Cates Wins 2014 Tournament of Champions

The winners of the Lake Fork Tournament of Champions claim their prizes. Courtesy photo, Tournament of Champions.

The winners of the Lake Fork Tournament of Champions claim their prizes. Courtesy photo, Tournament of Champions.

By Paul Lebowitz

Over the weekend of November 8-9, 59 of the best club anglers from around the heartland converged on Texas big bass factory Lake Fork for the Tournament of Champions. The event carried a hefty $200 entry fee, pitting the top five finishers from any kayak fishing club or tournament trail in the country against one another.

“Some drove over 800 miles, and represented 14 states. I have never seen that kind of commitment, discipline, integrity, and courage in a kayak bass fishing tournament, tournament director Beau Reed said.

Reed dubbed his “exclusive best of the best, high risk, high reward” format a world championship.

“There was no sanctioning body / entity that I had to clear something like this through. There was nobody to tell me that I couldn’t host the kayak bass fishing world championship,” Reed said.

Prefishing in the days leading up to the event was marred by a spell of bad weather that lingered into the Saturday open qualifier. 11 anglers battled temperatures in the 30s and nasty wind gusts for one of five passes to the main event, paced by Clinton Holstine’s qualifier-best 77 inches.

Championship day dawned clear and calm at the tournament headquarters at Lake Fork Marina and Motel, leading to improved fishing and an incredibly closely contested finish. Capital City Kayak Fishing representative Michael James Cates, who’d battled his way through the open qualifier, brought in 92.75 inches of bass to claim first place and $6,372 in cash, as well as lifetime access to the event.

Robert Morton finished only .25 inches behind Cates, good for $2,124 in cash. Morton qualified through the Bluegrass Yakmasters. Brian Slone of the Bluegrass Yakmasters from Kentucky was third with 92 inches ($1,062). Robert Dockery’s 22.5-inch largemouth claimed the $1,250 Big Bass side pot.

“We expect to continue to hold this event annually, with the exclusivity and prestige it deserves. Seven new clubs are already signed on for next year, and the competition will get even more fierce,” Reed said. The 2015 Tournament of Champions: Kayak Bass Fishing World Championship is set for November 7-8 at Lake Fork, Texas.