Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jackson Coosa in "BIG" water.

Anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows how much I love my Jackson Coosa. The Coosa is all about fun. Some of my best memories fishing are on my Coosa floating down some new stretch of river. Last Monday Mark and I did just that. We scout out the Electra run on the Mokeumne for fishing. Most area's of this river are rarely hit by anglers due to the class two and three rapids along the way. It had been years since I had done the run but I remember most of the rapids being strait forward, and there was always the option to portage is something looked to sketchy. So on a cold January morning I met up with by buddy Mark for scouting mission on the upper Moke.

Mark with the kayaks at the put in. 
We put in at around 10:00AM and it was still only 28 degrees. The Mokelumne sits low in the canyon so it wouldn't be till after noon when we got our first sun. The wet sand on the banks was frozen, and all the low handing trees along the river hung low with icicles.

Frost lining the hills. 

I have been using a Coosa for 3 years now and have become very comfortable with the kayak in most conditions. I enjoy surfing it on small standing waves, and catching eddies, etc, however during the drive up to the launch I was looking over some of the rapids we were about to run and I had a moment of hesitation. I had ran some big water in the Coosa before, but this river was smaller and more technical. The rapids were not huge, but the water was low and there were some consequences if you got off line. I decided to scout each rapid before we ran it and then make the call on wether I wanted to run it or not. 

After the first couple of riffles both Mark and I were starting to warm up. The only real part to suffer was our hands. Next time I'm bringing Pogies for sure! 
The river was beautiful. Surrounded by a mix of oak and pine trees covering the rolling hills. The river starts off flat with just a few riffles.

After about a half mile we got to the first Rapid. Before we ran it both Mark and I got out to scout the rapid. It dropped off to river left and had a good sized hole at the bottom. You had to run this one right up the V to avoid a submerged bolder on ether side. Mark decided he didn't like the looks of the rocks and wasn't willing to get wet so early in the AM, so he decided to portage and take photos. I hit my line just right and shot through the rapid without a problem. I was getting loose and realizing that the Coosa was going to take good care of me.

As we made our way down river I began to look for places to play. Small waves, or hard eddies to peal out into. I wanted to push the boats limits and see what it was capable of. I started off on a small wave and enjoyed a few minute surf. 

Mark also enjoyed the fun.

Rapid #2 was a bit more tecnical because it went around a bend and it had a chunky hole at the bottom. After looking at it from shore I decided to go wide and hit the meat of the hole. I was able to keep a strait line, and make any micro corrections I needed to while in the rapid without being pushed off my line.
Punching through the hole at the bottom.  
After I successfully ran the rapid I thought it would be fun to try and surf the hole. 

I took a few runs at it but this is as close as I got to surfing.

The last big drop of the day! 

The last drop of the day was a class 3 below the 49 bridge. The rapid was a big drop with a zipper type wave up the center. The Coosa bobbed right through without a hitch. I thought for sure I would swim without thigh braces, but the boat handled the drop with no issues. I had so much fun I decided to portage back up and run it again. 

Run #2

So now I have a whole new level of confidence in the Coosa. It opens up so many amazing fishing opportunities for us around here. Bill and I will be headed back up to fish the Electra soon, and we are going to continue to scout out new (to us) fishing grounds throughout the foothills.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

NuCanoe Frontier 12 Rigging

Early this week I got a message from a guy in San Jose asking about more info about kayak fishing.  He wanted a kayak that was good for fishing, and could be used as a solo or tandem. He wanted to be able to mount a trolling motor, and also stand up. Furthermore he wanted the kayak to be adaptable for both solo and tandem fishing, which means all the rod holders had to be able to side, adjust and interchange between multiple mounting positions. The only kayak I know that would be capable of all this is the NuCanoe Frontier 12. After a few emails, and phone conversations we developed a plan to rig up the Nucanoe to the max using Yak Attack Mighty Mounts, backer plates, rigging bullets and Ram Screw Balls.  In addition to that we added a Sealect Designs Anchor Trolley system, NuCanoe Swivel seat, NuCanoe Casting Bar, and a NuCanoe Tiller Extension

If there is one thing I love more than fishing, its building up someones dream kayak for them, and for Jean Pier, this was it. He went all out to make sure the job was done right. Here is a video I put together of the whole rigging job. Hopefully I can update it soon with pictures of Jean Pier slaying the trout on some Sierra Lake, or hauling in bass out on the Delta. Very fun project and I hope you will enjoy it.                

