Mike Elsea wins $73,000 in Kayak Bass Fishing Champs

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Now there’s a purse for paddling.

Paddling a Native Watercraft Titan 10.5 fish kayak, Mike Elsea of Mooresville, Indiana, took home the $50,000 grand prize and $23,000 in additional prize money for winning the Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) National Championship March 28-30 in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Presented by electric kayak motor company Torqeedo, the KBF National Championship is a three-day, catch-photo-release tournament. On the first two days, competitors electronically submitted their ten longest fish, which were then certified by a team of judges. The top 100 anglers fished on the final day for the $50,000 grand prize.

Elsea’s winning 15-fish total measured 288.75 inches, besting the second-place finisher, Drew Gregory of Wingate, North Carolina, by 16 inches. Torqeedo team member Greg Blanchard of Seneca Falls, New York, placed third and took home $12,500.

“This is the largest kayak fishing event of its kind with the richest payout,” said Chad Hoover, tournament organizer.“We had 461 anglers from 43 states competing for the title of National Champion. This is the first time that we’ve used multiple bodies of water… there are more backwaters and places that are inaccessible by power boats than anywhere we’ve ever had the national championship.”

Fishing League Worldwide (FLW), the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, recently announced a partnership with KBF to hold two kayak bass fishing tournaments in 2019 in conjunction with FLW tour events, a move which will bring even higher visibility to the sport.

“Every year, kayak angling becomes more competitive and more people participate,” said Steve Trkla, president of Torqeedo. “It remains one of the fastest-growing outdoor sports with 2.8 million people fishing out of a kayak last year.”

The company’s Ultralight 403, he added, is built for kayak fishing, with built-in GPS, real-time range and runtime display, solar charging (the 915 Wh battery goes more than 60 miles before needing to recharge), and lithium battery technology. The under-20-lbs. system also allows anglers to cast hands-free.