Kayak anglers who fish tournaments often hesitate before the word “pro.” To be a professional means many things. It means winning money and it means having sponsorships, media presence and a large, dedicated following. True, not every tournament angler or pro has all of these, and some have one or two and not the others. But if there is one standard we all can agree on, it is this one: to be a professional requires that you compile victories. Not just any victories – the ones that matter, against the top talent, and consistently so.

Nebraska’s Kristine Fischer has all of these things, and she continues to stack more. Her KBF Trail win at Lakes Hartwell and Keowee (Clemson, S.C.) on August 1st, 2020 is her 2nd KBF Trail victory overall (she also won at Lake Chickamauga in 2019). She also has a KBF Southwest Regional Championship and a Hobie B.O.S. victory (Kentucky Lake, 2019) under her belt. Since fishing her first major event at the KBF National Championship in 2017, she has attracted major sponsors (Hobie, Z-Man, St. Croix, Ram Mounts, AFTCO, etc) and tens of thousands of fans who admire her record, follow her social media and envy her multi-species angling abilities. Watch her fight a big Musky from a kayak or land a Pike through a hole in the ice, and you will see why.

But if there is one quality that is as strong in Kristine as it from any other pro in our young sport, it’s her tenacity. That perseverance was on full display as she battled through migraine headaches and bad luck with housing on her way to a victory this past weekend at the first of two KBF Trail events on Lakes Hartwell and Keowee. To make her victory all the more impressive, she won on Lake Hartwell, a body of water she had never fished before a single, tough day of practice.

In her own words, she “pre-fished for one day. I spent part of it on a short float to scout water with Jody Queen. I also spent half of that day not fishing because I had a migraine. I really wanted to qualify for the KBF Trail Championship, so I stuck it out. But I took a chance on my housing, and it didn’t work out: I was next to a drive-in theater, and the speakers were loud until midnight.”

Fischer worked on barely any sleep the next morning, and she had decisions to make as 50 anglers launched prior to lines going in for the 8 hour long event. She had found a small offshore pattern during pre-fishing, but decided instead to check out a new area similar to one she had seen on her previous day’s float.

“After doing some research, I found some backwater sloughs and shady banks,” says Fischer. “It was an area that catered to my strengths, so I moved off the deep water pattern. So I took a chance and tied on a spinner bait with double willow blades. I had two bites on my first two casts but they were only bumps. I switched to a spinner bait with a willow blade and a Colorado blade kicker, and I started skipping it back into the shady areas and willows. All of my early bites were on that lure.”

Kristine Fischer with an 18.75″ bass from the winning limit at Lake Hartwell (Photo Courtesy of K. Fischer)

But then disaster struck when she lost that spinnerbait; it was the only one she had with her and she had landed only 4 keepers. On the NRS Live Leaderboard, other anglers were beginning to post strong limits. The heat was on.

“I went two or three hours without a bite, because the next lure I was casting was getting hung in the willows. So I switched to flipping a Tokyo rig with a Z-Man Mag Fatty, and that’s how I filled my limit. It’s a pattern and technique that A.J. [McWhorter] and I used on Lake Chickamauga, and it worked here [on Hartwell], too.

In the end, Kristine filled her limit and took the lead with a 90″ bag. A 1″ upgrade sealed the win after a challenge from Georgia’s Nawtou Ly, who finished with 90.25″

A combination of experience, adaptation and tenacity helped her win the day. Reflecting it, she notes “I had a terrible practice, but I went out and fished my strengths.”

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The 2020 RealTree Fishing KBF Trail Series is presented by Dee Zee Truck Accessories. VISIT CLEMSON hosted this event and Ketch Products Inc. is the Mid-Atlantic Region sponsor. The Tournament Coordinator is Barry Davis and the KBF Partner Club was Palmetto State Kayak Fishing.

Other KBF Trail Series sponsors are:

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About the Author: Henry Veggian is Regional Coordinator for the KBF Mid-Atlantic Trail. A multi-species freshwater kayak angler, he is a member of the Carolina Kayak Anglers directors group, the Ketch products fishing team and the Jackson Kayaks Fishing Team. He is a frequent contributor to the KBF Blag, and his writings on fishing have been published in numerous magazines. Follow him on Twitter @miacalva and visit his website at www.bowfincountry.com