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Hello, my name is Aaron Stiger. I am a 27 year old teacher who lives in small-town Ohio, and kayak
fishing is something I love. In this narrative, I am providing a first-hand account that represents a group
of kayakers who went to Lake Erie in search of monster walleye on Friday, April 18, 2014. In this article,
I will also detail the significant role Jackson Kayak played in success of the the outing.
Before beginning the fishing report, I wanted to share my roots in the kayak world, and how it all began
for me. This will put Jackson Kayak’s impact on the trip into proper prospective, and give credit where it
is justly due.

Four years ago I bought my first kayak, which was a box-store brand. To me, this kayak represented
freedom. It gave me the freedom to leave the bank, explore my local river, navigate the state’s
reservoirs, and even conquer Lake Erie. I was able to do all of these things in my box-store kayak, and
it certainly served its purpose. However, in 2013, as I began to truly study rivers, reservoirs, and lakes,
I realized I was vastly under equipped for what I really wanted to do: Catch quality fish while enjoying
the freedoms a kayak provides. Looking closer at the function of an angling kayak, I realized that I
needed an upgrade in a big way, and my box store kayak just wasn’t going to cut it any longer. This
upgrade would need to result kayak, or two, which would serve as tools to efficiently, comfortably, and
effectively put me on quality fish and increase catch rates.
To determine which kayaks would best serve my needs, I first identified the bodies of water I fished
most often. Large lakes and rivers quickly became the two most prominent areas I found. Fortunately,
I had the funds to purchase two specific kayaks—one for rivers and one for large bodies of water.
Visiting many kayak shops and analyzing the various features of other large kayak manufacturers,
I eventually found the Jackson line of kayaks. Jackson Kayak is known for their innovative designs,
specific applications, and quality craftsmanship applicable to kayak enthusiasts from many genres. For
my river angling purchase, there wasn’t even a discussion. Drew Gregory’s Coosa provided the stability,
mobility, storage, and features that put it head and shoulders above any other river boat on the market.
The large-water purchase was going to be a bigger decision as I wanted to be able to cover water
quickly, yet still have the storage, stability and in-vessel mobility needed to store, stand, and safely
fish. Jackson Kayak provides an entire line of kayaks that fit this bill and so I needed to narrow it down
between several of their products.

After extensive research and testing, Jackson Kayak’s Cuda 14 shined above all others for my needs.
I knew I would be taking the Cuda 14 on many big water trips, and the Cuda 14’s dimensions suit it
perfectly for offshore and big-water applications. At 14’3”, its length and hull design allows it to knife
through water effortlessly, yet the ability to stand is still prominent as the Cuda 14 boasts a 30.5”
width. Adding to these specifications is the copious list of extras including: Elite high-seating, in-kayak
rod storage and transportation features, center console insert, rudder, rod-tip protector and paddle
stowaway, bungee systems, GoPro and RAM mounting options, along with two “Rocket Launcher” rod
holders and a Jackson water bottle. Collectively, these features made the Jackson Cuda 14 my perfect
big-water kayak.

I had only taken the Cuda 14 on a couple of reservoir trips, when one of my close friends, Jim, had the
idea of taking a trip to Lake Erie for the spring walleye spawn. A few years back, Jim had a nice, deep-V
powerboat designed for Lake Erie and he did very well hitting large walleye on the reefs located
offshore. Due to the fact Jim caught these from a charter-style boat, I took his idea with a grain of salt.

I all but dismissed his notion as a sort of pipe-dream of kayak fishing. I also resisted the idea of fishing
Lake Erie just a bit because I had taken my box-store kayak out on the big lake a couple of years before
and had gotten sick due to the kayak’s small size and the lake’s choppy conditions. That memory still
lingered in my mind and wasn’t something I wanted to re-live. However, like I mentioned before, I
was not properly outfitted by going to Erie in my box-store kayak. Now, equipped with my new Cuda
14, I felt much more confident and didn’t feel the lake’s conditions would be a determining factor on
whether we would end up making the trip to Erie. Ultimately, having a Jackson Kayak gave me the
assurance that making another trip to Lake Erie would be possible.

The winter began to taper-off here in Ohio and the planning stages of the trip began. Before we knew
it, the ice began melting off around Ohio, and we watched Lake Erie’s near shore forecast very closely.
We analyzed its tendencies and gauged the safety and viability of the trip. As the water slowly warmed,
reports were poured out that trophy walleye were being caught from the bigger boats, and it was now
time to set a date and gear-up for the trip.

We first made a game plan of where to fish. On Lake Erie, the winds are variable and in a kayak it would
not be safe to venture several miles offshore due to such volatile conditions. We decided to head out
of a protected bay around the Port Clinton area, which is appropriately coined “Walleye Capital of the

As the day approached, we gathered three other fellow kayak anglers. Lake Erie demands safety, and in
kayaking, there is certainly safety in numbers. On Friday, April 18, 2014, we rose early from bed, loaded
up our kayaks on a trailer, suited up with our thick neoprene waders, tight belts, waterproof jackets,
safety gear, and tackle, and we were off to Lake Erie.
As we approached Port Clinton, we stopped at a local bait store. We discussed our plan of trolling with
the owners and they informed us the only colors we needed were pink and purple, and the lures to
use were deep diving crankbaits. We bought a couple of each and during our conversation the owners
happened to look out at our kayaks on the trailer. They simply could not believe we were about to
head out on the lake at this time of year in a kayak. Admittedly, this is no feat that should be attempted
without careful preparation and knowledge of wind and wave patterns. However, we explained that we
were all experienced kayakers and we had a game plan, safety equipment, and strength in numbers to
protect us in case of an emergency. With that, we were ready to hit the ramp and unload our kayaks.
At the ramp, our group received the same confounded looks from charter boats, and many pictures
were snapped as other fisherman gawked over our fishing method of choice. Many captains came up to
us and admitted it would be significantly cheaper, and possibly a lot more fun to fish for walleye using
our rigs rather than theirs. I think they were starting to understand the benefits of kayak fishing!
After unloading our kayaks and hauling them to the rocky beach, we were off! The lake was like glass,
and our preparations had paid off. Immediately, we turned on our electronics. Knowing and reading
your fish finder properly is vital to success while trolling. A good fish finder allows you to not only
identify structure, but also large schools of baitfish and even your target species. We began marking
small reefs only 100 yards off shore and our group concentrated there for the time being. We were
catching numerous freshwater drum, but this was not quite the target species of the day. With that in
mind, I decided to venture out about 300 yards into slightly deeper water.

