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  • Writer's pictureHoosier Kayak Bassin


A fitting end to the SIYAK season as Merlin Hammer III grinds it out for two days and defends his title with his 3rd victory of the 2023 SIYAK season and back-to-back Championship Titles!

Championship Season continued this past weekend with SIYAK and its 14-angler roster on Cagels Mill (Cataract) Lake. Due to signal issues around the lake, the leaderboard action was pretty much non-existent throughout the duration of the event with the majority of the field unable to upload their catch until arriving at the tournament headquarters (Buck & Dumb Bass Outdoors).

The inability to upload fish created a unique and exciting vibe to the day-one results meeting. It had almost the same vibe as a traditional bass boat tourney weigh-in, but instead of watching the weigh-in bags come across the stage, anglers were asking each other "How did you do" and watching their phone screens as fish began to upload to the Fishing Chaos App.

One angler though had stolen the storyline throughout the day. The 2022 SIYAK Champion MH3 DID, however, have enough service to upload and he was getting the bites too! MH3 dropped a bomb on the field with a quick limit and a 19.50 kicker. He continued to upgrade throughout the afternoon as well, posting his final upgrade a 16.25" cull with 10mins to go. His 5 fish limit of 77.75" would be enough to put him in the hot seat after day one!

Brett Haynes was the only other angler on Day One to find a limit and he did with a Biggin' as well. Brett posted a 20.25-inch beast and a 5-fish limit of 76.00 inches to make things interesting. One big problem though. During take out, Brett busted a hole in his kayak and was unsure if he would even get to fish on day two... Lucky for him, fellow competitor, Jim Bailey, loaned Brett a Hobie so Brett could make a run at the title on day two.

Just another testament to how great this community is here in the Hoosier State.

Once the remaining anglers had made their submissions and the results were reviewed, it was clear that the rest of the field road the struggle bus all day. Only three other anglers had more than three fish on the leaderboard and it was obvious that this was now a 4 man race.

Going into day two, conditions were pretty similar with a slightly higher chance of rain, especially later in the day. Again, anglers struggled to find keeper bites, including your day one leader MH3 and Brett Haynes. Neither angler would finish the day with a limit.

2020 Champion and Multi-time AOY Matt Kiefer was sitting in 3rd after day one with 4 fish but he would get his limit on Day Two. Posting 66.50 inches for a 2-day total of 117.50. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to get the title, but once again, if he is not first he is runner-up!

Brett wasn't able to reproduce his Day one bite and was only able to find two keeper bites for 29 inches and a two-day total of 105" and 3rd place finish.

While he wasn't able to find a limit on day two, his day one limit plus 4 keepers on day two was enough to defend his 2022 Championship title! MH3 posted a two-day total of 133 and was crowned the 2023 SIYAK Champion!

Over the two days of competition, MH3 grinded it out junk fishing for the most part, targeting suspended fish around bait fish and shallow cruisers with a variety of small baits. Including a Nishine Baby Abino 70 F, a small craw pattern jig, ned rig, and a craw colored Megabass Sonic Side.

His biggest Bass of the weekend was caught on a Megabass 110 jerkbait. MH3 spent most of his time around the dam and surrounding area. Runner-up, Matt Keifer, also fished in this general area on both days of the competition.

MH3's junk fishing approach and lure selection earned him the title, along with over $600 in winnings and a 24v 50AH Lithium Battery from Bioenno Power. Merlin is now also qualified for the 2024 HKB State Championship.

Truly a fitting end to the 2023 Season. A year when Adam Murray, MH3, and Matt Kiefer battled it out for AOY all season long. Adam claims the AOY title, MH3 takes the championship and Matt finishes runner-up in both.


Big Bass Awards

Big Bass honors for the Championship went to Brett Haynes with that day one 20.25 inch biggin.

For the 2023 Season, MH3 takes home the G-Loomis IMX rod from American Legacy Outdoors for his 22.25" Giant caught during the Sugar Ridge event back in June.


Congratulations to the 2X Champ, Merlin Hammer III, and to all those who competed!

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