Q: Well, how was it?
Overall my experience at the EKFT Battle in the Bahamas was great! This tournament draws the world's best kayak anglers to the Bahamas in a head to head scenario. Joe and Maria Hector do an exceptional job at every tournament and this one was right on point. From loading the kayaks and drinking champagne on the ferry to checking in once we arrived was pretty easy.
Q: How were the fishing conditions?
The weather conditions were brutal. I went for five days in hopes of pre-fishing two days to get an edge on the pack. This didn't happen. While the small breaker on the beach was quite deceiving, we faced an 8-10 foot swell and 15 mph winds both days of the tournament. It's so different fishing out there than in the gulf. The swells will group up from multiple directions and push you in different directions - it had me constantly adjusting my rudder to steer and kept everyone pretty wet both days. The 2nd day we were given a pretty intense rainstorm to cool off with.
Q: What did you learn fishing in the Bahamas?
The biggest thing I learned from this trip is it doesn't matter what state or country you're from - you are always at Mother Nature's mercy. Whether it is flat tires along the way, broken rudder pins, or massive swells and rain storms, you have to accept what you are given and roll with the punches.
Q: What are you going to work on for next year?
I will for sure improve on my use of a down rigger for deep water. I worked so hard on bait presentation - lighter wire, making sure they are streamlined, and quality baits - but I had issues using my downrigger in such rough weather. In the gulf, we normally don't reach more than 70' by kayak so a down rigger isn't a huge must, but trying to learn one with 10' swells and wind and current isn't exactly the best time to try it out. It left me only fishing the top 1/4 of the water column at best and, no doubt, was my biggest weakness in this tournament.
Q: Any closing thoughts?
After driving 2400 miles and riding 180 more on a ferry, I absolutely can't wait to come back next year. As with everything, we learn from practice and I would love to give it another go. Just knowing what to take and what to leave at home, the second year will be a little easier. I cannot express enough how much fun this tournament was. Not only do you get to fish some amazing water (you can see the bottom in 50' plus of water), you also get to meet some amazing anglers and learn their stories. To me, that's the best part. As a Texas angler, we are the minority at the extreme tournaments but we always try our hardest to make a showing. Whether it's producing fish, helping unload kayaks, or helping other anglers. I think we, and the rest of the competitors, feel the brotherhood and the necessity to help others at these events whether it's sharing knowledge, helping move gear, or just an "I got the next round" at the restaurant.