by Henry Veggian and Brandon Bissell
Every tournament is a story, and every angler has a story within that story. We share our stories on social media or with family and friends. Storytelling is the living heart of the kayak fishing community. It’s what makes us whole.
Competitors in the RealtreeFishing #KBFTRAIL presented by DeeZee launched on Lake St. Clair for the second of the weekend’s tournaments on Sunday, June 6, 2021. Anglers set out to chase bass, prizes and precious points in the Farwide KBF Angler of the Year and Rogue Fishing KBF Rookie of the Year races. With every paddle and cast, the competitors also set out to write new stories to tell.
One of the anglers was Michigan’s Brandon Bissell. He had won the previous day, and already had a great story to share. But as often happens, anglers deplete their spots or make mistakes from fatigue. It is extremely rare that an angler lead events on back-to-back days, either in single events or a multi-day tournament.
But Brandon Bissell did just that. Not only did he win 1st place on consecutive days, he passed the century mark on each day, setting a new record as the only KBF angler to ever land over 200” in a single weekend of KBF TRAIL competition.
Because his accomplishment is so unique, and the consequences could be so far reaching for the FarWide KBF Angler of the Year Race (see below), we invited him to tell his story within the story, in his own words:
Trail II, Lake St. Clair
My pre-tournament process started a couple hours earlier on Sunday morning than it did on Saturday with me having to check out of my Roseville, Michigan hotel before leaving for the launch for the St. Clair II Trail Series event. In hindsight, two extra hours was probably a little much to pack my few travel bags and miscellaneous fishing gear into my truck and hit the road. What the extra time did give me, however, was the time to reflect on the tournament the day before while I was at the ramp waiting for “First Launch” time. I was first exposed to competitive bass fishing when I was 6 years old and my Father would have me join him when he would “Prefish” for events. Since then, fishing has consumed my life.
I’ve been blessed to fish some pretty great events all over the country since that first tournament exposure 21 years ago; but few have meant as much to me as Saturday’s KBF Trail Series victory did. Sitting at that Ramp Sunday Morning, it was hard to not have that mentality that I was “Fishing with House Money”, and regardless of what happened that day, I would be leaving Detroit and making the trek back to the Upper Peninsula that Sunday Evening as a Champion. My goal for Sunday was to go out, stay safe, and have a ton of fun catching those Lake St. Clair Bronzebacks.
Sunday’s tournament started much differently for me than Saturday’s. While I still picked up my Spinnerbait rod to start the morning, my first couple fish of the morning averaged a little over 16”, a far cry from the 20.25” fish I started Saturday with. It became apparent very quickly that the lake was fishing differently on day 2, and that I was going to have to change with it if I wanted to compete. I quickly made a short move to a transition area I found in practice and slowed WAY down. I proceeded to fill my limit out with 19 inchers in a span of about an hour. Typically, that would go a long way in settling an anglers nerves, however, upon submitting one of my fish around 8am I noticed my buddy Cole Garland was ALREADY sitting at 100 inches on the day.
The pressure was elevated. I found myself in the tough predicament of needing to fish a slow presentation, but also cover as much water as possible. Unlike the day before, the fish refused to fire up consistently on either swimbait or spinnerbait, so I put the dropshot in my hand and never put it down. 10 a.m. rolled around and I still did not have a fish over 20 inches in my bag: Decision Time. I decided to slide a little further up on a flat that I had written off in practice as not having the structure to hold the fish I needed. All I knew was that I had to try something different and find new fish. Luckily for me, the move paid off…BIG TIME. At 10:07 I caught what would be Big Bass of the day, a HEALTHY 21.25” St. Clair Smallmouth. This fish was the key to my Sunday victory. Not only was the fish nearly a 3” cull for me at the time, it was the confidence and adrenaline boost I needed to keep my head down and keep culling.
Exactly one hour later I would catch my last cull fish of the day, a 20.25” that kicked my bag up to 102” on the nose. Mission Complete. On my way back to the ramp that afternoon after “Lines-Out”, I was overcome with emotion as I saw my name atop of the leaderboard for the second day in a row. For two straight days I fished as hard as I could. I left it all on the line and it proved enough to win back-to-back events on one of the greatest bass fisheries in the world.
The amount of supportive/congratulatory texts, messages, and calls I received from friends, family and fellow fishing peers moved me in a way I can’t put into words on my way back to the ramp. The Competitive Kayak Bass Fishing Community is one of the greatest fishing communities in the world. No question, we all want to win every event that we fish in, but at the end of the day this community supports one another in both our successes and our setbacks. I’m extremely happy for my friends Cole and Taher who not only fished these events this weekend but had great finishes as well. One missed fish here or there, and the weekend shakes out differently. That’s what’s incredible about this sport; the margin of error is razor thin and it’s usually anybody’s game.
The Top 10
- Brandon Bissell 102”
- Cole Garland 100”
- Bret Marsh 98.5”
- Matt Kiefer 98”
- Nick Audi 97.5”
- Ryan Matylewicz 97.25”
- Joe Komyati 97.25”
- Reece Stoughton 97”
- Alex Roberts 96.75”
- Taher Ali 95.75”
For Complete Standings, click here: https://app.fishingchaos.com/tournament/2021-realtree-fishing-kbf-trail-lake-st-clair-ii-presented-by-dee-zee
What it Means for DEE ZEE KBF THE TEN
The KBF Angler of the Year Race presented by FarWide tightened up over three KBF TRAIL weekends in the past 6 weeks. Rus Snyders remains in first, but Matt Kiefer, Jody Queen, John Tibbens and Ryan Nye have all closed the gap. Spots 2-5 are all tied up, in fact, and Ryan Matylewicz has also solidfied his position, with a firm grip on 6th place overall.
And this should be noted, too: with one more win, Brandon Bissell would leapfrog over nearly 80 anglers into 1st place. The possible consequence of his weekend cannot be underestimated: with three KBF TRAIL events remaining on the schedule at East/West Harbor, Clear Lake and Kentucky Lake, a lot can still change.
For complete FarWide KBF Angler of the Year standings, see: https://app.fishingchaos.com/club/kbf/tournament-series/v1SixoE580OsCULMkKZr
About the Angler
Realtree Fishing KBF TRAIL Series Tournaments are presented by Dee Zee Truck Accessories
© KBF 2021