Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 39 No 2 - Spring 2015 - Page 31

Paddling Out by Jeff Herman Springtime Means Kayak Tournament Time S pring is here, and that means kayak tournament season is about to kick off. The best part of being a kayaker in Texas is the wealth of tournament opportunities available. From single one-off events, to tournament series with multiple dates that last all year, if you want some friendly kayak fishing competition you can find it here on the Gulf Coast. If you are thinking about dipping your toe in the tournament scene, my personal favorite and probably the best run event is the Lone Star Kayak Series (LSKS). Going into its 4th year, organizer and tournament director, Dustin “EasyE” Koreba, has running a tournament down to a science. LSKS started in 2012 and has not only had good and consistent turnouts, it has grown every year. I asked Dustin why LSKS has been so successful. “Great payouts and prizes are key,” he said. “Our sponsors do a great job. We payout so many winners, but ultimately it is the anglers themselves that make it so much fun.” Dustin went on to say, “Our anglers are just good people. They are dedicated anglers and they are decent guys and gals.” Dustin’s model has proved that offering quality payouts, fair rules, and reasonable entry fees is a sure way to be successful. In addition to a great tournament foundation, LSKS continues to innovate and make an impression with the community. While a majority of their proceeds go back as payout to anglers who participate, some extra money is set aside for “Heroes on the Water” charity. Supporting our veterans is important to Dustin. “As a veteran myself, contributing to HOW is a natural fit. They do a great job for our veterans and I think if not for HOW there would be a lot of guys stuck without an outlet. HOW gives our veterans a way to get out there, and I want to support that anyway I can.” LSKS also promotes a conservation ethic. While the event is a live weigh-in tournament, which makes for an exciting afternoon, they also offer special raffle tickets to anglers who release their redfish alive. Only live releases get the special raffle tickets and the associated prize. Last year, Werner Paddles sponsored this conservation minded idea and the vast majority of reds weighed-in swam away. In 2015, the LSKS has four events all headquartered in Galveston at Louis Bait Camp (April 18, June 16, August 15, Oct 3). You can learn more and sign up here: lonestarkayakseries.com. Another great series that has events all along the Gulf coast is the IFA Kayak Fishing tournaments. They have regional events in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. The regional events serve as individual tournaments, but also serve as qualifiers for a national championship event. This year’s national championship will be in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. The fun and/or challenging aspect of the IFA tournaments is that they are “CPR” – catch, photo, release - tournaments. It takes another level of skill to wrangle a slippery fish for a clear, clean photo on a tournament ruler. There have been many an angler over the years (Possibly the author, ahem.) that have had a fish flop and flip their way to freedom before a decent photo was captured. It’s a challenge, but a fun challenge. Learn more about the dates and locations of the IFA kayak tournaments at: ifatours.com. In the realm of completely different kayak fishing tournaments is the AFWC (Adventure Fishing World Championship) event in Delacroix, Louisiana. AFWC is part kayak fishing tournament, part endurance paddle, and part survival skill competition. This annual springtime event is hosted in a marsh maze. Anglers Sonny Mills taking 3rd place at the LSKS. have to navigate their way to 5 individual check points; once at a check point they can begin fishing. Then, once a fish is caught, it’s on to the next check point. The tournament is a one day event that can see competitors paddle up to 20 miles, and the possibility of getting lost and turned around between check points is not only possible, but highly likely. As a paddler and a kayak fisherman, this event has really appealed to me and I have dusted off my old tournament mojo to sign up and fish this unique event. Springtime on the Gulf Coast is definitely tournament time. Whether you are a serious tournament angler, or just enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow kayak fishermen, there is a tournament out there with your name on it. I will be at the Lone Start Kayak Series events and the AFWC. Hopefully, I can squeeze in an IFA event on the calendar. Put one on your calendar and come enjoy the fun! Photo by Joe Winston GCF APRIL • MAY • JUNE 2 0 1 5 31