All eyes and thoughts turned south when FLW angler Nik Kayler went missing during the Costa event on Okeechobee last Thursday.
Hearing that news brought to mind that no matter how careful and safety conscious all involved are, an accident can occur at any time. All week, nearly everyone you talked to mentioned or asked about Kayler.
A search began on Jan. 4 when the pair didn’t return for the Day 1 weigh-in, forcing the cancellation of the event. Late that night, search crews found Bill Kisiah alive with his boat on the southeastern shore of the lake. It had been reported the two speared a wave and Kayler went overboard, and that Kisiah tried to retrieve him but ended up floundering. In his efforts, he was also ejected and, when unable to climb back in, tied himself to the boat.
Kisiah and the boat were found near midnight, more than 16 hours after the accident was believed to have occurred. TV reports show the boat crashing in waves along the rocky shore. But Kisiah was alive. He was hospitalized in critical condition with hypothermia from what had to have been a long, cold ride for survival.
But Kayler remained missing. The boating/fishing world prayed and searched. A thousand miles couldn’t distance most everyone from thinking about him. As hours passed, then days, hopes lowered.
Kayler’s wife, Kelly, and family prayed for a call that he was alright. That call never came in what had to have been an excruciating six days. What she, their daughter, Caralee, and all Kayler’s family and friends experienced can most likely not be described with words.
The family received a modicum of solace Wednesday as the 38-year-old’s body was found. “It’s been rough, but we got him home,” brother Phil Kayler told the Palm Beach Post. “It’s not what we would have liked. But we’re at ease right now.”
FLW President of Operations Kathy Fennel offered this statement: “Our prayers are with Nik’s family during this time of unimaginable tragedy. The loss of his life touches the entire fishing community.”
Yes it does. Those sentiments are shared by everyone at B.A.S.S. We are grief-stricken.
It is touching how the bass fishing family comes together in times of need. More than 1,200 donors have topped $70,000 in contributions to one of the GoFundMe accounts started for Kelly and Caralee, and many more have sent heartfelt condolences. A tournament to benefit Kayler's family is also in the works.
Bass anglers once again proved they are a rather tight-knit band, and all are in mourning for their fallen brother.