Saturday, July 27, 2013

Jackson Big Tuna Tandem Fishing Review

Marian and I received an invite to fish Flounder Lakes in Meggett, SC. So I thought why not test the Jackson Big Tuna out tandem style while fishing Flounder Lakes know for huge redfish, giant black drum, and doormat size flounder.

The small town of Meggett is a charming small southern coastal town which connecting the waterway with the truck farmers in the 1920s. It was also known as major distribution point for the second largest oyster and fish cannery in South Carolina. Today Meggett is peaceful, quiet community of creeks, marsh, old homes and new, old families and newcomers; located just 30 minutes from historic downtown Charleston and 30 minutes from the sandy shores of Edisto Beach on the Atlantic.
Since the Big Tuna is set-up for the solo configuration, I had to reconfigure so that Marian and I could use the kayak in the tandem set-up. This involved installing my seat over the area where normally my YakAttack Black Pac goes. Since I like the high seat position of the Jackson Elite Seat, I placed the seat in this position. Marian prefers the low seat position, I set-up the spare Jackson Elite Seat in the low position having her face forward. Of course the plans also included have Marian dangling her fingers in the water while I paddled.

When configuring the Jackson Big Tuna for two people you will need change up the aft foot pegs. My Big Tuna has a rudder system so you well need to remove the foot pegs from the peg slider (my technical term). Then you will need to remove the foot sliders from the peg tracks. You will then flip or rotate the peg slider and reinstall the peg slider. Ensure that the rudder cable is adjusted and not wedged when the peg slider is installed into the peg tracks. Slide the foot pegs onto the sliders and adjust for use.
Now the Big Tuna is essentially configured for two people.

With the various RAM Ball positions, I was able to strategically position rod holders for both Marian and myself. The small about of tackle that we would need for this trip was placed beneath my seat if we needed to replace any terminal tackle. The mud minnows were placed into the center hatch that had been converted into free flowing bait well to allow water to circulate and keep the bait at a consent water temperature.
When Marian and I launched the first thing we both noticed that the Big Tuna seemed a little tipsy. Now I do not have any other experience with tandem kayaks so I would have to assume that the Big Tuna is more stable than other tandem kayaks. After all we did not fall into the water.

The Big Tuna paddled well with both of us on the water. It tracked great and the rudder system steered the Big Tuna with no issues.
We were also fishing with our host, Jeanne who claims to be the “Doormat Queen” when it comes to Flounder Lake.

When we got to the small dike that allows water from the Wadmalaw River into Flounder Lake, uff da, we were an hour late as the dike had a great flow of water coming into the manmade impoundment. I positioned the Big Tuna so that both of us could cast into the fast flowing water coming from the other side of the dike. I baited Marian’s rod, explained to her how to fish for flounder, and she made her first cast. In the mean time I set up my flounder rig and hooked a mud minnow through the lips and made my cast. While Marian was slowing retrieving her bait by turning the handle a turn or two and wait; I proceeded to start to set up a rod for those monster black drum and spot tails that swim these waters. While setting up this rig, my flounder rig started streaming; this was not a flounder.
The next thing I knew, I needed to have Marian bring in her rig but it was too late. Uff da we got our lines tangled. Jeanne paddled over and managed to get the two lines separated. Uff da line was still streaming off and the rod tip was bent nearly to the rod butt and under the Big Tuna. I have fought plenty of large fish from the Big Tuna but this was the first time that I could not move the rod around the kayak to work the fish. Uff da the Flounder Lake monster decided to circle the kayak and then I had the line wrapped around the stick-it pin. By the time I got the unwrapped around the stick-it anchor it was too late. Whatever I had either a large redfish or a huge black drum managed to break itself free. I was actually pretty upset. So upset I wished that I had decided two bring the Jackson Cuda for Marian and just maybe I would have landed this huge fish.

Then I had to replace the terminal tackle that I had lost form the mystery monster. During this time Marian was still perfecting her cast and technique for flounder fishing. By the time I had the rod set-up we did not have any flounder yet. Then Jeanne, the “Doormat Queen” had the first fish on. She managed to land a small oyster toadfish. She paddled up to the Big Tuna so that I could remove the ugly fish from her hook. Uff da are they ugly and feel really soft.
A few cast later I had a bump and slowly let the fish take the bait. Then I set the Eagle Claw Kahle hook and it was fish on. In no time I had the first flounder on the kayak. The flounder measured just short of 14 inches and was allowed to grow up and fight another day.

A few more cast and this time I had a big hit. This time it left like a bigger flounder. Uff da this flounder did some jumping. Finally I managed to get him into the net and into the Big Tuna. The flounder measured 18 inches and he went into storage for a nice dinner.  We hoped to catch a few more. After catching a few rats (small redfish) and releasing them to grow up. It was time to head in for the flounder dinner that will not happen at our host home in Meggett.
Overall the Big Tuna performed satisfactory to our experience with tandem kayaks. I would highly encourage a couple or family to consider the Big Tuna as a family kayak. Fishability, The Big Tuna in the Tandem configuration is a great fishing platform for two was long as the fish remain on the not so huge size. The bottom line is that Marian and I had a memorable experience with the Big Tuna that would never be matched with two solo kayaks. After all we will have to learn how to fight a Flounder Lake monster as a team and not just me. Team work just might have brought this mystery fish in.

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