Kayak Fishing the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia

We are just back from our latest kayak fishing adventure—a shoot with friend and fellow Jackson Kayak teammate, Chris Funk. Chris and I both paddled Jackson Kayaks, with Chris in his signature DT, while I got to try out the Mayfly for the first time. The Mayfly is a fly fishing specific sit on top, and I really enjoyed paddling it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of my fly fishing equipment with me this time, so I couldn’t put it to the ultimate test, but I’ll definitely be paddling it again!

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Paddling the new Mayfly from Jackson Kayak

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Chris Funk fishing in the Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia.

For years, Chris has waxed on about a special spot that he has urged us to come and experience it firsthand. In the end, our curiosity got the better of us and we met up with Chris to explore the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia —a spot that may not sound like an exotic destination, but is truly out of this world. We stayed in a cozy cabin at the gateway to the swamp in Stephen C. Foster State Park, a 402,000 acre refuge chock full of herons, turtles, alligators, and—most importantly—bowfin!

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Paddling below the Spanish Moss that was everywhere in the Okefenokee

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Not a bad place to spend a day!

Throughout the week, both Chris and I landed numerous pike and bass, but the majority of   our time was spent chasing bowfin. We quickly learned that the trick with bowfin in these parts is to land them quickly to avoid getting the attention of the big gators also keen for a catch! With murky water and an abundance of toothy critters, we needed to straight tie our lures to something strong, and Seaguar Kanzen Braid was the ticket! The Kanzen casts really well, and it’s easy to dump the leader and straight tie when visibility is not an issue. Fishing among the hundreds of alligators and endless birdlife was definitely a highlight of this trip for us.

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Fishing with the locals

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Giving the gators right of way in the swamp

The water temperature was low due to a front that  had passed through the week before we arrived, which slowed the fishing down, but only marginally, so we still caught enough for our liking. The cold front also meant that there was a broad variety of temperatures and weather during the week, so that meant versatility was key. I was very happy that I brought along my Kokatat paddling top – it was perfect for the cool breeze in the mornings and easy to pack up and stow away when the weather got warmer in the afternoon.

The cold water also handily slowed the gators down, so they were not too aggressive and could be seen much of the day laying on the banks warming themselves in the sun. Paddling and fishing alongside gators does have an added element of danger, but it just made catching the local bowfin all the more exciting! This was also my first time catching bowfin, so I was pretty excited that I got to add a new species to the list on this trip.

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Another species added to the list

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My new otter friend. Photo: Chris Funk

Besides all the gators and birds we saw in the swamp we had a close encounter with a REALLY BIG otter. I was actually standing on shore at the time when he came running right up to me, he saw me and did a quick right turn back into the water.

Next week we are off to Virginia to meet up with friends Wes from SEiGLER Reels and Luther from YakAttack for a week-long kayak fishing road trip – stay tuned for more updates on that on our Instagram and Facebook page!

Kayak Fishing Vancouver Island, Canada

We are back from lovely Vancouver Island and are very happy to report on this amazing trip. The folks from Nootka Marine Adventures along with BC tourism did an amazing job at welcoming us, making us feel right at home and most importantly, putting us on some amazing fish.

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We arrived late at night to a sky full of rain. When we rallied early the next morning there was a rare offshore calm begging us to add some excitement. The calm gave our kayaks a chance to drop in on some halibut and ling cod. We hooked a few ling and rock fish, but only landed the halibut which was hauled in on the support boat…but hey…at least we got to eat it!

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Next we took part in the Moutcha Bay Annual Kayak Tournament. What a fantastic event! Myself and the crew were blown away by the remarkable attendance and the love the local anglers have for kayak fishing.

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We had a wonderful few days after the tournament fishing the iconic, wild, BC rivers for salmon that had begun their move. Massive schools made shooting a breeze and we were able to catch and release about twenty gorgeous fish on film.

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To close out our trip, we had one more day offshore. I managed to catch the elusive yellow eye rockfish that I have been hunting for and our friend, Kalani, hooked his first big ling.

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With a fishery of world class proportions and the legendary scenery of ‘Beautiful British Columbia’, we are already planning our trip back!

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Kayak Fishing in the Ottawa Valley

JUNE 22-30

For our most recent shoot, I headed back to the beautiful Ottawa Valley to fish on the mighty Ottawa River. ‘The Valley’ is home to Heliconia, the producers of our show, and it’s no wonder they’ve chosen this as home base – the fishing is unreal.

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Exploring the many side channels on the Ottawa River

After many of our international trips being plagued by storms and wind, it was refreshing to see that the weather in the Ottawa Valley was going to be pretty consistent, if not incredibly hot. Most of the time, really hot days can really make for awesome evening bites, and this trip was no exception.

