First place, finally: Brooks Lanier wins at Tuckertown

Brooks Lanier has been fishing with CKA since 2017. He fished alongside legendary names like Ricky Rowland and the Hawj brothers, dominant anglers who seemed to finish in the money at nearly every tournament. Lanier kept fishing hard and learning. He came close to winning. Five times, in fact – that’s how many second place finishes he had prior to this past weekend, when he finally took him his first CKA trophy for a first-place finish at Tuckertown.

And while there are dominant anglers, it’s also easy to forget how much work goes into winning an event. Consider the careers of a few who have fished well during the 2023 season. For example, Bryan Tsiolkas went 9 seasons between wins (2014-2022). Shelly Efird has had two second place finishes this season, but has not won a CKA event since 2014. And the aforementioned Ricky Rowland was runner up in the AOY race multiple times, finally sealing the deal after 8 seasons (in 2021).

In short, winning a first place trophy is an achievement. Anglers feel good when they win, and we celebrate their success.

For this article, we asked some anglers (including Brooks Lanier) how they felt about their CKA wins. Here’s what they said:

Dustin Matthews has fished CKA for years. He’s on parental leave now, but we reached out to see how he felt about winning a tournament. Matthews won the Gate City Classic in 2021, and here is what he said :

“It was awesome. There are so many amazing anglers with CKA. To beat the likes of yourself (Hank), Rick Rowland, the Hawj Brothers. It was an honor.”

Bryan Tsiolkas has emerged as a dominant competitor in the past two seasons, racking up five first-place finishes. He keeps it in perspective, and offers great advice:

“Kayak tournament bass fishing is complicated. There is always something unplanned in the works on tournament day. Whether it be an issue with your vehicle, you’re a mile away from the ramp and forgot to check in, or ”Oh, I left my Ketch board in the truck.” Just because you’re having a bad start doesn’t mean things can’t do a 180 real fast. It’s 11 am and you’ve had no bites, and at 1 pm you could be sitting in 3rd one bite away from sealing the deal.

Over many years of competing I have learned discipline and mental focus is key to excelling in this crazy sport. Taking risks, staying positive, and being able to toss plan ABC and D when things aren’t working, separates the novice and seasoned anglers.

There is no fast track to winning events, it comes from relentless hard work, map study, finding cover, keeping track of bass movements and what their eating. But, winning after putting in the work is what makes it all worth it. For me, things rarely go as planned, but that’s why I personally love kayak tournament fishing. Everything is intense and on the fly. Being victorious is great, sure, but winning knowing I could go another nine years without a victory makes me really take it all in when it happens. There is a plus when I bomb events though, I learn from them, I copy and paste those memories and mistakes to future events. Over time, the bad days are what have groomed me into the angler I am today.”

Christopher Decker is a staff writer for Bassmaster magazine. He moved away from North Carolina in 2023, but was fishing with CKA during the 4 previous seasons. As a journalist, he cover all levels of the sport from collegiate tournaments to kayak fishing and boat tournaments. He is also a CKA tournament winner, so we reached out for his perspective. he said:

“No matter what level of bass fishing you are competing in, winning is the most difficult thing to do. But there is an incredible feeling that overcomes you when a victory is around the corner.”

My first CKA win came at the 2021 Burlington Bash. Catching an 8-pounder in practice doesn’t always indicate things will go well in the tournament, but that giant bass showed me the bass would be moving up and I was able to take advantage of that during the tournament. It wasn’t fast and furious to begin, in fact I ran through three or four different stretches of bank before catching my first fish. But I kept my baits in the water and the bass began to bite.

When you are going to win a tournament, it’s almost like nothing can go wrong. Every decision is the right one. Hopefully, everyone will get to experience that feeling at some point in their lives!”

Now, for the Tuckertown champ. Here is how Brooks Lanier, the most recent addition to the CKA Hall of Champions, described his first win:

“They say that no one remembers who finished 2nd place, but I would argue that the guy who finished 2nd will probably never forget it. I’ve been in that position in CKA tournaments several times and I can remember the anxiety of trying to cull or the agony of losing “that one giant” that would’ve given me the win.

The only word I have for finally getting a win in a CKA tournament is relief. If it’s the only one I ever win, it’ll be enough. My tournament day wasn’t particularly lucky at Tuckertown, it was just a run of the mill fishing day, the only difference was I had absolutely ZERO cellphone service until I got done fishing. My one piece of advice for my fellow competitors would be to just unplug, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing on the leader board and just go fish your strengths and have a good time!”

To see the complete list of CKA tournament winners, visit the Hall of Champions on the club’s website.

Up Next:

We will conclude our regular season on September 23, 2023 at the Gate City Classic! Join us for fishing, food and fun!

To register, click here:

Additional Info

CKA Event 7 at Tuckertown was presented by Yadkin River Crappie Trail.

CKA’s 2023 Season is brought to you by Dakota Lithium Batteries

Click here to see the full 2023 schedule.

Click here to become a member.

First Published August 15, 2023

All content and photos © Carolina Kayak Anglers LLC, 2023.

The author of this article was not assisted in the composition of it in any way by a machine.

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2 thoughts on “First place, finally: Brooks Lanier wins at Tuckertown

  1. Chris Gearhart

    Hank, This is one of the most motivational articles I have read. Good job on this one. I love the tournament follow-ups but this one hit home. I have fallen in love with this club and CCKF for the fact of how inspirational the fellow anglers are. Bryan Tsiolkas has pushed and pushed me to keep pounding every single tournament, as well as many other anglers but Bryan has always been there. When I’m struggling Bryan always tells me to keep my head down and keep fishing. I will continue to fish these tournaments and push and push to get better.

    1. Chris, glad to hear it, and thanks for the kind words. Our sport really is amazing and the community is awesome.

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