Bass fishing tournaments are certainly nothing new to Lake Champlain.
Each summer several are held on the big lake by the smallest local bass clubs on up to the biggest circuits like Bassmaster and FLW.
For the past two summers, there’s been a new kid on the block in the form of Adirondack Kayak Bass Fishing, or Adirondack KBF.
Their name implies it all, they are a group of kayak bass anglers who pursue their quarry with every bit of diligence, if not more, than anglers in a motorboat.
Yet they still have an inviting approach to their events, welcoming any angler with a kayak and a smartphone. They also practice good conservation.
At a recent tournament held on Lake Champlain, 33 anglers registered with winning angler, Brenden Matice of Saratoga County, reporting a creel of five fish that measured a total of 87.5 inches. Length rather than weight, is their measuring standard, as is catch-and-release.
Adirondack KBF and its fishing format emerged from the kayak fishing tournaments that Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company held around their popular Paddlefest events in both Old Forge and Saratoga.
They have three tournament directors who organize the events: brothers Ben and Zack Sopczyk who live in Glens Falls, and Brian Baulsir of Saratoga.
“Brian founded it with Mountainman,” said Ben Sopczyk. “They kind of spearheaded it, having a tournament at each Paddlefest. They had a pike tournament which spawned into a biggest bass tournament, then KBF.”
Participating kayak anglers are required to photograph their fish inside their boats on a measuring board and include a special ID tag, known as a code.
The fish is almost immediately released back into the water. Using a smartphone, they submit a photo and data using software called Tourney X, which tallies the results and simplifies things for the tournament directors. Prizes, including cash for the top three or five anglers, are awarded at what is known as a captain’s meeting.
For the Lake Champlain tournament held on July 6, anglers were allowed to launch anywhere on the lake. Some did so as far north as Plattsburgh or as far south as South Bay. The captains meeting was held at Bicentennial Park in Ticonderoga.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Anglers use all types of kayaks and gear. Some have the basics while others are outfitted to the max.
Justin Queary of Carthage sported a peddle-powered kayak with a fish-finder, a layered crate tackle system, several rod holders along with steering and wheel systems.
“If you’re paddling, you’re not fishing,” he said of his peddle boat.
Just before taking out in the LaChute River, Queary landed an 18.75’’ largemouth that vaulted him into third place.
“Easily the best day of fishing I’ve ever had in my life,” he said following the tournament.
While Queary and other anglers have fully outfitted boats, Sopczyk emphasized that sometimes gadgets and gear aren’t always necessary.
“Last year a guy finished in the top five that was basically a Wal-mart special, as he called it,” said Sopczyk. “He knew where the fish were and how to catch them. Outfitting a boat is great, but a lot of the things are creature comforts. If you know the body of water, it doesn’t really matter.”
As for the catch-and-release format, “We like the ‘catch-photo-release, or CPF as it’s called,” said Sopczyk.
“With CPF, we catch the fish, put in on a measuring board and take a picture of it with an ID code that we give everyone in the tournament the night before. It started out as a necessity, you can’t always have a live-well in a kayak, but it’s become a good thing.”
ANYONE CAN JOIN
Again, anyone with a kayak and smartphone, along with a Paypal account is welcome to fish Adirondack KBF tournaments.
They’ve got three tournaments left on their schedule that include an event next Saturday, July 20, on the Great Sacandaga Lake.
In August and September they’ll have a ten-day tournament open to all public waters in both the Adirondack and Catskill Parks before wrapping up their season in October on Round Lake south of Saratoga.
You can learn more about Adirondack KBF at adirondackkbf.com.
Dan Ladd is the author of “Deer Hunting in the Adirondacks,” outdoors editor for the Glens Falls Chronicle, columnist for Outdoors Magazine and contributor to New York Outdoor News. Contact him at www.ADKhunter.com.