As some of you know, I fish the Southeast Texas Kayak Bass League (SETXKBL) trail. I got my first taste of kayak bass tournament fishing on this trail, and I was immediately hooked. I fished my first kayak bass tournament, ever, on Lake Conroe in March ’19. I had only had my very first kayak for about a month. It was a Lifetime Tamarack starter kayak that you can get for around $200-300. I saw some guys on YouTube fishing tournaments, making it look easy….as YouTubers do, and I jumped in headfirst. I found the SETXKBL group on Facebook, saw that there was a tournament on a lake that was close, signed up and the rest is history.
This past weekend was my shot at redemption on Lake Conroe, being Trail Event #4 on the 2020 SETXKBL trail. My Conroe tournament outing, last year, I pre-fished the weekend before and got skunked. On tournament day, I caught one 12″ largemouth bass and a white bass (which don’t count in bass tournaments.) So, I didn’t get skunked for my first tournament, which was pretty great, especially since I hadn’t done much bass fishing prior to that. Yesterday, I fished Lake Conroe and managed to catch 5 largemouth bass, but only 3 of them counted for the tournament. For those that don’t know, most kayak tournaments are measured by a fish’s length, submitted via an app, vs a traditional boat bass tournament that has an actual weigh-in where you keep the fish in a livewell and bring them to physically be weighed when the tournament is over. The minimum length for the SETXKBL trail is 12″.
We were allowed to launch our kayaks at 6:00am, with first cast at 6:30am and last cast was 3:00pm. We had until 4:00pm to submit the photos of our fish to be counted toward the days’ tournament.
I launch and get out to my spot. I wait around for a few minutes, do a quick YouTube intro for my upcoming video, then 6:30am comes around and I make the first cast. I’m working along a bulkhead and a couple of docks. I think come upon a grass line and see some blowups, so I decide to throw a baby bass colored Ribbit frog up along the bank and drag it back. Bam! I have my first fish landed, measured, and submitted to the app by 6:52am! Just over 20 minutes in and I have my first fish, measuring at 15.25″. I end up throwing the frog for a little bit longer and got a couple of blowups, but nothing commits and I miss those two fish. I keep working along the shoreline and docks, throwing the frog, a Strike King Thunder Cricket, and a wacky rigged worm with a few different colors. Just after 7:00am it starts to rain, so I have to don a hoodie, take down one of my cameras, and put my front-mounted GoPro to only be on battery power so that it’s waterproof. I don’t normally like to fish in the rain, but I felt that it would be good for the bite. It was! 7:40am I land my second fish using the Thunder Cricket (white and chartreuse) paired with a white YUM pulse swimbait. This one measured 13″ exactly, putting me at 28.25″. Then, I start to work the wacky rig for a little while and catch a 13.25″ bass under a dock about 8:30am, putting my tournament length at 41.5″, which didn’t change the remainder of the day. Catch, photo, release and continue on….about 3 feet down further on the same dock, where I manage to catch a small one about 11.5″, so just shy of the 12″ minimum length requirement, just before 8:40am. I continue with the trend, wacky rig along the bank, and then I manage to catch one more about 5 minutes later that was just barely over 10″…..that was it. By 8:48am, I had caught 5 fish. Just about that time, the rain stopped, the sun came out and the wind started. I continued working the bank, working lily pads, throwing a Texas-rigged craw, different worms on the wacky rig, the frog some more, chatterbait, drop shot….you name it. But, I only managed to get a couple of small bites here and there. I fished all the way up until 3:00pm, not taking a break, wanting every minute I could get to try to get “one more fish” as we all want.
Nonetheless, a great experience. I’m privileged and honored to fish with some of the best kayak anglers in the nation. I managed a 27th place finish out of 44 anglers, which continues to increase my AOY (Angler of the Year) points and hopefully will put me into contention for our Championship on Houston County Lake, later this year.
These tournaments can be grueling, as they’re a full day on the water, unrelenting weather conditions, physically and mentally exhausting. But, they’re also always a learning experience and rewarding, no matter the outcome.
Congratulations to the top guys in the event!
Stay tuned for more tournament updates like this! Next stop…Lake Bastrop.