In the summer of 2023, Kayak Bass Fishing announced two new series: the multi-month KBF Smallmouth Series and KBF River Series. Each would have its own unique features, and each would have its own unique championships. The Fall frames of each series would take up some of the space that opened when KBF moved the Realtree Fishing State Challenge Series from March to September of each year, too, providing opportunity for anglers in the cooler months.

The KBF River Series has had one frame (with two to come in 2024, as well as the championship round). With modified rules that allow competitors to leave their kayaks, the series offers a throwback to a form of competitive kayak fishing that has been increasingly excluded by bigger, lake based series and tournament formats.

As a result, the first frame of the KBF River Series attracted over 60 competitors who fished hard up until Christmas Eve of 2023. With all the great river fisheries available to anglers, you wouldn’t have been wrong to expect some huge limits in the river series. The leaderboard told a different story. One of those bass was a 23″ monster, but overall only three anglers topped 100”, although ten anglers caught a bass of 20” or longer.

Bart Foster’s big bass.

Those numbers show one of the key elements of fishing rivers is understanding that the big bites can be few and far between. You have to make them count, and that’s how Georgia angler Jason Starley won the first frame.

Jason Starley told KBF:

“All my fish were from the Oconee River below Lake Sinclair. What’s special about it to me is that it is the last home of the Altamaha Bass. I did most of my fishing near town [Milledgeville], and I mostly fished sections I could float. I went out when I could, and fished the river about eight times. I don’t throw big lures like glide baits, but I do throw big worms and square bills.  As Doug Wilson said, you want to capitalize on a few good bites you get on a trip. It was the same at the Knuklhed event where I was on Gene Jensen’s team. We focused on one good bite each. In a monthly situation, you just concentrate on the quality bites.”

In addition to seeking quality bites, Starley faced tough conditions. There was dry weather in the southeast, and waters were low and clear.

“I saw a lot of big fish that I couldn’t get to bite because the water was low. It was so far down and clear, the fish would just follow the kayak. If you made a cast, they just swam off or sat and looked at you. I had to make long casts, and I also fished shade lines and made casts under trees. For the first fish I posted, I went up to fish a backwater but when I got there I couldn’t get in. It was late so I started floating back and throwing a Berkley Choppo and catching fish. Most of my fish after that were caught on a Texas Rig or on a spinner bait.”

Starley’s strategy of making the most of good bites resulted in the overall lead on the KBF River Series points leaderboard on Fishing Chaos. With two frames to go in the spring and summer, Starley has a good chance of qualifying for the championship round. But with river dogs like Virginia anglers Troy Wines and Matt Shepherd right behind him, it’s going to be a battle.

The early rumor in 2024 is that the championship details are being worked out, so stay tuned for an announcement soon! In the meantime, the next frame of the KBF River Series begins in mid-March, so get ready – and registration for the summer event is also up!

Additional Info

To become a KBF Member, click here.

To register for the Spring River Series, click here.

For Complete Series Standings, click here

For complete standings of the Fall 2023 KBF River Series Frame, see: https://app.fishingchaos.com/tournament/huzm1aVME1HUuXqU1oD9

Jason Starley is a member of the Feel Free Fishing team.

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First Published January 5, 2024. 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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