LA CROSSE, Wis. — Tyler Cole got married last weekend.
This weekend, after winning the Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series powered by TourneyX on the Upper Mississippi River, he joked he had money to pay for the wedding.
Cole, who lives in Delaware, Iowa, about 2 1/2 hours downriver from La Crosse, caught a five-bass limit Sunday that measured 90.25 inches, the highest total of the two-day derby. When added to the 88.25 limit he caught on Day 1, Cole jumped from fourth place to the top of the leaderboard, his overall catch measuring 178.5 inches.
That was 1 1/2 inches more than anyone else in the field of 129 anglers gathered from throughout the U.S.
Cole earned a $7,846 cash prize for the win, his second on the Bassmaster Kayak Series. He also won a kayak tournament on Tennessee’s Chickamauga Lake in 2020.
“This one is probably more gratifying of a win just because I consider it my home water,” he said. “I come up here a lot to fish. It’s nice to win one in a place I love.”
Cole said it’s a good thing he didn’t need much time to scout the area, what with his wedding only eight days before he collected the winner’s check and trophy.
“I came up on Friday to check a spot,” he said. “It was a community hole then and it was a community hole all weekend. It’s the second tournament I’ve won with a Booyah Pad Crasher. It was the big bullfrog, the 2 1/2-incher. I worked it slow over pads next to eelgrass, right off current on the secondary channel.
“I locked the Pad Crasher in my hand and went to work. I found just the right bites. I figured I had fish to catch, but not win the tournament. But here we are.”
Cole said spring floods have made this area of the Mississippi River watershed especially productive.
“It’s as good as I’ve seen it in at least three or four years,” he said. “We had floods for a couple of weeks. I think the fish grouped up when the water went back down.”
Tennessee’s Rus Snyders finished second overall with 177 total inches and collected $3,542. He focused on largemouth bass in grassy spots, relying on a series of swim jigs and a 10-inch worm for his best catches.
The Top 13 anglers cashed checks at La Crosse, splitting a total cash purse of $25,800.
Behind Cole and Snyders are third, Missouri’s Lance Burris, 175.75; fourth, Illinois’ Todd Martens, 174.25; fifth, Minnesota’s Zach Gibbons, 174.25; sixth, New Jersey’s Greg DiPalma, 174.25; seventh, Ohio’s Drew Gregory, 173; eighth, Kentucky’s Anthony Winkleman, 171.25; ninth, Wisconsin’s Nick Berndt, 168; 10th, Iowa’s Jordan Westerman, 165.75; 11th, Tennessee’s Jim Davis, 164.5; 12th, Texas’ Weslie Gray, 164.5; and 13th, Illinois’ Kyle Brenner, 163.5.
Gregory won the $500 Big Bass Award for the 19.75-inch bass he caught Sunday. Snyders also caught a 19.75 on Sunday, but Gregory won the tiebreaker because his next-best bass was longer than Snyders’ biggest fish.
The derby on the Upper Mississippi River was the fourth of five regular-season kayak tournaments on the tour in 2023. The final event is scheduled for the Susquehanna River in Lewisburg, Penn., in October, with previous tournaments taking place on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville, South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell and Texas’ Possum Kingdom Lake.
Competing anglers vied for points in the 2023 Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Kayak Series Angler of the Year race, as well as spots in the 2024 Championship, which will be held at a yet-to-be-disclosed location.
Explore La Crosse hosted the event.