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As usual, my wife and I along with a close friend, headed south to visit family during the holidays. Pensacola, Florida is where Sarah, my wife, is from and where we met for the first time during my college years. Her family lives there and since we spend most of our time living close to my parents, it is nice to see them when we can. So, with the kayaks in tow on my brand new Malone trailer (which I am in love with) we set out early Sunday, December 23rd.

The drive from my home in NC takes about ten hours and I had already decided that I wanted to hit the water that night to get the trip off on the right foot. The excitement of trying out my new Big Tuna with the Tuna Tank and Cuda 12 Illuminati was almost more than I could bear. I also loaded up my Cuda 14 which had been my boat of choice for the past IFA tournament season. My friend Eric could not wait to try some of the new kayaks and get back into some saltwater action himself. After saying hello and unpacking all of our unnecessary gear we headed to a well known location capable of producing big reds at night. The bait of choice would be White Trout that we would catch on Gulp! shrimp and a jig head. The trick was to keep several of them alive and fresh. The Tuna Tank can not be praised enough for how well it worked for this. I managed 20 trout with it in the lower position and every one I pulled out was ready to fight. Thirteen hours after I left my house I had my first redfish in my lap. It was a 39.5 inch monster! This continued throughout the night.

The next night, after hearing how we did, my cousin wanted to get in on the action. It was going to be his first time fishing from a kayak and I think I was as excited as he was. We hit the water in a thick fog and made our way about one third of the way down the long bridge we were fishing under. The fog was thick and the water calm, but we had managed to catch several white trout again and with the Tuna Tank full we put our line down for the big reds. Even though the bite was slow we managed to hook up. My cousin Peter was quickly pulled into the fog by a bull red and could be heard shouting with excitement as he landed his big redfish. Later, he told me “now I understood what it is all about”.

The next couple of days were spent with family and friends celebrating Christmas. By Thursday we where ready to hit the water again. We spent most of the day trying a few spots for trout and slot reds with no luck and then decided to hit the bridge again that night. The fishing was much the same and we managed a few really nice bull reds. We were getting spoiled.

Finally, it was time to find some specs and slot reds so we could have a fish fry. We concentrated on a spot that I have fished for years with my father-in-law. The wind was up, but we set out early one morning and pushed on. The numbers were low for the area but the size was up. We caught several nice trout ranging from 17-20+ inches and a few reds that touched the 27 inch mark which is the upper slot for Florida. Again, the Tuna Tank made a great place to keep the fish alive until I could get them to the car and on ice. The fish fry was set for that night and turned out great!

Several more trips to both the bridge and the flats were made on this epic winter vacation producing great fish and even better memories.

P.S. The Illuminati (glow) also looked great on the water. It not only makes you more visible at night, but also makes it easier to see on the deck of your boat. It looks great during the day too!