For 2015 I’ve opted to paddle the new Jackson Coosa HD, one of Jackson’s newest fishing kayak models along with the Kraken. As much as I enjoyed the Jackson Kilroy that I borrowed from Wildcat Creek Outfitters (WCO) last fall, I was curious about the Coosa HD due to all of the hype it was getting and had to get a look at it for myself. While working the WCO booth at the Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel show I was able to not only see the HD, but also spend some time in the cockpit before the doors opened that Saturday morning. To say I was impressed is a huge understatement and I knew the HD would be my choice of kayak for the 2015 season. Since ordering and receiving my HD in the new GI Jackson color (pictures from the show are of an HD in the Dorado color), I’ve spent some time on the water with it, but we’ll get to that in a bit. First, let me walk you through what I feel is one of the most versatile fishing kayaks on the market, the Jackson Kayak Coosa HD.
A Drew Gregory signature kayak, the HD was designed with Drew’s input. However, the designers at Jackson had a large hand in making Drew’s ideas come to life and they knocked it out of the ballpark on this one. The idea behind the HD was to upgrade the old style Coosa, a strong seller in the Jackson line up and a great river kayak. The design team had the idea of offering a model that was a bit more versatile for those of us who fish more open water such as lakes or inshore saltwater flats, as well as rivers. They also wanted a kayak that was rich with features and the HD is exactly that.
Starting at the front (or bow for you boat lovers), the first thing that your eye will catch is the large front hatch. This thing is so big that you can easily carry several days worth of gear on a multiple night camping/fishing trip (such as a trip down the Devil’s River in Texas…hint, hint, hint guys). With a nice seal around the hatch and bungee to hold the hinged lid down tight, no doubt all of your gear will stay nice and dry. Although I haven’t tested it for myself, I’m sure you could fit your rods down there too if need be.
You’ll also quickly notice that all of the bungee enclosures are equipped with these great JK pull tabs. They might look like a simple feature, but man are they ever nice for hooking and unhooking bungee cords!
Next up, if you look on both sides of the front hatch, are the rod tip covers. Designed to protect your rod tips from catching on obstructions, these things saved my fly rod on my very first trip out in the HD.
Looking at the entire cockpit area, you’ll notice Jackson provided the cushioning on the floor of the cockpit area. This stuff is great for both comfort and silencing noise. You can also see on the inside of the cockpit and to the right, the sheath for the included Splizzors by Buck Knives. These things are awesome! They work as everything from pliers to braided line cutters, and from a bottle opener to split shot crimps. Look them up at http://www.buckknives.com. The Splizzors themselves are not in this pic due to the safety of having them on the display kayak at the show, but you can see how they easily mount inside the HD’s cockpit with simple thumbscrews, keeping them easily within reach when you need them. Of course, as you can see in this picture and like all Jackson fishing kayaks, rod holders are included. There’s plenty of gear track on the HD to position your rod holders and other accessories right where you want them. Last but not least and something I’ve already used numerous times, is the stand assist strap. Gotta have it for those times when you need to get up out of the seat and do some fly fishing!
But what about that fancy center console you ask? Let’s take a look at that. The first thing you’ll notice about the center console is that it has a handy center compartment for storing smaller items such as your cell phone, keys, etc. When unlatching the center console’s bungee and lifting up, you’ll see that it easily folds up to provide access to an area molded in the floor of the HD specifically for your fish finder battery and a dedicated scupper hole for a transducer, not to mention a spot for the included Jackson Nalgene water bottle. See what I mean? These guys thought of it all! Well, it gets better. If you look at the underside of the center console, you’ll notice a spooling station for keeping leader material handy and at the ready. Pretty handy huh! To top it all off, and those of you who fly fish will like this, the entire center console is completely removable with a couple of thumbscrews to provide you with a more open deck. I’ve fly fished a few times from the HD and haven’t found the center console to be much of an issue, but I definitely will take it out on future trips I’m sure.
On the front and back of the HD are the standard handles for carrying the kayak, but on the left and right side of this model you’ll see that they added some material for padding. This makes carrying the HD’s 79 pounds (without the seat) a tad more comfortable. Also in the below picture, you’ll see one of the bungee straps that are on both sides of the HD to hold your fishing rods in place while the tips are in the rod tip protectors.
