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“Fishing a bass tournament is not so much about competing with other anglers, but how you compete with yourself. How you can make yourself be as productive and efficient as possible,” says Chris Longshore.
To date, Chris has competed in 116 fishing tournaments. He has placed 1st 14 times, 2nd 14 times, 3rd seven times and has a total of 76 top ten finishes. On October 28th, 2023, all of the hard work, the mistakes, the ups and downs culminated in a 1st place finish out of 116 anglers at the Big Bass 250 that netted Chris $15,000.
Fishing from his Hobie Outback, Chris caught 5 bass totaling 92” netting him 1st place overall. One unique aspect of the Big Bass 250, however, is the largest overall bass caught takes home a guaranteed $10,000. At 21.75”, Chris landed the biggest bass of the day. One cast, one catch, $10,000 on top of his earned $5,000 1st place finish.
If there is one thing we learned about Chris though, it’s that for him, it is about the journey, the friends and enjoyment of the sport more so than the winnings.
“Winning $15,000 is nice, but traveling and fishing tournaments is an expensive hobby. I have always looked at it as me getting to go on fishing vacations spending time with friends. Having a hobby that you can win some money to help support is never a bad hobby… I'm sure im still in the red though.”
What makes this win even more special, and frankly, more impressive? While fishing the tournament for himself, Chris was also mentoring young angler, Koda, during his first competition.
“Koda's parents, Chris and Lacie, and I have been friends for well over half my life and their parents have always treated me as family. Koda's grandfather took me on my first bass fishing trip. I still remember it 26 years later. We made it to the lake and he caught a ton of bass. I grew up fishing that lake and told him I had never caught a bass in it. He showed me what lures to use and where to look for them.”
“It was a trip I'll always remember and was the start of my passion for bass fishing. Koda has that same passion. I knew from last year that the BB250 would be a great tournament for him to experience. I talked his parents into letting him miss a few days of school. I would like to say I'm a good teacher, but really I just fished behind him and got lucky the last 30 minutes of the tournament.”
You would think winning $15,000 in one kayak tournament would be the memory Chris walks away with. But that isn’t the case.
“Koda is a hammer and everyone will be seeing his name in the upcoming years. Watching him catch, measure, and submit the photos of the fish in his first ever tournament in the conditions that we fished in will be the memory I take away from this trip.”
Chris mentioned the Big Bass 250 was the target for bringing Koda along. What about this particular tournament led Chris to think it was the right fit?
“The effort Eco Fishing Shop puts into their prize packages and bringing all of the anglers together after the tournament for a ceremony is pretty cool. Why myself and a few of the other Nebraska guys decided to fish this event, is because even if you strike out fishing you still have a chance to win some awesome prizes. The entry fee is kinda like a raffle ticket, but you get to go on a fishing vacation with your friends and have a chance to catch that one fish that could be worth $10,000.”
It is hard to imagine a more humble winner than Chris. With 116 tournaments under his belt in four years, he has put in the work to take home a huge payday. Still, the moments of small victories, like choosing the right presentation for the right conditions, are what he enjoys the most. It is easy to focus on our failures while fishing. We can lose sight of why we started fishing in the first place. Chris was reminded of that by Koda.
“On the drive down, I remember telling Koda fishing a tournament is tough. The tournament has set times and you have to be focused even if the weather is bad. It’s important to fish hard the entire time because even if the fishing has been bad it all can change in five minutes. The last hour and a half of this tournament was miserable. I could tell he was digging deep to hang in there. I asked Koda if he wanted to go warm up in the car or call it quits. His reply was 'I want to fish until the end.'”
“As Koda was working the bank I threw my buzzbait over a log I had a huge blow up on in practice and boom that was the 21.75”. I rebent the buzzbait back to shape and threw it over the same log to see if the action was good and had my 21” bass destroy the buzzbait. Watching Koda’s face was as cool as catching the two giants with 30 mins to go.”
Despite all of the work Chris has put in, he gave most of the credit to Koda.
“I was successful because of Koda's grit. He didn't give up when offered the chance and we fished until time expired.”
Chris’ giving back to the kayak fishing community doesn’t stop with mentoring Koda either. Whether it be a young angler, or friends, Chris uses his own experiences to look out for his fellow anglers in small ways like making lunches for everyone.
“I'm not sure when I started making lunch for people. I think it just happened because the only thing my friends seem to remember is beer and their poles."
"I have made myself really sick by not drinking or eating anything during a tournament because you are so focused on fishing. I just want everyone to be the best they can be.”
Humble, competitive, determined, and most importantly willing to give back, Chris Longshore is a great example of the supportive community that is kayak fishing. Tournaments are getting bigger, payouts are ramping up and the competitive field is attracting anglers of all ages. Eco Fishing Shop’s Big Bass 250 is more than a kayak fishing tournament. It is a celebration of what the sport has become, where it is going and all of the anglers that make it possible.
Ask Questions & Use Your Available Resources
One of the best ways to learn about kayaks, kayak fishing and tournament fishing is to ask questions and share stories with anglers who have been there. Meet other anglers talking about kayak fishing and fishing tournaments in our public community the Kayak Anglers Resource. Here are a few conversations to help you get started:
If you don't see a topic you'd like, just start a new one and we will get you connected with members who can help. Year three promises to be bigger & better. Mark your calendars for late October 2024!