HKB 2021 TOP PERFORMERS | PRESENTED BY MOVING WATER OUTFITTERS
Updated: Jan 7
Whoa! 2021 is over and we're on the downhill side of the off season here in the Hoosier State, can you believe it? Before we go full board on the 2022 season, let's take a look back at 2021 and the anglers who made waves across the various Indiana kayak clubs & series.
MIKE ELSEA | 2021 HKB STATE CHAMPION
If you're going to talk about Top Performers, then you gotta start with the reigning State Champion, Mike Elsea. Dominating the field on Summit Lake in march of 2021, he became the first ever HKB State Champion!
“It felt great to take the top spot at the Indiana State Championship! Our state is full of great anglers and to be able to beat those guys on a lake that I've never been on before, was an awesome feeling!”
Mike added the title of State Champion to an already impressive resume of major accomplishments, such as being a KBF National Champion and DeeZee Ten Qualifier.
Mike will look to defend his title in the spring of 2022 on Lake Wawasee in Syracuse, IN.
Who will he be competing against…
Read the rest of this blog to meet all 13 of the remaining 2021 Top Performers and 2022 HKB State Championship Qualifiers.
AIDAN DARLINGTON | INDIANA KAYAK ANGLERS - CHAMPION
This angler has one impressive stat sheet when it comes to kayak fishing here in the Hoosier State. Aidan is undoubtedly one of, if not THE MOST, dominant anglers in the Indiana Kayak Anglers Series in recent years. Aidan was coming off his 4th straight AOY title and five Top 5 finishes going into the 2021 IKA Seasons.
This year surprisingly, we’re not congratulating Aidan on a AOY title, but instead, Aidan makes the Top Performers List by his performance in the 2021 IKA Championship where he walked away with the title.
Aidan beat out 16 other anglers on Sylvan Lake, located in Northern Indiana, landing two of the biggest bass caught in the event and finished with a 7.50 inch lead over 2nd place.
Aidan will be a real threat to take the HKB State Championship Title in 2022, as he has been dominating fishing events in the northern half of the state, including a First Place finish this year on Wawasee/Syracuse during the second IKA event of the Season in 2021, barely beating out his good friend, Jaxton Orr - More on Jaxton in a moment.
Not bad for a 21 year old, aye?
AUSTIN KILLION | GRBY MONROE & BROOKVILLE SERIES AOY
The name may be unfamiliar to you and prior to the 2021 season, it was unfamiliar to most in the tournament scene. But it's one you will quickly come to recognize.
Austin stormed in on the tourney scene in 2021 winning events, cashing checks, and claiming not one, but two, GRBY Series AOY titles in just his second season in a kayak.
He crushed the competition in the later half of the season on the GRBY Monroe series, catapulting him to the top of the AOY race and nudgong out AOY hopefully (yours truly), Sam Jones and if that wasn't impressive enough, he did the same thing in the Brookville Series to grab the title there as well.
The crazy part is, those weren't the only two series he had a shot at AOY. Austin fished numerous series throughout the state, competing in almost 50 events, more than any other angler in the state.
More impressively, Austin is still in the early stages of his story as a competitive angler and he is already finding major success. Austin sits amongst a short list of anglers who have double qualified this season for the 2022 HKB State Championship.
When we asked Austin what he felt led him to be so successful on the tourney scene in just his second year, Austin had this to say,
“Last year was pretty much just a try it out year. Get comfortable in my kayak, get routines down such as my CPR process, and really just learning about tournament bass fishing. This year, I really dug deep, and pretty much became obsessed with learning about the lakes and rivers and locating fish. Whether it’s listening to podcasts and YouTube videos while I’m at work, or studying maps when laying down for bed, I pretty much kept bass fishing on my mind all season long. I entered as many tourneys as I could, fishing every week and sometimes twice a week, just to gain experience and feel more confident out on the water. I found a few tactics early in the year that worked well for me, and pretty much stuck to those all year. Sometimes it didn’t pay off, a lot of times it did. Another thing that has helped me this year is just talking with fellow anglers throughout the clubs. This sport is filled with great anglers, who are more than willing to help anyone become a better angler. That’s one of the things I love most about this sport. Although we are in friendly competition with each other, most of us genuinely want each other to do well and catch fish.”
It’s safe to say that Austin completely avoided the ‘sophomore slump’ and that has to make you wonder what will happen next.
MATT JOHNSON | GRBY BLUE GRASS SERIES AOY
The Evansville Hammer, Matt Johnson, lived up to the nickname in 2021 with a GRBY - Blue Grass FWA Series AOY title! Matt, now in his fourth year of tournament kayak fishing, has proven to be a very solid competitor. In 2021 alone, he had 3 wins and 14 Top 10 Finishes.
Matt’s no stranger to catching the Big Ones either, with 4 fish over 22 inches submitted in competition! Most anglers have not landed one 22” fish ever, let alone 4 in the state of Indiana.
The next question for Matt is, can he bring the success he has had in the southern portion of the state to the North when he competes in the State Championship on Wawasee this coming spring?