This brings us to what has become my absolute favorite feature of the HD, the seat. Jackson’s new Elite Seat 3.0 provides the comfort one would expect from a Jackson fishing kayak, and then some. Included with the seat is an inflatable Therm-A-Rest lumbar support that maximizes comfort and lets you adjust the seat to your personal preference. I feel most kayak anglers underestimate the importance of a comfortable seat by failing to recognize that the more comfortable you are, the longer you’ll stay in the kayak and on the water. Of course the longer you’re in your kayak and on the water, the better your chances of catching fish are. Underneath the Elite Seat 3.0, you’ll see storage pockets for the two included waterproof Plano 3640 tackle boxes. We all know you can never have too many 3640’s for your favorite lures! The tackle boxes can also, if you wish, be stored under the seat on the floor or upright in the molded in pockets on both sides of the seat. On the back of the Elite Seat 3.0 you’ll notice the familiar mesh storage pocket which comes in pretty handy for storing more tackle trays, rain gear, or other items you want to easily access while on the water.
Of course the HD’s seat can easily be put in either a high or low position like the older model Jackson seats, and I find the high position to be my favorite thanks to the HD’s amazing stability (more on that in a bit). However, all of the Elite Seat’s features that I’ve mentioned previously are not the reasoning it has become my favorite feature of this model. Rather it’s the versatility and option to move the seat forward and aft to adjust the trim of the HD that really trips my trigger. If fishing a river, you can put the seat all the way back to loosen up the front of the hull for easier handling and maneuverability. Yet, if you’re going to do like I did the other day and paddle for hours on end while trolling for crappie or simply have a lot of water to cover to get to your favorite spot, you can put the seat more forward for easier paddling. Personally I’ve found my favorite spot is with the seat in the middle of the trim settings and in the high position. This is, for a guy my size anyway, a nice balance between handling and speed on just about any body of water.
Moving back, we’ll find two (one on each side, just slightly behind the seat) flush mount rod holders. With these and the rod stagers (bungees and rod tip protectors) along the sides of the HD, you can easily carry four rods if you so wish without any problems at all. My Sage 8 weight fly rod is a bit long, but it still rides easily in one of the rod stagers while my baitcasting and spinning rods ride in these flush mounts.
The tank well of the HD is the perfect size for a standard milk crate, Jackson J Krate, Orion cooler, or the many other options out there for us kayak anglers. My favorite feature of the tank well are the new turn knobs on the gear track, making it easy to adjust the tank well bungee easily instead of having to mess with getting a screwdriver. Super easy and convenient, even while on the water.
On the left side of the tank well (as you sit in the seat of the HD), is where the included YakAttack Boom Stick cameral pole sits. Super adjustable, the Boom Stick is a welcome feature for those of us who video our fishing trips and want a camera mount with more than just one angle option.
Moving to the stern of the Coosa HD, we come to the rear hatch. Once again, plenty of space for getting inside the hull of the HD and storing lots of extra gear, while at the same time keeping it all dry with the bungee secured, hinged lid.
Last but not least, I love the way the stern of the HD is molded. Remember when I said the design team thought of everything? Check this out. The crew at Jackson shaped the stern to both be drag chain ready for those of you who use one and capable of accepting a Micro Power Pole without the need of modification for those of you who want to go that route. Pretty dang sweet, huh!
