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Spring Training


Due to a commitment at work, I missed out on the incredible Chokoloskee Boondoggle trip to the 10,000 Islands area of South Florida. Well, this past week work paid me back. I got a chance to go to Florida to work for a few days, and had the bonus of taking Thursday and Friday off to do some fishing. I quickly hatched a plan -not only was I going to get out on the warm Florida waters, but I was going to get to finally get to give the new Jackson “Cuda” a sea trial. I was going to fish with some fellow team members from the Jackson Kayak Team and YakAngler Pro Staff. I’ve been wanting to fish with Steve Gibson from Shallow Pockets Fishing and “Redfish Chuck” Levi of Chuck’s Kayak Adventures for a long time, and now I’d have the chance.

Thursday wouldn’t come soon enough for me, and finally I was on my way to Sarasota Bay to fish with Steve. We launched at sunrise into a light breeze, and after a short paddle to a nearby flat Steve had me casting a Heddon “Zara Spook”. On my first cast a nice trout exploded on my Spook, but I set the hook prematurely and yanked it away from him. The second cast netted me my first trout of the trip, and things were looking good.

We fished topwater lures until the bite died down, and switched over to some RipTide soft plastics. We worked some potholes and drop-offs, and while we only saw one redfish all day, the trout bite was incredible. Twice I caught three trout on three casts, and had a great time out on the water. Even though it was pretty windy, Steve kept us in areas that it didn’t really affect us and we stayed on a consistent bite all day.

That afternoon, I started the long drive across Florida to Titusville, where I was scheduled to meet Chuck the next morning. We launched to a beautiful sunrise over the “No Motor Zone”, but the weather wouldn’t last for us. The wind picked up and the water started to muddy up. We caught a few nice trout, and then Chuck spotted a nice redfish off my bow -two o’clock, and 25 yards out. I made the cast, and with a few cranks of the reel had the fish on the line. However I couldn’t close the deal and it shook itself free. The wind picked up some more, so we headed back to the launch. After a quick bite to eat we agreed rather than trying out another spot that day, we would try it again the following day before I had to head to the airport. The next morning, we headed to Mosquito Lagoon. While the wind had picked up even more, we were able to fish some protected areas with a great trout bite, and caught a couple of dozen trout between us. We even picked up some flounder on soft plastics, which was a first for me.


After a nearly five-month dry spell of not getting to fish from a kayak, I spent two-and-a-half days with some great guides and great friends. I also got to test out what will become my go-to kayak for the coming season: the Cuda. My initial impressions were very good. It only took me a couple of minutes to get my “Sea Butt” under me, and was quickly very comfortable in the boat. The secondary stability in the kayak is incredible for a boat less than 30” wide, and while it wasn’t designed to be a racing kayak it paddles very well and much more efficiently then my last kayak. The “Hi/Lo” seat was more comfortable than the seat in my rental car (no springs sticking in my back), and I’m looking forward to spending many long days in it.  I can’t wait to pick up mine this week!