Brendan Bayard, of Baton Rouge, La., won the Overall Angler of the Year Award for the Inshore Fishing Association (IFA) Kayak Tour presented by Hobie Fishing. The angler received paid entry fees for one division in 2014 and $1,000 from Hobie for his accomplishment.
After two regular-season events, the anglers with the highest point totals in each division were awarded Divisional Angler of the Year Awards. After receiving paid entry fees for one division in 2014, the anglers faced off in a head-to-head match up at the championship in Houma, La., on Oct. 18-19 for the title of Overall Angler of the Year.
Bayard clinched the title with his second place finish at the IFA Kayak Tour Championship, beating out the closest Divisional Angler of the Year, eleventh-place finisher Cameron Schurlknight.
“It’s kind of the ultimate testament to consistency,” said Bayard of the Overall Angler of the Year Award. “That’s what really made it a special award for me. It’s a tough battle for it every year. Luckily, this year I was really on my game for bull reds.”
Along with his two IFA regular-season wins, the angler has shown great consistency over his years fishing the IFA Kayak Tour, especially at the championship. Bayard has two second-place finishes and one third-place finish at the last three championship events.
“It would be nice to win it one year, but you have got to have some things work in your favor,” said Bayard. “I am going to keep doing my thing. Every year it gets more competitive. You have to up your inches, so to speak, every year.”
After fishing the IFA Kayak Tour for four years, Bayard attributes his consistency at IFA events to his trout fishing.
“I would consider myself a trout person, first and foremost,” said Bayard. “I feel that I can compete with most people with my consistency catching speckled trout. I have been doing that for so long. That has usually helped make the difference.”
To compliment his ability with speckled trout and increase his chances of placing high on the leader board, Bayard has been directing his efforts this year on catching larger, bull redfish.
“Lately it’s been bull red shootouts,” said Bayard. “You almost have to land a mid-30s redfish and even into the 40s sometimes. We’ve been focusing on learning how to catch these bull reds. Two out of three tournaments we have been on big fish and that’s really helped us.”
While the tour is competitive by nature, Bayard sees it more as a group of people with a common interest.
“It’s a little bit different than the boating side,” said Bayard. “The kayak guys are more than willing to help. Everybody’s excited when they see each other and when they do well. It’s a nice little community.”
New anglers looking to join the IFA Kayak Tour can be intimidated. Bayard says the kayak community is more than willing to help though.
“Whenever new guys come in, for the most part, I think they enjoy it,” said Bayard. “I know some new people who have fished it this year and have cracked the top 10 a few times. They take some tidbits from more experience guys and are going out there and doing their best.”
The fastest-growing kayak fishing tournament trail in the country, the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie Fishing 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.
For more information or to become a member of the IFA, visit www.ifatours.com. To discover more about kayaking and Hobie Fishing go to www.hobiefishing.com.
Image courtesy Inshore Fishing Association