So that’s a look at the 2015 Jackson Coosa HD. Now that you’re familiar with this feature rich model from my favorite kayak manufacturer, you’re probably wondering how does the HD perform right? The HD paddles pretty similar to the Kilroy with the Kilroy being maybe slightly faster due to it weighing considerably less than the HD. However, the HD is plenty fast for me and paddles easily enough that four hours of trolling for crappie didn’t wear me out whatsoever. It’s not going to paddle as fast as the new Kraken of course, but what it lacks in speed it definitely makes up for in stability. The Coosa HD is, to me anyway, right in between the Jackson Big Rig and the Kilroy on the stability chart. I’ve heard the HD referred to as a little Big Rig and I think that’s a very fair comparison. I’m 45 years old, 250 pounds and a bit “top heavy” if ya know what I mean, yet I feel perfectly comfortable standing in the HD and casting a fly rod. I can’t say that about too many kayaks on the market today. Whether your sight casting to redfish on a saltwater flat or fly fishing for northern pike on a Canadian lake, if you want a stable kayak then this is one for you to check out. However, don’t take my word for it. Do yourself a favor and get to your nearest Jackson dealer (see http://www.jacksonkayak.com to find yours) to test paddle the new Coosa HD. If you’re close to Indiana, be sure to visit the guys at Wildcat Creek Outfitters just north of Indianapolis. They’ll treat you right and answer any questions you might have about the HD or any of the Jackson fishing model line up.
As always, if you have any comments or questions, feel free to shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org Until next time, safe paddling and tight lines!
Since my first year kayak fishing, some gear has come and gone. I’ve owned/sold four kayaks over the past few years, changed personal floatation devices twice, upgraded my rod/reel collection, broken at least three pairs of sunglasses, bought a dozen different hats, grown my collection of fat boy sized performance shirts and purchased or lost more lures than I care to count. However, through it all, one piece of gear has stayed with me throughout that time. Until recently that is.
With my desire to purchase a new Jackson Kayak Coosa HD, I needed/wanted to sell my current kayak. I found a buyer when my daughter Katelyn bought it for her boyfriend Dakota. I gave them a good deal, but wanted to do more since I love my kids and Dakota is one of those rare boyfriends that a father actually approves of. Knowing he needed a paddle for his new ride and knowing that I would be purchasing a Bending Branches Angler Pro paddle this spring, I reluctantly included my beloved Aqua Bound Manta Ray carbon paddle with the purchase. I know this sounds silly, but saying goodbye to the kayak was no sweat. Saying goodbye to that Manta Ray, however, just about broke my heart. You see, that paddle and I have been through a lot together the past three or four years, and I felt like I was saying goodbye to a dear friend. Weird, huh.
Together, my AquaBound Manta Ray and I have fished all over northeastern Indiana, fished a tournament in southern Michigan, explored some inland lakes in the upper peninsula and chased saltwater species in Florida. The Manta Ray laid loyally in the floor of my kayak as I caught bass, trout, crappie, redfish, bluegill, catfish, rock bass, northern pike and maybe a couple more species I can’t recall.
This paddle, with it’s sleek all black finish, has seen much abuse. The paddle blades have dulled just a little bit, received the occasional facelift by the addition of decals, and they have a few battle scars from our adventures. I’ve used the Manta Ray to push off of rocks, stumps, oyster bars, barnacle covered bridge pilings, piers, sandbars, boat launches and other kayaks. I’ve used it as a push pole, a lure retriever, an axe (that was a rough day) and a stake out pole. It’s lifted more fish into the boat than I can remember and untangled my line from lily pad stems on just about every trip into my favorite fishing hole. It’s startled dolphins swimming beside my kayak and frightened carp in the shallows. Ah yes, good times for sure.
I’ve asked a lot of my paddle over the past few years and it’s delivered without question on every occasion. Never once did it fail me, no matter how much abuse I put it through and I have no doubt it will serve Dakota for many, many years to come. I’m sure Dakota and I will share many fishing adventures together in the near future. I’ll be using my new Bending Branches Angler Pro, which will no doubt take the same abuse as the old Manta Ray. However, I’m sure I’ll look over and smile the first time that Dakota uses the Manta Ray to retrieve his crankbait from a maple tree overhanging the river. Especially if it’s my crankbait he’s using.
Indeed, that AquaBound Manta Ray paddle served me well. I am truly going to miss it.
After getting skunked by the walleyes last weekend, I was more than ready to fish in the big city with Mike & Kyle again this weekend for another chance at ’em. We met up at 10 a.m., this time with another friend James. Mike had told me James was the “Walleye Whisperer” and he was right. James ended up with 6 or 7 fish while Mike & Kyle each caught 3 or 4 again. I had one reeled in right up beside my kayak, but it came unhooked right before I could net him.