NICK MATTHEWS | GRBY WHITE RIVER SERIES & NYONA SERIES AOY
There are so many talented young anglers in the state of Indiana right now, it's unreal, and Nick Matthews is definitely on that list. Not only did he have success locally this season, he also crushed it on the Hobie Bass Open Series. Nick is no stranger to success on the water though. He has been cashing checks and breaking hearts for some time now.
Fishing in kayak events since 2017, Nick has amassed over 40 top ten finishes and has become one of the most consistent anglers we have seen in the state. That ability to finish at the top more times than not, is exactly why Nick is a double qualifier for the 2022 State Championship.
Nick dominated all season long during the GRBY Nyona Series, winning the first 3 events and claiming AOY there, as well as the AOY title for the inaugural season for the GRBY White River Series.
Though Nick is a quiet guy and doesn't get too involved in social media, you can guarantee every angler recognizes his name on the leaderboard and understands he is the one to beat on tourney day, no matter where you're fishing or when.
MIKE MATTHEWS | GRBY SUMMIT LAKE SERIES AOY
What's that saying… “ Like Father Like Son.” That couldn't be more true in the case of Nick and Mike. This father son duo tore it up in 2021. There are only a few father/son duos here in Indiana, possibly the most recognizable would be the Orrs, but the Matthews’ are the only duo to have both father and son on the Top Performers list and to qualify for the State Championship!
Mike makes the list in 2021 due to his performance in the GRBY Summit Lake Series, where he took the fiercely contested AOY title. This may have been the most competitive series in the state last year with the AOY race being as tight as it could possibly be and if you're going to win an AOY title, that's exactly how you want it.
GLENN LANDSTROM | 2021 GRBY CHAMPION
Glenn rose straight out of the ashes in 2021, and we mean literally. Glenn suffered a big blow early in the 2021 season when he lost almost all his fishing gear, kayaks and more in a garage fire.
Thanks to the amazing kayak fishing community here in the state of Indiana, Glenn was able to get back up and running, quickly too, with money and gear donations from across the state.
With the support of his fellow anglers, Glenn was able to get back out and compete, raking up several top finishes in 2021 throughout the GRBY tournament series and qualifying for the 2021 GRBY Championship on Patoka Lake.
Glenn came out swinging in the GRBY Championship on Day One with just over 80 inches, but struggled on day two, only landing 68.75 inches. However, thanks to a very strong day one performance, Glenn was able to hold the lead narrowly beating out the 2020 GRBY Champion, Bryan Sparks.
We look forward to seeing Glenn at this year's HKB State Championship, as he is now a back to back qualifier. Unfortunately, last year Glenn was not able to make the event so watch out, we're sure he will look to make a splash this year!
MATT KIEFER | SIYAK & KBF CHALLENGE SERIES (IN) ANGLER OF THE YEAR
Speaking of multi-time qualifiers, this guy right here, Mr. Matt Kiefer, currently holds the record for most HKB State Championship Qualifications as a double qualifier, two years in a row!
Matt claimed AOY titles in the KBF State Challenge Series and also for the SIYAK 2021 season, another closely contested AOY Race. In addition to competing at a high level locally, Matt proved he can catch them outside of Southern Indiana.
Matt landed multiple Top 10 Finishes during the 2021 KBF Trail Series
Matt was in the hunt for the KBF Trail Series Farwide AOY Race and the coveted DeeZee The Ten going into the 2021 Yak Attack KBF Championships but unfortunately, he didn't have the event he needed and fell outside of the Top 10 for the AOY Race but still was able to finish in the TOP 25 for the KBF Trail Series.
The crazy thing is, Matt really just started getting serious about Bass Fishing a couple years ago. Before that, he was known as the Crappie guy within the SIYAK Klub. In just the last 3 seasons, he has added a few new titles to his name and is no longer just the crappie guy.
Matts Major Achievements:
2019 SIYAK AOY
2020 SIYAK Champion
2020 KBF Challenge Series State AOY
2021 SIYAK AOY
2021 KBF Challenge Series State AOY
JAXTON ORR | IKA ANGLER OF THE YEAR
The Orr effect? Is it real? We think so.
There is just something about this kid (not so much a kid anymore) everywhere he goes, he wins over the hearts and minds of his fellow anglers and competitors. It's hard not to root for the kid, even when you're competing against him.
Jaxton is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable names in the Kayak Industry, from his charitable contributions, to his ability to catch them anywhere he goes. Jaxton has truly made the Hoosier State proud.
Competing in a kayak since 2017, Jaxton has an impressive 20 wins, 15 2nd place finishes, 11 Tops 3’s, and a whopping 79 Top 10 finishes (stats thanks to Tourneyx) and several impressive titles to accompany those stats, including the 2021 IKA Angler of the Year.
Jaxton was finally able to nudge out his good friend, Aidan Darlington, for the AOY title and claim a ticket to the HKB State Championship on Lake Wawasee, where Jaxton will definitely be a favorite to take the Title from reigning champion, Mike Elsea.
