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It was the end of April and until then I had still not gotten on the water all year, let alone get a line wet. To cure this I went to back to where I grew up in Safety Harbor, FL.

After a long day of building boats at the plant, I packed up my truck with three Coosa and one Riviera with hardly enough room for gear. Arriving the next morning my first stop was Clearwater Beach to test how the Coosa handles the waves. With me were Dustin and Craig, two friends I had grown up with and spent years fishing the Tampa Bay area. We each took our turns pounding through the breakers into open water, trying to find a bite. Unfortunately, a strong south wind kept us from landing anything worth mentioning.

The next morning Dustin and I decided to escape the wind by fishing the mangroves in Cooper’s Bayou where we had spent most of our time growing up. Just before daybreak we paddled our coosas to a channel separating the grass flats from where the mangroves lay. I was the first to get a strike landing an unwanted 5lb gafftopsail catfish (aka sail cat). After a few more cats, ladyfish and an impressive ray, we found what we were looking for, redfish (red drum) with Dustin catching three of them. Surprisingly, most of our fish that day we caught simply by trolling with a rod just sitting in the rod holder.

After a few days of recovering from a sunburn and fishing offshore for kingfish Dustin and I decided to try the intercoastal waters north of the Dunedin causeway. Once again there was a strong south wind blowing a steady 15-20 knots. Hugging close to the shore we tried to find any windbreak that might be holding fish. After three hours of driving winds and 2 ft chop we came back in for lunch empty handed, and waited…

The following afternoon the wind had died down. That meant only one thing, time to find what I had come for. We met up with Craig, along with Cody and Adrien. Loading up three Coosa and two Riviera, the five of us set off on an out-going tide to a secluded channel tucked between mangrove islands. Paddling through four inches of water with barely enough room to even get your paddle wet we arrived in the channel just on the edge of an oyster bar. On the second cast, my rod bent and line began screaming; success! Reeling in, I found a nice 18” red. Like clockwork, each of us caught one. Then Craig, standing up, said he saw something bigger in the water. Seconds later he was tussling with a 27” red trying to make spaghetti out of our lines.

It was bittersweet having to come back home to Tennessee. With a renewed appreciation, I came back to work bragging about how good our boats are and the people that help make them, besides showing off the pictures of the fish we caught. Looking forward to the next time I take the Coosa back into the salt…

Jonathan Meyer – Jackson Kayak Boat Builder