April 26, 2019 by Justin Onslow
Bass fishing from a kayak is a relatively new concept when considering how established the sport of bass fishing really is. But in recent years, kayak fishing, specifically for bass and, more specifically, in a tournament format, is ready to help expand the sport, and Chad Hoover has been at the forefront of that movement. His impulse is what has driven him since almost the beginning.
As Hoover says, kayaking first gained strength in the saltwater scene, that the retired Navy 44-year-old lieutenant took full advantage of a pair of fisherman's titles of the year on regional circuits while he was still an officer of active service. But Hoover grew up fishing crappie, catfish and sea bass in Louisiana and Georgia, and, despite his success at the saltwater tournament scene, the founder and president of Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) saw the opportunity to return to his roots.
"The real impulse was that I had gotten into kayaking in salt water, but I was always a type of fresh water," he explains. "Back then, kayaking was very popular in all the saltwater forums. That's where kayaking really started. "
As a bass fisherman in the heart, Hoover began to observe what was the most advanced form of communication and social interaction related to fishing on the Internet: the forums. And what bothered Hoover most was that every kayak fishing forum he frequented always favored the saltwater scene, with bass fishing relegated to the bottom of the page.
Oddly enough, it was not due to the lack of participation or the demand for specific kayak tournaments for bass.
Hoover saw that the lawsuit was there and began to organize what at that time was a flourishing idea that few had addressed at that time: the online tournaments. Given the unique nature of fishing with low kayaks in the capture, photography and release of fish during tournaments, it was possible to organize and operate tournaments on the Internet alone. And the company was a success for the sport and for Hoover, who started working on a book called Low kayak fishing: big mouth, small mouth, stripers around that same time.
"At that time I was starting to write a book about kayaking," he says. "The web page for the forum was born of me, wishing there was a place for the bass kayakers to interact, I really did not want to (write a book) I was writing articles, I finally convinced myself to write the book.
"I was writing Kayak Bass Fishing, and while I was writing the book, online tournaments were something I had just started doing. So, by the time I finished the book, I was already running online tournaments for captures, photos and big bass releases. All the others did it for salt water, but neither did it online. "
With the success of Hoover's online tournaments (which he admits was more successful in terms of popularity than profits), the entrepreneur at heart began to kick the idea of organizing and operating live tournaments. After all, the lawsuit had proved to be there. It was just a matter of choosing a location that was central enough to drive participation numbers.
"I loved fishing at Santee Cooper, and I knew it was the best place near where I was in number, catching big fish, located in the middle of the east coast, where most of the popularity of kayaking was in that moment". Says Hoover. "I put it in Santee Cooper and put it on my forum page, and the first tournament I promoted it for only two weeks and we had 121 people present."
And with that, KBF reached its adolescence.
With the success of that first live event in 2013, Kayak Bass Fishing took off in earnest. For Hoover, turning that snowflake into a snowball was just a matter of smart business decisions.
"When I did the first tournament, everyone was like," You have to do more. "To be honest with you, doing more was not in the cards," he admits. "I was in active military service at that time, I had almost everything I could take, I had just been divorced, I was a single father.
"What was really happening was that I was discovering the sponsorship model, I was running a professional team for one of the kayak companies, I was learning that game pretty hard, I developed the product myself, I did product development in the Navy, so I knew the game, but on a much larger scale. "
Still, while Hoover was carefully planning his next steps, the demand continued to flourish. The popularity of freshwater kayak fishing was approaching a boom. If Hoover did not take advantage of the demand, surely someone else would.
After retiring from the Navy, and in the midst of the success of what has become a very popular video career that now manifests itself primarily as one of YouTube's most complete kayak fishing channels, Hoover decided to take calls in look for more.
"People wanted a tournament that had a more central location," he says. "So we went to Kentucky Lake (Convention and Visitors Bureau) and told them what we wanted to do. They got on board and we had our first KBF Open that was not at Santee Cooper. "
KBF Opens led the way to the KBF National Championships, which have become the pinnacle of the low kayak tournament in recent years. When the KBF Championship came to Kentucky Lake in 2018, it was the first time that a kayak bass tournament awarded $ 100,000 to the winning fisherman.
Hoover never imagined that his tournaments would pay sums on par with the traditional low-level professional fishing tournaments. Or maybe he did, although that vision was never linked to a dollar amount.
"My plan was" I'm going to build the biggest tournament in the kayak fishing industry, "Hoover admits," I'm going to create the World Series of Poker, where you'll create the big event first, and create your own infrastructure under it. "
A new breed of professional fisherman.
Fishing with low kayak as a concept has the advantage of filling a massive vacuum. At one end of the spectrum, professional tours dominate the world of bass fishing with large payouts and a large amount of media coverage. Even high school, college and mid-level tour circuits capture the public's attention from bass fishing. Boats of seventy thousand dollars in abundance.
