Month: May 2009

Listen to us on the Radio today

I am excited to be doing the All Outdoors radio show this afternoon. You can listen to me and Paul Lebowitz today from 4-6 p.m. Pacific time on KCBQ AM 1140 or  you can listen on line. To listen on line go to the Web site, or Click the listen live button.

We will be  talking about Game On, Game On 2, our Panama trip, Kayak Fishing and the MLPA process. IF you have questions or comments  please call in to the show. 888 344-1170 Would be cool to get some calls from different areas of the country.

I love free publicity

There is nothing like free advertising and I am super stoked we got some great pub in the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper this morning for Game On and my business. Outdoor writer Ed Zieralski wrote an awesome article about the movie and what I do for a living, Including a photo and links to all the sites.  It is on the second page of the Sports Section. I will also be on his radio show tomorrow evening from 4-6 pm. KCBQ 1170 am. talking about the movie.

 You can read the article here San Diego Union Tribune

What have we caught while shooting Game On 1 and Game On 2

My wife was asking me the other night what fish we have caught while shooting Game On. I told her, a lot, but it was just in my head I had never written it down. So it got me thinking about all the fish species we have been lucky enough to catch during our year and half of kayak fishing in Game On 1 and 2. Anyway I sat down and made a list of the different fish we caught in different locations. I am sure I am missing some but here is my list along with a few photo.

Species caught During Game On 1 and 2 by our crew.

Game On in Florida

Game On in Florida

Speckled trout
Lady fish
Salt water Cat fish
Blue fish


Red fish


Alaskan Halibut
Ling Cod

Ling Cod kayak fishing in Alaska

Ling Cod kayak fishing in Alaska

China Rock fish
Black bass
Tiger rockfish
Quill back rockfish
Yelloweye rockfish



Pike in Canada

Pike in Canada

Small mouth bass
Large mouth bass


Chesapeake bay

Jim with a Red fish in Chesapeake bay

Jim with a Red fish in Chesapeake bay

Red Fish

East Cape:

Matt and his jumping Striped Marlin

Matt and his jumping Striped Marlin

Striped Marlin

humbolt squid
Amber Jack

Howards Blue Marlin

Howards Blue Marlin

Blue Marlin
Hammerhead shark


Texas Redfish

Texas Redfish

Red fish
Speckled trout


Jim Sammons and 120 pound yellowfin tuna

Jim Sammons and 120 pound yellowfin tuna

Yellowfin Tuna

Mangrove snapper
Cubera snapper
Rainbow Runner
Jack Crevalle
Blue Trevally

Paul and his Panama Snook

Paul and his Panama Snook

Greater Barracuda
Porcupine puffer
Black tip shark
White tip shark

 39 different species so far, and I am sure I am missing a few. With more great locations to come this list should continue to grow.

Game On 2 Kayak Fishing in Panama Gear Guide

Game On 2 Kayak Fishing in Panama Gear Guide.

I have had several emails asking for more specifics on the gear we used on our trip to Panama, so I thought I would do a top to bottom run down of what we were using.

Starting at the top with head gear. It is very hot down there and you will want the sun protection of a wide brimmed hat. The hat I use is made by Ocean Designs
they are hand made and last for years. I have been wearing these hats for ever.
The guys were wearing hats by Exofficio, again wide brimmed for extra sun protection.

For clothing we were all outfitted by Exofficio, their clothing made a huge difference in our comfort in the heat and humidity.
My favorite items were the Neptune shirts which were cool in the heat, dried very fast after the rains and washed up like new after being covered in blood, something that you would not get from a cotton t-shirt.
I generally prefer wearing shorts and I love the new Nio Amphi Skimr they were not only functional, actually repelling water and stains, but stylish, my daughter even approved.

On the blazing hot days it was nice to put on a pair of pants to keep the sun off the legs. I like the Amphi convertible pants.They dry very fast so you can go from the kayak to the bar without a change. The pants do come with a liner but honestly I cut it out.

