A look back at the 2021 IKA Season
Written by HKB Contributor, Jack Vandenberghe
The Indiana Kayak Anglers 2021 season was full of many surprises, to say the least. With multiple adjustments to events, tough fishing conditions, and even a cancellation of one event, there were a lot of reasons for the admin group to throw in the towel, but they didn't. They worked hard to make the best out of, sometimes seemly impossible, situations. Jason Young, Matt Gibson, and Jim Orr rose to the occasion and were able to run some exciting events that lived up to the standards that IKA has set for its anglers and the state as a whole.
I reached out to IKA Admin, Jim Orr, to get his thoughts on the 2021 season. He stated that he was very happy to see a lot of new faces with IKA this year. He was also stoked to find out that 140 anglers signed up for the Hoosier Big Bass Hunt by Moving Water Outfitters. He was impressed at the consistency of the anglers who placed in the top 10 this year and finds some of the new talent to be very impressive and promising for the sport.
With that being said, let’s break down each event of the season, getting right into it with the first event of the year on Lake Monroe.
EVENT NUMBER 01 - LAKE MONROE
The Monroe tournament can be summed up in two words. Skunk-Fest. Monroe always poses to be a challenging lake, especially in the early stages of the year. Out of a total of 73 anglers, only seven fish were wrangled to the surface during the tournament day. In a show of strength and knowledge, Drew Duncan caught three of the seven fish in the day, for a total length of 43.50", taking home the win! Aaron Wilson followed in second place, with one fish measuring 17.75", Matt Gibson with a close 17.00" in third and in fourth place, Steve Martin with 13.00!”
I spoke with Drew Duncan about his win on Monroe and here were a few of his keys to win the first event of the year; With only 3 hours to pre-fish the Friday before the tournament, he put in the time at Moores Creek. Within ten minutes of fishing the chatterbait in submerged bushes, he caught an 18.50". He then started using the ned rig and caught a short. The day of the tournament, he went back to the same spot and caught a 13” but never got another bite, even after throwing the entire tackle box at them. At around noon, he was throwing a 4” Yamamoto Senko and casted on the same bushes from his practice. He got another bite and pulled out a 13.50". He proceeded to make the same cast over again and caught another 17.00"! This killer day on the water secured the win for Mr. Duncan!
EVENT NUMBER 02 - LAKE WAWASEE
The second tournament of the year was hosted on Lake Wawasee near Warsaw, Indiana. The sun had shown in the sky for the day, but high winds had thrown a wrench in the mix for many of the 45 anglers.
The tournament directors for IKA decided it to be the safest bet if the tournament were to end early before the wind got too bad for the anglers. About 25 percent of the field had a five-fish limit but many just couldn’t find the bigs. Most found the bigger fish in deeper water. Blake Spurgeon held the big bass of the tournament with a 17.00" Wawasee brute!
The Wawasee tournament concluded with Aidan Darlington in first place, with a total of 73.25". Followed in second by Jaxton Orr, with 72.25" and his father, Jim Orr, coming in close behind by half an inch with 71.75.” Jim had almost an entire smallmouth bass limit with 4 smallmouth and 1 largemouth! I spoke with Aidan Darlington and here’s what he had to say about his day on the water- "The Wawasee tournament came down to the kicker fish. At Wawasee, the 15.75” bass did it in for the win! By throwing the ned rig, I was hoping to sift through all the smaller dinks in hopes of catching a few bigger fish. I fished the docks and sand patches and caught a few shorts before any bigger fish came to the party." Aidan repeated this process and pulled off the win!
EVENT NUMBER 03 - SUMMIT LAKE
The third tournament of the year was held at Summit Lake, just south of Muncie, Indiana. This event was one of the only tournaments this year not altered due to the weather conditions, however, it was moved from its originally scheduled date on Saturday May 22nd, to Sunday the 23rd due to a conflict with scheduling. 50 anglers competed on Sunday and of those 50, 13 came home with a full limit. Many anglers had luck with slower-moving baits in transitioning deep water. Anglers showed to have luck using Senkos and Chatterbaits. Summit lake, as always, produced some biggens!
The big bass of the tournament, caught by Jordan Rhoads, measured in at 20.00" followed up by Matt Gibson, with a 19.75" stud! Cole Kleffman came home with the win totaling a limit of 82.25" followed by Nick Matthews, with 81.00" and in third, Joshua Robbins with 80.25"! Cole Kleffman was using a Senko on a grass flat throughout the day and found the bite picked up with the wind.
