As I mentioned in my previous post, this year in Southern Califonia has been one for the records. Tuna, Dorado and countless yellowtail have been caught this year with high expectations that many more will be caught before this year is over. Because of this we decided to shoot a couple of episodes of my show here in San Diego. As seen in the previous post we first attended the JAL memorial kayak fishing tournament and saw some great catches of big White Seabass and Yellowtail.
The day following the tournament we took the day off the water to shoot some B roll around my wonderful city and catch up on some other work. Preferring to do that work on the weekend and do our fishing on the week days.
Of course as our luck would have it when we decided to fish, the weather turned and the fishing dropped off. On Monday I met up with my good friends Paul Lebowitz and Chris, one of the old time LJ kayak anglers. This day started off very nice but with very tough hunting for live bait. With a lot of work we loaded the bait tanks and got to work. We lost many bait to Bonita, which though fun were not what we were looking for. Other than that we mainly fought with Sealions to keep out bait.
On day two of the trip I had gotten some intel of some fish in an area not often fished that is generally sealion free. John Jackson from Ram Mounts was going to be joining me for the next three days of fishing so getting him on some fish was my goal. It was a long paddle but once in the area things really started to look fishy. It was a drizzly morning with a bit of wind, predicted to get no more than 12mph. Well predictions were wrong and it seemed the minute we got to the area the wind started to built slowly. We both hooked up a couple times to bonita then I hooked into a big fish. This thing spun me around and towed me into the now 15-20 mph wind with very little effort, I was flying across the water. Thinking I had this fish in the bag, I was pretty stoked, unfortunately I suddenly pulled the hook on the him. It wasn’t long after that the wind started to push over 30 mph combined with a driving rain. Impossible to shoot let alone fish in these conditions we ran for home. Once at the boat launch it was high tide with a flood of water coming from the storm drain which made landing my little tinny camera boat a real challenge. Needless to say not much in the way of photos or video from that day due to the driving rain. I gotta say I was pretty happy I had brought along my Kokatat paddling jacket and even more so my SeaO2 PFD, because it got more than a little sketchy out there.
Day three of the trip we arrived at the beach while it was still dark and were greeted by more wind. Not horrible but worse than we really wanted to deal with. Standing on the beach for about an hour weighing different options for the day we finally decided to just go for it. We had brought along our Torqeedo motors so we knew we would have no issues getting back if the weather went to hell.
Lucky for us something happened that never happens and that is the weather got better. We loaded up on live bait at the kelp beds and got to trolling. It didn’t take long before John landed his first ever yellowtail, it was pretty small but he was stoked about it. This little guy was released to fight again.
We were in the right zone because we landed three more fish in that area but they were all in that smaller size so released. The biggest issue this day was that we were the only guys out on the water, no other kayakers or boaters to spread out the sealions. Once they got on us they wouldn’t leave so we stopped fishing for over an hour. At this point I did a little sneak move to get away. We paddled through the kelp beds for about a mile and popped out in another spot. With the coast clear we put baits back out and began to troll. This time we had a double hook up with John landing a nice bonita and I got a twenty four pound Yellowtail. Thankfully I was using a kelp cutter rig because my fish wrapped up in the bull kelp and with the combination of Seaguar Threadlock hollow core braid and Seaguar fluorocarbon I was able to work the fish out. This fish came home with us and went into my Big Chief smoker the next day.
Unfortunately after landing that yellow the sealions found us again and pretty much put an end to our fishing day.
We had some other highlights to the trip like flybys from a good sized hammerhead and watching a humpback whale breaching over and over again.
Though the trip was not what I had hoped, due to the weather, it was still a good trip and La Jolla will always be my home on the water.
Every two weeks, we release the Kayak Fishing Tales Newsletter, which has giveaways, videos and announcements. (If you don’t already get the newsletter, sign up here: http://bit.ly/1O8fexH ) Another great part of our Newsletter is the SEA-LECT Designs Rigging Tip of the Week, which outlines some handy tips and tricks to outfit your kayak to optimize your fishing experience. This week, Jed Hawkes of the Product Development Team at SEA-LECT goes over a very cost effective and simple solution for lashing your paddle to the deck of your kayak and for keeping knots from coming undone.
We commonly will just “deal” with small repeated tasks that are imperfect, it’s so small or common that we will spend a moment struggling with that task rather than find a simple solution to streamline it. This is either because we don’t see a solution, know of one that already exists, or perceive that moment of struggle as insignificant. But these moments add up. We commonly use our deck bungee to securely store our paddle while we accomplish a task; this can be a something as simple as taking a drink of water or more complex like tying on a new lure, assisting in a rescue, or landing the first catch of the day.
