Tournament sticks Elvis Lee and Amy Hansen rely on NORSK Lithium for full-days on-the-water
New Hope, Minn. (June 21, 2023) – “They’re like a cult,” one grizzled fisherman uttered at a local boat ramp when dozens of kayak anglers flooded in for a tournament weigh-in.
Well, maybe not a “cult” but quite literally a new movement…
Anglers of all levels are getting onto the water in droves via personal watercraft priced anywhere from $250 at big-box retailers to $5000 for the most tricked out, pedal-drive or motorized models on the market.
No doubt, kayaks have had a huge impact on sportfishing—a step between flinging baits from a pier or the bank—and investing in a multi-species boat—a kayak can get you to where the fish are affordably and efficiently. Plus, they don’t take up an entire garage, don’t necessarily require a trailer to transport, and best of all, can get you on fish-filled waters more difficult to reach by anglers in larger boats.
Not to mention, kayak fishing is just plain fun…
Here at NORSK Lithium we’ve embraced the growing kayak fishing culture and offer power solutions designed specifically for kayak anglers – a group that is at no disadvantage given typical 10- to 14-foot boat lengths, many outfitting their ‘yaks with sophisticated fish-finders, trolling motors, electronic anchoring, third-party lighting, and more.
Yes, at the top-end of the kayak fishing spectrum, some kayaks are practically mini-bass boats with all the bells and whistles of boats two to three times their size.
Of course, all these accessories require juice—and for tournament kayak anglers like Minnesota-based Elvis Lee, lots of it…
About NORSK Lithium Kayak Pro, Elvis Lee
We chatted with Elvis while he was on his way back from placing 4th at the MinnYak Elite 3 of 6 Tournament on Northern, Minnesota’s Lake Vermilion.
“I pre-fished six hours on Friday, but when the tournament morning rolled around, I aimed to fish new water because I wasn’t happy with my pre-fish. I went in trying to find grassy areas to target the lake’s largemouth bass, but since we were on the west end, that just didn’t come together,” says Lee.
“I did start in a bay that had some grass—basically my best spot—but quickly decided to head into the main lake, start covering water, try to find a pattern, and roll from there. I fished about 2.5 miles of shoreline. Every fish I caught was right to the bank–primarily smallmouth bass–tucked between shore, tree trunks, rocks and boulders. Once I figured that out I started catching a lot. But I wasted too much time in the morning doing something I shouldn’t have been doing. It was definitely a learning experience.”
Despite the time elapsed chasing largemouths, Lee ended up placing 4th in the MinnYak Elite 3 of 6 held on Saturday, June 17th from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. by registering numerous, chunky Vermilion Lake smallmouth bass.
Following weigh-in, Lee drove all night home to the Twin Cities and tried to get a few hours of sleep to compete in a kayak tournament the following morning on Prior Lake. Despite the lack of rest, Lee once again pulled off a 4th place finish.
Lee’s Kayak Tournament Background
“I started kayak tournament fishing the summer of 2019. At that time, I was still fishing out of a float tube. But I was able to find a local kayak tournament club willing to let me fish without owning an actual kayak. The first tournament I fished was held on the Maple Lake chain between Buffalo and Annandale, Minnesota. Even though I was fishing out of a float tube, I took second place,” recalls Lee.
Lee continues: “The next club series tournament offered a top prize of $1000 and a brand-new fishing kayak. Since kayak tournaments are judged by total inches, I tied for first place, but was lowered to second. That stung me a little bit because I really wanted to win the kayak; I needed it. So I fished out of the float tube for a couple more years. I didn’t get a kayak until the beginning of 2021. So this is only my third season fishing out of a kayak.”
Lee started his career in kayak tournaments gradually, first competing in club tournaments on Minnesota waters like Lake Minnetonka and a championship on Woman Lake, the latter which he won in 2022.
“I’ve been fortunate,” says Lee, “I’ve had some solid finishes—lots in the Top 3.”
But once out of his Minnesota backyard, Lee admits competing hasn’t been so easy.
