How to Organize a Kayak Fishing Tournament E-mail
Sunday, 21 March 2010 13:20

 

As the sport of kayak fishing gets more popular we are seeing more and more kayak fishing tournaments. Tournament might be a bit of misnomer as many of these events are more about the camaraderie and less about the competition – either way these ”events” are being held everywhere kayak fishing is popular. If you decide you would like to be part of this movement and organize one be prepared for a bit of work and a couple extra gray hairs. However the payoff and satisfaction of pulling off a successful gathering will be very rewarding. Most of the successful kayak fishing tournaments has been annual events that raise money for a good cause.

 

Kayak Fishing events come in all shapes and sizes, with some being just a dozen or so local participants while others have 100’s of kayak anglers from all over the region. Most take place on one day but there are some that cover multiple days which adds to the excitement. Some offer food and have the event combined with other activities. Here is some info that should help you in your planning.Tournament Picture

 
 

 

Choose a Venue: Choosing a location is the first step in planning. It needs to be an area that can handle the number of participants you are expecting. This includes parking, launching and fishing. You have to take a hard look at the area and make sure it is safe for people to launch and to fish. As organizer your most important responsibly is the safety of all who are going to take part - so really think this over, Of course an area that had good fishing would make for a better event but opting for area that offers a safe environment is your first consideration.

 

Another popular format is to have a central location and then let people fish anywhere (within a predetermined zone). This usually works for larger events and allows people to fish their favorites spots, after fishing they come back to enter a fish and be part of the prizes and award ceremonies.

kayak fishing tournament

 

If you come up with a location that looks like it will work, you should run it by the governing town or municipality just to make sure you have the right permits to hold such an event. Make sure you get something in writing that states you can be there on the day of the event. The last thing you need is to have somebody telling you on the day of the event you can’t be there. Usually most places will be very helpful in putting on an event of this nature. Green activities have come into favor and you shouldn’t experience much resistance but be prepared in some cases not to give up if you get an early denial. You are going to be dealing with bureaucrats and they sometimes can have a problem with anything that might mean they have do a little extra work.

 

Select Your Team: Once you got a location that looks like it is a fit then it is time to get the ball moving and start the organizing. Having a group of people who want to help is a great way to spread the workload and also puts people in a position to work within their strengths. You’re going to need help in registration, soliciting prizes, promotion and a host of other things so don’t be afraid to ask around to see who will lend a hand. Reach out to local kayak and tackle shops, as their industry connections will prove valuable. Hopefully your event will be a good cause, so reach out to the charity or organization and get their help in putting this together too.

 

Legal Issues: I hate to bring bad news to all this fun planning but you have to consider the liabilities of putting on such an event and in this litigious world we live in. It is best to be a bit paranoid and accept that a kayak fishing tournament can bring some inherit dangers for all who participate. One of the simplest ways to give yourself some protection is to have everybody sign a release waiver – basically saying that kayak fishing can be dangerous and he/she should understand the dangers. This alone will not protect you if a lawyer makes a case that you subjected people to dangerous conditions and were negligent. You should have event insurance of some kind and it can be purchased for the duration of the tournament and should cost about $5 a person. Just incorporate it into the entry fees. Another option is to use the insurance of any businesses that are sponsoring the event, if for instance a local kayak or tackle shop especially if they’re going to be experiencing a marketing and sales windfall from being involved. Also, if the event is benefiting a charity, you can ask them to put the event on their insurance policy since they’re getting the bulk of the money.

Kayak Fishing Tournament

Make the Rules: Formats vary around the country in terms of how kayak fishing tournaments are scored and how winners are determined. A lot has to do with what species are to be targeted, for instance if your tournament is for flounder then you probably will not be doing a catch and release format. In some parts of the country to keep with the conservation theme and to protect various specie populations some tournaments will just take a picture of the fish on a ruler and use that in determining winners.

 

There are some different divisions you can break the competition up into; fly fishing, bait, single lure, kids, and women’s to name a few. New on the kayak fishing scene are electric kayaks. The major manufacturers offer them and they’ll be a major source of revenue for them, so having an electric division is probably prudent as it will help with more manufacturer participation. Also, most events have a “slam” division where the combined catch of two or more species determines the winner. It is a good idea to read the rules of other tournaments to get ideas on what would work best for you.

 

Promote the Event: Promotion these days usually starts with the Internet and this is going to be one of the best places to announce the event initially. Kayak clubs and organizations will be a good source also and some of the various kayak fishing websites and forums will help get the word out. The local fishing publications will usually offer some help and you might want to contact them about doing a write-up on the tournament. You should give yourself as much time as possible to promote. For a new event you want to start at least 6 months beforehand to let people know. Also list your event on the Kayak Fishing Magazine Tournament Calendar.

 

Registration: In order to estimate the number or people who will attend the event you should have a pre-registration as far in advance as possible. This will enable you to somewhat figure out the number of giveaways, food and refreshments needed if you plan on having as part of the event. It also makes life much easier the day of the event to have everybody all ready to go without having the deal with taking money and filling out forms. You might want to also give an early registration incentive like a reduced entry fee or a small gift. These days the easiest way to accept registration payments is with PayPal. Setting up an account is pretty easy and people can use their bank account or credit card to pay - most important, it is totally secure.

 

Get Prizes and Sponsors: There are companies that want to help out and be part of these events, especially if they’re for a good cause. Kayak fishing provides an eco-friendly activity and companies want to associate themselves with events of this nature. Do keep in mind in the present economy it might not be so easy to get prizes and donations from these companies. In the case of kayak manufacturers, they get 100’s of requests for kayaks for tournaments and their budgets do have limits. Working with a kayak or tackle shop will definitely make it easier to get prizes. They have a relationship with the companies so they will be getting the donations directly from the companies that they do business with and they will have a much better chance than you calling alone. After all they make money for the companies. Prizes are great but don’t get too caught up in making the event about what the winners get, most people who take part in the tournament will do so because it is just a great get-together and they just want to be part of it for the fun and camaraderie.

 

Tournament Day: You should be prepared for anything that can come at you, all the work your team and you have put into the tournament will come down to this. Even though you have thought out every possible glitch and problem, something unexpected will surface. You will have to just take it as it comes and make notes about what can be done next time to make things work better.

 

In the 6 years I have been involved the Jamaica Bay Kayak Fishing Tournament, I have seen every possible weather condition that a May day in NYC can bring; everything from cold and rain to fog and gale force winds. As we all know weather forecasting isn’t foolproof and often wrong. Still it is important to listen to the weather but also look at the conditions yourself that morning and make your game time decision on whether or not it is safe for the participants to go out and kayak. It is your responsibility to keep people out of harms way.

 

I always contact the Coast Guard to let them know about the event so they can be on call if something goes wrong. It is a good idea to have a marine radio channel set up that you monitor so anybody can report any problems. In addition I give everybody my cell number for the same reason. I always make it a point that everybody has the Coast Guard approved gear and PFD’s must be worn at all times.

 

Organizing a kayak fishing tournament can be both exciting and rewarding. It provides a way to encourage participation in the sport and can raise money and/or awareness to great charities and causes. Most events start out slow but in time it can be something that people will look forward to and attend year after year.

 

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