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The 2019 Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship, presented by Torqueedo, starts Thursday on area fisheries within a 25-mile radius of Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, the event’s headquarters.

Tournament anglers will be fishing on the Red River from the Highway 2 bridge south to the mouth of Loggy Bayou.

Eligible lakes are Caddo Lake, Cypress Bayou Reservoir and Black Baylour Reservoir, Cross Lake, Lake Bistineau and Wallace Lake.

The tournament runs through Saturday and includes a KBF Big Bass Brawl with hourly big bass prizes and additional bonuses for eligible competitiors.

More than 400 anglers from 46 states and Canada are expected to compete for the $50,000 first prize that could be significantly increased by bonuses.

“We’re committed to bringing great, world class events to the Red River,” Eric Gilmore, marketing director for the Red River Waterway Commission, said Wednesday during an afternoon press conference at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.

“The Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission has been a great partner. We have hosted so many national championships, so many great things on this world class fishery.”

Gilmore said kayak fishing is “one of the fastest growing aspects of bass fishing.”

“This is a group that’s going to be able to fish parts of the Red River that nobody ever has because their bass boats can’t get in there.”

Chad Hoover, founder and president of Kayak Anglers, called the Red River “the star of show.”

“People did not realize that those guys that fished the (Bassmaster) Classic that won here had to tilt their motors up, pole in, blow a rooster tail of mud six feet in the air to get to their spot,” he said.

“We don’t have to do that. We literally just glide right on in there. The bass are not spooked. They don’t know that we’re coming and they’re not ready for what’s about to happen to them.

“The fishery is phenomenal. The complexity of the fishery is phenomenal. You don’t get this anywhere else. You don’t get great accomodations, something for the families to do, diversity of fisheries, something that fits your style of fishing. It’s here.”

Gene Jensen, whose YouTube channel “The Flukemaster” has about 300,000 subscribers, praised the river.

“The fishery itself, it’s like the perfect storm,” he said. “It’s got bass that are spawning — some that are already spawned out and some that are getting ready to spawn — and they’re all coming together at the same time. The guys here are going to catch big ones and they’re going to catch a lot of big ones.”

The field will be cut after Day 2 to the top 100 competitors who will face off on one of the bodies of water on Saturday.

The closing ceremony and awards presentation will be Saturday at 6 in the Red River Room at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.

Fishing starts each day at 6:30 a.m. and goes to 2:30 p.m.

The KBFNC Expo in the Red River Room is free to the public from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and noon to 6 Saturday. There are exhibits by Kayak Bass Fishing sponsors, paddlesports manufacturers and merchants.

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