How Kayak Bass Fishing Revolutionized Catch & Release Tournaments for Angler Fishing

How Kayak Bass Fishing Revolutionized Catch & Release Tournaments for Angler Fishing 

Kayak bass fishing has been around a lot longer than you might think, with the first kayak developed in the far North by the Inuit people who hunted seals and actually fished from their kayaks. From the kayak, a person could cast traps, throw spears, and do some fishing as well, so the boats were very versatile in the kinds of activities they could accommodate. The very first kayaks which appeared in history had sealskin stretched over a wooden frame and were extremely simple in their construction. These forerunners of modern kayaks go back 4,000 years, and were used extensively by people in northern climes.

While kayaks themselves date back four millennia, fishing is an activity that goes as far back as 40,000 years, back to the period when all mankind was in the hunter-gatherer stage of development. That of course, had nothing to do with fishing for recreation, as we do now, and it was all about fishing to feed one’s family. Now, the need for feeding the family can be handled in many other ways, so fishing has become much more a recreational activity rather than a life necessity. So the reason we still fish from kayaks is just because it’s so darn exciting and pleasurable! 

There’s an awful lot to be said for a fishing kayak, including the fact that it eliminates the need for having a much larger boat that can be more of a hassle to maintain. Kayaks are also very maneuverable, easy to launch, and lots of fun to operate. Modern kayaks are mostly made from molded polyethylene, which is a light kind of plastic. That makes them lightweight and very easy to maneuver out on the lake, and that can be important when you have only yourself and a small craft between you and all that water.

Online catch-and-release tournaments 

From fishing for daily sustenance in the Arctic, we now change the scene to fishing for fun and sport in more benign climates. Even though thousands of years have passed since the first kayaks were used to secure daily fish for cooking, the basic principle has not changed in all that time – it’s still one person alone in a kayak, trying to outwit the fish and bring them into the kayak. One thing that has changed however is the fact that most online tournaments these days are of the catch-and-release variety, meaning that the fish are only kept long enough to photograph them for proof, and then returned to the water.

Normally, someone new to online bass fishing tournaments would participate in a trial run before actually entering a tournament. In this  mode, you would use an app like the TourneyX app or FishDonkey to test out the technology without actually registering any fish you may have caught. Using this app, it will be possible for tournament directors to create competitions, establish all necessary rules and requirements for angler fishing, track the catches made by anglers, and to stay in constant touch with competitors. It will be possible to have team tournaments in this way, or to simply run an individual fishing tournament, and the duration of the tournament could be one day or 365 days. You could even have a tournament where the main prize is awarded to the fisherman who catches the most fish in a six-hour period.

The crucial connecting link in any tournament like this is the TourneyX app, which allows for monitoring and oversight of all catches made and reported by competitors. With this being used, the rest of the rules are fairly simple in nature. Any fish which is caught and registered must be photographed while actually in the kayak, and resting on a ruler or measuring stick which clearly shows its length. Then the fish can be returned to the water, and the angler’s catch will be recorded by the tournament director, or an associate. Most such tournaments allow fishermen to make their catches at any fishing pond or lake in the U.S., as long as all other rules are observed. 

The Granddaddy of all fishing tournaments 

The biggest online fishing tournament in the country is the Kayak Bass Fishing tournament, which offers an online series of tournaments culminating in a meet-up tournament among online series winners. When you sign up for this series, all you have to do is pay your fee, go fishing at any of your favorite sweet spots, track your score, and compare it to how others are doing around the country. For a decade now, Kayak Bass Fishing has hosted a state series challenge where competitors are allowed to fish any public spot within their respective states, and then results are reviewed and finalized. If you’re good at landing hordes of smallmouth bass or even the big bass, this might be the tourney for you.

How kayak fishing influenced online fishing tournaments 

There’s no question that online catch-and-release tournaments have become extremely popular in recent years, and one of the big reasons for this is the corresponding popularity of kayak fishing. Since so many fishing enthusiasts have discovered the simple joys of solo fishing out on a pond or lake with their kayaks, it’s only natural that this mode of fishing should be translated into a competitive format that many could become involved in. Kayak fishing provides an opportunity for an angler to be right out in the middle of the lake, or in any of the lake’s shallows where bass might be seeking cover. Fishing from shore does not allow for these same kinds of opportunities, and fishing from a boat generally involves at least one other person, which negates the solo aspect and much of the enjoyment derived by kayak fishing.

Given the fact that so many anglers have taken up the sport of kayak fishing, it’s not at all surprising that it would develop into some kind of competitive venture among them. The primary satisfaction comes from the fact that you’re out on a body of water alone, and pitting yourself against the wily fish in that area. That scenario can be taken up a notch by then competing against other anglers who are doing the same thing in their own favorite fishing holes. So really, you get the best of both worlds by competing in an online kayak bass fishing tournament – you get to enjoy the solitude of fishing alone in your kayak at one of your favorite fishing holes, and then you get to compare your results with many others who are doing the same thing.