On our feet we had the new Reef runner sandals, I wore these in the airport and on the water. I spend my life in sandals and these are top notch and super comfortable. Great for on the kayak, on the beach and on the boat.

While out on the water in the blazing sun a good pair of polarized sunglasses is imperative and we are lucky to have Maui Jim with us for Game On 2. I wear the Stingray sunglasses which thankfully are available in prescription. Maui Jim has their own lab and can get you your prescription in many choices of frames, even in bifocals like mine. You can see I am wearing them in almost all of these photos.

On the fishing gear front I was using all Shimano gear and was glad to have their quality while fight some of these tough fish.
While fishing the rocks tossing lures over and over I used a Calcutta 300 TE reel.
This reel was tough enough to pull the big fish out of the rocks, was comfortable to cast with all day and I even landed a 38 pound tuna on what I would consider a bass rod. The reel was matched with a Shimano Calcutta rod.

While fishing for Snook I went with a lighter setup and used a Shimano Core
This low profile bait caster was more than up to the task and was a blast to catch fish on. I even landed a 15 pound Jack Crevalle on this reel attached to a Calcutta rod.

For throwing some of our heavier lures I used a Shimano Trinidad 16 reel
on a Shimano Teramar rod
With this combo I had the confidence I could stop the fish before he got me in the rocks.

While trolling for bigger game we often used large live baits or bigger lures and having a reel with a lever drag is a huge advantage. That is why we chose the Shimano Torsa and the Tiagra 12 two speed
The Torsa has a lot of pulling power and the two speed Tiagra gave me that something extra I need to land that 120 pound tuna. Both reels were matched to Shimano Tallus Rods.

All of our reels were loaded with PowerPro braided line
which gave us great sensitivity and power. We also used Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon leaders to entice those bite and give us the abrasion resistance we needed in the rocks.

Though we caught some of our fish on live bait, the big tuna included, most of our fishing was done with lures. The lures we chose on this trip really did the trick and that was the lures by Sebile.
Their Magic swimmers were great in the rocks and while trolling from the kayak and landed a huge percentage of our fish on the trip.
With its natural swimming action the fish could not resist it. The other go to lure was the Sebile Splasher surface popper we caught everything from Cubera snapper in the rocks to Tuna with these lures. The fish would absolutely explode on them; it was a thrill to watch.

The kayaks we used while in Panama were the Ocean Kayak Trident 13’s
These were great paddling kayaks, loaded with features to make them awesome fishing boats. They did well on the long distance paddle we did but also handled the roughest condtions with ease.

My paddle of choice on this trip and when ever I travel is the Lendal Kinetik
All carbon fiber with the bent shaft makes it a joy to paddle with; the fact that it breaks down to five pieces makes it a joy to travel with.

Another little item that really saved me during my three hour fight with that big tuna is called the Rod Knobie
This small pad that you slip onto the butt of your fishing rod makes those long fights much more comfortable.

On this trip, like all of our trips, we all carried Standard Horizon VHF radios,
not only a great safety item but also a great way to reach the support boat when you needed anything or to let the camera man know it was Game On.
These radios not only are waterproof but they also float.

Well that covers a good portion of the gear we had with us on the trip, though I am sure I am forgetting some. If you have any questions about any of the gear used please feel free to contact me.

