2012 Kayak Angler Tournament Series – Bastrop Report

Steve Garcia - 1st Place Pro

The first tournament of the Kayak Angler Tournament Series (KATS) took place on Lake Bastrop this past weekend and was a huge success! Just fewer than 60 anglers (some from as far as Del Rio, TX) competed on a very windy and chilly day! The fishing was tough but a few lucky anglers took home prize money (pro division) and some fine kayaking gear (amateur division) donated by our generous KATS sponsors. Being a part of an event where the competitors are truly passionate about the sport is a lot of fun but it is also very competitive. The Bastrop tourney was definitely not a fair weather fisherman’s event but these guys paddled out in the 20 mph winds through the day and nobody went home early. Steve Garcia took 1st place in the Pro Division while Spencer Colins secured the 1st place spot in the Amateur Division. Click here to view the full results.

Ready for Launch on Lake Bastrop!

If you are not familiar with this event, it is one of the largest most sought after freshwater kayak fishing tournaments in Texas. The event brings together the most dedicated freshwater kayak anglers in Texas to compete for a chance to claim the rights to being the AKF Kayak Angler of the Year. The series runs from January to June and includes 4 qualifying events, a wildcard tourney, and then finishes with a Classic Championship. Competitors that do not qualify for the Classic will be able to participate in a team competition benefiting charity.

If you missed our first event, don’t be discouraged, there are several opportunities to catch up including the next event being held at Lake Fayette on Saturday February 25th. To learn more about the series and to find the rules, sign up, and forum information please click here.

I am very excited to be involved in this series and I cannot wait for the next tournament (Fayette).

To see some additional photos, visit our KATS photo stream (Join the group to add your own!).

Kristian @ACK

Getting to know us…Kristian Kolflat, Asst. Manager

My first kayak was a birthday gift given to me in response to a steep increase in my saltwater fishing interests. Since then, I have made it a priority to get down to the flats on the Texas Coast as often as I can.

I first walked into ACK in 2006 and spent a season working the Austin location with ACK owners Steve and Peter. I parted with ACK to finish my Bachelors in Management from The University of Texas McComb’s school and then spent several years working in sales for a semiconductor company. An extensive world traveling sabbatical followed in which a large percentage of my time was spent outdoors. I decided it was time to align my passions with my work and have been back at ACK since March of 2011 and now serve as Assistant Store Manager for the Austin location. Along with this role, I am fortunate to be the Tournament Director for the Kayak Angler’s Tournament Series, which I am really enjoying! Working at ACK is a lot of fun and the staff is awesome!

During my free time I try to stay active both indoors and outdoors. You’ll often find me kayaking, fishing, hiking, cooking, brewing, reading and watching movies. I invite you to stop by the Austin Store Location and check out Austinkayakfishing.com when you get a chance!

Kristian @ACK Austin

Hi, I’m Joseph…

I recently joined the ACK team this January and wanted to introduce myself along with some of the projects I have already started working on. First off, I’m a native Austinite and take pride in that fact. Although I don’t always have the time for it lately, I used to take advantage of the Texas weather year round — whether it be riding the trails at Walnut Creek, camping at Enchanted Rock, or night kayaking with friends on Lady Bird Lake. Heck, I didn’t even get my driver’s license until I was 19 just because I rode my bike everywhere! Anyway, that all changed when I moved to Iowa to go to school at Cornell College, but after a long and cold four years I’m back and trying to get into the swing of things again. I’m excited to be part of a company that helps people experience the Texas outdoors!

I’ve already gotten to work on some cool projects including the 2012 Kayak Anglers Tournament Series (which you should check out if you are interested in kayak fishing), our blog, the boat shows and most recently a project to add downloadable installation guides for some of our more technical products. The idea behind everything so far has been to find ways to provide a better customer experience. So I thought I’d end this post by asking to see if you have any suggestions on more ways we could improve your experience as a customer, different content you might like to see featured on our blog, events we might be able to get involved with and anything else you might want to share. Just comment below!

An Interview with Dennis Hermes of AustinKayakFishing.com

Each February, while most folks are still in a deep sleep comfortably under cozy warm covers, there is a unique group of anglers preparing to launch an armada of plastic boats into misty cold waters in anticipation and hope of catching the big ones. I imagine a small handful of these guys are wondering, “what am I getting myself into” but I also imagine that when they get that first bite, the adrenalin kicks into full gear and it’s game on with no turning back!

That imagination actually comes from my own experience. Admittedly I have only fished one kayak fishing tournament, which was years ago, but it helped me understand what it is that keeps these anglers determined to finish out a tournament series, specifically the Kayak Angler’s Tournament Series (KATS). This event is hosted and managed by Dennis Hermes of AustinKayakFishing.com, a website community that is dedicated to the sport of kayak fishing in central Texas. I had a chance to sit with Dennis to get some additional insight as to how all this got started and through our conversation, he offers some advice for those considering their participation in such an event.

