Sunday, May 19, 2019

2019 YakAttack Tournament Wrap Up

Every year since 2012, I have participated in the YakAttack annual kayak charity fishing tournament to benefit Heroes On the Water and Project Healing Waters.  The format for the tournament is a catch, photo and release tournament with five divisions - bass, crappie, sunfish, slam and big bass.  For each of the species divisions, your best two fish combined length is your entry.  For the slam, you need to have at least one fish in each of the three species for a combined total length.  Finally, the big bass is simply that - the biggest single bass is your entry with the one limitation of a person can only win one of the five divisions.  Each year kayak anglers from literally around the US flock towards this event to fish the likes of famous bodies of water like Briery Creek Lake and Sandy River Reservoir.

This year my plan was to fish quieter waters with less water traffic and revisit a lake I hadn't fished in over 5 years - Bear Creek Lake.  I also was interested to check out some new toys - my newly installed Lowrance Elite 7 TI2 paired with my new Nocqua YakAttack power supply, as well as my new Lithium Ion Power-Pole battery, as well as the new ANGLR Bullseye Fishing Tracker.  You could say that it had all the makings of a potential disaster, but I am happy to report that all of them worked amazingly.

With a full moon phase in effect, I had a feeling the bite was going to be tough once the morning pressed along.  I also learned that the bass were also still spawning, which for me personally, is one of my biggest weak points - I am not a bed fisherman.  I don't have the patience to sit there and stare at a fish for potentially hours on end trying to entice one bite.  I'd rather explore an area and see if I can figure out the puzzle.  With my new toys, this approach is much easier now with respect to acquiring information - now I just need to learn how to piece it all together to get better.

As for my setup on the day, it was as follows:

Kayak - 2019 Hobie Outback
Rods - Bull Bay Rods, 5wt Fly Rod and a couple Ugly Stik ultralights.
Lures - Powerteam Lures Sick Stick and Finicky Tickler (Kitchen Sink color), Squarebill, Whopper Plopper, Stump Jumper Road Runners and a black ant
Accessories - Power-Pole Micro, YakAttack Omega Rod Holders and Lowrance FF mount
Sunglasses - Hobie Polarized Mantas

I started the day off with a flurry - 3 bass in the first hour but nothing any larger than 11.5".  I missed several larger fish, too. And then the bass were not being cooperative, so I switched over to the ultralight and started slinging a little white grub in the hunt for crappie and landed one at 8.5" shortly thereafter.  I couldn't find another in the brush piles, so I switched over to the fly rod and literally slayed the bluegills and redears on every cast for the rest of the day the biggest checking in a 8.25".  I was so immersed in how many fish I was catching off of the bluegill beds that I forgot to keep pressing the ANGLR Bullseye for about an hour.  Every bluegill landed was over 6.5" with most  checking the box at or just shy of 8" - not enough to improve my total length to turn in.

At the end of the day, as I was loading up I ended my trip on the ANGLR app on my phone and let the data synchronize.  Of the catches I remembered to actually record totaled 78 catches, but like I said, I was still catching the bluegills and redears off of this one massive bed in the back of a creek and forgot all about the Bullseye. I was still catching so many gills that I literally was slinging my little fly without even hauling or stripping the line and catching a fish every cast, unhooking and casting again immediately with sometimes up to 3-4 fish per minute.

While the day in total was a success with literally over 100 fish caught, it lacked in quality which is what is needed to win any of the divisions.  Here are a few highlights from the day:

Once I was loaded up, I headed back to the weigh-in to turn in my scorecard with fish in each category and enough to turn in a micro slam, bass division and panfish division ultimately not large enough to place but still fun.  Once the awards had been announced and supper was all done, the stage was cleared and the raffles began.  I normally don't worry about the raffles too much, because there is very little that I need at this point, but I did see a few items of interest this year - including a fly rod set from Orvis, a couple Nocqua battery pack kits, a couple PFDs and the new Hobie Livewell v2.  When the ticket numbers began being called out - my prizes of interest quickly started to disappear.  Then one of my numbers was called, and I noticed the fly rod setup was still available, so I quickly made my way forward and gladly selected that setup for my prize.

The setup was comprised of:
  • Rod - Orvis Clearwater rod - 9' 8wt
  • Reel - Orvis Clearwater Large Arbor IV reel
  • Line - Orvis backing and floating line and tippet
  • Other - Orvis Tacky Fly Big Bug Box filled with flies

I also heard my numbers called two other times and selected a set of YakAttack Kayak Straps and a YakAttack shirt giving the straps to a friend who needed them and giving the shirt to my son.

All in all I can't complain because the fishing, the raffle and the food are just added bonuses for me.  I look forward to just sitting down and shooting the breeze with fellow kayak anglers many of whom I am friends with and don't get the chance to share the water with.

I'm already looking forward to next year's event and the chance to share some stories and reminisce once again.  Until the next time I'm on the water, tight lines and stay safe!!