2023 Elite Kayak Fishing Season Update

2023 Elite Kayak Fishing season update! If you have any questions, ask in the comments.

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(And yes, there is a typo in the intro. We know. We’re sad. John has been thoroughly flogged for this transgression.)


Seasonal Angler Depression

Seasonal angler depression is real…

But hang in there! The 2023 kick-off on Cayuga Lake is just around the corner.


2023 Elite Kayak Fishing Schedule Announcement

Are you ready?


Nick Audi Wins It All!

This past weekend, Elite Kayak Fishing ended its second season on the famed Lake Champlain, where thirty anglers battled it out for the coveted title of Elite Kayak Fishing Champion.

Also up for grabs was the Angler of the Year title, which going into the event had Nick Audi on top of the rankings, with Ken Wood and 2021 Angler of the Year Jake Angulas not far behind.

The stage was set for an epic event, but Mother Nature had other plans.

Expecting big fish and bigger limits, anglers were instead met with a very tough bite thanks to a run of cold nights and cold rain that brought the water temp down into the upper 60s. A moon phase—including a harvest moon—also undoubtedly had its own effect on the fishing. It was the proverbial Double Whammy on a lake that’s known for its world-class bass fishing.

After a tough day one, only four limits had been logged on the leaderboard, and only 70 keeper bass were submitted.

Fittingly, Nick Audi was on top, followed by Ken Wood in second. The battle for the Championship crown and Angler of the Year title was on!

But Nick had a commanding lead with 95.75 to Ken Wood’s 87.25, and Ken’s lead over Scott Rhodes was a mere 1.25 inches. Going into day two it looked like Ken and Scott were fighting for second and third because Nick Audi was untouchable.

That is until Sunday morning when Ken put up two big fish—a 19-inch smallie and a 20-inch largemouth—right out the gate, putting him in first place. All of a sudden, Nick’s 8.5-inch margin going into the final day didn’t look so big.

But Ken was unable to keep that momentum going and struggled to find more big bites, which opened the door for others.

Eventually Nick regained the lead, Ken dropped to fourth, and he, Simon Morgan, Jake Angulas, and Scott jockeyed for those remaining two paying spots.

In the end, Ken Wood was able to find a big enough limit to put himself back into second place, with Scott Rhodes also finding four fish good enough to keep him in third.

Torrence Davis and Simon Morgan rounded out the top five.

The Orion Coolers Big Bass—which was worth $500 and a 35-quart Orion cooler—went to Nelson da Costa, who landed a massive 22.50-inch largemouth…on a dropshot with 6-pound test!

And all the rest went to Nick Audi—Champion, Angler of the Year, and Double Down! He also won Tyler Sweet’s NY Kayak Bassmasters event that took place at the same time.

Nick’s two-day total was 184.25, winning by a margin of 12.25 inches! A well-deserved victory and a hell of a season with two wins, a 2nd- and a 5th-place finish!

We’d like to thank all the anglers who supported Elite Kayak Fishing this season. Much of this is new to us, so there have been a few bumps in the road, but we are learning and growing and in the coming year we are committed to making Elite Kayak Fishing truly live up to its name. Big things are coming!

Thanks to our amazing sponsors—Three Belles Outfitters, Bixpy, Harpoon Brewery, Dakota Lithium Batteries, Orion Coolers, and YakAttack—for all that you’ve done to make this trail a success thus far.

Special shout-out to Duke Weskamp and Ketch Products. for the baddest trophies around!

To Amanda Brannon and Reel Tournament Management for helping us manage and judge these events. Thank you!

And thanks to Messy Mike’s Barbecue & Catering for the amazing gift bag at our Lake Winnipesaukee event.

Check out the full results here.

And look for our 2023 schedule soon!


Morcone Wins the Tie-Breaker

Lake Winnipesaukee was the fourth stop for Elite Kayak Fishing this year. Expectations were high leading up to the event, as Lake Winnipesuakee has been putting up big limits all season.

And she didn’t disappoint! The top 24 anglers hauled in over 80 inches of mostly smallmouth bass, with the top eight anglers being separated by just two inches. A true slugfest!

