HKB TOP PERFORMERS | WEEK 16 & 17
Two over 22, Our First AOY crowned, and is James Miller the new sheriff in town? More on that, and all the action from weeks 16 - 17, in this edition of HKB Top Performers.
It's been a busy couple weeks, both on and off the water. Extreme weather, once again, rocked the state back in week 16 leaving many without power and sifting through the debris in the aftermath of some insane winds.
In the midst of all that were 3 GRBY events and the conclusion of a couple month long events. With AOY points on the line, anglers battled the elements and fished on!
In Week 17, mother nature seemed to have calmed down a bit, but the fishing action was as fierce as ever. Stick with us as we break it all down, week by week, event by event.
Before we get into the weekly events, let's take a look at how the two statewide month long events here in the Hoosier State shaped up.
GRBY | JUNE MONTH LONG
GRBY introduced its first month-long event this past month. The event format was set up just like the KBF month longs, as a statewide event open to all public waters. The event began on the 1st and ran through the end of the month. Anglers were allowed to register for the event until the 15th of the month.
51 anglers took advantage of this new opportunity and this fishing action was intense. Over 400 fish were submitted and the Top 8 anglers all broke the 90” mark for their best 5.
There was a lot of shuffling happening in the final days of this one and it was an exciting leaderboard to watch. In the end, it was Steve Martin with the biggest bag. Coming in just shy of the century mark, Steve finished out the month with 99.50 inches.
Steve had 4 over 19 inches and his kicker was a 21.50” brute of a largemouth bass, caught out of Lemon Lake near Bloomington, Indiana.
In 2nd was the red hot, James Miller. This angler has been making some waves recently and we're going to see his name more as we go through the remainder of this recap - It's obvious why this guy can catch some big bass! James posted a 5 fish limit of 98.25, just a ¼ inch behind the leader, Steve Martin. His limit included two 20”+ and three 19 inches or bigger, pretty dang good for the month of June.
Two inches off the lead was Merlin Hammer II (MH3). Finishing in the 3rd with 97.50”, MH3 had his best performance ever in a month-long event and continues to show why he was the top dog in the 2022 HKB TOP25. Merlin also took home Big Bass Honors with a freak of nature. A 22.25 inch largemouth bass, which is the largest bass posted in a kayak tournament this year.
KBF | JUNE MONTH LONG - POWERED BY DAKOTA LITHIUM
The KBF Month Long was on par as well, taking 98.25 inches to win this one. Rusty Girard finished almost 2 inches ahead of 2nd place, thanks to his giant kicker. Tying MH3 for the biggest bass measured so far this season, with his 22.25 inch largemouth.
Matt Kiefer landed in 2nd with a solid bag at 96.75 inches, he just wasn't able to find those 20+ inch fish to put him over the top.
Mike Singer did find his 20” kicker, but needed just one more small upgrade to move up. Mike finished in 3rd with 96.25 inches.
GRBY | SUMMIT LAKE #3 - PRESENTED BY GETTIN JIGGY WITH IT BAIT & TACKLE
Summit Lake continues to pump out unpredictable results. This lake can be a slugfest for some but at the same time, showing no signs of life to others. While the Top 10 of 36 anglers all broke the 70-inch mark, many others struggled to find a limit.
Ryan Reedy however, had no problems finding a limit on Thursday, Culling 7 times throughout the day before finally landing on a winning bag of 79.75 inches. While Ryan didn't find any giants, he had a 17.25 as his largest, and his smallest was a 14.25, which was the difference between him and the competition. Most of the fields had 2 or more below the 14” mark.
2nd Place, Clint Stafford, of Alexandria, IN also made several upgrades, but wasn't able to cull the 13.25 he needed to in order to pass up Ryan. Clint finished with 77.75 inches , only 0.5 inches ahead of 3rd place, Mark Cocca II.
Mark took home a 3rd place check and Big Bass money thanks to his 19.50 inch kicker.
Surprisingly, some of the front runners for this series stumbled a bit. Ryan Platt, Antoine Hayes, & Missouri Waite all fell towards the bottom of the top 10 and 2022 Summit Lake AOY, Michael Luke, was just inside the top 15. This means, for now Antoine Hayes still sits in the Hot Seat, but he and the other leader have left the door wide open for a few anglers.
