Archive

Tag Archives: Josh Tidwell

The next two days were spent fishing and filming in Grand Isle.  Along with Brooks and Jameson from JK Media House I also had the pleasure of getting back on the water with Josh Tidwell, who runs a kayak outfitter near Gadsden called Big Wills Outfitters.  Josh is a good dude, I’ve known him for a long time; well since that one year I lived in Alabama post-college.  He’s the man to see if you want a Jackson Kayak in Northeast Alabama.  After seeing bull reds caught the last two days, my hopes were high that we’d be able to net a few more, only this time on camera.

We were fishing out of the new Cuda HDs, which is the reason Brooks and Jameson were down in Louisiana, to get some good footage of the new boats.  We started the day off throwing topwater at points and around rock piles getting blow ups from small trout.  Hook ups were infrequent though and we moved on toward the marsh.  I knew these guys came down to catch redfish, not load up on small trout, but it’s hard to pass up likely trout spots, you never where that 24″+ gator trout is laid up.  After coming around a big point and through a big bay I got to a bayou that runs through some marsh and saw a familiar site of shrimp popping along the grass where a red was attacking bait.  After a decent cast it was fish on!

IMG_0156

IMG_0154

It was a nice mid-slot red, Jameson was there to film a little of it, I was happy to get on the board and even more excited that they were feeding.  I started making my way further up the bayou and then Jameson gets a call that Brooks has a fish on and it’s a big one – right off that big point I just passed.  I worked the area before moving through, but just like James the day before, I passed the area a little too early and missed a shot at a big fish.  Got to be in the right place at the right time.

img_0302(Jameson Redding – JK Media House)

It was awesome to hear that a bull red was caught and Jameson was able to paddle back and take some pics. While they were busy over there, I had stumbled into a pile of little trout in the bayou and was picking through the throwbacks.  Mixed in were a few rat reds as well.  It was a nice little flurry of activity, but eventually the action tapered off.  Soon the rest of the gang caught back up to me and we fished the interior marsh off that bayou until it was getting late.   We headed back as the sun was setting, stopping to fish those trout spots, ya know, just in case.

img_0303(Brooks Beatty – JK Media House)

IMG_0157

After a late night, with some uncoordinated Onewheel action, we bid farewell the next day to Josh and the rest of the Alabama crew, but welcomed Bart Swab from St. Augustine, Florida.  Bart operates a kayak charter business over there called Action Kayak Adventures, they do fishing trips and eco-tours.  Bart was pretty stoked to be down in redfish country and was looking forward to catching a few on the fly.  This would be the best weather day of the trip so I thought he’d have a great opportunity of doing just that.  I was able to stick around for the morning and fish, but I’d be leaving early in the day to head back to Baton Rouge.  This was my last opportunity at bull red glory.

IMG_0159

We headed back to the same spot and the weather today let us fish a new pond that was getting hammered by wind the day before.  As soon as we hit that pond I saw a big, bright, orange pumpkin float to the surface, but after reaching for a rod he submarined and I was left fan casting the area just hoping he’d see my bait.  I came up empty there, but it didn’t take long for Bart to find a little school of reds and as he hooked up he hollered over to me to come catch another one and this time my cast was true and we were doubled up!

img_0299(Brooks Beatty – JK Media House)

It was very cool to get that double, which was the start to a pretty good week for Bart, as he’d move with the guys the next day from Grand Isle to Point-aux-Chenes where the weather and fish continued to cooperate from what I understand.  I pushed on sight fishing the big pond and eventually did see another good bull red.  This time I was able to make a good cast, then another good cast, and finally a third good cast, the fish just didn’t eat.  I couldn’t believe that I finally had a great opportunity to catch a bull and the damn fish didn’t want to eat!  Jameson on the other hand had hung around that area I saw that first bull red and saw the fish again, this time he was able to get it to eat and for the fifth time in four days someone I was fishing with had landed a bull red.

img_0304(Brooks Beatty – JK Media House)

bulls

Five bull reds, four different fishing partners – I was turning into quite the guide.  It was getting to be that time when I was needing to head out, so I bid everyone adieu and before I hit the big open water, I made one last stop to a flat to see if anyone was home.  Lucky for me a few fish were home and a junior bull was my consolation prize.  Of course it came when the professional cameras weren’t around, but I was happy to at least catch one over-slot fish in Grand Isle.

IMG_0164

DCIM100GOPRO

The Cuda HD is another winner from Jackson Kayak.  The hull is fantastic, it’s a very stable boat that tracks well and is fairly quick.  It’s not Kraken fast, but that’s not what the Cuda HD is designed to do.  This is an inshore boat and it’s going to be a great one.  The redesigned front hatch is very nice and simple to use and there is no shortage of built-in rod storage options.  It’s a tad on the heavy side for a 13′ boat at 85 lbs, so cartopping just means you’ll have to lift one end at a time.

