Month: September 2009

Kayak Fishing The Petawawa River

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Jim keeping warm in his ExOfficio Travel Gear under the Parliament Building

There is something disturbing about emerging from a backcountry trip after 6 days. An uncomfortable ‘birthing’ back in to the land of the living and urban sprawl. An opposite feeling to that revelation of ease and comfort you have as you realize that you have escaped your life, job, cell phones, smelly people, cubicle, desk chair spackled existence.

Les Boys

On day two of this trip, producer Ken Whiting turned to us and tried to explain a feeling he had just felt. “During that hike, I had this sudden sensation that I belonged here.” Those words rang true to my very core. It was the same feeling I had been having, the same weird warmth that I was having so much trouble trying to explain soon after the packing ended and the paddling had begun.

We talk about it a lot around here. How the average person’s world seems increasingly farther and farther away from the wilderness. Forests are getting smaller and more controlled. People fear things like bugs and fish, and the simple skill of lighting a fire seems beyond far too many peoples grasp. It takes only a short while in the woods to realize that you are perfectly safe and at home out in the wilds. There will be work, pain and hardships, but your body was designed to take it, your body needs it. Your body needs to get out of the office and be set free on nature to feel whole again. A feeling many of us will never ever get to feel as we grow more and more urban, and are less apt to send our kids outdoors. Lucky for, Jim, Ken, Lisa, Jamie, and myself, we have a job that forces us outside and keeps us there. This time it lead us to the banks of the Petawawa river.

Now let me talk a bit about equipment…before I tell ya all about what happened, lets talk about how we did it.

The Camp

In order to make this adventure possible, safe, and filmable… we needed some special gear. Drybags were our first priority, we needed dry clothes. NRS made bags that were perfect for us, from big bags to hold all our tents, to small bags that would fit in to the gunnels of the Trident 13 kayaks. The bags worked perfect, and everyones gear was kept perfectly dry, on a very wet trip. If you paddle a lot, get some NRS bags, these things are super tough and totally waterproof. Also, on the topic of Kayaks. The Ocean Kayaks we took on this trip served us perfect. In our opinion, no other fishing kayak coulda handled the beating.

Second, we needed to be able to recharge our batteries. We had the chance to test out Brunton’s big solar panel and battery combo. No special gear required, we just folded out the panel and it juiced up a battery that we could plug our cameras directly in to.. just like a wall socket. Worked like a charm and kept Lisa and I shooting for a whole week without a plug.

Now for safety. Jim and I aren’t whitewater ‘yakkers, se we needed a couple of helmets to keep our noggins from getting bonked. Sweet Protection’s helmets were the go to choice, as they are rugged, and still manage to look cool.

As for camping, our tents were all from Mountain Hardwear, and these babies rock. They are super lightweight and the poles can totally take the beating we put them thru running the rapids.


Last, we needed to be fed. We went with dried pre packaged camp food from Backpackers Pantry. Mostly because the food is super tasty and filling.. but as an added benefit, it packs well and is super light. I recommend the cheesecake. It rocks. Done.

Jamie's Musky

The Petawawa River was amazing. Our first two days were spent on lake Traverse with none other than musky fishing legend, Jamie Pistilli. Jamie camped out with us for the first night and made sure we knew where the musky were. (as you can read in his last post) All three boys caught Musky that day. Proving that Jamie is one heck of a guide.


After leaving Jamie behind to run home and celebrate his son’s birthday (which co-incidentally also marked the anniversary of his gong show of a musky catch in Game On 1) we began a rambling row into a wonderland of Canadian fall beauty. The leaves literally changed before our eyes, from green to bright orange, to flaming red. The first day offered little in the way of musky, of which Jamie had given our anglers a burning hunger for the previous day. As we left Traverse behind, the river narrowed and the trees grew tight around us. The bitter cold of the night before finally seeped from our bones as the paddling loosened up our muscles. Jim caught another small Musky, but the big ones would just blow up and spit out our lures, leaving the anglers frustrated.

