The use of mobile apps for Catch, Photo and Release (CPR) tournaments is growing in popularity. This device-based fish submission technology also means tournaments can be held in the virtual world, regardless of geography. Arguably the largest and most well-known online tournament series is Angler Combat - a digital tournament which is quickly creating some buzz in the kayak fishing community.
In short, Angler Combat is an online tournament series allowing anglers to compete in different geographic areas (North and South) and in different methods (Land, Kayak and Boat). If you want to know more about how Angler Combat works, or learn about some BIG changes coming to Angler Combat, read this article on Kayak Fishing Focus.
If you aren’t sure about participating in an online tournament, or are on the fence about participating, this article is for you. I asked Arkansas Kayak Anglers members Jeff Malott and Jason Adams to participate in a round-table to hear their perspectives on the Angler Combat experience.
How long have you participated in the Angler Combat?
Adams: Since the first tournament in November 2015. I took advantage of the special introductory deal and got 6 months for $40. Typically it is $10 per month which is still a great deal considering the prize packages.
Malott: Since day one - I signed up using the 6 months for $40 promotion.
Kincy: December was my first month to compete. I’d heard about it from other Arkansas Kayak Anglers members and thought it sounded fun to try.
Why did you decide to give it a try?
Adams: Angler Combat is an interesting format. I liked using the iAngler Tournament app at the KBS tournaments because you can upload your photos and get feedback rather quickly after submitting a catch.
Malott: I thought it would keep me in competition mode during the live tournament downtime that most of us face in this region during winter.
Kincy: It was tournament off-season and I’d heard some others talking about it. The idea sounded interesting and for the price of entry it was worth giving it a try. I also looked forward to trying out the photo submission process using the app.
What are your thoughts on how it is going so far?
Adams: I’ve noticed that I am going fishing more often in months when I typically don’t log any catches. I have a desire to compete and Angler Combat has gotten me out on the lake and fulfilled that competitive drive. I’ve found this format to be very satisfying by opening up new opportunities to fish year round and to learn new techniques for catching winter bass.
Malott: It has been a lot of fun, but it is somewhat frustrating watching the guys from Austin and Florida dominate. But that is just part of it, pushes me to target big fish here and see how Arkansas stacks up.
Kincy: I enjoyed the first month of competition and I plan to continue to participate. It does cause you to go fishing with a purpose, which helps me focus and really work on landing some good fish. The opportunity to win a prize on top of it is a nice bonus.
How do you feel about the ease of use of the iAngler Tournament app?
Adams: Initially, I had a few issues with the login. I’ve used the app for a KBS tournament previously but had to reset the app before using it for Angler Combat. I contacted the support team and they helped me quickly resolve this issue.
A unique identifier is posted to the Angler Combat webpage on the first day of each month. I learned a lesson early on. One day I went out and didn’t know the unique identifier and couldn’t get a signal on my phone to look it up. Now I check it out before leaving the house and store the ID in Notes on my iPhone. There is also a card that can be downloaded and printed out. Just have to include the unique id in the picture so they can validate the catch as with all CPR tournaments. For me I prefer to write the code on my hand.
I’ve noticed it’s more efficient to log the fish immediately. One time waited to log a catch after leaving the lake, and had to adjust the time and GPS manually. I know they can check the metadata on the picture but I think it’s better to adjust it for long term record-keeping.
Malott: The iAngler Tournament app works well. A few other anglers that have fished Angler Combat ran into some glitches but my experience has been a good one thus far.
Kincy: Downloading the iAngler Tournament app was simple enough, as was setting up the account. Early on I was having trouble submitting my catches but the Angler Combat support team helped determine that I had not updated the iOS on my phone and after the update it has worked well since then. It’s easy to use and I like the drag and center function for identifying fish location if you are uploading fish at a later time.
How long do you plan on continuing to participate?
Adams: I will continue participating for the 6 month duration. Hopefully this gets more publicity so more anglers will participate. As I fish next to guys in bass boats they ask me if I’m in a tournament because I’m measuring my fish and taking pictures. I try to tell them about the online format verbally, but it may better to have a card of some type to hand out explaining how they too can get involved.
Malott: I will at least run out the six month time period, after that we will see. I will have my hands full fishing the RTT and KBS circuits and want to concentrate my efforts there.
Kincy: I plan to fish for some more months and really give it a try. Once tournament season heats up I’m not sure how easy it will be to focus on that and Angler Combat. If it isn’t too difficult I might keep going, particularly if I can submit fish for both the live tournament and the online one. I agree with Jason’s comments above – when talking with other anglers they are always intrigued by the concept of an online tournament and it’s difficult to explain while on the water without some sort of decal, card or handout.
Any other comments about Angler Combat?
Adams: There are some issues with being competitive, especially with how the boundaries are set up. It is split with North and South divisions. For me living in NW Arkansas, one of my favorite fisheries is just across the state line at Shadow Lake which is part of the Elk River in Missouri. This great place to catch fish and socialize with other kayakers but is in the North Division. I signed up for the South Division. I guess I can sign up for both North and South divisions but I can see where it will become a little too much to keep up with once the regular season tournaments starts back up.
The South Division is very tough. The competition includes anglers from Texas, California, and Florida. Those anglers typically log 100 plus inches on one outing making it very difficult to compete. (NOTE – Read about BIG changes coming to Angler Combat on this issue!)
Overall the format is really cool. I see this technology like the iAngler Tournament app and the TourneyX website catching on. I hear it is really expensive and that is why most local tournament trails rely on the anglers meeting up at a specified time, turning in their phones or SD cards for tournament directors to validate pictures. I believe this format will help grow the sport. It gives the weekend angler a chance to compete that might not have had a chance otherwise. I believe it is the only format that includes fishing from a boat, kayak, or land. It really has something for every type of angler who wants to compete.
Malott: If I could improve anything it would be using a formula to adjust for regional size differences in average fish size. Or break down the regions a little more to level the playing field somewhat. But, until participation numbers really grow that probably is not feasible. Overall I think it accomplishes the goal of giving competition junkies like me an outlet for a low price tag. I should add that the prize payouts and packages are unreal for a $10 entry fee. Kudos to the sponsors and organizers for making that happen!
Kincy: Jeff and Jason touched on some of my suggestions. I agree that it is difficult for non-gulf states to compete with those in the deep south. Angler Combat has just announced key changes to alleviate this issue, which is very exciting! It is a lot of fun and is even more fun if others from your club are participating – I like to see how I’m doing against my fellow club members.
Overall this is a unique tournament that seems really well run. It provides great prizes in exchange for a $10 per month entry fee. I believe we’re all rooting for this to be a successful enterprise; it could be great for fostering growth of the sport and providing more connections in the kayak fishing community. Participating in this is great practice in the off-season to stay sharp and does make you a better angler. We definitely encourage additional kayak anglers to get involved and give it a try!