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Well I can’t say this was my first time fishing for Muskies, but it was my second. A month or so before this trip, Drew and I, were on the way back from a River Bassin Tournament in Fayetteville, AR and Sparta, TN was a good stopping place. Cory at the time was a relatively new team member and had just received his custom colored Coosas. We were up early and on the water. We probably saw 10-15 musky that day. They either followed baits back to the boat or simply glided by in passing on the river. After a few follow ups and a few missed top waters we decided to go a new location. This time we were way up river on a local lake. But we faced the same problems there, more missed fish. Cory, Drew, and I put in a long day on the water, and though we were around fish all day we were never able to hook up and land one. If you ask any Musky hunter, they would have considered that day a success by just seeing that many fish and having that many bites. But for Drew and I, we still needed the satisfaction of a boated Musky. Thus, as we were loading up to go home, we informed Cory we would be back very soon to capture the very illusive Muskellunge.
Well the time had arrived that Drew and I were back in Tennessee and were heading to meet up with Cory. This time we had decided to do a float trip instead of a float down and paddle up. This way we could cover way more water. Well I’m glad we took this route because it paved the way to my first Musky, and not only was it my first Musky, but it was caught out of a Jackson Kayak Coosa.
To give you a little understanding of the conditions, they were calling for a chance of some pop up showers, but most of the day was supposed to be overcast. Perfect, we couldn’t wait. These conditions are pretty optimal for an extended bite past the early morning darkness. We get rolling that morning and it just feels right. Overcast morning, not too hot, on a secluded river in Tennessee; heck I didn’t even care if I caught anything at that point. I was just pumped to be out there. The morning continues on and we’re castin’ and splashin’, when I hear Drew across the river hollering about one that followed his bait to the boat. Immediately feel my heart beating faster, knowing we are around some fish. Not very long after I have one roll on my top water bait and miss it. My nerves are getting juiced. I’m starting to try and figure out how I’m going brace myself for when one of these golly whoppin’ monsters destroy my lure.
Well, pretty typical of a fishing trip with a chance of a pop up shower, we got hit with a gnarly thunderstorm and some serious rainfall. When this thing rolled up on us, it looked like a scene from Twister, so we would hunker down when it would get nasty. By the time the storm hit we were right in the middle of our float, so we just had to stick it out. Which again I’m glad we did. The rain let up and we get back to floating down river, all three of us are wet to the bone. I stick to throwing my top water bait since it is overcast and the fish tend to be a little more aggressive when the sun is not beating down on them, especially in clear water like the river we were on. As we are floating down, I make a cast by some trees, start my retrieve; I look over to Drew and Cory and start to make a comment when out of the corner of my eye it looked like someone dropped a bowling ball in the water. I leaned back and set the hook into what felt like a stump, it wasn’t, it was a Tennessee Musky! The battle was on. I hooked the fish pretty close to the boat so it was still green, jumping and pulling everywhere. Immediately Drew grabs his camera and fires off about 100 pictures of me fighting the fish and Cory is talking me through landing this amazingly strong toothy creature. The fish finally wears down and I get it in the boat. Drew keeps taking pictures, and after a few smiling snapshots Cory explains on how to release the fish. It is an amazing feeling holding such a strong predator in your hands and releasing it back into the wild.
We continue down river to our take out location, and have a few more close encounters with fish but no hookups. A review of my trip and fishing for large game fish out of a kayak, I would say the Jackson Coosa was unbelievably stable and comfortable and I can’t wait to do it again. This was a trip that was filled with tons of excitement, from the thunderstorm to me catching and releasing my first Musky, and will be a trip I will always remember.