My Experience with KATS

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.KATS-Logo2014

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.

K.A.T.SNext 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.


Eugene Mora III

Wilderness Systems Ambassador

Robert Leon Reels in Lake Conroe

Conroe Sunrise

Re-posted from

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.

Robert Leon wins 1st Place!
Robert Leon wins 1st Place!

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 BranchesMalone 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!

To stay informed on upcoming events and the 2014 KATS series, please visit and subscribe to our email list. You can also find us on Facebook!

Garcia Wins Big at Decker – KATS 2014 Update

Re-posted from

Holstine with a nice bass. Photo Credit: Shoot to Capture by Autumn Villanueva
Holstine with a nice bass. Photo Credit: Shoot to Capture by Autumn Villanueva

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.

Front Row (left to right): Kristian Kolflat, Dawson Merrel, Robert Dockery, Steve Garcia, Clinton Holstine. Back Row: Nick Fisseler, Larry Fisseler, Robert Supak & Marcus Villanueva.
Front Row (left to right): Kristian Kolflat, Dawson Merrel, Robert Dockery, Steve Garcia, Clinton Holstine. Back Row: Nick Fisseler, Larry Fisseler, Robert Supak & Marcus Villanueva.

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 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 Canoe and Kayak Raises $2,250 For Local Outdoor Organizations Through Kayak Fishing, Looks To 2014

KATS Director Kristian Kolflat (left) and T. J. Greaney of the Kid's Outdoor Zone.
KATS Director Kristian Kolflat (left) and T. J. Greaney of the Kid’s Outdoor Zone.

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 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 and and within five physical locations in Austin, San Marcos, San Antonio, Spring and Houston, Texas.


Kayak Angler Tournament Series (KATS) 2013 Season Wrap-Up

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 Bastrop event had 77 Anglers in attendance!
The Bastrop event had 77 Anglers in attendance!

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 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!

2013 was a good year for Brandon!
2013 was a good year for Brandon!

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

From Left to Right: Mark Nordstrom, Steve Garcia, Ryan Herzog, Chris Coufal and Brandon Campbell.
From Left to Right: Mark Nordstrom, Steve Garcia, Ryan Herzog, Chris Coufal and Brandon Campbell.

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!”

Brothers Dylan (left) and Kristian Kolflat kept things running smoothly. Johanna and Joseph helped too.
Brothers Dylan (left) and Kristian Kolflat kept things running smoothly. Johanna and Joseph helped too.

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!

2013 KATS Staff:

Kristian Kolflat (Tournament Director)

Joseph Dowdy (Assisstant  Director)

Dylan Kolflat (Event Specialist)

Johanna Kraus–Darden (Event Specialist)

KATS Report: Fishing the Fog of Lake Fayette

From All-star KATS Intern Johanna Kraus-Darden:

The 60 Anglers of Fayette proudly raising up their Hawg Troughs

The looming mist of Lake Fayette had KATS anglers questioning spring storms and unpredictable temperatures… Luckily you don’t need to see through fog to catch Bass below your kayak!   Paddling out at 7:00 am in 40 degrees and rain, then fishing for 8 hours on end requires devotion to the spirit of KATS.  But for these guys it’s no problem, all a part of the sport for these talented anglers.  Fortunately for everyone, the day progressed from a muggy morning to an awesomely warm afternoon, with 60 fishermen and fish tales caught on camera.

Tournament Director Kristian Kolflat with Divisional Winners

Our top finalists took home over $1000 in winnings: in the Pro Division, Matthew Moccia with 99.5 total inches and $682, Semi Pro Beau Reed hooked 90.25 inches for $165 and Rookie, Cody Fisseler with 88.25 inches.  In the Pro Division the payouts were as follows:

  1. Matthew Moccia – 99.5” Payout: $682
  2. Troy Lawson, 92.25” Payout: $409
  3. Michael Bayer, 96.75” Payout: $204 
  4. Brandon Campbell, 96” Payout: $68.25

Big Bass was a tie with three anglers reeling in a 22″ bass. Aaron Spry ended up taking the $470 pot with his second biggest tie-breaking bass of 20.5″!

