World’s Largest Kayak Fishing Tourny Wraps up in Florida
Subtropical storm Andrea might have churned up the waters beforehand, but that didn’t stop more than 280 kayak fisherman taking to the inshore waters of North Florida in the 4th annual Jacksonville Kayak Fishing Classic May 12-13. With over $60,000 in prizes and 100 sponsors, the Classic has grown to become the largest kayak fishing event in the world. “The fish catching this year was the best ever,” says tournament director Mike Kogan. “After Andrea came through we were concerned, but the weather cleared and the bite was on. More than 12 anglers scored impressive slams, and more than 14 overslot redfish were photographed and released.”
The catch-photo-release tournament, which had entrants competing for a record 17 new fish kayaks, is run by JaxKayakFishing.com, Jacksonville’s kayak fishing community, and benefits Daniel’s Kids, Florida’s oldest children’s services organization. “There are no cash prizes because we want to de-incentivize the cutthroat competition, but people are going to get showered in prizes,” Kogan says, pointing out that event proceeds benefit the Daniel Memorial children’s service programs.
“In an incredible showing of support from the kayak fishing community the Classic raised over $22,000 for the children of Daniel,” says Daniel President Jim Clark. “We’re thrilled to be associated with such a world-class event, and want to thank the kayak anglers of North Florida for their generous support.”
We know you’re holding your breath, so now for the results: First-place honors in the redfish-trout-flounder slam with 63.4″ went to Todd Derringer of St. Augustine, FL, who won a fully equipped Ocean Kayak Big Game Prowler. Derringer was closely followed by Charles Ganoe with 62.2”, Justin Loudermilk with 61.9”, and Blake Beltz with 59.5”. Bradford Lydick of Yulee, FL won biggest red honors with a 37.5” fish and took home a Hobie Outback Revolution.
Jacksonville’s “Outback” Bill Smith won top trout honors and a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160i with a 23.5” trout. Iko Carrasco won biggest flounder with an 18.1” fish and brought home a Malibu X-Factor. Rich Santos led the biggest red-on-fly division with a 32.2” red, and Rusty Fissette won biggest trout-on-fly with a 15” fish. The Temple Fork Outfitters Jr. Angler award went to 13-year old Chris Morrill, and the Lady Angler honors went to Anne Smith.
It’s no surprise to Mike Kogan that the Jacksonville Kayak Fishing Classic has evolved into the world’s largest paddle fishing tournament. Kogan, directing the May 11-12 event in its fourth year, knows it’s all about location, location, location. “Jacksonville is a kayak fishing Mecca,” he said. “There are zillions of put-ins for access to roughly 400 miles of coastline in a tremendously diverse estuary, from offshore fishing to inshore, saltwater marsh to freshwater rivers.”
Jacksonville, home to the largest urban park system in the U.S., currently plays host to the Southeast’s biggest bass tourney (Wolfson Children’s Hospital Bass Tournament) as well the country’s largest kingfish contest (Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament). “The city council’s running billboards on the Interstate with a guy in a kayak that say, ‘Come see our amusement park,’ and the mayor, John Peyton, who’s a big-time kayaker, was going to be an honorary captain,” Kogan said.
Raising $22,000 wasn’t as tough as landing the entire slam of fish species – only six anglers managed the feat last year. Other local competitors hoping to repeat top honors are much less forthcoming with their double-secret locations. “I know my creek well, I was born and raised here and have been fishing here for 20 years,” said Jeff McLaughlin, who landed a tournament best 30-inch, 10-pound redfish last year. “All I’ll say is it’s near the St. Johns River and the Intracoastal Waterway — but there are a million little creeks and rivers all over with umpteen possibilities.”
The Classic pulled together all of Jacksonville’s kayak and fishing retailers into a world-class event led by Strike-Zone Fishing, Black Creek Outfitters, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Army Navy Outdoors, and All Wet Sports. “The great efforts of our volunteers, the generosity of our terrific sponsors from Jacksonville’s local retailers to the manufacturers whose products they carry, and the support of the kayak fishing community have made this event an unqualified success,” says Kogan. “We can’t wait ‘til next year.”
Sponsors: Strike-Zone Fishing, BlackCreek Outfitters, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Fenwick, Spider, Stren, Great Atlantic Outfitters, Costa Del Mar, Malibu Kayaks, Bending Branches, Emotion Kayaks, Heritage Kayaks, Ocean Kayaks, Old Town Canoe&Kayaks, Perception Kayaks, Wilderness Systems, Hobie Kayaks, Advanced Elements, Liquid Logic Kayaks, Hurricane Kayaks, NuCanoe, SloMo Boats, Cobra Kayaks, FreedomHawk Kayaks, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Black Fly Outfitter, Salty Feather, All Wet Sports, Patagonia, Army Navy Outdoors, XTOOLS, Guy Harvey, Cajun Red, Outfitter’s Mapping, CCA, Creative Feathers Studio, Florida Kayak Fishing, Outdoors Show, BullFrog, Mirrolure, Daiwa, BillyStix Custom Fishing Rods, Temple Fork Outfitters, DOA Lures, Calcutta, Tsunami, Crack of Dawn, MTI, Surf To Summit, Thrifty Outdoors, Hibernet, SeAirSports, Malone Auto Racks, Shimano, Lowrance, Capt Dick Enterprises, Gene’s Seafood, Kayak Amelia, B&M Bait&Tackle, Talic, RAM, Polar Bear Coolers, Carlisle Paddles, ExtraSport, Otter Box, Scotty Rod Holders, Key West Paddle Sports, Kayak Fishing Stuff, Leupold, Gerber Gear, Daiichi Hooks, Hook1, GearKeeper, Pier 17, Pelican, AllKayakFishing.Com, Coach’s Custom Rods, Sure Catch Jigs, Thermacell, AnglersYakShack.Com, SeaSpecs, AT Paddles, West Marine, Penn Fishing, Stohlquist, Matt’s Custom Rods, Fish-N-Drinks.Com, TeamYakFish.Com, AquaEast, Bite-A-Bait, Wheeleez, White Shell Bait&Tackle, Arlington Bait&Tackle, Fisher’s TackleBox, Rick’s Bait&Tackle, Saltwater Flytyers, ChokoloskeeCharters.Com, River Printing, Panoptx, Bass Assasin Slurp, Tilley, A1A Fishing Charters