Memorial tournament to honor Nik Kayler

OKEECHOBEE — After fisherman Nik Kayler tragically passed away in an accident during a Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) tournament on Jan. 5, a candlelight vigil was held at Scott Driver park in memory of the loving husband and father.

Okeechobee Fishing Headquarters owner Mike Krause, who knew Nik through his business, saw something at the vigil that motivated him to put together a memorial tournament in honor of the late fisherman.

Nik Kayler’s brother, Philip Kayler (center right), and Nik’s wife, Kelly Kayler (center left), embrace at the candlelight vigil held on Jan. 10 at C. Scott Driver Park. Okeechobee Fishing Headquarters owner Mike Krause was inspired to start the Nik Kayler Memorial Tournament after attending the vigil. Photo by R. Marion.

“Nik would come into my store to shop and we had fished a few tournaments together,” explained Krause. “When I saw his daughter walk across the pavilion at Scott Driver during the candlelight vigil, I knew I had to do something. There was just something telling me I had to do something, and the only thing I could think to do was to put together a tournament.”

Krause, along with John Tavano and Breezy McMillan, immediately got to work on pulling together resources for the memorial tournament and fundraiser, which is scheduled to take place on May 19.

“The community support has been amazing,” said Krause. “A lot of great donations to help raise money for Nik’s daughter and wife. We’re expecting somewhere between 100 to 150 boats. Hopefully there will be more than that, but that’s what we’re expecting so far.”

First place in the tournament will take home $2,500 based on 100 boats competing, with second winning $1,250 and third $1,000. Fifty percent of the entries will be donated to the family of Nik Kayler with the other half paid to the participating field. Besides the fishing tournament itself, the memorial will also raise funds for the Kayler family by holding a raffle, silent auction, and a 50/50 drawing.

The tournament is scheduled to start at safe light in the morning, with the raffle and other events beginning at 1 p.m. and a weigh in at 3 p.m.

BBQ pork sandwiches will also be available starting at 1 p.m. All the food and prizes have been donated to the memorial.

“One of the things we have in the silent auction is a three-day, two-night stay for four people at Big Pine Key donated by Gambler Lures,” said Krause. “You’ll get show up to a private house and do all the fishing you want down in the Florida Keys. We’ll also have a three-day, two-night stay at Roland Martin Marina, which includes a guided fishing trip and all your bait as well as supper and breakfast.”

Some of the raffle prizes include rods, reels, tackle, televisions, children’s toys and more.

Reel Fishing Charities has donated $1,000 for a Big Bass Award and Gray Taxidermy will donate a free bass mount for the biggest fish in the tournament.

Krause is hopeful the weather will cooperate, with the rain holding off until later in the evening. Even so, the raffles and auctions are being held under the pavilion in Okee-Tantie, and the Okeechobee County Sheriff Department will be bringing one of their tents to help keep people dry if any rain comes during the tournament.

“It’s shaping up to be very good,” Krause concluded. “And it’s all about Nik’s wife Kelly and her little girl. It’s all about them.”

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