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Merced River Trip Report Take Two

After having a relatively slow, crowded day last Tuesday, I was looking forward to hitting the Merced again, especially since I was going out with another angler who admittedly, is a better fly fisherman than I am.

Beutiful morning, with Jesse anxiously rowing out ahead of me.
Since we are both thouroughly addicted to fishing we decided on an early start time of 7:00. We were rigged up and on the water by 8:00. Jesse recomended we try an egg pattern, since the san juan worm didn't produce on Tuesday. I started my day trying to swing a streamer across the current, which usually yields bigger fish. While I was wasting time doing that, Jesse hooked 2 nice fish on the egg pattern. Needless to say, I immediately switched to that. We both enjoyed a good egg bite until about 10 am and then things slowed down. Time for a change of flies. I saw a some mayfly activity so I opted for a pheasant tail. Jesse ties his own flies, and switched to a hare's ear with a bit of flash tied into it, representing either a sow bug or a mayfly. We both caught fish, including a nice 14 incher I hooked while side drifting, which is always a bonus.

Fish caught side drifting. The the ultimate kayak fly-fishing experience.
Note the spawning colors on this fish (dark red stripe and cheeks and gray belly), indicating that although it was only 15 inches long it was probably a steelhead
We ended the day with about 6 fish each. My biggest was a 15 incher and Jesse's biggest was about 17. All in all a great day on the river.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Bill's Review of Jackson Cruise 12

When Dan mentioned he had a new Jackson Kayak that he wanted me to demo I was of course excited. So far I have paddled the the Coosa, with its rockered hull and slippery feel in the water, perfect for floating rivers and catching eddies on the way down, as well as Cuda 14, with it's sharp entry and long waterline, perfect for long distance paddling and cutting through chop. Well what about people who can't afford 2 or 3 boats, or folks who are new to paddling and/or kayak fishing and don't know what type of specialized craft they might need to meet their demands? Jackson has the answer in the Cruise 12.

My testing ground was my favorite trout river in the valley, the Merced. Dan got his shipment of Cruise 12s in time for opening day in the anadromous water section of the Merced. Dan, Drew and I loaded up 2 Coosas and the cruise 12 and headed out with expectations of a stellar day of paddling and catching trout. A nice bonus for the day was Dan was willing to try his luck with a fly rod, upping my excitement level further.

When we arrived, I had mixed feelings seeing that there were more cars parked along the river than I had ever seen. On the one hand, I love sharing the sport with others, I mean that's what this blog is all about, right? On the other hand I knew there are only so many holes on the river that consistently held fish. We loaded our kayaks with gear and launched, still hopeful for an excellent day.

Upon loading the Cruise, the first thing I noticed was how much storage it had in the hull. Unlike the Coosa or Cudas, there is no foam glued into the hull near the hatches, providing tons of space. I also liked the hatch. Not only was it large, making it easy to store things like wheelies and long fly rods, but it was well sealed ensuring that if, as a beginner, you did take a spill your gear will remain dry.
Lots of internal storage.
Large touring kayak style hatch.

Once in the water the Cruise lived up to all of my expectations. We first had little play time getting to know our boats, since Drew had never paddled a Coosa and I was new to the Cruise. I was hoping that the shorter length would increase manueverability and it did. I also enjoyed the fact that the hull shape is relatively flat, providing a high degree of initial stability, giving me more confidence to really lean into turns when eddying out. I think that a beginner will appreaciate this greatly compared to the Coosa, which to someone who isn't familiar with edging a kayak might feel a little tippy, with its lower initial stability, but high secondary stability, allowing for increased ability to manuever and play in rivers.