That being said, between other events including fishing for the Carson-Newman Eagles collegiate fishing team, we just hope this Hoosier State Hammer can make the event!
BRIAN MOORE (COACH) | GRBY TRAIL SERIES & RACCOON SERIES AOY
Speaking of likable guys, if this was a “Most Likable Anglers” List then Brian Moore, also known as “Coach,” would definitely be ranked towards the top.
Coach has been a big part of the GRBY community over the last couple years, not only because he is a stick, but also one of the best dudes on and off the water.
But.. Don't let him fool you, he is a fierce competitor and is someone to fear if you're looking to cash a check at any event he has signed up for in 2022.
Brian fished his first event in July of 2019 and has since competed in 47 events, grabbing a top 10 finish in 37 of them! Not only that, but he has won 7 events and grabbed 3 AOY titles in his first two seasons.
Brian qualified for the HKB State Championship for the second year in a row as well, with his 2021 GRBY Trail Series & Raccoon Series Angler of The Year titles.
COLE KLEFFMAN | GRBY BRUSH CREEK SERIES AOY
This young man is a Beast! At just 19 years old, Cole is already racking up some impressive finishes and even earned his first AOY title in the GRBY Brush Creek Series during the 2021 season.
Cole had success across multiple series, including an impressive Top 3 finish in the IKA Angler of the year race presented by Nu Canoe and a spot on the IKA Cross Roads team! Cole helped lead the team to a Top 3 Finish, while also taking 2nd in the individual standings. Oh, and he took a Top 10 spot at the GRBY Championship!
His IKA AOY run included a 1st Place finish on Summit Lake. Cole had 82.25 inches to narrowly beat out fellow Top Performer, Nick Matthews, who had 81.00 inches.
Of course, you don't get close to an IKA AOY title without stringing together multiple top finishes and Cole did just that. A part of that string, was a 3rd place finish at the IKA 5 Country Shootout. He also had Top 10 Finishes at Wawasee and the IKA Championship!
Cole's success in both GRBY and IKA, plus his Top 10 Finish in May of 2021, is why he is towards the top of our “ Watch List” for the 2022 HKB State Championship.
BRYAN SPARKS | GRBY SULLIVAN LAKE SERIES AOY
Coming off an impressive Rookie Year, Bryan Sparks kept the momentum rolling in 2021!
The 2020 GRBY Champion put up one of the most consistent series of any angler in the state in 2021, earning the GRBY AOY Title and cliniching his second berth into the HKB Stats Championship.
Not only did Bryan smash on the Sullivan series, but he had success through multiple other series, including a win in the GRBY - Illinois Newton Lake series and also earned a spot on the 2021 KFL Northern Conference All Star team, Representing the Indianapolis knights!
In just two short years, Bryan has taken the local kayak scene by storm, proving to be one of the most competitive anglers we have here in the Hoosier State. With 7 wins and over 35 Top 10 Finishes, he has us excited to see what he can do in 2022.
RYAN REEDY | GRBY WEST BOGGS SERIES AOY
Calm, cool, collected… 3 words that come to mind when talking about Ryan Reedy. This guy is a true sportsman and I can speak from first hand experience.
Not only is he a stick, winning 3 GRBY events in just 2021, but he is also one heck of a guy. From helping others on the water, to giving back to the community through his family's business, Ryan is a perfect example of what the sport of kayak fishing is all about.
Ryan sealed the deal on this first HKB State Championship qualification, by clinching an AOY Title on the fiercely fought for GRBY West Boggs Series in 2021.
Take a look at some of Ryan's top performances in the 2021 season.
I mean, just look at that performance on the GRBY Raccoon Series presented by Wicked Weights. Absolutely dominated 3rd through 19th and even had a 4.75 inch lead over 2nd place!
We expect to see much of the same from Ryan in 2022, there is no doubt he has what it takes to Win and grab potentially multiple AOY titles this season.
JOHN GITTNER | SIYAK CHAMPION
Last, but definitely not least, your 2021 SIYAK Champion, John Gittner!
John has a knack for catching some Big Fish, averaging over 17 inches per catch!
John was 3rd overall in AOY Standings for SIYAK in 2021, qualifying him for the championship where he upset the local favorite and 2021 SIYAK AOY, Matt Kiefer.
John landed an impressive 183.75 inches over the two days of competition, anchored by a 22.00 inch stud! It seems catching 22’s has become a trademark of John’s, with at least four verified 22’s in competition.
It will be interesting to see if John can bring those Big Fish Skills to the State Championship this spring. If he can maintain that 17+ inch average throughout the 2 days of competition, he will likely be right where he needs to be to have a shot at the title!
There you have it!! Your HKB 2021 Top Performers! 2021 was an awesome year for the kayak bass fishing community here in the Hoosier State. We saw some great turnouts, gained many new anglers, watched some new stars rise, and some familiar faces continue to add titles and trophies to their collection.
We're so excited for what's in store for 2022, both here at Hoosier Kayak Bassin and through the community and our clubs/series.
For more information on the HKB State Championship and how to qualify, click below.
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