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  • Writer's pictureHoosier Kayak Bassin

HKB TOP PERFORMERS | WEEK 01-2024

We're Back! It’s hard to believe the 2024 season is in full swing and that we have a handful of tournaments already in the history books!



Seems like just yesterday we were wrapping up the 2023 season. Or maybe for some, it seems like a lifetime ago. Either way, the 2024 action is underway and we have your first round of top performers!


Tournament season here in the Hoosier State kicked off back at the beginning of March with a GRBY and KBF Month Long events. As per usual, there were some big limits and breakout performances. March was a roller coaster in terms of weather. We saw multiple waves of cold and warmth and amidst it all, John Gittner and Bryan Sparks rode out those waves and claimed the first victories of the 2024 season.




John posted an impressive 102.50 inches in the GRBY MONTH LONG, with Bryan Sparks less than 2 inches behind him in second and Eric Tracey rounding out the top 3 with 101 inches.

Gittner also landed a 21.50-inch tank for Big Bass.



In the KBF month-long, it was Bryan Sparks with 101 inches, a 7.5-inch gap over 2nd place Mike Elsea who finished with 93.50 inches. With 89.75 inches, Matt Crites of the Freedom Squad secured the final podium position and some solid AOY points.


 

GRBY | BLUEGRASS FWA - PRESENTED BY BIZZBAITS



March's only other event was the GRBY kickoff on Blue Grass FWA where John Gittner would dominate the field, putting up more than 10 inches over 2nd place finisher, Ryan Reedy. The battle for 2nd and 3rd was much tighter as Chris Wargel came in with 84.25 inches on Saturday, just behind Reedy.


Solid limits and some bigs were posted throughout the leaderboard, and big bass honors went to Bruce Bleechler with a Blue Grass 21.75-inch pig, which at the time of writing this, is the biggest bass submitted to date for the 2024 season.



If the results of this event are any indication of the season ahead, then it’s safe to say Blue Grass is back to her normal self, after what seems to be a down year during the 2023 season.


 

April came in hot, but the fishing was not well, at least for some. GRBY hosted three events during the March 28 - April 1 window: one event on the Duggar Units in the Green Sullivan State Forest, one in the north on Clear Lake, and the other on the big bass factory known as Brush Creek. Both events had big swings in the results which, in some classes, clashed with what was expected for the conditions.


 

GRBY SOUTHWEST TRAIL | GSSF DUGGAR UNIT - PRESENTED BY THE YAK SHAK




In the GRBY Southwest Trail on Duggar, we got to see a preview of what was to come in the opening IKA event to take place the following weekend. Twenty-eight anglers competed in this one with just 9 limits caught. Some major swings in the weather definitely played a role in the outcome of this one, but all four days there were limits caught.


Jim Bailey got out to an early lead on day one (Thursday) but would fall short of the podium, finishing in 5th with 70 inches. On Saturday, Brian “Coach” Moore put up an impressive 88.75 inches, which would ultimately be enough for the win, even though SE Trail Tournament Director, Bryan Sparks, was sure it would take 90+ to win it.


The 2nd place finisher, Juan Garcia, also came out of the Saturday group with a total of 81.25, and on Monday, yours truly (Sam Jones) caught a solid limit of 79.50" to round out the podium.



Big bass honors went to GRBY Talk Co-Host, Nate Goodwin, with a 20.50" caught on Saturday.


 

GRBY N.E. TRAIL | CLEAR LAKE - PRESENTED BY POORBOYS BAITS




The GRBY NE Trail is back for its second year in the GRBY format, and this season it opened up with a return stop to Clear Lake in Fremont, Indiana. Last year it took just over 86 inches to win but this time around, the results were much different; however, James “The Sheriff” Miller would once again take the W.


Of the 12 anglers competing in this one, James was the only angler to find a limit. James with 78.50” won by more than 30 inches over 2nd place, Cole Garland. Jared Mitchell took 3rd with 44.75 inches.



David Elsea claimed Big Bass with a beautiful 19.75” smallmouth bass.


 

GRBY | BRUSH CREEK RESERVOIR - PRESENTED BY BACKYARD CUSTOM PLASTICS




This one was the tale of polar opposites with wild swings in the results. In every tourney, there are those who find them and those who don't, but what was somewhat shocking in this one, was the volume of anglers who didn't find them.


Out of the 33 anglers fishing in this one, 15 anglers zeroed and another 5 just found one bite. At the top, however, there were some big limits. The first of which was posted by the 2023 GRBY Lake Series Overall AOY, Ryan Reedy. Ryan posted a very solid 83.75” on Saturday, taking the lead; he would fall to the second place spot ultimately as David Mills of Kentucky would sneak in on Monday and take the victory with 84.75 inches. Not sure what it is about Brush Creek, but these Kentucky anglers are really good about taking some Hoosier money home from these derbies.