Our first fishing spot was upstream so we took off paddling. Another great thing about the hull shape of the Cruise is that it allows for greater speed. I had no problem in flat water sections of the river leaving the Coosas in my dust. We arrived at a nice eddyline and decided that before we wet our lines it might be in our best interest to go over some river safety and practice eddying out. Since I make my living working on rivers, I am familiar with how to eddy out. Still being new to the boat and never passing up on free paddle instruction, I enjoyed our safety session. Even though the hull shape is not ideal for rivers, I had no problem ferrying back and forth across the current and floating downstream and spinning the boat into the eddy was no problem. It just required a little extra leaning and sometimes a back or forward sweeping stroke.

Now that all of us were fully comfortable in our boats, it was fishing time. Dan broke out the fly rod I had lent him and started roll casting, within 5 minutes he got his first grab and had the fish on just long enough to feel it and then it was gone. Nothing for the rest of us, so we decided to keep fishing upstream. Unflortunately all of the good holes were occupied. No worries, we'll just float down. We floated through a braided section of the river and Dan being the paddler at heart that he is, found a small standing wave and started surfing. It looked like fun to me, so I asked for a little instruction. After about the 3rd try, I was surfing in the Cruise. While the boat did fine, at this point I was wishing for my playful Coosa. The hull on the Cruise is so flat, I was a little concerned that the bow might get sucked under. Not only did I get my first surfing lesson, I also managed a fish as a bonus.

First fish of the day.
We continued our float through the most techinical rapid on this stretch of the river. The current pushes your boat to river left and then there is a drop off creating a trough and a standing wave. You have to allow the current to push you sideways and then shoot through the trough. At this point Dan is geeking out, loving the fact that not only are we fishing, but we are getting in some decent paddling. Dan pulls out and Drew and I float through. Dan of course paddles back into the wave and does some surfing.
The Cruise in its element.

Throughout our float there were other anglers in most of likely spots, and being the polite fly fisherman that I am, decided we should just keep floating until we could have a place to ourselves. This didn't allow us as many fishing opportunities as I would have liked, but I did manage to land one more fish and Dan hooked up one more time, the fish allowing him to play it a little longer before coming off.
Dan and Drew enjoying the float.

All in all, the day ended up being more about paddling than fishing, bet we still all had a great time. I thoroughly enjoyed paddling the Cruise and would recommend as a great first boat for beginners or a great jack of all trades boat. Not to mention a fine fly fishing vessel, with the nice obstruction free deck and plenty of storage space in the hull.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Opening day float on the Merced River.

Met Bill and Drew at the shop at around 5:45 for what was supposed to be an epic opening day on the Merced. Bill Becket works as a fish biologist on this river and knows it as well as anyone. He was our guide for the day. We launched at a turn on on the road and paddled down to Snelling. The river on this section is stunning. Lots of neat shoots, bedrock shelves, and braided sections that should holds tons of trout. It was my first day using a fly pole, and I loved it. I wish I would have started using one earlier on. We were nymphing with an indicator bulb (bobber). We through what we had at them, and we hooked a few, but the only one to land a fish was Bill. He got two to net and hooked about a half dozen. Most were caught on sow bug or San Juan worm. The paddling was amazing. I have been on almost every valley river and I would have to say this is one of the best for class 1 kayaking. It was always interesting, but never two challenging. I would highly recommend checking it out. 

Bill is testing the new Jackson Cruise 12, a 12' price savvy sit on top that is very adaptable to fishing. Bill will be doing a full report in a future blog. For now Check out more info on the boat here: JACKSON CRUISE

Drew and I were both using the ultimate river fishing kayaks, the trust Jackson Coosa. Check it out: JACKSON COOSA!
Here are a few pics from the day

Bill Was our Guide for the day. 

At the launch ready to go. 

Bill in one of the many braided river sections 

It looks warm, but it was clear and COLD! 

Drew working an Eddy. 

Spent a lot of time just enjoying the beauty of the river. 

I was teaching Bill how to surf on this very friendly standing wave. 

Bill lining up for to catch an eddy. 

Bills catch. 

One of the biggest holes on the trip. I could imagine this being very fun at higher flows

Netting a trout. 

Enjoying the fly pole for the first time. 

Drew did amazing in the Coosa on his first trip out. 

Drew running one of the drops. 

Bill casting setting up to side drift a hole. 

My Coosa beached on a gravel bar. 

Another cool shot of Bill doing his thing. 

I love this boat! Can't wait to get on the river again.