Two major kayak tournaments were recently held in Southeast Louisiana. The Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club’s Fall ’N Tide was held in Venice, and the Inshore Fishing Association’s Kayak Fishing Tour Championship was held in Grand Isle.
We caught up with the winners to see how they did it.
Fall ’N Tide
When it was all said and done, Devon Beltz came out on top with a Cajun Slam weighing in at 9.31 pounds. Beltz scouted the day before the tournament and set his plan in place. He started casting a Skitter Walk topwater nearly an hour before sunup. “The key was water moving through a narrow ditch. I was in a small pond that drained into deep water,” Beltz said. His decision to go after his red first paid off. “I couldn’t see the bait, but I heard a red smash it about 20 yards away. With the help of a headlamp and a ruler, the fat red turned out to be 27 inches on the nose,” he added.
Sticking to his plan, he then moved to more open water in search of trout. Although he had no bites for the next four hours, he was not discouraged. “This is exactly what happened during my scouting day. The trout didn’t turn on until 1 p.m. or so,” he said. Even with the bright midday sun, Beltz continued to throw his topwater. “Come 1 o’clock, it was like a light switch turned on and I had topwater trout blowups on every other cast in sunny conditions,” he added.
With a trout and red in the bag, it was time for the elusive flounder. Beltz pointed his ‘yak toward the grass lines. “I tightlined a Berkley Gulp on an 1/8-ounce homemade jighead in search of flounder. The familiar strike luckily came on my third cast, and I had a solid Cajun Slam in the bag,” Beltz said. For his efforts, Beltz took home a nice plaque and a brand new Hobie Pro Angler 12 kayak as his first place prize.
With qualifying divisions in Louisiana, Texas, Florida and South Carolina, the best of the best in saltwater kayak anglers headed to Grand Isle to vie for the championship. No one was surprised when Benton Parrott of Navarre, Florida added another title to his list- the fourth he’s captured. Although the win was narrow, his two-day, four-fish score (two reds and two trout) added up to 120.375 inches, barely beating out Aaron Clay, who took second place with a total of 120.125 inches. Winning more IFA Kayak Tour Championships than any other competitor is no fluke: Parrott is a serious competitor, with serious skills.
The weather the day before the tournament thwarted his plans to pre-fish, but relying on knowledge of the area, he was able to put together a trout and red that landed him in third place at the end of Day 1 with a total of 60 inches. “On Day one, I started in the marshes by working points, flats, and reefs. The key was jumping spots, hitting seven different areas and working baits through the three main areas of the water column,” Parrott said. With a 16.25-inch trout on the board. Parrot headed from the Highway 1 marsh down to Barataria Pass in Grand Isle in search of a bull red. He landed a 43-inch brute with three hours left until weigh-in, so he went back to the marsh to upgrade his trout. He succeeded by adding three-fourths of an inch, and bumped his trout to 17 inches.
“Day two of the tournament saw conditions greatly improved with reduced wind and drastically improved water visibility. I decided to start in the marsh, strictly fishing for trout. But the trout bite was almost non-existent,” he said. However, as a proven champion, Parrott kept trying different lures and locations. “I made the decision to go and fish an old camp with lots of old pilings and oysters, and working a Rapala Ripstop through the pilings, I was able to pull out a 19-inch trout,” he added. It was then back to Grand Isle in search of a bull. He spent the rest of the day weeding through several big reds, and ended up adding a 41.375-inch bull to his total.
Parrott is a skilled angler and his wide variety of tournament wins bares that out. “It was an amazing weekend fishing the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Championship with friends in Louisiana. I’m grateful to pull off the win with such great competition.” He racked up a Hobie Pro Angler 14, a Power Pole Micro and $420 in Angler’s Advantage cash — bringing the total value of his championship win to more than $4,000.