As the day wore on, I was starting to think I would be getting skunked again. Then suddenly the line was tight and a fish was hooked on the white crankbait I was throwing. Soon enough I had my first walleye from a kayak landed and photos were taken.
It was another awesome day on the water with good friends, in a place I am becoming quite fond of, chasing a fish I’ve learned to admire. Enjoy the video!
This past Monday I found myself with the day off of work and with the temps forecasted to reach sixty degrees, I figured it would be a great chance for a solo trip on my favorite stretch of river. As I’ve written in previous posts, this particular stretch holds quite a few northern pike and smallmouth bass during the summer months, so I was pretty excited to try it during the fall. I thought for sure the larger pike would be cruising and not held up in the many downfalls and log jams that dotted the river. Boy was I wrong.
I hooked my first fish, a little smallmouth bass, within the first half hour or so of fishing. My excitement level jumped up a notch as I thought for sure it was a sign of fish to come. However, not a single other fish hit until I was paddling my way back upriver to the launch. Another small fish, this time a hammer handle sized northern pike, struck the lure with ferocity but was still far from the fight I was hoping for.
A couple of things to take away from this trip that are of note; first, the Jackson Kilroy is an absolute great river kayak, of which I had no doubt. This was my first trip with it on a river and it didn’t disappoint. I know I keep repeating it but, brand loyalty aside, this is one very versatile and underestimated kayak. If you are in Indiana, do yourself a favor and stop by Wildcat Creek Outfitters (www.wildcatcreekoutfitters.com) in Zionsville, Indiana for a test paddle. I think you’ll be impressed with the Kilroy. Second, while the fishing wasn’t what I was hoping for, the solitude of floating a river this time of year is fantastic and very refreshing. The only company I had during my float was whitetail deer, wood ducks, turtles and a few squirrels who stopped foraging for acorns long enough to watch me slip past.
I did manage to get some video footage, trying some new angles just to mix it up a bit, but of course the fishing action is a bit lacking. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy the video I’ve put together and soon find yourself enjoying an autumn day on the river. Tight lines!
I’m very blessed in that my wife shares my passion for kayak fishing. So it wasn’t surprising to me when, on a recent Sunday evening, she told me she was taking Monday off of work and wanted us to go fishing in the morning. I don’t know about you, but that’s a honey-do list I can handle!
I had to work in the afternoon so we planned a quick morning trip to a lake that is one of our favorites here in northeastern Indiana. The lake holds some crappie, bluegill and decent numbers of largemouth bass. Most importantly though, the 50 acre lake is surrounded by wooded hillsides that make up a local DNR property and this time of year the autumn colors really add to the already beautiful scenery.
We woke up early, loaded up the truck and were on the lake shortly after sunrise. My wife didn’t waste any time and was fishing not far from the boat launch, hoping to catch some bluegill for dinner. I had my mind set on trolling small crankbaits for crappie while paddling the Jackson Kayak Kilroy that I had borrowed from my local dealer. I am in between kayaks, so my dealer was nice enough to let me borrow one of their demos for the fall. This is giving me a chance to really test the Kilroy and I can’t say enough how impressed I am with this kayak.
The first few hours of the morning were spent paddling the lake hoping to find some crappies, or even a hungry bass, but to no avail. My wife was having the same lack of luck that I was, so she opted to paddle south and try the opposite end of the lake. I worked my way down to her, trolling the entire way (the Kilroy really paddles nice), to see if she had found any fish. On the way to her, a trio of swans took to the air and passed over me, a beautiful sight in the early morning hours.
My wife was still fishless, so I told her I was going to paddle back into “The Hole”. “The Hole” is a really small pond sized body of water that is joined to the 50 acre lake by a small channel. A few summers ago, when we were having a drought here in the Midwest, I watched a guy in a jon boat unable to make it through the channel due to the water being so shallow. His outboard motor was throwing mud and he had to eventually back out. I chuckled to myself as I later paddled through the channel in my kayak. I spent the rest of that summer having “The Hole” all to myself and catching 18 to 20 inch largemouth one after another. As you can imagine, “The Hole” is one of my favorite places to fish from a kayak and is always good for a bass or two or three or four…well, you get the picture.
