Austin, TX – In a place where some strive to “keep it weird,” others strive to keep the fishing as normally good as it currently is today. The Austin kayak angler scene is full of catch & release anglers who engage in being good stewards of the resource and yet enjoy it via numerous tournaments and events at the same time. There is no doubt the community is one of the fastest growing and most vocal in the country so it just made sense to bring the trail to Austin this year.
Friday night anglers packed into TG Canoe & Kayak to enjoy some friendly banter, get their tournament identifiers and hang out with tournament founder and host of Hooked on Wild Waters Drew Gregory. The river levels in the Austin area were looking “just right” and the temperatures, believe it or not, for Texas, could have been much hotter. This all had the makings of a high scoring river bassfest from the onset!
A light fog rolled off the river Saturday morning as the 40 kayak anglers paddled into the wild waters Saturday morning; many began landing fish right off the bat! The Goal Zero “First Bass” award went to Jason Underdown who drove 8.5 hours from Rogers, AR, to fish the event. His nice 19-inch largemouth bass was caught on his first cast on a topwater frog. Other anglers found success in the low morning light as well, including James Givens who was also throwing a frog and catching big fish early and often. In fact, he had his eventual tournament virtual stringer by 8:45am!
Team Early Risers, Jonathan Aljets and Matthew Johnson, also took advantage “early” as their team name clearly indicates. They fended off team Krotejagers, our eventual 3rd place team, for the entire event and basically held the lead in the Jackson Kayak team division for the entire day. However, at the last moment, one of the only teams to find the fishing tough in the morning came back with avengance during the high sun hours. Team Backwoods, from Fort Worth, TX, barely edged out the Early Risers by one inch to take the team title with 115 inches. With heavy pressure on the river banks from other anglers the duo of Guillermo Gonzalez and Joseph Sanderson decided to take a gamble and fish any piece of structure they could find in the middle of the river. Their strategic decision earned them the victory which came with $1000 cash, a couple $100 gift cards from TG Canoe & Kayak as well as 125 series. These points are valuable for all the top teams because it puts them all in contention for the River Bassin Team of the Year award which is worth $5000.00!
The Orion Coolers individual division was a close battle as the 9 of the top 10 anglers were separated by just 5.75 inches. Guillermo Gonzalez added a 3rd place finish to go along with his team win. Meanwhile, Stan Parker and James Givens dueled it out atop the standings but the man who was done catching his big fish by 8:45am, James Givens, pulled away from the pack when it was all said and done. His early morning frog bite earned him a 4-inch victory which was a considerable amount considering places 2 through 10 were only separated by 5.75 inches! Givens was also the first angler to check in back into TG Canoe & Kayak where he enjoyed a nice Texas BBQ meal provided by the great folks at Danna Family Catering! On top of all that he scored the day’s largest bass earning him the Bending Branches Big Bass award and a new Bending Branches paddle.
Stan Parker, although he didn’t take the title, still had an amazing day himself with 60 inches. It’s not often on the River Bassin Trail that you lose with 60 inches or more, but we were in Texas after all so you just knew the magical 20-inch average mark was going to be bested by at least more than one angler. Parker did provide some of the best insight while being interviewed by Drew Gregory on stage; he mentioned that he caught his fish off the exact same few blowdowns, but at various times during the day. He would let the spot rest, reload and then he went another step further and fished them from different angles to make sure he covered them thoroughly. It’s the subtle things like that that separate the top anglers on any trail. Parker walked away with an amazing Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro and various other prizes from series sponsors that totaled over $775.00. Meanwhile our big winner, James Givens, was able to take home a brand new Orion 65 cooler, Jackson Kayak JKrate, $500 cash, gift cards to TG Canoe & Kayak and a certificate for a Thermarest product, all totaling nearly $1000.
Also coming out a big winner on the day was Jonathan Aljets who won the prize drawing for a brand new Jackson Kayak Coosa HD. All proceeds raised for the drawing went to a good cause, Paddle 4 Tomorrow, which helps get any person of any age, race, socio-economic class into kayaking. They specifically seek out the sight impaired, the physically and mentally challenged and underprivileged. They believe that their tomorrow is changed forever when their paddling confidence is established.
All the winners, fish photos and other stats can be found on the results page here.
The trail has one more stop in Texas on September 19th so we hope to see you there!
Special thanks to Jason Griffith and Dre Tyler for really helping this event get off the ground and run smooth on tournament day.
To view all the photos from the event, including some great ones submitted by the anglers, click on the thumbnails below!