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  • Writer's pictureHoosier Kayak Bassin


The 2024 State Championship is underway as anglers are currently on the waters for an official practice day, ahead of day one competition tomorrow.  A couple anglers opted not to practice, but the majority are hitting the water, looking for those magical spots and winning patterns. 

Lake Manitou is unknown to most kayak anglers in the state, as it has not yet been a stop for any of the established tournament organizations in Indiana. The only exception is during the 2021 and 2022 KFL Season, the Indy Knights utilized Manitou as their home waters. Following this year's State Championship, GRBY will be hosting an event on Manitou, July 04-08 for its Northwest Trail. 


Alright, let's take a look at what Lake Manitou has to offer and set the stage for this event. 

Lake Manitou is located in Rochester, Indiana, about an hour and 45 minutes north of Indianapolis. Manitou is a man made lake that was built in 1827 when the US Government built a Dam flooding 5 small lakes.

Just shy of 800 acres, Lake Manitou is small but mighty. This lake features a little bit of everything from off-shore structure, ledges and humps, to dock lined banks, canal systems, and large grass flats, to lily pad fields. With this variety of options, each angler in this event should be able to find a bite fishing their strengths.

Even though the lake has a max depth of 48ft, a good majority of the lake is fairly shallow. You can tell by looking at the Fish and Wildlife map above where the 5 natural lakes were located prior to the building of the dam and flooding.  Each of the five deeper depressions now provides great break points and grass lines for targeting fish. 

In addition, you will notice 3 islands, one located in the NW corner of the lake, one towards the middle, and another on the SW side, adjacent to the largest canal system on the lake. There are also a couple humps and saddles that can hold fish as well. 

Lake Manitou species include largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, yellow perch, gizzard shad, golden shiner, spotted gar, and warmouth, as well as large northern pike and a sizable population of white bass. 

There is no shortage of baitfish in this lake, which is what has led to some above-average size Bass for this region. Both number and quality are available on Manitou, with many largemouth bass in the 14-15 inch range. 


This lake breakdown is powered by Dakota Lithium Outdoors. Go Further. Last Longer. Play Harder. Visit for all your power needs.


In this event though, the weather will play a significant role as high winds and the potential for thunderstorms are forecasted at this time. The current forecast shows Day one of competition with sustained SE winds around 15 mph with gusts near 25 with a chance of rain. A few rumbles of thunder are not out of the question, especially later in the day. With a high of 63, these conditions might actually have these fish feeding up after a slight warm up from the previous cold fronts. Saturday has the greatest threat of severe weather and high winds. Currently forecasted with SW winds closer to 20+mph range and wind gusts into the 30’s. This will make fishing a bit more difficult, but the angler(s) who can figure out how to use the wind and weather to their advantage will have the opportunity to make some big moves on the final day. In the event of unsafe conditions on Saturday, our back up day would be Sunday, and while there is no severe weather threat, similar winds to Saturday our forecasted. 

One of the areas anglers looking to retreat from the winds may go is the largest canal system on the lake in the SW corner. This system features multiple arms with access to both deep water and shallow back areas. This canal system is almost like its own fishery. Just like the lake, it features docks, sea walls, and various types of cover from wood to grass, and lily pads.

There are however other smaller canals that also hold fish and play a role in the spawn which is just around the corner, if not already starting to trickle in. 

One area that has always been a player in boat tournaments, and previous KFL events, is the grass flats on the south side of the lake. This area holds fish year-round and can be very productive. 

The three islands mentioned before are also key areas as fish will move up to feed and spawn in the shallows surrounding the islands. The furthest north Island is surrounded by numerous laydowns and patches of grass. 

Of course, almost the entirety of Manitou is surrounded by docks. Some with just inches of water under them, to large docks with several feet of water. Running docks will undoubtedly play a role for some, if not all, the anglers in this event. The question will be who can most efficiently- fish them and/or mix in additional patterns to secure a winning bag each day. 

An additional aspect anglers will have to deal with in this event is the “out of bounds area” or The Prairie Eco Zone. This area is marked by buoys and is completely off limits to watercraft with motors of any kind. This protected area will be off-limits to the anglers competing in the State Championship, regardless of whether their kayak has a motor or not. Anglers must navigate around the prairie zone, remaining outside the buoys. Anglers may cast into this area beyond the buoys as long as anglers do not let their watercraft float into the prairie zone.  Failure to comply will result in a DQ for that day's competition, even if an angler were to drift into the off-limits area by accident. 

The north side of the lake will be the most impacted by the current wind forecast. That said, it will likely also be the least pressured area by anglers. Should any of the anglers in our roster dare to brave the elements, they should have more room to fish. The northern portion of the lake has been a significant player in both boat tournaments and KFL events in years past. In addition to the small canals on that side of the lake, there is a large bay that is used by fish in this region for spawning, as well as pushing bait up from nearby deep water to feed. This area, like the southern portion of the lake, features grass flats and pads. 


As you can see, there is a lot going on in this little lake, and we just scratched the surface. 

During our live coverage, we will dive in even deeper into the lake and how our anglers are tackling it. Make sure to tune into coverage on both Day One and Day Two for more. 

It will be interesting to see if one small area plays a significant role as it did in 2021 on Summit Lake and 2023 on Blue Grass FWA or if results will be more scattered as we saw in the case of Lake Wawasee/Barbe Chain in 2022. Regardless, we are in for what should be an epic weekend on Lake Manitou! 


For more information and coverage of the HKB State Championship, click the link below.

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