Online fishing tournaments are a phenomenon of kayak fishing. Using a phone-based app, anglers challenge each other to catch the most or biggest fish. Each catch is photographed and uploaded to the app, which tracks the angler’s score. The catch-photo-release format is perfect for anglers in small, self-propelled boats. And the open-ended competition allows participants to fish anywhere and anytime. With stiff competition and cash prizes, anglers are signing up to fish and win.

How it works

First, choose an online tournament. Kayak Wars is one of the first and still the largest. Anglers can fish solo or join a team. Competition runs through the year with periodic day-long skirmishes.

Another option is Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF). The host of the sport’s biggest tournament trail offers online and meet-up events. Anglers competing online can even qualify for the series championship, a meet-up tournament of the best online finishers.

Next, subscribe to the tournament series and pay a fee. Then, go fishing. Anytime. Anywhere. Using the app, you can track your score and watch how other anglers are doing in real time.

The nitty gritty

For the past 10 years, KBF has hosted the State Challenge Series. This series consists of month-long events held across the country where anglers are allowed to fish any public water within their state or region.

KBF president, Chad Hoover is promising upgrades in 2020. “We’re cutting the month-long State Challenge Series to 21 days.” The change gives KBF time to finalize judging and award prizes before the next event starts.

Hoover adds, “Kayak Bass Fishing Special Challenge events will be weekend tournaments.” The shorter tournaments keep the energy high. He points to the current One Night Stand tournament and Columbus Day Challenge.

Online winners qualify for the Challenge Series Championship. Hoover explains, “The top 100 anglers from the online series meet up on one lake.”The anglers have fished against each other online, Hoover says, “the Championship gives them an opportunity to fish face-to-face.”

Online winners can also qualify for the KBF National Championship. Hoover points out, “Last year’s winner, Mike Elsea, was the first angler to qualify through the online series and win the Championship.”

How to get started

For beginners, online tournaments can be a little intimidating. Hoover suggests, “Learn the tournament rules and run a TourneyX test tournament before joining for real.” The app allows anglers to test out the technology without registering fish. Hoover laughs, “You’re not trying to rub your stomach, juggle and ride a unicycle all at one time.”

The smartphone application TourneyX makes online competition possible. Tournament directors create competitions, set rules and requirements, track catches and communicate with anglers.

TourneyX founder, Dwayne Walley remembers the early days. “We started writing the program in November of 2014 and our first proof of concept came in March of 2015.” After just five years, the app hosts 34,000 users. “I expect it to hit 50,000 in the next year,” he says.

“The beauty of TourneyX is tournament directors can use their imagination when building tournaments,” Walley marvels. He says directors can develop team tournaments or an individual tournament. The tournament can be a one-day event or a 365-day tournament where anglers can fish around the clock.

TourneyX has an Extreme League Fishing format where anglers submit unlimited catches in a short period. “Competitors like seeing who can catch the most fish or inches in six hours,” Walley says.

Walley offers these tips for beginners: keep the phone on a leash and charge the battery. “Your phone is as important as your rod and reel in the tournaments,” he laughs. He encourages anglers to check the markings on their measuring device are dark enough to read in a photo.

In addition to convenience, online tournaments are usually cheaper than meet-up events. Choose one with the best format and timeline. Join one event or compete every weekend. With so many options, online tournaments offer anglers a chance to test tournament waters before jumping in with both feet.

Money shot. Online competitors upload photos of their fish for cash and prizes. |  Photo: Courtesy TourneyX

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