As I watched Chris Mitchell’s kayak flip over while he was reaching out to grab his lure that was snagged on a not-close-enough log, I didn’t know whether to giggle or be concerned for him. So, I giggled in concern. His bald head popped up thanks to the PFD he was wearing, and all but one of his rod and reel combinations were accounted for. I picked up his tacklebox, hat and cooler as I paddled over to check on him. Only thing bruised was his pride, which I took little effort to bandage.
“I give that a 3 out of 10. Splash was too big, no creativity upon entry,” I said. Mitchell, who is the managing editor of Bassmaster.com and a newbie to the kayak fishing scene, did not see the humor in my scoring system.
“I hate you,” he responded with believable sincerity, although I’m sure he didn’t mean it.
“Pretty cool to know that kayaks float when they are upside down,” I continued. “Your effort to test every aspect of that watercraft speaks volumes to the dedication of your review.”
“You can go away, and never come back ... after you help me get to the bank,” he replied.
I didn’t tell him that I had overturned several kayaks when I first took a liking to the boats about 15 years ago. And honestly, that particular risk is a great part of the rewarding experience of paddle sports. These days, though, it’s mostly pedal sports, as many fishing kayaks are propelled with the lower part of your body to keep your arms and hands free for casting and landing fish.
The pursuit of catching bass with a kayak is a different animal. More intimate, to be sure, and fraught with challenge, both physical and mental. Still, the number of anglers fishing out of kayaks is expanding at a blazing pace. And I’m happy to report that B.A.S.S. has not only noticed this trend, but has embraced it by announcing a new competitive kayak series kicking off in 2020.
The Huk Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX presented by Abu Garcia will feature five regular-season events, the first one being held in conjunction with the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk. The inaugural derby will be contested on Logan Martin Lake in Pell City, Ala., on March 5, the Thursday before Classic competition begins. However, to celebrate the new trail, the Top 10 finishers will get to cross the Classic stage on Friday and be recognized for their finish. The four remaining events will be held on Lake Fork (March 14), Chickamauga Lake (May 23), the Mississippi River (Aug. 15) and Clear Lake (Aug. 29).
Entry fees for the events will be $250, with a total payout of $30,000 per event based on 150 entrants. Plus, the top kayak anglers of 2020 will qualify for the Huk B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series Championship held in conjunction with the 2021 Classic. There are more details on Bassmaster.com (click the Tournaments tab and select “Kayak”).
Speaking of Bassmaster.com, I asked Mitchell if he was ready to join the competitive ranks now that he had been properly baptized, literally, in the sport.
“If I never see you again, it will be too soon,” he said, jokingly serious. But, mostly joking, I think.