I fished for fifteen minutes or so, without any luck, when my wife came paddling back into “The Hole” as well. We were running out of time when I spotted a fish swirl the surface, grabbing something off the top of the water. I wasn’t sure if it was a bass or one of the lakes numerous gar, but I cast a paddle tailed soft plastic to the spot in hopes of finding out. A few twitches of my rod later, and WHAM! It wasn’t a big fish, later measuring 16 inches, but the largemouth sure put up a nice little fight. My wife snapped some photos quick, the fish was released for another day and we decided to call it a day.
While the fishing wasn’t spectacular, the company and scenery was awesome. It just doesn’t get much better than that on a Monday morning!
I get asked a lot about my kayak and with so many people in our area new to the sport, I thought I would take you readers on a little walkthrough of my Slayer 14.5 by Native Watercraft. The Native Slayer was created as a sit on top version of their popular Ultimate series sit inside kayaks. Native Watercraft asked their customers what kind of features they would want in a sit on top fishing kayak, the customers responded, Native listened and the Slayer was born. Having been on the market for a year or so now, the Slayer is offered in 12′ and 14.5′ paddle versions as well as their very popular Slayer Propel 13 peddle kayak. Hitting the market this year, as I’ve written in a past post, is the Slayer Propel 10, which once again I think will make a great river fishing kayak. A lot of the features I’m going to discuss below on the Slayer 14.5 are the same on the other models, so keep that in mind if you’re shopping for a shorter kayak. Let’s get started with the front of the boat, shall we?
The first thing you’ll notice about the bow of the Native is the handle placement. The designers at Native really did a nice job with creating the handles on this kayak. I’ve owned kayaks with poor handle placement and/or bungee cord style handles in the past and trust me, a good handle is important when loading/unloading your kayak or especially when portaging around obstacles in a river.
Moving back we find one of the reasons I opted to buy the Slayer, the open front hatch. I’ve found that I use the open front hatch a LOT more than I ever did the enclosed hull storage style compartment that was on my last kayak. It’s easily accessible and I’ve tossed everything in there from extra clothing on those cooler mornings to a cooler holding lunch for all day trips. I’ve even put the scuppers in, filled the compartment with some lake water and kept a few fish for dinner in there when I’ve forgotten the fish cooler at home. Speaking of fish coolers, Native makes a soft sided cooler bag that fits perfectly in this front hatch as well as an optional cover if you want to enclose it. You’ll notice on both sides of the front hatch, as well as most of the Slayer, are gear tracks for adding accessories like rod holders, camera mounts, etc.
Next we come to the part of the kayak where you spend your time, the cockpit. Once again Native did a great job with the design here, leaving the cockpit area open for those of us who fly fish from our kayaks. There is very little here for fly line to catch on and the open area makes standing to fish much more comfortable. Non slip padding, a molded in cup holder, bungee for a tackle box or tray and yet more gear track make the Slayer’s cockpit perfect for long days on the water. Of course, no fishing kayak is complete without a YakAngler decal (sold at http://www.yakangler.com).
A nice feature for those of you who use a depth/fish finder is the electronics console. The console cover is easily removed with thumbscrews unveiling open access to the inside of the hull for running your wires and storing your battery. Gear track on the console cover makes mounting your electronics super easy.
Finally, we come to the feature that is at the top of my favorite feature list and one whose importance is often overlooked by rookies to the sport, the seat. Having owned a Native Ultimate 14.5 before, I knew Native’s seats were comfy but they did an even better job with the Slayer’s seat. I can’t stress enough how important it is to be comfortable all day. An angler who isn’t comfortable is going to quit fishing long before someone who is comfy, and you can’t catch fish if you’re not on the water fishing. It’s just that simple. The longest I’ve spent in my Slayer without getting out is 10 hours. That’s a long time! Having a comfy seat, stability to stand to stretch my legs and of course biting fish made the day fly by without my wanting to quit. The Slayer’s seat has a high and low position and lots of adjustment via the straps. I wasn’t too sure how stable I would feel with the seat in the high position, as my last kayak was very tippy when the seat was up, but the Slayer is just as stable in the high position as it is the low. The day I spent on the river with the WCO Kayak Fishing Team, I spent half of the float with the seat up and really enjoyed it.
