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As a freshwater bass fishing guide for many years, my bass boat has been my office. My office is where I teach people how to discern between productive and nonproductive water. How to tie different knots, how to cast and how to work the baits. I am quitecomfortable and at home in my office.

I live just off the Upper Guadalupe River in Spring Branch, TX and really enjoy river fishing, especially during the hot summers when shade and running water is scarce. Several years ago, I began guiding on our local Hill Country rivers. Having land access to the Guadalupe most of my guided trips encompassed fly fishing or spinning tackle while wading. Again, my clients were by my side where I had the ability to coach easily. Because most of our Hill Country rivers are not conducive to wade fishing for various reasons and entry and exit points are very limited for rafting, I bought a couple kayaks from which to guide.

What I quickly discovered was guiding from a solo kayak created mired of problems. Chiefly, it took me completely out of my comfort zone and no longer afforded me the opportunity to coach effectively. Since the majority of my clients are beginners wanting to learn, introducing solo kayaking and positioning was a recipe for disaster. Therefore, I determined that a stable and dry tandem kayak was the best solution because I could still launch and exit from just about anywhere. It put me back into control of paddling, positioning and the ability to coach knot tying and fishing techniques.

My previous search for the right tandem had been disappointing so this time I decided to expand my search criteria to include publications, internet, forums and YouTube. Once I found the features that were the most important to me, as a guide, I contacted the three companies for additional information. Of the three companies, one did not respond and the other two very promptly responded, narrowing my choices down to two. One company, Jackson Kayaks, took that extra step and contacted me by phone to begin some dialog and told me where to find additional information, videos, the location of my nearest dealer. It’s a real blessing to find a company that still conducts business with class and is personable.

I contacted my closest deal, TG Canoes and Kayaks in San Marcos, TX to set up a demo of the Jackson’s Big Tuna. They were very gracious and allowed me to demo the Big Tuna for a couple hours on the San Marcos River. I was impressed. The Big Tina handles like a dream. It tracks straight and is very stable. Within just a few minutes, I was paddling and fishing while standing. The Big Tuna is equipped with pull-up straps to aid standing. It has removable seats (lounge chairs) that adjust for reclining and for height. The front seat can even be turned to face backwards. It is also equipped with a fish tank in the middle that can be used for bait well or live fish well. With the addition of their Jackson’s cooler bag insert, it converts to a built-in cooler. (I purchased the cooler insert and it works great and is very convenient.) The craft sits up high enough that your back-side and feet stay dry, and that even with two people. There is storage under the seats, up front, in the back and lots of leg room, Jackson even made accommodation for protecting your rod tip when in the traveling position. I also purchased the optional rudder which makes turning and positioning easier, especially under windy conditions. Being that the Big Tuna easily converts from a tandem to a solo was the final selling point for me. I have had my Big Tuna out several times, solo and tandem, and it performs magnificently either way. I could not be any happier with my choice!
I now have a comfortable kayak for an office and it’s a real joy to take clients down the river or on the lake. I have the freedom to coach while they have the freedom to enjoy fishing. Now when folks inquire about float trips, I feel very confident they will have a wonderful experience.

PS: I have attached a few photo of a recent guided trip on the San Marcos River, in Texas.

Barry Dodd
Teach ‘Em to Fish Guide Service