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.

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!

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)

Kayakapalooza IV Fishing Series

Photo by Yak Angler

For the second year in a row, we are proud to sponsor Kayakjak’s Outfitters’ “Kayakapalooza IV”! This series of kayak fishing tournaments will start April 1 online, and culminate with a “live” event August 10th in Lincoln, NE. There will be specific targeted fish for most of the events. The top three kayak anglers will be awarded prizes for the “longest stringers” for each event that uses measurements. At each of the first three events, the second place finisher will win a $25 gift certificate from

The top 19 finishers at each event will be awarded points to compete for “Angler of the Year” honors and win the grand prize: a brand new fishing kayak. Anglers must compete in at least four events to qualify for “Angler of the Year” status. There will also be another “online” grand prize offered for the four online events. An angler must compete in at least three of these events to be eligible for that prize. A portion of all entry fees will be donated to the “Heroes on the Water” program. Any kayak angler is eligible to participate in this fun contest. The “live” event will take place at beautiful Wagon Train Lake, just south of Lincoln.

We are always excited to get involved with events as they are an opportunity to promote the growing sport of kayak fishing. If you’re in the Nebraska area, be sure to check it out!

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Note: For those anglers residing in Texas, don’t forget about the Kayak Angler’s Tournament Series!

Rookie Mistakes in a Kayak Fishing Tourney by Chris Payne (Payne’s Paddle/Fish)

Kayak fishing is a popular activity these days and as a result we’re seeing more and more people trying their luck in tournaments. Because competitive events can sometimes be confusing and maybe even a bit intimidating, we wanted to share this advice from regular guest blogger Chris Payne who recently had his first tournament experience. Let us know what you think and share your own tips below!

Yesterday was a first for me. I fished my first official kayak bass fishing tournament with the North Texas Kayak Bass Fishing Club. I had a great time with these guys over the weekend and would do it again in a heart beat. And while these guys are great, this is not a piece on promoting the NTKBF tourneys (though I need to do that). This is a piece to confess mistakes, make some lists and hopefully pass on some knowledge to future tournament kayak anglers.

Ruler Board/Hawg Trough
Most kayak tournaments use the Catch-Photograph-Release (CPR) technique to determine a winner. If you buy a hawg trough from one of the many retailers like Austin Canoe and Kayak, they come marked every inch. They do have ridges so you can measure up to 1/4 of an inch but they are the same color as the board. You quickly find out at “weigh-in” that those 1/4″ lines are very important and very hard to see in a picture. Take a sharpie and run over those ridges and the judges will never have to guess. But to even get a picture, you have to keep the fish on the board. This is a dexterity challenge while floating in a kayak with a paddle, a fish with hooks in him trying desperately to stab you with the hooks, a trough and camera, not to mention the required identifier that has to be in the picture. A friend, Bryan Row, had a great idea and attached three small bungees to the board so he can strap the floppy slime rockets to the board for a picture. It was ingenious and I had to pass it along. It must work because Bryan placed second this week!

Confidence Baits and Techniques
You know them and use them. They are your go to baits and styles. These are usually the first thing you go to when a new method or bait is failing after the first 10 casts that you tried it. Mine is a drop shot rig with a F4 Hag’s Tornado. I can catch fish out of a dry sewer line with this setup and yet I didn’t fish it on tournament day until an hour before weigh in. Why? I over thought the lake. I had never fished Purtis Creek before except for pre-fishing the evening preceding the tournament. In that time I tried what people told me would work, different locations, depths I normally didn’t fish and it hurt. At 12:30 I had two fish out of five and I caught those in the first 30 minutes of the day. When push came to shove, I switched back to my confidence setup and was rewarded with the three fish I needed to round out my limit. They were not huge by any stretch of the imagination but five fish on tourney day is never a given. The lesson here? Don’t deviate. After talking to the winner, rodmaker Walker Nelson, my thoughts were reaffirmed. He said he stuck to his game plan and didn’t deviate. Congrats on a great win Walker!

Planning and Homework
I spent the better part of the last two weeks planning for this event. I scoured what topographical maps I could find and used overlays from satellite maps to determine the most likely places I could catch fish. I prefished the day before and did okay but felt lack luster about it. At dinner that evening I got some tips on where some fish were. After a slow morning I abandoned my plan and spent the next three hours chasing someone else’s plan. That did nothing for me. In the time I left my prep work and techniques at the door, not a single fish came into the boat. Not a single, solitary fish. When I abandoned other plans and went back to my own, I caught the rest of my fish for the day. Lesson learned. If you doubt this, go back up a paragraph and read Walker’s comments.

Always Be Prepared
You just never know. It will creep up on you when you least expect it so pack accordingly. Not all of these things happened to me but some unexpected events at the tournament this weekend produced a bit of hilarity, some panic, some disgust and even some hunger.

Raccoons will steal your food. All of it.

Branches barely sticking out of the water get caught in scupper holes. Have a plan. And a saw.
The sun doesn’t rise until well after 6AM this time of year. Have what you need to be legal on the water. And a light to see the dangers.

You can get sunburned even when it’s raining.

Cameras fail. Have a backup plan.

The weather is like a good woman, usually beautiful and complex but she’ll lose control every now and again and you should be ready for how you’ll handle it.

Until next time, keep your food in the car and stick to the game plan.

Chris Payne is an avid kayak fisherman from Temple, TX. Paddling since 2003, he is spreading his adventures, foibles and knowledge to those who have a couple of minutes to read a post or two. Chris loves to talk kayaking with anyone who wants to share stories, learn more about kayak fishing or just chew the fat. You can reach him at