Sign-up for a kayak tournament

Kayak anglers mill about on a cold January morning preparing for the start of the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club’s annual Minimalist Challenge. This unique event requires all anglers to fish with a small, identical selection of lures provided by the tournament.

While January can bring some good kayak fishing, odds are that there will be more bad days than good. Take those cold, nasty days to do some maintenance on your yak and tackle and also make plans for a variety of kayak fishing tournaments coming up for 2023. Fresh or salt, in Louisiana or out, there are tournaments to fit every kayak angler’s fishing style, and they are sure to make you a better fisherman.

One of the best ways to ease into participation in kayak fishing tournaments is to join a local club. Louisiana has several active kayak clubs across the state and all host a variety of tournaments. These clubs and tournaments offer an easy way to meet fellow kayak anglers for networking and skill-building. You have the opportunity to participate at various levels, perhaps fish new waters and most importantly, make new friends. Kayak fishermen are somewhat of a different breed. They are passionate about the sport and they work hard to let others know how much fun it is. Kayak anglers are known for regularly sharing fishing tips, rigging advice and, yes, some even share fishing locations. Social media is a big part of the kayaking community. Through Facebook and many internet forums, these club members stay connected and hook-up with other ‘yakers for fishing adventures. Most of these clubs host several different tournaments a year. Surely you can find one or two to suit your taste.

The “Minimalist Challenge”

If you’re looking to jump right in on a unique and challenging tournament, check out the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club’s popular “Minimalist Challenge” to be held on Jan. 28. Many kayak anglers are comfortable fishing their preferred waters, using their own proven methods. All of that is thrown out the window when fishing this event. This early winter event is often held in an area outside of the core area fished by many Louisiana kayakers. However, the real catch is that all participants must fish with the same few artificial baits that are provided by tournament officials on the morning of the tournament. No other lures are allowed on your kayak. No favorite lures or colors to instill confidence. The anglers must go back to basics and rely on true fishing skills in order to succeed. Often the conditions are brutal and the fishing is hard, but the event always sells out to the limited number of participants. Register early.

Bigger prizes

As kayak fishing tournaments continue to grow, so do the prizes. Awards range from trophies and plaques, to fishing gear, kayaks and cold-hard-cash. Some of the major tournament championship series have payouts in the thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars. Of course those are for the die-hard kayak anglers willing to travel to multiple states, but the winner of the 2022 Hobie BOS (Bass Open Series) Championship on Lake Caddo in Louisiana took home a cool $45,000 First Place prize. The tournament paid out a total of $100,000 across all that placed in the finals.

Like the Hobie BOS, bass fishing tournaments have really taken off in the kayak world. There are a wide variety of contests to enter. Along the coastal areas, saltwater tournaments for a variety of species remain popular. In addition to several of these major kayak tournaments, clubs host single-day events as well as series events that combine points earned by fishing multiple related tournaments. At the end of the year, final events crown series Champions and/or Angler’s of The Year. Kayak tournaments offer anglers great opportunities to enhance their fishing skills and possibly take home some great prizes.

Give it a try

Many kayak fishing tournaments use a catch-photo-release format where contestants photograph the fish on an approved measuring board, along with a tournament specific token or identifier included in the photo. Length, rather than weight determines the winning fish.

Many new kayakers are intimidated by the thought of competing in a tournament, however, that is an unfounded concern. Advice and encouragement is given freely by many contestants and help will be there if you need it. Several of these tournament are geared to provide opportunities for success across all skill levels. CCA Louisiana’s own “Ride the Bull” is a prime example of a tournament that is great for kayak anglers of all skill levels. So popular, RTB holds the distinction of being the World’s Largest Kayak Fishing Tournament with several hundred participants each year. The event has been won by seasoned kayak anglers as well as beginners. With hundreds of kayak anglers fishing mostly live or dead bait in a confined area of Caminada Pass in Grand Isle, it’s anybody’s guess who will get that winning bite.

While some kayak tournaments have weigh-ins where the fish are brought to the scales, most have gone to catch-photo-release tournaments where length, rather than weight determines the winners. Anglers photograph the fish on a tournament-approved measuring board, along with a unique token or identifier that shows the fish was caught during the specific tournament. Many use an app-based tournament management service like TourneyX where contestants enter there catches through their phone. Although less common, the Elite Redfish Series kayak tour requires a live fish weigh-in.

A learning experience

Fishing a tournament helps you learn how to organize your fishing day, including formulating plans, back-up plans and back-up to your back-up plans to deal with changing or unexpected conditions. You’ll learn to pre-fish an area and eliminate unproductive waters. The time limits of making a weigh-in on time also helps you be more efficient and challenges your decision making. These skills easily transfer to make your fun fishing days much more productive.

If you are truly interested in meeting new kayak angling friends, fishing new waters, and improving your kayak fishing success, get out of your comfort zone and check out a couple of the many kayak tournaments available in the coming year. You might just take home a great prize or a nice check.

Kayak Clubs/Tournament Info:

Kayak fishing clubs are a great way to meet fellow kayak anglers and hone your skills. Kayak fishing tournaments are held year-round across the south and offer friendly com-petition and great prizes. Fresh or salt, no matter your skill level, fishing these tournaments makes you a better kayak angler. For more information, check out these links:

About Chris Holmes 239 Articles
Chris Holmes has kayak fished in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and many places in between.

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