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HKB TOP PERFORMERS WEEK 04 & 05 - 2024

We have a MEGA edition of the HKB Top Performers Recap this week - powered by Dakota Lithium. Join us as we break down a dozen events over the past two weeks.


It’s getting harder and harder to keep up with all of the action in the Hoosier state. Sometimes I think we all forget how blessed we are. There is no other state that has as many opportunities for kayak anglers as Indiana. Just in the last two weeks alone, we have had ten tournaments, a month-long event wrap up, and a State Championship! That’s crazy and the season is just getting started. 


Hopefully these weekly recaps can help you stay connected to all the storylines and results from each week. Heck, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two to help you improve your experience on the water.


 

Alright, let’s dive into week four and of course, you know we have to start with our newest state champion. 



Adam Murray became the 2024 HKB state Champion a couple weekends ago and is only the third angler to ever hold that title. 


We just dropped part one of a three-part series on the HKB State Championship recapping the entire event. Part two is going to tell a little bit more about Adam‘s story and part three is going to talk about the tactics, the baits, and the top anglers who caught them.


 So with that said, we’re not gonna go into too much detail here. Other than to say congratulations one more time to Adam Murray and the top three guys who crushed it. Go check out the “Crowning the Champion” series for more on the state championship.

 

Now to GRBY, who’s hosted four events - one in the south and three in the north. In fact, one so far north it wasn’t even in the state, of course we’re talking about Lake Saint Clair, which is a part of the GRBY Northeast Trail and what better place to start the recap. 


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



What an event this was! Although only 12 anglers competed, this was an exciting leaderboard to watch, including an upset on Monday. 

Before we get to that though, let’s talk about John Gittner, who set the tone on the first day of competition Thursday, with 87.25 inches. John anchored his limit with a 19 1/2 inch kicker. Unfortunately for John, his limit would not be enough to keep him on the podium and he would slide to fourth place after the results were final.

Seven of the 12 competitors hit the water Friday out ahead of some crazy winds, forecasted for the weekend. Six of the seven would all find a limit, each of them posting over 80 inches. 

To no surprise, the largest limit of the day came from St. Clair guru, Cole Garland, with 95 inches. 

His limit included a 21 a 19 and three 18’s or better. 

His 21 looked like it was as tall as it was long, an absolute brute. 


With the weekend looking rough and only one angler fishing on Monday, it seemed as if Garland would run away with this one, but Michigan angler, Gilbert Rietsch, had something to say about that. Gilbert fell just shy of the century mark posting a 98 inch 5 fish limit, including three culls.

The smallest keeper in Gilbert‘s limit was an 18.75 


He posted three others over 19 and boated a 21 inch kicker. 

Going back to Friday and the slug fest that went down there, A few inches shy of Cole was Brian Sparks, Who posted an 88.50 inch limit,  including the big bass of the tournament, a whopping 22 inch trophy smallmouth bass. 

This thing was a true freak of nature and helped Brian Sparks secure a third place finish. 


 Take a look at the full leaderboard below and check out all those 80 inch bags. 


 

GRBY | EAGLE CREEK RESERVOIR - PRESENTED BY THUNDERHAWK LURES



Not quite as impressive as Saint Clair, but still a competitive derby with a tight leaderboard, the GRBY Eagle Creek Reservoir tournament series kicked off this past week with 23 anglers competing. 


The man at the top of the leaderboard was the red hot, Tim Dempsey, now with his third win of the season. Two wins in the GRBY format, as well as a victory in SIYAK. 


Tim has been hard to beat in these “grinder” style tournaments. His methodical approach to fishing just seems to be working in his favor this season. 

Tim posted a five fish limit on Sunday for 72 1/2 inches, including a 16 inch kicker. 

Just one inch behind the leader and second place was Mark Howell with 71.50. And third place was Michael Kulik with 70.75 inches.

Big Bass honors went to the Loon Angler, Steve Martin, with a 19.25 inch Eagle Creek Biggin'. 

 

GRBY | NYONA - PRESENTED BY SOREMOUTH TACKLE


The extremely popular GRBY Nyona South Mud Lake series hosted its first event of the year.

31 Anglers took a stab at the first win of the season. Over half the field found a limit; it took over 74 inches to crack the top 10 and over 80 to get on the podium.

Coming out on top, All the way from the islands of Hawaii, was George Nemeth. George used the high winds on Saturday to his favor and cracked an 88 inch bag in less than two hours! 

