By Paul Lebowitz
Everything's bigger in Texas, including the buy-in for the new kayak fishing Tournament of Champions. Punching a ticket for the event billed as the next level of kayak bass battle will set an angler back a record two C notes. That’s about double the buy-in the most expensive kayak events have asked to this point, a record. But tournament owner Beau J. Reed of Austin-based Capital City Kayak Fishing is a reasonable guy. He'll also accept a pair of Benjamins. Ante up!
"There's been a lot of chatter," Reed says of the entry fee. Some Facebook commenters aren't too keen on the high stakes. They say it's too much for a tournament for guys fishing from plastic boats. Reed, a former US Marine whose fishing history includes time fishing powerboat bass tournaments, has been running events for his Capital City Kayak Fishing club for a couple years. He isn't put off by the naysayers.
"We're taking a bold leap. You can't be scared to take them. As we say here in Texas, some guys love to chase the money. We love the competition," he says. Reed is promising 90 percent payback for his ambitious November 8-9 event at Lake Fork.
"An overall best of the best format on a beast of a lake. It can turn out massive stringers," he says. Reed claims Lake Fork is a level playing field, too remote for the locals to extensively prefish.
Overall first place will earn about $2,460 if 21 anglers show. That's nothing historic if the field is so modest. Reed says he's got more competitors than that signed on now and additional entries on the way. He's aiming for a big number, at least $5,000 for the champion. That kind of money is interesting. Very. And then there's the hardware and bragging rights.
"We want to be the first to crown a world kayak fishing bass champion," Reed says.
Cash one thing but that's a huge claim. Why would anyone consider it legit?
"We've opened it up worldwide. We've got guys representing Ontario, Canada, North Dakota, New Mexico, Colorado, California, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois..."
Okay, okay, how's it work? Reed is extending invitations straight to the day two fish-off for anyone who can brag a top five finish in kayak fishing club event, tournament trail or series this year. Everyone else must fish the Saturday qualifier. The top five will fish Sunday with the automatic qualifiers for all the dough. Best five fish in traditional kayak Catch, Photo, Release format. Reed says the bass that come out of Lake Fork are too big to keep a fat Texas limit healthy even on a bass boat, so it's all for the best.
"It will come down to work ethic, commitment and dedication, your talent against his talent. We're up to over 12 clubs confirmed, anglers who are ready to step up and compete for more money at a more professional level. We bring the cold hard cash," Reed says.