Cody Henley gets an early Saturday morning start before the sun comes up.
HYRUM – Cody Henley and Caymen Rasmussen were out on Hyrum Dam Saturday morning preparing and exploring for an upcoming Kayak Fishing Utah bass tournament at Hyrum on July 18.
The group’s members and some nonmembers will be fishing for prize money and bragging rights at the July tournament.
Henley and Rasmussen have been fishing out of kayaks for a couple of years now. Henley grew up in Mississippi and fished from the young age of four until 24, then he left on a two-year church mission to Salt Lake City. In the end, Utah called his name, and when he returned to the Beehive State, so did his hobby.
“I’ve been fishing all of my life,” Henley said. “My dad and I would fish private ponds where I grew up in Mississippi.”
Henley’s father passed away when he was young, but he continued to put his hook in the water and has only stopped when life was too hectic.
He met Rasmussen at a Kayak fishing tournament and now they travel to places in and out of Utah to find the fish.
Henley’s kayak, like most of the other competitor’s boats, is packed tight with gear. He has a fish finder and 11 fishing poles stuffed in his Hobie peddle-driven kayak. The poles stand in the air like sailboat masts. Every pole has a different lure or bait and a different fishing pound test line.
“You can only have one pole in the water at a time in the tournaments,” he said. “I carry 400 plastic soft baits, worms, lizards, a crawfish lure and the like. I also have six tackle trays with hard bait, like crankbait and hollow body frogs.”
They aren’t the only ones out on the dam, other kayakers have been checking out the Hyrum fishery all week. They all are trying to find the hotspots for the upcoming event.
Club members claim fishing from a kayak is the fastest growing sport in the country. Kayak fishing gives fishermen a new way to access fishing spots. The one person boats can get into shallow water where the fish are, and other big boats can’t follow.
A kayak is less expensive than a big bass boat and is cheaper to get started, it needs no fuel, just enough water to launch. As it turns out, those that do it found it to be an exciting and different way to catch fish.
“Kayak Fishing Utah has 51 members that participate in six tournaments a year,” said Erin Mathis, who co-leads the group with Joe Randall. “We started off as a Facebook page and when we found enough people were interested in fishing from a kayak, we started a club.”
In 2018, they started bass tournaments and use CPR, Catch Photograph and Release, to record the size of the catch.
“We take picture of the fish on a measuring approved device,” Mathis said. “Our last tournament at Mantua reservoir we capped out at 50 people.”
The group has nearly doubled in size since they started in 2018.
“There is a Kayak Bass Fishing at the national level too, we are sister partners,” Mathis said. “They have tournaments all over the U.S. and they even have a national championship.”
All you need to get started is a kayak, tackle, lifejacket, baits and heart, she said.
“We have a junior league this year. Fifteen amazing kids!” Mathis said. “Getting the youth involved is a good way to get them started.”
The tournament will last from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 18th. More details about the fishing tournament is available here.