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The weather in the Northeast has been unseasonably warm this past week, with temperatures in the 70s and even breaking into the 80s. On Friday afternoon I got out of work a few hours early and took my new Jackson Kayak “Coosa” out to a local pond for its maiden voyage. I picked up the Coosa this winter specifically for this purpose. Last year I did not fish fresh water as much as I would have liked, since I rig my kayak very differently for stripers then for chasing bass in ponds. Couple this with the fact that my old kayak was quite large and cumbersome – it made quick trips for an hour or two more work than fun.

My plan for the Coosa is “KISS” (Keep It Simple, Stupid).I am not going to add all the bells and whistles I normally do, since I have no intention of taking this kayak out on large bodies of water. I have a Jackson “Cuda” for those situations. The Coosa will be rigged specifically for the numerous shallow (less than 10’ deep) ponds around my house. In these ponds, sonar is pretty useless, so there is no need for a battery. All the Coosa will receive is an anchor, a rod holder, camera mounts, and a simple crate. Even though I have volumes of tackle trays dedicated to bass fishing, I plan on keeping three stocked with a selection of tackle and a small bag of soft plastics that will live in the crate. It is my intention to be able to leave the Coosa rigged so I can quickly toss it in the back of the truck or on top of the car and be on the water within 30 minutes from the start of loading up. This will allow me to grab a few rods and a crate, and get the maximum fishing time when I only have 2-3 hours to myself after work.

After doing some rigging last weekend, I finally got my chance and took off to a pond. Since it is still March and the ice has been out for about two weeks (a month earlier than last year), I picked a pond where I have always had good luck with pickerel since I expected to find some cold water. When I got to the ramp I was shocked: the surface water temperature was already in the 60s, and talking to a guy returning to the launch on a bass boat the coldest water he saw was in the 50s. Last year it was early June when we saw water temperatures in the 50s.I’m guessing it’s because we had no snow pack (the snow was gone two weeks before the ice), and with no run-off the water temperatures skyrocketed in just a week.

I set off in the Coosa and hit the northern shoreline looking for bass in the shallows. It took me a while, but after catching a few pumpkinseed and pickerel I found some bass. I caught a handful of small ones before I picked up a nice fish. The go-to bait for this trip was a small Rapala “X-Rap” suspending crank bait – almost everything was caught on that. It was a nice first trip for the Coosa, and I got to spend two hours on the water.

I learned a few things about the Coosa on this first trip. The Coosa can comfortably carry big guys. I tip the scales at 285lbs., and the water was still an inch below the tops of the scupper holes so it was a nice dry ride. It is also a very maneuverable kayak. I will pick up a hand paddle, as I was able to position the kayak with my YakAngler Hawg Trough. My last kayaks were way too long and had too much keel to effectively use one. The high position of the “Hi/Lo” seat is up there. At first it feels like you are sitting on a pedestal seat. While it was great for sight fishing, it is a little unnerving until I learned to trust the kayak. The Coosa is very stable even with a guy my size in it. Finally, I found out that when you use the rod stagers you cannot use the grove that is molded across the kayak for the paddle. Since this is where I like to keep my paddle, I will be adding more rod holders on my crate to store the rods I am not currently using, and use the rod stager for the rod I am fishing with while I am paddling.