Author Archives: Marty

National Kayak Bass Fishing Trail Combined AOY Leaderboard

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!  

The Evolution of Nebraska Kayak Bass Fishing Derby’s

By Marty Hughes

Whether a novice or seasoned veteran in the sport of kayak fishing the spirit of competition is alive and well in the state of Nebraska! We have seen the number of events grow the past few years and you can pretty much fish in a derby just about every week from May to October. The purpose of the information given in this article is to help us better understand how we can grow our sport of kayak bass fishing in Nebraska and determine the best times of year and places to fish without being overcrowded on these waters we choose to compete. 

Currently, there are four different weeknight leagues in the eastern part of the state you can participate in with the possibility of more on the way.  There are basically three to four organizations offering these events each season. Recently, we compiled the results from a high percentage of the kayak bass fishing tournaments back to 2013. Before the advent of online software to record results most tournaments were kept on a laptop spreadsheet and posted online. From 2013 to 2018 results were difficult to find and we are still looking for a few of them yet. The tournaments from 2019 to 2023 give us more accurate information about location, participation, numbers of fish submitted, and results. 

Nebraska has much to offer in surface acres of water to fish but one drawback is the size of most of the lakes. Recent data completed by UNL Fish & Wildlife Research Cooperative Unit shows that we have a discontinuity in waterbody size within our borders. They determined that we have 559 extra small public lakes that range from .4 acres to 104 acres. There are 20 small lakes ranging from 115 to 182 acres. Then we have 22 medium size lakes 223 acres to 465 acres and 17 larger lakes in the 648 to 12,141 acre range.  This might be the reason we see numerous “roadrunner” events each year offered by kayak bass fishing organizations. Also, the number of fish in these lakes available to catch can also be a huge factor in determining whether or not it would be a viable fishery for a derby to begin with. Fishing pressure, especially with lakes within and around more urban areas can make fishing more difficult. 

What we have seen from the results of these kayak bass fishing tournaments is that those used in the urban areas have seen more catches. This may be due to the “roadrunner” style format which can spread anglers out and give more opportunities to catch fish. The graphic below shows the top five results in our state with 4 of the 5 tournaments in an urban area. Yankee Hill and the Lewis and Clark area showed out among top places to fish between 2019 and 2021. 

From what we know in gathering the tournament data there has not been a century mark total yet in Nebraska during a live one day 5 fish limit tournament. Month long online events have proven that we have a lot of large bass in the state with top scores consistently exceeding 100 inches.  Below are the top 5 one day limits that we found. These are very good 5 fish limits from eight hour tournaments and all from completely different anglers. Nebraska has numerous elite caliber anglers as you can see below and as evidenced from high national finishes in recent years. 

Most events in recent years average between 27 and 32 anglers. This past year the average per event dropped to around 21 anglers per event.  This could be due in large part to the offering of more series events in local states and the scheduling of more events outside the state on larger bodies of water available to fish by our local organizations. These are only assumptions as the pandemic may have given us more participation before 2023. The three highest attended events were all “roadrunner” style and held in urban areas. One of those, “Fishing for Families” invited boaters and bank anglers as well. 

Most of the events offered in Nebraska are a five fish limit format with some using the “Catch All You Can” concept.  As mentioned in the first part of this article there are also several week night leagues and online events. Those events were not included in this information but we will take a look at them in future articles. Leagues can be held on those smaller waters as they usually draw less competitors than your traditional live events and they also usually have a three fish limit.  The online events give anglers a chance to catch their fish anywhere within the borders of the state unless they are a multi-state event. 

The next set of graphics show the “all time” results of our derbies from 2013 to 2023.  You can obviously see the growth with the number of events offered.  The participation seems to be very level across the last few years.  Like mentioned before, the early years don’t have the complete data and we hope to find more soon. If you know any events that were offered and not included please email us below with that information. We also want to remember that from 2004 to 2019 there were several multi-species tournaments. We did not include those events in this article. With that, here are the results we have accumulated. 

These were the early years. We all looked forward to the one or two live events held each year and the first national event appeared in Texas called the TOC (Tournament of Champions). In 2016 we saw the emergence of more Nebraska events including the T.O.T.C., and the newly formed “Sticks” club. This was the first established kayak bass fishing club in Nebraska. We also had the Midwest Kayak Fishing Series emerge with the first regional competition.  

As you might have noticed we have a few results missing from this period but there is plenty of data to show the growth of events. Participation increased from the previous three years and we saw many new names in the sport emerge as well.

Coming out of the pandemic we saw a consistent increase in participation and the quality of catches were evident as well. Some events branched out across the western and northern part of the state. B.A.S.S.  also established its presence with Nebraska and Colorado state championships taking place. A new club was also established called the Central States Kayak Anglers. 

