This year we kicked off our Junior Angler of the Year program thanks to a wonderful anonymous KATS angler that donated a fully-rigged fishing kayak! The award is given to the Junior Angler that catches the five biggest fish throughout the season. We chatted with our first ever winner Kayden Drake about all things fishing, from early memories to mentorship, to get a better picture of the guy behind the title.
How did it feel to be named Jr. Angler of the Year?
To be named Junior Angler of the Year felt like a major accomplishment and honor in my fishing career. To sport such a big title for an angler of my age felt amazing. I don’t think there is a word to describe the happiness I felt when they called my name to come up to the stage at the final KATS tournament of the year. To have worked so hard this season and still have quite a few hiccups along the way, I really was surprised that I was able to take home the title.
How did you get started Kayak fishing?
I got started kayak fishing by, believe it or not, shark fishing off the beach. Back when my grandfather and I would go down to Galveston with our Penn Senator 9/0 reels, we would paddle out the baits off the beach 400 yards with a kayak. We then started to fish out of the kayak in the marshes around Galveston in the winter when the sharks weren’t in close. I caught my first redfish out of a kayak a few years back, and it took me for a good ride. After that, all I wanted to do was fish out of a kayak. I fished for redfish for a few years and then moved to bass fishing about two years ago.
Do you have any advice for other Junior Anglers interested in fishing KATS?
All I can say is no matter what skill level you’re at, or what kayak you have, just come and fish a tournament or two. The amount of stuff you can learn from fishing these tournaments from the people with more experience than you is amazing. The support from everyone is great and pushes most younger, less experienced people to keep learning and catch more fish. It sure has for me.
How did you get started fishing KATS?
I got started fishing KATS at the 2016 Lake Bastrop Tournament. I caught four fish and was super excited that I had a fish over 18″.
What is one memorable experience you have from fishing?
I’m so grateful that I have an amazing Grandfather who puts up with all the tournaments I want to go to and all the different places I want to go fish. I’ve had some really cool experiences on the water at such a young age. But one that really sticks out to me is the KATS 2017 Lake Fayette tournament. I had found a spot in practice that I caught a few fish on, but nothing too big. So I made myself a little run around the lake of spots for the tourney, with the spot I caught a few on as my first place. So come the morning of the tournament, I paddle like a madman (as usual) to my spot that was only about half mile from the launch.
I put the transducer arm into the water and start marking a few fish. Then in about 16 feet of water I find this tiny one and a half foot hump that comes up with a school of shad above it, and all I see on the graph is a bunch of marks right on the bottom. I threw out a marker buoy and went upwind of it and anchored my Diablo. I threw out my deep diver and first cast I hooked up with a 20” fish. After that I caught my limit by 7:15 or 7:20 in the morning.
Every cast I had a bite. It felt unreal. I finished my limit on my fourth cast, and on that fourth cast I had one fish hit my crankbait, then felt another thump. I was confused because it wasn’t fighting and just felt like dead weight. Come to getting the fish to the boat I saw two fish attached to my crankbait! I netted them and filled my limit with a 20.25” and a 17.5”. Around 8 am I had upwards of a 98” inch limit.
I made the mistake of leaving that spot to find bigger fish, but I came back around 9:30 am and started fishing a bit deeper. I culled out all of my 19.75” fish on the C-Rig and put myself up to 100.75”. I broke off a few fish on the C-Rig that felt like absolute tanks. But that’s just how it goes sometimes. I headed in with a giant smile on my face and stories of big fish. But come to find out the 100.75” wasn’t enough to even get on the podium, but got me some valuable points and a solid 9th place. This was definitely my favorite day of fishing and will always be a story people hear from me.
What do you think has allowed you to excel at such a young age?
I think my ability to excel at such a young age is just that all I want to do is get better in every way I can for bass fishing. I am constantly looking at new ways to fish, and I just have the heart to push out countless hours on the water. Also the support I have from all my family and friends is unreal. I’m so blessed to have a mom and grandfather who deal with my constant talk of fishing and with taking me to fish. If I ever feel down about doing bad in a tournament, my family tells me that I will knock the socks off them at the next tourney. It’s hard to stay positive when you know how good all the other guys in the field are, but I’m able to stay positive and optimistic about everything. Which I believe is a major factor to my success as a younger angler.
“I think my ability to excel at such a young age is just that all I want to do is get better in every way I can for bass fishing”
Who comes to mind when you hear the word “mentor”?
To be honest I don’t have anyone in my family who is a true bass fishing guru and knows how to catch them all the time. So most of the skills I’ve learned is research and practice. But I would have to say that my grandfather’s on both sides of my family have been mentors for just about anything in life, including fishing. I’m blessed to have my grandfather’s to talk to about life and fishing, and for them to keep pushing me to do better in life.
Favorite fish dish?
That’s easy: seared wahoo. One of the best tasting fish I’ve ever had, and funnest fish I’ve ever caught.
Where do you hope your fishing career takes you?
It’s a long shot, but my dream is to fish the Bassmaster Elite Series and become a professional bass fisherman. I already have my first sponsor, Ocean Vida Apparel, which means I might be on the right track to getting more sponsors and rising up in the bass fishing world.