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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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,


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!

Texas Fly Fishing Competitors Converge for Texas Double Haul

Texas River Bum Staffer Anthony Perez Recaps the Texas Double Haul Fly Fishing Tournament

Texas River Bum Greyson  at the Texas Double Haul
Mike Schlimgen, 2012 champion and 2013 3rd place finisher.

It took me several seconds to stop laughing.  It was cold.  It was real cold- but the chill of the South Llano River only lasted for a few seconds as I slowly chuckled my way in.  The area I was putting in the river is where the Master’s Tournament contestants for the Texas Double Haul had put in the day before. The difference is however I was throwing in day and a half later with the sun full up.  When the tourney competitors put in before sunrise on the previous day it was in the low 40’s.  As I stood there it was 54° with little promise of getting much higher.

As far as we know, the Texas Double Haul is the only multi-species fly fishing tournament in Texas. The first “haul” of the tournament began on August 30th with participants fishing the entire month of September.  Throughout the month participants entered their fly fishing submissions online thru the tournament website.  In the end, the top six competitors received invitations to attend the second “haul”, a Masters Tournament at the Oktoberfisch Fly Fishing Festival.

The night before the competition most of the anglers met at Lum’s Barbecue for an optional pre-brief and to discuss on request strategy for the day ahead.  Additionally, all angers received a TRB Hill Country Sampler of flies and a copy of Texas River Bum’s latest guidebook, the South Llano River Pocket Guide.  Some of the talk might have been a little dry but the barbecue certainly wasn’t.  When you’re in the area it’s worth the stop before or after the river.

Plenty of Diablo Kayaks were on site!
Plenty of Diablo Kayaks were on site!

Reportedly, nearly no one slept later that night.  Nor did we allow anyone to sleep that morning either with a 6am check-in time for the competitors.  While we did our best to remain quiet in the Shady Morgan Campgrounds, the site and venue for Oktoberfisch, we may or may not have awaken the Living Waters Fly Fish (tournament sponsors) staff.  Actually, the staff was probably sound asleep snoring away, but we may have kept a spouse or two of said staff from some shut eye.  Sorry!

With all anglers officially briefed in the brisk October morning, they set out on their way in hopes of big fish and tight lines.  Assisting in their pursuit was none other than two time sponsor Diablo Paddlesports.  During last year’s tourney, Diablo provided the lead angler and overall tourney winner a Diablo Chupacabra kayak to take home and call their own.  This year Diablo stepped up with a fleet of decked out Amigo and Adios kayaks for our competitors to use.

Winners and Prizes of the Texas Double Haul

In a quick down and dirty run down here is how the final sorting shook out. Here’s who won and what they took home with them:

  • 4th-6th place: Derik Donald, Trey McNeil, Grayson Jones received swag shirts, hats, and gear provided by Howler Brothers, Diablo Paddlesports, Austin Canoe & Kayak and Texas River Bum.
  • 3rd place: Mike Schlimgen received a Fish Pond boat bag from Gruene Outfitters, with assorted swag from sponsors.
  • 2nd place: Chris Kowaleski went home with a GoPro3 Black series camera from their latest-greatest new product line up, ACK yak accessories, and sponsor swag.
  • 1st place: Pat Vanek received from the Texas Double Haul main tournament sponsor Echo, manufacturer of Fly Rods, Lines, and Reels the main prize package of a 6wt Echo fly rod, fly line, and an Ion reel.  Wait, there’s a lot more.  Additionally he received a Howler Brothers Pescador long sleeve shirt and Howler Electric trucker hat, a Nanuk dry box and $25 gift certificate from ACK, and an assortment of custom tied flies from the fine folks at Living Waters Fly Fishing.
Lots of good fishing and good fun!
Lots of good fishing and good fun!

In total over $1,500.00 in prizes were handed out and a good time had by all.  We would like to thank all our sponsors, Oktoberfisch coordinator head-man Gene Smith, and the folks at Shady Morgan Park for making this event happen.  Most importantly we want to thank the anglers who participated in both the qualifying and master’s portion of the Texas Double Haul.  Thank you for your participation and love of the fly fishing sport to put time in on Texas waters.  Please play again next year as we are growing, looking for more sponsors, and seek to lead the way in online fly fishing tournaments!

Overall our Texas River Bum objective is simple- to inspire people to care, love, and protect our beloved Texas Rivers.  We believe events such as this are a start.  With a passion for activities on the water we hope that patrons will make a stand to be good stewards of such a precious gift we call our Texas Rivers.

