Everybody has a little competitive streak, and kayak anglers are no different. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of fishing tournaments available across the Gulf Coast that are either specifically for paddle craft, have paddle craft categories or allow using paddle craft to compete in the regular divisions.
For the remainder of 2014, there are one or more kayak tournaments being held each month. And fishing a tournament can greatly increase your ’yak fishing skills, and you might even take home a nice prize.
Tournaments run the gamut from the fun and relaxing to the highly competitive. While most require bringing the dead fish in for a weigh-in, some unique tournament formats utilize a catch-photo-release or a live-weigh format. Tournament prizes range from trophies, plaques and cash to fishing gear and kayaks.
Most of the kayak-specific tournaments are held by local clubs. In addition to larger annual tournaments, year-long tournament series allow club members the opportunity to accumulate points toward additional angler-of-the-year prizes.
However, each of the individual series tournaments are open to all.
More and more traditional powerboat-fishing tournaments are adding kayak divisions to accommodate this ever-growing segment of the fishing community.
Kayak anglers usually have the ability to compete solely against other ’yakers or try their hand competing against those fishing from powerboats. Ask any kayaker that’s done it, and there is no better feeling than beating other fishermen whose boat costs sometimes at least 20 times more than yours.
Fishing a tournament will introduce you to new areas and allow you to meet many fellow kayak fishermen. The competition will teach you to make your time on the water more efficient and productive.
You don’t have to be a professional fisherman, and anyone can win on any given day. Some tournaments offer prizes that can be won on sheer luck, like “leopard red” categories that are awarded for a redfish with the most spots. There is no way to specifically fish for a leopard red.
The sizes of the various tournaments can vary wildly. Some of the smaller events might host only a couple dozen contestants, while the larger annual tournaments regularly have 200 or more.
In a testament to the growth of the sport and the fantastic fishing in Louisiana, the 2013 Ride the Bull tournament set a world record of 523 registered contestants.
If you don’t regularly fish kayak tournaments, check out the calendar for the rest of the year and find a couple that appeal to you. Tournaments are as much social happenings as they are competitive fishing events.
You’re guaranteed to meet fellow kayakers from all over, have a good time and you might even take home a new kayak.