This is my first kayak bass tournament ever. Although I normally fish 20 - 30 tournaments a year but, they almost always are inshore saltwater fishing...I thought it would be fun to try something different. My roots of fishing as a kid was always freshwater but, now I probably only fish freshwater 2-3 times a year...
I headed up to Astor, FL a couple of days early to do a little prefishing and to scout the area out. It was so beautiful and completely different looking from Sarasota, FL. Its rich green lily pads, miles of cat-tails, and cypress trees filled with Spanish moss were truly breath taking. I got a little bit of a late start the first day around 9 am. As I took this long dirt road into what seemed the middle of no where, I ended up just above Dexter Lake on the St. Johns River. I knew the major feed of the day had to been going on because I was seeing tons of wildlife(Deer, birds, hogs) moving through the forest. Finally getting my yak in the water, I pushed off into the beautiful St Johns River. I paddled around for a bit, soaking it all in before I got to my destination to start fishing. I started out throwing many different kinds of artificial baits like plastic worms, spinner baits, crank baits, etc... But NO LOVE! I could not bye a bite! I had paddled pretty far so I decided to start heading back. I did manage to get a couple of bites but no solid hook ups on my journey back. I also ran into a couple of more kayak fishermen who were in the tournament. They to were also having a tough day. One of the guys hooked a little bass on a white spinner bait while I was talking to him but, they literally had only two bites before that all day!
Day two I decided to put in close to Deleon Springs and head down the river to Lake Woodrift where I thought I might find spawning bass. As I was putting in the old timer at the boat ramp told me that I didn't need to go that far. Just to fish Spring Garden Lake. Watching five other kayak fishermen before me shooting toward the river, I decided to take his advice. Me and one other little john boat were the only people to share the lake all day! Starting out I threw tons of different artificial baits that people suggested. Not catching anything for the first couple of hours I decide to go back to what I know. Keeping it simple with purple /black and red/ black plastic worms on a 1/16 oz bullet weight with a size 2 /3 worm hook. Immediately started getting bites landing 3-4 pound bass that made my day! Unfortunately a front started rolling in and the wind started kicking up. I decided to paddle back in a little early to eat some lunch before heading to the captains meeting.
Tournament morning was very cold! I woke up with a soar throat not feeling great but, It was time to compete. I am a pretty competitive person so the feeling that I get during a tournament can push me through just about anything! lol! Deciding to head where I found nice fish the day before, I launched just as the sun was breaking the horizon. Beautiful pinks, oranges, and blues were breaking through the forest as the reflections burst off of the glassy lake. I pretty much had the lake to myself much of the morning but, couldn't get anything to eat. It was sooooo cold the night before in the 30's so most of the fish I saw were glued to to the bottom and had lock jaw! I did see a few really nice fish that I wish I could have got to eat. By the time I had gotten to the spot where I caught my nice fish the day before, the wind had completely changed directions and it was blowing so hard making it unfishable. It was now 12pm and I had not measured one fish. Had to make a game plan fast! Thinking of how cold the water might be from the temps dropping so low the night before, I paddled almost two miles in directly into the heavy winds to where the spring poured 72 degrees water into the lake. Time for a hail mary! All or nothing! lol! I finally get there and nothing. At 1pm I started thinking my throat was killing me and my nose running uncontrollably. I told myself its just not my day and its time to head in. Literally less than five minutes of heading in I took a cast at in between a group of pads that just looked like there should be a fish there. BOOM! Fish ON! Quick measurement and released it. Less than two minutes after that, BOOM Fish ON! Now I had two fish. a few kayak fishermen in the tournament saw this and here they came starting to surround me. lol! I slowed down, anchored up and held my ground. After landing and measuring my third fish, I new I still had to log my fish on to the I Angler App. Took my time as I entered each fish. Luckily I had cell phone service so it made it easy to log my catches. I now went from NO FISH to having my bag limit. Having less than an hour before I had to check in at the weigh in, I had to make a decision. Head back now or try to quickly upgrade. I started working my way back but, still casting a every spot that looked fishy. Right as i was ready to call it quits again BOOM I get smashed by a solid game changer fish. It came up and gave one good head shake and spit the worm directly at my face. Luckily it hit my rod before smacking me in the face!lol! My heart sunk into my stomach but, that's fishing. Can't land them all. I felt blessed enough to go from having no fish less than an hour ago, to having my limit. So I put all my rods away and headed in.
Getting to the weigh in, I began talking to a lot of people who also seemed to have a tough day on the water...There was one really nice bass caught by Jason McRae measuring over 25 inches. Jason was one of the most knowledgeable bass anglers I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with and truly a great person as well. Some how I was able to squeak my way into the top ten which I was very happy with not being an avid bass angler
KBS and all the staff did an outstanding job hosting there first tournament! I wasn't sure how the I Angler App was going to work but, it was a success. Great job to everyone involved. Looking forward to entering more KBS events. Thank you to all my Sponsors! Johnson Outdoors, Yak-Gear, RailBlaza, Bending Branches, Aqua-Bound, Mister Twister, Exude, Yo-Zuri Lures, Mirro Lure, Paul Brown's Lures, St,Croix Rods, Ross Reels, Costa Sunglasses, Buff Usa, Mojo Apparel. This could't happen without you!