For each there is a Ketch trophy.
There is one for the Challenge Series Champion, and another for Trail Series Champion. The varied State Challenge points champions get their trophy coins, as would the 2023 Rogue Fishing Co. KBF Rookie of the Year and the 2023 Rogue Gear Co. KBF Angler of the Year.
Ninety KBF competitors launched Thursday morning to begin fishing for those trophies. Over the course of two days, they would write their own destinies on the waters of lakes Guntersville and Wheeler. When it ended on Friday, a handful of lucky competitors would survive to fish a third day. They would move from lakes Wheeler and Guntersville to Duck River Reservoir in Cullman, Alabama. The lake was smaller but the stakes couldn’t have been higher.
The TENvitational champion would punch a ticket to Dee Zee KBF The TEN. The Challenge Series Champion would get in, too, as would the Top 10 in the standings of the Realtree Fishing KBF Trail Series powered by Dakota Lithium Batteries. Win and you’re in.
Win and you take home a beautiful trophy (or, in the case of Wyatt Hammond, three or four trophies).
But it’s not just about the qualification, trophies and the money. When you fish with KBF – the longest-running national kayak bass fishing series – you are fishing for more than just points on a leaderboard.
Here is the short version of what went down in each event…..
Challenge Series Championship
Alex Miller led the field with 91.75” (followed by Kristine Fischer with 87.75”) early Thursday on both the Trail Series and the Challenge Series leaderboards. Those leaderboards quickly read like a who’s who of kayak bass fishing: Jaxton Orr, Jimmy McClurkan, Rus Snyders, Garrett Wade, Eric Jackson, and more were making their cases heard.
A new name would take the lead at the end of the day. Brian Shotts would finish atop the KBF Challenge Series Championship standings on Thursday. Some wondered if he could do what Mike Elsea did in 2019 and win a major live event after qualifying through the on-line series.
Shotts did not (he finished 7th overall, a great showing). That’s because Friday (day two) would see Eric Jackson and Garrett Wade go at it in an epic exchange of fishing prowess. They traded first place fish multiple times over the course of the day. Jackson won the battle on the Day 2 leaderboard by finishing in first place with 95.75”. Wade would win the event overall, however, with a final two-day limit of 183.25”.
Jackson would finish third overall, with Jackson Kayak Fishing team pro Josh Stewart taking second place. Kristine Fischer and Mike Elsea rounded out the top five, and Wade punched a ticket to Dee Zee KBF the TEN. Wade would also become the 2023 Challenge Series Angler of the year – his second time winning that title!
Trail Series Championship
The usual hammers lit up the Realtree Fishing KBF Trail Series leaderboard on day one (Thursday). It started when Jody Queen jumped to an early lead and continued through the day (Queen would finish 6th overall).
But as with Shotts in the Challenge Series, some newcomers refused to be left out. One of them was Pennsylvania’s Lynn Yester, who had a strong showing on day one.
As Thursday wore on, bigger bites came in. And just like clockwork, Rus Snyders made his presence felt. He stood atop the field of the Trail Series Championship with a five-fish limit of 94.5” when the leaderboards were taken off-line near the end of the day. And he stayed there until the end of day one. Behind him were Josh Stewart, Alex Miller, Jody Queen and Mike Elsea.
As noted above, Eric Jackson and Garrett Wade had a great battle on the Challenge Series leaderboard. Like a barroom fight in the Old West, it spilled over into the KBF Trail Series, where Wyatt Hammond entered the fray. On Friday, Hammond, Jackson and Wade continually lit up the Fishing Chaos leaderboard with big bass. The stakes could not have been higher – first place was up for grabs. That meant the Rogue Gear Co Angler of the Year title was there for the taking.
In the end, Hammond won the Trail Series Championship and the AOY title. He also took home the Rogue Gear Co Rookie of the Year title. And he also did something else in the next event on our list…
The TENvitational provides long-time competitors with a chance to win and get in, that is, to qualify for Dee Zee KBF the TEN. Sure, it’s a short cut, and no TENvitational champ has ever won The TEN, but it adds a wild card to the mix. Win and you are in.
But what if you are already in? Then winning the TENvitational blocks another competitor from punching a ticket to Dee Zee KBF the TEN. And that’s what Wyatt Hammond did – he went on offense, and in doing so, he also played defense by keeping out another angler.
Bass Forecast Big Bass
North Carolina angler Justin Faircloth went to Alabama to compete. He also went there to celebrate his birthday with a fishing vacation. Little did he know how it would end….
Faircloth made an early statement by posting a 20.25” Largemouth Bass to the new Bass Forecast Big Fish leaderboard as fishing began on Thursday morning. By 9:30 a.m. central time, Faircloth’s bass remained in the top spot, but the leaderboards would change dramatically, courtesy of the 22” tank posted by Rus Snyders.
Snyders’ 22” would win Big bass on Day One (Thursday), while Mike Elsea would post the longest bass of the tournament on Day two when he landed a 22.75”. Honorable mention goes to Jim Ware, who landed a 22” Smallmouth Bass.
Faircloth would not be denied, however. On Saturday, October 21, KBF held the Bass Forecast Big Bass Shootout, event for the anglers who stayed for the awards ceremony or just to fish an extra day while the TEN competed on Duck River reservoir. A total of six thousand dollars was paid out, with the top fish receiving three thousand dollars, send place two thousand dollars and third place one thousand dollars.
Justin Faircloth again caught an early toad, a 21.75” tank. Unlike the fish he posted on Thursday, this one would hold the lead in the Bass Forecast Big Bass Shootout for the entire day.
And it was on his birthday.
In the same event, Jerry Burdine took second place with a 21.5” bass while Jeremy Hickman took third place with a 20.75”.
The KBF Trail Series Championship, TENvitational and Challenge Series Championship were hosted by Go2Hunstville, AL on October 19-20, 2023. The Bass Forecast Big Abss Shootout was held on Saturday, October 21, 2023, as was Dee Zee KBF the TEN.
For complete standings, click here: https://app.fishingchaos.com/tournament/qn93uabFJOFzwtIqhZ0g
About the KBF Trail: The Realtree Fishing KBF Trail powered by Dakota Lithium is a 5-fish, Catch-Photo-Release, members-only tournament series. Become a KBF member today and get ready for the 2024 season!
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First Published October 21, 2023. The author of this article was not assisted in any way by AI or machine learning in the composition of it.
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