Fish Like A Kat

Fish Like A Kat

Drop a line and get hooked...

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Group photo of Kat with the 1st place Wardens of The North team from the 2018 Lonestar Throwdown kayak tournament

Kayak Fishing Tournament Guide

Visit any kayak fishing group on social media, and one of the questions you'll see asked most often?

"What do I need for my first kayak tournament?!"

[Second only to "what kind of kayak should I buy?", and "best rod and reel combo?"]

For the sake of simplicity, let's assume that you already own a kayak, a fishing license, some tackle, and at least one fishing rod.

Now it's time to get technical!

Kat in her kayak full of safety and fishing gear with a 5 pound fish

Required gear:

  • Personal Flotation Device - aka - PFD
  • Whistle (or other sound producing device)
  • 360 degree safety light - ideally with a flag
  • Tournament tag identifier - aka - a simple, cheap badge holder with an index card inside of it, both available in the office supply section
  • Cell phone with a camera and Internet connection - *some* tournaments will allow you to use a digital camera with a cable to submit your pictures, but always clarify this before an event, if needed
  • Fish measuring device - personally, I use Hawg Troughs because they're affordable, simple, and pretty universally accepted

  • Gear for Good Measure:

  • Fish finder - I LOVE my Humminbird!
  • Paddle - yes, even if you have a pedal kayak!
  • Headlamp - whether you do an all day or an evening tournament
  • Safety flag for the back of your kayak during transport
  • Rod Sox - to protect your rods
  • Hand towel - because fishing can get messy
  • Crate for gear and tackle storage - I use the Tuff Krate
  • Rod floats - read here for clever installation instructions
  • Sun protection - Especially for you newbs! Kayak fishing is NOT the same as walking the bank all day! Personally, I use a combinations of UPF clothing, sunscreen, gloves, a buff (face cover), hat, and polarized sunglasses (and occasionally, if it's going to get ridiculously [dangerously] hot, I'll even launch near a bridge for shade)
  • Cooler with ice packs and cold drinks - in the summer, pack what you think you'll need, and then add a few more
  • Snacks - I like to pack simple stuff like granola bars, string cheese, turkey wraps, and apples
  • Bug spray - CAUTION: DEET will melt any plastic it comes into contact with! Picaridin, on the other hand, does not melt plastic, and works just as well. If you insist on using a spray with DEET, apply before you get in or near your kayak.
  • Fish-friendly landing net - I use a collapsible net for easier storage
  • Bandaids
  • Pliers
  • Fish scale - I use a high-visibility Rapala fish scale with plastic fish grips

  • Kat in her kayak weighing a 5 pound fish

    How to Measure a Fish:

  • Catch and land fish
  • Either hold the bass by the lip or leave it in the water, in a net while you get your board and camera ready
  • Dip your board in the water
  • Put the bump board on your left, with the numbers going up on the right
  • Open your camera
  • Gently lay the fish down on the board, with its mouth facing LEFT
  • Place your hand on top of the fish to secure it from jumping - DO NOT put your fingers under its gill plate or cover the eye
  • Gently slide the fish up against the bump board to make its mouth close
  • Make sure the tail is flat and extended
  • Make sure you can clearly read your tournament identifier - I tend to have 2 identifiers, the official one, and a larger one, so there's no doubt it's mine
  • Take the picture, directly above the fish, so the board can be seen and read easily - if your phone has "burst" shooting, use it! You want more than one picture, in case some are blurry
  • Submit your best photo to the tournament app you're using - or save it to show the TD (tournament director) at the end of the tournament during weigh in

    Kat measuring a largemouth bass on a Hawg Trough

    The more you measure the fish that you catch, the more you'll notice that they like to "jump the board" - usually mid-photo...

    Kat measuring a largemouth bass that's jumping off of a Hawg Trough

    Because the Hawg Trough is very long, it can't sit across my Old Town Predator PDL...

    A hawg trough laying diagonally across Kat's Predator PDL

    So I decided to alter one of my boards [by cutting off the end] to fit directly under me, for easier picture-taking - and now, if a fish jumps the board, they land inside of the boat!

    I haven't had any problems using it in any tournaments, but make sure to double check before you take a hacksaw to your board!

    I do carry my full size board as well - because you never know when that MONSTER is going to lay into your lure! [Or when your board might break]

    Kat measuring a fish on a shortened Hawg Trough laying on the bottom of her boat

    Pay attention to your submission pictures to avoid these common rookie mistakes...

    Drawing of 3 fish facing the wrong directions on a Hawg Trough

    Fish being measured on a Hawg Trough missing a tournament identifier

    Fish being measured on a Hawg Trough with its mouth open

    Fish being measured on a Hawg Trough with its tail cut out of the picture

    Fish being measured on a Hawg Trough with its mouth cut out of the picture

    Etiquette Matters

  • Be on time for the Captain's Meeting and Weigh In
  • Be mindful of yourself and others
  • Offer help to others loading in and out - and ask for [and accept] help when you need it
  • Try your best to make room for others on the ramp or shoreline where you're launching
  • If you need to pass someone, leave a good distance between the two of you, and pass behind them - DO NOT CUT BETWEEN THEM AND THE BANK OR WHERE THEY'RE CASTING!!!
  • Don't be a creeper...being stalked by another competitor who is trying to copy where and how you fish - throwing where you're actively fishing - is ENRAGING
  • DON'T. CHEAT. You will get caught. You will be shunned. You will be torn to pieces on social media. You will be banned from all future events. You may even go to jail.
  • Stay in bounds
  • Dead fish don't count
  • Just say "NO" to snagging
  • Pack out your trash
  • Don't act like a brat if you lose
  • Congratulate the winners

  • Definitions & Slang

  • TD = Tournament Director
  • Captain's Meeting = The place you go before the tournament to have your gear checked, pick up your identifier, and hear important information for the day. It's also the best place to ask last-minute questions!
  • Weigh In = The place you go at the end of the tournament to find out who won
  • Landing or Boating a Fish = After hooking the fish, and reeling it in, "landing" or "boating" means you physically have the fish in your possession
  • Foul Hook = You caught a fish by accidentally hooking them on their body - which typically disqualifies the catch
  • Snagging = Intentionally throwing and dragging a large treble hook(s) to "snag" the body of the targeted fish - this will disqualify you immediately
  • Identifier = The number or words that must be shown in submission photos to validate where and when you caught your fish - they can be a general identifier for all competitors, or unique for each individual
  • DQ = Disqualify
  • Stringer = The total number of inches from your 5 longest fish [over the minimum length], combined. Example: 5 fish that each measure 20" = 100" stringer
  • Big bass = The longest fish caught overall
  • Big bass pot = There is typically a side pot of money that you're able to buy into to compete for the biggest bass of the tournament - the buy in is typically optional, and not required to participate in the tournament

  • Most importantly - HAVE FUN!!!

    Because at the end of the day - win or lose - you got to fish, participate in an event with some cool people, and spend time out on the water.

    And a day out on the water is really what it's all about.

    Don't forget to like and follow my Facebook page for notifications of new content!

    Tight lines!!


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