When you mention kayak bass fishing, Jay Wallen is a name that is sure to come up. Not only is Jay a consistent, and formidable competitor, but he is one of the anglers who has helped to take this sport to the level it is today. Jay is also known throughout the sport as a competitor who is willing to share his tips and tricks to help the rest of us better ourselves as anglers.
Jay Wallen Lexington, KY
Have we fished together yet?
If so, do you remember where? We have not fished together.
-------->> Jay did treat me to a nice Mexican dinner one night, even though I was wearing sweatpants and freaking out about it.
What kayak do you use for tournaments?
When I hit the water it is almost always in my Hobie Pro Angler 14.
When and why did you start kayak bass fishing competitively?
I started kayak fishing competitively about 6 years ago. I used to be a bass boat angler but the local kayak tournament scene was where many of my friends began to gravitate to and that drew me in to the kayak world. With the growing national scene, I quickly found my place was in a kayak!
What are some of your accomplishments that you are most proud of in the sport?
What is your biggest fish to date and what did you catch it on?
My largest bass was caught with my dad in Florida on January 1st in 2010. It was a rainy and cold FL day and the bite was horrible. I was throwing a topwater frog and it randomly got destroyed by a huge bass I set the hook and the wet rod flew out of my hands and nearly in the lake, at the last second I smacked the rod handle and grabbed it with my other hand and still had the bass on. I fought it in and it weighed 12.2# and was 27” long. It was an incredible experience to be beside my dad for the entire thing. A year later, I was with my dad again on Lake St. Clair and landed a huge 7.4# smallmouth on 8# test that went 22.25”.
What are your biggest challenges either during tournaments or leading up to a tournament?
The biggest challenge in kayak tournament fishing to me is the elimination of water. The largest limitation to kayaks is their range of travel. This makes location selection and eliminating water the biggest challenge.
Sleep in the car, arrive the morning of the tournament, or grab a hotel?
Proper rest and preparation for a tournament is key. I am a hotel or AirBnB user myself. Sometimes if I am close to the venue, I will arrive the morning of, but if I am traveling, I like to have a bed and a shower!
One piece of equipment that you wouldn’t consider fishing a tournament without?
This can be a point of contention but the first kayak tournament I ever fished I got 2nd place and the first fish of my day was an absolute giant bass, pushing 8# class. I had the fish boat side and had numerous opportunities to land the fish. However, I did not have a net and was trying to grab it by hand. If I had, had a net it would have made it in the boat and I would have won the tournament. For that reason, I never fish a tournament without a quality net!
We all have preconceived notions of what we were getting into before that very first tournament. Have there been any surprises along the way for you?
If so, what were they? I still get the butterflies before every tournament, whether it is the NC with 700+ anglers for $100,000 or a local club with 45 guys for a few hundred bucks. The biggest thing for me is that it’s still fishing. The most important thing is the get that first bite and land the first fish everything gets easier after that.
Who is one person you would love to kayak bass fish with?
I never got an opportunity to fish with my Grandfather and that is someone I would love to get out with in a kayak and just to be able to show him the enjoyment of fishing that I get because he passed it down to me, thru my father.
What would be one piece of advice that you would give to someone considering entering the sport?
If I could offer one piece of advice to someone considering getting into the sport is don’t be wrapped up in all the newest, latest and greatest, what everyone else has mentality. Yes, there are products and technologies that make things easier and more convenient. However, those things can often be overwhelming for a new angler. Keep it simple at first and as you get more comfortable with the basics and what you are doing, slowly add more things to your repertoire that will make you a more polished angler over time.