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Nice largemouth!

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Ken getting up close and personal with one of many fish caught on this trip

On this trip we switched things up a bit, with show producer Will Richardson playing guest host, while Ken Whiting joined us and took on the role of primary videographer for a few days. Will got to experience firsthand what it feels like to have bad luck in your home waters, as the topwater largemouth bite wasn’t on as much as we had hoped with the forecast.

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Another nice largemouth

We then hooked up with the guys from Team Jackson Kayak, who were also shooting in the area. Having Brooks, Jameson, James and EJ along for this really helped logistically with shuttles, and for getting lots of different angled shots. We hit the water hard, running rapids and fishing for small mouth bass and pike. Our luck seemed to turn around, and needless to say, the Ottawa provided and we had a great time. I was paddling the Coosa HD on this trip, and loved every minute of it – it was really stable and comfortable, key for getting through some of the whitewater we encountered on this trip.

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The man himself (Eric ‘EJ’ Jackson) ready to hit the water

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Hanging out with the boys from Team Jackson Kayak

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Scouting some of the bigger rapids on the Ottawa River

Following that, Jim joined up with local pros Dan and Manny in a secret location for some musky fishing. The boys put us on plenty of fish and we all came off the water with huge smiles.

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Super secret location in the Ottawa Valley

Finally, we hooked up with musician and narrator for Kayak Bassin’ Brock Zeman for a last day of fishing for largemouth on a small back channel. If you like our theme song for the show, Brock is the evil genius behind it!  This was hands down one of the best days of fishing of our lives, as those bass were all over our topwater frogs.

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Getting serenaded by Brock Zeman on the water…not sure what to think about that.

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Brock with another nice bass

The Ottawa River always provides us sunny skies, warm water and awesome fishing. We’re already looking forward to our next trip back to the Ottawa Valley.

Florida Keys – June 2016

JUNE 2-9

With the promise of great times and amazing fishing in the Florida Keys, our host, Capt. Esteban Gutierrez of Blackbeard Fishing Co., welcomed us for a week-long shoot.

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Unfortunately, another guest was also lured to the region on our second day there—albeit not invited by Esteban—Tropical Storm Colin. Intent to make the best of it, we ducked high winds and constant rain and managed to find great fishing!

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Esteban has become a bit of a regular face around the crew of the Kayak Fishing Show, and for good
reason. Not only has he set up some incredible trip opportunities and proven his kayak angling ability, he is also an asset on and off camera.

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During our time, with Colin, in the Keys, we hooked a tarpon, landed a bonefish, and hooked and landed a ton of snapper and barracuda. Our exploration of the Florida Keys’ amazing fishery has certainly inspired us to want to return for another shoot.

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The whole crew agrees that coming back for more time on the flats alone would be worth the trip. In the end, rainbows emerged (literally) and we managed some angling success despite the storm.

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Battle in the Bahamas

APRIL 6-11, 2016

Following our amazing adventures in New Zealand, we traveled back in time (crossed the international dateline) in hopes of continuing our lucky streak in the Bahamas. Upon our arrival it was evident that the sea gods wanted a little pay-back for their generosity in New Zealand.

We met up with Capt-Esteban Gutierrez of Blackbeard Fishing Company, Luther Cifers of YakAttack, and 50 mph winds upon our arrival in the Bahamas. The winds, and accompanying torrential downpours and rough ocean, lasted for two days. Our goal to “Battle in the Bahamas” in the Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament was beginning to look as washed out as the walls we were staring at inside our hotel room.

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Making the best of crummy weather – waiting for the winds to die down with Esteban and Luther

On the third day, the clouds parted…but so did our guide. Being nowhere to be found, it turned out he saw an opportunity to take the money and run. To say we were a little let down would be an understatement.

By this point, the sea gods had their fun. The tides turned with the arrival of our host Joe Hector who, along with his wife Maria, run the Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament. Within minutes, we had a boat, the weather cleared and we were off!

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Lined up on the beach getting ready for the Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament

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Esteban hooked into a nice dorado!

We hit the water and were amongst almost one hundred kayak anglers from around the world who were hooking and landing some monster fish.I found it really cool to see other folks paddling the JK Kraken in the tournament. There were plenty of Kraken 13.5 and 15’s on the water and those anglers proved that you don’t need peddle drives or a huge boat to haul in the big ones—a Kraken paddler even took largest fish in one of the 4 categories. The JKrate bait tank was clutch on this adventure because if you didn’t have bait, you didn’t have fish.

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Plenty of these babies all around the tournament.