EVENT NUMBER 04 - CANCELED
Event number 4 on the Kankakee River had to be Canceled this year due to high water conditions caused by heavy rains in the days leading up to the event. IKA always puts the safety of its anglers above all else and with that in mind, they canceled this event.
EVENT NUMBER 05- 5 COUNTY SHOOTOUT
The fifth tournament of the year, on Mississinewa Lake, had been rescheduled to another 5-county shootout-style tournament. This 5-county shootout was filled with surprises. With 37 anglers signed up to fish, over half of the field came home with a limit!
21 anglers had finished with a 5 fish limit and the smallest 5 fish limit came out to be a 65.00" total. The day was a partly cloudy day with a low to moderate wind. After asking a few anglers post-tournament, much of the field had caught their fish on slower moving soft plastics and moving baits. Many giant bass were caught this tournament, but the big bass, caught by Jack Vandenberghe, measured in at 21.50". Followed up by Jaxton Orr, with a 20.50" biggin'! The IKA total length record was broken twice in the same tournament day!
Jack Vandenberghe and Jaxton Orr had both broken the previous record, which sat at 94”, with a total of 94.50" and 94.25"! Jack Vandenberghe came home with the win at 94.50", followed by Jaxton Orr, with 94.25" and in third, Cole Kleffman with 86.25"! Jack had been fishing in deep grass with a 6” Gary Yamamoto Senko, where the bass would hit it on the fall. He found that slowly letting the Senko shimmer to the bottom produced the most key bites he needed to pull off the win!
EVENT NUMBER 06 - WHITE RIVER
The last regular-season event took place on Indy’s very own White River. This yearly tournament never fails to bring the crowds. A total of 64 anglers signed up for this event and 25 came out with a limit.
As always on the White, many big Smallmouth were wrangled in. The big bass of the day, being a 21.00" hawg, was caught by Jaxton Orr! Followed up by another 21.00" smallmouth caught by Melia Montgomery! The day turned out to be a nice day with a moderate river current. Many anglers caught their fish on Whopper Ploppers, TRD style baits, and Jigs.
Jim Orr took the win, with mainly a Largemouth limit, finishing with 86.50" and a 20.00" kicker! Josh Chrenko followed behind with 84.25" and coming in third, Joshua Robbins, with 82.50" and a 20.25" kicker! With about 7 minutes left in the tournament, Jim caught an 18.25” mondo! That fish gave him a 5” cull and secured him the win!
IKA CHAMPIONSHIP - SYLVAN LAKE
The Big One. The 2021 Indiana Kayak Anglers Championship.
After a season full of twists and turns, up and downs, and crazy weather impacting almost every event, finally, the sun shined on the 17 qualified IKA anglers on Sylvan Lake! Over 90% of the field managed a five fish limit. Many of those keepers were caught on Topwaters, Senkos, and other slow-moving baits.
The big bass of the tournament, caught by Aidan Darlington, was a 19.00" beast!
Thanks to his 19" Kicker, Aidan pulled away from the rest of the field to secure the win by 6.75", finishing with 82.75". Joshua Robbins came in second with 76.00" and finishing third, Jaxton Orr, with 74.50"! Aidan Darlington went over a few keys for his second win on the year, again, it came down to kicker fish. He stated that he had caught his final kicker of the season on a random lucky cast, while the remainder of his limit came from a singular small cove. There was clear water running next to a muddy water drain, which made for his primary focus on the day. He had landed almost a dozen small fish and a few upgrades off that drain. With an hour left, Aidan pulled an 18.75" off that very drain to pull away with his second victory!
Aidan’s key to victory this year- “Fish slow when getting lots of bites and wait on the big one.”
CROSSROADS CLASSIC - MOORES LAKE
The Crossroads Classic was also a key feature this year with the top 5 from the IKA AOY Standings -Jaxton Orr, Aidan Darlington, Cole Kleffman, Jim Orr, and lastly, Drew Duncan! These anglers showed up and they showed up to preform! Our IKA team finished day 1 in 3rd place of 8 other amazing teams! IKA finished day 1 with a limit of 247.25”! Jaxton Orr finished with the big bass for day one, measuring in at 20”! Big moves and big changes were made and that was evident in day two for IKA, moving up to second place to finish off the Crossroads Classic! IKA trailed slightly behind in a neck and neck battle against KBL. KBL finished with an impressive 602.25” and IKA following right on their tail with 600.25! Talk about a nail biter!
Overall, it was an amazing season for Indiana Kayak Anglers, despite all the weather challenges the series faced. The admins did an incredible job making things seamless and enjoyable, despite the challenges. The 2022 season is on the horizon and it's going to be EPIC!
LEARN MORE ABOUT JACK VANDENBERGHE
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