The Long Stretch

The northwest Georgia mountains are a fisherman’s dream. Within an hour I can fish for five different species of black bass, huge striped bass, giant trout, and walleye. These fish can be chased on public lakes and some of the most beautiful and diverse river systems in the country. In all of the available water I have, there is one stretch of river that stands out above the rest. It’s a sixteen mile stretch of river that’s loaded with shoals, bluffs, deep holes and ancient native American fishing weirs. The fishing on this stretch isn’t necessarily the best I have to choose from but the remoteness, history ,scenery and diversity make this stretch special.

I met my buddy Jason before daylight at our planned takeout. We loaded his gear and kayak onto my trailer, secured his vehicle and headed to the launch. The next place to enter the water upstream of our takeout is sixteen miles by river but by road, it’s only a few miles. Every time I’ve floated this stretch it’s taken at least twelve hours, that’s fishing it hard and still skipping some very appealing water. Today, I’ll do it for the first time in my Jackson Kayak Coosa FD. I’m hoping that the pedal drive will allow me to cruise past what we call “dead water” fairly quick and give me time to fish most if not all of the more appealing areas.

Some of the most productive water on this river are below the old fish weirs. These structures were built by the ancient Muskogee people by placing a linear pile of rocks on select shallow shoals angleing downstream from each side of the river. This would create a type of funnel and at the end of the funnel they would place a large woven basket. Once in place people would start upstream and walk towards the weir beating the water with sticks, spooking the fish downstream funneling the fish into the basket. These rock structures prove that the river’s shoals have been productive areas for ages. Every time I float through one I can’t help but imagine what a day of fishing and the certain feast would have been like in ancient times.

We launched at daybreak and started fishing. The fish must have slept late because it was an hour or so before I had the first bite. Like usual, the Picasso Tungsten Shakedown with a 7” finesse worm went to work first. The tungsten shakedown is a simple shakey head jig that’s proven to me that it is a favorite of bass on rivers and lakes. The tungsten head being a much harder metal than lead allows me to feel the bottom and more importantly the slightest of bites. As the day went on I had luck on an assortment of top water lures and a new lure by Picasso called a Tungsten Knocker. It’s a bladed jig style lure that utilizes a tungsten head to emit noise from the blade “knocking” the head. I had this lure in green pumpkin rigged with a craw trailer and it proved to be the most productive lure of the day. I dip the tips of the craw trailer in methylate JJ’s magic making them orange. This gives the lure a very close resemblance of the native crawfish that inhabit the river’s waters. I’ll skim this lure along the bottom periodically stopping it then twitching it before resuming the retrieve. This absolutely fooled the spotted bass over and over all day long. The tungsten knocker helped in catching five different species of fish and exploited the fishing diversity that is possible.

My Jackson Coosa FD is the perfect boat for a long river stretch like this, it not only allowed me to go quickly between areas it also allowed me to sit in place on some very productive spots, hands free by using the FD pedal drive to tread water. Being able to move upstream or maintain a spot, hands free in moving water is an invaluable tool. When traveling down stream I could travel worry free through some fairly shallow shoals by placing my FD drive lever in the mid position and if I did hit a rock or log the dagger board would simply flex up and out of the way. After this trip I can honestly say that all though the Coosa FD is not billed exclusively as a “River” boat it definitely exceeded my expectations of a big river fishing kayak.

Fourteen hours later, after running more than a dozen shoals and native American fish weirs, hunkering for an hour under a bank overhang during a severe thunderstorm and catching a bunch of fish…we arrived at dark at our takeout. The comfort of the Jackson Kayak seat made the trip easy on my aging bones and the kayak, like I had expected, allowed me to fish much more productive water. I will definitely be using my Coosa FD on many more upcoming river trips. Be safe, check generation schedules on tailrace rivers, stay hydrated, wear your PFD at all times and most of all have fun.
Thank God for little plastic boats!

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