Behind the seat is a neat little water tight compartment for holding your keys, cell phone, extra lures or in my case the scupper plugs that I’m not using at the time. The compartment tray or bucket comes out easily allowing easy access to various points should you need to run wiring or drill holes for accessory mounting.
The rear tankwell is, as you can see, very spacious and perfect for your crate and gear. Plenty of included bungee cord keeps things in place and within easy reach. Native added molded in areas for a bucket or crate and the area is big enough should I ever decide to take my Labrador retriever duck hunting from this kayak. With a 450 pound max capacity on the Slayer 14.5, that shouldn’t be a problem if I can keep knothead from jumping out for a swim.
One final feature to discuss is the wheel on the stern of the Slayer. It doesn’t look like much, but I can’t say enough how handy that wheel has been when I’m pulling the kayak out of the garage, pulling it down to a boat ramp, walking it out onto a pier or in one case dragging it from the water’s edge across a grass park and to the parking lot. While the wheel isn’t much help and actually is kind of a hindrance in soft sand, here in Indiana I can’t imagine not having it. If I ever fish where I’ll have to launch from a beach or something, the wheel easily removes with two screws.
There ya go, a look at the Native Slayer 14.5. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at indianayakfish at outlook dot com and I’ll help best I can. For more info, on the Native Slayer and other Native kayaks, check out http://www.nativewatercraft.com If you’re interested in purchasing a kayak or in the area and want to test paddle one, be sure to give the guys at http://www.wildcatcreekoutfitters.com in Zionsville, Indiana a call. The guys there are great to deal with and will treat you right.
A week ago last Saturday four of us from the Wildcat Creek Outfitters (http://www.wildcatcreekoutfitters.com/) Kayak Fishing Team met up to float a river here in northeastern Indiana that I had never been on. WCO team member Kyle H. had been on it a few times and was having good luck with smallmouth bass and northern pike. Having never caught a northern pike from a kayak and with the thought of fishing new territory on my mind, I was pretty pumped up for this day to begin.
We arrived at the launch site at about 8 a.m. I had already met Kyle H. and Kyle P. previously, but was able to finally meet Tom S. in person and was looking forward to fishing with these guys. We had looked on the Indiana DNR’s website to find that our intended float was supposedly a 4 hour trip, but we figured it would take 5 or 6 hours seeing that we were going to fish and not just paddle straight through. As we would find out later, both our estimate and the DNR’s website were way off.
Soon after launching, we were all fishing as the gentle current moved us downstream one by one. I don’t recall who caught the first fish, but I would bet it was Kyle H. as the kid seems able to sweet talk fish into biting his hook. He was casting a large chartreuse and white spinnerbait, which would prove a wise decision as you’ll see here in a bit.
As the morning progressed we all caught small pike and smallmouth bass, with a few rock bass and even one largemouth bass thrown in for good measure. Kyle P. caught his first ever northern pike and I caught my first northern pike from a kayak.
Tom caught a lot of fish as well from his Native Watercraft Ultimate 12, but I never seemed to be close enough to snap any pictures when he did. The other three guys not only caught fish on their spinning & baitcasting rods, but they all also caught fish on their fly rods. I was the only numbskull that didn’t bring a fly rod, but I’ll correct that the next time we float this river.
Kyle H., as I said, was having great luck throwing the large spinnerbait. He was looking to catch some big pike and it worked as he caught not just one, but two really nice fish.
One of my goals from a kayak has always been to catch a nice, dark colored smallmouth. I admire the looks of a bronze river smallie, but when I usually fish for smallmouth we only catch fish that are really pale in color. While a truly big smallmouth eluded all of us this day, I was able to catch one that put up a nice fight and had the coloring I was hoping for.
As the day wore on we began to encounter a lot of deadfalls and structure blocking our way down the river. We literally had to go over, under, around and through all kinds of large trees that were down and it proved tiresome after a bit. I was worried how my fourteen and a half foot Native Watercraft Slayer (http://www.nativewatercraft.com/) would handle the tight turns and small quarters, but it handled the challenges with ease. When portaging through the woods on the riverbank due to impassable structure across the river, the wheel on the stern of the Slayer really came in handy. At one point we decided to check our location and see how far we were from the take out point. Kyle H. pulled it up on his phone and we discovered that after about four or five hours of fishing, we were not quite half way. Ugh!
