Join a kayak fishing club

Christopher Bassil brings his first place redfish to the net in the Southeast Louisiana Kayak Fishing Club’s Kids Pole Challenge. The little Zebco Splash spincast combo and a gold spoon got a workout, but did the trick on this upper-slot redfish.

Kayak fishing tournaments can be intense. Some participants spend days pre-fishing in the hopes of taking home some of the thousands of dollars’ worth of cash and prizes on the line. Some enjoy the seriousness of these events, others, not so much. These events are often held by local kayak fishing clubs. However, the Southeast Louisiana Kayak Fishing Club (SELKFC) is different and decidedly so.

SELKFC started as an open Facebook group just a couple years ago. They currently have just over 2,600 members. There is no formal organization, no dues, no meetings, and no drama. The brainchild of Brian Brown, the group was formed by a few newbie kayakers looking to get together to kayak fish, make friends and help others come into and enjoy the sport.

Sharing info

In January 2022, Brown summed up the status of the group as follows: “When I started this page, I started it as a way for a few of us to keep up with our hobbies without having everyone that couldn’t care less having to see fishing posts. We now have over 300 members from across the country in just a few months. Never imagined it would be more than a handful of people. Some of us have taken advantage of the opportunity to meet with members and fish. Some share experience and advice. New friendships have been made and opportunities to learn from others have been had. If you want to share anything fishing-related that will benefit the group, please do. There is no judgment or stupid questions, well except for one person, lol. If you do share, please be open to helping others enjoy their time on the water, do not just boast and not offer advice.”

As noted above, that membership number has now skyrocketed to over 2,600. Why? The group is different. They have not gotten caught up in the intense competition and high-dollar stakes that others enjoy. They quite simply want to kayak fish and have fun.

Of course, they are still fishermen and trash-talking and bragging rights are a part of the sport. It’s just more laid back. They have held two low-stakes annual tournaments, and earlier this year were able to donate well over $1,500 in proceeds to local food banks. They have no plans to hold any high-dollar, high pressure events and that seems to suit the participants just fine.

Kids Pole Challenge

Another example is their first Kids Pole Challenge held in April at PAC Kayak Marina in Pointe Aux Chenes, La. Owners Lisa and Eddie Mullen are big supporters of the kayak fishing community and since this is where the group first came together, it has been the site for their tournaments.

These kayaking ladies put their kiddie poles to the test battling a bunch of reds, including two over-slot beasts. PAC Kayak Marina in Pointe Aux Chenes was the host for this unique and challenging event.

Billed as a “fun get together” rather than a tournament, the rules were short and simple. The entrance fee covered the cost of all participants being supplied with identical kiddie Zebco Splash spincast combos. This was the only pole allowed in the kayak during the event, and the only modification allowed was to change the pre-spooled line. The combo came with 10-pound monofilament. Some changed line, some didn’t.

Small cash prizes were awarded for the largest trout and largest slot-size redfish. Fishing in a kayak tournament with a kiddie pole is about as unserious as you can get. Surely, I had to get in on this action. The banter at the launch was quite different. There was a feeling that the playing (fishing) field was more level. Whether in a beginner kayak or a rigged-out beast, everyone was handicapped with the same pole.

Worth the entry fee

As I fished my way down the canal, I didn’t have high hopes that the rod and reel would be up to the task. It was dead calm, and the gnats were fierce. Up ahead, I saw two kayaks and could hear the anglers talking. Christopher Bassil and Ali Kowitz were working the canal. Bassil hooked up. I could hear the excitement and splashing. I quickly pedaled down the canal to see what the fuss was about.

“It’s a red,” he said. “A big red. I’m just going to have to wear him out.”

As I got closer, I could see and hear all the action. The red had the pole bent like a wet noodle. Let’s just say that the drag was as smooth as a Gen X’r trying to drive a stick shift and sounded like a cat with its tail caught in the door. Slow and steady, Bassil battled as the red tried its best to wreck the kiddie pole. Kowitz tossed him a floating landing net and stayed nearby to offer encouragement and document the catch on her phone. After a couple net misses, the chunky red was landed. Proof it could be done.

If I didn’t catch a fish the rest of the day, getting to be a spectator to that event was worth the entry fee alone. It was hilarious. I took a couple pics, offered congratulations, and moved on down the canal. I managed to catch several small reds and some trout, including one a few ounces over two pounds that proved to be the heaviest of the event.

A good time for all

Back at the PAC marina weigh-in, I found out that several oversized reds were successfully landed. Although they didn’t count for the weigh-in, it surely had to be a blast. Bassil also caught a bull red, but his previous slot fish was heavy enough to place first in the category, providing him $75.00 cash, a nice medal and more importantly, bragging rights.

Kayak fishing can be whatever you want it to be. Whether a high-stakes, high-stress tournament, or just an outing with friends, being on the water is the most important part. If you are looking to learn about kayak fishing, improve your kayak fishing skills, meet new friends or even just to give back some of your experienced kayak fishing skills to the community, check out the Southeast Louisiana Kayak Fishing Club’s Facebook group page.

About Chris Holmes 255 Articles
Chris Holmes has kayak fished in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and many places in between.