GRBY | NYONA LAKE #3 - PRESENTED BY SOREMOUTH TACKLE
Watch out! The boy wonders, the myth, the legend, the… well you get the point…
Jaxton Orr is back for summer break and he didn't waste any time jumping into the local kayak scene and once again, he reminds us why he is the best of the best.
With 82 Inches, Jaxton takes the W at Nyona. Jaxton anchored his limit with a slender 18.25” largemouth which was just enough to edge out Casey Hrabos, who finished in 2nd with 81.75 inches.
In third place was one of the best dudes in all of kayak bass fishing. 2019 GRBY champion, the OG, Mr. “Big Fish” Chip Romanovich! As you can tell, I've been waiting all season to shout this guy out, one of the most underestimated anglers in the sport.
Chip put up 81.50 inches, not only earning him his 1st podium of the season but some crucial AOY points. Now tied with Chad Howard for 2nd in the AOY Standings at 284 points. James Miller currently leads the race with 292 points.
Big Bass Honors went to Doug Himelick, landing a 19.50 inch largemouth bass!
GRBY | COLUMBUS MOVING WATERS #4 - PRESENTED BY HUMBLE JOES COFFEE
This series has really been surprising. In a good way. Turnouts have been solid and despite some rescheduling due to weather and a little drama in the first event, this series has produced some exciting action and very consistent results.
24 anglers signed up for the 4th event in this series and 135 smallmouth bass were submitted. A handful of solid bags were posted Thursday and Friday, but things really fired up on Saturday. Out of the 8 anglers fishing Saturday, there were five 70+” limits posted including the top 3 bags of the event.
Coming in first was Michael Ford, with a 79.50” Limit. Michael posted two over 18 inches, including the Big Bass of the derby, a 19.25 stud of a smallmouth bass. Michael also had a 17” and 14” keeper. His smallest was an 11.00 inch dink. Luckily, thanks to GRBY’s “No minimum rule” he was able to successfully complete and submit his limit.
Adam Murray caught them early and caught them fast. Like our leader, Adam culled 3 times before finally landing his final upgrade and posting 77.75 inches for 2nd place.
In third was Eric Tacey with 76.25. This is Eric's 3rd event in this series and his 3rd podium. With one event left, should Eric compete, he is now in the perfect position to steal the AOY title from the current leader, Troy Riggins - Talk about an upset!!
GRBY | KOKOMO RESERVOIR #5 - PRESENTED BT SOREMOUTH TACKLE
We have our first AOY of the 2023 Season!
The Kokomo Reservoir Series wrapped up its season this past weekend and it was a bust for most. Only 4 of the 16 anglers competing landed a limit and 6 anglers went home with a goose egg. However, one angler went home with a win and the title of AOY.
Ryan Platt of Westfield, IN, did exactly what he needed to do to seal the deal, putting up a winning bag of 76.25 inches and closing the door on the series AOY race.
Bryce Fritsch took 2nd with 76.00 inches and AOY runner up, Matt Gibson, posted 71.75 inches for 3rd place.
Big Bass honors went to Landon Konwent with a 17.50” largemouth.
GRBY | DOGWOOD LAKE #4 - PRESENTED BY THE ROD GLOVE
A small turnout and a small fish were the headliners of this event. Only 13 anglers competed in this one and just shy of 80 fish were submitted. While there were a few limits caught, there just weren't many big fish caught.
5th place finisher, Christoper Bryant, upgraded a whopping 12 times Monday before landing on 69.75 inches, his biggest was a 14.75, and his smallest was a 13.
The Big Bass of the event, measuring in at 16.75 inches, was caught by our 1st place finisher, TJ Aylward. TJ posted a 75.50-inch limit, securing the win and unofficially, the AOY title.
James Miller found himself on the podium and once again in 2nd place with 72.50” but more importantly, he earns some valuable AOY points in the GRBY Overall Lake AOY , where he now sits in 2nd with 1166 points - just two points behind the leader, Ryan Reedy, and 4 pts ahead of Antoine Hayes.
