College kayaking clubs

Introducing a new generation to fishing

Many college students dream of playing hooky to get out on the water for a day of fishing. (I hear some actually do it.) So how great would it be if there was an organization that promoted college fishing clubs and set up a system to allow friendly competition with the chance to win some great prizes?

Well there is.

College Kayak Fishing was started in 2012 by professional kayak fisherman and kayak guru Drew Gregory. Gregory saw a natural match for students that economically allows them to fish in organized tournaments for fresh or saltwater species.

College students and kayak fishing is a “no-brainer.” Most college students can’t afford expensive boats — or any boats at all — but many can scrape together a few hundred dollars for a kayak.

CKF provides a cost-effective way for these students to fish, participate in friendly competition and hone their fishing skills.

The simple purpose of CKF is to help college fishing clubs connect and compete for prizes, such as college scholarships, kayaks and other great fishing-related gear. And no matter the size of the college, interested students can put together a fishing club and enter tournaments.

Teams compete against other teams within their region. Teams of only three anglers compete, but schools can have many separate teams. Individual anglers cannot cross over between teams.

Holding regional matches makes it easy and economical for student anglers to drive to nearby locations for one-day tournaments, which are held on Saturdays.

Each tournament uses a catch-measure-photo-release method. A team’s final “score” is the combined number of inches they catch as a team, and each angler must contribute at lest one fish to the team’s score. Additionally, two anglers are allowed to submit one additional fish. This provides the team’s final five-fish score. The team with the highest total score wins the match.

The Bass Series is strictly for black bass, while the Saltwater Slam Series teams can catch a combination of redfish, seatrout, snook or flounder (anglers submitting a second fish must submit a different species from their first entry).

LSU team member Ryan Lauve hands off one of two nice bull redfish that earned him two spots at the Ride the Bull IV tournament.

Following the regular-season matches, all teams can compete in the championship tournament.

The Salt Series Championship was held in August, and the Bass Series Championship will occur later this year.

Louisiana State University certainly has its share of national championships in various sports; it can now add “Sperry Top-Sider 2013 National College Kayak Fishing Champions” to that list.

LSU fielded three teams for the inaugural CKF Salt Series this year. The teams fished against other CKF teams in regional matches held from Texas to Florida. The championship match was held in Biloxi, Miss., and LSU students collectively made an impressive showing in both the team and individual categories.

In the team division, LSU team No. 3 members Shane Pantoja, Ryan Lauve and Jacob Cormier put together a total of 96.75 inches to earnng the national-championship title.

LSU team No. 1 came in fifth, while and LSU team No. 2 came in seventh.

As national champions, the LSU Team No. 3 took home some great swag for their win. The team members each won a new Jackson Cruise kayak, a cash scholarship and lots of other great ’yak fishing gear.

In the individual division, LSU students racked up first-, fourth- and sixth-place finishes. They also took first, second, third and fifth for the largest fish caught in the tournament.

Pretty impressive. These guys give a whole new meaning to the saying, “Tiger Bait, Tiger Bait!”

LSU student organizations run the gamut for almost any sport or special interest you can think of. Now, they have an officially recognized student organization called the Kayak Fishing Club.

“The group has about 27 members, and we’re looking to expand further this year,” group organizer Thomas Sparks said.

Ten of the club’s members participated in the CKF series this year, and Sparks hopes to field several additional teams for next year.

The CKF series is open to all colleges, but LSU is the only Louisiana college currently participating. Sparks hopes other schools will come onboard to expand Louisiana’s presence on the kayak fishing scene and provide more opportunities for local competition.

The LSU club does not limit its competitive moxie to the CKF series. Individual members regularly fish other organized kayak-fishing tournaments. At the recent Ride the Bull tournament in Grand Isle, LSU club members scored three of the top 10 finishes out of 488 ’yak anglers.

Planned club activities for 2013-14 include a “demo” day to introduce additional students to kayak fishing. The LSU lakes provide a convenient venue for kayak demonstrations, and a BBQ and test-ride session will give interested students a chance to meet kayak club members and try out a variety of ’yaks.

Students do not need to have any fishing experience or even own a kayak to be a member.

To underscore the value of the club and the CKF events to the students, LSU team member Shane Pantoja fished the entire CKF series and championship without owning a kayak. As a resourceful college student, he used a combination of borrowed pirogues and kayaks to fish his way through the 2013 season.

Pantoja racked up some impressive wins in various tournaments. For his efforts, he won two kayaks this year. He is ’yakless no more.

For more information on joining the LSU Kayak Fishing Club or to get information on how to start a club at your school, check out the group’s Facebook page. More info on the CKF can be found at

About Chris Holmes 254 Articles
Chris Holmes has kayak fished in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and many places in between.