Bayard wins Overall Angler of the Year award
Steve Lessard, of Geismar, La., measured a combined two-day total of 114.38 inches in length to win the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Championship presented by Hobie Fishing at Houma, La., on Oct. 19. The angler won a Hobie Mirage Pro Angler kayak, valued at $2,549.
A three-year IFA veteran, Lessard has twice won an IFA Divisional Angler of the Year and took first place at the 2012 Port Aransas regional event as well. The angler fished in passes and marshes in the Grand Isle area for his limits each day.
“The pre-fishing was really excellent,” said Lessard. “I was on some nice 19- and 22-inch trout and was on 44- and 45-inch reds. I really thought I had a shot based on that.”
Once the weather changed and a cold front traveled through the area, Lessard felt he needed to change tactics.
“I knew this was going to be a game changer,” said Lessard. “Instead of swinging for the fences on the trout, I was going to need to fall back on a more reliable pattern. I went with a trout imitation because when the fishing gets tough, you can always catch them on a shrimp.”
Measuring a 16-inch trout and a 38-inch redfish on the first day, Lessard was in sixth place at the start of the final day.
“I walked out and literally felt the wind shift to the south,” said Lessard. “It had been blowing from the northeast. I knew that this was the calm before the storm. Based on radar, I felt like I had a thirty minute window from launch time to get my red.”
Traveling to a point protected from the south wind, the angler picked up a 13-inch trout. With the approaching storm and other anglers in the area, Lessard changed tactics to land a redfish.
“Everyone was throwing jigs and fishing fast,” said Lessard. “I pulled out my Carolina rig with Berkley Gulp! and laid it out on the bottom and did a slow retrieve. I was the only one in the area to pick up a red. I think that was the difference right there.”
Once onshore to measure his redfish, the storm front hit the anglers with 30 mph winds.
“I am glad I was in my Hobie,” said Lessard. “I was able to power through the waves to get back to the marina. I was really happy with my performance and look forward to next season.”
After the storm lessened, Lessard was able to upgrade his trout to 17.50 inches and beat out 41 other anglers for his first championship win. Lessard won the $1,000 Hobie Advantage prize for being the highest finishing angler competing out of a Hobie kayak and added $565 in Angler’s Advantage cash as well.
Second-place finisher Brendan Bayard, of Baton Rouge, La., won $1,775 total for the event and wrapped up the IFA Kayak Tour Overall Angler of the Year award to take home an extra check for $1,000.
Jared Waites, of Destin, Fla., won a total of $1,011 for third place and contingency winnings. Fishing Berkley Gulp! on jigs near Hopedale, the angler said he fished early for his trout and then focused on his redfish.
The fastest-growing kayak fishing tournament trail in the country, the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie Fishing events are catch-photograph-release tournaments, offering inshore kayak anglers from a multitude of states the opportunity to participate in competitive fishing tournaments with low entry fees and minimal travel requirements.
IFA events are made possible through the sponsorship and continued support of these well-respected brands: Hobie Fishing, Ranger Boats, Cabela’s, Lucas Oil, Yamaha Outboards, RAM, Berkley Gulp!, Berkley Gulp! Alive!, PENN Reels, Spiderwire, Minn Kota, Humminbird, Power-Pole, Livingston Lures, Amphibia, Arctic Ice, Protect the Harvest, General Tire, Bob’s Machine Shop, Blue Point Fabrication, Powertex Group and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and Quality Hotel of Houma.
IFA Kayak Championship
Houma, La. (Top 10)
1. Steve Lessard – 114.38 inches
2. Brendan Bayard – 105.25 inches
3. Jared Waites – 104.75 inches
4. Chris Holmes – 104.00 inches
5. Benton Parrott – 101.38 inches
6. John Chapman – 99.50 inches
7. Lance Burgos – 99.25 inches
8. Ben Roussel – 94.50 inches
9. Michael Ethridge – 94.00 inches
10. Fil Spencer – 93.25 inches
Image courtesy Inshore Fishing Association