Matthew Ball 17/04/2016 | Posted in Fishing, Fishing Tournament
Some might think that winning the Kayak Bass fishing National Championship and taking home over 32,000 dollars would be the best part of any one’s kayaking career. And yes! It was awesome, truly awesome! But believe it or not, that wasn’t the best part of my recent trip to Kentucky Lake for the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship. What could possibly be better you ask? Family and Friends. That’s right, An awesome group of family, friends and teammates that no prize money could replace.
My journey to the national championship started in West Virginia where I was born and raised. I have been fishing my whole life. My dad had a fishing pole in my hand as soon as I could hold it. All of my family vacations growing up revolved around water and fishing and my dad at the age of 69 is still out fishing and out paddling most young guys in his Jackson Coosa. So fishing has always just been a part of who I am. So now I am passing that passion along to my 3 boys and 1 daughter. We all have our own kayaks and spend our family time camping and kayaking with friends and family.
In 2014 while researching the New River in West Virginia, I found a group called Mountain State Kayak Anglers. I called them up and was invited to join them at the New River Classic tournament. This was my first Kayak Fishing tournament I had ever fished and I was hooked. My good friend and fishing partner Coy Lehman and I left that trip knowing that we had to do more of this. We were quickly realizing that the kayak fishing community was different. There was a real sense of brotherhood and everyone was doing it for the true joy of fishing and fellowship with others that loved the sport. The Mountain State Kayak Anglers welcomed us and immediately a friendship was formed.
2015 came along and I was excited to fish a whole year with the MSKA gang. We got to spend the year fishing and spending time with a group of men and women that we quickly came to consider friends. We got to enjoy many of West Virginia’s beautiful resources and become better anglers by fishing with some of the best in the country. I was able to finish the year in the top 10 of over 100 anglers in our club that year and qualify for the KBF National Championship. The members of our club that qualified for the championship decided that we would rent a cabin and all stay together to save money and have a fun week at Kentucky Lake. Little did i know how special that decision would be as the week went on. We gathered every evening after prefishing and just had fun. We all shared our successes and failures of the day and encouraged each other with what was working and what was not. Make no mistake we all wanted to do well in that event, but we worked as a team to try to make each one of us as successful as possible, and with 4 guys ending up in the top 25 for the weekend I think that teamwork mentality had a lot to do with it.
So what got me the BIG win? Well yes, I had the best 2 days of tournament fishing of my life and caught the big ones when it mattered, and had some great products from the many incredible companies that support me and MSKA . However, I would be foolish to think that I did it on my own. It took strong faith, my awesome wife Tricia and 4 kids at home supporting me, parents that raised me right, the best fishing partners in the world, great products from stand up companies like 412 Bait Company, and a Jackson Kayak that made fishing possible in some pretty harsh conditions. It took a team!
I recently saw a quote that said, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to far, go together”. I look forward to going far together with the Jackson Kayak Family, KBF, the 412 Bait Company, The Mountain State Kayak Anglers, and all those who have supported me along the way. I may never come close to winning the big tournament again or even win any tournament again, but I know that I have been truly blessed with what matters the most. In my book with faith, family, and great friends, you can’t ever lose with that kind of team.