The last two years we have seen an explosion of kayak bass fishing events all across the country and Nebraska was not an exception to this growth. We had another club emerge called the Heartland Kayak Anglers. Although there were more competitive opportunities 2023 saw an overall slight reduction in participation. There were a lot more events from the clubs listed above conducted outside our borders of Nebraska as well.  There are many common names on these lists and at the same time the number of skilled anglers has increased providing plenty of competition on the local level. Again, there were several league derbies held with some of these anglers participating in them.  

After looking at these results tournament directors and planners might be able to determine which lakes are more promising for their events. With the 2024 season just on the horizon most schedules have been established and it looks like we will have a few more out west.  At the same time we are seeing more and more events being established in bordering states that offer larger lakes to provide more opportunity in catching fish. Another resource to use in determining events could be the Nebraska Game and Parks yearly surveys.  Will we see more “roadrunner” style events or events on our largest lakes? Time will tell. In the meantime, if you enjoy fishing competitively and getting outdoors there are plenty of events to choose from again this next year.  

About the author: Marty Hughes is an avid outdoorsman and  kayak angler who is passionate about growing the sport of kayak fishing across the country.  He has competed in hundreds of kayak fishing tournaments along with running a kayak fishing guide service in Nebraska. He is most known for his legacy in the growth of the sport of kayak fishing. 

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Nebraska R3 Summit Takeaways

This past Saturday, December 1st we attended the Nebraska Game and Parks R3 Summit at Eugene Mahoney State Park. This state park is between Lincoln and Omaha just off the interstate. The facility overlooks the Missouri River to the north with a beautiful view of the landscape. 

The event was well attended by Nebraska Game and Parks Officials, partners, business owners, and dignitaries from across the state and beyond. The R3 Initiative is a nationwide movement focusing on strategically increasing and diversifying participation in and support for hunting, fishing, and shooting sports. The goals for Nebraska are to increase and reactivate participants, retain participants, and maintain support for conservation and outdoor recreation.

Here are some of the takeaways from the sessions we attended.
Game and Parks Summit

Throughout the sessions partnerships with other organizations were emphazied and that the R3 initiative is dependent upon this. The R3 Initiative started in 2007. 

Here are the successes discussed after year one in Nebraska:

Boating Success-Zach Horstman

There were visual inspections completed of how many boat ramps we have in our state and where they are located this past year. They know what we have now after completing this project.  As for boaters 14% own a motorized craft while 15% are in a kayak or canoe. Motorized craft are used the most on our waters. Next steps include compiling data to move forward and find opportunities to move the needle. It was mentioned that paddle craft are more difficult to find.

Boat Ramp and Fish Station Development-Bill Oligmueller
Parks Division ADA Field Sueprvisor

Some of the primary boat ramps being renovated are Enders, Wagon Train, and Indian Cave State Park. There is also some work being done to keep Brownville and Nebraska City open on the Missouri River.  Gallagher Canyon and Midway are also seeing some work with Phillips Canyon getting some development as well. Fish Cleaning stations are being installed at Branched Oak, Conestoga, and Lake Minatare seeing two installed. Kayak launches are being developed at the Danish Alps area.

Fishing Success-Larry Pape

Participation dropped in 2021 after the rise during the pandemic. In 2022 there were 40 programs that contacted 10,000 people. In 2023, there were 250 active programs documented with 15,000 participants. Of these programs 75% were facilitated by certified youth instructors.  Fishing instructors are vital for this success.  Emphasis has been placed on partner and volunteer outreach. They have 40 new recruits. Community fishing efforts were mentioned. 

Hunting Success-Michael Addison

There were great strides made in the hunter education program. They used surveys for conducting workshops in the future. There are youth mentor hunts with one major event happening at Ponca this past weekend.  Their main goal is to get kids more connected in 2024.  There was some information given on the open fields and waters program. 

Parks Division Success-Jeff Fields

A major accomplishment here was was that 80 campsites were added. There are two new campgrounds at Sherman and Box Butte.  The Kearney Outdoor complex upgrades were mentioned. There was an exhibit renovation at Fort Adkisson.  A lot work was spent with foundations who support our parks. Access opportunities added two areas of which Midway is one of them.  

There is continued progress on the venture parks with a bounce village being installed at Louisville. Much has been done with trail developments including a new equestrian trail. There has also been much mountain bike trail work.  There was inventory and assessments made for ADA improvements. An “On Track” program for wheel chair users.  A new event includes the “International Dark Sky” at Merritt Reservoir.  Millions are being allocated for capital maintenance, shower facilities, etc.  Roads are always under construction.  They are maintaining support with conversation and will let us know about the successes happening. There is an emphasis to educate visitors on capital. There will be continued effective use of private and public partnerships. 

