Bassmaster Elite Series pro Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., won the prestigious and ultra-competitive Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) Northeastern Open, which took place Sept. 14-15 out of Erie. He fished and won out of the same Bonafide kayak recently featured on Bassmaster.com, and logged 91.00 inches on day one, then 92.25 inches on day two to best second-place finisher Jeffrey Rabbit of Finleyville, Pa., by 3.75 inches. A total of 69 anglers fished the event.
KBF anglers measure fish by photographing each catch in a dedicated Hawg Trough via the TourneyX mobile app, and the best five are used to determine daily total. This was Lefebre's first kayak-oriented win, and it took savvy, intensity and a solid gameplan to pocket the $10,000 paycheck.
"I definitely didn't have an advantage in knowing any 'spots,'" Lefebre says. "The fish were in the middle of a massive transition – they move from deep to shallow around this time each year. I caught the fish that were staging in prep to move shallow after the emerald shiners. In reality, it was in the 80s here, but fall was happening early for these fish and that made it real tough. I had to work extremely hard."
According to Lefebre, he pre-fished out of his regular bass rig and used electronics to mark isolated boulders and rock veins, then manually moved the 200-some waypoints over to his Lowrance Hook unit, which he uses on the kayak. He targeted the deeper boulders out to 32-feet the first day, then from 17 to 20 feet the second day.
He fished a dropshot goby exclusively on day one – he didn't want to "educate" the fish that he hoped to catch on day two. Then on day two he switched to a shad-color Gary Yamamoto Shad Shape worm and other unnamed minnow-style plastic, again on the dropshot. But because the fish were so shallow, they wouldn't bite with a boat in sight. So he upped his dropshot weight to 1/2-ounce, dropped at a boulder, then opened his spool and backed off 100 feet or more. Then he'd shake the dropshot and get bit. He used his lithium-powered Torqeedo motor to run and gun from boulder to boulder.
"It always feels good to win anything, and I didn't think I had a chance," Lefebre added. "And the first day was one of the worst fishing days I've ever had. I didn't crimp my steering cable correctly on my Torqeedo motor and it broke. I photographed my biggest fish incorrectly, I lost my phone, I lost a lot of fish and faced a lot of adversity, but kayak fishing is addictive. And my main goal was not to come into this tournament and try to take charge, or be some bigwig – there were some really good fishermen there. My main goal was to have fun and compete in catching bass, which is what I do."
The win did engender a run of chatter on social media, mostly positive but some negative, as happens when named pros enter and win regional events. All of which is a sure sign that kayak competitions are starting to come of age, with payouts now attracting bigger and perhaps better sticks.