After this discovery, we kept fishing for a while but eventually decided that if we wanted to finish before dark, we had best stop fishing and start paddling straight through. We did so for the next three or four hours and in the process Kyle H. and I agreed we had to paddle through some very nice looking stretches of the river that were sure to hold fish. Nonetheless, we kept paddling hard and continued to encounter a lot of deadfalls blocking our way. The river was beautiful and I would have liked to slowed down to enjoy the scenery more, but we were all getting worn out and ready to get back to the trucks.
Finally at around 7 p.m., a full eleven hours after launching, the take out point was in sight and all four of us were relieved to be off the river. We soon had our kayaks loaded up, said our goodbyes and were back on the road headed home. I slept like a rock that night and my shoulders were terribly sore the next morning, but yet I can’t wait until we do it again.
The crew at Native Watercraft simply amaze me with their never ending interest in creating kayaks for all situations. Their upcoming ten foot version of their popular Slayer Propel peddle kayak seems to be a future contender for best river kayak on the market in my opinion. While I won’t get to test drive one until my local dealer (www.wildcatcreekoutfitters.com) gets one in stock, I’m anxiously awaiting some time in the cockpit of this new addition to the Native lineup. Word from Native is the Propel 10 will be even more stable than the already super stable current Slayer models, more maneuverable than the standard Propel in the 13′ 2″ version, and a lot lighter in weight. With estimated weight coming in somewhere around 69 pounds, it will most likely be the lightest peddle angling kayak on the market. Can you imagine how easily a kayak like this would be to toss into your pick up truck and head to the river for an afternoon of fishing?!? I like it!
In common with it’s big brother the Propel 13, the Propel 10 will also have the Peddle drive system that can be peddled in reverse and the super comfortable first class seat. One most noticeable difference in design between the two kayaks is the front hull storage. In the Propel 13 the hull is open, like the standard (non-peddle) Slayer 12 and 14.5. However, the Propel 10 will have a hatch cover that opens up to inside hull storage instead. This was done for design reasons and should provide some nice dry storage for those long days on the river. The Propel 10 will have, like it’s big brother, lots of gear track throughout its length. My Slayer 14.5 has a lot of gear track as well and I can’t stress enough how nice it is to mount accessories where I want them, whenever I want them. If you’re going to do any videoing, this is nice for changing the angles of your video.
In closing, without even seeing the Propel 10 in person yet, I have no doubt this kayak is going to be a popular addition to the Native Watercraft family of kayaks. It just appears to offer way too much in such a small package not to be!
With my younger brother Josh and I both having a day off during the week this past Monday, we made plans to float my favorite section of a local river together. I had been on this float trip last year with my wife and friend of mine, and I knew my brother would enjoy the trip. He was up for it and I was excited to spend the day with him on the water.
After dropping off my truck at the take out spot, we headed back to the put in and launched our kayaks. I was running the river in my 14.5 foot Native Watercraft Slayer. While many people prefer smaller kayaks for river floats, my 14.5 foot ride handled the trip just fine and maneuvered easily around the downed trees, boulders and sandbars that dotted the river throughout the day. Marc at Wildcat Creek Outfitters (www.wildcatcreekoutfitters.com) had told me that floating rivers in Indiana wouldn’t be a problem with the longer kayaks and he was right.
It wasn’t too long into the trip before I had my first fish of the day, a little smallmouth bass that was of average length for this section of the river. We were using our ultralight rods so even the small fish provided a decent fight and lots of fun. Tossing a 1/8 ounce white buzzbait and fishing it just under the water’s surface near structure proved to work for me the first half of the trip. Later in the day I switched over to a beetle spin lure with a black body with red and yellow striping, and caught just as many fish as I did on the buzzbait. I found that letting the lures drop just for a second along the edge of logs or downed trees really enticed fish to strike.