Thank you and hope to see you on a Texas river soon.  If not, be sure to swing by the TRB booth next year and say hi.

Team Ocean Kayak Anglers Beat Power Boaters Twice in One Day

Kayak Anglers from Team Ocean Kayak are Showing Power Boaters They Mean Business

As the battle between kayak anglers and motorized boaters rages on, those of us on the kayaking side of things were awarded a recent victory when Clint Barghi and Aaron Stillwagon from Team Ocean Kayak took home not one, but two tournament victories in one day. The kicker? They were the only two kayaks entered into the two different events!

Aaron and Clint with their redfish at the Chorizo weigh-in.
Aaron and Clint with their redfish at the Chorizo weigh-in.

Tearing Up the Coast for Two Simultaneous Events

It must have been luck that the Chorizo Redfish Tournament and Galveston Redfish Series took place on the same day in relatively the same area. Clint and Aaron entered both and got their two redfish early (totaling 14.60 lbs) despite some heavy rain and winds. The pair had to fight these conditions with their paddles for the majority of the afternoon and, despite the great catches, said it rated as one of the 3 worst fishing trips they had ever endured.

Using their live wells, Clint and Aaron were able to keep their redfish alive for both weigh-ins, taking 1st in the Chorizo Redfish Tournament and 3rd in the Galveston Redfish Series. Wow! Again, these two were the ONLY kayaks entered into both tournaments.

Stories like this one shows just how effective kayaks can be when it comes to fishing. You don’t need to drop $1,000’s on a new shiny power boat to get to where the fish are – just get a kayak! We’ll be here waiting with kayak fishing gear when you’re ready. To find out more about what models and gear Aaron and Clint were using, visit Team Ocean Kayak’s Facebook page.


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 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!

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)

Team Austin Kayak Recaps the Casting for a Cause Kayak Fishing Tournament

Andrew with Redfish
What could’ve been a top 5 fish..

No matter how much time & preparation you put into an event like Casting for a Cause, sometimes things just don’t go right. That’s why it’s important to remember why you’re there in the first place: to support a good cause and enjoy your favorite sport.

Smooth Start to a Day of Kayak Fishing

Team Austin Kayak, made up of ACK Co-Owner Chris Hackerd, Ivan (previously part of our Austin store team) and  Houston team members Brock & Andrew, arrived the night of the 27th for the Captain’s Meeting and social  where they got to know their fellow anglers and got registered.

Predator Sunrise
The Predator at Sunrise.

The guys were up early next morning and Chris & Andrew shared in their pre-tournament ritual of singing the Micky Mouse Club House song to each other. When it came time to fish, they headed for spots they had identified using the Hook-N-Line fishing maps. They fished hard and threw tons of different baits.

Chris landed an undersized redfish and everyone was finding bait fish – just not a ton of bigger bites. That is, until Andrew reeled in a big old 27′ inch redfish! That’s about when things started going downhill…

Some Things You Just Can’t Plan For

With what they thought was ample time, Team ACK made their way back to the weigh in. That’s when they realized the ferry system was going to be a problem. Chris & Ivan made it through first but Brock, Andrew and his big catch got held up. They made it a heartbreaking two minutes too late, and what could’ve been a top five fish was disqualified.

Nothing Like the Camaraderie of Kayak Fishing

Despite the setback, Team Austin Kayak made the most out of the day, proud to be a part of event that supports a great cause and spending a day kayak fishing to boot.

Chris shares that one of his favorite moments was stopping at a Whataburger (Texas fast food) on the way to the event and seeing another car with kayaks on the roof. It turned out they belonged to a group of wounded veterans also making their way to the event and the two groups ended up sharing a table & talking about paddling. They had such positive outlooks on the day!

Can’t wait for our next opportunity to put our kayak fishing team to the test!

2013 KATS Series Overview

Competitor 'yaks lined up at Fayette.
Competitor ‘yaks lined up at Fayette

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.

The 77 Anglers at Lake Bastrop
The 77 Anglers at Lake Bastrop

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.

Left to Right: Steve, Brandon, Chris & Kristian
Left to Right: Steve, Brandon, Chris & Kristian

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.

