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 FishKats.com.

Kristian @ACK

Wheelchair Accessible Fishing Pier Coming to Downtown Austin

Speaking of great causes (read previous post), I had the pleasure of attending the first CORE Health Foundation’s ADA Wheelchair Accessible Fishing Pier Committee Meeting last week. The CORE Health Foundation is in the process of raising approximately $400,000 in donations to build a wheelchair accessible fishing pier on Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake) in downtown Austin.

This is a great cause and we are excited about doing what we can to help. In fact, if you are familiar with the Kayak Angler’s Tournament Series (KATS), we will be hosting a separate fishing tournament for those that didn’t qualify for the Classic. A portion of those proceeds will be donated to the cause. However, let’s not wait until then to help out, if you are interested in doing your part or simply want to spread the word, click here for additional details. – Roland @ACK

Good Luck to All 2012 KATS Lake Fayette Event Competitors

Ready for Launch at Lake Bastrop (January)

Hey! How about a quick shout out to all those competing in the 2012 Kayak Angler’s Tournament Series Lake Fayette event this Saturday. This is the 2nd event of the series and we are well on track for hitting another record of attendance with well over 50 participants. The forecast calls for a nippy 45 degrees at launch but warming up nicely to 60 with a 0% chance of rain. Also want to give another quick shout out to all of our sponsors for all of their generous donations. For more information about the tournament and to see a list of all those sponsors, click here. We want to wish each and every one of you the best of luck out there!

Tight lines! – Roland @ACK

2011 ACK Kayak Fishing Challenge – Are you ready?

The annual fishing event in central Texas for all kayak anglers.

Join us for the 4th annual 2011 Kayak Fishing Challenge, an annual catch-and-release kayak-fishing event held on Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas benefiting the Kids Outdoor Zone.

The event will be held on Sunday, October 16th on Lady Bird Lake featuring three divisions: Kids, Fun and Competitive. The Kids Division is open to children 13 years and under to fish with a parent or guardian, the Fun Division is for all anglers including those who’ve never competed before and for the more experienced anglers, there is the Competitive Division.

All participants walk away a winner with prizes, many of which are donated by sponsors, ranging from a Native Watercraft Manta Ray kayak to a variety of paddling and fishing accessories, cash, gift cards and other giveaways. Interested participants can sign up at http://www.austinkayak.com/fishing or for more information about the Kids Outdoor Zone, visit http://www.kidsoutdoorzone.org.

Sponsors include: Native Watercraft (Grand prize sponsor), Bending Branches, Scotty Paddlesports, Wildcat Lighting, Feel Free Kayaks, Fish-n-Hunt, Malone, Columbia, Get Five Lures, Yeti Coolers, Yak Attack, Kayak Angler Magazine, Ranch Road Creative Solutions, Lonestar Outdoor News and Tifosi Optics.

Hope to see you there!


A “Spiderman” Kid Fishing Pole is All He Needed

Kayak Fishing with a Kid Pole

This idea for this tournament came about a few years back as a joke amongst several Austin Kayak Fishing members. The idea was that everyone’s skills would be tested to their limits by only allowing anglers to use Barbie, Scooby Doo, Stars Wars and other “kid” fishing poles. While still competitive, it was all in good fun, so much fun that through many requests, we decided to continue this new tradition.

This year’s event was on August 6th and took place on beautiful Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas. However, this time we wanted to do something a bit different by giving back to the community. As a result, I created an organization called “Fish2Live” which benefits those who are trying to re-create their lives through the experience and joy of fishing. As part of their entry fee, participants were asked to donate a new rod and reel combo set which in turn, are given to those men and women working towards a new life.

The Winners, Steve, Burt and Jason

While planning this event, we approached Austin Canoe and Kayak about a possible sponsorship and almost immediately, they wanted to know how they could help and did they ever. ACK supplied multiple products, gift certificates and coupons for all participants. For them to jump on board for a fairly new and small-scale event with the same level of support as they do larger events really demonstrated their commitment to our community and those in need.

