Who Are The Indianapolis Knights?
They are chivalrous, dedicated, and tough. They are determined and resilient fighters, who never quit. They are champions. They are the Indianapolis Knights, and they represent Indiana in the Kayak Fishing League (KFL), the world’s first professional kayak bass fishing team league.
The KFL will begin its inaugural season in June. The Knights will compete in the North Conference, with seven teams scattered across the Midwest, South, and East Coast. The KFLs South Conference features nine teams from seven states, primarily in the lower latitudes of the US.
The Indianapolis Knights boast an impressive roster, one which includes a national champion, regional tournament winners, anglers of the year, state-level series champions, and local club champions. They are some of the most talented, recognizable, and competitive people in the kayak bass fishing world.
“The KFL is bringing something to fishing we have never seen before, and not just in the kayak space, but in the sport of fishing as a whole,” said team owner, coach, and player, Sam Jones. “It’s exciting to be a part of something groundbreaking like that.”
Jason Cassetty, Mike Elsea, Sam Jones, Alan Reed, Brian Sparks, and Justin Staley make up the original six-member team of The Knights; Adam Murray and Basil “Chip” Romanovich were recently added to round out the eight-man roster.
Jason Cassetty is a relative newcomer to kayak fishing. Competing for only three years, he has quickly established himself as an angler who knows how to win. Cassetty has fished on the local level, regionally, and in national tournaments – and already has built a reputation as a talented angler. He is a three-time KBF National Championship qualifier, and finished in the top five at the first FLW/KBF kayak event on Lake Nickajack. In addition to national tournaments, Cassetty was the 2019 Angler of the Year in the Kayak Anglers of Southern Indiana series, and took home the Turkey Bowl Championship in Indianapolis that same year. He is scheduled to compete in the Bassmaster Classic – Kayak Series in June. Cassetty is thrilled to be part of the Knights’ first season. “Jacked! I’m super excited to be a part of the inaugural season of what has the potential to be a huge player in the sports world,” he said. “I love being part of a team. But, add fishing and being a professional athlete representing my hometown of Indy, and you have a competitor’s dream situation.”
Mike Elsea is the most experienced tournament fisherman on the Knights’ roster – and one of the most recognizable names in kayak bass fishing. A full-time professional angler, Elsea migrated to a kayak from the bass boat ranks in 2017 and immediately found success. In 2018, he was the Indiana KBF State Challenge Series points leader, and qualified for the 2019 KBF National Championship, in the Shreveport, LA area. Elsea spent three days on Caddo Lake, in Texas during the national championship, staying within striking distance of the leaders during the event’s first two days. Then, on the third and final day of competition, he (for the second consecutive day) landed 98-plus inches of largemouth bass to explode past the field – winning by an astonishing 16 inches. Mike followed his impressive 2019 campaign by winning the 2020 KBF North Central Angler of the Year race and ended the year with a solid top 20 finish in the KFB National Championship. He also qualified for the 2021 Bassmaster Classic – Kayak Series. Elsea believes the KFL – and the Knights – are ready for the national stage. “I have high hopes for this new league,” he said. “I’m excited to be part of this growing sport, and the KFL could certainly turn into something special. We have some solid players on the team, and I feel we can compete with anyone.”
As the leader of the Indianapolis Knights, Sam Jones wears many hats – owner, promoter, advisor, coach, and player. While each segment is equally important to the success of the Knights, Jones’ role as one of the Knights’ lead anglers may be his most important. A versatile fisherman, he has experienced success in a variety of settings since becoming a kayak fisherman. Not only has he won on the local club level, Jones has also qualified for some of the biggest tournaments in the country, including the KBF Tenvitational, the Crossroads Classic, the KBF/FLW Cup, and the KBF National Championship. In addition to fishing success, Jones is also a successful businessman. He is the founder of Hoosier Kayak Bassin, an organization dedicated to promoting the sport and it's anglers throughout the state – and across the country. Jones’ prowess in social media is one of the reasons his marketing business, South Mountain Media, thrives in today’s tough economic climate. He works with fishermen and businesses to create and grow their own brand strategies, marketing prowess, and business solutions to become and stay competitive. Like his many hats, Jones brings many strengths to the Knights. “On the business side, I bring years of experience in marketing, advertising and digital media,” he said. “On the fishing side, I think my ability to break down water and find the offshore sweet spots will be my biggest contribution to the team on the water this year.”
Alan Reed may have to change his moniker soon. The Southern Indiana angler and creator of the popular social posts “Under the Radar,” Reed’s successes may no longer allow him to remain as incognito as he would like. A steady progression of top finishes continues to propel Reed toward recognition as a skilled and dedicated fisherman. In just a few short kayak fishing seasons, his skills have grown as quickly as his social media profile. Reed earned the coveted Angler of the Year title with the Southern Indiana Yak Anglers Klub (SIYAK) in his first year ever competing in kayak angling, and in 2019 was crowned KBF Trail Champion and KBF Pro Tour Champion – Mark Twain and Big Hill; and was a FLW/KBF Cup qualifier the same year. A three-time KBF National Championship competitor, Reed took home the ‘Biggest Bass’ of the three-day event with a 25.5-inch tank. That monstrous catch, caught on camera and featured at the awards banquet, helped solidify Reed’s status as someone to watch in kayak fishing – no matter where the tournaments take him. He anticipates the Knights competing in every match this year, no matter where they fish, and himself being a part of the team’s success. “We have a solid team of anglers that have proven themselves individually, and I expect us to compliment each other’s strengths,” Reed said. “I bring a lot of versatility to the team. Traveling around and fishing various bodies of water all around the country has given me lots of experiences and situations to call upon as we compete.”