The Clamcleat® Shockcord Ball greatly helps assist quickly storing your paddle under your deck bungees. The ball is threaded onto your deck bungee and gives a wider radius to allow the paddle blade to slide under the deck bungee without snagging. The flattened side helps it sit nicely on the deck and the beveled corners of the hole help prevent fraying of the bungees sheath. The balls can be used on deck bungees for Fishing Kayaks, Sea Kayaks and SUP’s.
I also use the Clamcleat® Toggle Ball to add a large stopper onto small diameter cordage. The Toggle helps to cover the knot as well as provide an easy object to grab. I install these on the ratchets of by back band on whitewater and sea kayaks to help pull the back band taught.
For more information about SEA-LECT Designs, visit sealectdesigns.com
The kayak fishing in San Diego this year has been nothing short of incredible with catches never seen before. I personally have caught my first ever local Yellowfin tuna and my first ever Bluefin tuna from my kayak.
We here in San Diego have had a long history in modern kayak fishing and as a community a long history of giving back to other kayak anglers in need.
With the incredible fishing we are having and a great benefit tournament going on I thought it would be the perfect time to bring the cameras to my home town and shoot a show.
The tournament this year is called the JAL memorial tournament and it is to be a day of remembrance, honoring a young man who’s life was full of his family and friend’s love and that love will live on forever.
All proceeds will be given to continue the James Lebowitz Computer Science Scholarship. You can read the story behind the tournament here.
Tournaments in La Jolla have always had a way of bringing out the best in our community as well as the best out of our fishery. This years tournament was no different, with some spectacular catches being made, including a tournament winning fifty eight pound White Seabass. I did not personally fish the tournament choosing instead to drive my boat with the camera on board, shooting video, still shots and delivering a few cold beverages courtesy of Ballast Point. We got lucky and were in the right spot to get shots of most of the biggest fish caught that day, so this should make for a great show.
Here are a few shots from that day.
The fishing was followed by a huge BBQ and the handing out of the prizes. Over five thousand dollars was raised for the JAL scholarship fund and a great day was had by all.
After the tournament we spent the next five days shooting in La Jolla for another episode. I will have write up about that soon.
About a year ago we were approached by Esteban Guetierrez of Black Beard Fishing company to gauge our interest in joining him on a trip to Costa Rica. He offered to work out all the details so we of course couldn’t say no. After a lot of work on logistics by him and his partner Andrei “Drei” Stroman we had worked out a plan with Costa Rica Tourism to shoot a couple of our shows.
We have visited so many great locations around the world while shooting our shows, great not only for the fishing but for the lodging, people and environment. After this trip I think Costa Rica certainly worked its way to the top of our list in all these categories. Aguilla de Osa in Drakes Bay Costa Rica has made it to the list of places I must return when ever I can. By their standards the fishing was slow, but was still amazing, the lodge itself was fantastic, from the rooms, views, meals and even more because of the wonderful staff. It is not often when you go on a trip that every employee at the location makes a point of learning your name and stops to have a conversation with you each evening to ask you about your day, and seem to be genuinely interested in what you have to say.
I have found the people all over Costa Rica are very passionate about their country and love sharing it with visitors. As a whole the country is very clean and everyone seems very protective of the environment. Costa Rica has embraced eco-tourism unlike any other country I have visited and it really shows in how the country has protected vast areas of open space that have incredible bio-diversity. Whether going on a fishing trip or a family vacation I don’t think you would regret a visit to Costa Rica.
For this trip we flew into San Jose then took Sansa, the local airline, to The town of Palmar Sur which is located on the Sierpe River that empties directly into the Pacific Ocean. The Sierpe wetlands has one of the largest mangroves in the world featuring amazing and untouched biodiversity. Palmar Sur is also used as an access to Drake Bay and Caño Island Biological Reserve. Though you can fly direct to Drakes Bay we, like many tourists, landed in this destination to take the tour down the river, a wonderful adventure that allowed us to enjoy the wildlife and the lush vegetation until we get to our final destination. Below are some shots from our river tour.
Every evening at Aguilla de Osa there is a cocktail hour with fantastic appetizers that included ceviche, sushi, sashimi or any number of other goodies.
All meals are served at a large communal table so that all the guests dine together. This made for some great conversations with guests from all over. I must say that the food here was as good as anyplace I have ever been.