Like most summer tournaments on Winnipesaukee, Mike Morcone had to go deep to find the winning fish.

“It basically came down to locating big bait balls in 45–65 feet to target the better-quality fish,” Mike said. “My feeling was 90–92 inches would win, so I never felt anyone would run away [with it], so to speak, but in my mind, I felt I needed a little more. Competition was stacked, so I figured what we were seeing across the board was a solid trend. I kept that in mind and just stayed calm, telling myself the quality was a touch down all around and the slightly smaller limits might just do it. I saw better fish in practice for sure, so the last hour or so I figured the next upgrade might just win the whole thing.”

And he was right. A key late-game upgrade sealed the deal. But barely.

Mike tied for 1st place with Nick Audi, current Elite Kayak Fishing Angler of the Year leader. They both had 89.50 inches, but Mike had the largest fish between them, an 18.25-inch smallmouth, which was the tie-breaker.

Having only fished one other Elite Kayak Fishing event this season, this win was enough points to secure Morcone a spot in the championship at Lake Champlain next month.

“Well, I couldn’t make many events with all the family-life chaos,” Mike said, “so that’s definitely a great perk to the win. I’ve never fished Champlain and have to travel to Pennsylvania this weekend for KFL, so I’m really hoping I can make it work! Should be a blast.”

As mentioned, Nick Audi secured a 2nd place finish, as well as the top spot in the Angler of the Year race, while Jake Angulas took 3rd with 88.75 inches.

For this event, we paid out six spots, plus lunker—nearly $10,000 in cash and prizes from our sponsors: Three Belles Outfitters, Bixpy, Harpoon Brewery, and Dakota Lithium Batteries!

Special thanks to Messy Mike’s Barbecue & Catering for amazing gift bag!

The rest of the top ten played out as follows:

4th – Ryan Matylewicz (88.75)
5th – Matt Lee (88.50)
6th – Ken Wood (88.00)
7th – Matthew Zapala (87.75)
8th – Joseph Daddeo (87.50)
9th – Jason Gardner (86.50)
10th – Anthony Campbell (86.00)

The Bixpy Big Bass winner was Ronel Mullen, with a massive 21.75-inch Winnipesaukee largemouth!

Congratulations once again to all the winners!

This event concluded our regular season. Next up is the championship on Lake Champlain, September 10–11!


Rhodes Uses Local Experience for Connecticut River Win

Besides a few river systems, Massachusetts doesn’t have a single public body of water that can play host to a large bass fishing tournament. The biggest public lake in the state is Fall River’s South Watuppa Pond, which clocks in at a mere 1,460 acres.

So when planning this year’s schedule, we looked to the rivers, with the Connecticut River ultimately being the place we chose for the third stop of the 2022 season.

Lots of unknowns surrounded the river. It’s not a world-class fishery, which is often a requirement for anglers when choosing to fish an event. It’s not known to produce giant bass, which is also something that many anglers factor in when deciding to fish a tournament. But at the end of the day, it’s a tournament, and from that perspective the latter two things don’t matter. Big fish, little fish, someone’s going to win…

And thirty-nine anglers hit the river last Saturday in hopes of doing just that.

Pre-fishing reports were mixed. With low water levels, anglers found themselves searching for accessible, quality fishing spots, and while some anglers found fish, others struggled.

Being the first Elite Kayak Fishing event on a river, it was interesting to watch how anglers adapted to the different conditions.

Tournament day called for temperatures in the upper 80s, and plenty of weekend boat traffic to navigate. But despite the unknowns and the inherent challenges of river fishing, the Connecticut River didn’t disappoint.

Kevin Senecal jumped out to quick lead on Saturday, being the only angler with a 5-fish limit within the first two hours. Not long after, other anglers started closing in, with Gerard Elias taking the top spot and Chris LaCourse bumping Kevin down to third.

As the day wore on, the leaderboard continued to shift, with anglers moving up and down consistently. In the last few hours, however, a handful of anglers began to make their stand, and they stood very close together, just a quarter inch separating the top four paying spots.

