The Michigan Kayak Trail aims to introduce more avid kayak anglers into the fun of tournament bass fishing with low entry fees and bigger prizes. The MKT is an evolved version of last season’s highly successful Michigan Kayak Fishing Series, with principals Tom Mullins and Russell E. Wilson running the five new catch-photo-release tournaments.
The Trail will have four qualifying tournaments and a championship. A new kayak will be part of the first-place prize for each of the tournaments. The angler who wins the “Jackson Kayak Angler of the Year” title for accumulating the most points in the course of the season will win a new Jackson Coosa Kayak valued at more than $1,400.
Each tournament costs $50 to enter with better than 100 percent payback thanks to the donations of kayaks from various manufacturers. The winner’s prize package will be worth $1,200. With 40 contestants, the payout will extend to ninth place.
Tournament hours will run from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. in most of the events. Contestants and their friends and family can monitor tournament standings in real time. Contestants can take the picture of their fish with smartphone (12-inch sized limit) and upload it to tourneyx.com, which instantly updates the standings.
“We wanted a circuit that highlights the excellent fishing in lakes and rivers in southwest Michigan,” said Tom Mullins, organizer and director.
The Series is also a Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship Qualifier, which means the top five in the Jackson Kayak Angler of the Year standings will earn a chance to compete for $35,000 (minimum first place) at the 2018 KBF National Championship.
April 22: Gull Lake, Richland, Mich.
Based at Gull Lake Marine at 12485 East D Ave. on the south end of the lake, a Hobie kayak will be part of the first-place prize. Gull is a big, clear, deep lake with great populations of bass. Additionally, it has some gator-sized pike and big panfish, which always makes the optional big-fish pots more interesting.
May 6: Gun Lake, Wayland, Mich.
The second stop on the trail will be based at Gun Lake Park, at 2397 Patterson Road, in Wayland. An Ascend Kayak will be part of first-place prize. Structure-rich, this lake has abundant largemouths and lots of smallmouths too.
July 8: Grand River
This contest will be based at the Gull Lake Marine Coopersville store at 5704 48th Ave. A huge section of the Grand River will be open for targeting its population of largemouth and smallmouth bass. This is one of two RiverBassin sanctioned events wherein participants will earn points towards the national RiverBassin Championship. Another Hobie kayak will be part of the first place prize.
August 12: Kalamazoo River
Based at D&R Sports in Kalamazoo, this tournament is the other RiverBassin-sanctioned event where participants can earn points toward the RiverBassin Championship. A NuCanoe will be a part of the first-place prize. The Kalamazoo is a smaller river that doesn’t get a lot of fishing pressure and should provide lots of good-sizes smallmouth bass for contestants.
September 16: MKT Championship
The venue has yet to be chosen and participants must have fished at least one qualifier to be able to enter here. An Old Town kayak will be part of the package for first place.