provided by John E. Phillips
Tyler Cole, from Manchester, Iowa, is the first Mossy Oak kayak tournament bass fisherman to be invited to join the Mossy Oak Fishing Team. We generally don’t think of Iowa as a place where you’ll see a large group of kayak fishermen, just as in the movie “Field of Dreams,” Iowa wasn’t known for having a baseball field in the middle of planted corn.
All the companies who make kayaks today have several different price points for the kayaks they build. Any angler can start out bass-tournament kayak fishing for well under $1000 for a boat and equipment. Hobie makes a super-powered pedal-drive kayak for about $1100. The kayak has become many anglers’ first boats and seems to replace the old johnboat or homemade wooden boat. Another advantage to having a kayak is that it’s a two-season boat - you can fish out if it and duck hunt out of it. You can get a lot of use out of a kayak for a little bit of money.
At many of the tournaments I enter, people will ask, “Why are there so many people getting involved with kayak fishing?” Kayak fishing is super-affordable and very family friendly. I can put my daughter in a kayak, and I’ll take my kayak, and she’ll go out and fish with me all day long. She started off with a paddle to maneuver and power the boat, but now she uses a pedal kayak. The big advantage to using a pedal is that it allows you to be hands-free; and you can move the boat and cast at the same time. Pedals are much easier to power the boat with on windy days than paddles are. Pedal kayaks have a full rudder system by your seat that enables you to turn left or turn right.
Another question I’m asked at tournaments is, “Why are so many bass fisherman getting involved in kayak bass-fishing tournaments?” I believe that’s because these tournaments have ridiculously good payouts and low entry fees. For a state-level tournament, your entry fee will be somewhere between $30-$50. A regional event costs somewhere around $200 to fish, and a national event will cost around $235-$250. New equipment is being developed every year for the kayak fisherman. For instance, Motorguide is coming out with a kayak version of their Xi3 trolling motor that has a remote device along with mounts for that motor. With a lithium 12-volt battery, you can run all day with that trolling motor. Many manufacturers are now making rods with shorter butts on them for kayak fishing. The fishing-tackle industry has recognized that there’s a huge growing market of kayak anglers looking for new kayaks, new accessories and better equipment.
About 1-1/2-years ago, I got a phone call from someone at Bassmaster saying that the organization wanted to get into kayak bass-fishing tournaments. Today I’m one of five Bassmaster directors who work for Dwayne Walley. I actually ran the Oshkosh tournament for Bassmaster. In the year 2000, Bassmaster started hosting its first kayak bass-fishing tournaments. There seemed to be more kayak clubs in the South than any other part of the country.
The Midwest really has seen an uptake in the number of kayak tournament-bass fishermen, more clubs are being started, and more Midwesterners are coming to the kayak bass-fishing tournaments. With a bass boat, you have to have a trailer with some type of towing vehicle, like a truck, and then you have to pay for gas and maintenance for the truck and the boat. By using a kayak, you can just load it into the back of your truck, and you’re ready to go fishing.