Coosa on the Coosa River

Fishing while helping raise money for a good cause is just icing on the cake. That is exactly what we did by participating in the Coosa Riverkeeper’s Coosa Classic event held on the mighty Coosa River below the Jordan Dam in middle Alabama on August 15th.

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(The North Alabama gang hanging out on the Coosa River)

I met up with six other buddies from North Alabama on Friday below the Jordan Dam for a fun float before the next day’s tournament. The dam was running one generator and offering up 2000 cubic feet per second of flow. The weather was offering up 90-degree temperatures and overcast skies. Free camping, fun fishing, some playful smack talk, and a low country boil were in store over the course of the next couple of days on the Coosa River.
“Coosa” should be a name familiar to you. It’s the namesake for Jackson Kayak’s premiere river fishing platform, the Coosa HD. Drew Gregory knew what he was doing when he and Jackson put this boat together. With its wild rapids and big fish, this river in a large way had an influence on the design of that excellent fishing boat. Fishing a Coosa, Coosa HD, or the new Coosa HD Pro on the Coosa River is a fishing experience that all kayak fishing enthusiasts should experience.

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(Josh Tidwell positions his Coosa HD below a rapid)

The Coosa River has come a long way in the last decade. Just five years ago, it was the tenth most endangered river in the United States. And at one time, the Center for Biological Diversity claimed that the greatest modern extinction event in the history of the United States occurred on the Coosa River due to installation of hydroelectric dams. Incredible! The Coosa Riverkeepers speak for the river. Without their help, the waters below the Jordan Dam may well have remained stagnant and not conducive for a thriving eco system seen there today. And without the donations and support from kayak anglers like you, the Coosa Riverkeepers would not be able to conduct their mission.

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(Corey Galloway fishes below the Jordan Dam in his Coosa HD)

We hopped onto the river at 9:30 AM on Friday and began our voyage from the dam to the Coosa Outdoor Center. The beginning of the float offered a gentle paddle over and around boulder-sized rocks and small islands. We were occasionally greeted by the friendly recreation paddler and as they would work their way past us, they would almost always make a comment about our rigged-out boats and large baits.
The middle section of the float offered multiple Class I and Class II rapids as well as a potential minor Class III that made for an adventurous trip. Integrated YakAttack GearTrak and rod tip protectors, as found on most Jackson Kayak fishing boats, proved to be necessary in navigating these wild waters. I paddled my Big Rig kayak through the mighty Moccasin Gap rapid with confidence thanks to the accessories and mounting options Jackson includes as standards on their boats.

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(I run Moccasin Gap in a Big Rig)

Fishing was tough that Friday but fish were generally caught throughout the stretch all day long by at least one of us. We took time to hop around river rocks, swim in the water, discuss fishing tactics, and the survey the scenery. No doubt, the highlight of the day was the 21-inch-long spotted bass caught by fellow JK Fishing Team member, Josh Tidwell, from his Coosa HD. Rarely do you have the opportunity to hold one that long in your hands. That skinny fish may well be in excess of 6-pounds next spring. Hungry for chicken wings, we paddled out through the calmer lower section. Later that evening at the camp, a dozen of us sat around a camp fire exchanging stories, jokes, and drink. The roaring river and the tunes from an acoustic guitar lulled us to sleep in our hammocks and tents.

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(Josh Tidwell with his personal best spotted bass)

Tournament day proved to be similar to the previous day in terms of the fishing conditions and fun had. I decided to fish a fresh stretch of water and had it to myself all day long. I only ended up with two small spotted bass by mid-morning. On a tough fishing day like Saturday, one kicker fish would have had me at the top of the field, but alas, I couldn’t trick a big fish into visiting the deck of my boat.
Fishing was not tough for all of us, though. Our float buddy, Corey Galloway, took home the victory with a three-fish 57.25-inch stringer which included his personal best spotted bass of 20-inches. Corey bested the field by 8-inchs that day. Fish were caught by most anglers and a fun time was had by all. A low-country boil followed the tournament. Prizes were given away and money was raised for a great cause.

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(Corey Galloway catches a monster bass)

Thanks to the spacious Coosa Outdoor Center for accommodating the whole fishing field of three dozen anglers. And thanks to the Coosa Riverkeepers and their tournament sponsors for putting on a top-notch event that we will look forward to fishing in the years to come. Please consider seeking out river alliances that protect the rivers and streams that are vital to a healthy ecosystem. These flows need people to speak up for them. If you don’t, then a power company, land developer, or industry giant may get the final say which may not always be best for the river, the fishery, or the environment.

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(David Mayfield fishes a rocky section of the Coosa River from his Coosa HD)

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