“I fished a kayak tournament on Truman Lake in Missouri earlier this year and didn’t do well,” admits Lee. “I had never been there and really had no idea how to approach bass on a reservoir. It was a really big learning experience for me. But I do consider it a success because I was able to scratch out a limit each day.
In 2022, Lee also drove to South Carolina, where he competed in a kayak tournament on Russell Lake.
“I had a hard time putting a limit together. Reservoirs just don’t fish like our fisheries in the north. There are a lot of different pieces to put together. Russell was really tough, but again, I learned a lot.”
Back in the Midwest, Lee’s tournament track record is a different story.
“I took 2nd at the Fox/Wolf River for the Lake Fishing Series. Then I fished Iowa’s Lake Okoboji for the All American Series and took 5th place. I came back to Minnesota and fished a club tournament called the ‘Road Runner’ event on Madison and took 4th place,” recalls Lee.
What’s even more amazing than his string of top finishes for the kayak tournament newbie is he didn’t pre-fish any of the Midwest events.
“I just went and fished. Northern tournaments are a little more relaxed: I show up, hang out with the other anglers, then go out, fish, and have some fun. At least in the Midwest, it seems like everything changes so much from day-to-day, that I feel like pre-fishing doesn’t really tell you much. I used to pre-fish really hard and I’d burn up my spots or the weather would change right before the tournament.”
Lee says he performs his absolute best when fishing under pressure, another reason he’s been avoiding pre-fishing as of late.
“It might sound weird, but I prefer to just show up and go out and fish. It’s fun for me to be under the pressure to place high on the leaderboard. I kind of thrive on that.”
Elvis Lee’s Tournament Kayak Rig
Lee fishes out of a Feelfree Lure 11.5 V2, a paddle-only boat without foot-pedal propulsion drive.
Lee’s solution for covering water?
The addition of a Minn Kota PowerDrive 55 24V bow-mount trolling motor. With its 54-inch shaft, 55 pounds of thrust, Deploy-Assist Lever, AutoPilot™, Universal Sonar 2, and i-Pilot® GPS featuring Spot-Lock electronic anchoring, Lee has everything he needs to get to areas quickly and pinpoint his rig on fish-holding spots, near- or offshore.
“I decided early on that I needed a motor to compete in kayak tournaments, especially when you consider the amount of water you need to cover to find bites. I do plan to add a pedal drive version of the same kayak to my arsenal but won’t be getting that for another month or two. I will need that boat for the National Trail Series events that don’t allow electric motors. I’ve competed in them in the past with a paddle, but it’s inefficient. You just can’t cover the water you need to. Plus, if I’m fishing offshore and it’s windy, orienting on small spots by traditional rope and weight anchoring in 30-feet plus gets difficult. That’s why I love the Minn Kota PowerDrive so much. It allows me to be very efficient, especially with Spot-Lock electronic anchoring for offshore bites,” says Lee.
“I tested both batteries in actual tournament situations. I was able to get about 13.5 hours of run time operating my trolling motor at maximum speed all day using the 12.8V 80AH NORSK. I went down to Lake Pickwick for a two-day tournament and each day I would max out the battery and have to paddle back to the weigh-in. After talking with NORSK, they suggested I lay-off the speed just a little bit on the Minn Kota – from maximum down to 9, and I haven’t had to paddle back to the boat ramp since. Thing is, I’m on the motor 99% of the time. I’m either slow trolling to look for structure and fish or I’m running miles from the boat ramp. If I really think I’m going to travel far, I use the 12V 100AH NORSK,” shares Lee.
Lee on Electronics
An early adopter of forward-facing sonar, Lee has his kayak rigged with a Garmin UHD 93sv and LiveScope/Panoptix LVS32 transducer.
“To power my Garmin system all day, I started with the NORSK Lithium 14.8V 20 AH battery and then I upgraded to the 14.8V 32AH battery a couple months back. Then I flipped my boat on the boulder- and log-filled Rum River and lost my fish-finder and battery which hadn’t been permanently installed on the boat. So I’m back to using the NORSK 14.8V 20 AH battery but still get a really good runtime with it.”
Lee says a lot of kayak anglers run their graph screen brightness on a lower setting to conserve battery power, something he’s never had to do with a NORSK 20AH or 32AH battery, even turned on to full brightness for 12 hours or more of fishing.