Our first campsite lay just beyond a small rapid, nestled in the elbow of the river… simply, perfect. There was an awesome little drop pool just in front of camp. In that pool lay a plethora of catfish, you could catch as many as you had soft plastic grubs. Each one was over 6 pounds, and had a fun fight to haul them up. All three of us immediately grabbed rods and jig heads and began hauling them up until our arms tired. This is what we were looking for. No one fished here, so the fishing was easy. Catfish may not be a 45 inch musky, but it sure was fun, and as long as our rods were bent, there were smiles on our faces.

petfishing-4263Early to rise on day two and a short row to ‘crooked shoot’, with a few fish along the way (mainly bass and a bunch of musky blow ups, nothing big landed).This was the only technical whitewater on our route, and we knew that the raft wasn’t gonna take the beating. So we broke down our equipment and prepared to portage it to safety on the far side of the rapids. This was fine for our packs and barrels, but there was no way the four of us could haul the raft through the kilometre long trail. While ken ran the kayaks with painstaking perfection through the complicated pools of rushing water, we brainstormed a solution. It would be rough, but we could do it. We had to haul the raft over a rocky outcrop, and down through and old logging chute. It took us most of the day to finally get back in the water. Ken had the stamina to keep fishing (which amazed me since he had to run the rapid twice, do a 1 k portage, and help line and haul the raft), Lisa and I needed to jump in the lake to clean off the stink of sun beaten labor, and Jim simply passed out in happy exhaustion with a glass of wine and a book.

Third day started sluggish, but offered the first real signs of musky. Ken called us over as he had stalked a musky in to a corner and felt like it was gonna strike.  As we got the cameras rolling that fish exploded to the surface and finally stuck on a hopping frog. This began the ultimate musky fishing trip ever.


Musky are a tough fish to catch. Trust me, I have sat and watched the best try and fail for hours on end. That’s the way musky are. A frustrating fish, but when you catch one you will be willing to spend days trying to get the next monster. In pressured waters like the Madawaska River, we have sat for days with only one musky even bothering to bite a line. In Jim’s words, “You gotta be really patient, or a bit nuts to wanna catch one of these fish.” The Petawawa was different. Here, the musky were plentiful, powerful, and hungry for lures.


Ken had it dialed in for the next two days. The weather turned a little rainy and that only seemed to help the bite. Four big musky in 6 hours became the new record of the day as the veteran kayaker hauled in monster after monster. The trick was to hit the pools just before the rapids and just after with big Sebile Lures.

Sebile meets musky

Sebile meets musky

The musky were hungry for the little bass in the pools and the Sebiles were the perfect treat. This was the special day when lady luck shone down on our producer. This was Kens ultimate fishing day.


Jim was getting  frustrated. He caught the only walleye of the trip and lots of little ‘skis but so far, no monster musky. The walleye made for a nice dinner, but his arm was getting sore from casting and no fish. His eyes were on the prize as our final day loomed on the horizon.

petfishing-4893On the morning of the sixth day, there was fish for the great Sammons. First he conquered the bite, as finally a massive 38 incher stuck to his big silver Sebile. The rest of the day was followed by fish. Many fish. In three hours Jim caught 3 monsters. Bringing our count  to 15 musky in 6 days. That many in a year would be a respectable amount. That many in just a few days is insane. Perfectly, wonderfully, Insane.

We even managed to walk away without lodging any hooks in our hands…

The most serene and wonderful camping trip of all time, complete with great food (from Backpackers Pantry) and great friends. The Petawawa river was an adventure of a lifetime. Amazing that it could be so close to home. Proves that sometimes, in order to find great adventure, you don’t need a lot of money, you just need to look a few miles from your own back door.

A quick thanks to the folks at ExOfficio, Ocean KayakNRS, Backpackers Pantry, Sweet Protection, Brunton and Mountain Hardwear for making this trip possible. Please give these guys a visit, and keep your eyes on the blog, as soon we will be telling you all about our crazy adventure in San Diego and northern Baja. We are hooking up with out old friends Paul Lebowitz and Matt Moyer for some more big game adventures


See you all in San Diego!


(Photos provided by Lisa Utronki and June Veenstra)

2 Days in Lake Traverse

Hit The Petawawa System with Jim and the Heliconia boys yesterday. We fished from noon Saturday yesterday until early Sunday afternoon . We caught 7 muskies, had 6 other fish follow and broke off 2 on bass gear. Insane action out there….

