Rookie Recap 2018

With the coming of fall, my tournament season is finished, and I have to mentally deal with the waiting period between tournament season and when the steelhead start running to occupy my fishing needs. Finishing my rookie season as a member of the Jackson Kayak fishing team, I would like to recap my year. As always, it was a fun adventure with new people, locations, and black bass species.

KBF New River, VA 4/7/18
Kayak – Coosa HD Standings – DNF
The New River can be a beautiful and terrifying river system to fish. This river started to teach me that I have a lot to learn about spring fishing. The Coosa Hd was my kayak of choice to navigate the river’s flow. I had a great time, but there is not much to talk about regarding my goose egg of a performance. Timmy Dixon was a great host, and if you ever visit the Galax, VA area, be sure to check out the shop if you are up for an adventure. http://www.newriveroutdooradventures.com/

BKFT Hoover Reservoir, OH 4/14/18
Kayak – Coosa FD Standings – DNF
Knowing that I am not very proficient in spring time fishing, I was chomping at the bit to fish this tournament because I was more than ready to test out my brand new Coosa FD. The kayak performed flawlessly, traversed the choppy water with ease, and allowed me to explore a lot of water that I wouldn’t have otherwise paddled. My fishing performance, however, was less than ideal–the best part of the day was enjoying a Rax lunch that can only be found in two places in Ohio.

RB Club series Fuzzy Guppies, NY 4/21/18

Kayak – Coosa FD Standings – 5th
This was my first trip to New York other than driving through to get to Niagara Falls. This was my first opportunity to grab some Club series points for the year-long goal for River Bassin AOY and team of the year. Justin Hausner was a gracious host at Fuzzy Guppies (https://www.fuzzyguppies.com/). I highly recommend his accommodations if you are traveling to the Finger Lakes region. The air was frigid, and the bite was slow; so slow in fact that I only caught one fish for the tournament which still landed me a 5th place finish. This secured some RB points for me, and this doubled as a charity event: a total win/win situation. Also, I secured my first fish in the Coosa FD, which was also my first pike ever as well as my first largemouth bass in the FD. Overall, a great weekend.

KBF Ford-Belleville Lakes, MI 4/28/18

Kayak – Coosa FD Standings – 36th
This was a rough weekend for me. I started the day out well, catching two fish really early in the morning. Then, I ran into some equipment issues that sent me home early. I was off the water with half of the fishing day still left. I was extremely frustrated but was still able to take 36th place. Things happen; it was time to let this one go and move forward.

KA Erie Bay Charity, PA 5/5/18
Kayak – Coosa HD Standings – 10th
This was the first Kayak Anglers event for the year. Erie, PA is always a great destination to fish. This was a team event, and my teammate was a fellow Jackson Kayak team member Jake Horne. I would have preferred to take my Coosa FD to the bay, but do to some unforeseen circumstances, I was unable to. However, I knew the Coosa HD would be more than capable of getting the job done. Jake and I were able to put together a fun day of smallmouth and take 10th place out of 22 teams. We also made it on the local news who were covering the charity event. Pretty neat-o!

KA Erie Bay Major, PA 5/19/18
Kayak – Coosa FD Standings – 40th
The winds were brutal which made Erie very angry. This was one of the toughest conditioned tournaments I have faced to date. Wholeheartedly I have to say that I would not have been able to fish this tournament had I not had the Coosa FD with me. We battled rolling waves with 20-30mph winds for 2-3 hours before packing up and hiding in the lagoons. Although I was cautious, the Coosa FD made it manageable to continue in the less than ideal conditions. Although I took 40th out of 88 anglers, I am slightly ashamed of this finish because I filled my limit with largemouth bass and not smallmouth. Presque Isle Bay has not been very nice to me over the past two years. I usually only average three fish per day.

KBF Lake St. Clair, MI 5/27/18

Kayak – Coosa FD Standings – 70th
Lake St. Clair is an amazing lake with more potential than anything I have ever seen. There are monster smallmouth in this lake, and it was an amazing experience to have been able to fish here. This will be a destination I definitely return to. On tournament day, I was unable to fill a limit. I lost two nice smallmouth and had my heart broken by a 2 foot+ Drum! This was a very competitive tournament with a ton of monster smallmouth caught. A total of 90 inches on the day only ranked you in 21st place. My favorite part of the weekend was catching a smallmouth with a lip ring.

KA Pymatuning, PA 6/9/18

Kayak -Coosa FD Standings – 7th
This lake is always one that has me worried when I see it on the schedule. I know that it holds big fish, but I have had a significantly hard time finding them in the past. The key to my success this day was luck, timing, and the Coosa FD. I launched on one side of the lake and started off extremely slow. I couldn’t get a sniff on anything, and I knew I had to make a drastic change. Being in the Coosa FD, I pedaled across the lake in search of some fish. I rolled up to a spot, and within five minutes, I caught my largest fish of the day. Not five minutes after landing this fish, a familiar face paddled around the corner. After a short conversation with him, he assured me I stumbled on a sweet spot and encouraged me to stay there. I was able to fill my limit and take a paying 7th place spot out of 78 anglers. The gentleman I ran into went on to finish much higher in the standings. Lucky day! The best part of the weekend was camping with friends from both Ohio and Pennsylvania with it being the battle at the border.

