West Virginians Fishing From Kayaks
The State Journal
28 April 2016
By Mike Ruben
West Virginians are apparently getting hooked on the sport of
fishing from kayaks.
In just three years, Mountain State Kayak Anglers has grown from
10 members to more than 150. Promotional Director Chris Schafer
said the club already has crowned a national champion and will be
hosting one of six national qualifying tournaments.
The organization was founded by Dan Smith and Jeremy Smith, who
are the president and vice president. The Smith brothers shared
the concept with a few friends and the organization began to
“It started as a way for them to get out and meet other people in
the kayak and fishing community,” Schafer said. “What started with
a few friends has grown to become the largest trail of its kind in
There were approximately 50 members in 2014 and 100 in 2015.
April’s season-opening Jackson County Shootout attracted more than
140 competitors from five states.
“These are people who love to kayak and love to fish, but what
brings them back is the camaraderie,” Schafer said. “We see
fathers and sons, husbands and wives and brothers who fish
together. It’s a family atmosphere.
“Our members are competitive and they want to win, but it is not
cutthroat,” he added. “They want to see their friends do well,
That was obvious during the Ripley-area tournament’s preliminary
meeting. After reviewing tournament rules and handing out door
prizes, club member Matt Ball was introduced to a boisterous
greeting. He is the sport’s current national champ, winning the
$32,700 first prize.
“I’m honored to be a part of this organization,” he told the
gathering at a picnic shelter of Cedar Lakes Conference Center.
The actual tournament began at 7 a.m. the next day on Elk Fork,
O’Brien and Woodrum lakes.
The participant’s objective is to catch three fish that
out-measure those of the other anglers before the 3 p.m. deadline.
A “hawg trough” measuring stick, identifying wristband and
computer software are then used for the judges to determine the
In the meantime, the contestants enjoyed concessions sold by local
Special Olympics volunteers.
“We try to promote West Virginia and to support the local
communities where we fish,” said Schafer, alluding to the bait,
gear and boat sponsors appearing on the tourney logo.
MSKA’s season continues through October at lakes and rivers across
the state, culminating with an awards banquet Oct. 22 in
MSKA officials anticipate more than 200 participants at the
national level event Sept. 3-4 at Hinton.
Visit www.MSKAWV.com for