The KBF Kayak Bass Fishing Trail tournament on Guntersville Lake Saturday, April 27, made history in a number of regards:
- It drew 161 kayaks, most yet for a tournament on that trail.
- It was a precursor to next year’s KBF National Championship to be held on Guntersville Lake. That tournament could draw 800 kayak fishermen. It will be based out of the Rec Center.
- A sack of smallmouth – yes, smallmouth – won the tournament. That’s unheard of on Guntersville, which is far and away predominantly a largemouth lake.
- The KBF field included a celebrity angler, Gene Jensen, better known as “the Flukemaster.” He has a highly popular YouTube fishing channel with the slogan “Teaching the world to fish.” It was Jensen’s first ever KBF tournament. He caught 54 bass and ended up finishing 4th.
The kayak tournament operates off a bit different format than a regular bass tournament. There’s no central “blast off.” Anglers can fish anywhere they want on the tournament lake and can launch from any public access area. There’s no weigh-in with anglers bringing fish across a stage. Instead, it’s a catch, photograph and release tournament. The photos are made against a standard ruler and the winner is determined by inches rather than pounds.
Jody Campbell, who lives near Chattanooga, won the tournament. His top 5 fish were 4 smallmouth and one spotted bass. He caught them on a Jack Hammer chatterbait.
“Go as far as north as you can,” was his advice on where he found his fish. It’s considered Guntersville Lake from Guntersville Dam all the way to Nickajack Dam below Chattanooga. That explains his smallmouth sack.
He had 94-1/4 inches.
KBF director Chad Hoover said that would equate to a 20 to 21 pound 5-fish limit.
He said there was a club tournament taking place on Guntersville Lake that same day with 80 regular bass boats. A 12-pound sack won it.
“It says a lot about these kayak fishermen,” he said. “They’re very good anglers. Fishing out of a kayak forces you to really slow down. As a result, these guys become very efficient.”
He said they’re very excited about bringing the national championship to Guntersville next year.
“Guntersville is a fishing town,” he said. “There’s a lot of hospitality. It’s the kind of place we like to go.”