By Mike Stevens
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and in the case of the Kayak Angler Tournament Series (KATS), it gets bigger year after year. Already standing as the largest freshwater kayak fishing tournament in Texas, total participation in the series' ten qualifying events along with the classic eclipsed the 600-angler mark.
Along with the Classic title, anglers in the pro division are chasing awards like Kayak Angler of the Year (top 5 scores) and King of the Fish (most inches overall). The 2014 Classic was a two-day event held on two different bodies of water, Lady Bird and Decker Lake in Austin, and the winner was no stranger to the event. Bobby Lebeuf won the Classic in 2012, and his 194.5 inches in 2014 was good enough to take home his second title. Another KATS veteran, Tory Lawson paddled his sit-inside 'yak to 175.75 inches and a second place finish, and last year's KATS Kayak Angler of the Year and King of the Fish, Brandon Campbell, finished in third. Lawson also took Big Bass honors in the event with a 25-inch toad and scored a Diablo Amigo kayak for his efforts.
Houston's Daniel Peters, a pro staffer for Native Watercraft, won both Kayak Angler of the Year and King of the Fish Honors for the 2014, and he took home a sweet prize package that included a Malone Microsport Trailer, an Old Town Predator 13, a Native Watercraft Slayer Propel kayak, and a bunch of stuff from the tour's numerous sponsors. Speaking of the sponsors, they kicked down almost $60,000 worth of raffle prizes and event materials in 2014.
In the ten qualifying events, anglers compete to determine which division (pro or social) they will fish in over the course of the season. The pro division holds the top kayak anglers in central Texas, while the social division is for beginners or those looking to get a feel for the tournament scene and how it operates.