Yesterday Jim and Ken both caught their first skis about an hour apart. ( Jim Also scored one beautiful Smallmouth bass) I was a happy man, so nice to see someone excited about catching a new species of fish let alone two guys catch ” the fish of 10,000 casts both within an hour.. …  The sun went down I scored a small one on a spook ( 28″ or so…)

We woke up Sunday feeling refreshed, it was one really cold night to be sleeping outside. We had fish on film but wanted a bigger one. Jim and I trolled baits back to where we had action the night before and it did not take long for my bait to get nailed. It sounded like a toilet bowl flushing…

In she came a nice 42″ ski, our biggest of the trip. Huge head skinny body… she jumped 3 times and swallowed my bait. I cut out all three trebles and off she went.
I scored 2 more fish with the guys then headed back to the launched and caught a 33″ right near the launch…

The crew is heading down river until Thursday, they should be in for more action- White Water and stretches of river that get little to no fishing pressure. Stay tuned for more from Game on 2. Thanks for having me up guys and Lisa! It was a blast

Here are a few shotsbear warning

Rolling Down the Petawawa River

IMG_5114This week marks the return of Jim Sammons to the wilds of Upper Canada, as we head back to the river and explore the untapped waters of Algonquin Park.

Last year Jim cut his chops and learned to surf white water waves on the Ottawa River. That week he managed to narrowly escape being pulled under by Joe’s Hole, an experience that he may never dash from his mind. What amazed us all is that even right after his near death experience, he bounced back and just kept fishing.

In the end, with the help of Jamie Pistilli, Brendan Mark and Ken Whiting, he managed to survive the wilds of Ontario, and come up with some monster Pike, Bass and Muskie.


We always knew that Jim would be back. Canada is our favorite place to fish, as it is our backyard, our childhood playground, and one of the most incredible places on earth. Now, with the TV show on the horizon, and a hit movie on our hands, we choose to live a second adventure here on the production teams home turf.

This time is gonna be a bit different. This time we are cutting the cord and going wilder than ever before. Six days in the outback, in one of the biggest stretches of untouched wilderness Canada can afford, on some of the only boats that could possibly fish in these rapid locked waters.

We are gonna be six days on the Petawawa River, out of range of cell phones and hotel rooms. Running on dried food and solar power. This time, we are really gonna be roughing it and fishing old school.

The Petawawa river is a 116 mile long behemoth, popular with whitewater kayakers and canoers. Much of the river is dense with rapids, which Jim is going to need special training to handle. Luckily, Ken Whiting and Brendan Mark are back to lend a hand. There are few people who know how to handle whitewater in a fishing Kayak like these guys, and they are going to be putting Jim through his paces before we can conquer the river.


One of the great challenges ahead for the sport we love is bringing more Anglers to the sport. Right now we see it taking off in coastal regions as kayaks prove themselves on the oceans and saltwater flats… so far, the river fisherman haven’t really taken notice, and we are gonna show them why they should. Kayaks can get to places on these rivers that no motor boat can, and as we saw in Montana, they drift better, and coast right over obstacles that would ground out a drift boat. Whitewater rivers show the next level. There are tons of fish between the rapids, fish that powerboats just can’t get to. But if you know how to run the river, you will often be the first to toss a lure at the unsuspecting monsters below.


None of us know what lies ahead. Will our Brunton solar recharger be able to keep our cameras rolling? (all the preliminary tests say yes.. this thing is COOL!!) What will we catch on this virgin river? How will Jim fare on his second attempt at the mysteries of rapid running? Will there be enough beer to last the week??

These and more burning questions will be answered in the weeks ahead… as Game On and the Kayak Fishing Show returns to Canada for round two…


P.S. I promise not to try and kill him this time. I have to head to San Diego to shoot with him after this, and I choose not to incur the wrath of Allene…

A little Montana tease

OK so it is not the HD, high quality shooting and editing you will see from Will in Game On or The Kayak Fishing Show with Jim Sammons on WFN but here is a little tease of what you will see on our Montana segment. I shot this short video the day that the rest of the crew left for home. As my son Randy and I had driven to Montana we decided to fish one more day because it was looking like the nicest weather we had seen all week. I am sure glad we made the decision to toss the fly for one more day.