Dakota Lithium Powers World Kayak Fishing Championship
COOKEVILLE, Tn. – Anglers travelled from across the planet, twelve teams representing twelve nations. Despite their differences, they all shared one thing in common: to represent their country in competition, they would cross any border and fish any lake.
When they arrived in Cookeville, Tennessee for the FIPSed II World Kayak Fishing Championship, they found one more thing they had in common: every angler would be powering his or her electronics with Dakota Lithium Batteries.
Upon arrival, each angler was presented with a Dakota Lithium battery and Power Box. Each rigged them to the fish finders they carried from Central Europe, the Southern Hemisphere and across the Pacific Ocean. Cilla Johnson, who lives in Virginia and competed with Team Philippines, described the gift as follows:
“Every angler was provided not only a Dakota Lithium power box but also a 12V 23AH battery. The power box comes handy in so many situations but using it during camping or running my GoPro for hours through the USB has been the most useful for me.”
And they found much more waiting for them on the weekend. Some of those things, like the Jackson Knarr each was provide to fish from, were practical. Other things were les practical, yet no less important. For example, in the run up to the event, the anglers, sponsors and teams were treated to the generosity and friendliness that defines the phrase “Southern hospitality.” They enjoyed down home cooking, they met with media and the mayor of Cookeville, as well as the Putnam County Sheriff welcomed them. They even marched in a parade through town. As team USA angler Cody Milton said, “Every gas station e went to asked about the tournament, and the Chamber of Commerce asked us for autographs and hung our pictures on the wall.”
But they travelled for the fishing above all. Well, that’s a bit of an understatement. Some of them crossed half the planet.
One team did not travel as far, but they felt just as much pressure. The USA Kayak Fishing team was defending its home field against eleven other nations. Stacked with experienced tournament veterans, one might reasonably expect them to win or place. But you never know – fishing is unpredictable, and tournament fishing even more so. Add to that the pressure of representing your country, there is a lot on the proverbial line, before an angler even makes their first cast.
For context: the US Kayak Fishing team is an affiliate of the USA BASS team. USA BASS fields teams of American anglers against those of other nations in tournaments, using the sport to raise awareness of bass fishing. There are Pan-American games (the USA Kayak Fishing team won those in 2022) and there is a World Championship. Win the Pan American Games, you have bragging rights for the western hemisphere. Win the World Championship, and your shadow throws a bit more shade….
Your hooks had better be sharp and your batteries charged when you launch with your country’s flag on your fishing jersey, and that’s how it was for the USA Kayak Fishing team on the morning of June 9, 2023. Countries are allowed to field a maximum of two teams for each event. In this competition format, a team may have up to three anglers on the water in competition, with one alternate. In total, USA Kayak Fishing brought eight anglers to the tournament. They were Kristine Fischer, Damian Thao, Eric Jackson, Rus Snyders, Josh Stewart, Guillermo Gonzalez, Cody Milton and Brian Nelli.
Milton proved to be the event’s top angler. He was also one of the most seasoned in international competition. “This was my third international event, and there were more anglers than in any similar event I had fished with team USA. I’ve gotten to know some of the teams from El Salvador, Mexico and Canada, so the camaraderie was great.”
Milton found fish in practice, focusing on a deep bite. “I caught my personal best Spotted Bass on the first day of practice, fishing around dock cables . The pattern was a jerk bait bite, and the fish were in 70’ of water, in the 15’ foot range.”
Milton would go on to fish all three days of the event, his consistency driving the entire team. The pressure mounted as the days wore on, however, due to the difficult conditions. Guillermo Gonzalez was one of the American team members who also fished all three days of the event. He explained:
“We rotated on the team to give anglers a chance to fish, and I was fortunate to fish all thee days (June 9-11). The bite was tough, and none of us were so stressed that the fishing wasn’t fun. But it was stressful because you didn’t want to let your teammates down.”
“For example, I only caught three fish on day one, so I received penalties. This tournament has a unique format. Anglers receive penalties for their place in the standings. So, if you finish first, you get a one point deduction. If you finished second, two points, three points if you finish third, and so on….”
Despite not landing a limit on day one, Gonzalez still managed to earn a bronze medal for his individual effort in the championship. Overall, Gonzalez said the unique team format brought out the best in all of the anglers and teams:
“I’ve fished in other team events in our sport, but I’ve never been involved in an event where every team member wanted their teammates to win as badly as we wanted each other to win. That was really special. It [the FIPSed Kayak Fishing World Championship] is a really unique tournament and unlike anything we have in our sport.”
Team USA would finish with five anglers among the top nine of the event. Milton took the gold medal with the top spot, Thao finished in second and Gonzalez third (Nelli would take fifth and Jackson sixth overall). It was an impressive showing, for sure, but every team fished hard over the two-day competition. Two of those teams – Team England and Team Canada – made very impressive showings, as team Canada took home the silver medal and England brought home the bronze.
Powered by Cody Milton’s consistency and Dakota Lithium batteries, Team USA also took home the gold medal and the custom Ketch trophy in the team event. Just as importantly, the anglers who participated had a great experience in Cookeville, Tennessee. When you look at the social media posts shared by the Team USA page, you will see nothing but smiles.
Cilla Johnson summarized the event’s spirit of camaraderie in the following terms: “Whether locally, nationally or internationally, we band together and help others whenever possible. Without sponsors like Dakota Lithium and USAngling staff and volunteers, this event would not be as successful as it was.”
British angler Mark Radcliffe added the following point of view about the future of the event: “It was great to see more countries represented this year and hopefully next year in Italy we will see the event grow even more with representation from the Southern Hemisphere as well.”
As Radcliffe noted, Italy will host the third edition of the FIPSed World Championship, in 2024. The USA Kayak Fishing team will continue to set the standard as ambassadors of kayak fishing. Dakota Lithium batteries will power their journey.
by: Hank Veggian