With COVID-19 restrictions disrupting fishing derby plans, more anglers are learning the advantages of a catch-and-release format carried out with a measuring board and an app on a smart phone.
Dwayne Walley, owner and founder of TourneyX, the app and website now in use by the Bassmaster BASS Nation Kayak Series, said anglers are turning to the app as a way to keep contests going during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The app has been growing in popularity since its launch in March 2015 at a rate of a little less than 10,000 users per year, but a recent jump of 6,000 anglers is unprecedented, he said.
Walley said one recent example was the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club experience.
“COVID-19 broke things up for them and they called me on a Wednesday night and they had a tourney on Saturday,” he said. “In two days, we got 60 anglers lined up. They drove down from all over Louisiana, fished for the day and didn’t have to get close with anybody, drove back and had their awards on Facebook that night.”
Ben Milliken, a Nebraska social media angler with 350,000 followers on YouTube, has held two nationwide tournaments using the app the past two weeks. He reached out through his Facebook page and YouTube for nationwide participation from anglers in boats, kayaks or fishing from the banks.
“The word is out and more and more are coming in,” Walley said.
The idea started while the Mississippi angler was out kayak fishing with a friend. It had its origins, literally, in a coffee shop, said Walley, who is a website designer and coder.
He started working on it in November 2014 and launched for the first tournament the following March, he said.
To hold a tournament someone needs to register as the tournament director and they should know at least 20 anglers will sign up — or a bare minimum of 10 — for their tournament to make the effort worthwhile, he said. A tournament of several hundred is no problem for the program to handle.
The charge to use the app is $5 per angler, which is built into the tournament entry fees. All the scoring, ranking, filtering and finances are handled through a website dashboard managed by the tournament director.
“We make it super easy,” Walley said. “We put big old buttons on there and people like the ease of how it’s built.”
Anglers use an app on a smartphone to report their fish. They just have to have a quality measuring board, a registration number for their tournament and take a proper photo.