Saturday, December 6, 2014

Arkansas Kayak Anglers

Some of the AKA at Hickory Creek on Beaver Lake for a 2014 Tournament
In the late fall of 2013 Ben Morton, Cody Green, and myself met a local lake for a typical weekend fishing trip. We paddled around catching a few fish here and there, but mainly we just talked and started throwing ideas around about growing the sport of kayak fishing in our area.

 For several months some of the guys we fished with discussed how Arkansas needed a kayak fishing group and/or tournament series that would compare to others we had seen in surrounding states. The three of us thought we had some good ideas about how to run a tournament based on past experience in other events. So we decided to throw together a jackpot style big bass event in late December to see how things went.

The weather did not cooperate, there were 20 mph winds and sub freezing temperatures. But the turnout was great, with 16 anglers from as far as Tulsa showing up to fish the event. We had a lot of fun telling fish stories as we thawed out at a local restaurant. That event became the launch point for what was to become the Arkansas Kayak Anglers and The Razoryak Tournament Trail. Ben, Cody, and myself reached out to other anglers in the area and set up our first meeting in January of 2015. The "founding fathers" that were a part of the initial AKA organizational committee were: Cody Green, Ben Morton, Jackie Wright, Tim Hotchkin, Gerrad Golden, Jimmy Davis, Josh Sherrill, Kyle Fields, Clifton Calvert, Charlie Bond, and myself.

Some of us didn't even know each other before that night, only speaking on social media outlets and message boards. The group gelled immediately and we laid out plans for a tournament series and fishing club. The mission was to cultivate a community type atmosphere that would bring people together and help anglers around the state make new friends and feel like they were a part of something FUN. The tournament series took the most planning, but it was set up as a means to get people to come out and socialize as much as it was for the competition. Long story short, 2014 was a huge success!

Response from sponsors was overwhelming. With their help we were able to give away so many great prizes just for entering the tournament. Most of these prizes were worth more than the entry fee, so the majority of the field walked away happy even if they had a rough day fishing. Yak Gear, Ozark Mountain Trading Co, Hook 1 Oklahoma, Academy Sports, Cabelas, Southtown Sporting Goods, Hook Line and Sinker, Destroyer Bait Co, Goldens Baits, Polar Bear Coolers, Big Ed's Outdoor Show, Kayak Angler Magazine, and PJ's Finesse Baits all jumped on board.

2014 Statistics:
176 tournament entries
Entrants from 3 different states
977 Facebook Page Fans
285 AKA fb group members
223 RTT fb group members

We pushed the impending season on social media and used word of mouth at local outfitters. Our facebook fan page and groups exploded. The tournament series gained momentum and the season ended up being a great one. Eight tournaments with eight different winners, and every event saw at least one new angler attend. Our group was proud of the participation we were able to draw, but more than anything we accomplished our goal of growing the kayak fishing community in this region. So many new friends were made and new anglers are still popping up on social media wanting to get involved almost every week. 2015 is setting up to be even bigger and better so if you have a chance and want to get involved with a great group of anglers go to arkansaskayakanglers.com or look up the facebook page so you can make plans to attend the next event.

See you on the water!





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