Kayak fishing tournaments are more than a competition to see who can catch the biggest fish. These gatherings often host hundreds of paddle and pedal anglers and create a community of enthusiasts sharing experiences and fish stories. Kayak anglers can compete at in-person events or online tournaments.

At in-person events, anglers meet up to compete in a one- or two-day competition head-to-head in a specific region or waterbody. Online tournaments allow anglers to fish anytime and anywhere. Using a smartphone app, competitors enter an online tournament and submit photos of their best catches. At the end of the time limit, tournament officials calculate the results and announce a winner.

While many anglers join a tournament for the camaraderie and challenge, big-money competitions are growing across the world pushing the sport to a higher level. Whether you sign up for fun or to win a fortune, there is a kayak fishing tournament in the coming year for you.

Person standing on fishing kayak and fishing
Fish for fun, or fish for the big bucks. | Image courtesy of: Perception Kayaks

By type of fishing

Kayak bass fishing tournaments

Largemouth and smallmouth bass live on every continent except Antarctica. These aggressive alpha predators are active year-round, making them a perfect target for competitive anglers. For kayak anglers, bass are an easy target in rivers, lakes and ponds. In the past decade, kayak bass tournaments have gone from grassroots gatherings to big-money events with hundreds of participants and winners taking home thousands of dollars. There are local tournaments sponsored by clubs and outfitters, and huge events in the world’s most famous bass destinations drawing pro anglers who battle it out for thousands of dollars in prize money.

In between meet-up events, anglers fish online tournaments. Anglers fishing an online tournament sign up online and register their fish and keep track of their score using a phone-based application. Kayak fishing tournaments revolutionized the catch-photo-and-release (CPR) format. To log a catch, the angler uses their phone to take a photo of the fish lying on a measuring board along with a tournament identifier. The photo is uploaded to tournament officials who determine the length of the fish and add it to the angler’s score.

Not only do participants see what other competitors are catching, but fans can follow the action from home. Kayak bass tournaments are super accessible for any level angler. Wherever you live, however you fish, there is a kayak fishing tournament waiting for you this weekend.

October 2020

November 2020

Kayak crappie fishing tournaments

An easy way to get the whole family involved in tournament fishing is a local crappie tournament. Not only are crappie easy to catch, but many tournaments allow anglers to use live bait, so it’s great for kids and new anglers.

On the other end of the spectrum, pro crappie anglers will pull out every trick to catch the biggest slabs and heaviest stringers. Many big-time boat-based crappie tournaments are now adding a kayak division. As well, many online tournaments have recognized the popularity of crappie fishing and local kayak fishing tournaments are including crappie prizes to attract a wider base of participants.

Crappie fishing tournaments are done for 2020.

Saltwater kayak fishing tournaments

Modern kayak fishing was born on the coasts and the first kayak fishing tournaments were focused on saltwater fishing. Today, saltwater kayak fishing tournaments are annual events with huge turn outs. With a vibe like kayak-fishing Woodstock, huge meet-up tournaments with a party atmosphere attract hundreds of anglers to target popular species like striped bass, redfish and yellowtail.

In the south, several inshore tournament series combine regional events into a multi-tournament trail crowning an overall Angler of the Year. And, there are plenty of opportunities for anglers to participate in online events for redfish, sea trout and flounder. Anglers looking for a bigger challenge and a raucous good time should check out saltwater kayak fishing tournaments.

October 2020

November 2020

Man paddling an orange sit-on-top fishing kayak
Get out there and get fishing. | Image courtesy of: Wilderness Systems

Online fishing tournaments

Online fishing tournaments allow anglers to fish anywhere and anytime while competing for cash, prizes and bragging rights. After registering for the tournament, anglers use their smartphone to send photos of their biggest fish lying on an official tournament ruler with an angler identifier in the photo.

Results are updated in real-time so competitors can see where they stand. Watching on their smartphones, fans can follow the competition from anywhere. At the end of the tournament period, results are calculated and a winner is announced. Online tournaments are popular with new anglers and old salts.

These app-based competitions cover every corner of the world and many of the most popular species of fish. There are different formats, time limits, species focus and other features that make online tournaments a big hit with anglers at all levels of the sport.

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“Thank God my dad wasn’t a podiatrist,” jokes Ric about following in the footsteps of a famous outdoor writer. After graduating from Radford University and serving two years in Russia with the Peace Corps, Ric returned to Virginia Beach and started writing for The Fisherman magazine, where his dad was editor. When the kayak fishing scene exploded, Ric was among the first to get onboard. His 2007 book, The Complete Kayak Fisherman is one of the first tomes to introduce anglers to paddle fishing and hundreds of articles and seminars have brought countless anglers into the fold. When he’s not chasing every fish that swims, Ric teaches English at a school for at-risk teens.


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