See the gallery below for some season highlights:


ACK to Sponsor Casting for a Cause Kayak Fishing Tournament

Photo from the 2012 Event
Photo from the 2012 Event

Who’s ready for some coastal Texas kayak fishing? We’re proud to announce that we will be sponsoring the 6th Annual Casting for a Cause Fishing Tournament in Port Aransas, Texas. This volunteer driven non-profit tournament has grown to become the premier charitable fishing event in the Coastal Bend with almost 500 competitors participating last year, over 160 of whom were in kayaks! The event benefits Heroes on the Water (HOW) and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as well as several other local charities. Casting for a Cure has raised nearly $250,000 since their humble beginnings  six years ago.

We’ll be sending our top ACK anglers to compete as well as a surprise kayak donation (dead giveaway hint, it comes from Feel Free). Stay tuned for the official team & donation announcement closer to the event! In the mean time, be sure to save the date if you are interested in attending or competing in the event. Here are all the details:

Date: June 28th, 2013
Location: Robert’s Point Park, Port Aransas, Texas (located just off the Ferry Landing)
Register with the Registration Form.

Hope to see you there, and in the mean time, tight lines!


Chesapeake Bay Kayak Anglers Fall Tournament

An angler from the 2012 tournament.
An angler from the 2012 tournament. Gotta love the ACK sticker!

ACK is proud to sponsor the 3rd annual Chesapeake Bay Kayak Anglers Charity Tournament which will be held at Camp Wright, Kent Island, MD on September 14, 2013. The tournament benefits the Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and the Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland.

The event is put together by a group of Maryland & Virginia kayak anglers who decided that North America’s largest estuary needed it’s own tournament. The event has three main goals: to raise money for the charities, promote conservation of the Chesapeake Bay abd promote kayak fishing as a recreational and an environmentally low impact outdoor activity. Event goers will have the opportunity to walk away with an ACK Gift Card during the raffle, so if you are one of the lucky ones that gets a chance to attend, make sure to hang around until the end for your chance to win!

ACK Sponsors the Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament

Extreme Kayak Fishing Poster
Extreme Kayak Fishing Poster

For the second year in a row, ACK is proud to sponsor the Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament in Florida. This offshore kayak fishing tournament series has ‘Extreme’ in its name for a reason: these anglers aim for the big stuff. The list of eligible fish includes things like Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Kingfish, Black and Yellow Fin Tuna, African Pompano, Cobia and more. The event is in it’s fourth year and looks to build off it’s success from last year when 87 anglers competed for cash and prizes.

This year’s event is scheduled for May 18th, 2013 at the Pompano Beach Pier. Event goers will have an opportunity to win prizes from ACK during the event raffle which is May 17th at Brus Room in Pompano Beach from 6:00-9:00 p.m along with over $10,000 worth in other prizes including a Hobie Lanai Kayak, Guy Harvey Jewelry and limited edition prints, Go Pro Camera, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses, Spa Packages, and much more. There is still time to sign up, so we encourage Florida kayak anglers to check out the  Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament website. Continue reading ACK Sponsors the Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament

Adventure Fishing World Championship with Native Watercraft

Native Watercraft is debuting their Adventure Fishing World Championship this year and we couldn’t be more excited. Taking place in the Florida Everglades, this won’t be your typical kayak fishing tournament as it combines teamwork, navigation, fishing and paddling into one event.

Directly from the AFWC website:

On Saturday March 2nd, 2013  teams of two anglers will compete to reach and catch fish at a minimum of 3 out of  5  eligible checkpoints, in any order, and return to the start/finish before checking at 5pm with the largest total fish length. This is a catch-photo-release redfish, snook, and trout tournament.   Checkpoint locations will remain secret until start-time and there is no suggested route. Routes will vary between 6-12 miles, and should take 6-9 hours to complete. PLEASE DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE DIFFICULTY OF THIS EVENT.

The Adventure Fishing World Championship will be held deep in the waters of the Everglades National Park-the largest designated sub-tropical wilderness reserve on the North American continent.  With the Everglases exceptional variety water habitats  and being at the juncture of temperate and sub-tropical America, fresh and brackish water, shallow bays and deeper coastal waters creates a complex of habitats supporting a high diversity of flora and fauna.

There will be NO water or food support on the course. Once you leave the start/finish you are on your own. There will be no drops, or other outside support available or permitted. Be prepared for any circumstances you may encounter including, but not limited to: medical emergencies, navigational errors, inoperable equipment, wild animals, and weather.  All teams will be required to carry specific safety equipment

Will you be going?