Panama Trip follow up

Game On 2 Kayak Fishing in Panama

I have received a few emails asking for more details on how the trip was run and some logistics.
We arranged out own flights into Panama city all other flight and transfer arrangements were handled by Pesca Panama
We flew into Panama City; we were met by a driver that took us to a very nice hotel Casino for the night. We were up early and met in the lobby at 5:00 am the next morning and were driven to a smaller airport to jump a plane to David. This was all arraigned by Pesca Panama and is included in the price of the trip.
For those making this trip be prepared to cough up some extra coin for your baggage at this point. Your Rod tube better not be much over seven feet or it may not make it on the plane and there are fees for bags over 30 pounds.
After the one hour flight we were met in David by several drivers to pick us up and load our gear. It was just a ten minute drive to the barge. I am reluctant to call it a barge because it was very nice.
We loaded and prepped our kayaks and gear put them on the small boats and headed out fishing by 8:30 am. The barge then moved to an island where we met it that night. We were never near any populated areas after that and saw no one other than our group of five fishing boats, and rarely saw them other than back at the barge. You could fish from dawn till dusk if you chose to, we usually were the last ones off the barge each day. Wanting to let the paying customers get going without us in the way, yeah right, we were just too tired to get going after spending 12 hours in the kayaks.
Here is a shot of the fishing boats.
Pesca Panama fishing boats
As soon as the last fishing boat was away from the barge it would head to another location were we would meet it later that night.
The accommodations on the barge though not five star were very comfortable, though a little cramped when we were all trying to get ready to go. We slept four to a room with two bunk beds in each room. Take a hint get in the room first and get the bottom bunk.
cabin on Pesca Panama
The crew on the barge and the fishing boats were all top notch and were there to help us at every turn.
Most every night the bar tender, Jamie, was at the rail handing us our first rum and coke as we stepped off the fishing boat and would have your second one in your hand at the first sound of clinking ice cubes. Meals were served as you arrived in the open air on the front of the barge.
dining area on Pesca Panama
The food was awesome, generally some form of fresh fish, seared Tuna, baked Wahoo etc… We were often served ceviche or sashimi as an appetizer. Breakfasts were served as you awoke and again it was filling and good.
One night we got slammed by weather and ate inside then watched a great movie called Game On 1, you may of heard of it. 🙂
inside Pesca Panama
They had a nice flat screen TV and a library of movies. We really didn’t use this area of the barge much just on that rainy night.
We had our lunches out on the boats which were generally sandwiches or burritos and snacks, there was also a well stocked cooler on the boat loaded with waters, sodas, juices and beers.
This place is made to fish and you spent little time on the barge and a lot of time out fishing in some of the most spectacular areas I have ever seen. Picture fishing next to a waterfall for snook while listening to Howler monkeys in the jungle, simply amazing.

Ken fishing for snook

Jim fishing for snook

There were two showers on the barge and each night you could just toss your clothes in the hamper and they would be clean for you the next afternoon, meaning we could have brought a lot less clothes with us then we did. This was a great addition to their already fantastic service.
Unfortunately the trip came to an end all too fast and the process was reversed on the last day. We fished till noon, which gave us five and a half amazing days of fishing, then ran all the way back to David where we met the barge, had lunch, packed, plane back to Panama city, Hotel for the night and head home.
In Panama City I am sure you need to treat it just like any big city but we all felt very safe there.
What a great trip it was. I would go back in an instant.
If you plan on making this trip as a kayak angler, you can expect to out fish the bigger boats on the incredible inshore fishing, many of the places we hit the boats just couldn’t get to and these fish had never seen a lure. These fish hit hard and pulled hard so expect to lose a fair number of lures, bring strong gear and load up with Powerpro and at least 40 pound leaders, even then you will get hit by fish you just can’t stop before they bust you off.
The kayaks they have there are OK Trident 13’s with seats and two flush mounts. I found it very nice to have my Shimano bait tank with me, not as a bait tank but as extra rod holders and storage. It was also great to have a portable fish finder to stay in safe areas. There were spots that seemed very safe then the bottom would jump up and you would have large breaking waves out in the middle of a large bay.
For those long days on the water you will appreciate an extra seat pad and your own Carbon fiber paddle. I have a Lendal that breaks down to five pieces that makes it great for travel.
Feel free to contact me directly if you have any specific questions about the trip.
I know this location is going to make a great segment to Kayak Fishing Game On 2.

Game On 2 in Panama a photo report

Photo report from Game On 2 Panama shoot.