Shooting Sports Success-Jeff Rawlinson

Federal funds are used to help these programs. Percentage of funds used was 76%. Nebraska just hired the best shooting range coordinator in the country. They will conduct a range survey to better understand constituents. They learned a lot about anglers, shooters, and park goers.  They learned why some people don’t use shooting ranges. It was learned that 40 miles is the furthest people are willing to drive to use them. Also, competing with other interests. Everything is a partner driven effort. They have reached 25,000 to 30,000 kids with programs. There are many positive things happening. 

Nebraska Bowhunting Education Foundation Information-Marilyn Bentz

They work with 4H programs. Crossbow safety is being developed in Ohio
Over 300 kids went through the pilot program. Two states require bowhunter safety, Alaska and Maine. There is a third project that will tie into R3 efforts and increase participation. There is also an effort to increase the diversity of people participating.
And an effort to recruit more volunteers. 

Nebraska Ladies Outdoor Cohort-Julia Plugge

Showing the path for women in the outdoors.  Female participation in the outdoors was emphasized. 32% of all shooters are women with most using handguns. They are exploring R3 needs with an emphasis on hunting and retaining women in hunting activities. 

Information was giving on the most important reasons women hunt, and participate in archery activities. It’s a healthy source of protien, spending time with kids, enjoying solitude and peace, and being close to nature.

Top constraints keeping women away from hunting is lack of time or health, age, access to land and support, safety concerns, crowding, intimidation, harassment, and that others know what to do and they don’t. Social media can sometimes be a contributor keeping women away from hunting as well.
For shooting sports some of the constraints include lack of time, ammo cost and availability, access, and health. 

There is a ladies hunting cohert which is a new program. A lot has to with helping them become comfortable in the hunting environment. The goal is to have them eventually go out on their own. Women can join the group, ask questions, and share their experiences with others. They can also invite friends, create meet ups, and even post a recipe. The goal is to encourage, learn and engage. We need to provide access and support for women with hunting. 

There is a Nebraska Ladies Hunting Cohort on Facebook.  There are seasonal quarterly gatherings, organized trips, an annual camping trip, social media platform discussions, and even mentoring for new hunters. They can invite a new person on an outdoor experience as well. You don’t have to be an expert to participate. 

Partner R3 Success Stories

Quails forever and Pheasants forever.
Youth Mentor Hunt Days are being held and hosted by local chapters ages 12-17. There is a half day introduction to conservation, dog training, archery, safe firearm handling, and blue rock.  

Next Steps
Increase the mentoring opportunities beyond a one time hunt.
Grow the “Women on the Wing” program. They will expand this program next year. They need help with mentors hunter education courses, youth mentor hunts, chapter volunteers.

Fishing Fish and Wildlife– Daryl Bauer

Gave information about the The Nebraska Fish and Game Association which has been around since 2006. There is an outdoor forum on the web and this is a very active community. It is a private group. They have 129 fishing line recycling bing set up across the state with volunteers who pick up the line and take care of the bins. The bins are sponsored by individuals. 

They also run the Branched Oak Lake “White Perch Tournament” which involves hundreds of youth each year.  It also emphasizes the control of invasive species. 

NEFGA recognizes the importance of conversation especially with the forum. If you wish to collaborate with them on projects you can email them at

National Wild Turkey Federation R3 Effort-Michael Addison-Hunting and Shooting Sports R3 Coordinator

National outreach efforts have been established with a “Jakes for Youths” focus.  Also with “WITO” (Women in the Outdoors) and the “Wheelin’) SJakes-for youth focus
Wito Women in the outdoors and the “Wheelin’ Sportsmen.”  They will provide opportunities for recruitment retention and reactivation and impact through local chapters. 

New and Upcoming Efforts
“Hunt for Good”
Highlights all the good things about hunting.

There was a short presentation on the NRD’s and development there.  A discussion was had on access to rivers which is a concern for paddlers across the state. 

There were a few breakout sessions and the one we found very interesting was about a Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit study on the number and size of our lakes with emphasis harvesting data and their performance as a fishery. (More on that later!) 

In conclusion we found this summit very beneficial in learning about the efforts of our Nebraska Game and Parks with the R3 Initiative.  There are numerous avenues for outdoor enthusiasts with an active effort to increase the participation and retention of people in the outdoors. 

About the author: Marty Hughes is an avid outdoorsman and  kayak angler who is passionate about growing the sport of kayak fishing across the country.  He has competed in hundreds of kayak fishing tournaments along with running a kayak fishing guide service in Nebraska. He is most known for his legacy in the growth of the sport of kayak fishing. 

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2024 Kayak Bass Fishing National and Regional Trails Taking Shape

By Marty Hughes

Just a few years ago there was only one national kayak fishing event. It was held at Lake Fork and called the TOC (Tournament of Champions). It grew into the Yak4It Tournament of Champions. Anglers could qualify from their local events in any state. 