In fact, the top thirteen or so could have won it with a few good culls or one big fish.

Bruce Levy spent time at the top of the leaderboard, but ultimately fell to fourth place with 81.5 inches, earning him $597.75. He also landed the day’s Bixpy Big Bass—a 20.25 tank—and for it won an additional $500 and a Bixpy J-2 Outboard Kit!

Also having spent time at the top, Gerard Elias found a consistent bite that allowed him to catch fish throughout the day. His 81.75 was good enough for third place and a $797 payout.

Having planned to fish the Oxbow, some confusion about parking in trailer spots at the ramp forced Matthew Zapala to switch gears and head north to another launch. Misfortune that turned into good fortune. Kismet, as they say. Matt got on the water late, but he was able to find the fish needed to carve out a solid second place finish with 82 inches of Connecticut River smallmouth, boosting his net worth by $1,075.95.

With the Connecticut River in his backyard, Scott Rhodes took his knowledge of and experience on the river right to the top. With 82.25 inches of largemouth bass, Scott walked away with the first place trophy and an extra $1,514.30 in his wallet.

Congratulations to our winners, and thanks to everyone who came out, especially those who joined us to celebrate the winners at the awards ceremony!

Special thanks, as always, to Lauren Furey from Three Belles Outfitters for coming out and supporting us, assisting with the setup at the awards and for everything she and Three Belles does for this kayak fishing community. Second to none!

And to all our other sponsors—Harpoon Brewery, Dakota Lithium Batteries, and Orion Coolers, and YakAttack—thank you!

We’d like to also thank Slob Gear, Chad Hoover, Joe Haubenreich, and Busy Bee Printing for assistance in getting these new big checks made, and quickly!

If you placed in the top three at our first two events, we have one for you.

Our next event is on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee on August 27. Registration is open now. See you there!


Oneida Brings Adam Rourke His First-Ever Win

The second Elite Kayak Fishing event of the season took place this past Saturday on Oneida Lake.

We had 41 anglers fish this one, a lower turnout than we would have liked due to a conflict with another big event on Lake Winnipesaukee, but we appreciate those of you who chose to support us on Oneida.

The weather was great for this one, though more clouds would have helped everyone out, we think. Pre-fishing reports were positive earlier in the week, but come Friday things changed and the bite got tougher. A major mayfly hatch taking place and the fish gorging on food that was literally falling from the sky all around us didn’t help matters.

Despite the tougher bite on Saturday, many anglers found fish, and most caught at least one. However, a number of heavy hitters who have done well in our past events struggled this day. But where one falls, another rises. Such is tournament fishing.

We paid out four spots for this event, with Jacob Moulton taking the bottom paying spot with 85.75 inches.

Simon Morgan is no stranger to anyone fishing the national tournament scene, and seeing his name at the top of the leaderboard should come as no surprise to anyone. His 86 inches earned him a third-place finish as well as the optional Double Down sidepot—which the winner of the event opted not buy into (he has regrets, no doubt).

Dale Van Horn tossed a solid 89 inches on the board, anchored by a slobby 20.75-inch largemouth, good enough for second place and Bixpy Big Bass honors, earning him a Bixpy J-2 Outboard Kit!

Leading up to the event, Adam Rourke had a life-changing experience during a KFL match, where he flipped his kayak in extremely rough conditions. With the help of Jake Angulas and others, he was able to safely get to shore, shaken but thankfully alive.

Adam then hired a diver (a brilliant idea) to recover all of his rods, and Three Belles Outfitters had him in a brand-new Jackson Kayak Take Two almost immediately, and then it was on to Oneida.

He struggled in pre-fishing, but one 19-inch smallie caught on a point gave him enough confidence to make that his starting spot on Saturday morning, and it proved to be the right choice.

Between 6:52 and 7:44 AM, Adam put two 18s and two 19.25s on the board, firmly securing the early lead—which he held onto for most of if not all day—with only four fish. He’d go on to catch two more 18s and a 16.75, giving him 92.50 and securing his first-ever kayak tournament win!

Great job, sir! You earned it. And congrats to all the winners!