Josh was also catching some fish during the trip including his first smallmouth bass, rock bass and a tiny carp. If I remember correctly, he caught some of those fish on the same type of buzzbait I was throwing, but he also had luck on small white and purple spinnerbaits.
The highlight of our day, besides just spending time together on such a beautiful river, was seeing a pair of bald eagles. It wasn’t that long ago that bald eagles were no where to be seen here in the Hoosier state, but now it’s not uncommon to find them along our many rivers and lakes. No matter how many times I see one of these majestic birds, I am always in awe of them and the conservation efforts that have brought them back to this part of the country.
As the day went on, we stopped a few times to stretch our legs and make a few casts from shore, including one stop on a sandbar for lunch. Cold chicken sandwiches and Mountain Dew hit the spot after a morning of paddling.
Last year, when floating the final stretch of this trip, my friend Kevin got a good look at some river otters where a creek spills into the river. Unfortunately, they were no where to be found as Josh and I approached the area, but there was plenty of sign such as the muddy slides along the river banks. Along with the eagles, we did see plenty of turtles, blue herons, ducks, geese and many really big carp. As huge carp after huge carp swam past my kayak, I longed for my bowfishing gear.
We ended the day with less fish than I had caught last year, but that didn’t bother either of us at all. Josh agreed that it was a fantastic day and the time together was very much appreciated. As we loaded up the kayaks and headed our separate ways, we agreed it wouldn’t be long before we returned to float the river again together.
I was able to get plenty of video footage, including some underwater footage for my first time, on this trip with my Go Pro camera and made this video of our day. Enjoy!
One nice thing about working second shift is that I can get up early and hit the water for a few hours before work. Usually Monday mornings are my day to fish during the week since I can get to bed earlier on Sunday nights and yesterday was no different. I was lazy and didn’t load the truck up the night before, and I was kicking myself in the backside when the alarm went off at 4 a.m. Monday morning. I wanted to be on the water to watch the sunrise, so I had to get up and get moving. Once my gear and my Slayer 14.5 was loaded, I grabbed a cup of coffee for the road and was on my way.
As my friends will tell you, I’m a bass fisherman. I’ve spent most, if not all, of my life fishing for largemouth bass. However yesterday was different in that I finally broke away from bass and decided to put some fish in the freezer by targeting bluegill and crappie. Words can’t express how out of character that is for me. To top it off, I was going to troll with some small crankbaits. Again, that’s out of character. I much prefer to cast and I can’t stand using crankbaits. I’ve never had much luck on them, I don’t really know how to fish them and those stupid treble hooks get caught on everything. Nonetheless, I had bought a couple of small Flicker Shads and took a friend’s advice, and trolled all morning with two lines in the water pulling two Flicker Shads. Man, talk about something different.
I had chosen a small, secluded yet public accessible lake more for the scenery than anything else. Surrounded by mostly forests, I knew it would be a beautiful spot to enjoy the morning. I underestimated the mosquito bomber squad at the boat ramp, but I was on the water on time and enjoyed the sun coming up over the trees while I paddled the lake in search of fish for the frying pan.
After about an hour of trolling and watching two guys in a motorboat not catch anything, one of my rods finally bent signaling fish on. I grabbed it out of the rod holder and was reeling in what turned out to be my first crappie of the day when my other rod bent as well. First time catching fish by trolling crankbaits and I had a double! Soon my kayak was a jumbled mess of tangled fishing line, fish slime and treble hooks. Remember what I said about hating crankbaits? Yeah. Still, I couldn’t argue that they worked and I had a crappie and a fat bluegill in the cooler for dinner later.
Another hour produced nothing, even though I trolled the same spot over and over in hopes of picking up more crappie. Finally I had another fish on and it proved to be my second crappie. A 14″ largemouth bass also took the bait ten minutes after that, but he was released unharmed.
Figuring I had 3 fish to clean and still had to get ready for work, I called it a day and headed back to the boat ramp about 9 o’clock. On my way I passed two older gentlemen in a motorboat who were bobber fishing for bluegills. I asked if they had any luck and they said not a bite. When one of them asked me if I had any luck, I simply smiled and said “A little bit.”
Definitely a great morning to be a kayak angler.