Robert, Rigged and Ready

Anglers began showing up around 5am with their kids poles, rigged and ready to go. While the tournament focused on kayak fishing, we did let one pond boat compete — after all, this event was in good fun and benefited a great cause. Launching at 6am, everyone headed to their spots and by noon, we had stories about a tough fishing experience with only one competitor reporting a 5 bass limit at weigh-in. He stood alone, with his trusty “Spiderman” pole at hand claiming 1st place.

The final results were as follows:

1st Place – Burt Briggs
2nd Place – Jason Rodis
3rd Place – Steve Garcia

All in all, this tournament was a success. The only exception being, the difficultly in fishing with these kid poles. The anglers who competed enjoyed good food, cold drinks and of course the fellowship. I’d like to thank everyone for their support including our sponsors, Austin Canoe & Kayak, Get Five Lures and Jason of MATI Greek Trailers for helping me help those that are on the path to recovery.

Robert Dockery
Full Contact Bass Fishing

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!


Supporting a Good Cause Through Kayak Fishing

ACK was invited to sponsor the Irish Water Dogs Invitational in Jacksonville, FL back in October, a catch, photo and release, kayak-fishing tournament and we gladly accepted. Aside from supporting the sport of kayak fishing, what drew us to this particular tournament was that all proceeds were going to the Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

Bill Sikora, tournament director and member of the Irish Water Dogs Fishing Team, was kind enough to share the results with us. “It was because of the generosity of people like you that the tournament was a terrific success. Everyone had a terrific time and over $1,000 was raised for the children’s hospital. I wanted to personally thank you again for all of your support and wish you and everyone at Austin Canoe and Kayak a safe and happy holiday’s. Thanks again!”

Thanks Bill, it was an honor and congratulations to all the winners!

To view the complete list of winners announced, photos and other information, click here.


2010 ACK Fishing Challenge Results

The 2010 ACK Fishing Challenge has come to a close and the results are in! It was a great success with over 40 anglers of all ages participating. We would like to thank all of our sponsors and of course the participants for being a part of this annual event — we couldn’t have done it without you.

Overall, it was a beautiful day on Lady Bird Lake with mild temperatures and partly cloudy skies. Anglers anxiously arrived by 6am Sunday morning and launched into the water to begin their attempt at a 1st place finish in each of their respective divisions. ACK Store Managers, Justin Fees (Tournament Director) and Doug Kain, along with Office Manager, Amy Leggett, were there to assist anglers at the launch and weigh-in.

And without further ado, CONGRATULATIONS to all the winning anglers! While this list may be focused on the top placing anglers, everyone walked away a winner with raffle prizes and giveaways from Ocean Kayak, Scotty, Skwoosh, GSI Outdoors, Astral, Kokatat, Werner, Malone, S3 Cases, Bending Branches, NRS, Talic, Pelican, Feel Free and Paddlers Supply. Every participant also received a goodie bag with an ACK Fishing Challenge t-shirt and sticker, Get Give fishing lures and the latest copy of Lone Star Outdoor News.

Competitive Division
1st – David Lyon 79.75″ (Trident 13 Anger)
2nd – Robert Vaca 76″
3rd – Dan Campbell 73″
4th – Regan Vaca 72.75″
5th – Mark Nordstrom 72.5″
6th – Lawrence Underbrink 67.75″

Fun Division
1st – Ruben Reyes 70.5″
2nd – Robert Kaylor 44.25″
3rd – Derik Donald 19.5″

Kid Division
1st – Austin Weaver 13″
2nd – Isabel Leggett 6.25″

Other Winners
Big Bass – Burton Briggs 23″
Smallest Fish – Jeff Sanderson 3.25″
Biggest Perch/ Sunfish – Regan Vaca 12.5″
Biggest Catfish – NA
The Lucky Carp – NA

View the complete results here
View additional images here

Once again, thanks to everyone that participated in this event. We look forward to seeing you at the 2011 ACK Fishing Challenge!