KBF Championships Recap | Part One
What a year !! This sport just keeps growing and improving from the grassroots level, to the top. This year has been so exciting to watch and that was no different with the KBF Championships presented by Yak Attack.
The Hoosier State was well represented in all 3 championships this year, with well over a dozen Hoosier Anglers competing. In this blog, we are going to get some insights from a few of them as we recap this historic event.
First, let's give some credit to some amazing anglers! Though they are not Hoosiers, they still deserve some recognition.
GUILLERMO GONZALEZ | KBF NC AND TRAIL SERIES CHAMPION, CODY MILTON | KBF TRAIL SERIES AOY & TRAIL SERIES CHAMPION, BRANDON BISSEL | KBF ROY.
We saw some familiar faces on the Fishing Chaos leaderboards this year and some new ones as well. One of the familiar faces was none other than the 1st ever HKB State Champion, and 2019 KBF National Champion, Mike Elsea of Mooresville, Indiana. Anytime there is a high pressure event with a lot on the line, Mike is sure to be in the conversation. He just seems to thrive in those situations.
Leading up to the event, Mike spent a lot of time getting his head right by hitting some of his favorite honey holes and landing some big ones, before heading to Shreveport. Well, that paid off in a big way. During practice, Mike was in the ZONE, even landing his new PB from the YAK, a double digit larmouth measuring over 24.50 inches!
I asked Mike how he was feeling during practice and he simply said, “Gut Wrenching Nervous!”
As was a common thread amongst the anglers due to changing conditions and fishing pressure, things got a little tougher on Day one of the championship and Mike had to work for every bite.
You don't become a champion without knowing how to fish during tough conditions and Mike delivered once again. Mike was the highest finishing Hoosier in all events - 19th in the NC, 8th in the Trail Series Championship, and 7th in the Challenge Series Championship! Thanks to his phenomenal performance, Mike also earned a spot in the convicted KBF DeeZee Ten House!
Mike Elsea’s partner and sponsors: Titan Tungsten, Yak Attack, Fishing Online, Sinker Swim Tackle, Bizz Baits, Fitzgerald Fishing, Bowman Family Holdings, Yak Power, Rouge Fishing, Dakota Lithium, Nines Sunglasses, Native Watercraft, and Power Pole.
Another familiar angler in the Hoosier state competing in all 3 events was Merlin Hammer III, who also landed a new PB during practice!
Merlin caught this monster 22.25 inch largemouth bass on a 9k elite lures swim jig!
We asked Merlin to give us a breakdown of his Day One and Two on the water and here is what he had to say.
" Day 1 of the tournament I started out with my ever trusty zoom super fluke and it produced a fish in the first 10 minutes. Then, I caught my second fish with a black/blue senko. Both of the first two fish came on the edges of grass. The rest of my fish that day came on a green pumpkin creature bait, Texas rigged, with a 3/16oz Woo Tungsten weight, fishing around a few cypress tree clumps. I ended the day with a small limit of 71.25 inches but plenty had got off that day that I knew would cost me."
" Day 2 I started with a 3 inch megabass spark shad. Then I turned to what had done well for me in practice and threw my 9K Elite Lures Swim Jig, with a strike rage menace trailer in the grass and around pads. This landed me my tournament big of 20 inches and a 15 incher. Then, I went to my clump of cypress trees and caught another on the creature bait and finally in the last hour, I made another move and went back in the grass and caught another 15.5 inch on the spark Shad to round out my 76.25 inch limit. I ended up with 147.5 inches and just on the outside of the top 100, at 106th place. "
Merlin finished respectably in all 3 events, coming in 106th in the NC, 55th in the Trail Series Championship, and 64th Challenge Series Championship.
We asked how it felt to miss the Top 100 by just 6 spots and here was his response.
“Missing the top 100 was bad enough but missing the top 100 by only 6 spots, knowing that I had some fish come off that cost me, was pretty brutal.
Merlin’s sponsors and partners: 9K Elite Lures Woo Tungsten weights, Solar Bat Sunglasses, Denali Rods, and A Better Way Moving and Storage.
Follow Merlin on Instagram at @number3bassin.
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That wraps up Part One of the KBF Championships Recap.
Stay tuned and look forward to Part Two, when we chat with the young gun, Brennan McDougal and Northern Indiana anglers, Bob Goldsmith and Chip Romanovich!
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