At the other extreme, bank fishermen hit the shore in search of any fish that is within throwing distance. Fishing has a basic element that contrasts with the modern world of fishing with tournaments of large sums of money, but it is there that most children learn to bait a hook and make a plaster.
In the middle? Almost nothing, at least until the last decade or so. Hoover has been one of the main reasons why this is now the case.
Until recently, fishing with kayak has been the exception and not the norm. It has been called a "niche" or a "novelty" by low-income purists. But Hoover sees it in a totally different way, comparing the sport with another conventional sport that certainly was not always a conventional sport.
"Mixed martial arts, when they started, were not mixed," he says of the old-school fighters who initially dominated the sport. "You have to know all the disciplines now to be successful, fishing with kayak right now is like that for fishing, everybody underestimates it, everybody considers it a novelty".
Always quick with an analogy, Hoover also compares kayak fishing with another sport that tends to have a massive overlap with the fishing public.
"I tell people that they hunt deer," Are you hunting? Are you going back to the rifle season when that starts? "He extends the season," he explains. "It gives me more opportunities, for all the reasons that a hunter of bow hunting, you fish in kayak ".
Following the analogy, Hoover continues to explain the more specific similarities between the two, particularly in the art of stealth.
"Exploring from a kayak, if you are a bass-boat fisherman, you do not have to run to scare them away (to the fish) .You can row and check out previous fishing places that you can not even see. You have the opportunity to see fish that you have never seen before. seen, it will change your perspective on fishing. "
Ask Hoover if he thinks that elite kayakers are less expert than traditional tournament professionals and will get an emphatic response.
"The guys who are fishing my tour are not bushes," he says. "There are some hammers out there, this is not taking a baby's candy.
"You have to make better decisions, the adjustment you make is that you must be willing to become a better fisherman." When you come back in a low boat and take into account what you learned from kayaking, it's like you're training with weights in the ankles and now you're running a race. "
The growth of KBF has been astronomical, do not look beyond the $ 100,000 first place in the championship last year. But Hoover is smart enough to know that growth is not always exponential, and that sometimes it only makes sense to form partnerships that can boost that growth in the coming years.
That partnership came in the form of a union with FLW and a couple of events in 2019, both in conjunction with the FLW Tour events. The first of these tournaments will take place at Nickajack Lake, as the Tour will fish at Chickamauga next week. The second will be the FLW / KBF Cup in Hot Springs, Arkansas, during the FLW Cup in August.
"(The relationship) is mutual," says Hoover of the association. "Create awareness about kayak fishing for the exposure that FLW reaches the fishing community in general. At the same time, FLW has a base connection with fishermen who are thinking of becoming a tournament fisherman through KBF.
"I think the benefit of FLW that KBF receives is that KBF receives exposure on a much larger platform and gets some national and international validation through the relationship, and FLW gets another way for KBF to get people excited about it. Fishing and fishing for tournaments and the fishing industry as a whole is a natural extension of what FLW does. "
FLW's vice president of operations, Dave Washburn, summed up the symbiotic relationship perfectly with his statement in the original press release for the association's announcement.
"Kayaking has become incredibly popular in recent years and continues to grow," Washburn said. "We are excited to work with KBF as the leader of the kayak fisher community to elevate the sport to new levels with tournaments that offer more than 100 percent payouts throughout the season and the largest media platform available for the kayak fishermen. "
Fail until no
As KBF approaches his adult age, Hoover, the entrepreneur, is about to upgrade as an entrepreneur, designer, organizer, president, and almost every other label he has earned throughout his career.
But do not confuse success with the lack of failure.
Hoover cites the title of the book. Fail until you do not: fight. Grind. Repeat. by the Nashville area and the nationalized radio DJ Bobby Bones as one of their mantras. Fail until you do not. Keep pushing forward until there is nothing pushing back.
"In this sport of kayaking and in the business world, I lost the saving of my life twice," Hoover admits. "Jesus, take the wheel. I hope this works. "
Hoover aims to "grow up in the south, poor, living in a trailer park" and more than $ 200,000 of his own money he injected into KBF at a time when he slept in the spare room of a friend's house as in his times. Life with contrast marked enough to silence its most recent success.
"I'm a boy who wakes up every morning, and I do what I want to do," he says. "I go where I want to go, I fish, my job is fishing, my life is to create content and promote the sport I love, I hit the lottery."
The last part is not entirely accurate, or perhaps quite accurate. Hitting the lottery suggests a random act of improbability and luck without work. Hoover's life has been anything but that.
Your best and favorite mantra, the one who jokes should be on your tombstone some day, the best resume of Hoover's career to date:
"If you are not willing to risk everything you have, you will never get everything you want."
Hoover has risked everything he has had countless times. And while it is likely that there is still more out there that you want, what you have is more than you expected to get.
Tags: flw kbf kayak-fishing bass fishing justin-onslow article
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