Cocodrie to Cookeville: A Trip to Jackson Kayak HQ

Just the day before, Karl and I were fishing in Cocodrie. Saturday morning, though, had John and I headed to Tennessee for the Jackson Kayak Dealer Summit. Saturday mostly consisted of driving and then we stayed in Cookeville, TN at a hotel.

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The next morning, Jackson hosted a Dealer/Team Fishing Trip/Tournament. Everyone was grouped into teams and would hit different bodies of water in the area. I was teamed up with Josh Tidwell (JK Pro Staff), Dave Snyder (JK Territory Sales Rep), Jake Slominski (JK Territory Sales Rep), and a few other guys who were with various dealers. The area we fished was the confluence of the Caney Fork and the Calf-Killer Rivers. Most of us paddled straight up the Calf-Killer. There were lots of shad everywhere but the fishing was pretty slow for most of us, but the scenery was awesome!

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I eventually paddled a good ways up the river, past an area blocked by leaves. I was told by another angler that he tried to paddle past the leaves but the mosquitoes were really bad. After thinking a bit about it, I paddled through and didn’t have much of a problem. Tennessee mosquitoes are no match for the dinosaur-like mosquitoes we have in south Louisiana.

The persistence got me a small largemouth almost immediately. It would be my second fish of the morning (my first being a white bass that was chasing shad but I didn’t get a picture of).

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If I’m mistaken, and that’s a spotted bass, forgive me. Remember, I’m a redfish guy.

Not long after that fish, I got an upgrade. Still not a giant, but it was a 15″ largemouth on a crankbait.

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He was submitted to the catch-photo-release website for the tournament, kayakfishingseries.com.

Soon, the fishing trip was over (I’m not even sure which team won the tournament). After meeting back up with John, we headed to Rock Island State Park which is where everything else would take place the next day.

Day two started with breakfast, provided by Jackson Kayak, along the banks of the Caney Fork River. Soon after, we began transporting kayaks to the water for the on-the-water part of the event.

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Kayak fishing photographer Chris Funk pulling kayaks to the demo area.

Kayak fishing photographer Chris Funk pulling kayaks to the demo area.

The demo was nice. I got an opportunity to paddle, and test out plenty of models; some old, some new, and some prototypes.

Pack & Paddle has recently started carrying the Cruise 12 again, so I got reacquainted with it as well as the Coosa HD. I got a chance to also paddle the new Cuda HD for the first time.

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Here’s the real fun… the prototypes.

First was the Mayfly. From what I understand, the production model won’t be too different from this prototype. It features an extremely clean deck that has been “fly-line proofed”. Jackson has also incorporated a slightly new hi-low function for the Elite Seat that is very user friendly. The performance of this kayak is what’s real nice. It’s not as fast as my Cuda 14 (not many paddle fishing kayaks are), but it’s not hard to paddle at all. The other thing that was very impressive was it sits low to the water. This means it will not catch a ton of wind abuse and get thrown all over the place. It’s being marketed as a fly-fishing kayak, but I think it’ll make an awesome platform for coventional sight-fishing.

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And lastly, I got to try out the Coosa FD. This was my most anticipated kayak release because it’s Jackson’s first-time experimenting with foot-pedals. I am a paddle-guy, or a traditionalist, but pedal-kayaks dominate the tournament scene down here so I’m curious to see what this kayak will do.

The model I tried was a 3D printed prototype. It was mostly there to show how the drive would perform. I was in it for about 5 to 10 minutes and I’m very impressed by it. I was told that the steering mechanism will be able to be mounted on either side of the seat. Everything looks to be well thought-out and just an overall creative and different design. If you haven’t seen the videos, the drive will be capable of retracting when bumped underwater, and can be deployed and lifted from a lever on top the deck. I’m looking forward to March!

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After the demo and seminars were complete, I got back on the water to fish a little. I skunked but did so while enjoying the scenery.

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The next day, we’d head to the Jackson Factory and see how the kayaks are made. I’ll post more on that later…

Courtesy of Josh Tidwell

Courtesy of Josh Tidwell

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