BKFT Portage Lakes, OH 6/23/18
Kayak – Coosa FD Standings – 12th
Although being so close to home for me, this would be only my second adventure to the Portage Lakes. It was the day before the event, and I was debating on whether I should fish it or not. I finally gave in and picked a spot strictly based on google map study. I pulled up to the ramp and ran into Shawn Skidmore–I knew I picked a spot that had fish! I went to work and caught a few fish early. We were run off the lake by a lightning storm running through, and were forced off the lake for forty-five minutes to an hour before we were allowed to fish again. I landed my largest fish after the lightning break and secured my spot in the standings. I am very proud of this finish, considering I showed up without any practice or knowledge and just fished. Shawn went on to win the tournament. I was in the right area.

KA 2 Day Classic Allegheny River & Lake Wilhelm, PA 7/14 – 7/15/18
Kayak – Coosa HD and FD Standings 7th
This tournament was one of the most thrilling events of my career. It was a 2-day event that both utilized a river and a lake to test the abilities of an all around angler. Also, I could make use of both my Coosa HD and FD in the same event, perfect! The first day was on the Allegheny River, which I had never fished before, and turned out to be a very tough bite. I lost a fish early in the day. A couple hours later, I landed the biggest bass of the day out of everyone. If my memory serves me, I was able to finish my limit with smaller fish and sat in 5th place going into day 2. I was excited for day 2 because during pre fishing, I landed my Personal Best largemouth on the Friday beforehand. I landed a 19.25” largemouth and then went on a cold streak. I found another 17.25” fish which put me in the hunt for a top finishing spot. After this, I caught about 8-10 fish in the 8-10 inch range. This is extremely aggravating because Kayak Anglers has a 12” minimum rule. With 40 minutes left, I had a bite, set the hook, had a fight for about five seconds, and then poof, it was gone. I was not able to fill my limit for the second day. Leaving a fish off the board, I was able to take 7th place. If I had one more qualifying fish, the lowest I would have finished would have been 4th with potential to win. You will go crazy with coulda and woulda, but I couldn’t help but to ponder on it after this day. This was definitely a weekend not likely to be forgotten.

KA Lake Arthur, PA 8/11/18
Kayak – Coosa FD Standings – 30th
Lake Arthur is often referred to as the dead sea. I typically do not find this to be the case. I had a good finish last year and do not seem unable to find fish on this lake. My problem is keeping them on the hook. I love using top water frogs, and hook up ratio is a conversation that is hand-in-hand with success when utilizing this technique. I had many blow ups that would have changed the day for me. I even had one hung up in the lily pads that slipped off as soon as I got the kayak close enough to reach for it. All of this was in the first half of the day. This tournament is always on the day I leave for vacation with my wife. Anticipating the 14 hour drive, I left early with half of the tournament day left to fish. I hate leaving early, but this was a justified decision in my book.

BKFT/RB Club Series Buckeye Open, OH 8/31 – 9/3/18
Kayak – Coosa Hd Standings – 1st
This is a tournament that I love to compete in. It plays into all of my strengths and carries a heavy weight for year long goals with the River bassin series for me. This is an online tournament over a 4-day weekend that is only Ohio waters. The best part is, it is a smallmouth only tournament. Being a River Bassin club series event and a smallmouth event, my teammate Clayton Haske and I go all out on this endeavor. We make plans to fish every day if necessary, and we explore a lot of hidden areas in Ohio to find the best smallmouth fishing. Sticking the the Coosa HD, I pack lite and fish hard. I won this tournament last year and was able to defend my title. Back to back wins in the same event–this is something I am very proud of. I try to be humble, but this is one thing I like to brag about a bit. It’s like my own mini version of Russell Johnson’s back-to-back New River wins.

KA Kiski & Allegheny Rivers, PA 9/8/18

Kayak – Coosa HD Standings – 40th
This was a disappointing tournament for me. I was really hoping for a good finish to help secure a higher spot in the AOY race for Kayak Anglers Western PA. All of my disadvantage, of course, was my own fault. I neglected to research the area which I had never fished before; I wasn’t prepared for the cold and wet weather, and I did not catch the fish I needed to to help my situation. On the positive side, Neil Andritz from The River’s Edge Canoe and Kayak hosts a fantastic post-tournament awards ceremony. There was a fire to dry off and warm up, a tent to hide from the rain, and a pig roast to fill our bellies. If you are in the Leechburg, PA area, do yourself a favor and check out the shop! http://the-rivers-edge.com/

RB Online Midwest/Central Regional 2/15 – 9/16/18
Kayak – Coosa HD Standings – 5th Individual 2nd Team
This year-long online event is my favorite event to participate in. I love fishing rivers and thoroughly enjoy the team aspect. Exploring river is much more fun with Clayton Haske than it is alone. We have many stories, with both highs and lows to reflect on. There are far too many things to recap throughout the year, but all things lead to the NC. A huge part of my success in this online tournament was also being a part of the Buckeye Open previously talked about. Rivers are just the best.

RB National Championship, MO 9/22/18
Kayak – Coosa HD Standings – ???
This is the biggest of the 2018 season for me. This is less of a recap and more of a tease. This event deserves its own article. Be on the lookout for a future post that will detail our trip to Missouri!

Steelhead are just around the corner and 2019 is right behind them. I look forward to what 2019 has to bring. There were highs and lows from the 2018 season, but I loved every minute of it. Here is a list of the organizations that I fished in during 2018. Look them up, and join the fun.

Kayak Anglers – http://www.kayak-anglers.com/

Kayak Bass Fishing – https://www.kayakbassfishing.com/

Buckeye Kayak Fishing Trail – http://www.buckeyekayakfishingtrail.com/

– Kenneth Morris

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