BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — After a wildly successful inaugural campaign in 2020, B.A.S.S. officials were excited Friday to announce the regular-season schedule for the 2021 Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX.
The trail, which averaged 144 anglers per event during its inaugural season in 2020, will visit five lakes in five different states before culminating with the B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series Championship, which will be held in conjunction with the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk at a site to be determined.
The field of anglers who qualified for the National Championship during the 2020 season will compete in a rescheduled two-day event June 9-10 held in conjunction with the Bassmaster Classic in Fort Worth, Texas. Additional information on that tournament will be released at a later date.
“Despite facing a lot of challenges, we had a great first season for the B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series in 2020,” said B.A.S.S. Nation Director Jon Stewart. “We knew the popularity of kayak fishing had exploded; that was the reason behind starting the trail. But I’m not sure we realized just how incredibly popular the sport was until we held a few events and saw how many hardcore kayak enthusiasts showed up.
“That has us really excited about this upcoming season.”
The season’s first event will be held on one of the country’s premier big-bass factories, Lake Fork in Alba, Texas, on March 13. Fork was the site of an Elite Series event in 2020, and champion Patrick Walters blew the field away with a four-day November catch of 104 pounds, 12 ounces. Walters wasn’t the only angler to clear the century mark at a Bassmaster event on Fork last year. When the Kayak Series stopped on this fishery last March, Arkansas angler Cody Milton bested the field with a five-bass limit measuring 100 1/2 inches. That propensity for producing giant bass is why Lake Fork ranked 16th on Bassmaster Magazine’s Best Bass Lakes of the Decade in 2020.
Event No. 2 is scheduled for May 1 on world-famous Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Ala. Like Fork, the lake hosted an Elite Series event last year that was broadcast live to an audience of more than 2.8 million, and as a result, the buzz surrounding the fishery has never been louder.
From Alabama, the trail will shift to Pickwick Lake in Counce, Tenn., for a July 24 event that will see anglers fishing for a mixed bag of largemouth and smallmouth. In addition to the Kayak Series event, the popular Tennessee River fishery, which ranked 13th on the list of Best Bass Lakes of the Decade, is scheduled to host an Elite Series event and a Basspro.com Bassmaster Central Open in 2021.
As summertime tightens its grip across the country, the Kayak Series will visit the Upper Chesapeake in Cecil County, Md., on Aug. 7. The scorching summer conditions and tidal fluctuations will present a challenge like no other on the 2021 schedule, but it will also showcase the value of kayak fishing as anglers are able to access creeks and drainages that are unavailable to larger crafts.
As we move from summer to fall, the Kayak Series will finish its regular season Sept. 25 on the Upper Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis. The fishery has been a regular stop for B.A.S.S. and its major tournaments in recent years, hosting a Central Open in 2019 and Elite Series events in 2016 and 2018. The Kayak Series also stopped on the Mississippi during their first season, with South Carolina’s Barry Davis claiming the win with five fish measuring 88 inches.
“We try to provide a good mix with all of our tournament schedules, and we believe we’ve done that with the 2021 B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series slate,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “From the Alabama/Georgia state line to Texas and back across the country to Maryland and then to the Mississippi River, this trail offers a little bit of everything for avid kayak anglers.”
Instead of a standard weigh-in that requires scales measuring pounds and ounces, anglers will practice “catch, photograph and release” to determine the kayak tournament standings.
When an angler catches a bass, he or she will photograph it lying on an approved measuring board and submit the photo through a special mobile app provided by TourneyX. The boards will measure each bass in inches down to a quarter of an inch, and the angler with the longest five-bass limit will win.
“We established some records during our first season, and we’re looking forward to building on the things we did in Year One to see some of those records challenged and broken during our second season,” Stewart said.
Entry fees for all five regular-season events will be $250, and each will pay 30 places. Based on a full field of 150 kayaks, the total purse for each event will be $30,000. Registration will begin online Jan. 11 at Bassmaster.com.
2021 Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX regular-season schedule
March 13, Lake Fork, Alba, Texas
May 1, Lake Eufaula, Eufaula, Ala.
July 24, Pickwick Lake, Counce, Tenn.
Aug. 7, Upper Chesapeake, Cecil County, Md.
Sept. 25, Upper Mississippi River, La Crosse, Wis.