What a great operation they have at Pesca Panama. This is our floating lodge or floating bar as the case may be. They would move it every day to a new location while we were out fishing.
Pesca Panama home base
I don’t seem to have any photos of the support boats but they were top notch. Twin four strokes, full electronics and a huge bimini top to keep the sun off while on the boat. This was huge as when the sun was out it was blistering hot. Lucky we had plenty of cloud cover to keep the heat down a bit. Water temp was 86.5
We are talking long fishing days also, basically fishing dawn till dusk or even later if you take too long on a fish.
We were all very excited to get on our kayaks as we were told we would be the first kayak anglers to fish much of these amazing waters.
The first day of the trip we got into some real nice Roosters with my biggest being close to forty pounds, unfortunately no still shots of that fish but here is one of the others I got on a live bait.
Jim and Roosterfish
Here is Ken Releasing another
 Ken releasing roosterfish

We spent a lot of time fishing the inshore structure with Sebile poppers and magic swimmers, and you never knew what might hit.
Sometimes Jack Crevalle
Jim Sammons and Jack Crevalle
Cubera Snapper
Jim Sammons Cubera Snapper
Blue Trevally
Blue Trevally

We were fishing in some nasty neighborhoods and these fish were tough, wanting to pull us into the rocks and the surf. We lost a lot of lures to these fish in the rocks. You basically just buttoned your drag and at times would have to paddle the fish out of the surf zone. The pictures don’t do justice to just how gnarly these spots were. It sure was nice to be in our Ocean Kayak Trident 13’s has they handle the rough conditions so well.
Blow hole
fishing the rocks
fishing the rocks
kayak fishing the rocks in Panama
When it wasn’t hot it was raining
The Storm is coming
Paul kayak fishing in the rain
Our Videographer/Director Will in a down pour
Will Richardson getting wet in Panama

As we were moving from one island to another we saw a huge school of porpoise and swung by to check it out. Saw some tuna jumping so we tossed the kayaks in the water to give them a shot. Chased some boils and tossed out a surface popper right on top of one with my little Shimano 300 Calcutta and got slammed on the first crank.
Rather like taking a knife to a gun fight.
Jim Sammons Kayak Fishing for 38 pound tuna
Paul and I each got one his going 42 pounds and mine 38, note the porpoise behind Paul.
Paul Lebowitz Tuna and dolphin
Paul Lebowitz and Jim Sammons Kayak Fishing for tuna
Back near one of the islands we were told about a spot they called the Snook hole for a good reason. These were our first Snook ever.
Paul Lebowitz kayak fishing for Snook in Panama
Jim Sammons first kayak fishing snook

After fishing the Snook hole we decided to investigate a small tidal river. As soon as we got on the water we spotted a couple of very small crocs sinking out as we approached.
Hunting for saltwater crocs
Paul and I each caught small snappers in the river.
As we came around this bend a VERY LARGE salt water Croc Flew off the bank which was about four feet high and landed just a few feet off my bow. I think I levitated out of my kayak; needless to say this is where we turned around. The camera was rolling at the time so I am dyeing to see if they got it on tape.
The croc spot

