Showing posts with label tournaments. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tournaments. Show all posts

My Thoughts:Trolling Motors in Kayak Tourneys

I posed the question last week, "Should trolling motors be allowed in kayak tourneys?".
It's time I weighed in.

Last week was fun. Watching the discussions take place, civility prevailing in most instances and people sharing their thoughts. That was the ultimate goal. Decisions were being made in future tournaments without a large group of people being talked to about it. That gave me pause and I wanted to know, not just have a gut feeling, what the majority would like to see in tournaments.

A few caveats before I weigh in. I am just one guy. This is just my opinion. If you keep reading and you get a little angry, please take a deep breath and realize the world keeps turning if we disagree. I don't run tournaments so you are in no danger of me fouling up what you are doing or may want to do in the future. I've thought a lot about this. I know there will always be outlying situations, exceptions made and that's good. We should never be too rigid so when circumstances out of the norm arise we can be inclusionary rather than exclusionary. This opinion is based on most of the people in most of the tournaments most of the time and my experiences over the last decade. Mine. Yours may have been different. Mine.

This issue has two pretty well defined lines that ultimately helped me make my decision (opinion). The first is kayak propulsion. The second is state regulations.

Kayak propulsion can be divided into two distinct categories: human propelled and not human propelled. Whether you move the kayak through the water with your arms or legs, the human body exerts energy to make the kayak move. Sometimes that uses pedals. Sometimes that uses a paddle. Either way, without an exertion from kinetic motion from a human body, the kayak doesn't go. Sails are a different discussion for a different day. The question is trolling motors.

A trolling motor on a kayak is not human propelled. Little to no exertion is needed to move from one place to another. To me, that is a defining line.

State regulations are another. Though some states differ, the prevailing law is that a water vessel with a motor, electric or gas, must be registered, classifying it as a motor powered vessel. That's a pretty big line. The state of Texas obviously feels there is a significant difference between a kayak and a kayak with a trolling motor. Different rules apply.

Many have cited, well what about a wounded veteran, who is an amputee and can't but wants to compete? These would be exceptions that would have to be granted by the tourney directors and written into the bi-laws. It should also state that in very specific language. That is part of the flexibility I talked about earlier. I do have one friend who has no legs and loves to fish. I visited with him about the question at hand. He stated it would become problematic if there were lots of wind because he would not be able to brace against anything going into the wind. It makes sense and was something I had not thought about. That would be an obvious exception that could be made.

Age has also been thrown around as a line but that supposed line is very blurry. I fish with several guys over 60 who can paddle circles around others. Should we assume that all people 60 and older are frail, can't keep up and should be coddled in their own division or allowed other means like a trolling motor? I know my friends would not and do not want to be treated differently. They also constantly put the whoop down on the younger guys.

So enough circling. Prepare the hate mail if you wish. Here is how I see it.

Trolling motors should not be allowed under normal circumstances in kayak tournaments. At that point, it's a boat tournament, not a kayak tournament. Should there be rare exceptions? Sure, as left up to the tournament directors discretion there should be. It should be rare though.

If you advertise yourself as a kayak tournament, no trolling motors. If you are a fishing tournament, have divisions or whatever you want. Be clear with what your goals are, what your participants can expect and do not hide it in the fine print. Be up front.

Bring Solutions!

The question has been posed. The tables are being set now. The eyes of many are now turned to what was once a few. The direction of kayak fishing tournaments and their future are being decided. Right. Now.

More retailers are selling kayaks than ever before. Retailers that once only carried a couple of kayaks are expanding their fleet of options. Companies like Dick's Sporting Goods, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's all want a piece of the pie.

Big Box Retail Store Kayak Display

Our sport is growing and companies see that.

 With growth comes new ideas, new people and new problems. People who may not have the years of experience that some of the old guard do are wanting to advance the sport. Normally this wouldn't be a problem but the direction they want to go is met with mixed emotions.

The overwhelming divider is whether kayak fishing needs a national tournament trail, a governing body and a standard set of rules. Some people want to leave it as 100 different little local trails that do their own thing. Others want a trail like Bassmasters Elite or FLW to really up the prize money and national draw. So which is right?

The Future?

They both may be right. Just because there is an FLW tour doesn't mean local bass club tourneys don't exist. Just because we have Cap City in Austin doesn't mean we can't have TNT weeknight tourneys.

