Brandon Ellis of Leeds, AL wins 2015 North Alabama Kayak Angler Tournament Trail Kickoff
HOLLYWOOD, AL – Saturday, March 21, 2015. In the largest kayak bass fishing tournament ever held in Alabama, Brandon Ellis of Leeds, AL came out on top with a 54.5-inch stringer.
Fishing his first tournament from a kayak, Ellis jumped out to an early lead Saturday morning and quickly filled his three-fish virtual stringer. 60 kayakers launched at 7:00 AM Saturday behind the shoreline of Mud Creek BBQ in Hollywood, AL. By 8:30 AM Ellis had paddled his Jackson Kayak Coosa to the front of a pocket and began catching fish. “I worked a Texas-rigged Zoom 8-inch chartreuse lizard through a small stretch of grass” said Ellis. “I soon caught six fish including the one over 21-inches”. Ellis won $510, a Manley Rods adjustable butt fishing rod, and a bait pack from 412 Bait Company.
Randall Wallace of Meridianville, AL, also fishing in his first kayak tournament placed second with a stringer length of 53.5 inches. He fished from a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 and caught a total of 28 bass on the day. “I worked a weightless Senko through lily pad stems,” said Wallace. “On the way back to the ramp, I caught my two biggest fish on a Missile Baits D-Bomb in one-foot of water on back-to-back casts.” He took home $250 and a $150 Hammer Rod provided by the Tackle Trap sporting goods store in Boaz, AL.
David Mayfield of Madison, AL and fishing from a Jackson Kayak Kilroy finished third with 45.5 inches. He won $200 and a VisiCarbon Pro lighting system from YakAttack, a manufacturer of gear mounting devices specifically for kayaks. Rounding out the top 10 was Lane Dean, Robert Brown, James Mayfield, Sam Dean, Robert Padgett Jr., Ryan Noe, and Benjamin Fields.
Bob Estes of Scottsboro, AL won the Big Bass side pot with a largemouth bass of 21.5”. A bass boater for over 40-years, he took up fishing from a kayak two years ago. “It stopped being fun to go fishing from a bass boat. I kept over 20 rod and reels in the boat, probably 15 – 20 tackle boxes and pounds of soft lures. Fishing is totally fun now thanks to the limitations forced on me by the kayak.” Estes landed the tournament’s big fish from a Jackson Kayak Big Rig. “I caught her on a crawfish-colored rattle bait”. He received $270, a $25 gift card, and a prize pack from local kayak retailer Big Will’s Outfitters located in Gadsden, AL.
Kayak bass fishing tournaments score fish by length, not weight. All anglers catch, photograph, and then release (CPR) their fish back into their natural habitat. Fish are submitted through Facebook or digital cameras to tournament directors for judging. Prior to the event, all anglers are given a unique token that must appear somewhere in the photograph of the fish measured on a standardized bump board measuring device. The angler with the longest three fish wins.
The University of Alabama’s kayak fishing team was in attendance. It’s the first and only college kayak fishing team in the state and they are active in the College Kayak Series, a tournament series just for college teams. “We drove up from Tuscaloosa to be there.” said Tyler Clark, president of the University of Alabama’s kayak fishing team. “We’re college kids. We don’t mind road trips; especially when it involves fishing”. The team has been together for two years. “We will be sending all of our competition teams to Tennessee for the National Championship on June 13th.”
This tournament event was hosted by the North Alabama Kayak Anglers (NAKA) and was the club’s first stop in their first kayak fishing trail. Brothers Nate and David Mayfield formed NAKA in 2012. “The response has been great and now we have events planned throughout all of the Tennessee Valley,” said NAKA co-founder Nate Mayfield. “We have fun fishing events for people that don’t want to compete, but all of our events are beginner-friendly”.
The event was well received by the anglers, several of whom were competing in their first kayak event. “I was surprised with how everyone was sharing water and was friendly toward each other,” said first-place winner Ellis. “Throughout the day I continued to hear others sharing information to help everyone catch fish”.
$1100 in cash and over $500 in sponsors prizes were awarded at the event. The club will host three more stops in North Alabama to include a year-end Classic on Lake Guntersville. Additionally, a month-long biggest bass tournament starts in April. “Anglers will be able to fish from any public water and post fish online to win prizes,” said Nate Mayfield. Fish caught during the trail stops and during the month-long big bass events will used to determine NAKA’s first Angler of the Year.
Here are the results for the first stop on the 2015 Trail, Mud Creek.