"Can I switch my registration to the Fly Fishing Division?" I asked at the TKAA Kayak Fishing Tournament check-in. Earlier that day, while packing my truck for the journey to Tidewater, I'd made a last-second decision to skip out of the Largemouth Division. The main impetus for this was actually laziness. I didn't feel like packing all my bass rods and gear. Loading up two fly rods and a small box of flies seemed so easy.
Fly fishing from a kayak, however, is not always easy. The weather had not been ideal in Hampton Roads, with heavy rain and flooding leading up to the tournament. The water clarity was going to be tough. So, the fishing wasn't going to be as easy as the packing job. Not to mention, fly line management in a kayak is not for the easily aggravated.
Kayak Fishing has exploded in the last few years, and with that explosion has come the rise in big purse tournament payouts. Now this is not big bass tourney money, yet, but these big payouts are of benefit to the kayak fishing industry, and I've toyed with the idea of getting more involved in them. But for the time being, I tend to focus on big charity tournaments, like the YakAttack Tournament based out of the Farmville area, and the TKAA Tournament out of the Virginia Beach area.
The Tidewater Kayak Anglers Association is a leader in the Hampton Roads kayak fishing community. This year marked their 12th Annual TKAA Kayak Fish for Charity Tournament benefiting Heroes On The Water and Project Healing Waters. Â It's based out of the Lake Wright Quality Suites in Norfolk, Va.
Â If you haven't tapped into the Heroes On The Water and Project Healing Waters mission yet, do that now. For real though, go to it. I'll be here when you get back.
The Captain's Meeting was Friday 23rd, and is always a great time catching up with friends from the larger kayak fishing community. I seized the chance to hand deliver a Werner Redfish Shuna Paddle to our FB contest winner from Sept. Thanks for all the years of support George Joseph!
One of the reasons I love this tournament is the opportunity to go fishing with friends from the coast.
Saturday dawned a beautiful day and I was fortunate enough to spend it with some of my favorite Virginia Beach folks. Mark and Kris Lozier are the husband and wife team behind 1st Landing Kayak Fishing, a guide service in the area. Both of them have been exceedingly gracious in their aid and encouragement as I've continued on my personal kayak fishing journey.
We fished a creek marsh north of Norfolk for tournament day. Everyone started out catching schoolie stripers, while I whipped the water to no avail. At one point Mark, Kris and George drifted out into the bay. I decided to stay back in the grass and work some cuts.
As I slung bugs into the wind, I started getting hits in the last cut through the grass before the water opened into the bay. I cast one more time, and started a strip-strip-drift retrieve. Boom! I got one on the other end of the line! It was a speckled trout that commenced breaking the water and thrashing about. After one botched net sweep, I got him into the kayak. It was a decent 16" speck.
I released him back into the water, and started paddling to catch up with everyone else.
Kris impressed upon me that I should make sure I check in my fish. It had been windy and muddy, and one decent fish might score a place. I wasn't so sure.
We got back to tournament HQ and settled into the best part of the event, the social scene. Standing around joking with friends and anglers is a highlight for everyone.
Dinner was served shortly after. We all queued up.
As the tournament is a charity event, there are many raffles to raise money for HOW and PHW. This year the TKAA board decided to raffle off the kayak prizes as well. I was psyched to see this transition.
As for the Fishing portion of the tournament, here are the results:
1st Place - Jake Mattauch
2nd Place - Lila Oast
3rd Place - Alexander Ameika
FLY FISHING DIVISION
1st Place - Brian Vincent, Â Astral Designs / YakAttack / Blue Ridge Outdoors Mag Athlete
2nd Place - Corey Routh, Ruthless Outdoor Adventures / Hobie Kayaks Regional Team/ YakAttack
3rd Place - Bob Demi
1st Place - Alina Wicker
2nd Place - Joanna Heckert
3rd Place - Macy Roach
LARGEMOUTH BASS DIVISION
1st Place - Jeff Dail
2nd Place - Evan Shearer
3rd Place - Bryant Franklin
1st Place - Thomas Herrara
2nd Place - Joe Underwood, Hobie Regional Team / YakAttack / Powerteam Lures
3rd Place - Stanley Shelhorse
1st Place - Andy Backowski, TKAA Board Member
2nd Place - Joseph Dobson
3rd Place - William Murden
SPECKLED TROUT DIVISION
1st Place - Chris Lam
2nd Place - Mike Donnarumma
3rd Place - Russ Overton
1st Place - Jay Brooks, Wilderness Systems / YakAttack
2nd Place - Reed Hackert
3rd Place - Mark Giemza
1st Place - Louis Nguyen
2nd Place - Anthony Wesolowski
All of the tournament winners were awarded trophies, which was perfectly fine with me. :)
The revelry continued and multiple kayaks were raffled off as well as a host of other amazing prizes. All the raffles proceeds are donated to Heroes On The Water and Project Healing Waters, and that fact always seems to open the wallets of all the kayak anglers at the TKAA.
There was some great art donated by local kayak fisherman and artist, Cory Routh and Rob Choi.
YakAttack donated around $5000 worth of Virginia manufactured merchandise and it helped fill the long raffle table.
Wilderness Systems donated a Tarpon 130X and raffled it off.
Photo by Frank Jennings
Hurricane Kayaks donated a Skimmer 126 that was raffled off.
Appomattox River Company teamed up with Hobie Kayaks to donate an Outback that was raffled off.
And one of the great moments occurred when HOW Tidewater Chapter Coordinator, Tom Vanderheiden, stepped up and announced that from now on the TKAA Lifetime Achievement Award would be named in honor of Captain Don Lancaster. He was there to receive the inaugural award. It was another example of how this organization consistently endeavors to honor the selfless contributions of members of this great community.
That is the overarching theme of the annual Tidewater Kayak Angler's Association Kayak Fish for Charity Tournament, humble appreciation, honorable recognition, and generous giving. There are local anglers who just show up to hang out and give to the raffles. I've said it before, but it bears repeating, there are two tournaments I look forward to each year, The YakAttack Tournament benefiting HOW and PHW, and the TKAA Tournament benefiting HOW and PHW.
Well Done to all the TKAA folks who work so hard to put this together! Wayne Bradby and Amy Angelopolous!
Well done to all the anglers who came out!
Well done to all the sponsors!
I haven't heard the final numbers yet, but all signs point to this once again being a record-setting year for money raised, and that is ultimately the most important part of this whole tournament. The men and women who serve our country occasionally come back home and need our help acclimating back to life on American soil, and organizations like Heroes On The Water and Project Healing Waters have proven to be excellent at healing some of those wounds.
Tournaments like the TKAA Kayak Fish for Charity Tournament provide a great opportunity for our community to express gratitude and appreciation to both our veterans and the groups who serve our veterans when they come home.
Join us next year. You won't regret it.