The winter months can be brutal in the mountains of North Carolina, and Colby (our Digital Media Manager) and I started plotting our escape to a warmer destination. As we began researching, it became clear there was no better option for targeting a wide variety of fish, meeting some awesome anglers, and curing our case of the wintertime blues in Florida.

Knowing we couldn't do this alone, I went scoured our FeelFree Instagram account and started researching places and people we could link up with while we were in Florida. The main objective was to fish and connect with some of the faces that represent FeelFree Kayaks. A few messages later and the trip would soon be in the works.

We loaded up and began our journey from North Carolina. Fast forward 24 hours, we arrived at our first boat ramp before sunrise in Central Florida for our fishing session. We quickly pulled down to the boat ramp and hid one of the kayaks on our trailer out of sight (more on this later). We were greeted by Kevin (better known as 863 Bassin) and his son Bradley. Kevin is an Instagram phenomenon, inspiring anglers of all generations to enjoy the grind.  

Kevin's son, Bradley soon noticed a random kayak (the one we kept hidden) down by the boat ramp as we met up. We walked down there with cameras and keyed Bradley in on the surprise. Eight-year-old Bradley was the proud new owner of a Moken 10 Lite v2. Bradley loved to fish but had found that his current kayak hindered his small stature. So we opted to get him in the Feel Free Moken 10 Lite V2 as it is small enough for him to handle but still offers everything he needs to have some fun fishing. 

We fished from sun up to sun down that day and have sunburns, photos, and exiting memories to enjoy. We did manage to catch a few fish but ultimately laughed and smiled a lot more.

The following day, we loaded the Feelfree van and were on our way to South Florida. This region has been a bucket list item for Colby and me, intending to target Peacock Bass and Snakehead. 

We soon met with Corey Nowakowski, your current World Record Holder for Snakehead and Local Guide. Corey showed us where these fish lived, and I found it funny that we were fishing in canals next to golf courses and only a few feet behind people's houses. Corey ran us through the drill of catching Snakehead, and soon we were off chasing them.

First up would be the Peacock Bass and me. I saw a few under a bridge and made a cast in that direction. A few rod jerks, then a flash, and I was on with my first Peacock Bass. Next would be Colby with a Snakehead, which would conclude his goal of catching all three species of Snakehead. The day would go on, and the heat was brutal. A few casts along the bank, and I saw what appeared to be a Snakehead eat my frog. A few moments of yelling and then silence as the fish got away. Yes, I had hooked up and lost my first Snakehead. However, we would end the day on a high note by caching a few more Peacock Bass.

The drive back to North Carolina would begin later that afternoon. Smiles and memories filled the car ride home as we laughed about the fish we caught and the ones we missed. We would like to thank everyone who made the trip possible and showed us around their areas. While this trip is in the rearview, the memories will live with us for many years. 



Follow 863 Bassin Here: @863bassin

Book your Snake Head Hunt Here: Captain Corey Nowakowski

Written by Jake Smith

Photography by West Ashe


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