Some people just have “it.” The ability to pick up a ball, or a bat, or a fishing rod – and immediately become a player. Bryan Sparks has “it,” and he is on his way to becoming a very well-known and successful player in kayak bass fishing. Sparks’ 2020 rookie year was as impressive as it was successful. He earned the Grass Roots Bass Yakin (GRBY) Championship and was a member of the third-place team finish at the Crossroads Classic. He also fished his way into the KBF Challenge and KBF Trail Series’ Championships and qualified for the 2021 KBF National Championship in Shreveport, LA. Sparks’ versatility, hard work, and talent for the sport showed he has “it,” and he is determined to work just as hard moving forward. “To be asked to be on the Knights was quite an honor,” he said. “I love to fish, and I feel like I’m good at it. I have only been doing the kayak thing since last April (2020) … so being asked was a confirmation to me that someone else has seen my ability and had enough confidence in my ability to think that I may be an asset to the team.” Humble, sincere, and extremely talented … it’s easy to see why Sparks has “it.”
Another relative newcomer to kayak fishing, Justin Staley’s solid 2020 season showed he had the ability to become a prominent angler for years to come. A military veteran, Staley brings a wealth of skills to the Knights, having fished for a variety of species throughout the country. Whether it’s fly fishing in Colorado, or offshore deep-sea fishing in Florida, those experiences should benefit the team as they travel to different lakes and rivers in their kick-off year. “I was able to travel and live in many different places while in the military; it allowed me to find different techniques and tricks from all over the place,” Staley said. “I feel that my wide range of different experiences, and fishing in many different areas, can bring a lot of angles to the team that a lot of people haven’t thought of before.” Staley’s knack for finding fish led him to qualify for the 2020 GRBY State Championship, the 2020 KBF Challenge Series Championship, and the 2021 KFB National Championship. A military veteran who is active in charity work outside of fishing, Staley is a leader in working to bring kayak fishing to newcomers to the sport – especially veterans. He believes the sense of family he found in the military is comparable to the Knights’ budding family. “The best part of the kayak fishing scene is the great community,” Staley said. “You take that amazing community, and create a team that travels together, fishes together, and shares lodging. That is the best opportunity you could have to surround yourself with that are willing to share knowledge and your passion, as a family. The kayak community is the closest thing I have found that resembles the family and community I had in the military.”
With a long list of accomplishments in his rookie year in 2020, Adam Murray proved he was ready to take center stage among Indiana's top local anglers. After fishing as a co-angler in area bass boat tournaments, Murray decided to forego sharing a boat, and instead take the helm of his own fishing time in a kayak. That proved to be a successful move for the Columbus, IN resident. Murray finished in second place at the Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) Regional Trail event held on Lake Monroe, and qualified for the 2020 KBF Trail Championship. Not only did Murray show he could compete well regionally, his first year fireworks included capturing The Grass Roots Bass Yakin (GRBY) Angler of the Year at Lake Monroe, and earn him a spot in the GRBY championship. Murray's successful rookie campaign also earned him a spot in the 2021 KBF National Championship, and the inaugural Hoosier Kayak Bassin state championship. He also qualified for a spot at the 2020 Crossroads Classic, helping his team to an impressive 4th-place finish. The relative newcomer to kayak fishing hopes his anonymity, and his ability to slow things down on the water, will be a factor in a successful first year with the Knights. "I am so excited to be a part of the Knights," he said. "To be standing next to some of the biggest names in the industry is huge, and the fact that they allowed me to be a part of the team makes me extremely grateful that they have that much faith in me and my talent at this sport.”
The oldest member of the Indianapolis Knights, and the most experienced kayak fisherman on the team, Romanovich is also one of the quietest - both in terms of recognition and demeanor. He began kayak fishing in 2017, and following an auspicious start, that saw him flip his kayak on the White River just minutes after first cast, he rebounded to record one win, six Top-10 finishes and a berth in the Kayak Bass Series (KBS) National Championship, where he finished in sixth place. The Indianapolis native, and current West Lafayette resident, has learned to be competitive in many different environments - using a variety of styles. Competing in several state series, Romanovich turned a corner in 2019, qualifying for the Southern Indiana Yak Anglers Klub (SIYAK) Championship. He also claimed the Grass Roots Bass Yakin Geist Reservoir Angler of the Year title, and the inaugural GRBY State Championship. Romanovich followed his breakout year by qualifying for the 2020 GRBY Championship, as well as the 2020 Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) State Challenge championship, the KBF Trail Series Championship, and the KBF National Championship - earning his third straight trip to arguably the sport's biggest event. He was added to the roster as an alternate in January, and is looking to contribute in any way he can. "I am so thrilled to be a part of the Indianapolis Knights," Romanovich said. "I know my role will primarily be to back-up the lead players on this team, and that's a role that suits me just fine - I'm just happy to be a part of this team."
The Knights' first year features home and away matches against the Appalachian Anglers, based
in Charlottesville, WV; Detroit, Michigan’s Motor City Ambassadors; and Tuscaloosa’s, Alabama Hammers. Beautiful Lake Manitou, in Rochester, Indiana, will serve as the
Knights’ home lake in 2021. Known for its natural beauty and pristine water, Lake Manitou is
also gaining a reputation for quality largemouth bass.
Much like traditional professional sports leagues, the KFL will have a regular season, playoffs,
and a championship … pitting the North’s top team against the best of the South. All matches
will be broadcast live on a variety of social media channels, including YouTube, Facebook, and
Owner, Jones, sees great things on the horizon for this new league, and for the Knights in
particular. “I’m so proud of this amazing team,” he said. “The gentlemen who make up this
eight-man roster are some of the best anglers in the state – and the nation. More importantly,
they are great men. I’m honored to lead them through this inaugural season of the KFL.”