The 3rd place spot on Dogwood came down to a tie between Antoine Hayes and Jonathan Rivera, each with 70.25 inches. Jonathan, however, won the tiebreaker with his biggest bass at 15.00 inches, trumping Hayes’ 14 incher.
GRBY | CENTRAL TRAIL SERIES #4 ATTERBURY FWA - PRESENTED BY HONEY CREEK TACKLE
All eyes were on this event in week 17, as it had the most anglers registered and the most pre- tournament hype. Thanks not only to its location, but implications on both the central series AOY and the GRBY Lake Overall AOY races.
For some, it lived up to the hype. For others, it was a complete bust. What may have been most surprising is the lack of names on this leaderboard. Atterbury is a notorious stomping ground for some of the most recognized anglers in the state and is where many have cut their Kayak fishing teeth.
Also surprisingly, those pre-tournament favorites that did show up for this one, did not fare so well in the final standings with the exception of 4th place finisher, Joe Gentry, who posted a 79.50” limit on Saturday.
Remember at the onset of this week's double recap, we mentioned you would see the name James Miller as went through the events. Well, here it is again for the 3rd time. But this time, not in 2nd place. This time, he is standing at the top of the podium with 85.25 inches for the win!
Early in the season it was obvious that Antoine Hayes was the man to beat, and Ryan Reedy has been on a tear too, but there seems to be a slight shift in the tides, possibly a new sheriff in town because James Miller is on fire right now!
My man, Chip Romanovich, is also coming on strong as of late as he claims his 2nd podium in 2 weeks. Finishing just .25 inches behind James. Chip now sits 4th in the Central Series AOY standings, but with one more strong finish, he could make a run at the title!
Aidann Darlington is also starting to pick up the pace here late in the season, finishing 3rd in this one with 82.50 inches.
Antoine Hayes isn't going to let you forget about the Tweezey Movement just yet though. Even though he wasn't on the podium, he is still taking home some Big Bass Cash with his 19.25” Hydrilla Gorilla.
USA BASSIN | TUCKER LAKE - PRESENTED BY JACKSON KAYAY
The USA Bassin Patoka Lake Series hosted its 3rd event of the season, but this time the tournament was held on neighboring, Tucker Lake. Only 5 anglers were registered for this one. John Gittner was the only angler to post a limit.
BASSMASTER KAYAK SERIES | LA CROSSE, WI
The 2023 Bassmaster Kayak Series visited La Crosse, Wisconsin this past weekend and there was an outright SlugFest on the Mighty Mississippi. A few of our Hoosier Anglers got in on the action, though none of them made it into the top 10, there were still some solid performances.
Matt Kiefer broke into the Top 20 on day two with an epic comeback. Matt had 74.50 on day one sitting in 69th place, just behind Jaxton Orr, but on day two he skyrocketed up the leaderboard posting a limit of 87 inches (5th largest on Day two) giving him a 2-day total of 161.50!
Jason Cassetty finished in 44th place with a two day total of 153.75”. Jason posted 79 inches on day one but slid a bit on day two, only posting 74.75.
MH3 placed 62nd out of 129 anglers with a two day total of 148.25 and Jaxton Orr finished 115th after not posting any keepers on Day Two.
Congratulations to Tyler Cole of Earlville, Iowa. Tyler put up a winning 2-day total of 178.50”
Well, thanks for sticking with us through another double-up edition of the HKB Top Performers recap. Congratulations once again to all of our week 16 & 17 Top Performers. Support these anglers and help me shine an even bigger spotlight on them by sharing this blog on social media.
Week 18 is here and it's jam-packed with great events. IKA is back on Saturday along with USA Bassin, SIYAK Hosts its last On-Site event of the season Sunday, and GRBY has 3 great events for you this week. PLUS, you can still get in on the month-long event if you hurry!
Find out more about these events below.
GRBY | BISCHOFF RESERVOIR (7/13-717)
GRBY | SULLIVAN LAKE (7/13-717)
GRBY | TIPPECANOE RIVER (7/13-717)
GRBY | JULY MONTH LONG