Kevin Brandenburg competes during the regular season on both the River Valley and the NWA Trails. During the regular season Kevin visited the winners circle a couple of times on the River Valley trail, qualified for the Tournament of Champions, and was regularly near the top of the leaderboard at RTT events. Along with competing, Kevin serves on the leadership team for both the Western Arkansas Kayak Anglers and The Razoryak Tournament Trail. Thank you for revealing some of your secrets and congrats on being one of the top 3 kayak anglers at this years championship!
3rd Place Finisher Kevin Brandenburg
On Saturday during pre-fishing I did pretty well catching a limit using my go to Golden’s blackberry ribbon tail (Texas Rigged). I found a spot that had 5 Cyprus trees out about 15 feet from the bank with a 4 foot deep trench between them and the bank. I caught 2 decent fish on the inside of those trees that day and figured it was probably a good ambush spot for bass chasing bait in that trench. The others I caught that day where along the bank, but the biggest (17 incher) came from the center of the cove in 12 feet of water with a brushy bottom. I saw lots of fish in the middle, but figured it was mostly crappie with a few friendly bass mixed in and a few test casts proved that this might be so.
Although I caught a limit pre-fishing and I felt I had a plan for tournament day, but the stories and pictures of all the big bass being pulled out that day made me think that the best plan was not to have a plan and just go out casting. Considering I was riding with Jeff Bell and my Kayak was behind his truck, I was pretty much going to have to launch from wherever he decided anyways. Luckily, he wanted to launch from the same place so I just stuck to my initial plan of hitting that Cyprus honey hole first and grab one from there, and then just start pounding the banks giving that honey hole 30 minutes or so to reset itself and hit it again. More less just keep repeating that.
On tournament day I headed straight for the inside of those 5 Cyprus trees and on my second cast my plan was a success but she spit out the worm alongside the yak. She hit it just a few feet from the boat and I didn’t get a good hook set. I pounded it for another five or so casts with no result so I went and started hitting the bank to let that spot reset and not 10 minutes later caught another decent one, but when reaching for the net she too spit out the worm. At this point I was a little frustrated, I wasn’t on the water more than 30 minutes and two nice measureable fish had already been lost, but working the bank it wasn’t long and I managed to finally get one on the card. The wind was blowing pretty hard in that cove and I couldn’t fish as slow as I would have liked to and did a lot of paddling to the mouth of the cove and letting the wind push me down into the cove along the bank.
Soon several competitors started fishing the same cove and hitting the same banks, even hitting my honey hole which I was trying to let reset, but watching them I noticed they were hitting the deeper side facing the inside of the cove so I was hoping it wouldn’t effect where I knew they would be grouping to ambush. While the anglers crowded the banks, I decided to hit the center of cove where I landed that 17” the previous day. By 9:45 I had caught 4 more fish from the middle but only 2 measureable giving me 3 total. My 4th came from trying my initial honey hole one last time and was happy that ended up being a success. My plan then was to get that 5th then leave the cove and try to find a kicker maybe hugging one of the trees out in the middle of the lake but unfortunately they just quit biting and when 11:30 rolled around I figured I would try and go find that kicker so I headed for the middle of the lake but with the wind blowing and with all the hidden stumps, I felt more worried out there about getting dumped in the lake then getting that 5th, so I headed back to the same cove and decided to try deeper into the cove where several big trees had fallen into the water, but it was also much shallower. By this time, most of other anglers had moved on and the wind actually started to calm. Jeff Bell and I had decided to meet back at the ramp at 1:45 so I knew I only had about 45 minutes left of fishing before having to start paddling back. Luckily, the decision worked out in my favor and a managed to pull out my 5th at 1:15. Although I was satisfied with making a limit, almost everyone I had talked with had been catching fish so it wasn’t even in my mind that I might make the top 10. I was just happy to have a full card for RTT’s first State Championship.
Back around the campfire, after I had turning in my card and talking with others, that’s when I found out that fishing had been slow for many of the anglers and I might just have a chance at making the top 5. Taking 3rd place was a huge surprise and I credit that with sticking with my plan, using Golden’s Baits ribbon tails, grinding it out, and the fact that Jeff Bell didn’t decide to go to the North end that day. I used only one rod, the first 4 were caught on Golden’s Blackberry Ribbon tail with the 5th being caught on a Zoom ribbon tail which was a brighter blue with gold flecks. I was just a matter of wanting to give the fish something different to look at but still keep to a Texas Rigged ribbon tail which seemed to be working as they did the day before. This year I managed to place 1st in two tournaments and now 3rd at the State Championship. Every bit of that I credit to every individual I have had the pleasure to fish with this year in the Razoryak Tournament Trail. I have learned so much and have so much more to learn from all the great members. Thanks for making RTT the best kayak fishing trail to be part of.
Congratulations to all that participated in the event. Everyone was a winner being at the first ever Arkansas Kayak Fishing State Championship. A huge congratulations to Jason Cossey for taking first place and a special thanks also to Jeff Malott and Brandon Taylor for doing such a great job in running the tournament.