This was a unique tournament with a very sad backstory. I was supposed to fish the KBS Open on Stonewall Jackson Lake but the tournament, along with others, were cancelled due to the flooding in many parts of West Virginia. As the kayak angling community usually does, a number of individuals and organizations stepped up to organize charity fishing tournaments with proceeds to benefit flood victims. To my knowledge, this particular online charity tournament brought in over $4,400. To all of the anglers out there that donated and signed up, be proud!
It was also unique because being an online tournament, I could fish any publicly accessible waters. This also coincided with a weekend where I had planned to fish with my Dad and brother in law, Sean. All three of us signed up and fished a system of channels off of Saginaw Bay. While this tournament didn’t include cash prizes or AOY points, it was a good time to fish with family and to benefit those affected by the floods. Also, the top ten anglers of the tournament would qualify for a spot in the 2017 KBF National Championship.
The day started out with a bang. The night before I had a sneaking suspicion that due to overcast skies and cooler temps, the topwater bite would be on. I started out with a smaller popper because just a day before we had a cold front move through and the plan was to throw topwater for an hour and if nothing happened, I’d switch to a finesse presentation. Within the first 20 minutes, I had my first keeper. But after all, one fish is luck but two is a pattern. I went on to catch a dozen fish and scored my three largest. By ten that morning, the clouds had cleared and the topwater bite slowed.
I hadn’t done a lot of pitching to brush along the banks this summer. The weather and my schedule has been so screwy that when I get out on the water in this particular area, the fish have been roaming rather than tight to cover. Big fish bite jigs so I committed the afternoon to flipping. It yielded a 17″, 18.5″, and 19″ fish in the following hour on top of a few more 15-17″ fish. That type of fishing is some of my favorite and it gets the adrenaline pumping like crazy.
I finished 11th out of 220 anglers with 54.5″ in a three-fish limit format. I missed a guaranteed KBF Championship slot by just a quarter of an inch. However, being the first alternate I was awarded a spot as some of the top ten anglers were unable to attend or had already qualified. I’m already getting the accommodations and making other arrangements for Kentucky Lake in March. It saves me the Open Qualifier this Fall, which is awesome news.
It’s going to be a long wait until March but there is much more fishing and a few more tournaments until then. It was a great day on the water with some great people!