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Trying to get something on the line during the tournament

However, the hardest part about shooting in these big tournaments is seeing so many folks without PFDs. When we heard excuses like, ‘it’s too hot’ and ‘I don’t find them comfortable’, I took the opportunity to show off the Kokatat SeaO2 features that mitigate the reasons for complaints. Hopefully next year we see more anglers wearing proper PFDs…

Probably my most electrifying angling encounter in this tournament was with a massive sailfish that charged my boat and threw the hook in the blink of an eye.

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In the end, we had a fantastic trip exploring the island, meeting many great locals and characters from the global kayak angling community, and enjoying incredible food. Joe Hector and the folks from The Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament were fantastic and we can’t wait to work with them again.

 

Revisiting New Zealand

MARCH 22-APRIL 1

Fresh back from 23 days filming abroad, we are road weary, heavily bearded and tired, but the adventure was nothing short of epic. First stop of the trip, Middle Earth; New Zealand.

We arrived to a punishing wind storm and our hearts immediately fell. This place has always delivered incredible fishing, but wind and kayaking the open ocean don’t pair well and we feared our objective was impossible. The storm packed 40 mph winds that shut down half of Auckland.

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Some unfavorable weather to start our trip

The Maori gods must have decided we were ok lads; the winds died and we were given a seven-day window of perfect conditions.

We hooked up with local Jackson Kayak pro staffer, Brent Klink, who perfectly nailed the logistics and planning for the trip.  Throughout the shoot, we paddled Jackson Kayak Kraken—straight up, the best boats for these waters. I had an opportunity to meet with distributors to get them excited about selling the boats, and had a very well received demo night with the local club.

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Pulling in some huge snapper with Brett Klink

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Having a great talk with the North Shore Kayak Fishing Club

New Zealand is a great market for the Kraken. We were told that a huge number of the population are anglers, and a growing number of those fish from kayaks (we were given an unofficial number of 40%), this place is a hot spot. Locally made boats ring supreme here, but that is countered with an overall dismay at the lack of popular design features that come standard on boats coming out of North America.

We set our goals for the trip—trout, kingfish, snapper—and set out for the local trout fishery, where we met up with local angling celebrity Shamus. Shamus fishes almost exclusively for trout on his SuperFishal. He would be an ideal contact to talk about the huge and growing SUP fishing market ready to hit on the North Island. Our first day on the water was spent here where I managed to limit-out by mid-afternoon.

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Shamus fishing for trout on his JK SUPerFISHal

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Trout? Check.

The following two days, we targeted kings and were royally pleased to hook about one hundred or so big kingfish.

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Kingfish? Check.

 

 

With successes coming easily, we upped our third goal from merely catching snapper to catching 20-pounders. Amongst the boiler rocks along New Zealand’s stunning coast, these goldenred beauties were hale, hearty and abundant.

 

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20lb. snapper? Check.

 

Six years ago our first adventure in New Zealand with big sharks lead to our introduction to Shark Shield, this time we returned with the Shark Shield in hand. Everyone wanted to know if I still keep my feet in the water given the experiences last time in NZ and we loved telling them that now that we have a Shark Shield…we do it even more.

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Kerry with a shark snack

With the landscape, the locals and the unending fish, it is no surprise that the footage from this trip is amazing. We are incredibly happy to report, with full smiles, that this has been one of the best shoots of our eight years of filming.

 

 

 

The Kayak Fishing Show review of 2015

It is hard to believe we have finished shooting for our seventh season on the air and are days away form the start of shooting for season eight.

We visited some amazing places and fished with wonderful people in 2015. In all honesty it was one of our tougher years fishing and weather wise but we pulled together and I think we got some great footage that will make for some real fun shows.

Our first stop in 2015 was a return trip to Panama with Paddle Panama, this was actually a shoot for our last airing season. We had a fantastic trip with some good fish and lots of fun kayak surfing.

One of many great fish in Panama

One of many great fish in Panama

Charging the Surf

Charging the Surf

Fun little Roosterfish

Fun little Roosterfish

One of the coolest parts of this trip was hanging with these kids

One of the coolest parts of this trip was hanging with these kids

After Panama we went directly to Florida for the kayak fishing Boondoggle and to explore the everglades.
Coming from Panama I was expecting Florida to be just as warm, big surprise it gets freezing in Florida. Even with that we had a great time hanging with friends and getting on some fish.

The next trip was a road trip with my daughter Kirstin, Jarrod Mcgehee and my good friend Sean White. We hit up Mag bay and one of my favorite places Cedros Island with Cedros Outdoor Adventures.
This was another trip where we got our butts kicked by weather but we kept at it and got some real good fish for our efforts. The highlight of the trip for me was Kirstin catching the biggest Yellowtail on the trip.

