Catch date:10/10/2015 2:28:00 PM
Story date:10/11/2015 10:32:00 PM
River Bassin Coosa River Tournament:
This weekend I fished a moving water tournament in Wetumpka, AL on the renowned and treasured Coosa river water shed. The river runs the entire length of Alabama and is known for its diverse habitat, white water rapids and the notorious Alabama Spotted Bass! The spotted bass is what brought us to this location.
We arrived in Wetumpka on Friday morning to pre fish the tournament and do a dry run down our planned 6 mile float. We arrived at our put in location at 9 am and put in at the Jordan hydro electric dam. We launched in the tail waters after having to stand and soak in the beauty of the area for a few. We then met up with another North Alabama team that was fishing the tournament. We then decided to stick together for safety for our first dry run. This later became clear to us that we made the right choice. The section of the river we ran has class 2 and class 3 rapids and prominent rock structure below and above the surface. We fished our way down about 1.5 miles to our first rapid and it became apparent that the rapids were greater than any we had encountered before. We all made it through the first set with no issues. The 2nd, 3rd.....and 4th we were not so lucky. Two of our 5 angler that day flipped their kayaks in the rapids multiple times. Multiple items were lost to the river, but one was hurt pretty bad. When he flipped the current pushed him under his kayak and pinned him against the rocks....he broke free after 10 -15 secs that seemed like 2 hrs. The ride was not over for him yet, another one of the anglers was already in the rapids coming down and was unable to stop and ran him over with his kayak pushing him back under water and separating him for his kayak. The angler was wrapped in fishing line, rods and gear leashes. He ended up injured and not able to fish the next day and had to leave.
The day of the tournament started like clock work as we had planned. We put in at day break and started fishing. We were also surprised to see that Eric Jackson the owner at Jackson Kayaks was also fishing the tournament with us. About 45 mins into the tournament I hook up with my first fish....I was excited till about 10 sec into the fight I noticed the fish felt odd and was very fast. The fish arrived at my boat and out of the water jumps a 3 ft gar that tail walked across the front of my kayak. I pulled the fish to the other side of my kayak and shook it off so I did not have to put him in the boat with me and risk being bit. The rest of the day was very slow, the current was fast and the fish were hard to locate. The fish were not in the same spots as the day before. I did manage to land a 13.5inch alabama spotted bass to put me on the board a little after lunch. We were about 3.5miles down our 6 mile float with only one fish to show for it.....I was growing concerned, but kept fishing hard despite the set back.
We arrived at one of the largest rapids on our trip. With me having been down them all before my confidence has grown and I was not as worried, but still cautious. I made it about half way down when a swirl of current right before a 2 ft tall roller wave caught me on a rock below the surface. Once I was I hit the rock I knew I was in trouble. It turned my kayak side ways so I started to try and self right with my paddle. I was unsuccessful with my recovery and flipped my kayak. The other anglers retrieved my rods, net, cooler and other gear while I finished getting pushed through the rapids. Once below the rapids, but still in the current I needed to get back in my kayak. The current was way to strong to make it to a bank so I was forced to flip my kayak back over and make a deep water re entry into my kayak. After the angler got my gear (including my paddle) back to me I was wet and ready to fish. During the incident I lost my fish measuring device called a hawg trough....I ended up with a few little bumps from the rocks, but the most damage was to my ego :).
I ended up losing 3 more fish that day. I finished with one fish in my 3 fish limit. I had a wonderful time, met some awesome anglers and learned a lot. I look forward to competing with and hanging out with this group of guys again.