His limit was anchored by the big bass of the event, a 19.25” caught first thing in the morning.

Teague McClurg finished out the competition strong on Monday with a 86.75” bag for second place and Bryce Fritsch for the final podium spot with 80.5 inches.

 

GRBY | DOGWOOD LAKE - PRESENTED BY MURKY DEEP BAITS


Heading south to Dogwood Lake for the first event in the GRBY series, 11 anglers competed, 8 of which found a limit. 



Christopher Bryant ran away with this one posting 86 inches on Friday, 10 inches ahead of his closest competitor. 

Bryant anchored his limit with the big bass of the event, a 20.50 inch hydrilla gorilla, also landed the second biggest bass of the event an 18.25".

Jim Bailey, who also fished on Friday, found a solid limit at 77 inches but wasn’t able to find a kicker, his biggest one came in at 16.50”. 

Paul Morris would round out the top three with 75.75”. He led the pack on Thursday, but just didn’t have enough to withstand the onslaught that came Friday.

 

KBF IN STATE CHALLENGE SERIES | APRIL



In the 2nd State Challenge of the season, Matt Kiefer comes out on top with 95.50 inches anchored by a 21.25 Blue Grass Special. Matt’s smallest keeper came in at 18.25 inches. 


Daniel Pierce finished the month with 87.25 inches, including a 19.75 inch kicker which helped him take second over Troy Stinson, who put up 84.75. 

May is already off to a great start with Jeremy Hickman nearing the 95 inch mark and 4 anglers already over the 80 inch mark at the time of writing this. Definitely likely we will see at least one, if not more, break the century mark. 

 

Alright, refill your beverage and grab a snack because Week five is going to take a minute to break down. Let’s just go ahead and address the elephant in the room, I’m going to have to talk about myself and an uncomfortable amount. I will try not to make it too cringe. I love writing about you all and these great series, the triumphs & the struggles, but it is always awkward to write these when I hook into a good limit. 

 

Week five could be summed up in 2 words. Tough and EPIC. It seems like it was one of the two and not much middle ground. Let's start week five action off  with GRBY and then we will dive into IKA and SIYAK. 


GRBY | SOUTHWEST TRAIL EVENT - LAKE WAVELAND


The second installment of the GRBY SW Trail went down on Lake Waveland with 16 anglers competing. This is the first derby we have seen here since the SIYAK Championship back in 2019.


After the fishing reports, it may be a while before we see it again. No, I'm kidding (I Think). In all seriousness, this place has some bigs and is a cool little fishery. That said,  many of the 16 anglers struggled and I mean struggled to get a bite, a few found a handful of bites and our Top 3 actually caught them pretty good. 

Things got started off in a big way Thursday when Jim Bailey smashed them, putting up 79.00 inches and culled four times through the day. 


Jim was willing to share some insights on his day with us and here is what he had to say.


"Waveland started out slow. Hit the usual spots and didn’t see any fish. Went to the shallows and discovered tons of beds with fish on them. The grass is super thick and proceeded to pull and stow the motor and pull out the paddle. Started catching fish immediately after this move. Broke off a good fish in the grass on a fluke. Changed my strategy and upgraded from a spinning reel to a bait caster to increase leverage on a fish that had now where to go except the thick grass mats. This was key for me getting them out. I used the grass to my advantage because 1.) it parked the boat for me. 2.) it was harder for them to see me. I threw a green pumpkin fluke and tossed it way up on the bank and worked it into the beds. The wind really picked up afternoon and made it hard to see them."





On Sunday though, Kent Gross would knock Jim off the podium and put up an impressive 86.25 inches anchored by two 18.50 inch kickers. Kent survived Monday's group and took home the Win. 

Troy Stinson rounded out the Top 3 with 74.50 inches, grabbing his 1st GRBY podium of the season. 

Big Bass honors went to Brian “Coach” Moore with a 19.50 biggin caught just after lines in! 

 

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


The GRBY SE Trail held its second event of the season on the infamous, Lake Monroe. 


Monroe once was the home of the greatest GRBY Series to have ever been…. Oops, sorry drifted off there and let my bias kick in. Ok, let's get back on track… 


Once the home to a GRBY Series, now the location of the 2024 GRBY Championship, Lake Monroe is no stranger to many GRBY anglers. That said, you either Love it or Hate it. The results of this event are a good explanation as to why. While some anglers caught them and caught them good, others struggled to find a bite. Monroe is finicky like that, but once you unlock her secrets, it can be the most rewarding lake in the state. 

