Archive for the ‘Fishing – Saltwater’ Category

The Jackson Kayak Cuda!

Posted: November 19, 2011 by RiverCrawler in Fishing - Freshwater, Fishing - Saltwater, General, Hunter King

Well, I finished my research essay, took nearly two weeks, now I am able to write something more interesting than a Critical analysis on Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “The Yellow Wallpaper.” I can write a full review on the Jackson Kayak Cuda!

The Jackson Kayak Cuda hit the market only s short two weeks ago. Many per-orders were placed, and many dealers were awaiting the arrival of the Cuda! I think some dealers were more excited to get the demo boats than the customers were excited to receive their boats. Never the less, everyone was awaiting the arrival of the Jackson Kayak Cuda! Dealers, customers, rival companies, and the Jackson Kayak Fishing Team Members, like me.

Jackson Kayak produced one of the, if not the, best fishing kayak ever in December of last year; this boat was the Coosa! A Drew Gergory creation that swept the market, selling over 2000 boats in under a year. As a fishing team member I knew that the 14ft version was in the works just a month after the Coosa went into production; it had no name, we just knew that the team working on it was going to stretch out he Coosa into a flat water fishing machine. So we sat back and watched as the boat began to take shape. I visited the factory to see the very first molded prototype. I knew from then on it could only get better.

What I saw was a whole new design, had nothing to do with the Coosa, but it was going to get rigged like a Coosa and I liked it. We received updates for months about what was going on, and we could not share them with the public it was hard not to click the share button on facebook, or copy and paste a picture to a forum. My only weapon was word of mouth, and I had to keep some of it quite also.

Then the day came where it was time to share it with the world, well what you could see of it through the brush around the lake. Once people saw that the boat was in fact 14ft long and that it was going to go into production the forums exploded! Every forum I frequented had a thread about the new Jackson boat, still a nameless creation.  Between the Jackson Kayak Fishing Team Guys we had close to 30 names picked for the boat, and it needed a name quick before it hit the Outdoor Retail Show to be shown of at the Jackson booth. So Barracuda naturally was the name that it got stuck with, since a barracuda is one mean hunter, and goes after anything it can eat, it fit the boat that had the same attitude; but to stick with Coosa we shortened it to the Cuda!

The next day it was at the Outdoor Retail Show, it was instantly a success! Many people stopped bye and made videos of the prototype and talked with Drew Gregory. This was the first time the Jackson Kayak Cuda was exposed, and was not taken from behind a bush! This video was by Rapid Media, and rapid they were, quickly sharing the boat with 5000 views on YouTube! And again the forums erupted. And back to the front line went the JK Fishing Team, armed with proposed specs, weights, photos, and even the specs of the 2012 Coosa! So many new features were coming out we had our work cut out for us.

Then it was time for the Pre-orders, many were placed; so many in fact that there are still pre-ordered boats being molded.

I had the liberty of going the Jackson Factory to pick of my Cuda the Friday after they hit the market. If I am correct I was the second person to get the Cuda, and everyone wanted pictures! So I took many pictures and began showing them to the world!

Now, we make it to the Climax of my Novella where I shut up about the back story and actually get to the review of the boat. Since this what all of you want to hear right? I can let you read my analysis of “They Yellow Wallpaper,” if you wish? No? Okay. Review Time!

My boat spent the first night in my living room. Where I began to photograph and look over the kayak, and prepare to write this review.

First off, the boat only weighs around 75lbs. Not bad at all. When the boat is empty it is perfectly balanced at on the side handle and you can one hand carry the boat as far as you wish.

The hull of the boat mimics that of the Coosa. It has a slight V-hull with la slight pontoon effect. This gives you the best of both worlds:  speed and stability. The scupper holes are again recessed a little bit into a channel keeping any frock from contacting them and causing damage. The bow and stern of the boat have a nice taper making this kayak a sword in the water. It is not nearly as tall as the Coosa, meaning it sits better in the water, and is less effected by the wind.

On to the topside, from bow to stern the layout is the best I have ever seen.

The bow handle, as well as the stern, are tightened by a bungee stopper combo; keeping the handles out of the way. The rod tip cover has a nice set of bungees over it to hold it in place and to store gear on top of it.