The past four days were a blast!  Fishing was very productive for the Alabama crew and it was just starting to heat up for the Jackson guys.  I had a great time fishing with so many different people, but maybe had more fun just hanging out with everyone at night, just shooting the shit under the camp.  It’s trips and tournaments like this that make kayak fishing so special.

 

I don’t believe I’ve ever fished for a fish where you count follows.  A follow meaning the fish following the bait to the boat.  I’ve counted strikes before when fishing and I’ve counted fish that have “long distance released” themselves, but never follows.  I learned last week that in musky fishing you count follows.  Otherwise what do you have to show for when you fish for them?  When you fish for the “fish of a thousand casts” you have to keep the optimism, counting follows makes sense, it helps to keep you casting and helps to keep that bait in the water.

I did a float last Sunday up in Tennessee with fellow Jackson teammates Chris Funk and Josh Tidwell.  Josh, having fished for musky a handful of times was our resident expert, which wasn’t saying a whole lot (no offense to Josh, I think he’ll understand), but he was the only one of us who had ever actually touched one.  We didn’t get too early of a start, getting a good breakfast in us before hitting the water.  We had heard a different section of the river we planned to hit was blown out, so we were a little nervous about the condition, but upon arrival it was in great condition, we would have a good day, even if we didn’t catch anything. which is entirely possible in musky fishing.  It was a little low, but clarity was excellent, with just the slightest of stain to it and all more important no one was at the put-in or the take-out – the water was all ours.

I have previously fished for musky before.  One time, four years ago, same stretch of water actually.  It was when Jackson first came out with the Coosa and a bunch of the OG fishing team guys went to the factory to find out a little more about the boat and this whitewater company that was making it.  We had a huge group on the float and none of us really knew what we were doing.  I remember getting a bite from something, probably a smallie, and that was it.  Not very memorable, other than it was the first time any of us had floated in the Coosa, or even in a Jackson Kayak at all.  I trusted that Drew knew what he was doing when he designed this boat and rolled the dice.  Fast forward to today and I am super happy to have made that decision, it has been a lot of fun being a part of the Jackson team and the boats just keep getting better and better.

Because of our slow day last time and because I really haven’t thought about musky fishing in the four years since that first trip – I really didn’t have high hopes of even seeing one, even though Josh was saying, “we will at least see one”.  Imagine my surprise when not fifteen minutes into our trip Josh is hooked up and it’s a musky.  Fish of a thousand casts my ass.  It was a juvenile fish, maybe around 24″, but it was really cool to actually see one up close and to know that it really was possible.  Unfortunately for me, he caught him on a walk-the-dog style bait and all my walk-the-dog style baits were in a saltwater box back in Louisiana.  Josh hooked up with musky below:

IMG_3538

The musky fishing quieted down after that fish and brought us back to reality.  More typical musky fishing took over and we began counting follows whenever we could get them.  I had two throughout the day with a near hook-up boat-side on a figure 8 retrieve with a buzzbait.  I finally got a solid eat almost within sight of the take out – a testament to the “fish of a thousand casts” moniker.  I was throwing a black/blue chatterbait hoping for musky or smallies when I got a vicious eat near the bank.  I saw the giant musky head shake and when I reared back to set the hook it came back limp.  He easily broke me off as I wasn’t fishing wire tippet.  It was enough to get the adrenaline pumping and to give me a fish story I can tell the rest of my life, where the subject keeps growing as I get older.  Right now I’ve got him at around 36″, but by the time I die that musky will be damn near 72″.

Conditions were excellent for the first half of our float, everything was beautiful, unfortunately the skies opened up on the second half.  Smallie fishing was pretty good throughout and the rock bass were on fire for Chris.  That man can flat work a jig, he was picking up fish left and right, especially right along any bluff wall.  I didn’t land too many of my fish, but managed to boat a nice smallie who hit a buzzbait pretty much on impact with the water.  I learned on this trip that I fish way too fast for freshwater.  Chris landed a couple personal best smallmouth and had a few heart stopping moments with musky as well.

IMG_3540

IMG_3541

IMG_3543

IMG_3545

It was a good float and like Josh said, we did end up seeing some musky.  I’d love to have that one that ate back, that would have really been something special, but I wasn’t prepared and I paid for it.  I know better than that.  That was the first time I’ve fished with Chris and I’ve got to say, it is a hoot!  You’ll never meet anyone out there on the water that has more fun than that guy.  He has jokes for days too, which goes a long way in a good fishing partner.  Chris is an excellent photographer, so I didn’t really take too many, knowing that he would have better quality shots.

Back at camp we had just enough time to change clothes before we headed off to EJ’s house for a little pre-summit social.  It was a pleasant surprise to see that Jackson teamed up with Ninkasi Brewing out of Oregon and they had several of their craft brews available for us to partake.  Good people, good beer, and good food are the elements of a great party and the Jackson’s always hit on all parts.

IMG_3546