The 13th annual New England Kayak Fishing Striper Shootout was held this past weekend in Salem, Massachusetts. The tournament drew over 140 anglers and the competitors vied for first place in six divisions, open, artificial only, fly, Junior, Winter Island, and Barbie rod.
The shootout draws anglers from throughout the northeast to take part in the great striper fishery from Boston to Gloucester and the fishing didn’t disappoint. The tournament lived up to its name as a shootout as competitors caught a number of very large bass including a handful of 48- to 49-inch fish. Fishing from Friday night to Sunday at noon, kayakers spread out on the water trying a variety of techniques and catching all sizes of bass. A worm hatch in Salem Harbor during the tournament made the big ones tough to catch around there, but brought in hordes of smaller bass.
The tournament was centered around Winter Island, Salem, with many anglers camping at the Winter Island campground for the weekend. The tournament ended Sunday with an awards ceremony and cookout for all; the cookout was one to remember as Galindo’s Roadside Roasters BBQ catered the event. One of the highlights of the awards ceremony was a raffle with kayaks from major sponsors Hobie, Old Town, and Wilderness Systems.
This year was the debut of the Barbie rod division—a competition for the largest striper caught on a Barbie rod! Competitors were required to use a stock Barbie or cartoon character rod, but were allowed to change the line. Reels were re-spooled with 30- to 50-pound-test braid, and the tackle was put to the test on some surprisingly large fish. It isn’t easy to catch big fish with only 30 yards of line on the reel, but it can be done, and the results were impressive.
The Barbie rod division proceeds went to support the Clean Our Waters Campaign. This campaign is the brainchild of a group of young kayakers who are trying to clean up the waters we fish. They had a successful campaign at the Jamaica Bay tournament and were very successful at Winter Island as well! They motivated competitors to pick up trash as they fish and also recycled over 200 pounds of plastic and metal during the event!
This year’s fishing was very good with most anglers reporting catching many fish, some small and some big, very big! A recap of each division:
Open Division (any method except dynamite!)—this year the productive bait was eels, all of the top 3 fish came on eels.
- Steven Langton 49 inches
- Bill Eicher 48.5 inches
- Lori Rizzo 48 inches
Artificial-Only (no bait allowed)—the hot lures were made of plastics, the top 3 were all caught on plastics with the top two coming on 14-inch unweighted Hogys.
- Eric Harrison 49 inches
- Carl Vonnegut 47.5 inches
- Daniel Savage 39.5 inches
Fly –only flies were allowed and competitors were not allowed to bring any other equipment with them. Competitors all caught fish on flies they tied themselves!
- Joe Gugino 29 inches
- Drew Haerer 25 inches
- Rick Hacker 20.25 inches
Junior—NEKF is committed to getting kids on the water and everyone loves to see them out catching fish!
- Jolene Read 27 inches
- Catherine Zhang 24 inches
Winter Island—Kayakers who launch at Winter Island compete in a special division. The hot bait around Winter Island was the tube and worm.
- Stevin Moniz 34 inches
- Dennis Glynn 30 inches
- Thomas Lowe 27 inches
Barbie Rod Division—the inaugural year for the division racked up some impressive catches, big fish on little rods, including the second place fish in the open division!
- Bill Eicher 48.5 inches
- Eric Harrison 45 inches
- Ronald Turocy 28 inches