Photo by Autumn Villanueva

The KATS tournament wouldn’t be possible without our big time Platinum sponsors at Lake Fayette Kistler Rods and Texas Kayak Guide.  Biggest gratitude is deserved to Patron Series Sponsors Malone Auto Racks, Bending Branches, Yak Gear and Kelty.   Also, a shout out to the guys from patron sponsor Diablo Paddlesports, grilling hotdogs and showing off their innovative kayak speakers and kayaks at Lake Fayette is exactly what we needed. Check out the website for our other sponsors to see who else will be hooking us up with DOOR PRIZES at next month’s event!

Photo by Autumn Villanueva

Lake Travis’ Pace Bend is our planned location for the April 27th KATS tournament.  The Commander 120 Kayak will be going home with someone at the event, so be sure to buy some raffle tickets!  Also, T-shirts are in! So if you pre-ordered one and didn’t pick it up at Lake Fayette, we will have them next month.  If you didn’t pre-order we MAY have some leftover for you straggling anglers.  For a full list of results, winnings and sponsors check our site at FISHKATS.COM and see you at Lake Travis!

New Video : Choosing a Rod for Kayak Fishing

Pat Kellner of P.H. Custom Quality Fishing took some time out after fishing the 2013 KATS Lake Bastrop event to explain the basics of choosing a rod for kayak fishing. While we don’t sell rods at ACK, we do carry a ton of kayak fishing accessories and boats, so expect more videos like this from us as we expand our video offerings to meet the needs of our ever going customer-base, a.k.a. YOU! Pat does a good job of explaining this himself in the video, so without any further ado…

(And as always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, leave a comment here or e-mail us at and we’re happy to help!)



Outsider Perspective : KATS Fishing Tournament

There’s a lot of talk around the ACK offices and our stores about the Kayak Anglers Tournament Series (KATS) and if you aren’t an angler, that can leave you feeling a little left out at times. Case in point: Myself.

While I do enjoy fishing for its relaxing, meditative and buddy-bonding aspects, I probably haven’t been since I was…. 12 or 13 years old. That leaves me with a lot more listening to do than talking when it comes to these conversations about KATS. Surprisingly, I’ve had my hands in several aspects of the tournament over the near-year I’ve been employed at ACK. When I first started, I was tasked with going out to the Decker Lake event to take some photos and simply observe the tournament and how things worked. For this year’s iteration of the tournament, I have helped lay out a poster, shoot and edit photos and videos and performed various other tasks along the way. In the middle of my time working here, the Hobie World Championships took place in Austin and ACK played a part in that as well so I’ve been around the fishing tournament world more than I ever thought I would be.

That being said, I have learned a lot and gained an enormous amount of respect for these tournaments and their competitors. It takes a lot to put these things on. At the minimum, months of planning are involved which entails a lot of scrutiny and late nights in the office or the stores trying to make the events as best they can be for the competitors, sponsors and ACK as well.

From 2012 to 2013, there was a huge amount of effort put into expanding the base of sponsors and making sure the anglers would be happy with the prizes they’d be winning throughout the tournament. At the Decker event after I first started, I learned that being out on the water all day is a tiring thing for these guys and gals. Doling out prizes at the end of the day can be a little tiresome for the water-weary but at the most recent event, Lake Bastrop, it was great to see the anglers more engaged and excited about the prizes and pay-outs. The KATS team really made an effort to reach out for sponsorship and they’ve made great strides in that area. That makes the anglers happy and in turn, the tournament organizers.

From an outsider’s perspective, “specialized hobbies” like kayak fishing can be a little intimidating. I am a part of two such “specialized hobbies” myself – concert photography and limited-edition movie poster collecting – that can be intimidating to outsiders. Every group has their vocal “veterans” that like to scare off or intimidate the newcomers and its hard to know who to talk to or where to start when you first take an interest in something like the aforementioned hobbies. While I may not know all of the insider lingo or be able to talk at length about medium-heavy moderate fast-action rods, top water poppers or casting techniques, I’ve never felt like an outsider at the tournaments. Yeah, working for ACK helps, but no one has made me feel dumb if I had a question about something I didn’t understand and I’ve also been able to learn a lot from simply kicking back and observing my surroundings. Now I just need to get out on a kayak and fish…

Winners from KATS 2013 @ Lake Bastrop

-Trent @ ACK

KATS Report: Decker Lake Deals a Winter Hand

On January 23rd at 7:15am, 62 kayaks competing in KATS parted the morning mist, all with an angle to hook a Big Bass. All morning the boat dock at Decker Lake rumored the sun would warm up the cold conditions, and alas it did…at 2:30pm when the fishing had just about ended. Competitors arrived back on shore at 3:00pm with tales of catfish, swamped kayaks and a long day of tempted bass. But all hope was never lost by these men! 

