10 Questions with a TD: Matt Kiefer (SIYAK)
In this series, the KBF blog profiles the Tournament Director of a KBF Partner Club. The “10 questions with a TD” column features both established clubs and new clubs from across the country in order to showcase the variety of people who tirelessly devote themselves to growing our sport.
This edition features Matt Kiefer, a Tournament Director for the Southern Indiana Yak Anglers Klub (SIYAK). Matt and SIYAK will host KBF Trail events sponsored by RealTreeFishing and DeeZee on Indiana’s Lake Monroe on July 18-19, 2020.
- How did you get into kayak fishing?
About 5 years ago I started to get interested in fishing. I’ve fished with my Dad off and on my whole life, but other than snagging for spoonbill down at KY Lake Dam, I wasn’t really into fishing. I looked around and thought a kayak would be something I could do. It would help me be more active and outside. After watching tons of videos and combing through the internet, I decided on the one that would fit my needs. I chose a Jackson Kayak Big Rig. I found a guy locally and bought it from him. We even went fishing together a few times! I really didn’t know anything about bass fishing so I spent the first few years mostly crappie and bluegill fishing. As I got better at bass fishing through research and time on the water, I transitioned into bass fishing most of the time. Of course, I still love to sling a cricket on a bluegill bed or drop a jig down on a brush pile for some crappie!
- Tell us about your club – when was it founded?
Southern Indiana Yak Anglers Klub (SIYAK) was founded by Brad Montgomery and Thomas McNulty in August of 2015. I joined up the next day. In September of 2016 we had our first Bass tournament. In 2017 we had a full season of both Bass and Crappie tournaments. Crappie tournaments didn’t really take off, so after 2 years we stopped doing them. 2020 marks the 4th season of bass fishing tournaments.
- Do you work alone as a tournament director, or with a team?
SIYAK has a team of 4 admins. We work closely together to come up with the schedule, make the decisions, rules, etc… I wear the TD hat currently and it’s definitely a learning experience.
- Describe the folks who fish your trail – what do they expect from it?
Most of our tournament anglers like to stay close to home. We try to stay true to the Southern Indiana [region] although some people have differing opinions on what the word “southern” means. Certainly, we have a few road warriors too. In the end, you can’t make everyone happy so we just do the best that we can to provide some fun.
- How do you promote the SIYAK club? Do you have a media strategy?
We do not really promote the klub, but it continues to grow. We have a lot of people that are members of our page, but don’t actually like to fish tournaments. We have close to 1140 Facebook group members currently.
- Can anglers qualify for the KBF National Championship through your trail?
We offer a mix of Online and Meet-up tournaments, so we are able to offer some qualification spots for the meet-up events. We also give out a number of spots based on Angler of the Year Points. We had to go pretty deep in the AOY points list last year because many of the anglers had already qualified through State and Regional Challenges or Trail events.
- What is your view of how kayak fishing has grown in recent years?
I think the growth is great. People are getting outside and enjoying nature. For the most part everyone is helpful and friendly. I have made a bunch of great friends through the last 5 years of kayak fishing. I also think that the anglers are getting better at fishing. It seems like every year our “bags” get bigger and bigger. Everyone is upping their game.
- What do you foresee as the biggest goal that kayak fishing should strive to achieve in the coming years?
With all the growth in the sport and the “Elite” series, I think kayak fishing needs to remember where it started. Local clubs where people get together to fish because they love to fish. I was chatting with a fellow angler a few weeks ago and happened to tell him I was out fun fishing; he made the comment that it had been a long time since he had been out fun fishing. Tournaments can be fun, but also can be a grind. Everything doesn’t have to be about the next tournament!
- What is the craziest thing that ever happened at one of your club’s tournaments?
I can’t think of anything crazy. The most interesting thing is that the longest bass caught in one of our tournaments was caught in the first tournament we ever had. Kevin Biggs caught a 23.5” largemouth right here in Southern Indiana!
- What would you like visitors to know before they travel to Bloomington, IN for your events in July?
Bloomington has a little bit of everything from scenic parks, sports, amazing restaurants, and a night life that is second to none in the Hoosier State. Plenty of activities and good food no matter what you’re looking for.
About the author — Henry Veggian is the KBF Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator and is on both the Jackson Fishing Team and Ketch Outdoors Team.