Tag Archives: Jackson Coosa

As I mentioned in the last post, I got my start in a Pelican Castaway, which is not a bad boat to start in:


The most important thing about the Pelican Castaway is it got me on the water, and for cheap.  It had terrible stability and paddled like a wet noodle, but I didn’t know any better and it floated, so I didn’t care. I had it for a little over a year before I found another good deal to pounce on that gave me a chance to upgrade.  A lot of good fish were caught out of the Pelican that year, which really helped indoctrinate me into the kayak fishing lifestyle.  I went from the Pelican Castaway to a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120.


The Tarpon 120 was an excellent upgrade.  You could just look at it and tell it was a better boat than the Pelican.  It was a faster boat, with better tracking.  The quality of the build was so much better than that of the Pelican.  The Tarpon was the quintessential sit-on-top fishing kayak a few years prior to my purchase of the boat.  It was a great boat for me.  It helped that I got a great deal on it too.  Bought it off Craigslist from an old guy with a camp.  The only time he used it was when the camp flooded and he needed a way to get to and from his vehicle.  You can still find essentially the same boat in the Perception Pescador.  The downside to the Tarpon was the stability was not enough that I could stand and fish from it.  It also was not very comfortable to sit in on long trips.  I had the Tarpon for two years and like the Pelican actually made money on it when I sold it.  I got rid of it because I found another great deal on a boat – one that would allow me to stand and sight fish in, but still handle the rivers that we liked to fish.  Capt. Danny Wray put a couple of his Native Ultimate 12’s for sale and the deal was too good to pass up.  I called up my dad to see if he wanted one then made the drive down to Grand Isle and picked up both kayaks from Capt. Danny.


Owning the Ultimate finally gave me a boat I could stand and fish from.  I had actually gotten pretty good at kneeling and sight fishing from the Tarpon, but that does a number to the knees.  With the Ultimate I also got to experience the comfort of a nice, semi-elevated seat.  Getting my butt off the boat and having my feet lower than my knees while seated helped me to be comfortable longer.  I learned how to stand and sight fish from the Ultimate, it was a great boat for the marsh, and still is.  The Ultimate turned out to be an outstanding boat.  It wasn’t as fast as the Tarpon, but it tracked well.  It was light and easy to transport.  What I didn’t like about the Ultimate was that the standing area was not flat.  With the tunnel hull you had to put your feet in the tunnels and after a while they became cramped.  I also didn’t find it to paddle too well in swift water.  I fell out a few times, which in all likely hood was more my fault than the boat’s.  I actually didn’t own the Ultimate for very long, maybe half a year.  An incredible opportunity came up at that time to join my friend Drew Gregory on the Jackson team and I couldn’t pass it up.  He assured me that the Coosa would be a good fit for me and they wanted to see what it could do in the marsh.  That winter I made a trip up to the Jackson factory, learned about the company and how kayaks are made, met some of the other team guys and of course picked up my new boats.


The Coosa was a really fun boat.  Like the Ultimate, it was stable enough to stand and fish from and had the elevated seat that was comfortable to be in from the start of the trip to the finish.  The deck was wide open so standing was comfortable and fly fishing was very easy to do – no snags.  The Coosa is the best handling boat I’ve ever been fished out of, making it  the perfect swift water boat.  It’s home is in rivers and that is where it shines.  It performed well enough in the marsh that I didn’t notice a drop off in performance when coming from the Ultimate.  Where it lacked was it’s open water performance.  With it’s low draft and tall bow, it can catch wind like a sailboat and on open, windy ponds you can expect to be blown to the bank in no time.  The only time this was an issue for me was tournament time because tournament weather is always terrible.  It is a better paddling boat in open water when you weigh down the front of the bow a bit to get it in the water.  I figured that out because as I would catch and keep fish in the front hatch the boat was easier to paddle as the day progressed.  I owned a Coosa up until the Cruise came out from Jackson.  Like I said earlier, it is a fantastic river boat and I owned one just for that purpose.  It wasn’t long after the Coosa came out that the Cuda followed.  The Cuda, in both the 12 and the 14 ft versions has been my go-to boat in the marsh ever since.



The Cuda has been an incredible boat for me, handling everything pretty well.  The 12 foot version you can take anywhere.  Not as fast as the 14, it is every bit as stable though.  The Cuda is a great platform to stand and fish from.  I have a love/hate relationship with the center hatch.  It catches fly line when fly fishing but that is easily solved by placing something over it, like a towel or a shirt.  I do love the center hatch for storage – whether that be fish or tackle.  No need to turn around and put your center of gravity somewhere other than where it needs to be.  The 14 is a bit faster and provides a bigger front hatch that I find more usable than the small hatch of the 12.  It is heavier though and not as easy to transport as the 12.  The 12 balances really well overhead because the weight is centered on the side carry handles.  You’ve got to compensate for that on the 14 (the Cruise too).  Both the 12 and the 14 have been great boats for the marsh and are better options than the Coosa for inshore fishing.  The Coosa is still the better river boat though.  I owned both until I saw a good compromise between the two was introduced from Jackson – enter the Cruise.


The Cruise, to me, is a simplified version of the Cuda.  I’ve always been drawn to 12-13 ft boats because they seem to be best size that does river and marsh fishing well.  They are also easier to store when living in a condo, which why I never had a boat over 13 ft until we built our first house and actually had a garage.  Like the Coosa there is no center hatch on the Cruise, which is a good thing for the fly fisher.  It also has the bigger front hatch found on the Cuda 14 – a much better option for dry storage than the small hatch.  The quick day hatch between the legs is convenient and stays dry.  The big plus on the Cruise is the price – right around $900.  In my opinion it is a hell of a boat for $900.