We put in a lot of miles every long day of fishing, at times feeling like we were paddling on a treadmill in the strong currents but it paid off with some great fish. The bulk of our catch was Roosterfish which are one of my favorites to catch. We all broke off on some big Cubera but did land some other good fish including Dorado and Amber Jack. I also had a hookup on a sailfish that tossed the hook before we ever got the camera rolling. Even if the fish had not cooperated it is an amazing place to paddle. Just make sure you have plenty of water and the right clothes to keep you covered up, because it is hot and humid.
We can not thank Bradd and his staff from Aguilla De Osa and the Costa Rica board of tourism enough for making this trip happen. Of course we couldn’t have done it without the help from the guys at Blackbeard Fishing company.
It deserves repeating, if you want a little adventure you owe it to yourself to visit Costa Rica.
After Leaving Mag Bay, we had a long drive to Punta Eugenia which was our pick up point to get to Cedros Island, our next fishing destination. This drive is over some long stretches of dirt road so we broke it up into a couple days spending the night at a very cool hotel overlooking the water at Bahia Asuncion. The next morning we had breakfast at the restaurant next to the hotel, which was basically inside a ladies house. The food was amazing and she was a sweetheart.
The last stretch of dirt road from Bahia Tortuga to Punta Eugenia was wash board and shook the fillings right out of your teeth. We were supposed to meet my friends Jarrod and Adrian at the pickup point but they were a no show. Turned out they had gotten a flat tire on the dirt road and were about three hours late. We couldn’t wait for them because the winds were picking up and if we didn’t leave we wouldn’t make it over to the island that day. The guys were able to meet up with us the next day out at the island.
Jose at Cedros Outdoor Adventures recently built his own little lodge on the cliff right above the water and this place is awesome. A great view from every room, wonderful employees and fantastic food.
Our first day of fishing at the island was all about the Calico bass, we got so many our hand were hurting. Most of the fish were caught in deep structure. While fishing the Calicos with soft plastics Sean tossed out a lure that had landed so many bass it had no tail left on it and wouldn’t you know it a yellowtail jumped on it. It was a great fight on his bass rod.
Jarrod and Adrian arrived later this day and we all hit the fish hard for the next three days. It was pretty windy on the trip but we knew there were big fish around so we charged anyway.
Some great fish were caught and a good variety as well. Jarrod landed a monster halibut and Kirstin caught the biggest Yellowtail of the trip at forty one pounds. I got a thirty nine and a thirty seven pounder. Adrian caught a big one as well and we also added some smaller white Seabass to the mix.
After fishing we were tired, hungry and thirsty and great food was always ready. Jose shared with us his recipe for huevos con huevos. Yellowtail eggs mixed with scrambled eggs and it was delicious.
Of course as our luck would have it the winds died on the day we had to head back to the main land. At least we had a smooth ride home. The same can not be said for the ride back down the wash board roads.
We got vibrated so bad the lumber rack on my truck broke and a leaf spring on my trailer broke when I hit a large hole that I had not seen.
Thankfully the trailer breaks down pretty easy so we were able to put it in the back of Sean truck and Jarrod had met someone that knew a guy with a welding shop in town. Within about an hour and a half the roof rack was welded up, kayaks were on the rack and we were on the road home.
I had some requests for whole fish so I got a big Engel Cooler for the trip. Everyone laughed when they saw how big is was. Turns out it was just big enough.
The rest of the drive home was beautiful and uneventful. We stopped for some of the best street tacos I have ever had just outside of Ensenada then made the final push home.
This was an absolutely awesome trip and I can’t thank my friends Sean, Jarrod and Adrian and my daughter Kirstin enough for joining me. Also huge thanks to Will Richardson and Mike McKay for documenting the entire trip.
Of course big thanks to Mag Bay outfitters and my good friend Jose at Cedros Outdoor adventures for hosting us.
I am just back from a fifteen day road trip down Baja with my daughter Kirstin and my good friend Sean White along with my videographers Will Richardson and Mike McKay. Our destinations for the trip were Bahia Magdalena and Cedros Island, but the trip was as much about the journey as these destinations. Our two thousand mile round trip was filled with fun, fish and some obstacles that only made the trip that much more memorable.
As I really don’t feel like writing a novel about the trip I will just share a photo journal of our adventures. With part one being from San Diego to Mag Bay and part two Cedros Island.
Visit Ballast Point
Beers picked out it was time to load up the truck and trailer for the trip.