The top ten was rounded out by current Angler of the Year leader Nick Audi (85.00), Shawn Dominik (84.75), Jonathan Medina (83.50), John Ferreira (83.50), Donald Davis (82.75), and Steve Hedges (82.50).

Full results can be found here.

Thanks again to everyone who came out and supported Elite Kayak Fishing, and a huge shout-out to our sponsors—Three Belles Outfitters, Bixpy, Harpoon Brewery, Dakota Lithium Batteries, and Orion Coolers!

Extra special thanks to Lauren Furey for going above and beyond what most sponsors would do, by traveling all that way to ensure everything was set up a ready to go come time for the awards.

And to Reel Tournament Management, thanks for judging and managing this one. We appreciate it!

Our next event is coming up in a few weeks, July 16, on the Connecticut River. The entire river within the state of Massachusetts is in play. Should be a great one! We hope to see you there.


The Weather Looks Great for Oneida

Oneida week is here, and we’re excited for another great event!

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the weather, it’s setting up to be a fantastic day out there. Warm, partly sunny, and favorable winds—south/southwest to start, then shifting to a south wind, 5 to 10 mph.

Obviously this will likely change some between now and Saturday, but as of right now it’s setting up to be a great day on the water!

Register on Fishing Chaos here.

For those looking to double dip, New York Kayak Bass Fishing is also hosting an event at the same time. They’re a local trail and we’ll be supporting them as they are supporting us. Anglers do not need to be a NYKBF member to fish their event (though the entry fee for non-members is $50 instead of $40 for members).

One thing of note, though: they use TourneyX. So you’ll need an account with TourneyX if you wish to compete. You can register for their event here.

We’ll see you out there!


Nick Audi Makes a Statement on Messalonskee

On May 21, the 2022 Elite Kayak Fishing season kicked off with a return to the angler-favorite Messalonskee Lake in Maine. A world-class bass fishery, Messalonskee is home to monster largemouth, but the smallmouth rule here, and they did not disappoint this weekend.

Once again, Snow Pond Center for the Arts hosted the event, offering their campus to the majority of the 84 anglers who fished the event (our biggest turnout yet).

Leading up to the tournament, anglers battled windy conditions and saw bass making the transition to shallow waters to spawn. Saturday morning, anglers crisscrossed the lake, often fishing in closer quarters than they would have liked, eager to jump to the top of the leaderboard. Throughout the day, anglers were consistently submitting entries, looking to gain an edge over the competition who were often vying for the same spawning bass.

At the end of the event, 473 scorable bass were submitted for judging by Reel Tournament Management, with eight anglers amassing over 90 inches for their best five bass, making it very tight at the top.

When the dust settled, Pennsylvania’s Nick Audi was crowned the champion with 93.25 inches, followed by Domenic Eno with 93 inches, and Ryan Matylewicz rounding out the top three with 92.75 inches.

The remaining of the top ten went as follows: Robert Bifsha (91.75), Jake Angulas (91.25), Ken Wood (90.50), Derek Brundle (90.50), Jacob Stem (90.25), Steve Hedges (88.75), and Dave Renfro (87.75).

The Bixpy Big Bass was awarded to Peter Lambeau, who submitted a 19.75-inch largemouth. For this, Pete received a Bixpy J-2 Outboard Kit and $500!

Thank you to all who came out and supported the event!

The next EKF event takes anglers back to New York, to Oneida Lake, on June 25. We hope to see you there!


Messalonskee Week Has Arrived!

Messalonskee week is here!

The first Elite Kayak Fishing event of 2022 is coming up this Saturday on beautiful Messalonskee Lake. We’ve been here before, both with EKF last year and KBF in years past, and this lake is always on fire. Expect big numbers for this one!

If you want to throw down with best anglers in the Northeast, register .

All the cabins are booked at Snow Pond, our host location for this event, but there are still plenty of rooms left in the dorm and lodge. Give Christa Johnson a call at 207-465-9648, ext. 203, to book.

And if you want to eat with us at Snow Pond, you can order your meals—Friday night BBQ, Saturday night pasta bar, and breakfast baskets—at this location.

Hope to see you there!