What a terrible week.
Early last Thursday, things looked so good for bass fishing. The FLW Series was releasing a record-sized field onto the waters of Lake Okeechobee; entries and interests were up. The fish were biting.
Then, an event occurred that didnít generate a second-thought at first, but later confirmed our greatest fear: a tournament boat never checked in.
By now, we all know whatís been reported of the angler lost on Lake Okeechobee during the first competition day. Nicolas Kayler, referred to as Nik on various sites, was apparently ejected into the water while riding in the boat of Bill Kisiah, and not recovered. His deceased body was found yesterday, somewhere outside of Clewiston.
To date, boater Kisiah has not made any statements to the public or press that might indicate how the accident occurred. Until that time, everything we know is speculation, and not worth discussing here. Speculation will not bring Nik back, nor change the circumstances that led us to this point. It wonít change our behavior for the better.
The lack of information available to the public is frustrating. Iíve made calls and had several chats with industry insiders who might know something. Anything.
Still, just speculation.
There will be a time to question everything, from boats and motors to tournament venues, off-limits and PFD requirements. But, again, now is not that time.
Iíve learned that Kisiah had been in contact with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission in order to provide information that may have aided in rescue efforts. In addition, a GoFundMe account has been set up for Nikís family. I beg you to help in whatever way you can.
What a horrible week.
Anyone and everyone tied to this sport feels it in their heart: how such an event makes us reflect on the cruel, calloused side of life, entering into our innocent pastime. How bad it sucks that one of our own never came home after a day of just going fishing. How itís even worse that Nik was a co-angler.
While I canít fathom what Kisiah is going through, and feel he is well within his right to remain silent, I want to know more. Often, in the case of discrepancy in tournament fishing, the chosen course of action seems to be silence within the organization, and I hate that. Itís likely the most tasteful choice for the time being, but it wonít be forever.
But I canít blame anyone. How in the world do we handle this?
Until we know more, Iím going to do what I can to silently connect to Nicolas Kayler and his family; perhaps you will to. Whether itís through donation, thoughts or prayers, take time today Ė and every day until we have some sort of resolution Ė to spend time with Nik.
I never met the man. But I deeply miss him.
(Joe Balog is the often-outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)