Dennis Hermes, AKF (AustinKayakFishing.com)

Tell us a little bit about AustinKayakFishing.com and how it all got started.

I have been an avid fisherman most of my life, starting out on the bank as a kid with my Zebco 303. As I got older and my family grew, I progressed through all the levels of boats (rowboat through bay boat). Of course, my kids grew up and I found myself fishing solo more often than not so figured that a kayak would suit my needs perfectly. I bought my first one (Mainstream Kingfisher) and was hooked. There was very limited information about kayak fishing in this area at the time so I created a website just for that purpose, thus AKF (www.austinkayakfishing.com) was launched in May 2006.

What about KATS, how did all this come about?

Prior to AKF, a friend of mine had started a fishing forum and I had the bug to put on a fishing tourney strictly for kayak fishermen on area lakes. He had the means and I had the motivation so we put on the BAKO (Bastrop Area Kayak Open) in March 2005. It was a great success so I knew that there was an interest in doing more events. The following year, I started my own forum and had everything in place so the KATS was born.

I’ve attended many KATS events and it seems like you put a lot of effort into it. I imagine this takes up a lot of time. What drives you to keep doing this?

Interesting question Roland…at first, my drive was to just have an outlet where like-minded anglers could get together and go kayak fishing. As the series grew, I realized that I really enjoyed the competition factor of tournament fishing, especially after winning the 2009 KATS. In short, I really enjoy the challenge of putting on a good event and the fellowship of the anglers, that’s what keeps me going.

For those unfamiliar with kayak fishing tournaments, can you tell us more about what one could expect at this other similar events?

One can expect to get up very early and fish all day (LOL). By the time it is over, you will be spent physically. Kayak fishing is unlike powerboat fishing where you turn the key and go. Effort is required to move you and your gear from spot to spot and get back to the weigh in on time.

Can you also offer some additional insight as to how an angler would “weigh-in”?

Our weigh-in process has been forged from trial and error over the past few years due to several unique problems. Most of the lakes we compete on are slot lakes. This means that fish between 14-21″ cannot be retained. Unlike typical bass fishing events, we have no live weigh in due to the slot limit. Instead, we opt to use the CPR (Catch, Photo, Release) method and score our catches based on the fish’s length as determined by a judge in reviewing the angler’s photos at weigh in. The anglers score their longest 5 bass that are 14″ or greater, high score wins. I do have rules in place for ties and photo criteria that must be met. All this information is posted on my website so everyone knows what I expect from them at the weigh in.

What about KATS? Aside from a regional focus on central Texas, can you offer some insight as to what makes this event unique?

Don’t know if there is really anything unique about the KATS as kayak fishing tourneys have been happening well before my time. I do want to make the event enjoyable for all the anglers and make them feel as if they have received their moneys worth. I do this by posting rules and implementing them fairly, announcing a schedule of events and sticking to the time line, providing food/drinks at the end of a long day of fishing, and trying to treat everyone as I would like to be treated.

(Side note, Dennis and his wife make an amazing chili! – RJ)

If one were to want to participate in next year’s event, what do they need to do and how should they prepare?

The KATS is open to all kayak anglers regardless of age or ability. Obviously, the 2011 KATS is completed. This series takes several months of preparation and I will begin work on the 2012 KATS by Sept. 2011. If you are planning on fishing in one or more of the events, do register on the AKF forum where we discuss many of the aspects of the events. Once everything is finalized, I will launch the 2012 KATS page by late December 2011 so watch for it and come join in on the fun!

Speaking of next year, when do you think the next series will begin?

The KATS will always begin late January or early February. I do one event a month, wrapping up the series in early May. This works for us because I focus on the power generating lakes early in the year when the bass are spawning and follow with natural lakes/rivers later in the year as the weather (and water) warms.

Don’t need all of your secrets here but if you had any advice that may help someone win this tournament what would it be?

IMHO it all boils down to preparation and luck. You are allowed to fish the lake where the current event is being held up to 5 days prior to the event, after that it will be OFF LIMITS to fishing until launch time. Do go and pre-fish the lake several times to locate potential areas that hold fish. Note weather conditions, when, where and how you caught fish and either remember or log that info. Come game day you should have a solid plan in place BUT be open to adapt to changing conditions. Making the right choices is what it is all about and preparation gives you an advantage, but a little luck can go a long way in making the grade.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

In closing I would like to say that I am not doing this alone. With the help of KATS sponsors such as ACK, the events are drawing more people every year, in part due to all the great prizes given away. The tourneys are a great outlet to go get some exercise, fish, and meet people that enjoy the sport as much as you do. I do hope while reading this interview that anglers consider joining us in 2012. Best fishes till then!