We saw 7 of the 24 anglers post a limit and it took over 80 to crack the top 3. Setting the tone early on Thursday was 3rd place finisher Mark Howell, who put up 83.00 inches including two just shy of 19 inches. 


On Friday I made my homecoming trip, after being separated from my love for over a year. Minus the lack of wind and dropping water, conditions were nearly perfect for an epic day on Monroe and EPIC it was. I landed 30-40 bass during the competition period. At times,  it was every cast, though most were smaller males in the 12-15" range. 

My best five however, went for 87.25 inches and though I had a 19.25 inch kicker, I knew not finding a 20+ was going to likely be my demise. 



Sure enough, it was. Jim Bailey, pulled a “Sam Jones” and went out on Monday and broke some hearts. Like literally, Crushed some hearts. More specifically mine… into small tiny pieces. Really small tiny pieces… shoot drifting off again. Where was I… Oh that's right, The amazingly talented, Jim Bailey. 

Jim, with similar conditions to Friday, found himself on a primed lake Monroe, and he absolutely took advantage of it, putting up a 90.00 bag! Only the 3rd angler to break into the 90’s for a Monroe derby.

His limit was anchored by a 21.25" big momma! Taking home all the money and glory with the Win and Big Bass! 


Here is what Jim had to say about his EPIC day.


"I started on the flats and picked up some smaller fish for a limit in the morning. I knew if I was going to be competitive, I was going to have to find bigger fish on beds. Once again, I got on the bank inside the weed lines and started picking them apart. This time I could not get them to eat the fluke. I went to a favorite bass fishermen tool kit and pulled out the Senko’s. I knew I was looking for better then average fish so I threw them on a heavy wire hook. I tossed a jig, Texas rigged creatures, and even swim baits. No dice. They wanted the Yamamoto! I caught 19 fish that day and 18 came on the Senko. I threw at the big fish for 10 minutes until she had had enough and made a mistake. I feel that it was my day and I’m super excited to get a win on Monroe knowing that there were some great anglers that consistently do well there. These guys are Bloomington Hammers! They always bring the pain when a tournament rolls into town. Pumped to have figured it out and had my day. There are no bad days fishing, just lessons to be learned and techniques to improve on."


 

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


Not nearly as cool as Monroe but still pretty awesome, the GRBY NE Trail hosted its 3rd event of the season on Blue Lake in Churubusco, IN.  A solid roster of 15 anglers hit the lake over the 5 day competition putting up 88 fish and 8 limits on the leaderboard.



The red hot Larry Reyes picked up his 2nd win and 6th top 10 finish of the season with 84.50 inches. 

His limit was anchored by the Big Bass of the event, a 19.25 inch tank! 

Teague McClurg grabbed silver with 81.50 inches on Monday, tying  with 3rd place finisher James Miller. 

Teague, however, had the bigger kicker by .25 inches with a 17.50 over Millers 17.25. 

The AOY Race in this one is an absolute mess after 3, with most anglers only having 2 events completed. Cole Garland leads currently but this one is really still anyone’s to take. 

 

GRBY | NORTHWEST TRAIL - PRESENTED BY REDBEARDS PLASTICS




The first event of the GRBY NW Trail was a bit underwhelming. Six anglers competed in this one with two limits caught thanks to the no size minimum.  Only 22 fish were submitted and less than a handful of those were over 12 inches. Going back to our two buzz words of the week - Epic and Tough -  this one definitely wore the TOUGH like a badge of honor. 

With that, Gary Holloway ground out the Win on Sunday with a 4 fish total of 50.50. Catching Big Bass twice with two 14.00 inchers. One a Smallmouth, the other a Largemouth.

Our favorite young angler, Logan Dupuy, took the tough fishing on and posted a 46.00 inch, five fish limit for 2nd place. 

Rounding out 3rd place with possibly the smallest limit ever, was David Elsea with 34.75 inches. 


Got to give these anglers much respect. It's easy to recognize the talent when you see big bags, but an event like this one where you have to keep your head in it all day, even when there is little to no action, is what makes an angler, that mental toughness is so key. 

 

GRBY LADIES ONLY TOURNAMENT

The first ever Ladies Only tournament in the Hoosier State was hosted by GRBY last Saturday.  Missy Deneau put a lot of hard work into getting this event going. Partnering with some great sponsors to help give our lady hoosier anglers an opportunity to gather together and compete. 