The kayak bass fishing trail events are expanding even more in ’24! Kayak bass fishing has grown exponentially the last few years and the offerings for high stakes events on premier fisheries has made these premier tournaments for the kayak anglers who wishes to travel and compete in them.

Choosing the trail that is best suited for you can be a daunting challenge when looking at the map. Most tournament directors are working together these days to schedule their events so that they don’t stack up on each other. They are also coordinating rule changes and common practices to make things more uniform for the regional and national trail kayak angler.

This year features some of the regular national trails we have grown accustomed to such as the Kayak Bass Fishing Trail Series, Hobie BOS, and the rising popularity of the Bassmaster Kayak Series. There is also the All American Trail which is more midwest oriented and the new kid on the block, Drew Gregory’s Kayak Adventure Series which stretches out in the eastern sections of the country and the upper midwest river systems. Whatever your style or strength there is a trail for you! Most all of them have a championship event you can qualify for in the end. With all that is out there coordinating these events with your local tournament trails could be quite the challenge this year!

Let’s take a brief look at some of these trails. The Hobie BOS directed by AJ McWhorter is well known in the kayak bass fishing world. It offers some big money with $80,000 going into the hands of numerous elite anglers just this past month of November on Chickamauga Lake, Tennessee. There is an AOY race and it should again be a dandy with the top 3 usually qualifying for the Hobie World Championships. Next season they will start out at the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida on January 27th. They will then move on to Sam Rayburn, Texas in February. Other destinations this next season include Logan Martin, Alabama, Lake Norman, North Carolina, Wright Patman Lake, Texas, Cayuga Lake, New York, Saginaw River and Bay, Michigan, Lake Chickamauga, Tennessee, with the Championship slated for Santee Cooper Lakes late next fall. The sleeper here could be Wright Patman near Texarkana, Texas which doesn’t get the pressure that most Texas lakes get during the spring and summer months. There could be some big fish caught there! It’s also going to be an even slate for all anglers as there has never been a major event conducted on this fishery.

The Bassmaster Series coordinated by Steve Owens who has brought this series to the top of the food chain has put together events on numerous premier fisheries for 2024. The series starts out on Lake Murray in South Carolina this year. It looks to be timed at the right time of year for some big fish to be caught there! This event will be followed up the the Bassmaster Championship in conjunction with Bassmaster Classic in Oklahoma. The anglers will compete on Lake Tenkiller in what looks like just around pre-spawn. The top 10 anglers will cross the Classic stage and be recognized on a national level. The Bassmaster events will then proceed across the country traveling to the Susquehanna again, Guntersville, Possum Kingdom, and finishing up at Caddo Lake next October. 

An “Old Dog” of sorts in the kayak bass fishing world is the KBF which was started by legendary Chad Hoover who has grown the sport of kayak fishing with trails all across the country from coast to coast. While the entire trail series is not out yet a few events have been posted to help anglers plan their 2024 trails.

These three trails seem to be the top series in the country as we speak. Emerging into the lineup would be the All American Series and Drew Gregory’s Adventure Trail Series.

If you are looking for something unique the guys over at Native Watercraft offer a “Catch All You Can” format that encompasses a “Power Hour” big bass cash bonus as well. You can win $1,000 cash each hour for the biggest bass caught during that time period. There are also cash prizes for the top placers and a drawing for kayak giveaways as well! These events are spread all across the country and their schedule for 2024 should be out very soon.

Also, two big events to look forward to are the All American Classic which requires qualifying through your local clubs and the Eco Fishing Shop Big Bass 250 in Missouri as well. They offer big cash and lots of great prizes!

Organizing our fishing schedules can be a daunting task so we have put together a tournament spreadsheet and national map to make it easier for anglers to plan. The spreadsheet shows the events by series and you will be able to click on the title of the event which will take you directly to the registration page. You can also scroll down and look for any conflicts in your schedule. A great way to see if your local schedules blend in with your national trail schedule is to add them in sections at the bottom.

There is also a map feature where you can click on the icon of your favorite series and it will give details on the event for that area. You can click on a link taking you to the registration page as well. There is also a way to check for directions to the event.

It should be another exciting season ahead in the kayak bass fishing world and we are looking forward to seeing you all on the water at some point! In the meantime, we hope you find this information useful in planning your 2024 season! Good luck and tight lines to you all!

To see more kayak fishing events you can visit the Kayak, Buy, Sell, Trade events page. Tournament directors can list their series or events there as well. 

About the Author: Marty Hughes is an avid kayak angler who is passionate about growing the sport of kayak fishing across the country.  He has competed in hundreds of kayak fishing tournaments along with running a kayak fishing guide service in Nebraska. He is most known for his legacy in the growth of the sport of kayak fishing. 

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