Bending Branches Best of the Best
Here is a post about how, along with my Bending Branches Angler Pro and Jackson Mayfly, I was able to finish on top after four grueling days on the Coosa River, and Lake Jordan in Wetumpka, Alabama.
Over the past year, during my reign as the Kayak Bass Fishing National Champion, I have had many incredible opportunities come my way. I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet many people from many places across the Nation, fish in some of the most beautiful places this country has to offer, and travel to some places that I never would have ventured before winning the National Championship. One place, that my travels this past year took me was the great little town of Wetumpka, Alabama. Running through the town of Wetumpka is the Coosa River. This beautiful river is one of the most scenic rivers in the country and is home to some off the best Spotted Bass fishing in the country. This river begins in the town of Rome, Georgia and flows trough several impoundments, the last of which is Lake Jordan. After the tail waters of Lake Jordan, the river flows around 7 miles to the city of Wetumpka, Alabama where it joins the Tallapoosa River to form the Alabama River. Lake Jordan and The seven mile float of deep pools, shoals and rapids below Jordan Dam was where I had the pleasure of fishing in late February for the KBF Best of the Best Shootout for 4 days of daylight till dark fishing marathon against one of the best in the sport, Team Hobie, and 2016 KBF Angler of the year Jay Wallen. Jay and I spent 4 days fishing the Lake and River during a tough time of the year to try and figure out a pattern and I was able to pull off a win by the end of the event fishing some really tough cold front conditions. The competition consisted of 4 days of daylight till dark fishing,3 days of tournament with 1 full day of prefishing. We were treated like royalty by the city of Wetumpka, and were given a luxury room at the 5 star Wind Creek Hotel and Casino for the duration of our stay.
First let me talk about Lake Jordan. This lake consists of the water from below Mitchell Dam to the Lake Jordan Dam. The upper section of the lake just below Mitchell Dam is more river than what I consider Lake. Although I didn't get a chance to fish this section I did check it out from the shore and have to say that It has all the things you look for as an angler. Current, deep channels,massive boulders and cliff walls, dominate this section of the lake. As you head southeast down the lake the scenery changes from river like to more of a lake feel. Houses line the lake all around, with many steep banks, grass flats, rocky points and more boat docks than you could ever fish in a week from a kayak. Aside from all the shoreline structure and grass that is available on this fairly clear lake is the offshore structure to explore with your electronics. Paddling around and watching my Lowrance showed many humps, points and ditches that held massive amounts of bait and fish that it was hard to narrow down where one should even start. Both myself and Jay both found it easy to find fish, it was just proving very difficult to figure out how to get them to bite. The week leading up to our time there they had a long warm spell and we brought a cold front with us that sent the Bass into lockjaw for the most part. If you could hit this lake in better conditions I am sure you would be in for the Spotted Bass trip of a lifetime.
The other part of our time in Wetumpka was spent on the famed Coosa River. My first day on the river was spent in the lower section just upstream from the Gold Star Park in Wetumpka. I put in and paddled upstream 2 miles in the slower moving section of the river. This section has many deep holes, transition type banks going from submerged wood cover to rock banks and small current breaks around bridges and ledges. The fishing in this section of the river was superb with my biggest Spotted bass of the trip breaking me off at the boat after a wild Arial display. Needless to say, my hopes for multiple 20 inch spotted bass were high after my first few hours on this river. The rest of the day brought many nice bass but I was eager to get on the water and float the length of this awesome fishery the next day during competition.
Day one of competition myself and my cameraman, the one and only Flukemaster (Gene Jensen) launched at daylight in the tailwaters of Jordan dam. I was paddling my new 2017 Jackson Mayfly and Gene was following along in his Jackson Big Rig. The first section on this float consisted of a little over 1 mile of deep slower moving water. In this section alone, one could spend an entire day fishing, it is filled with rock walls, deep ledges and current breaks that hold lots of fish. Being a river fan I was eager to get to the moving water which begins in the section they refer to as the Shoal Waters which consists of around 4 miles of channels, rock islands, riffles and drops. The names of these sections in order are River Falls, Moccasin Gap, and Pipeline Falls. Some of these sections during the spring and summer would be considered class 3, although during our time on the river, the level and flow was low so we never encountered anything more than some rough class 2. This section of the river was, by far, my favorite although it was almost overwhelming with the target rich environment it presented. I found myself not wanting to move down river due to the beauty and incredible habitat this section presented. One could spend days exploring the many spots to fish around these islands and shoals. After this section, the river slows down again with occasional chutes and bends creating some incredible spots to fish all the way thru to the city of Wetumpka. Spending the day on the Coosa river in my Mayfly was truly a pure joy. The design of the boat was right at home in the moving waters, able to maneuver quite well to take the correct line thru the many chutes and rapids. It also was surprisingly nimble enough to circle back and hang in the eddies after the many rapids and shoals. I was curious as to how the lower profile of the Mayfly would handle going thru some of the bigger rapids and I was very pleased to find it handled them with ease although it did tend to take some water over the bow in some of the bigger rapids, but with the wide hull and great scupper drains it was always stable, draining quickly and solid thru the whole run.
Day two had us battling it out on Lake Jordan just north of town. That morning a strong cold front moved trough just as we were launching for the day. I had found a spot about 1 mile across the open water that I really wanted to fish for the day. As I was getting my boat rigged out at the truck for the day, the wind was gusting so hard that it rolled my boat and all my gear over in the parking lot. I was really concerned about the rough waves and whitecaps roaring across the lake that I was preparing to cross to start my day. There were numerous bass boats lining up to blast off later that morning and I knew I needed to get to my spot or it would be gone for most of the day. I bundled up, tightened my PFD and launched my Mayfly into the lake and with a quick prayer for safety, and my Bending Branches Angler Pro I paddled out across the open water in some pretty rough conditions. With gusts of 30 plus mph winds I never felt unstable or unsafe at all in the Mayfly. It took me twice as long to make it to my spot but the stability and wind resistance of the low profile hull really shined that morning. I made it to my spot that morning which was protected from the strong winds and spent the entire day in a 100 yard section and caught spotted Bass all day long. To spend 13 hours straight for 4 days in a kayak, in comfort and safety is a true testament to the quality and great design put into this boat. I was able to stand and sit with ease throughout the day and keep my boat positioned for success.
Day three was our choice of where we wanted to go. I never would have guessed, prior to the tournament, that I would elect to fish my 3rd day on the lake, but after the number of quality bass that I had caught the day before and the fact that I had quite a sizable lead going into the last day, I chose to finish my tournament out on Lake Jordan. I was able to get my 5 fish limit by noon that day which sealed the deal for me and wrapped up a weekend of fishing that I will never forget. I came away from this event blessed in many ways. First and foremost I got to do what I love for 4 days all expenses paid. I got to spend time with some great people, who I now consider friends. And I got to put the new Jackson Mayfly thru a torture test on lake and river which it passed with flying colors. If you want a destination to go, and have some world class spotted bass fishing, on both an incredible Lake and a beautiful River, you need to make Wetumpka a spot on your to do list. The city is passionate for supporting the Kayak fishing movement, and you can even rest your head or try you luck at the 5 star Wind Creek Hotel and Casino after a long day on the water. If you need a shuttle while on the river give Chris and Therese Carter of Coosa River Adventures a call, they are great people with a great site on the river that will take good care of you. Finally, a big thanks to Bending Branches, Chad and Kristie Hoover, Joe Haubenrich, Gene Jensen, and Will Richardson, for a wonderful week and making it all possible.