This was a single day event held on Nyona / South Mud.





Seven of the ladies hit the water Saturday and it was tournament host, Missy Deneau, who would take the win with a solid 78 inches anchored by a 18.00 kicker. 



The Hacker, Jesse Kinser put up 73.75 inches for 2nd place and Rebecca Ream rounded out the top 3 with 63.50 inches. 


While this was a stand alone event,  I do believe that there are talks of more Ladies events and possibly a series at some point. Can't wait to recap more of these events in the future and to watch the progression of these ladies in the Kayak Fishing sport!

 

Alright, we're almost there! Two more events to go! 


IKA EVENT 2 - RACCOON LAKE


In what will be remembered as one of, if not the toughest tournaments since the March Monroe event back in 2022, The second event of the IKA season took place on a very, and I mean very stingy Raccoon Lake. 

Thirty nine anglers fished in the 2nd event of the 2024 IKA season. Shockingly though, only 52 fish were submitted and just one limit. 



Finding the only limit was yours truly. From my practice Monday, I knew there were some post spawn and some on beds. I had seen FRY in multiple areas and caught a couple small keepers I felt like were either making beds or guarding. On tournament day, I tried to focus on only areas I felt I could find spawning fish.

I caught 5 or 6 fishing around isolated wood with a wacky rigged & Texas Rigged, Bizz Baits Sassy Stick.



I had my biggest of the day come off a shallow brush pile fishing a hawg style bait from Xcite Baits called the Hawgalicous, paired with a ¼ Wicked Weights, tungsten worm weight.


Outside of the 2 or 3 small ones I caught on a jackhammer, I spent most of my time fishing high percentage areas very slowly, hoping to drag a bait in a bed and get hit. I only caught one female all day though. The rest were beat up males. 

My total, thanks to this 17.50 kicker landed at 2:00, came out to 72.25” landing me my first IKA win. 

Ryan Platt added yet another podium to his IKA resume with a 2nd place finish, posting 4 fish for 58.50. 

In 3rd place was Chad Howard with 56.00. Chad had a couple missed opportunities that would have gotten him the limit, possibly within striking distance of the win. 


Team Sore Mouth Looking strong with three of its anglers on the Podium!

Raccoon Lake hammer, “Big Fish Chip” Romanovich didn't make it out for this one, but Big Fish Michael Luke a.k.a. Luke the Duke, continued his Big Bass ritual with a 18.25” Chunk!

 

SIYAK | SUGAR CREEK - PRESENTED BY YAMAMOTO BAITS

Finally, we have the annual moving water event for SIYAK, the 2nd event of the 2024 season for SIYAK after kicking off the year with Bischoff just a couple weeks ago. 

16 anglers took on the coveted Sugar Creek in Crawfordsville, IN. posting over 100 fish to the leaderboard.



10 of the 16 anglers posted a limit. 6 anglers broke the 70 inch mark and River Rat, Troy Riggins, smashed them with an 87 inch bag for the Win! 

Troy found all his big bites burning a Golden Shiner Bucca Baby Bull Shad just before the current and in slack pools. 

After two great events, Riggins now leads the SIYAK AOY race with 199 points.

2022 and 2023 SIYAK Champion, Merlin Hammer III, took 2nd place with 78.75. 

James England came in 3rd, just behind MH3 with 78.25 inches. His limit was anchored by a 19.25” beautiful Indiana smallmouth bass. This is the second event in a row James has taken Big Bass honors. 

James sits 3rd in the AOY race as well, just one point behind 2nd place, Tim Dempsey. This is going to be a fun year to watch the SIYAK AOY race. 


 

That wraps up our Mega Edition of the Week 4 & 5 HKB Top Performers. Thanks for reading and congratulations once again to all our Top Performers!


Week 6 is about to kick off so make sure to check out the “UPNEXT” section below to see what events are going down this week and coming up soon!


UPNEXT

GRBY | PALESTINE LAKE 5/9-5/13

GRBY | LAKE MAXINKUCKEE 5/9-5/13

GRBY | BRUSH CREEK 5/9-5/13

GRBY | SULLIVAN LAKE 5/9-5/13

GRBY | ST. JOE RIVER 5/9-5/13

IKA | ST. JOE RIVER - 5/4

SIYAK | WEEKEND BRAWL - 6/6-6/9



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