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Bass Fishing Championship Tournament But Out of Kayaks

Bass fishing tournaments are common across the United States. Truth is bass fishing tournaments out of kayaks isn’t a new thing, however, an international bass kayak championship is unique. Another criteria was no electric drives were allowed so anglers had to rely on paddling or peddling to get to their fishing area.

Elite male and female kayak anglers from eight countries including United States, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Honduras and Dominican Republic participated in the championship. The inaugural Pan-American Bass Kayak Championship was held on Center Hill Lake in Tennessee with Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors Bureau severing as host for the event.

Similar to a bass tournament with bass boats and outboard engines anglers competing in Pan-American Bass Kayak Championship were allowed to pre-fish the lake. However, anglers concentrated on areas around the three takeoff areas including Ragland Bottom, Cane Hollow and Rock Island where kayak anglers would be putting in. Center Hill Lake was impounded in 1948 for flood control and producing electricity. It’s 64 miles long and up to 195 feet deep.

Due to being an international event logistics of transportation and even having kayaks for traveling anglers was challenging. Anglers fishing in the event that didn’t transport their own kayaks due to logistical issue used new Jackson Kayaks that were graciously supplied by Jackson Kayaks for pre-fishing and during the championship. Jackson Kayak supplied a Coosa Bite or Coosa FD model kayak. All of the fishing model Jackson Kayaks have “Elite Hi/Lo seat allowing the angler to adjust position. The Coosa FD has a Flex Drive System with a dagger board protected tri-prop propeller prop system.

Nissan of Cookeville provided Nissan Titan pickup trucks for transporting the anglers and kayaks. Werner Paddles supplied paddles for anglers, Kokata with PFDs along with Dakota Lithium Outdoors with batteries. Raymarine, Power-Poles, Fish USA, Brella, and KBF were also sponsors of the event.

Serving as event manager was John Knight, with US Angling Confederation, as well as USA Bass team manager, “US Angling has events across the United States and Cookeville was the perfect location for the inaugural Pan-American Bass Kayak Championship. The town of Cookeville and Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors Bureau was an extremely gracious host for the United States and our international anglers.” The championship started with a welcome parade for anglers and spectators through downtown Cookeville back to the host hotel Quality Inn-Cookeville.

Unlike the majority of bass tournaments, the Pan-American Bass Kayak Championship doesn’t weigh in fish at the end of the tournament day; instead anglers measure and take a photograph of each fish to weigh-in. Each day anglers are issued a different sticker or wrist band to take photographs of the bass.

This year the Individual All Around Gold Medal went to Eric Jackson aka EJ fishing out of a Jackson Kayak. Silver Medal went to Drew Gregory and Bronze Medal to Emily Jackson. The Individual Ladies Gold Medal went to Emily Jackson with Silver Medal to Bridgett Howard and Bronze Medal to Shannon Williams.

Teams Mens Medals: Gold to USA Team 1 of Eric Jackson, Drew Gregory and Matt Ball. Silver to USA Team 3 of Cody Milton, Ron Champion and Craig Dye. Bronze to Canada Team 1 of Chris Visser, Paul Winkel and John Dean.

Teams Ladies Medals: Gold to USA Team 2 of Shannon Williams, Bridgett Howard and Jenn Nolan. Silver to USA 1 Emily Jackson, Priscilla Johnson and Jean Wilson. Bronze to Canada Team 1 of Karen Poole, Jamie Stevenson and Cassandra Charity.


National Medals: Gold went to the U.S.A. , Silver to Canada and Bronze to Costa Rica.

Next year the Pan-American Bass Kayak Championship will be held in Mexico.

Article & Photos by Brad Wiegmann