Once past the boarder the first stretch of road is toll road that runs along the Pacific down through Ensenada, it really is a lovely drive.
The roads are narrow and not always in great conditions so take your time and enjoy the journey.
A full day of driving found us in Guerrero Negro, which in the right season is the hot spot for whale watching. The next day we continued the final push to Mag Bay.
Finally arriving in Mag Bay we met up with Mag Bay Outfitters and unloaded the gear.
The fishing inside of Mag bay was mostly smaller fish, Spotted bay bass, Corvina and Halibut, nothing big but good numbers and fun fishing.
We wanted to spend more days fishing outside the bay but the winds kept us inside for all but one morning. The day we did get out it was big rolling swells and plenty of wind. We hooked several big grouper but these fish knew how to find structure and shake a hook so we only landed one.
The town where we stayed is a fishing village with most of the people there involved in commercial fishing for both fin fish and lobster.
We had a blast in Mag bay but it was time to head north to Cedros Island. More about that part of the trip in the part two of our Baja Road trip.
I wrote this article with Will Richardson several years ago. I had someone point me back to it recently and I figured I would update it with some more current info and insight.
For the past 9 years I have had the pleasure of working with some of the best videographers and photographers in the industry to make our show. Making a show about kayak fishing would seem to be no harder than making any other fishing show, but let me tell you, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
We have a few unique challenges that we face: We travel to a variety of countries and places, and each one has its own set of rules, power supplies (or lack of), and weather conditions. Kayaks are by nature always wet, which makes it almost impossible to keep gear dry, and finally, unlike on a big boat where the videographer can hover over the anglers shoulder to get the perfect shot. On a kayak, everyone gets spread out, and the person to hook up is always the guy farthest away from the camera. (hint) If you are going to focus on just shooting consider adding a Torqeedo motor to your kayak, truly hands free propulsion and allows you to hold your camera good and steady.
This month, I thought (with the help of our videographer and photographer Will Richardson) I would give you some tips to get great photos and video from your kayak, and in fact, a lot of these tricks will work from any boat.
The biggest issue you are going to face is waterproofing your gear. In 4 years we have lost a total of 4 cameras to the water. Water and cameras just don’t mix. For most people it is best to simply invest in a good waterproof point and shoot camera. These days the cost has really come down, and they will give you the freedom to stop worrying about keeping your camera in a watertight box, and just have it ready to take a shot.
Our pro photographers need better cameras, and as of yet they don’t make DSLR cameras in waterproof, though they are getting pretty close. Several of the photographers have employed an amazing dry bag from Watershed Dry Bags. The lining is padded to protect your camera from banging around in the kayak, and even after being flushed down a serious set of rapids and rolled in the surf, not a drop of water has gotten inside. If you are on a big boat and have the room, a waterproof and padded case from Pelican is a great way to go, but very impractical on a Kayak. The Watershed bag can easily stow away in the bow of the Kayak, center hatch on my Jackson Kayak.
If you have a few bucks to invest in gear, another handy piece of gear is a EWA Marine underwater soft plastic housing. They make them for almost any camera, and will allow you to take shallow underwater shots, as well as keep taking photos or video in very rough conditions with your high end cameras.
Most people don’t have to travel as much as I do, so this is not as large an issue. But if you are taking a trip to somewhere exotic to fish, you will want to take a lot of shots, and nothing is worse than catching the big fish, only to find you are out of power and can’t take home the proof. Sounds simple, but always remember to bring a spare battery and memory card, and always, research the type of power/plugs you are going to encounter in the host country.
If there will be no power on your trip, such as a back country or long distance camping trip, there are a few great power solutions. Huge leaps in the quality of solar power have allowed us to charge up big production cameras and even laptops while we are away from the juice for more than 6 days at a time. Goal Zero has ended most of our power issues when at remote locations with a variety of solar panel and backup battery options.
The last issue is how to capture the moment when the moment hits. One thing I know is that it can be very tough to predict when a fish is going to bite. It is almost impossible to be there to get the cool hook up shot, or to snap a pick of that topwater explosion. The only solution is to have a camera running all the time. This is pretty easy to do with your GoPro or other POV camera though you do need to be aware of battery life. I think often as fisherman we have a good feel for when the bite might turn on so it’s never a bad idea to just turn the camera on when you have that feeling and let it run for a while.
