Kayak Bass Fishing Tournaments for Beginners

5-minute read

Kayak bass fishing tournaments are a great way for beginning kayak anglers to learn more about the sport of kayak fishing while getting in some friendly competition.

man kayak fishes close to a shoreline

We want to share a couple of videos with you from pro-level kayak anglers who offer their tips. If you have plenty of experience kayak fishing and now want to start entering the tournament world, these are for you too.

Catch, Photo and Release

The first video is with Bending Branches’ ProStaff team member Gene Jensen:

All kayak fishing tournaments operate on “catch, photo and release.” During the tournament, you’ll catch a fish, place it on a certified measuring board, take a photo of it and release it back into the water.

The photo(s) will either be uploaded into a specific app or shown from your phone to the judges when you return to shore, depending how the tournament is run.

So you’ll need the right equipment:

  • Measuring Board: Gene likes the Ketch Board that he keeps tethered to his kayak (it doesn’t float).
  • Identifier card case—tournaments use Identifier cards to prevent cheating. You’ll need some kind of waterproof case to hold your card. Tourney Tag makes one that goes over your hand so it can be captured in your photo with the fish.
  • FishGrips or another tool to hold your fish while you photograph it.
  • A camera: Many tournaments prefer you use your phone camera so you can submit it via an app to the judges.

A Great Tournament to Start With

Gene recommends new tourney anglers sign up for the KBF Challenge Series in your state. It’s a month long and you can get out on the water according to your schedule during that time.

man stands in his fishing kayak while fishing

This time frame allows you to make mistakes and get your routine down without pressure. If a fish slips off your board before you can photograph it or you mis-measure it—no big deal. You can give it another go within that month-long time frame.

Sign up for the AmBASSador Level membership with KBF to allow you to fish these Challenge Series. When you’re ready to move up to the Premium Level you can sign up for the bigger national tournaments.

After you sign up download the free version of the Fishing Chaos app used to run the tournament.

Once you pay for your KBF membership and buy a ticket to a specific Challenge Series tourney, Fishing Chaos will give you access to all the information you’ll need. This includes tournament rules and standards, any event rules for your specific state, the payout chart and more.

Online or Live?

Next is another helpful video for those hoping to get into kayak bass fishing tournaments. Angler Jeff Malott keys in on the differences between an online and a live tournament. Both use the Catch, Photo, Release system we talked about above.

Here’s a summary of his points:

Online Tournaments

Online tournaments are run through a tournament manager app, like Fishing Chaos, and others. These virtual tournaments generally run over multiple days. They can be regional, statewide or nationwide and tend to be low-cost.

The big advantage of online tournaments is the freedom for participants to fish their local waters on their own schedule. As long as the fish are recorded and the photos uploaded within the allotted timeframe, it’s extremely flexible. It’s a great way for new kayakers or new kayak anglers to get into tournaments with low pressure.

man has a fish in his net, kayak fishing

Live Tournaments

In live tourneys, participants are all there in person on the same body of water. There’s often a “captain’s meeting” before the event starts, and the tournament itself will last one or two days.

At the end, everyone meets up for the weigh-in. It’s a great time to rub shoulders with other anglers and enjoy the comradery of this paddlesport.

There are local, state and national live tournaments, with the main differences being cost. The smaller ones are often just a few dollars while the biggest ones—especially the championship events—can cost several hundred dollars to enter. The easiest way to find local tournaments is to look online for local kayak fishing clubs, such as Facebook groups.

Jeff says, “Whether it’s local or national, the kayak community is different. Everybody is very welcoming. Everybody is very open to helping new anglers. So if you’re a new angler, find a local tournament and enter it. Ask questions and talk to folks. Many, many experienced kayak anglers are more than ready to step out and help.”

Gear You’ll Need

Like Gene in the first video above, Jeff has a basic gear list—what you’ll need for kayak fishing tournaments:

  • A kayak—One that’s designed for fishing is ideal, but any “boat that floats” will do at the beginning.
  • A paddle—Of course, we suggest one of Bending Branches' fishing kayak paddles. New and experienced kayak anglers love them. The Angler Classic is a great choice to start with—it’s our best-selling kayak fishing paddle. If you decide this is the life for you, you can invest in one of our premium fishing paddles that are a joy to paddle with and are ultra-light. Our premium fiberglass models have eye-popping color patterns on the blades while our full-carbon models are the lightest fishing paddles on the market.
  • PFD or life jacket—All tournaments require them, but it’s just smart to wear one whenever you’re on the water. Some tourneys also require specific safety items like a whistle, a knife and an emergency light.
  • 360º light or headlamp for any nighttime fishing.
  • Smartphone with tether—You’ll need something to take photos with and you’ll want it tethered to your kayak so it doesn’t accidentally land in the lake!
  • Measuring board—The Ketch Board is the most recommended.
  • A net—It’s not required but it sure comes in handy.
  • Tackle—Bring it all or just enough to get started.
  • Tournament ID holder

standing kayak angler sets the hook while fishing

We hope this has helped you decide whether or not to take the leap into a kayak bass fishing tournament or two. Happy fishin’!

(All photos courtesy of @bonafide)

Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

More for you...