Anyone who fishes the kayak bass fishing trails most likely knows some of the names listed below in the AOY standings for each organization that hosts these events. The KBF (Kayak Bass Fishing) as it is known, the Hobie BOS, (Bass Open Series) and the BASSMASTER Kayak Series have risen to the top as national trails where anglers can compete at a high level. These events are open to any angler in the country. There are also championship events for each of these trails which are limited to the qualifiers from the angler of the year points and other events they may offer. The Hobie BOS has completed their championship event with Nebraska’s Brady Storrs taking the crown for 2023. The 2023 BASSMASTER and KBF events will take place this next March. As for the Angler of the Year in each individual trail series, top gun Rus Snyders of Tennessee won the BASSMASTER Kayak Series title, Ewing Minor of West Virginia took top honors with the Hobie BOS series, and Wyatt Hammond of North Carolina was top dog in the KBF trail series. Running these events is no easy task and we want to thank Chad Hoover (KBF), AJ McWhorter (Hobie BOS), and Steve Owens (Bassmaster Series) and their teams of people who put an incredible effort to make these events the pinnacle of kayak bass fishing. We also want to thank all the sponsors who make these events what they are today.
What we have done here is compile the angler of the year points for each national trail series and gave 100 points for 1st, 99 for 2nd, 98 for third, and so on to the top 100 anglers in each. We then added them together to determine the top 40 anglers of the year based on AOY only for these events. We will add the championship events together as they are completed next March. With this compilation we can see who the “Ironmen” and women are of the sport traveling tens of thousands of miles on the road and hundreds of hours on the water, not to mention studying maps and other information to help them succeed.
Some interesting findings gave us insight into participation and the ability to fish all three national trails. What we found were only five anglers of the top 40 competed and finished in the top 100 of all three trails. One might think there were more and there were only six more anglers who competed in at least two trails. The remainder of the top 40 were compiled by their one trail finish. This might show how difficult it is to travel and compete at this level when attempting to fish all three trails. Another interesting bit of information is that 19 states were represented by the 40 anglers. Most of the states included the eastern half of the country. Tennessee, Indiana, and Virginia topped the list with four anglers each. Not surprising is that Tennessee’s Rus Snyders topped the entire list with 280 points and basically ran away with the combined AOY title followed by another legend in the sport, Kristine Fischer of Nebraska with 255 points. Rounding out third in the standings was well known legend Jody Queen of West Virginia with 215 points.
Participation for these events shows the interest in national caliber events with kayak bass fishing. BASSMASTER opens contributed 726 participants in only 5 events this past year. The Hobie BOS series continued its popularity with 583 anglers in 10 events with the top 60 anglers qualifying for their national event held at Lake Chickamauga this past fall. The KBF trail has been around for many years and with the emergence of these other two trails has dropped in participation from recent years with 336 anglers in 14 trail events.
There are also emerging regional trails including the All American Kayak Series and the new kid on the block Drew Gregory’s Adventure Series. The All American Kayak Series operates primarily in the midwest states while the Adventure Series will focus on the eastern half of the country. The All American Series also conducts a “club” championship in March on Truman Lake, Missouri each year. The top 15 from each club qualify for the All American Classic which crowns a “Club” champion and top anglers from those organizations.
The 2024 national trail schedules are already out and they look to be some of the best we’ve seen yet. An angler can choose to focus on just one trail or attempt to do all three. There is a level for every angler out there who wishes to compete from the weeknight leagues to local and regional events, to national caliber contests across the country. If you like to catch a lot of bass the Native Watercraft “Catch All You Can” national trail might be an avenue to pursue as well! While no AOY points are kept an angler can focus on catching big fish or lots of fish! It caters to both types of strategies.
As kayak fishing grows there will be new challenges along the way but one thing for sure is that there will always be plenty of events to choose from in the future! Good luck to all the anglers out there this next season!