2023 GRBY CHAMPIONSHIP | RECAP
Another exciting GRBY Championship is in the history books and once again, Bryan Sparks drops the hammer on Patoka!
Legendary Status - For the 3rd time in 4 years and for the 2nd time in a row, Bryan Sparks is your GRBY Champion. As if Bryan Sparks hadn't already written his name in the Hoosier Kayak Fishing history book as one of the best anglers to compete, he now has solidified it once again!
Early on day one, it looked like it was going to be the Caden Zeck Show. Caden got out to an early lead with 3 fish for 55.25.
Caden posted the first fish of the Derby, a 20.25-inch stud, and then followed it up with a 19.50-inch largemouth. His 3rd keeper of the day, a 15.50, would unfortunately be his last and while he led most of the day, he would ultimately fall to 16th on the leaderboard.
The powerhouse cold front that came through on Thursday- Friday seemed to have really made things difficult for the 83 angler field. Including Bryan Spraks, who like most of the field, struggled to find quality keepers on day one.
Sitting in 5th with 68.75 inches, Bryan was once again in the running for another title, but at the end of day one, it seemed it wasn't very likely he would overcome the almost 10" deficit.
The mysterious Cory Rucker, however, was looking very solid with a 77.00 inch 5 fish limit and a 6-inch lead over 2nd place, James "The Sheriff" Miller.
Chad Cummings and James England were right in the mix of these too, as they both were less than an inch from breaking into the 70's.
Sitting just outside of the Top 5 was Wyatt Gard with 68 inches. Wyatt was just missing a kicker bite. His biggest at 15.75" was 2-3 inches off the kickers of the Top 5 anglers. It's possible he would have found a couple of upgrades, had his day not been cut short. Around 1:00 pm Wyatt smashed into some standing timber breaking his motor mount and cracking his hull. Fellow angler, Ron Irwin, quickly offered up his kayak to Wyatt so he could make a run at the title on day two. Seems like there isn't a tournament that goes by where you don't hear of a story like this. Anglers stepping up to help each other out. The Hoosier State truly has the best cast of anglers in the nation.
Day Two would start out much like day one with Caden Zeck getting after it early, with yet another big one to kick off his day. Things would fizzle out again though for Caden on day two, however, this time he would find a few more small bites to close out the day with a limit of 66.50 inches, which gave him a two-day total of 121.75 for 8th place.
By midday, the storyline was shifting to Wyatt Gard and Bryan Sparks. Wyatt had cruised to the top of the leaderboard with a decent limit and Sparks was behind him by more than 10 inches. Of course, everyone was waiting to see what day one leader Cory Rucker had up his sleeve.
Cory would struggle on day two, only posting two small keepers for 22.00 inches, giving him a two-day total of 99.50 for 15th place. This, of course, left the door wide open for Wyatt, Bryan, and the rest of the day one leaders.
2nd Place | Wyatt Gard
Wyatt continued to upgrade throughout the afternoon, culling up an additional 7.25 inches to give him a two-day total of 141.75 inches for 2nd place. Last year, Wyatt finished with 142.50 for 3rd place.
As you can see, this angler is very consistent and paid his dues. Should GRBY visit Patoka in 2024 for the Championship, you better believe he is going to do everything he can to improve by one spot again next year and take that title.
Wyatt took home $845.00 and of course, some sweet hardware from Ketch Products.
3rd Place | Nate Goodwin
Speaking of consistency, Mr. "This Lake Sucks" Nate Goodwin was very consistent in this one, posting a day one limit of 65.00" and backing it up on day two with 65.25" for a 3rd place finish and a two-day total of 130.25". This was a huge improvement over his 13th-place finish last year.
Nate recapped his event in a Facebook post you can check out below.
The 3X Champion | Bryan Sparks
Bryan Sparks has been so dominant, it's almost unbelievable! His first championship came back in 2020 when he took the crown at Shackamack. In 2021, The GRBY Championship would move to Patoka Lake and Bryan finished runner-up to Glenn Landstrom. In 2022 Bryan Would take the title again and this year, he goes back-to-back with a two-day total of 143.00 inches.
After a day one total of 68.00, it looked like a long shot for the two-time champion but by the afternoon on championship Sunday, Bryan had done what he does best and that's grind it out and find a way to get it done.
His day two limit went for 74.25 inches, the 2nd best limit of the event. Bryan was focusing on bait balls from the bank, out to about 8 feet. He spent the day chasing them down throwing a bladed jig. His bigger fish came in the mid-depth ranges, but he found the majority of his bites up shallow.
Bryan took home a payout of $943.00, plus a 2023 Hobie PA14 360 valued at $4,999. In addition to his payout, he is now qualified for the 2024 HKB State Championship. This will be Bryan's 4th-year qualifying, so far the only angler to qualify every year since the inaugural championship back in 2020. Bryan will be joined by fellow GRBY anglers Ryan Reedy (Lake Overall AOY) and Eric Tracy (River Series AOY).
OWTI TRAILER GIVEAWAY
Missy George Deneau was the lucky angler picked to win a tricked-out OTWI Tourney Light Trailer valued at $4,000!
Hobie Hammer - Hobie Mirage Passport Giveaway
The Hobie Hammer grand prize goes to Matt Kiefer! Matt was not in attendance to receive the prize, but will be able to pick it up at a later date.
Bucket Of Baits Winners
James England, Chris Hillenbrand, and James Miller each took home a Bucket of Baits this year, plus enough additional baits were donated via participating anglers to donate a large care package for the Owen Valley High School Fishing Club.
Check out the GRBY Championship Photo Gallery - A collection of images from anglers and GRBY admins.
Congratulations once again to the 2023 GRBY Champion, Bryan Sparks, and all the amazing anglers who qualified for this event. Hats off to the GRBY Admin team for putting together yet another successful season and an amazing championship.