With the deeper water came very large marks on the fish finder. Unfortunately, it also came with
larger waves. Although the lake was placid, the enormous wakes from barges and charter-style boats
were more prevalent the further out I went. These wakes often dwarfed my kayak and obstructed my
view of others in the group. However, I quickly found that the Cuda 14 was suited perfectly for these
situations, as it is crafted for offshore waters. The Cuda 14’s capabilities soon surfaced when I became
preoccupied with changing out a lure and re-tying the line. I let my guard down momentarily when I
heard, “shhhhhhwwwwshhhhh,” and looked up just in time to see a huge 5-foot wake, cresting just 15-
feet to the starboard side of my boat. Dropping the lure, and picking up the paddle, I took one hard
right-stroke and turned the boat 90 degrees just in time to face the wave head on. The bow of the boat
rode up the wave and sliced through its crest very naturally. I was pleasantly surprised at the Cuda 14’s
maneuverability in the water. Other kayak owners of other large manufacturers have been known to
say their 14+ foot kayaks, “turn like limousines.” This is not true with the Cuda 14. I am very grateful
that Jackson Kayak put enough thought and engineering into the Cuda 14 to make it not only fast and
sleek, but also stable and maneuverable in the water. I am confident that kept me from having a huge
wave crest over the kayak, dumping me and my gear into the lake that day.

Within a few minutes of my brief scare, the other kayakers in the group ventured out into deeper water.
It did not take long to find success in the fish we were targeting. Soon, the first walleye was caught.
Jim was able to haul in the largest walleye he had ever caught from a kayak. A good size at 25 inches!
Everyone was very happy for him, and we were certain that was going to be the big fish of the day. We
were fishing in an area we expected to see smaller males stacked up—oh were we mistaken!
Sean, another kayak angler in the group was next to land a walleye, and this one was even larger than
Jim’s fish. It pushed the measuring board all the way out to 27.5”—another personal best for the group.
After Sean’s fish, our group began to have hope that everyone would catch fish and excitement began to

We began getting bites every 15 minutes or so at this point. Also, many of us lost fish as they did not
feel like aggressive strikes. Later we found out from one of the local walleye pros that large walleye like
the ones we were catching have extremely hard and large mouths. With these rock-hard mouths, they
literally engulf the entire lure, clamping it down in their jaws. They do not realize they are hooked and
they will swim freely until they see the boat. At that point many will spit the lure, and then be hooked
as it shoots from their mouths. What an interesting concept this was, and it explained all of the lost fish
we had throughout the day.

About 20 minutes after Sean reeled in his giant, I felt a large snag. Our lures were running bottom all
day and I had just lost one of my deep divers to a small reef. I raised my rod tip up and tried to free it,
and then it began slowly swimming and realized it was “FISH ON!” I reeled the fish in very slowly and
played it to the boat as I did not want to rip the hooks out. I was only equipped with a small trout net
(mistake) and so when it surfaced I was ecstatic, put it on the net, and jabbed my hand into the gill plate
to grab it. After measuring it, I realized I had a 30 3/8” Lake Erie monster! It was about all spawned out,
but it still ran 9.5 lbs.

After a brief photo session, I used the GPS mark I had just caught the last walleye on and lightning struck
again! This time, I was fortunate to reel in another 29” giant. I knew we were getting spoiled at this
point as there was very little reaction to this fish, which was still a true trophy in its own right.

Jim and I decided to slowly troll over the spot one final time to see if the pod of fish we were on was still
in the area. As we scanned our electronics, I informed Jim of a very large, contrasting mark that was
approximately 5 feet from the bottom. This meant the fish was aggressively feeding. No sooner than
our lures passed that point, Jim hauled in that walleye, a 29.5” goliath fish. What a neat experience
for us to actually mark that fish, and then catch it! Each walleye we had caught so far was within an
hour’s time and it was not even noon at this point. What a morning we were having. But, the fun was
not done yet, as the lone female of the group, Amanda also joined in the action catching a 28” walleye,
marking her personal best as well. Finally, the last member of our group, Joe, reeled in a 27”er into his
boat as well.

With everyone satisfied and happy, fishing eventually slowed. The walleye had found a new area on
the lake where we could no longer track them. When we paddled in we met a game warden who was
surprised at our catches and was kind enough to take a group picture of us with our Lake Erie walleye.
Packing up the truck and looking at the sunset, as it reflected rays of light off the lake and onto my
Jackson Cuda 14, I replayed the day and found myself grateful and humbled for such a great experience.
I will remember Friday, April 18, 2014 as a day on the water shared with several great fishermen. It will
be remembered by us all as a day that created a bond between a group of friends who showed that a
crew of lowly kayakers could go up to Lake Erie, do a few rounds with the big boys, and slay some true