[Editor’s Note: Every so often, an angler’s story jumps out at us. Instead of including it in an event recap, we isolate it and profile the angler in question. At the 2024 Yak Attack Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship Powered by Dakota Lithium Batteries, that angler was Mark Fehner. Mark is a director with Long Island Kayak Bass Fishing, a KBF AmBASSador partner organization. He competed in the championship, and finished in 6th place overall. KBF caught up with Mark to get his story).

Mark Fehner, Rich Ranieri, Luis Villegas and the other members of Long Island Kayak Bass Fishing left Alabama at 11 a.m. on Saturday, and arrived home in New York at 6 a.m. on the following morning. One of them, Luis Villegas, had landed the bass of a lifetime in practice for the Yak Attack KBF National Championship in Alabama: a double digit bass that was over 25” long.

Where Villegas had a good bite, Fehner had a good week. He had a tough practice but then figured out a pattern. Fishing it consistently, he placed sixth overall, and might have placed higher if not for one fish, as we shall see below. That story, and how he handled adversity, is one every angler can relate to.

Fehner’s 2024 KBF Championship story represents what most competitors feel when we have a good run at a big tournament. Fehner’s story is in many ways the story of Kayak Bass Fishing – it’s a story about taking your shot. It’s about travelling farther, doing better and sharing it all with friends. And that’s true even of the big names in our sport. From the long-established anglers like Jody Queen to the younger generation of Wyatt Hammond, we all meet on the water where, for a few hours and days, we are fellow competitors.

In Fehner’s words: “To travel to Guntersville is a lot for a blue-collar, working man like me. Some of these anglers fish for a living, so to hang with them feels good.”

Fehner’s story is also a story of fishing – adapting to what the lake gives you and making the most of your bites.

Mark Fehner at the LIKBF Tournament of Champions on Lake George (Photo by Rick Sacca)

Mark Fehner noticed something in practice: empty beds.

“I had three days to practice, “ he told KBF. “I eliminated water, and my first three days were not great. I got up shallow and noticed beds, so I figured it was a matter of finding a productive area. I figured them out using a Hover Rig that I fished with a Berkley Max Scent Flat Worm. On day one, I started by catching my first two on topwater, but then I changed to a Hover Rig with a black and blue Senko and fished in about five feet of water. I landed two big fish, including a 21.50” bass. That’s when I knew I wasn’t putting that lure down.”

Fehner’s early limit had him atop the big bass leaderboard and in contention for a top spot on day one (he would finish the day in fifth place overall).

Consistency is the key to cashing checks. In a multi-day event, it’s a matter of adapting. On day two, Fehner woke up to find the wind had picked up. But that was not a problem for him….

“The wind got nasty,” he told KBF. “It was out of the south-southwest, but the bank I was fishing was protected. I started on topwater again, and then switched to the Senko. The fish moved up, so I fished beds with a ned rig. At the end of the day, I was in third place.”

Fehner with an Alabama bass. Photo courtesy of Mark Fehner.

The judges determined however that Fehner had caught the same fish two times, so one of the submissions was denied. A 17” fish replaced it, dropping Fehner to sixth overall. Fehner had to adapt, and his decision was to swing for the fences on day three. “I don’t complain on the internet. I’m a tournament director, so I get it. I just needed to catch more fish. My mindset going into day three was ‘I need to catch five 20’ fish.”

Day three presented new challenges to the field. A cold front had dropped water temperatures.

“The bite was extremely slow for me,” Fehner said. “I lost four fish that were better than my smallest, which was a fourteen-inch bass. The fish were maybe biting differently. I didn’t catch any on topwater, and the wind was out of the north. I really didn’t catch a limit until the afternoon, when the water temperatures went over 63 degrees.”

“It’s definitely nice to sit back and say I can fish with these guys who fish every day. It’s amazing. I finished in the top 20 at Guntersville in 2020, so the lake has been special.  For us, we make a 16 hour trek from where we fish puddles to break down a big lake. To be in contention feels good. It can be done.”

  About the Anglers

Mark Fehner is director of Long Island Kayak Bass Fishing

Additional Info

The 2024 YakAttack Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship Powered by Dakota Lithium was made possible by support from Visit North Alabama. For a full recap, click here: https://www.kayakbassfishing.com/recap-the-2024-yak-attack-kbf-national-championship-powered-by-dakota-lithium/

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First Published April 7, 2024. The author of this article was not assisted in any way by AI or machine learning in the composition of it.

Cover photo courtesy of Mark Fehner.

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