2018 Georgia Kayak Bass Fishing State Championship
Hurricane Michael didn't stop 40 kayak anglers from hitting Lake Allatoona and the Etowah River.
Despite Hurricane Michael sweeping across most of south and central Georgia, the 2018 Georgia Kayak Bass Fishing State Championship was held Oct. 13-14 on the Etowah River and Lake Allatoona.
The two-day tournament hosted 40 anglers representing four clubs—Chattahoochee Kayak Anglers (West Point/Columbus), East Central Georgia Kayak Anglers (Augusta/East Georgia), Peach State Kayak Anglers (Atlanta/Statewide) and Reel Krazy Kayak Tournament Fishing (Rome/Northwest Georgia).
Kayak fishing tournaments use a scoring system known as CPR—Catch, Photo, Release—that is based on inches, not pounds. Anglers use a standardized measuring board, known as a “hawg trough,” to measure the fish. A photograph is taken of the fish on the hawg trough, and this photograph is submitted for scoring by the tournament director. Each contestant has a tournament identifier unique to the event that must be present in their photographs for their fish to be counted. Their kayak must also be visible in their pictures. The winner is determined by who brings in the longest “stringer,” with stringers usually being three or five fish depending on the event. The big fish of the tournament is the longest bass caught.
Day 1 of the state championship was spent fishing only the Etowah River, with open water from Ball Ground to Knox Bridge and again from the dam to Rome. On Day 2, anglers could launch from any public ramp on Lake Allatoona. Each day, competitors could score their best five fish by length toward their stringer.
This year’s state championship was a serious test of each anglers’ ability to find and pattern fish in post-frontal conditions. The week leading up to the event saw the outer bands of Hurricane Michael drop more than 2 inches of rain on the area, causing the river to jump up. Even though the levels dropped some, the river didn’t clear much and left anglers facing a fast-moving, muddy mess.
Jordan Marshall with Reel Krazy Kayak Tournament Fishing won the tournament with 146.75 inches of bass. He collected $2,000 and a NuCanoe Flint kayak.
“Saturday my plan was to fish some flat water because I wasn’t really familiar with the Etowah, and after talking to some guys and checking some river access points, I realized that fishing below Allatoona Dam was my best bet,” said Jordan. “I was just going to get a quick limit regardless of size. My plan was questionable throughout the day, but I stuck it out and stayed the whole day in the same stretch of river.”
Josh Choi with East Central Georgia Kayak Anglers placed second with 144.75 inches.
“The plan (on Day 1) was to fish the midsection of the river where I scouted an area with some nice rapids,” said Josh. “Unfortunately, when we got there Saturday morning, the water was muddy and moving fast. We stuck it out for half the day with no success. So we took a gamble by packing up and checking under the dam for clear water.”
Not everyone went looking for clean water. Travis Dockins, who fishes with Peach State Kayak Anglers, ended up in fourth place overall, and he purposely wanted to find higher, moving water.
“For Saturday’s river conditions, we decided to find the highest waters we could find,” said Travis. “The key would be finding where the fish were stacked up to get out of the current. The plan worked for the first couple of hours, but with the water level dropping fast, the fish seemed to scatter and head back out into the middle of the river.”
The difficult conditions on the Etowah showed in the Day 1 standings, with only 13 of the 40 anglers bringing in five-fish stringers.
“I only posted a small limit, but the Etowah was very stingy for everybody, and I was in sixth at the end of the first day,” said Jordan.
On Day 2, Allatoona offered anglers clean water on the upper lake and muddy water in the lower creek arms, so the field was scattered out as they launched from any open ramp they wanted.
“I was pretty excited for Day 2,” said Travis Dockins, who ended up finishing in fourth place. “I knew there were some schools of spotted bass on Allatoona that would hit topwater under the right conditions. I think the wind and cloud cover, coupled with dropping temps, helped the topwater bite.”
Josh Choi just went looking for an Allatoona limit, and he was able to barely muster one up on Day 2.
“Being in third after Day 1, I felt like getting a limit would go a long way. I only caught five fish Sunday on the lake, so catching a limit was an absolute grind,” said Josh.
After two hard days of fishing, the state championship anglers assembled at the Mellow Mushroom in Cartersville for the measure-in and results. When all the fish were scored and tallied, Jordan Marshall was announced as the winner.
“My strategy was pretty simple going into Sunday,” said Jordan. “I was going to find some schooling fish and throw topwater to get a quick limit. The topwater bite only accounted for one good fish, but I caught quite a few on a custom-painted Spro Little John fairly early Sunday morning. That bite died fairly quickly, and there was a good bit of time before I had any action. I was in the marina at Stamp Creek and a bunch of fish just exploded around me, and I caught a double on a Rat-L-Trap to cull a smaller fish, but that was all I could get from the school as they left as quickly as they turned on.
“After 12, I decided to head to the back of the creek in a Hail Mary attempt. At 12:30, I caught a pretty solid fish and culled two more fish after 1 p.m., and I needed all three to seal the deal.”
Jordan had a great weekend, earning $2,000 and a NuCanoe Flint kayak for the win.
If you’d like more information about how to get involved with competitive kayak fishing in your area of Georgia, please check out one of the participating clubs on Facebook—Chattahoochee Kayak Anglers, East Central Georgia Kayak Anglers, Peach State Kayak Anglers and Reel Krazy Kayak Tour.
Oct. 13-14, Georgia Kayak Bass Fishing State Championship, Etowah River/Lake Allatoona
Place, Angler, Total Two-Day Inches, Money/Prize
1. Jordan Marshall, 146.75 inches, $2,000 and a NuCanoe Flint kayak.
2. Josh Choi, 144.75 inches, $800 and a Vibe Maverick SUP; 20-inch big fish worth $390.
3. Nick Dyer, 143.25 inches, $600 and a Bending Branches paddle.
4. Travis Dockins, 141.50 inches, $400.
5. Larry Bryant, 138.25 inches, $200.
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