The KBF OPEN just wrote the largest first place check in American kayak fishing tournament history: $16,000.
The 2015 KBF OPEN on Kentucky Lake in Tennessee concluded on March 14th with Nick Lester taking first place. Details are still coming out, but what may be most impressive about this two-day tournament was the first place check - a cool $16,000. Chad Hoover and HOOK1 have teamed with sponsors and managed to draw 158 anglers to come from across the country to compete in an extremely competitive kayak bass fishing tournament with the largest payout in American kayak fishing history.
That's right, $16,000 to first place earned by fishing out of a plastic boat with no motor. And that's not all he won, or even close to all the money given out during this record-setting kayak tournament. There was a Big Bass Category which awarded a Wilderness Systems A.T.A.K. Package worth $6,000. Calloway Rabb took it with a huge 23.25" largemouth bass. He also won two Hook1 $500 gift cards for Saturday and Sunday's Big Bass. The sport of kayak fishing has come a long way.
Nick ended his two days with a five fish limit totaling 92.25" and earning first place honors. Tyson Peterson was close behind in second place with a limit totaling 90.25". CJ Espey, also close in total inches, took third place with 89.50". Michael Chaney placed fourth with 88.25" and Brian Crystaloski rounded out the top five with 87.75".
This was a close event, and anglers battled rain and wind on Friday, which led to several skunked competitors. However, Saturday was a more amicable day for fishing and most caught target fish.
Chad Hoover has been on a mission to bring kayak fishing into the mainstream over the last several years and he's been very successful at it. He is well known for his role in the television show Knot Right Kayak Fishing, which aired on NBC, and his partnership with HOOK1, a kayak fishing gear store with three different locations. However, the KBF is relatively new, in its third year of operation, and growing by leaps and bounds along the way. Chad has also developed a concept for virtual online tournaments broadcast online via the website tourneyx.com.
The 2015 KBF OPEN was a qualifier for the 2016 KBF National Championship. And the top 20 anglers from this weekend's tournament automatically qualified for the National Championship next year. I'm sure those guys are excited. With HOOK1, Wilderness Systems, Bending Branches and All Pro Rods contributing manufacturer's bonus money for competitors using their products, along with Chad Hoover's vision and marketing skills - I imagine the checks are just going to get bigger as the events roll by.