Mark Nordstrom

Thanks Dennis, it was a pleasure and we look forward to being a part of this event once again next year. For those of you thinking about joining the AKF community, click here — it’s a friendly and valuable resource for any kayak angler of any state.

With that, we’d like to congratulate all winners of the 2011 KATS, and specifically Mark Nordstrom, who won the Kayak Angler of the Year Award. Mark is now the proud owner of an Ocean Kayak Trident 13 Angler that ACK donated amongst of a variety of other prizes and gift certificates.


Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone — Again

A few months back I made a challenge to our blog readers to get out of their comfort zone and try participating in an event that they might not do very well in but that they would enjoy. For example, triathlons, mountain biking, adventure races, canoe and kayak races or even a fishing tournament. This weekend I’m putting my money where my mouth is and will be taking part in my first fishing tournament ever.

I will be teeing off tomorrow morning with 35 other anglers in an attempt to snag some bass out on Lake Georgetown in the Kayak Angler Tournament Series or better known as KATS. This event is hosted by AustinKayakFishing.com, a forum and online portal dedicated to the sport of fishing here in central Texas of which ACK is also a sponsor!

What makes this a challenge for me is that I am not an expert angler by any stretch of the imagination.  The last time I wet a fishing line I almost drowned just east of Austin at Decker Lake. Some of you might remember this story from one of my previous email newsletter articles — funny now, but a scary experience. A few weeks ago I checked my schedule and noticed that I had an opening and a very understanding wife who was totally cool with me taking some time to go fishing even though I need to be working on our new deck.

I have to say, I’m pretty excited about tomorrow morning even though I’m feeling a little under the weather. I had lunch yesterday with my unofficial fishing instructor, none other than Ranch Road’s Trey Webb, who guided me through what to expect tomorrow and where I should fish. I stopped by his house and he showed me several rods and reels that he had along with piles of lures and soft plastics. He was generous enough to share some of his gear with me since I really don’t have much myself. We discussed what to cast first and when to implement the backup plan. We talked about a few solid setups to use and laid out a pretty detailed plan of attack. I fully intend to follow his instruction in detail since he had trophies all over the place.

Tonight I’m going to set up a Hobie Pro Angler that I pulled out of the Austin store’s rental fleet and load it with my gear so I can pull it right out of the bed of my truck at the launch ramp at 8am.  I have my ACK Team Jersey ready to go along with my waterproof pants.  The coffee maker will be set and my lunch will be packed.  While I have visions of going crazy like Mike Laconelli with every catch, the reality is that I probably won’t catch a single fish as I’ve done soooo many times before.  However, I know that bad days of fishing from a kayak are still better than a good day of working.
Check in on our Facebook page as I update my progress throughout the morning and please, wish me luck!


Get Ready, It’s “KATS” Season!

No, not those fuzzy things that roam the streets at night but rather the Kayak Anglers Tournament Series put together and managed by the good folks at AustinKayakFishing.com. If you are not familiar with AustinKayakFishing.com, it’s a forum and resource portal owned by Austin resident Dennis Hermes and is dedicated to the sport of kayak fishing in central Texas. Since 2007, AKF has been organizing KATS as a way that kayak anglers can truly put their skills to the test. Unlike many kayak fishing tournaments, this one is unique in that it consists of 4-5 events on different lakes throughout the area. This not only gives kayak anglers a chance to redeem themselves if they didn’t do well a previous event, it also gives them an opportunity to experience different challenges in a variety of environments and weather conditions. While the tournament series is based out of Austin, Texas people from all over the state travel to each event to join in the fun.

This year, Austin Kayak Fishing is proud to announce the return of another season for the Kayak Angler Tournament Series. The line up of events has returned to 5 separate events, two new lakes have been added and most important, two separate divisions have been created so anglers of all levels of experience can participate. The first event is slated for January 29th at Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake. Keep in mind that pre-entry closes on the 26th though. For more information and to sign up, click here.

Austin Canoe and Kayak is once again honored to be a key sponsor offering a kayak as a grand prize along with a variety of kayak gear and store gift certificates at each event. Furthermore, we are hosting the first ever KATS Q&A at the Austin store this Saturday, January 22nd at 2pm. This will be a great opportunity to learn about the history of the event, ask questions from the man himself, Dennis Hermes and you’ll also have the opportunity to sign up on-site.

If you’ve been thinking about participating in this event, we do encourage you to do it and hope to see you on the water on January 29th.

Planning to attend? We know you won’t share all of your secrets with us but we do want to know what kayak you are planning to use by commenting below.

Hope to see you there!

Roland J.
ACK Headquarters