One Extreme fish takes the win at offshore September Slam
By Ben Duchesney
Only three years in, the Extreme Kayak Fishing (EKF) Tournament series is living up to its name. If you want to stand on the stage when the day is done, take the champion's trophy from a bikini girl, then hold the hardware high while the champagne showers and the crowd cheers, you better go big.
Brian Nelli of Pushin' Water Kayak Fishing Charters is up to the task. At this year's September Slam contested the weekend of the 27th in the waters offshore of Pompano Beach, Florida, he did it with just one fish, a 34.3-pound king.
"It feels great to come back and win it after taking second in the May Madness," the consistent offshore threat says. "When I caught [the king] I was pumped, as I knew it would probably win the big pelagic category and put me in the top five, but I didn’t think I had it won."
Nelli has been fishing competitively for the past five years. "I got started because I'm competitive in everything I do," he says. "You improve your skills in the days, weeks and months before a tourney."
82 kayak anglers fished the September Slam, which featured live entertainment, a raffle with $10,000 in prizes and a festival with food and games.
"This tournament series is great. It has also brought kayak fishing, especially offshore kayak fishing, to people that may have never even thought that you could fish off a kayak," Nelli says. "The big money prizes also draw in guys that fish offshore powerboat tournaments that are willing to give kayak fishing a shot."
The EKF website sets the stage—and expectations. "This event wants nothing to do with skinny water, that's too lame. This crew is after bigger game," it reads. EKF tournaments are the largest on the East Coast to highlight beyond the breakers (BTB) pelagic fishing. Payouts are stratospheric for kayak fishing, exceeding those of the IFA kayak fishing series. In addition to a glittering trophy worthy of a NASCAR winner, Nelli collected $3000 in cash provided by Turbo US and a showcase of merchandise prizes highlighted by an ENGEL SUP paddle board worth $1,600.
"The series brings in a lot of new people to the sport," says Nelli. "I think all anglers should come out and give it a try. If you have ever thought about fishing offshore, the tournament is a good way to meet some people, check out how they rig their boats and see what equipment they use."
Joe Krantz came in with a total weight of 24.5 pounds, good for second place. He took home $500 and a Hobie Outback kayak. Rob Rodriguez wasn't far behind at 22.1 pounds. His third place finish also earned him a Hobie.
The next Extreme Series event, "The Battle in the Bahamas" in Freeport, Grand Bahamas, will take place in 2014. Learn more at www.extremekayakfishing.com.