“I’ll occasionally shut off LiveScope when I’m not using it, but for the most part, it’s on 100% of the time. There are definitely days when I use it the whole day, and I don’t have to worry about having enough juice to use it from sun up ‘til sun down,” notes Lee.
In addition to separate batteries for his Minn Kota PowerDrive 55 and Garmin LiveScope set-up, Lee also runs a NORSK 7.5AH lithium battery specifically for his navigation lights and a GoPro mounted to his kayak stern.
Lee’s Favorite Ways To Fish
If he could choose a favorite way to catch bass, Lee opts for power fishing: throwing bladed jigs, swim jigs, and spinnerbaits, all made by a high-school friend who launched a bait company called GotM Baits.
“Fishing so many places around the country, I’ve realized that customizing tackle can get you some extra bites. GotM is able to make me custom colors, skirts, you-name-it. While I do like Z-Man soft plastics, I use GotM swim, grass, and football jigs, spinnerbaits, and bladed jigs almost exclusively,” offers Lee.
The other thing Lee looks forward to? The mid- to late-summer smallmouth buzzbait bite on Minnesota’s rivers.
“There’s not much that compares to big brown bass blowing up on buzzbaits! I look forward to it every year. And there are a lot of places I fish you can only only reach by kayak so I’ve usually got the spots all to myself.”
About NORSK Lithium Kayak Pro, Amy Hansen
37-year-old, Eastern Iowa-based tournament angler, Amy Hansen, is another satisfied NORSK Lithium user.
Hansen started fishing as a kid with her dad, which instilled a love of the sport early, and when she met her husband 12 years ago, the two started fishing tournaments together across the nation.
“At first, I just joined in and got bait and helped with prep work, but that didn’t last long. We became full-on tournament partners, traveling all over for a decade or more,” says Hansen.
Most tournaments Hansen and her husband fish out of either a river jon boat or larger, multi-species deep-V boat. Hansen’s also an enthusiastic and well-traveled ice angler.
“I only started fishing out of a kayak five years ago,” says Hansen, “So I’m still learning about the tournament side of things but plan to continue down that path.”
To do so, she’s been slowly upgrading her kayak rig—an affordable Ascend FS10—with third-party add-ons to make kayak fishing easier and more efficient. For starters, Hansen has a couple Scotty rod holders and a trolley anchor system with clips for attaching to brush piles or trees, as well as a non-electronic anchor pole to keep her boat in fish-holding position.
In terms of electronics, Hansen simply lifted the Garmin Striker 4 out of the case that she runs on hardwater and installed it on her ‘yak. Given the low amp draw of this particular fish-finder, Hansen has had no problem using the diminutive (yet powerful) 1.4-pound NORSK Lithium 7.5AH Lithium Ion battery.
“I was amazed by how long that battery would power my graph. I got a whole weekend out of one charge,” offers Hansen.
Recently, Hansen worked as a facilitator/angling mentor at a women’s fishing event in Wisconsin where she utilized the same NORSK Lithium battery—but for different purposes.
“I kept that battery with me all day just to charge my phone so I could create content from take-off until dark. Since it was shallow-water fishing, I didn’t need my graph. So I just used the USB outlets on the NORSK battery to charge my phone all day. That really helped out,” concludes Hansen.
Hansen’s Tournament Successes
Amy and her husband have won several tournaments over the past few years—traveling from Iowa to Alabama, out to the western states, as well as up into Canada. And they’re open to species, fishing catfish, sturgeon, and trout tourneys—in addition to a handful of bass tournaments along the way. Hansen says their thing is “chasing trophy fish” – and they have the photos to prove it.
“I’ve actually had to fish against my husband before, and I’ve beat him with big fish and first place. I’ve had several big fish tournament finishes over the years. I also won a Jack and Jill tournament by catching the biggest fish of the tournament.”
The duo is currently prepping for a tournament on the Mississippi River June 22-25.
“We absolutely love fishing the Mississippi River. It’s a great multispecies fishery. We usually camp out on the sandbars whenever we fish the river for fun or competition. We make a whole weekend out of it.”