One of the spots that I was really looking forward to fishing while in Panama was the famed Hanibal bank. This place is famous for big tuna and billfish and I really wanted to try our luck out there for a couple of days. As we would be the first kayak anglers ever to fish this spot. Unfortunately there was a medical emergency on the barge which kept it in one location for an extra day so all we got at the bank was one late afternoon. That turned out to be enough.
As we pulled up to the bank several of our other fishing boats from the barge were just leaving saying that no fish had been landed all morning. I made the comment to Paul and the rest that once they left the kayaks would take over and do some business. We all put out live baits and trolled the area in the kayaks in the 97 degree heat, which Ken was really having a hard time with, what do you expect from a Canadian. The baits we were using were large live Bonita, if we were going to get hit it would be by something big. An hour into trolling my bait go nailed and instantly popped off. You never know how many chances you will get so I was bummed. I pinned on another Bonita and was off again. The issue I was having was that with these big baits it was hard to get the lever drag reel set in a good spot to hold the baits in place but not be so tight that the fish couldn’t run with it. Well I saw some bird working in the distance and decided to head that way, I tighten down the drag a bit so I could paddle harder and got hit and popped again. This time I was pissed, the other guys had not been hit at all and I didn’t know how many chances I would get. I put on another bait this time a smaller goggle eye which would let me troll a bit faster. I was chasing the bird very hard for over a mile and was really running out of steam by the time I reached them in the extreme heat. I had just slowed down to rest a bit and got SLAMMED. I let it run a bit threw it in gear and it was Game On.
I don’t think I have ever pulled this hard on a fish, thank God for the Shimano Tiagra 12 two speed reel loaded with 50 pound PowerPro braided line I was using. The fish had my rod pegged to the rail for much of the fight ad that two speed allowed me to still gain line. In these clear waters I think the Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon leaders really helped us get bit.
Jim Sammons Bendo on a BIG tuna from his kayak
I had the fish to color in a little over an hour and when I saw how big it was I was amazed. I had the guys from the camera boat toss me a gaff and I gave it my best shot. It was rather like gaffing a stick of dynamite as when the gaff it the fish it just exploded.
Jim Sammons attempts to gaff a large tuna from a kayak
I think all I really did was piss the fish off, as it smoked off a ton of my line not to be seen again for another two hours.
By the time I got the fish back up to color my body was a wreck, my arms were dying, my hand were cramping and the always problematic muscles in my back were one big knot. The sun was starting the set and we did not want to lose this fish or fight it into the night, you would know why if you saw some of the huge Bull sharks we saw and the fast approaching lighting storm heading our way. I had the boat come in close and let them stick the gaff in the fish, good thing too because again the fish exploded and it took two gaffs to get it in the boat.
Jim Sammons with 120 pound tuna on the deck of his kayak

Happy Landing

Happy Landing

Jim Sammons with 120 pound tuna on the boat
We were not able to weigh the fish but our boat captain estimates the weight to be 120 pounds. All I know for sure is that I could not lift the fish from the deck of the boat. The picture about does not do the fish justice because its tail is still on the deck with a good bend in the fish. Great fish and a great day.

Many Rum and cokes followed up this catch and lots of Motrin for my sore muscles.
Panama is my new favorite place. The fishing and scenery were absolutely off the charts.

On a side note you will notice that in most shots we are not wearing PFDs, I am a strong proponent of wearing a life vest when out on the kayaks. The reason we are not wearing them is that the Kayaks, paddles and PFDs were all shipped to Panama in advance of our trip and the PFDs simply didn’t show up.

On another note, in this picture you can see my new favorite fishing shirt. The Exofficio Neptune.
Jim in the Exofficio Neptune shirt
It kept me cool in the blazing sun but also after getting blasted with fish blood washed up like it was brand new.

Panama is definitely a place I want to go back to, even though we put in very long hours on the kayaks I know we barely scratched the surface of possibilities on what a kayak angler can do here.

Texas Part Deux: Heroes on the Water


I usually don’t have a big problem with deadlines. In fact, I actually pride myself on the ability to “get it done” in a timely fashion. However, with this blog entry I have done the old Stop n Go like a UPS truck at Christmas time. The hiccups and false starts are not a matter of motivation. Rather, I have found the subject matter exceedingly difficult to condense and quantify while giving the topic the respect and gravity it deserves. This is a fishing blog. This is a movie blog. This is a blog about kayaks… But, the second half of the Texas trip for Kayak Fishing:  Game On 2 was so much more than that.

The GO2 crew was invited to come help take injured veterans of the US Armed Forces kayak fishing. When you are asked to help veterans individual politics are put away. Whatever your thoughts on war, peace, and government might be, there is no place for politics in helping the young adults who serve their country. Everyone involved with Game On 2 was honored to have the opportunity to participate in taking wounded Iraqi war vets kayak fishing for a few days.