Our top finalists showed us the possibilities of Decker Lake with first place winners, Chris Pearce (Pro) who also took Big Bass with a 23.5″ catch and 93″ total stringer, Phillip Vela with 78″ (Semi-Pro) and Beau Reed (Rookie) caught a total of 63.75″ of fish. In the pro division, pay outs were as follows:

Christopher Pearce, Chris Coufal & Mark Nordstrom
  1. Chris Pearce – 93″ Payout: $724
  2. Chris Coufal – 91.25″ Payout: $402
  3. Mark Nordstrom – 89.75″ Payout: $225
  4. Steve Garcia – 87.75″ Payout: $161
  5. Ervin Coonrod – 83″ Payout: $96

Chris Pearce also walked away with an extra $490 for catching the biggest bass, giving him a total of $1214! There’s something BIG to be said for all of the competitors as no one expected a 40 degree cold snap with weather predictions topping out at 75 degrees.

Luckily, thanks to the many KATS sponsors, including our platinum Decker event sponsors Scotty Fishing Products and Rodbenders LLM, the prize table was longer than anyone’s stringer. Nearly everyone went home with some new gear to better their luck at Lake Bastrop on February the 23rd. We wanted to particularly thank Patron sponsors, Kelty, Diablo Paddlesports, Bending Branches, Malone Trailers and Yak Gear who have gone above and beyond to ensure for a great 2013 year.

Sponsoring the next event will be PH Kellner Custom Rods and Feel Free Kayaks, as well a bunch of others listed on the website. You can expect even more prizes this time and we know you’ve all been looking forward to the hyped up raffle for the “camo colored” Feel Free Moken 12.5 kayak. A portion of the proceeds for that raffle will be benefiting the CCA (Coastal Conservation Association) so be sure to sign up!

If you’re trying to compete for Angler of the Year, be sure to register for the Pro division to qualify. If you need info for sign-up and dates, want to do a little smack talking or need to access the rules, visit the tournament website at

See y’all at Lake Bastrop!

Johanna (KATS Team)

2013 KATS – Official Kick Off!

It’s time for KATS! The 2013 series is coming up fast in the central Texas area. Dates and locations have been announced and the first tourney will kick off on Decker Lake (Walter E. Long Lake) here in Austin on January 26th.  KATS (Kayak Angler Tournament Series) is a local kayak anglers tournament series comprised of 5 qualifying tournaments and a Classic Championship. These anglers, with a deep rooted passion for kayak fishing, compete in forces numbering 60 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 7th year for KATS and the 2nd year for Austin Canoe and Kayak to host this growing series. I will be heading up KATS again this year as Tournament Director and I look forward to seeing the die-hard regulars along with some fresh faces among the crowd. Last year’s drought and challenging weather made for a tough competition, and with similar conditions expected this year you can expect the competition to be even more fierce.

Steve Garcia ran away with KATS last year with three first place qualifying wins, Kayak Angler of the Year, and King of the Fish titles. His grand prize of a fully decked out Malone Kayak trailer with two boats (a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 and a FeelFree Moken 10 Angler) made for a happy competitor after a season of dedicated perseverance. While Steve harnessed the spotlight in 2012 several other competitors made big statements about how serious they are. Bobby Lebeuf had an impressive win for Classic Champion and Lake Bastrop with a 100.25 inch stringer. It won’t be a surprise to see names like Villanueva, Hebert, Nordstrom, Moccia, and Campbell among the top ranks this year as they were among those who caught the most inches last season.

This year KATS is introducing a new division structure. There is a Pro division, a new Semi-Pro division, and a Rookie (any size bass) division allowing more flexibility for anglers in choosing how much they want to compete and against what stakes. The veterans of AKF and KATS should be competing in the Pro Division while those who perform on a less consistent platform should consider the Semi-Pro. The Rookie division will replace last years’ Amateur Division and will bring in a big change in that any size bass will be counted towards the score.

KATS is always looking for sponsors for the series and help with the series!

For more information on participation, sponsorship, etc., please visit

Kristian @ACK