of KATS and hope to see you at the next one! To stay informed on upcoming events and the KATS 2014 series, please visit www.fishkats.com and subscribe to our email list. You can also find us on Facebook!
Big thank you to Autumn Villanueva of Shoot to Capture for taking photos at the event.
Austin, Texas – Outdoor retailer, Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK), a division of MSP Holdings, LLC made donations totaling $2,250 to the Kids Outdoor Zone and Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center using money raised by their Kayak Angler Tournament Series (KATS) in 2013. In addition, a total of 24 fishing rods were donated to Brown Santa for the holidays to help children celebrate Christmas.
Over the past 8 years, KATS has grown to become Texas’ largest freshwater kayak fishing tournament series and 2013 was ACK’s second year hosting the series. The money was raised by over 115 different kayak anglers in Central Texas throughout the 2013 season (which included 6 tournaments and a final Classic Championship for the top 20 competitors). The rods for Brown Santa were donated by KATS competitors during a recent 2014 kickoff event.
“We’re proud to support organizations like the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, Brown Stana and the Kid’s Outdoor Zone, which all do a great job of inspiring youth to responsibly engage in the outdoors,” said Tournament Director Kristian Kolflat, “It’s very rewarding for all of us on the KATS Team to give back while doing something that we love, like kayak fishing.”
KATS 2014 will be kicking off on Jan. 11th with the regular season continuing through May. This year, the series will include 11 events with stops near Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and the surrounding areas.
With the expansion in the series, Kolflat and the rest of the team hope to partner with more organizations across Texas and encourages representatives to contact the KATS team. Texas kayak anglers and other organizations that are interested in the event should visit www.fishkats.com for more information.
About MSP Holdings, LLC
MSP Holdings, LLC operates Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK), an award-winning paddlesports and outdoor retailer and Rack Boys a vehicle rack and sports travel outfitter dedicated to providing exceptional customer service. Both retail outfits are based out of the central Texas area, with their respective online stores at www.AustinKayak.com and www.RackBoys.com and within five physical locations in Austin, San Marcos, San Antonio, Spring and Houston, Texas.
2014 KATS is already off to a great start and earlier last month I announced our event dates and locations. I wanted to share them here in case you hadn’t already caught them at http://www.fishkats.com. Check it out:
2/8/2014 Lake Austin, Lady Bird Lake – Austin Area
2/22/2014 Lake Wood – San Marcos/San Antonio Area
3/1/2014 Lake Bastrop – Austin Area
3/29/2014 Austin Area Lakes – KATS/Operation Angler Strength Partnered Event
4/12/2014 Lake Sam Rayburn – Houston Area
4/26/2014 Lake Fayette – Austin/Houston Area
5/10/2014 Lake Ray Roberts – Dallas Area
5/31/2014 Choke Canyon – San Marcos/San Antonio Area
9/27-9/28 Classic Championship – To be Announced
***Tournament Director reserves the right to change/alter schedule, rules, etc at any time.***
Haven’t Heard of KATS?
The Kayak Angler Tournament Series, or KATS, is Texas’ largest freshwater kayak angler’s tournament series!
Our competitor field is made up of kayak fishing fanatics and enthusiasts with a deep rooted passion for catching while paddling and they compete in forces numbering 80 and up (expected to grow this year) for prizes, payouts, honor, and several prestigious titles including Kayak Angler of the Year, King of the Fish, and Classic Champion!
This is the 8th year for KATS and the 3rd year for Austin Canoe and Kayak to host this growing series. I will be heading KATS again and looks forward to seeing the die-hard regulars along with some fresh faces amongst the crowd. Stay up to date on all things KATS by visiting: http://www.fishkats.com.
For its second year, ACK hosted KATS (Kayak Angler Tournament Series) in the Austin, Texas area. Competitors from all over Central Texas and beyond gathered at 6 events beginning in January and finishing up Saturday, September 7th at Inks Lake State Park for the Classic Championship.