The event in Vanderbilt was facilitated and organized by Heroes on the Water:

The Game On crew drove down from Galveston to Vanderbilt to find winds at 25 knots and a forecast for increasing winds throughout the weekend. Not ideal conditions to put folks in kayaks for the very first time, but we’d make due. The Soldiers were bused in from San Antonio, and a slew of Who’s Who in kayaking had gathered at the Ranch of Will Manske’s family to entertain these veterans for a few days.

Let me state this clearly; the fishing sucked. It was terrible, the weather was terrible, and the water levels were terrible. But, the experience, opportunity, and the soldiers we took fishing were utterly fantastic. We all lamented the horrible conditions and the fact that getting good kayak-fishing footage was gonna be next to impossible, but everyone realized quickly that the focus was on entertaining the soldiers and making some new friends. The other stuff quickly became secondary.

Note: No names of the soldiers participating are included at the request of the commanding officer.

We met some of Americas finest over those few wind-blown days. While we were mostly relegated to helping soldiers fish from the banks we did get the veterans into kayaks in small protected waters. Most importantly we were able to put smiles on some faces and make the veterans feel like part of the gang.
It was evident that these soldiers were enjoying themselves, while all the professional kayakers aided and abetted the fun in any way they could. Only a few fish were landed, but tons of laughs, and friends were netted on the banks of the Lavaca bay marsh.

On the second night we turned on the fishing lights and hit the Lavaca River with some of the soldiers. Trout started popping bait under the lights and soon everyone was getting a tug on their line. As the fish started coming to hand, a classic Texas fishing tradition started: the good old’ Fishing/Pissing contest. Every time one of the soldiers caught a fish they clamored and bragged to their buds.


One of America's finest. Photo by K. Larson


Longhorn being interviewed by Jim. Photo by K. Larosn

One soldier, who we’ll call “Longhorn” (the young man loved all things associated with Texas University) may be the best smack talker I have ever seen. He delighted in catching multiple trout while I “the pro” was trying to hook up a fish. A relentless barrage of smack talk was unleashed in that good natured competition that happens on docks and piers. It was truly priceless entertainment. And I like to believe everyone there forgot every care and concern in the world, for a few minutes anyway. Longhorn and the other soldiers were having a blast. One particular comment stands out in my mind. Just as a good fish was caught by Longhorn he opined: “Who needs therapy when you can fish?” His buddy laughed and quickly responded: “Hell yeah! F**k Prozac! Go fishing!”


An enormous amount of thanks needs to be expressed to Will Manske and his family for their hospitality and graciousness in hosting the event. Likewise, a huge “gracias” to Jim Dolan, his wife, Danny Paschal and Kendall Larson from Heroes on the Water. All the guys at HOW should be recognized for their efforts in putting this event together and their continued endeavors to help veterans.

The host with the most... Will Manske. Photo by K Larson

The host with the most... Will Manske. Photo by K Larson

Jim helping a soldier. Photo by K Larson

Jim helping a soldier. Photo by K Larson

Thanks to our sponsors

I sometimes feel like the luckiest guy on the planet .

I have a great wife and two wonderful kids that support the life I have chosen as a traveling fishing guide and ambassador for the sport I love. I have been able through their support to turn this one time hobby into my livelihood. Over the years I have been able to work with some of  the top companies in the industry such as      Ocean Kayak,  Shimano and Maui Jim to name a few.

My dreams really came true a couple of years ago when I met Ken Whiting of Heliconia Press and we started talking about ideas for a new kayak fishing movie. After spending time kicking around ideas we decided on a format, which by the way changed on a regular basis. A  little over a year of hard work later and we had our movie Game On finished and on the market. I feel so bless that I have been able to work with everyone involved in this project, Ken, Will and Brendan from the production company and all the great people we have fished with and met along the way. 