Coming back a mere six inches we find the front hatch. A large hatch and leads to a very spacious compartment.

Just behind the hatch we find two large flat spaces for mounting hardware.  Then an awesome ridge with six rod stagers. And then two more large flat mounting spaces.

Right between your feet is a large center hatch that makes getting rods in and out a breeze, plus it is great way to access anything in the belly of the kayak; for example, cameras.  The standing platform around the hatch has 6 scupper holes, plus two under the seat, this allows for maximum drainage when needed, plus the support needed to make a sturdy standing platform. The center hatch has some accessories coming out in the future, so be on the lookout for them.

Next comes the seat; the seat is the famed elite seat. It has two new pockets, one under the seat, and one across the back. There are three seating positions on the Cuda. Low, high, and Fly. The low position is the standard position, keeps you out of the wind. The high gets you up and where you can see, and so you can stand easier. Then comes fly, fly is a new creation and only available on the Cuda; the seat can be moved back to where it rest in the tank well giving you a large place to stand, and lay out your fly line.

The tank well is very spacious, and drains into the scupper holes under the seat.  More flat spaces are available, but the coolest part is the two tackle stagers that are made to hold two boxes upright for easy no look access.

Then come the back hatch, it is a small circle hatch, but you can still stuff gear into it, but nothing special.

I opted out of the rudder system, I will pick one of those up soon. But I spend probably 10 minutes complaining that there was not a drain hole, then I say it! Located that the lowest point on the boat, just under where the rudder will mount, is the best placed drain plug and boat has ever had.

That is about all I have, give me more time in the boat, and we will have videos flying left and right!

Link to the Photo Album on Facebook.

Check out this cool video from my most recent trip to Jupiter FL.

As all fisherman know you have great days and you have bad days. You got to know how to prepare yourself for the best and the worst. If you plan a trip and invest some money be aware your fishing, things can go either way. Neal and I have been lucky enough to take a few beach trips from time to time. We knocked it out of the park on both the first trips to Destin. This year we experience the lows of fishing in Destin with two weeks of nothing but sharks. We were pretty down. When we planned our latest trip to Pompano Beach we went down knowing we were swinging for the fence. Plan was to catch our first sail from a kayak. We knew were looking for just one fish and things may get tough. We didn’t see things being as tough as it was. Spending the first two days preparing for the first Extreme Kayak Tournament, we didn’t get a chance to fish much. We found bait, checked out the launch, and figured out the currents. Yet to have a fish in the boat we launched Saturday morning on the 20th along side 60 other yakers. We trolled the best baits all day and did everything right…no luck! We thought we were doing something seriously wrong, but weigh in proved otherwise. 3 fish were weighed in out of 60 boats. First place was a 28lb king, second 9lb mutton snapper, and third a 6lb blackfin.

All in all the tournament was a blast, met a lot of new fisherman and I am sure Ill be fishing with some of them in future. Joe did a great job with the tournament and captains meeting! I have to say the greatest part was the safety boat from The safety boat checked on us atleast six times giving us water and making sure everything was ok. Never felt safer in 2-4 foot swells with ripping current before. An hour into the tournament a fellow angler flip his boat and began to take on water. Over a mile offshore we couldn’t do much to help, but the safety boat arrived quickly and helped him from the water. Hated seeing the guy flip and lose some gear, but thanks to great tournament planning he was in great hands the whole time.

With a day and half left of fishing we decided to change gears. Grabbing our bass rods we headed for Miami to take on some Peacocks. I had battled them earlier in the year and caught a few small fish. This time I was hoping for a decent fish with great colors…we didn’t slay them, but I did manage to get the fish I was looking for!

