Part 1: Jason Alford, 2019 Georgia Kayak Bass Fishing Champion
If you read my last blog entry, you’re well aware that Jason Alford captured this year’s Georgia Kayak Bass Fishing Championship in October. Jason was kind enough to sit down with me and share his experience competing on West Point Lake and the Chattahoochee River. In fact, Jason shared so much great information that I’m going to break this into three separate posts, focusing on (1) Leading up to the State Championship, (2) Day 1 of the State Championship and (3) Day 2 of the State Championship.
I started my discussion with Jason asking about his motivation to fish this year’s tournament.
“I took a break from tournament fishing the last couple of years and focused on fun fishing with friends,” said Jason. “As great as that was, I really missed the competition aspect of tournament fishing. I competed in the first two Georgia Kayak Bass Fishing State Championships but missed last year’s event because I didn’t fish tournaments to qualify. I didn’t like that feeling of others competing in my backyard (last year’s Allatoona and Etowah event) for the state championship while I sat at home.”
Having not fished tournaments the last two seasons, you might be wondering how he qualified for this year’s event.
“I only had one option to qualify. The last three years, Peach State Kayak Anglers (PSKA) has hosted one of the most fun tournaments I’ve ever fished because it forces you to fish new water: a summer-long, online, three-fish tournament where you submit your best largemouth bass, spotted bass and either a shoal bass or a smallmouth. The winner of this tournament gets PSKA’s wildcard spot to fish the state championship.
“I’ve finished second in this tournament the last two years to Clint Henderson, but knowing this was my only chance to qualify for state, I focused my free time this summer on doing what I could to take that wildcard. Thankfully, I caught a 24.5-inch largemouth, a 22-inch shoal bass and a 20.75-inch spotted bass and punched my ticket to the state championship,” Jason stated.
The expectation among the state championship competitors was that it would be an angler from Chattahoochee Kayak Anglers (CKA) who would win the title. Their anglers are the most familiar with those bodies of water, so I figured Jason had spent a lot of time fishing down there. Boy was I wrong.
“Before this tournament, I had only fished West Point Lake once, in 2017,” he said. “I knew the lake was tough. Needless to say, I didn’t have a great first experience on West Point Lake. The week before the state championship, I drove 2 1/2 hours down to check out the lake. I only had time to fish for a couple of hours, so I chose one ramp that had several areas that looked promising based on map study.
“I quickly eliminated a few of the spots, but one of the areas was promising. It was a long point on the main lake that had a hump at the end. The other spot I found was a brushpile in about 18 feet of water on the main lake. I also eliminated farther up the creek arm. It wasn’t the most productive trip, but I figured I could find enough to put up around 70 inches. That doesn’t sound like much, but on that stingy lake, 70 inches was my goal.”
The day before the tournament, Jason hit three different spots.
“The first spot, I pedaled way up a creek to see if there was enough water to hold resident fish,” said Jason. “There wasn’t. I then moved to a main lake ramp and paddled across the lake to see if there was any activity over a submerged roadbed. There wasn’t.”
After two “no-go” spots, Jason moved to the final spot he’d try in pre-fishing.
“I moved to another main-lake ramp and pedaled my Native Ultimate FX Propel 2 1/2 miles to check out a creek arm,” said Jason. “I went all the way to the back of the creek to see how much water was back there. I didn’t find what I wanted, so I headed back toward the main lake. That’s where I started to see fish on my graph and noticed more activity. I made about five casts and caught a 14-inch largemouth and a 13-inch spotted bass. As I left that creek Friday evening, bass began busting shad in the mouth of the creek. At that point, I knew that’s where I would start the tournament.”
I asked about pre-fishing the river and Jason was definitely more confident there than the lake. He told me that he’s fished the river a bunch the last few years,
“I didn’t even go look at the river before the tournament,” said Jason. “I spent the one day I had to pre-fish on the lake. Based on my past experience on the river, I had confidence that I could find fish on the river.”
Next Blog: State Championship Day 1 on West Point Lake.
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