My name is Mark Patterson and I am the founder of the North Carolina kayak fishing association. We have over 1400 members and 5 on the water events. Our largest on the water event is the Oak Island Classic. This is a Saltwater event that features inshore and near shore fishing for Redfish, Flounder, Speckled Trout and King Mackerel.
As the tournament director for this event my time on the water during the actual event is limited but this year, 2012, I was fortunate to fish in the King Mackerel division using Jackson’s Big Tuna.
A little history on King Mackerel fishing is in order at this point. King Mackerel like big live bait here in NC in the Fall of the year and that has always been a problem for kayak anglers. I have built many types of live well, bait tanks etc. that use a battery, 10 gallon tank/cooler and bilge pump that is thrown in the water to keep the big Menhaden or Bluefish lively. This works but is a lot of effort, not to mention weight added to kayaking in the ocean which is already challenging enough. As soon as I saw the “bait tank” in the Big Tuna I thought, ‘If that really works this could be a big game changer for all us live baiters’.
Well, on Oct 13th of 2012 I had the chance to paddle the Big Tuna for the first time in the ocean and can report that the bait tank works wonderfully.
Before launching I cast netted over 20 large mullet in the surf, quickly threw them in the tank and paddled out. Over the next 6 hours I paddled around trolling for Kings and Spanish Mackerel and every time I reached into the tank to get another frisky mullet they were all healthy and well oxygenated. The other cool thing about the bait tank is that when I paddled over other schools of bait while in the ocean that I could not see the fish in the tank went nuts!!! It was like having a bait fish detector onboard.
The solo seat placement allowed the front of the bait well to be opened and I simply used a small dip net to reach into the back part of the tank that was beneath the seat to get the mullet that quickly learned that those at the front of the tank were the first to go. Used a basket placed on the rear of the Tuna to mount my rod holders to.
Paddling the Tuna solo was easier than one would think with the size of the kayak being what it is. It tracked very straight even without the rudder kit installed and when coming in it turned surprisingly quick to avoid “turtling” as the waves were coming in at a slightly weird angle to the shoreline.
From a stability stand-point (pun intended) the Tuna was stand solid. I could easily stand and move about the deck to cast or throw the cast net.
Having the option of tandem traveling/paddling in the Tuna is not to be under-rated. After the Classic my wife and I went in the back water/bay/marshes and paddled tandem. My wife as well as myself enjoyed the very comfortable seating as well as the high and low positions options. My wife is a avid photographer and she loved the stability and wide foot base for using the tripod stand to get some great shots of wildlife as well spectacular sunsets. She also enjoyed the large storage area located in the rear of the Tuna for all her camera gear as well a enough room left over for a cooler and lunch!
And speaking of lunch, when we pulled up on a sandbar to eat and stretch our legs we simply took the seats out and sat on them while eating and relaxing. I must say I even let my seat lay flat and took a nap!
Overall the Big Tuna is a extremely adaptable kayak that can go from a solo big game ocean kayak to a family bay or backwater kayak very quickly with room and stability to spare.
Thanks to Jackson for continuing to be a innovator in the ever changing world of kayak fishing.
Photo Credit : Spencer Cooke and Angela Schlentz