On the last day we decided to head home early, but not without one last shot at some florida fishing. Brian Nelli with Pushin’ Water Kayak Charters a fellow team mate on was fishing in the offshore tournament and had recommend some inshore fishing. He agreed to take us out after some snook, trout, reds, and flounder. He was freaking awesome not just telling us to fish this flat or those mangroves, but telling us exactly which breaks and drop offs to hit. A very detailed and educated guide, Brain, put us on the fish. We knew the fish were there, but struggled to get bites. Brian quickly landed a nice trout and lost another bigger fish. I had some blow ups, but failed to hook up. As the sun came up above the mangroves we changed tactics to flipping the edges of mangroves. Looking for snook or reds we worked our way around the flats. As Brian points out a nice point between two mangrove patches, I flipped my DOA Terror Eyz silver glitter with black back right on the point, before I even turned a crank on the reel I felt a fish smash the DOA. Setting the hook I felt and odd tug back. I had know idea what this fish was I knew based on the fight it couldn’t be a redfish or snook. He was dogging me down trying to stay on the bottom. Then I saw him, a nice flounder! I was stoked. This was a fish I didn’t really expect to catch, but really hoped to find. This nice 17inch flounder is a first from the kayak for me!

Cutting the trip short we took out and had lunch with Brian before hitting the road.

If you ever interested in fishing Florida I highly recommend Brian! Great guy, very professional, and one amazing fisherman!

Brian Nelli
Pushin’ Water Kayak Charters

Two nice Spadefish caught off a wreck in Desin, FL

Last year I left the comfort of my home waters in search of something more powerful than freshwater could provide. Neal Brantner and I spent 4 days last May in Grayton Beach, FL learning about King Mackerel fishing offshore. We had one epic trip catching 20-30lb Kings that smoked our reels over and over again. I promised myself and Neal that we would relive the adventure.

May 8th, 2011 Neal and I set off on a road trip from East TN back to Grayton Beach. We fished our last exams, loaded the car, and were off. Camping at Grayton Beach State Park for the next two weeks we expanded our skills and knowledge of saltwater fishing.

The first two days we experience the lows of fishing and only produced a few spinner sharks which provide some much needed entertainment. However it wasn’t the game fish we were looking for. The Kings and Cobia were just gone. After talking to locals and guides it was pretty obivious the Kings were just not around.

Plan B. I picked up my Lowrance Elite 5 just for the trip so we could try our hand at wreck fishing for Grouper and Snapper. So after plugging in some coordinates we launched from the beach. Jackson Team member Sarah Meier and husband Jeremy tanged along on our first outing to a wreck less than a mile from the white sandy beach in Destin, FL. We sabiki some bait and began fishing. Picking up a few small fish quick, but nothing to amount to anything. As the sun came up we began seeing silver flashes under the kayaks and then a large school of Spadefish appeared. Suspended above the wreck in about ten feet of water we began to target them. One after another we caught them for hours. Fifteen to twenty Spades later our arms gave in and we decided to paddle back for the day. Pound for pound these five to ten pound fish faught harder than any other fish I have caught.

Hour long battles are a common theme off the beach!

Neal and I felt like we were on to something with the wrecks so we decided to switch our focus over to bottom fishing. The only problem is it required early mornings, long paddles, and good weather.


After taking some time off to catch up on sleep and regroup we decided to hit the beach again since the weather wasn’t right for the wrecks. We trolled two miles off the beach in search of Kings in deeper water, but still no luck. On the troll back in we were pretty down when all of a sudden my line jumps. An odd strike on the line just jerk it softly I wans’t sure I even had a fish. The I looked back just in time to see a small fish leap from the water. First thoughts was its a Spanish Mackerel…moments later another jump…MAHI!!! A dream coming true I reeled in the small Dorado (Mahi Mahi). Finally a fish worth while. My first Mahi from the kayak at only six pounds was a true trophy to me. In the ice box he went just to be grilled up an hour later. Argueable the best eating fish you can find the Mahi produced one the best camp fire meals I have experience.

My first Mahi Mahi from a kayak!
One of the most beautiful fish in the sea!
This Spinner Shark dragged us into 6ft surf!

The highlight of the trip came from one of the many Spinner Sharks we hooked up. It was the very first day not even an hour into fishing when Neal hooks up. Neal screams “Fish On!” and suddenly gets jerked around 180 degrees. I paddle over as fast as I can and try to get pictures but the shark just pulls him rapidly away from me. Mounted over my shoulder was a GoPro Hero that I had totally forgot about that captured one of the greatest and scariest moments I have experienced on the water…..