The discussion is everywhere across the internet but is really sprouting in a Facebook group that has 720 members called the "Angler's for the Advancement of Kayak Bass Fishing Tournaments".  Tournament anglers from all over the country discuss logistical, theoretical and idealistic ideas that they feel will aid in guiding the direction of tournaments into the future. Well, at least that's the idea. Beau Reed is the groups creator. He runs a kayak bass tourney trail in Texas. Check out the Mission:

The Mission of the Anglers for the Advancement Group

The problem is the group can be a think tank for some but a pulpit for others. Rather than talking about ideas, some have made it their priority to point out flaws in any person's idea yet never offer a solution themselves. Always the critic. Never the creator. We have plenty and don't need anymore.

We have a rule at my office. It's ok to bring problems to the boss, but think about and bring possible solutions when you present the problem. Bring solutions! I think that's what the group needs. Problems + Solutions = More Fruitful Conversations.

So why bring this up?

It's important for many voices to be heard as this discussion is formed. I'd love for more people to join the conversation. Most of it is helping move the sport forward and allowing participants and directors to exchange ideas from across the country. It is my belief that this COULD be the basis for a mainstream trail in the near future. If that's the case, are there things you have questions about, want to give input on or discuss with people from the other parts of the world? This is a great place to do that.

I would encourage you that when you bring a problem, also bring a proposed solution.

Want to join and see what the buzz is about? Click here:
Anglers for the Advancement of Kayak Bass Fishing Tournaments

Kayak Tournament Discussions Missing Something

Amongst all the banter back and forth about tournaments this month, a valuable piece of tournament fishing is being lost. Winnings, camaraderie, food and fun are all reasons people fish in tournaments but one I think is often overlooked. As kayak fishing blossoms into a nationwide and worldwide sport we are failing to recognize this one thing: innovation.

Kayak fishing isn't the first to go through this stage and won't be the last. When Ray Scott first launched the idea of competitive bass fishing in June of 1967, he saw innovation and adoption immediately. In an article for Texas Parks and Wildlife, Scott talked about it:

“One boat had the trolling motor mounted on the bow instead of on the stern, where everyone put them in those days,” Scott says. “People were standing around in the parking lot looking at it, and the owner, Stan Sloan, explained that he figured it was easier to pull a chain than to push it. Sloan won the tournament, and at the next one, all the trolling motors were on the front. I realized we don’t learn new things from our usual fishing partners."

That's an interesting thought. When I think about how I have rigged out my kayaks, it is from seeing new kayaks at events like tournaments and get togethers. Others have also looked at different ways I have modified and rigged my kayaks to get ideas. As the cycle of ideas goes around, improvements are made and ideas are hatched. Sometimes these ideas are picked up by manufacturers and they can then mass produce a finished product for everyone to enjoy. Sometimes it becomes a DIY project that is adopted by thousands. Seriously. How many of you have looked at the plans for the PVC cart on the Palmetto Kayak Fishing website? How many of you have made it or a variant of it? (I first saw those plans after I saw one in person when fishing with new friends. They referred me to the site.)

We can get referrals and ideas from the internet but it really doesn't take on that super cool / gotta have it fever until you have actually seen it in person. Then, at those gatherings, we decide whether it's worth trying.

Kayak tournaments won't be going away, love them or hate them. A great benefit of them that no one seems to be talking about though is innovation. Keep an eye out next time you are on the water.You just might see something that could help you out.   

No Sleep Till Fayette

It was grueling. It was hot. It was maybe a little stupid, but I did it. And more importantly, I don't regret it.

Last Saturday was the two man team event for Capital City Kayak Fishing Tournament Series at Fayette County Lake outside La Grange, TX. Fate played a cruel trick on me and I had a double date in Austin Friday night. Ouch. I live in Temple, about an hour north of Austin. For fear of getting my kayak stolen while we were playing downtown, I opted to drive to Austin, have some fun and then drive back to Temple, load up my kayak and gear and drive to Fayette, two and a half hours away. I would get there during the registration period and be on the water shortly after arrival at about 3:30 AM. The tourney started at 4 and went until noon. How could I pull this off? And why?

My dad taught me a trick a long time ago that works for staying awake late at night while driving. Sunflower seeds. I stopped into a local gas station on my way out of town, got my liquids and snacks for the day and picked up a large coffee cup and bag of sunflower seeds. I hit the road and started working the seeds. As long as I kept hulling and spitting, my mind stayed sharp. It was keeping it busy I suppose and it worked.I arrived without incident and pretty darn alert. But why would I do this?