2013 Saw Growth for the Kayak Angler Tournament Series
The first five tournaments were qualifying events in which contestants could compete in one of three divisions: Pro, Semi-Pro, and Rookie. Those looking for a more serious competition would choose Pro and keep track of their progress over the season for a stake in the Classic Championship and for prestigious titles such as Kayak Angler of the Year and King of the Fish. Those looking to get started in the sport or improve their skills joined in the ranks of the Semi-Pro and Rookie divisions competing for lots of amazing prizes and certificates donated by our generous sponsors!
2013 is the biggest KATS season yet and lured in over 116 different individual competitors with single event participations as high as 77 anglers! New for this year is the www.fishkats.com website, home to all information regarding the series including but not limited to rules, dates and locations, results, photos, registration, and discussion.
Brandon Campbell Wins Angler of the Year & King of the Fish!
Brandon Campbell earned the Kayak Angler of the Year title in the 5th event of the season at Canyon Lake. His stellar performance won him a fully outfitted Malone Microsport Kayak Trailer courtesy of Patron Sponsor Malone. Brandon also won King of the Fish, a title for the angler who catches the most inches over the entire series, and for this he will be paddling a brand new Amigo kayak courtesy of local Texas Patron Sponsor, Diablo Paddlesports.
Classic Championship Tests Top Anglers
The Classic Championship took place on Inks Lake and tested the skills of the Top 20 contestants from the series. A tough day of fishing on a hot September day made for grueling competition allowing long-time KATS veteran Ryan Herzog to win Classic Champion with a 69 inch stringer. Next in line was Steve Garcia (2012 Kayak Angler of the Year and King of the Fish) with 35.5 inches, and taking third place was Mark Nordstrom with 31.5 inches. An informal and fun casting competition took place following the Classic and tested the casting distance and accuracy of several die-hards with Chris Coufal beating out his competition: his prize a fossilized relative of the modern day shad, estimated at 50 million years of age.
When asked, “What’s the best part of running KATS?” tournament director Kristian Kolflat, answered “seeing the camaraderie and fun that the competitors have all the while hosting a fierce competitive battle for cash, prizes, and pride!”
The KATS Staff wishes to thank all of our sponsors for their continued support and for making this series possible. We’re all looking forward to 2014 and beyond!
The qualifying 2013 Kayak Angler Tournament Series season was buttoned up at Canyon Lake in May and the Classic Championship looms on the horizon for the Top 20 anglers! Five qualifying events, a whole lot of fun, and some excellent kayak fishing made for a great season in ACK’s second annual hosting of the series.
Big thanks to all of the participants that came out to the events this year allowing for record turnouts including 77 anglers at Lake Bastrop! 116 different anglers fished one or more KATS tournaments including many KATS veterans and lots of new faces!
A total prize value of $40,000 in gear and guided trips were handed out over the season and about $10,000 was paid out in cash this year. In addition, trophies were handed out at each event!
For the top 20 anglers of 2013, the Classic Championship location will be announced sometime this summer and will take place on September 7th. KATS competitors can expect to see an additional event over the summer before we head into the 2014 season.
Brandon Campbell took home the big win for Kayak Angler of the Year at the fifth stop (Canyon Lake) and is currently in the lead for King of the Fish as well. Steve Garcia (2012 Kayak Angler of the Year) took 2nd place, and Chris Coufal third place, although it was a very close race until the end with these three anglers fighting for inches at Canyon. Brandon Campbell also placed third in the pro division at Canyon lake and won big bass with a 19.75 inch bass! Congratulations to all!
Tournament Director, Kristian Kolflat and the staff of KATS and ACK wish to extend a big thank you to all participants, and to our very generous sponsors whom made this series possible! We look forward to the remaining events in 2013 and hope to see you all (and new faces) in 2014!
More information to come regarding the Classic Championship, 2014 KATS season, additional 2013 events and of course to keep up to date stay tuned on www.fishkats.com.