You may have noticed throughout the year that some of my fish pictures had a little card identifying my participation in an eight month long catch-photo-release tournament:
The tournament, put on by Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club and Massey’s Outfitters, was free for club members to participate in and ran from March 1st through October 31st. It consisted of seven categories over two divisions:
Conventional Rod and Reel Division
- Speckled Trout
- Large Mouth Bass
Fly Rod Division
- Speckled Trout
- Large Mouth Bass
What made this CPR tournament a little different was it’s point structure. Normally overall aggregate length wins in a slam tournament like this, but this one was different because each category was awarded a fixed amount of points. The goal was then to get the most points by trying to catch the longest fish in each category. This made each species just as important as the last and protected the tournament from being dominated by one really long catch. Each division would win a kayak so no division held more value over the other, both fly and conventional divisions would be competitive.
This tournament was a lot of fun to fish because it was so multifaceted. It lasted eight months, so my interest in kayak fishing was at an all time high during that time. There was potential in every trip to upgrade your standing and work your way to the top. It also highlighted species that I normally don’t focus on and really helped me to become a better angler for them. I made specific trips to fish for largemouth and intentionally fished for flounder – these things don’t normally happen and it was a lot of fun.
I didn’t do as well as I would have liked, getting 4th overall on the conventional side and 5th in the fly, but I was lucky enough to enter a fish in every category and being the only angler to do so the tournament organizers felt I deserved a special prize – a brand new Bending Branches Angler Pro paddle!
(Photo credit: Brendan Bayard)
I also took home a $100 check for 4th, not bad for a free tournament! A big thanks to the fine folks at Massey’s for their generosity. The rest of the results are below:
1st Clayton Shilling
2nd Steve Lessard
3rd Mark Eubanks
4th Ben Roussel
5th Steve Neece
1st Jonathan Craft
2nd Kevin Andry
3rd Glen Cormier
It took a number of trips to earn the 4th place finish as I was upgrading fish throughout the year, but I didn’t catch anything memorable until the IFA championship. That’s when I was able to get a 31″ red and a 22.5″ trout.
I was pretty disappointed that 31″ was the biggest red I could get because early in the year I had a few reds over 40″! At 22.5″ though, the trout may have been the biggest I’ve ever caught, so really stoked to have that fish to use for two different tournaments – the IFA championship and the Massey’s CPR tourney.
My flounder was caught while we were filming for Sportsman’s TV in June. It went 17″ and flopped in the water shortly after taking it’s picture, which was fortunate because I haven’t caught a bigger flounder since. Maybe I’m cursed after catching two monsters at Fall N Tide last year.
The bass was an even bigger disappointment than the red. I caught it during a daytrip up to the Kisatchie National Forest. I thought I had a good shot at catching a nice bass at one of the lakes up that way, but all I could muster was this little guy, who went just a hair over 13″.
Pretty embarrassing, but rules state they had to be caught on public water and I felt like this was the best place to get a monster and it didn’t pan out. I’ll have to spend a little more time on bass next year and hopefully find an even better spot.
What’s more embarrassing is that this was all it took to get 4th. You’d think that in a club with well over 300 members and the tournament being free this event would be a no-brainer for everyone, but it seemed to be the same core group of 20-30 competing with each other. Hopefully year two of the Massey’s Fish Pics tournament will be bigger and better and even more folks will compete – to me, if you have a kayak and fish in Louisiana, it’s worth the cost of a BCKFC membership ($25 last time I checked) to participate.