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A visit home to North Carolina is always pretty good,..generally most trips involves a little golf with my sister and her “golf-monster” husband. Well it’s all her fault he’s like that. He was all about NASCAR and hunting before he married her 12 years ago or so, now you need a crow-bar and dynamite to get him off the course. My Mom and Manny (her “Gentleman Friend” as she calls him; Mom will be 80 in May) are always a hoot, and this time there was a family reunion of Grandma’s side of the family. I have an ancient photo (ca. 1913-14) of the entire Strickland family taken one Sunday afternoon. I still have a strong connection to them because I got know all but a couple of those folks in the picture as a kid. And even though everyone in the picture is now long gone, the children and grandchildren, 2nd cousins twice removed etc etc, still get together once a year to celebrate our roots and reminisce. I hope my son and grandson continue the tradition long after I’m gone.

I’ve been online since about 1995 and have amassed numerous online friends and acquaintances on just about every major fishing board, some of which have become fast, ‘real life’ friends whom I fish with every chance I get. Since becoming a member of the Jackson Kayak Fishing Team, I’ve added another layer of folks who I have a feeling will fall into the real life category in very short order. I like to say that I could travel just about anywhere in the country and have someone within an hour or two’s drive who would lend  me with a boat and a day’s fishing guide service. Now “home” in North Carolina has been added to the list of places where I can make a call or reach out and PM someone on FaceBook, and I got someone to fish with. Such was the case on the last weekend of February.

Weather was going to be nice down in NC that weekend, and I remembered Drew Haerer, a fellow JK Fishing Team member was down in Durham close by so I hit him up to get out on Lake Jordan with me outside of Apex. Drew was more than willing. Woke up early Saturday AM, hit the Waffle House across from my hotel and then headed west to the Lake. Jordan is kinda weird for me. I have never fished it before and I’m FROM there! But Jordan, as well as Falls Lake nearby were built after I left the area for the Navy. I always wonder what got flooded out in the construction of these 2 lakes that I would remember as a kid. I know one such area under Falls Lake was covered over where my boy scout  troop used to camp on the weekends.  Time marches on I guess.

I beat Drew to the Ebenezer Landing, but he arrived within minutes and we set about getting our Coosas ready for the morning outing. I had paired down the tackle pile a lot from what I usually have with me to just Largemouth appropriate gear, which I don’t have a lot of since I don’t ordinarily fish for them. But I had some jerk-baits, a couple of deep divers, some spinner-baits and Jig & Pigs that I figured might do the trick if they were in the mood.  The weather was beautiful, if a bit nippy. The winds started out a little stiff but died off after about an hour or so. We worked the small cove at the landing to start with, but with no action there,  Drew decided we needed to be on the other side of the bridge, so we paddled out into the main body of the Lake and under Beaver Creek Rd bridge. I was a tad concerned about having the Coosa out on the open waters of the lake in the stiff breeze, but the Coosa handled it like a champ. I have no doubt she would have done equally well out in the Sounds behind the Outer Banks as well. The Coosa also tracks quite well with the drag chain hanging slightly below the edge of the transom sort of serving as skeg. This boat continues to impress me every time I get in it.

We didn’t get any action up in the cove on the other side of the bridge either, so we head back and across the large finger of the lake over open water. Again, the Coosa tracked along with no problem and has remarkably good speed for such a wide boat with the understated keel it has. It takes a couple of minutes to get her up to speed, you just can’t ‘dig’ your paddle like you can a boat with a keel. That creek boat nose will just walk back and forth on you. You have to ‘smooth’ the Coosa up to speed, but once you’re there, it’s easy to keep her there.  After we finished up working the far bank, I figured the wind had died off enough to give the seat a try in the high position. Up until this point, I’ve only had the seat in the low position. I’ve been a ‘sit-in’ paddler ever since I got started in kayaks and even though I have paddled sit-ons on numerous occasions, the Coosa feels ‘different’ to me just yet. But I’m rapidly getting used to it and I figured I better find out what the high position feels like and better to do it in calm lake water than in the stiff currents and ledges of the Shenandoah. The first thing I noticed was…nothing…it didn’t feel a lot different from the chair in the low position. I was expecting a marked difference in feel due to the change in center of gravity, but in the Coosa, the 4 or 5 inches doesn’t make that much difference due to the width of the boat. I AM going to need a longer paddle however. My current paddle is 230cm long but I think I’m going to need at least a 240, maybe a 250 if frequent standing is in my future. But once they get that long, it may be problematic finding one with a wide whitewater blade that I’ll need rather than a long touring bladed version, but that’s minor.  I crossed the quarter mile of open water fairly quickly and arrived back at the landing in about 10-12 minutes.

Thanks for a nice morning Drew . It was nice paddling with ya again and we’ll be out there again later this Spring when the “greenies” are more willing to come out and play. As always, you have a standing invitation to stop off in the Valley do a little fishing on the ‘Doah when YOU drive home to PA.