First off, I told my partner I would be there. Fishing a lake I had never been on, I didn't have great expectations but a promise is a promise. Secondly, the CapCity tournaments have huge payouts. 17 teams fished and first place took home over $1100. Big bass was $340. That's pretty decent for a $50 buy in. Additionally, the sponsors that Beau Reed has lined up with these events are amazingly gracious with their prizes. Smith Optics, HOOK1,Powell Rods, Lone Star Beer and many others donate prizes and refreshments. To go one further, these guys are pretty cool to hang with. As a newcomer to the group this year, I have been able to visit with lots of these guys. They share information, like to tease and have a good time. I haven't left any event with the Austin boys where I have felt like I never wanted to be around them. Maybe it's kayaking in general that calms everyone down but when a guy or team comes in with 120 inches of fish, you know how hard it was to do that. Everyone appreciates the accomplishment, enjoys a cold Lone Star and kicks it at the ramp.

My day was short lived. I fished until about 10:30 and I hit the wall. The heat, sleep deprivation and not enough fish to keep me in contention had me beat. I caught plenty of fish but only one measured over 14" so one fish for me. I made the long trek back to my launch point, struggled to load up and drive back to the weigh in. I called my partner on the way in and he was struggling too. We didn't finish last but we didn't finish well either. I visited with Beau and Chewy Linton at the weigh in for a bit and hit the road. Again munching my seeds and trying to stay awake before the impending sleep coma set in. I made it home and hit the hay.

The trip was exhausting but I don't regret it at all. I'll be back, hopefully with better planning. If you are in the Central Texas area, you should come see what this Cap City thing is all about. Just bring your cash and a good attitude!

Second Thoughts on Quitting Tournament Fishing

Lance with his second kayak fish
Wishy-washy. Go ahead and call me that. I'll own it. I am not saying I am the world's biggest fan now but what I can tell you is that the group of guys that fishes a tournament can make a huge difference.

I went to the PKAA tournament this weekend and discovered a nice balance between the love of fishing and competitive spirit. Though the tournament was cancelled, I rediscovered what is nice about tourneys, how to balance fun and competition and why kayak angling is a unique but rapidly growing sport.

A dozen or so of us decided to drive up on Friday, do the pre-registration and have dinner at Tiffany's. As always, the stories, fun and dreams of a big day flowed. After three hours of camaraderie, the group decided to retire to the cabins for the evening. (A good portion of the group was staying in the same area which made it easier to find for those of us out of towners.) The good times didn't stop once there. Lots of talking, a few adult beverages and lots of map gazing passed the time.

As it neared 10:30PM, three of us decided to turn in. I knew the drive home after the weigh-in was going to be brutal and a couple hours sleep would not suffice. Just as I was starting to get settled I heard a knock at the door. Someone was wanting us to go next door. They wanted our input. I hopped up to go see what prank might lay waiting. But it wasn't a prank. The others joined as we talked about the impending weather. Forecasts had now changed to potentially dangerous and life threatening conditions. Wind gusts to 40 or 50 MPH had all of us weary. After some lengthy discussion the tournament was cancelled.

So what do a bunch of guys at Lake Fork do when the previous off limits period has been lifted? You go fishing! We all grabbed a rod, or kayak, and headed down to the nearby pier. In just an hour three fish were landed and a good time was had. Some of us retired around 1AM. Others may have slept less than two hours before the breakfast alarm sounded. Apparently the "I NEED COFFEE" alarm went off at 4AM next door. An hour later we were all up and moving towards Tiffany's again. After much discussion, almost everyone dispersed to fish or start the long drive home.

Money in hand, I fished with my brother and others at Fork and then the Payne boys went to a lake that calls our name later in the afternoon. While on Winnsboro, Lance, my brother, landed his first, second and third fish from a kayak.

So why the second thoughts?

After all was said and done, I would have been just fine not winning anything and going home empty handed. The bond that kayak fishermen show, especially when sharing meals, talking around the ramp or fishing at midnight reminds me that it's always more about fishing and growing the sport than winning to almost all of these guys. While they like to win, they also like to share. That is why I may be at a few more tournaments than I had planned. A fellow kayaking fisherman, Bert Turner, reminded me of this weeks ago and I just had to feel it for myself. Thanks Bert. I understand completely now.

