The Dakota Lithium Elite Kayak Fishing Series presented by Three Belles Outfitters kicked off its third season this past Saturday on famed Cayuga Lake, one of eleven finger lakes in upstate New York.
A record-breaking 109 anglers turned out for this one, hoping to take home the coveted Elite Kayak Fishing trophy!
Given Cayuga’s reputation to churn out monster bass this time of year, all 109 anglers were undoubtedly anticipating an absolute slugfest. And for many, that’s exactly what it was!
Compared to events in previous years—2017, with Kayak Bass Fishing, and Elite Kayak Fishing in 2021, in particular—this year was a much tougher event, despite the top 15 anglers cracking 90 inches. Colder weather this season meant very little grass/weed growth and colder water temps, which had the bass hunkering down a little deeper than normal.
Anglers who found that offshore structure holding those big pre-spawn bass were rewarded. And of course the famous community holes that always attract the bass—and even more anglers—produced countless giants. The amount of 5- to 7-pound bass caught pre-fishing and during the tournament was staggering. A number of 8-pounders were caught as well, adding to the already long list of anglers breaking their personal best bass records (some more than once).
To say they’re built different in Cayuga Lake is an understatement. It’s football season all year long out there!
The flipside of this story is that a lot of anglers struggled to find those quality bites, or bites at all. Yes, the lake produced an obscene amount of monster bass, but only roughly half the field caught limits, leaving many scratching their heads.
With 109 anglers, we paid out ten spots and nearly $14,000! The top three anglers also earned a Fresh Baitz prize pack!
Anglers submitted an epic 518 bass to the National Trade Services Live Leaderboard, 42 of which were over 19 inches, with 18 of them surpassing the 20-inch mark. Sitting atop the Three Belles Outfitters Big Bass Leaderboard was a 21.50-inch behemoth hauled in by New York’s Brandon Brylinsky.
Again, football season all season.
In tenth place, the last of the money spots, was Stephen Sisto, who put 91.50 inches of Cayuga largemouth on the board. Just ahead of him was Rey Morales with 92.25, followed by 2021 Angler of the Year, Jake Angulas, and Dan Hargrave, both of whom put up 92.50 inches, with Dan’s 20-incher breaking the tie.
Serious Angler Podcast host, Bailey Eigbrett, got away from the northern crowd and headed a bit farther south, deep-cranking his way into sixth place with 94 inches, while Benjamin Bornhorst squeaked past him with a solid 94.25.
With 96 inches, Maine’s Shawn Marston secured fourth place, and Ryan Matylewicz, no stranger to the top of the leaderboard, settled into third on the backs of five bass totaling 96.75 inches.
A last-second—literally last second—19.25-incher pushed big-bass leader Brandon Brylinsky into second place for a big payday.
Brandon’s 98.75 was close, but ultimately not enough to dethrone our 2022 Champion and Angler of the Year, Nick Audi, whose 99.25 bested the other 108 anglers. Nick worked subtle, isolated offshore structure with a Z-Man Jackhammer, which had him at the top of the leaderboard for most of the day.
This is Nick’s third win with Elite Kayak Fishing, tying Jake Angulas for the most wins and putting him atop the Elite Kayak Fishing career earnings throne. Nick also took home the winner-takes-all Double Down sidepot, adding to his overall earnings—which totaled nearly $5,000!
Thank you to all the anglers who supported this event. We have come a long way in a short period of time, and our success depends heavily on your support. We salute you!
And to Dakota Lithium Batteries, Three Belles Outfitters, and National Trade Services, without whom we could not do this: THANK YOU!
To Bending Branches, Crosskix, Catch Co., Fresh Baitz, Harpoon Brewery, Hobie Eyewear, Lunkerhunt, Rogue Gear Co., and YakAttack, we thank you for the support!
Please support these amazing companies whenever you can!
Special thanks to Justin Hausner and New York Kayak Bass Fishing for their support and willingness to work with us.
New York Kayak Bass Fishing hosted their own club event, with 93 anglers competing. There was some double-dipping between groups, but it’s safe to say 150 kayak anglers, if not more, were out there on this day. All went as smooth as could be expected, and that is a testament to Justin and the New York Kayak Bass Fishing anglers. Thanks again!
Check out the full results here.
Up next is Lake Champlain on June 3. We’ll see you there!