Kayak fishing impact on weigh-in tournaments 

These online catch-and-release tournaments are also having an effect on the traditional weigh-in tournaments such as the huge Bassmasters tournament. These traditional tournaments are now beginning to follow the same approach as the catch-and-release tournaments in online mode. The bassmaster live tournaments keep the fish long enough to weigh them in at a central location, but the fish are kept alive so they can eventually be released back into their native waters.

After the actual weigh-in, volunteers will then place the live bass into a holding vat which has a chemical solution in it. This chemical helps to heal hook wounds and coats the fish with a kind of slime to refresh and revitalize them after the trauma of being out of water. Then the fish get transferred to a holding tank in a release boat, with this tank containing some of the same chemical solution that further revives the fish. Water temperature is maintained at a cool, comfortable level for the fish, and oxygen is pumped into the water from oxygen tanks.

Each of these large holding tanks is capable of holding around 250 average-sized fish. Then the boat will navigate out into an area of a local lake where conditions are favorable for living bass, and all the revived fish are released back into the water. This will generally be in areas away from boat launches, which are poorly oxygenated and sometimes polluted as well. By releasing the fish into different areas each time, it increases the survival rate, and placing them in deeper water will help put them beyond the reach of natural predators that might otherwise gobble them up.

In many cases, these released bass will eventually find their way back to their original feeding areas. Monitoring these released fish has determined that most begin feeding again within six hours, although some may take as long as 24 hours to recover completely and resume their natural movements and habits. All this helps to sustain the local fish population, which is not only great for the fish, but also supports the fishing activity in the area. This can be important for tourism and for providing excellent recreational possibilities for local anglers as well as visitors to the area.

Revolutionizing catch-and-release tournaments 

So how exactly has kayak fishing contributed to the revolutionizing of today’s online catch-and-release tournaments? First of all, it has provided one of the fundamental rules for this relatively new form of competition – everyone must make their catches from within a kayak. To prove that each catch was made while fishing from a kayak, the contestant is actually required to take a photo of the fish while it is resting within the confines of the kayak. This means the kayak itself must be clearly visible in the same photo that shows the fish and its length against a ruler or measuring device.

Secondly, kayak fishing has promoted the usage of the all-important apps which have to be used to record all catches, and to maintain contact between tournament officials and competitors. Of course, these apps could be used whether a competitor is in a kayak or fishing from shore, but kayak fishing forces a competitor to land the fish in an actual kayak, so it can be photographed and registered. While the possibility of cheating does exist, it seems to be relatively rare. That’s because a kind of brotherhood has developed among kayak fishermen, and they tend to support each other as much as possible, and to enjoy honest competition among themselves.

There’s also a certain skillset necessary to engage in kayak fishing. It might look easy, but fishing from a kayak requires good balance and some experience with maneuvering around in a small, one-person vessel. It can be very easy to have your kayak tossed about violently when you have a fish on the line, and you’re doing everything possible to land it. If you should lose your balance, it could very easily cause you to upset the kayak and turn it over – which would probably result in losing all your fishing gear, in addition to getting a good dousing in the lake.

Where can you find catch-and-release tournaments? 

Virtually all states run some kind of catch-and-release tournament at various times of the year. All you have to do is google the phrase ‘catch-and-release tournaments near me’, and you’ll likely find several of them. The beauty of these tournaments is that you can usually fish from anywhere you like, including all the local fishing holes you frequent and have good success with. You never have to worry about reporting to any central location to have your fish weighed by a tournament director, because the app handles all the weighing-in, which is actually more a case of measuring the fish’s length in inches.

If you participate in one of the big series of tournaments, like the Kayak Bass Fishing State Series challenge, you may eventually have to meet at a central location, if you’re one of the local series winners. In that case, the winners of a local challenge eventually have a meet-up at a pre-designated fishing lake or pond, and there’s some kind of contest between the winners to determine a Grand Prize champion.

But if you don’t want to travel to that location, you’re certainly under no obligation to do so – you can just enjoy the fruits and the bragging rights of your individual win locally. In any case, you will undoubtedly have a great time competing, and you’ll certainly enjoy the rewards offered by the sheer joy of fishing alone in your kayak, out on a favored body of water. You may not need the fish to feed your family like the ancients did, but you can certainly relate to the same kind of satisfaction they must have felt at landing a terrific fish after a long battle on the water. More and more people are discovering this joy each year, so there’s no doubt that tournament fishing will continue to thrive and prosper.

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