By: Greg Blanchard
Over the past 10 years, Kayak Fishing Tournaments have grown immensely in popularity. With the continued growth of kayak fishing, tournament circuits across the country have popped up everywhere. In short, kayak tournaments are just like powerboat tournaments except you’re fishing from man-powered vessels and scoring differs.
For scoring, the “Catch-Photo-Release” (CPR) Method, is preferable to kayak tournaments in which you catch your fish, put it on an approved measuring device, snap a photo with a unique identifier in the picture, and you’re good to go. The beauty of this scoring is that it promotes conservation and is better for the fish as you would release it back into the water within minutes versus taking it for a lengthy tour, crammed in your live well. Anglers’ total length ends up being their score after approved by tournament judges for specific criteria.
One of the largest kayak fishing bass circuit to date is based out of Austin, Texas, the Kayak Angler Tournaments Series, or more popularly known as, “KATS”. This past year alone, multiple events had over 100 anglers from across the state of Texas, competing for a sweet pay day and some fantastic giveaways. Due to the heavy sponsorship and support the KATS tournaments receive (owned by Austin Canoe and Kayak), each tournament has raffles for kayaks, apparel, coolers and outfitting gear all related to kayak fishing. The generosity of sponsors is first class and if you attend an event, you’ll likely be going home with something. So even after a tough day on the water, you can still kick back with friends and family, enjoy some complimentary burgers and dogs and hope to win some free gear.
Yes, the KATS atmosphere is certainly family friendly, but be warned, there are plenty of anglers that show up who are strict business. With some serious cash in play as well as the regular season offering the top 25 point based leaders a spot in the coveted KATS Classic (with an even bigger pay day), you can bet it’s not all fun and games on the water.
The KATS regular season offers 7 tournaments across the state of Texas and points are based upon anglers’ top 5 finishes. The leader in the points race after the regular season is crowned Angler of the Year as well. There is one additional tournament after the regular season, “The Wildcard”, which is an event to allow anglers to cull their worst finish. After all is said and done, the top 25 point leaders are eligible to fish the KATS Classic.
It is worth mentioning that KATS offers both a pro and social division, so if you’re that angler that’s out for blood or are new to the sport and just looking to go out fishing and meet some new people, there’s a division for you. Entry fee is 50 bucks for Pro and 40 for social, plus other (optional) side pots such as big bass, raffle tickets, and other giveaways.
If you are in the Central Texas area, own a kayak and like to fish, you’d be wise to check out KATS for the upcoming 2016 season. If you’re somewhere else in the country then do a little research and I’d be willing to bet you’d find a kayak fishing club nearby.
About the Author
Greg Blanchard is a traveling Physical Therapist from Central New York who can’t get enough of the kayak bass tournament scene. This past year, he was fortunate enough to win the KATS Kayak Angler of the Year in the country’s largest kayak fishing series in Central Texas. As the kayak fishing tournaments scene continues to grow at an exponential rate, Greg enjoys promoting the sport and his knowledge through his YouTube channel.