Ryan Beecker rounds out the podium in 3rd with 77.50”, and Don Bowman hits the Big Bass lottery with a 21.75” Brush Creek Tank!


 

Alright, if you have hung in there this long, you are a true bass head and won't mind sticking around a little longer as we continue this mega addition of the HKB Top Performers Recap for Week One. Let's take a quick break from GRBY and jump into the opening IKA event of the season before we wrap up this week's recap with 2 more GRBY events.


 

IKA | GSSF DUGGAR UNIT - PRESENTED BY MOVING WATER OUTFITTERS





IKA kicked off its 2024 season this past Saturday with a return to the Duggar unit. This time, as opposed to last season, both East and West Units were in play for the 41 anglers competing in this event. Saturday morning started off slow and cold, but as the day progressed, the air and water temps quickly rose, and with it, we began to see the leaderboard light up; however, for many, the deep cold the night before and the overwhelming amount of traffic from fellow competitors, local boat traffic, and another tournament would put a big damper on their day.


That said, twelve of the 41 anglers were able to fight through the traffic and find a limit. Three anglers even broke the 80” mark, including 3rd place finisher, Brian Moore, with 80.50 inches. Coach was definitely one of the favorites leading into this one, after winning the GRBY event on these same waters the weekend before, and he lived up to the hype.


Of course, anytime you're in the SW... okay, who are we kidding, anytime the name Sparks shows up on the roster, you have to have him on the list of favorites, and the 3X GRBY champion just about pulled off the win on his “home waters” with 80.75 inches, less than an inch off the winning total. Bryan lost a giant about mid-day, and he knew that one was what he needed to pull out the victory.


He continued to fish hard and held onto the lead for a while, but ultimately was eclipsed by Drew Duncan who posted a late flurry, including a solid cull to give him 81.50 and the victory. This win marks Drew's 5th 1st place finish in IKA including the IKA Championship in 2019. Once again, Duncan will likely be a contender in the 2024 AOY race.



Drew found his bites with Bizz Baits Ned Dizzy on a ned rig fishing a isolated brush pile in 8-10ft of water.


Antoine Hayes, aka Tweezy, found a big bite late to take Big Bass honors with a 20” pre-spawn largemouth!




IKA visits Raccoon Lake next where our top 3 of Drew, Bryan, and Coach Moore are all very familiar with how to catch them. Could we see these 3 get out to a big AOY lead early? It’s very possible.


 

Alright, to wrap up this mega edition of the top performers recap, we return to GRBY, who held 2 events during the April 4 through the 8th timeframe with Sullivan Lake Series and the new SE Trail Series on Hardy Lake.


 

GRBY | SULLIVAN LAKE - PRESENTED BY AMERICAN LEGACY





A light turnout for this one, likely affected by the weather and of course, the big event in the sky. With 17 anglers registered, only 31 fish were submitted, and only 3 limits caught. The man, the myth, and the legend that is Ryan Reedy, continued his dominance, showing off his ability to catch them anywhere, anytime, posting a total of 85.25 for the Win.


Reedy had almost 10” over second-place finisher, Justin Horn, with a 5-fish limit for 76 inches. 2023 Sullivan Lake series AOY and 3x GRBY Champ, Bryan Sparks, rounded out the top 3 on Monday as he braved the impending apocalypse for a chance at some big bass. Bryan landed a total of 75.75 inches.



Ryan Reedy padded his wallet or PayPal account a little more with some Big Bass money on top of the 1st place earnings in this one with an 18.00 kicker.


 

GRBY SOUTHEAST TRAIL SERIES | HARDY LAKE - PRESENTED BY HONEY CREEK TACKLE




The inaugural event of the new GRBY SE Trail kicked things off on Hardy Lake with 11 anglers competing, and just like Sullivan, we only saw 3 limits posted. Tim Dempsey found the largest limit of the three with 64.75 inches on Sunday with Cory Rucker behind him in 2nd with 58.00 inches. Jordan Lee of Lebanon, IN took 3rd with 54.75.



While there were a lot of smaller fish caught, Wes Ward showed everyone that this lake has some bigs too! Ward landed a toad measuring in at 21.50 inches. Unfortunately for Ward, it was a story of what could have been as he posted only three fish, and had he filled a limit with even a couple dinks, he would have easily blown this one wide open.


Monroe is next on the chopping block for this series, and it's going to be hitting it at prime time on May 2nd-5th when it is likely the bass will be feeding up for the spawn, or possibly on the beds!


 

Well, there you have it, the first week of HKB Top Performers is in the books, and what a recap it was. Congratulations once again to all our top performers. There is plenty of action ahead, so stay tuned for next week's recap and check out the upcoming events below!


UPNEXT



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