I started carrying two boats once we built our house and I’ve settled in on a Cuda 14 and a Cruise – for now.  The Cruise is great for the river and those small freshwater ponds I like to fish where the Cuda 14 is at home on inshore bays and in the marsh.  As a second boat the Cruise is a good boat in the marsh if I have someone that wants to tag along or if I’m looking to solely fly fish – that’s what I’ll take.  I’m sure another one day soon enough another boat will come along that catches my eye, but for the fishing that I like to do I can’t think of two better options than the Cruise and the Cuda 14.

Started a new project at work and it has my schedule all out of whack. This explains the latest trend of one post a week for this site. With the new project I’m putting in more hours, more hours means more money, but less free time, so it is kind of bittersweet. I didn’t think I’d be able to fish at all this past weekend, as the contractor works 7 days a week, but this new project is also weather dependent and we had some serious storms roll through over the weekend, dumping a lot of rain on the job site, so my services would not be needed.

Earlier in the week Kevin Andry sent me a message to see if I wanted to do a river float this weekend and initially I had to turn him down. Friday I called him up to see if he still wanted to go, provided we could find somewhere that wasn’t blown out. Luckily he was still game and the watershed I wanted to hit dodged most of the rain that came through.

I woke up Saturday to the sound of thunderstorms and I was worried we wouldn’t be able to head out. A quick check of the weather showed my house and to the south was surrounded by red on the radar, but where we were headed, looked clear. So we met up and pushed on to the put in, driving through rain, holding out hope that we wouldn’t get absolutely soaked while on the water. The skies were overcast as we put in, the water was a little higher and dirtier than it normally is in the summer. The area had only gotten a little over 2 inches of rain over the past week, at least that is what the downstream gauge indicated, who knows what had happened upstream. The good news was the float was definitely doable and we took off down the river.


Kevin and I started throwing poppers early on, the action was slower than anticipated though. I picked up the spinning rod to see if something subsurface would get their interest. Not too long into throwing a black spinnerbait I had a good bite. It was a nice spot, sitting right in front of a downed tree, which made things pretty interesting for me because the current was taking me right into that tree. I was able to keep him from running under and getting tangled in the branches and lifted the bass into my boat. It was actually bigger than I thought it was when it was on the line, a 2lb 3oz beauty. This is only the second Kentucky bass I’ve caught over 2lbs, the other came on a spinnerbait as well. Took some hero shots then sent it on it’s merry way.



The rest of the day would continue to fish slow whether I had the fly rod in my hand or the spinning rod. Kevin stuck it out with the poppers and caught fish here and there, we never really figured them out though, just one of those days. The weather held out on us and the sun even came out later in the day.






As we were loading up at the take out we realized that Kevin didn’t have any long straps in his Suburban and I didn’t pack any in my boat, so there was no way 2 boats were going on top of his vehicle. We could either take 2 trips or figure something else out. Luckily river trips are clean trips and at Kevin’s suggestion (gotta note that in case his wife reads this) we threw the Coosa into the Suburban. It actually was a nice fit with just a small portion of the boat out of the back glass.


Not a whole lot of fish caught overall, but still it was a great day to be out on the water. One that I really didn’t expect to make earlier in the week, which made it all the better. I am thankful we didn’t head down south and try to chase redfish because we would have been rained out in a hurry. We’ll have to make this float again in the Fall, when the temps start to come down, see if the bite has picked up.

My parents came in town for my cousin’s wedding this past weekend and my dad and I were able to find some time to sneak away and do some kayak fishing. I really wanted to put him on some redfish so we headed down to a favorite spot of mine in Lafourche parish and met Blake and his dad, plus a co-worked of his who is also a yak fisher. The weather was very nice with light winds and intermittent sunshine. There was a storm cell off to the south, but it didn’t look to be moving our way. The tide was a bit higher than my liking and was going to be rising throughout the day.

Dad started the day off hot and caught a trout on the first cast before I even launched, but we couldn’t follow that up with any subsequent trout so we set out for the same flats that I had success at on April 1st. They were in good shape, but not the same as last month. The clarity was much improved due to an abundance of submerged grass, Ruppia maritima or widgeongrass is what it’s called. The redfish weren’t as thick either. Alligator gar had moved in and were spawning. I’ve never seen so many 4-7 ft beasts in one place in my life. At times they were in piles, causing all sorts of commotion. Other times there would be six males chasing one female around ponds without a care in the world, except to procreate. The gar orgy was on and however entertaining it was, it made for some very poor redfishing. The redfish weren’t absent, there were some around, but every cast I made to a red with the fly rod would spook him. They were very wary. I hooked a couple buzzing a soft plastic above the grass and landed one, at 25″, landed a black drum too. I probably should have made the switch to conventional tackle earlier, but the weather was so nice, I felt I had to catch one on the fly. The odds were against me though and those were the only two fish I caught. Dad had similar results but did end up catching a 20″ red and a black drum as well. We had our variety, just not in quantity. To add insult to injury, not far away, Blake and his dad were having a great day catching reds and ended up with 5 apiece. I guess a career at being a guide is not in the cards for me. Still, it was a good day, like I said the weather was nice, it was a great day to be out in a kayak, hopefully next time Dad comes down we’ll have better luck.