The response, from the minute we put out our first clip on youtube, to Game On was so good that we immediately started planning Game On 2. More great locations and cool people to fish with are in the works.

My job, during the breaks between shoots, has been to knock on doors and scrounge around for ideas for potential new sponsors for our project.  And again the response has been nothing short of fantastic. The sponsors we had on board for the first movie are with us again and we have added several new ones as well. One sponsor that I was very excited about was Sebile lures. I saw Patrick Sebile demonstrating some of his products at a trade show and they looked awesome. He has lures that we can use at every location this year. I ran our project by him and he really liked the idea. I gave him a run down of what we would be doing on our next shoot in Panama and he said he would put together a little package for us to take down. Well little package was certainly an understatement as I received a box of lures that literally buried me alive.

Buried in lures

Buried in lures

I can’t wait to try them out on our trip.

We have so many great sponsors on board with us this year and are adding more, Exofficio, Ocean Kayak  , Shimano, Sebile and many more,  and every one of them deserves a huge thanks for helping us bring this movie to you. Please support those sponsors that are helping us to grow our sport. We will have a full sponsor list up soon. Make sure you visit the Game On site to see all our sponsors from part one and take a look at our new site Kayak Fishing Tales  web tv where you can see a lot of these sponsors products in action.

Off to Panama in two days, Wish us luck

Operation Panama

The time is almost here, and the intense prep work before we head in to the great unknown begins. 

img_3922Whenever we travel to any location there are a few things we need to do before we leave. People often ask what I do as a documentary film director to get myself and the crew ready for the adventure… here is the answer to that burning question.

The first step happens pretty early on. We choose the location.

Since we started making these movies, we have been flooded with suggestions for places to go. Seems like everyone wants the crew to come out and muck around in their favorite fishing hole. From going to “Egypt for Nile perch” to hitting the “pond behind my cottage”, we get a lot of great ideas from a lot of great anglers… so first we need to narrow it down.

A great fishing seg has to have a few things to make it really sing. 

  1. Great Personalities: What would fishing in Virginia have been without Kevin Whitley? How would Texas have gone off without Birdsnest Herman? The people we fish with are a huge part of the pie, without them we would be just a bunch of guys floggin’ the water. (Panama has all the folks at Pesca Panama and we are bringing in veteran angler/writer/photographer Paul Lebowitz to join the crew.. tada.. personality)
  2. Adventure: The standard rule is “Is there a way we can (almost) kill Jim while we are there? This seems a bit extreme, but that IS the kind of flick we are making. We want people to say “Holy Crap! Those guys are nuts!!” The trip needs some sort of adventure. (Panama is rife with adventure. We are offshore, and the possibility of hooking a 600 pound black marlin is very real… on top of that… we are gonna be right near one of the coolest nature reserves in the world)
  3. Fish: Most people think that this is the most important element. It is and it isn’t. There needs to be fish, thats a given. However, it can’t just be one kind of fish. The biggest mistake/lesson learned last season was that going to a place and only fishing for one thing most often leads to catching nothing at all. So a great location needs TONS of different fish, and we need to be smack dab in the middle of the best season for the most fish possible. (Panama literally means “many fish’ in the native tongue, and we are going there in the best season… there are over 30 species to catch, and weather permiting.. we gonna try to catch em all on film)

img_5115If a location has all those things, then it is booked and we set a date. Often there is a ton of prep work that goes on for the next few months before we leave. From setting up plane rides to film from, to getting kayaks shipped to the location (that can take months depending on how far out the spot is)

A week before is when my job as the director really ramps up. I need to know as much as I can about where we are going and who we are shooting with before I go. So I settle down for a few days and start mining the internet for every bit of info I can find. I collect everything I find in to one big document and it becomes my almanac during my trip. 

To make a good movie, you need to know what story you want to tell. The story could be as simple as “Jim catches big fish with tiny boat”, but as I said before.. that doesn’t always happen… and does the world really want to sit around for an hour watching him do that over and over? The people and places are just as important to the story. So knowing who and where you are gonna shoot will lead you to the best shots, and coolest stories.