Tournament Fishing and Scotch

As I find myself less than two weeks away from my first tournament this year, and one of only three, I am hustling. Not hustling in the sense of selling things but in the sense of constant preparation. This is a good reason why I am only fishing a few this year. I can’t just let it be fun. It will be fun but it will also be agony. I only fished two tournaments last year and placed Top 5 in both but neither were super serious nor well attended. This event will most likely be different. 

The PKAA tournament is March 16th on the legendary Lake Fork.  I want to do well. Maybe it’s because I have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. In the last month I’ve been called a paper fisherman. Apparently I am more writer than fisherman to some. I suppose we will see. It’s a little extra motivation. It actually reminds me of a book I enjoy reading every couple of years, Think Like a Fish: The Lure and Lore of America's Legendary Bass Fisherman by Tom Mann and Tom Carter. In it Mann talks about war, sports and fishing. This is at least two of the three if not all three, symbolically of course.

“In war, men are taught to think like their enemy. In sport, contestants should think like their opponents. Fishing is the only sport where the opponent, or prey, is usually invisible. If you can't think like him, you won't outsmart him. If you catch him without thinking, you're not skilled, you're simply lucky. Luck isn't as much fun, or as fulfilling, as strategy-born thinking.”

I am pouring over maps, journals, reports, temp logs, rainfall totals from past years, baits, presentations, water clarity reports and talking to a bevy of informants to try to gain a slight advantage. I’ll have my work cut out for me but it is all a part of it. I am trying to think like a fish.

If conditions are X, where would I be, what would I be looking for? Am I lethargic or am I feeding up? Am I looking for a bed or am I just storing up after the winter?

The voices of fish that have no voice or inner thought are filling my dreams both day and night. It is setting up to be a nerve severing couple of weeks. I have reorganized my tackle twice, respooled all of my reels, selected the five rods I’ll take, the baits they will fling and even what accessories I’ll be taking along.

Tournament fishing to me is like a fine scotch. Taken in small doses it is able to be enjoyed and my presence to others is equally enjoyable. Largely consumed, no one wants to be near me or my warped verbal ramblings.

I will do my best to remain refined over the next two weeks. If you see me talking to my self and flailing wildly in the air however, best to just leave me be. It’ll go away March 17th.  

Why I'm Quitting Tournament Fishing

I think I have decided that tournaments are just not for me.

I have a great many friends who fish tournaments and I’ll fish a couple of them this year. But for me, not for everyone, but for me I just don’t think I enjoy it very much. Maybe to the onlooker it seems I don’t have a competitive drive. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I think the true reasoning is I am finally discovering balance. I think my competitiveness is what is driving me away from tournament fishing. Allow me to explain.

When I tournament fish, I can get obsessive. I pre-fish, I study maps, I make calls, I information gather and I try to find any advantage I can. That takes a lot of time. Notice how many I’s were in that statement (8)? It takes time away from my family, from my friends and something else. It takes away the joy I get from fishing. Nobody should burden themselves to the point of worry and grief. Especially not for a hobby.

I don’t want to chase a winning high. In tournaments, you rarely ever see the same guy winning every event.  If I am not winning then a stellar, memorable day on the water could leave me with questions, agony and angst. I’m not a rich man so fishing tournaments for fun is like throwing away money to do it all the time. I’d rather just buy more accessories to try out than flush $50 into a winner’s pocket. That being said I’ll be fishing two tournaments this year. The first will be at Fork on March 23. I love that lake and a lot of my good friends and my brother will be fishing it with me. I’ll have a great day regardless of final standings.

The other tournament is Kayak Wars. It’s not even a true tourney, no money is at stake and it’s at my leisure. So ok, maybe one and a half tournaments.

 I thought in January I would fish 6 or maybe 8 and it was even in my goals but I’ve had to change directions. I feel like I am more valuable at home and on the website than trying to win a couple hundred dollars.  
I enjoy being at weigh-ins at the ends of tournaments, chatting with everyone  but usually, I don’t have a great time while fishing. I can’t turn the switch off. If a prize is at stake, it’s hard to stop and enjoy the day.

What I do enjoy is fishing, trying out new things in the kayak fishing world and talking about what’s good and what’s …well, not.

Best of luck to you tourney guys out there but for 2013, I’m going to lay low, put up some Kayak Wars points when I can and try to churn out some content and product reviews. 
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