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The first Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) Trail Series event of 2019 was held on Lake Berryessa on Sunday, 2/24/19. They shattered previous records with 147 anglers hitting the water for what would be the biggest freshwater kayak fishing event to date on the west coast.
The weather in Northern California has been on a roller coaster ride for the past few weeks with heavy rain and wind. With the lakes rising fast it has muddied up the water and forced the anglers to adapt to rapidly changing conditions. Per James Snyder (KBF Western Region Director), “the fishing was really tough and the guys who brought in a limit earned it.”
First-time KBF angler, Kongo Thao of Fresno, CA adapted, overcame, and ended up on top with an impressive 5 fish limit that totaled 86 inches including a 20-inch big fish. For weeks leading up to the tournament, he studied maps and watched numerous YouTube videos to learn as much about the lake as possible. Kongo arrived at Lake Berryessa for the first time on Friday and spent the day fishing the northern part of the lake. He only caught one fish and he surmised that he needed to find water with better clarity.
He spent Saturday pre-fishing the south end with a much better outcome. Within the first hour, he was catching multiple fish on the A-Rig. “Right then I knew that water clarity was going to be a big deal in this tournament.” He reported that he likes to use the A-Rig to cover water and locate fish. Once he has them in his sights, he switches over to the Carolina Rig. He reported that he found a long tapering point that had fish holding on the bottom at 30 feet. He got 5 bites in a short amount of time and he knew that he had located something special.
When he arrived at his spot on game day, he noticed the fish had pulled out to 50 feet. He deployed the Carolina Rig and went to work. “A Baby Brush Hog with a long leader was the ticket. Boat positioning was crucial. They only wanted it uphill due to the way they were positioned. I could not get bit any other way”, said Thao. “I was really nervous. When I culled my 14-inch fish I knew I took the lead. When I caught my 17-incher I felt much more confident. I knew I had a good limit, but I wasn’t sure I had the win”, said Thao. Ultimately, he had what it took to take home the big check and KBF prize medal.
What’s up next for Thao? He plans on competing in the Central Valley Kayak Fishing (CVKF), Motherlode Kayak Angler (MKA), KBF, and Yak-A-Bass events throughout Central and Northern California. Well done Kongo, I’m sure we will be seeing your name at the top of the standings in 2019!
The top 10% of anglers earned a slot to the 2019 KBF Regional Championship on Clear Lake and the 2020 KBF National Championship to be held on Lake Guntersville.
Big fish of the tournament was a 20.5-inch tank caught by Dave Mercado of El Dorado Hills, CA.
Here’s your top ten:
1. Kongo Thao – 86.25 inches
2. Kevin Schroeder – 84.75 inches
3. Shaun Leytem – 84.25 inches
4. Alexander Isla – 83 inches
5. Adam Bambauch – 80.5 inches
6. Cy Winkler – 79.5 inches
7. Bill Bukowatz – 79 inches
8. Alex Cox – 78 inches
9. Abel Patino – 77 inches
10. Greg Blanchard – 77 inches
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