top of page

About US

Who We Are

We are Minnesota's first official Kayak Bass Fishing League known as "MinnYak." 

Founded in 2021, we are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping promote and grow the sport of competitive kayak angling. We offer opportunities for our community to actively participate in and learn about this rapidly expanding sport whilst providing avenues for individuals looking to advance themselves as professional anglers.

The League was founded by a group of individuals who are already actively involved in the competitive kayak community and who have experience with both national and local event series. Our shared experiences and expertise help us bring an elite-level experience to our members that you will not get through any other group or club. 

We are taking things to the next level for our local kayak fishing community, and we will always have our members in mind. From our board members to our committee members, our focus is to be a league run by members for members!

Purpose

1) To stimulate Public Awareness of competitive kayak bass fishing as a sport

2) To promote growth in this sport within the state of Minnesota

3) To provide opportunities for club members to travel and compete in regional and national tournament series

4) To incentivize other fishing organizations, companies, and/or sponsors to bring competitive opportunities into the state of Minnesota

5) To work with local conservation and commerce agencies to enhance and protect black bass populations by practicing and promoting catch-photo-release (CPR) style tournaments

Kyle Murray 
(President)

My name is Kyle Murray, and I am the MinnYak President as of 2023, and I am grateful for the opportunity to bring you the best kayak bass fishing tournament experience Minnesota has to offer.

ABOUT ME: I am far from your traditional angler who grew up around fishing as a hobby. I only started fishing in 2015 when I was 23 years old. I just had my second ACL and meniscus repair in my left leg in less than 2 years. My physical therapist made a life-changing suggestion: he told me to bring a fishing pole and ‘buzz bait’ with me during my next kayak outing. I had no idea what buzz baits were, but I found one at Fleet Farm for $4 and went out to my parents’ cabin again. A largemouth bass crushed my buzz bait on my first cast into the creek mouth. I was hooked. I went back day after day, catching one or two bass without a clue how to catch more. That is when I started scouring YouTube for answers.

YouTube bass fishing videos gave me something to focus on during law school from 2015-2018. I still had no money but started to bank fish whenever I had the chance—it helped me take my focus off studies and stress in a healthy way.

In 2018, Santa gave me a Lifetime Tamarack Angler 120” and I knew fishing was not going to be a ‘phase’ for me. It took the place of skateboarding and basketball since I did not want to risk reinjury.

I found a nice deal in 2020 for a used 2019 Hobie Outback on Craigslist and immediately wanted to know if there were tournaments I could join. I found myself fishing in Slay Nation tournaments run by a guy who I am still great friends with to this day. I fished my first MinnYak event on Lake Koronis in 2021 and knew I was up against serious competition.

I knew I wanted to get involved with MinnYak and became a committee member in late 2021 until 2023. I have fished all but three MinnYak tournaments since 2022 and I do not see myself stopping. MinnYak offers anglers superior competition, great camaraderie, and the option of big payouts or a slice of humble pie. 

Kyle Murray Photo.jpeg

Joey Vanyo 
(Vice President)

253252982_10227079063977496_5563494618588690489_n.jpg

I have been involved in the local kayak scene since 2018 and have been fishing competitively since 2020. Besides MinnYak events, I have competed nationally in most of the major kayak trails and also fish as a co-angler in the MLF Toyota Series.

I just recently stepped down into the VP role within the organization to boost my involvement and interaction with our anglers and general committee. I am always on the lookout for new ideas and ways to make this league more fun and inviting to ALL anglers. So, if you have ideas...let us know!

I love to help out other anglers and share my knowledge of the sport. So, if you see me at one of our events, come up and say hi or feel free to catch a beer with me after prefishing or at our awards ceremonies. 

Cliff Buck
(Treasurer)

Everything about fishing from the peacefulness, excitement of the catch, to the technical planning of tournament fishing has been a passion of mine. Fishing has been a life time of love for me. Like a lot of people out there, it was a father and son or family event that has been passed down for generations. I was able to teach my kids as they grew up and now my grandkids. During that time it was about them and teaching them what I knew. I stepped away from tournament fishing many many years ago to spend that time doing the same as my dad did for me. They’ve all moved out and starting their own families now. It gave me a chance to get back into tournament fishing. I’ve learned a lot about the kayak fishing world and still learning as this sport is growing at an extremely fast pace. The community the that comes with this sport is absolutely amazing. I enjoy learning from others as well as helping guide new anglers through things I’ve already experienced getting into this sport. I bought my first fishing kayak from a pawn shop in 2014. It was a factory defect Sun Dolphin. Eventually upgraded to a Big Fish 120, before getting into a Hobie Pro Angler about 4 or 5 years ago. Come fish with me or throw an invite. I’ll try to get out every chance I get.

Ryan Bonikowski (Secretary)

My love for fishing started when I was young in Wisconsin but really started getting serious in the sport when I was coaching down in Arkansas. I was able to rent a recreational kayak from the university to get me off the bank and explore all that Arkansas bass fishing had to offer. Before moving back up north, I fished my second kayak tournament ever on Lake Dardanelle out of my rental kayak. That decision lead to a great day of fishing, taking 2nd in a regional event and forever hooking me into the sport of kayak bass fishing. After moving back up north to Minnesota I bought my first fishing kayak, which was an Ascend H10. After two years of making some great modifications to it, I decided to upgrade to a Native Titan 12. I love competing at the local level but eventually plan on competing at the national level once life gives me a little more time to do so. Until then, my goal is to encourage others to get into the sport and education them on something I’m truly passionate about. 

Bob Bahler
(Committee Co-Chair)

 

TBD

Standing Committees

General Committee

  • Joey Vanyo (Chair)

  • Bob Bahler (Co-Chair)

  • Albert Padilla (Social Media Director)

  • Cody Watkins (General Assistant)

  • Jake Kaiser (Special Events Coordinator)

  • Jeff Amey (Tournament Director)

  • Zach Gibbons (Website/IT Director)

1)This is a combined committee responsible for running the majority of MinnYak Operations. This committee will provide suggestions to the board on a range of topic that includes tournament schedules, social media engagement, and member management.

2) This committee shall be made up of the Vice President (as chair), one additional Board Member, and 3-5 regular members.

3) This committee is elected annually to coincide with new board elections.

bottom of page