Another option for great stills and decent video on the water is your run of the mill iPhone…Now is when you say “But Jim! You are talking madness, I am not gonna bring my iPhone on my kayak!” Well I have great news for you, waterproof cases for the iPhone and Galaxy phones are now available from Lifeproof and Pelican . You can still use the whole phone, including the camera, in or out of the water. They also have a floating Lifejacket, which protects your phone when dropped and makes sure the iPhone will float if you drop it off your yak.
As far as how to get the best looking video or still shots of your fish… well here are a few secrets I can pass along from my photographer friends.
1) Still shots of you holding a limp fish and smiling are never as cool as one of you fighting, landing or dealing with a fish. Hand your camera off to a friend and get him to shoot the action, not just the results.
2) Fill the frame! People want to see the fish, not a ton of water, fill the picture with you, the fish, the kayak and get as close to the action as possible.
3) Prepare for the action! The ultimate fighting shot has both the angler and the fish in it. Either shoot over the anglers shoulder, get in front of the fight so you can hopefully get a shot of the fish jumping in front of the angler, or shoot very wide so that the angler and the potential fish are both in your frame.
4) Shoot lots! With modern digital cards, you can just delete the junk later, the more shots you take the better chance you have at a winner. With video, never stop shooting, and keep your focus on the fishing (best jump shots are always lost because the camera man gets distracted and looks away)
5) When you do have jumping fish or good topwater action put your camera on rapid fire, this eliminates some of the digital lag and ensure you get the shot of the fish in the air not just the splash.
6) Play with different shooting angles, low angle shots looking up at the angler make for an interesting shot.
7) Have multiple camera mounts on your kayak; If you are shooting with GoPro or other POV cameras having a variety of mounts allows you to get many different angles of the same fish. With Yakattack and Ram mounts making so many different camera mount accessories you can put your camera anywhere. Drew Gregory is the master of this, take a look at one of his one fish many GoPro videos
8) Get the underwater shot, these shots can add so much to the interest of your video and with the waterproof housings available there is not excuse not to dunk that camera. Be sure you have the attached leash or float if you do this, we learned the hard way years ago, GoPros sink.
9) Avoid the crotch shot!!! I don’t know about you but I am just not into looking at someone’s groin while they are grunting away on a fish, yet we seem to see this shot all to often in peoples Youtube kayak fishing videos. So if you are shooting video from a rear facing camera, think of getting the camera up off the deck of the kayak a bit and angle the camera up a bit higher, I and the other viewers of your videos with thank you.
10) Avoid the death metal music. This music may appeal to you but In know that it doesn’t appeal to most and for someone perhaps watching a video while in an office , clicking on a video and having blasting head banger music is usually not a good thing and will get them to click off your video very fast.
11) Invest in secondary cameras. If you want to take your videos to the next level invest in another camera other than a POV. There are a couple guys that are making videos that are 100% POV that are top quality but not many. The quality of the video and audio on other cameras will really up your game. Add a lav mic if you really want to do much dialog in your videos, the audio is so much better than you will get from the camera mic.
12) Try to tell a story in your videos. Even a three minute video can tell a story and if you tell a good story people are more likely to watch and share.
GoPro has rather cornered the market on POV cameras over the past few years but there are many options out there, many of which have some incredible features or will get you into on the water shooting for a bit less money. So take a look at some of these options. I know a camera we are excited about taking a look at is the Flir FX, this camera has a lot of uses and some pretty interesting features that we are looking forward to putting to the test.
To finish off, a bit of light editing on your video and your pictures will go a long way to making the best impact when you show them off. You want to keep those YouTube videos short. (unless it is a big marlin or Tarpon with nonstop action) Chop em down and focus on the best action from the fight, YouTube viewers don’t seem to stick around for the long videos. I love watching fishing videos but a ten minute video of you just pumping and winding gets boring real quick. If you can get the hook up, some of the fighting and then the landing, unless the fish is a real jumper or thrashing on the surface, all of this should make for a video of three minutes or less.
Though this is a promotional video for one of our sponsors it is a pretty good example of the length that most people are willing to watch.
For Photos, delete any and all shots that are out of focus, or badly framed right off top. It will make it easier to pull out the best shot later. I usually do very little editing after the fact, just find one that is in great focus that shows the fishing action the best, then maybe pump up the saturation and brighten up the shadows a little if it was a really sunny day.
I hope this helps you get the next cover shot or million view YouTube video. I would love to see them. You can always post your catches at our Facebook page for the Kayak Fishing Show. You can view some of our videos on our YouTube Channel Kayak Fishing Tales