So that is where I am at today. Research. Here are some fun facts about Who, What , and Where we are going.

Blackfin tuna (Thunnus atlanticus) is the smallest tuna species in the Thunnus genus, generally growing to a maximum of 100cm (39 inches) in length and weighing 21kg (46 lbs). Blackfin have football shaped bodies, black backs with a slight yellow on the finlets, and have yellow on the sides of their body. Blackfin are only found in the western Atlantic from Cape Cod to Brazil.
This tuna does not consume as much fish in its diet than other tunas and will actually eat the tiny larvae of stomatopods (king shrimp or mantis shrimp), true shrimp, and crabs, as well as fish larvae. It does, of course, also eat juvenile and adult fish and squid. They are a short-lived, fast-growing species; a 5 year old fish would be considered old. They reach sexual maturity at two years old and spawn in the open sea during the summer. Blackfin tuna are a warmer-water fish, preferring water temperatures over 68°F (20°C). What they lack in size, they make up for in numbers and willingness to bite.
  • Blackfin tuna (Thunnus atlanticus) is the smallest tuna species in the Thunnus genus, generally growing to a maximum of 100cm (39 inches) in length and weighing 21kg (46 lbs). Blackfin have football shaped bodies, black backs with a slight yellow on the finlets, and have yellow on the sides of their body. Blackfin are only found in the western Atlantic from Cape Cod to Brazil. This tuna does not consume as much fish in its diet than other tunas and will actually eat the tiny larvae of stomatopods (king shrimp or mantis shrimp), true shrimp, and crabs, as well as fish larvae. It does, of course, also eat juvenile and adult fish and squid. They are a short-lived, fast-growing species; a 5 year old fish would be considered old. They reach sexual maturity at two years old and spawn in the open sea during the summer. Blackfin tuna are a warmer-water fish, preferring water temperatures over 68°F (20°C). What they lack in size, they make up for in numbers and willingness to bite.
  • Coiba National Park, off the southwest coast of Panama, protects Coiba Island, 38 smaller islands and the surrounding marine areas within the Gulf of Chiriqui. Protected from the cold winds and effects of El Niño, Coiba’s Pacific tropical moist forest maintains exceptionally high levels of endemism of mammals, birds and plants due to the ongoing evolution of new species. It is also the last refuge for a number of threatened animals such as the crested eagle. The property is an outstanding natural laboratory for scientific research and provides a key ecological link to the Tropical Eastern Pacific for the transit and survival of pelagic fish and marine mammals.
  • Paul Lebowitz first started fishing: ” On a camping trip of course. I was maybe six years old when the family visited Big Sur. The river was too chilly to swim for too long, so we whiled away the time catching crawdads on bacon rinds and delicate little trout on gobs of honest to goodness cheddar cheese”
  • Paul loves kayak fishing because: “Kayaks are cheap! I can abuse them, leave them encrusted in mud and they don’t complain. A kayak is always up for a quickie – isn’t that any guy’s definition of perfect? But most of all, when I’m fishing from a kayak I fade into the natural world.”


Contents of the Drybag

Contents of the Drybag

Finally… a few days before we leave I have to lay out all my video gear and make sure it works. And give myself enough time to get stuff fixed. This is probubly the most important step. There is nothing worse than being 100 miles offshore in a faraway place and finding out you forgot your batteries.

What we have


  • 3 Cameras (Still, Waterproof HD, Big HD)
  • Tapes
  • Drybag
  • Otterbox to keep tapes in 
  • Tripod
  • Microphones (2 wireless lav mics)
  • Standard horizon waterproof radio
  • headphones
  • Rechargers
  • Spare batteries
  • Research and release forms


Thats just what I carry on the plane in my drybag. (That way if my luggage doesn’t show up, at least I can still make a movie!)

Till next time!


Photos provided by Lisa Utronki