Kirstin with her big YT

Kirstin with her big YT

I was so stoked for her

I was so stoked for her

Seans bass rod Yellowtail

Seans bass rod Yellowtail

A beast of a Halibut for Jarrod

A beast of a Halibut for Jarrod

A decent one for me

A decent one for me

A nice Grouper caught and released in Mag Bay

A nice Grouper caught and released in Mag Bay

We didn't release everything we caught

We didn’t release everything we caught

For our next trip it was back on a plane for a flight down the Costa Rica, this time to the remote Drakes bay and the awesome Aguila de Osa Lodge. Our good buddy Esteban from Black Beard fishing charters set up the trip for us and brought along his partner Drei for some great fishing action on BIG Roosterfish and Dorado.

A big AJ for Esteban

A big AJ for Esteban

Drei supplying this bid Dorado for dinner.

Drei supplying this bid Dorado for dinner.

A beast of a Rooster for Esteban

A beast of a Rooster for Esteban

My big Rooster for the trip going around sixty pounds

My big Rooster for the trip going around sixty pounds

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Of course it is always fun during our shooting seasons to explore new places and this year we were able to visit a couple places we had never been before. First off was a trip to the Caribbean country of Curacao. On the trip with me were my wife Allene and by buddy Wes Seigler from Truth Reels.
This was one of our toughest trips of the year when it came to the fishing and the weather. Very high winds every day kept us from doing some of the things we would have liked but that didn’t diminish the great time we had in this beautiful country with its wonderful inhabitants. The water here is warm and the most wonderful color of blue you will ever see and the people were amazingly friendly. We worked hard on this trip putting in so many paddling miles in the wind, but because of the great company we spent most of that time laughing and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Our arrival in Curacao

Our arrival in Curacao

Wes getting his game face on.

Wes getting his game face on.

Just look at that water

Just look at that water

A beautiful place to paddle

A beautiful place to paddle

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I did catch some fish

I did catch some fish

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After Curacao we continued on to another new destination for us and that was Belize. This time we were joined by one of our very good friends Jeff Herman. He set us up at the historic Belize River Lodge for a great stay. Of course once again the weather just killed us, wind and driving rain kept us off the flats for the target species of bonefish and permit. Thankfully we had the fallback species of Tarpon to keep us entertained.

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Here is a little video I put together of a few of the Tarpon I caught.

Because of the incredible fishing we have had here in San Diego, thanks to El Nino, we decided to do a shoot here in my home town this year. There was a tournament going on in honor of James Lebowitz so we decided to shoot that too. The weather and fishing for the tournament was fantastic and some incredible catches were made. Of course when it came time for me to fish, the weather went sideways and took away some of the things we had planned. Still some great catches were made and we had a great time fishing with our friend John Jackson from Ram mounts.

A couple great fish from the tournament including the biggest yellowtail

A couple great fish from the tournament including the biggest yellowtail

A couple great fish from the tournament

A couple great fish from the tournament

Johns first yellowtail

Johns first yellowtail

Our one keeper yellowtail from the trip

Our one keeper yellowtail from the trip

Paul in his custom Jackson Kayak Kraken JAL edition.

Paul in his custom Jackson Kayak Kraken JAL edition.

Filleted up and ready for the smoker

Filleted up and ready for the smoker

Nothing like a Ballast Point Sculpin to go with that smoked fish

Nothing like a Ballast Point Sculpin to go with that smoked fish

Our final shoot of the year was a return trip to Florida to do a couple of things. First off was meeting up with Chad Hoover who had challenged me to a bass fish off, and second was to meet up with some of our Jackson Kayak teammates to go after some trout and redfish.
The first order of business was kicking Chads butt. Honestly I was pretty lucky, while I went after any fish to put on the boat, Chad went after big fish. Lucky for me the small ones bit and the big ones didn’t that day.

Our Entourage on the day of the battle.

Our Entourage on the day of the battle.

It aint much but it is a bass and I am on the board

It isn’t much but it is a bass and I am on the board

And another

And another

And your winner is !!!!!!!

And your winner is !!!!!!!

After the fresh water bass beating I met up in the salt for some reds and trout with team Jackson.

fun little trout in chilly Florida

fun little red in chilly Florida

and a red

and a red

headed back in for a hot meal with the guys

headed back in for a hot meal with the guys

And farewell from Florida

And farewell from Florida

We had some tough trips but nothing for me was as tough as losing one of my best friends, my father in law Bob Williams. Many years ago he is the one who bought me my first kayak and introduced me to paddling. He was a wonderful man and will be missed by anyone who ever met him.

One of the greatest guys you would ever have a chance to meet. RIP

One of the greatest guys you would ever have a chance to meet. RIP

Though it was a tough year personally and for shooting as I look back on it, it was still a pretty incredible year spent at amazing places and time spent with so many great people. I sure love my job and hope I can continue at it for some time.

Many thanks to all of our sponsors who make it possible, and our fans who keep us inspired.