3am....that's what time I started this rainy day. Even with the early start and wet forecast, I was excited to be fishing the first bass tournament I had fished in a very long time. Walking up to the registration table I recognized a few familiar faces under their rain hoods that I had fished many tournaments with in the past but noticed more that I did not recognize. It just goes to show that kayak fishing is continuing to grow as a sport. Knowing that there would be some serious competition, I had no serious thought of winning this thing even though it was being held on a lake that I was very familiar with. In fact, I started fishing Lake Whitney at a very young age with my father. I would guess I was 4 or 5 the first time I pulled a bass from its deep blue green water. What I was hoping to do was finish somewhere in the top ten and if all went well possibly the top 5.
Driving through the lightning storm to the launch, I couldn't help but wonder how many other kayakers would be hitting the same spot I had decided to fish just the day before. What I didn't expect were the 15 bass boats lined up at the gate waiting to get in when I arrived at the park. Turns out there was a power boat tournament launching out of the same location. The day was already looking rough with the early start and the weather and now I would have to share a ramp with all of these glitter rockets! About then is when I noticed the vehicle in front of me with a NuCanoe Pursuit on its rack. None other than fellow NuCanoe pro staffer Raymond Martinez! I had seen Ray at the captains meeting earlier but never dreamed we would end up at the same launch. Ray is a great guy to share some time on the water with so I knocked on his window and let him in on another launch we could use in the park to avoid the ramp full of bass boats.
After waiting out the lightning as long as an eager angler can possibly wait, we both launched and rounded the bend only to find most of those previously mentioned glitter rockets posted up on the flat I had intentions of slaying 5lbers on for most of the day. I focused on a wind blown point that for some strange reason was vacant of anything made of fiberglass. I hook up almost immediately with what in no doubt in my mind must be at least an 18" to 20" fine specimen of a large mouth bass. In fact, it was a 13" undersized specimen of a large mouth bass that was scored but later culled with a 14" bass. That was about how the day went. I caught fish all day. They were hungry fish. They needed to grow. They were destroying my baits. What they were not doing is cashing me any checks!
I had a limit of 14"- 15" fish and knew I had to get on the move to find some bigger fish. I started heading south down the flat thinking that later in the day when the south wind picked up I could just drift back to the launch. I flipped willows. I flipped stumps. I flipped flooded brush piles. I flipped every piece of cover I can see above the water line and everything I could see on my graph. More dinky bass. If I had to make a guess I would say I caught close to 30 fish that day and only one that would bump me up in the standings. That fish was starving and probably would have eaten a chicken nugget if I had one tied on! Seriously, I think a couple of the 14" fish I caught out weighed this skinny little 19" fish! Good thing its a game of inches.
So there I am, two miles down the flat when I start to see a fog coming across the lake. Only I quickly realize that its not fog as the north wind picks up. A steady rain set in along with a strong wind out of the north and here I am on the south end of the flat. Now those who know Whitney know how quickly calm waters can become anything but in a hurry! It was going to be a fun and sporty paddle back to the launch. Luckily, I was in a NuCanoe Pursuit which handles these conditions very well. At no point did I feel unsafe about the situation I had put myself in.
After a long paddle back in the wind and rain I was happy to find out that pizza and a frosty cold one would be provided at the weigh in thanks to a great tournament director Duc Tran. I really enjoyed fishing my first KBF tournament and hope to fish another in the near future. Oh, and I finished a respectable 9th place. Congrats to the first place winner, Jason Delfraisse , second place, Chris Anglin and third place, one of the new faces I mentioned before, Santos Zepeda. Congratulations go out to the other 32 anglers in the event for surviving the storms....
And here are the dinky, skinny fish that didn't award me any monetary gains......