NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 11, 2016) – Matthew Vann, of Pensacola, Florida, measured a combined limit of 106.50 inches to win the 2016 IFA Kayak Tour Championship presented by Hobie Fishing on Oct. 8 at Panama City, Florida.
The two-day championship event marks the first win for Vann in his four years fishing the IFA Kayak Tour. Vann fished his home waters around Pensacola and battled gale force winds and extreme conditions to bring home the championship trophy.
“Even though we were not close to the hurricane the conditions were extreme,” said Vann. “On day one, the wind was 15 to 20 mph with strong gusts but on day two it was even worse. The wind was steady at 20 to 25 mph with gusts of 30 plus. There were two- to three-foot rollers and waves crashing over the bow of my Hobie.”
The angler fished suspending twitch baits for trout first thing in the mornings and chased schooling redfish as each day progressed.
“I pre-fished the waters around Panama City but could not consistently locate trout,” said Vann. “I decided to fish my home waters around Pensacola and it paid off. On day one I caught a nice trout early and was able to concentrate on redfish. Day two was a little tougher. The pattern I had found for the trout fell apart, but I eventually caught a 21-incher in a spot I knew always holds fish.”
The angler won a Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12 Kayak, valued at $3,299, a Power-Pole Micro Anchor and spike, valued at $699, and $330 in Anglers Advantage cash for his first-place finish.
“This win is a dream come true,” said Vann. “It has been a goal of mine to win an IFA Championship since I started fishing these events four years ago. The IFA features some of the best kayak anglers in the world along with fierce competition and great payouts.”
Elliot Stevens, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, won second place with a two-day combined total of 86.75 inches. The angler traveled approximately 20 miles in two days to fish around Port St. Joe. Although the angler was far away from his home waters of Louisiana, Stevens felt content with his performance.
“It feels pretty good to come to Florida and get a second-place finish,” said Stevens. “I have been fishing the IFA for four years and been in fifth and fourth in the championships, so second feels great.”
The angler took home $1,720, including $220 in Anglers Advantage cash.
Third-place finisher Tim Stouder, of Ponte Vedra, Florida, measured a combined total of 81.00 inches. The angler fished shallow water over grass flats and pot holes 40 miles west of Panama City.
“I left Jacksonville with a hurricane coming in to fish this event,” said Stouder. “Pre-fishing conditions were ideal but during the tournament days the wind changed and made fishing tough. I grinded it out and it paid off.”
Stouder took home $1,250 for his efforts, including $200 for the Berkley Gulp! Big Trout Award and $300 in PENN products for his 24.25-inch trout.
The championship event also named the 2016 IFA Hobie Kayak Angler of the Year with Tony Lai taking the honors and the $1,000 prize. Lai was the highest-placing Divisional Angler of the Year with his seventh-place finish. The angler also won $500 from Power-Pole, the $200 for the Berkley Gulp! Big Redfish Award and $300 in PENN products for catching his 39.88-redfish on a PENN Reel. Lai also took home the $250 Run with Lucas Oil contingency award.
Three IFA Kayak Tour anglers will square off with some of the world’s best kayak anglers at the 2016 Hobie Fishing Worlds Championship set for Dec. 4-11 in Louisiana. Joe Komyati, Steve Lessard and Benton Parrott will join 52 other domestic and international competitors from 20-plus countries at Lafourche Parish for the title of World Champion.
The fastest-growing kayak fishing tournament trail in the country, the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie Fishing events 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.