Author: The Heliconia Press

The Heliconia Press is a TV, WebTV and DVD production company, and a book publisher, with a focus on outdoor pursuits

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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See you all in San Diego!

Will

(Photos provided by Lisa Utronki and June Veenstra)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

Will

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…

Ocean Kayak ‘Torque’ Hits Montana

We finally got a chance this past week in Montana to put the latest addition to the Ocean Kayak‘s rack to the test. Oh man, am I ever excited!

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The reality is that there are situations where paddling is huge hindrance, such as people who just don’t have the upper body strength, or when you absolutely need to troll for certain species of fish at a controlled speed… or if you are a photographer or videographer, shooting 5 guys fishing spread out across a lake and need to zoom from one to the other while never putting your camera down. This is when a pedal powered or motorized kayak is a handy thing. As a camera man I admit to staring at the guys that could zoom across the water with their hands free with a whole lot of lust. If I had something like that, I could keep the camera rolling instead of burning valuable time trying to get to my subjects… who inevitably catch a fish as far away from the camera as possible. Trust Ocean Kayak to come up with the ultimate solution. As soon as the Torque was announced I saw the possibilities.

One of the very first Torques off the production line was sent to Jim for us to try out in Montana. I thought we were gonna be in a bit of trouble when he told me he was bringing an electric kayak with him. The rivers in Montana are extremely shallow. Perfect kayak fishing waters, but absolutly no good for something with a motor. The local anglers all row down the river in specially designed drift boats, not a motor in sight. A motor would only hang up on the rocks and dense weed beds. On the lakes it would be fine… but we had 4 anglers, and two crew… and Jim only had room for 6 kayaks… someone was gonna be banging that motor down the river.

Jim laughed at me, and pulled out the Minn Kota motor and the battery and replaced it with a fitted keel piece that comes with every Torque… In skinny water the torque wouldn’t be a problem. It quickly converted back in to a standard kayak, just as lightweight as any Ocean Kayak Prowler. Consider my skepticism squashed.

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Jim ran the Madison River for the first 4 days in the Unmotored Torque. Nothing much to say there, without the motor it paddled just like any other Kayak. He eventually took out the removable keel to let him get in even skinnier waters, and that made it a bit harder to paddle, as without it, the currents would push up in to the open hole and swing him around from time to time. Thats his fault for wanting to be able to get closer to shore than everyone else.. not the kayaks fault. (it paid off… he caught a ton of fish)

Finally… we got out on Ennis Lake for a real trout fishing fiasco. It was time to put this baby thru her paces. We swapped in the motor and the battery in less than one minute. The hook up was super simple. Jim got in, and proceeded to zoom accross the three miles to the fishing hole… while the rest of us slogged out the paddle. He arrived first.. and was fishing long before we got there.

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A storm rolled in at about 2. It had been raining all day so we didn’t think much of it… until the first lighting strike. We needed to get back to the put in, and fast. A three mile paddle. Enter ‘Super Torque.’ Jim’s son, Randy, was having trouble fighting the wind and rain and was falling behind. Jim quickly rigged a paddle leash as a bow line and hooked Randy up to his kayak. The damn little Minn Kota never slowed down for a second… he pulled both of them to shore (and safety)… once again beating the pack. (Narrowly beaten by CG and Kendal, who wanted to beat the motor on principle)

The Next day it was my turn. I had a theory about being able to do sweet pans and fly by shots using the motor on the lake. It took some begging… but Jim finally gave in. So on the 6th day, Will got his wish, and was now motor powered.

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Like many folks, when I fish, I want to paddle. It lets me tell my wife that I am “Not just fishing… I am getting exercise!”  Which in turn gets me out fishing more. As a camera person, I hate paddling. I am always having to stop rolling because I have drifted away from my subject, or need to paddle like a maniac to get to a hooked up angler. The Torque is perfect for me. I can paddle it on fishing days, or swap out the motor for those long musky trolls… ahem… I mean days where I need to film people… yeah…

For those worried about Motor noise, fear not… the thing is very quiet, (no louder than a frustrated angler muttering curse words on the water) I got some awesome fly by shots, and was able to, for the first time ever, get Jim hook to release on a trout while moving. No time lost. I was able to zoom in tight from a long way away… and there was little to no camera shake. This is the ultimate shooting platform. Kendal just drooled as I zoomed in to position for the shot.

We got a good chance to put the battery time thru the paces. It will run about 2.5 hours at top speed. We also tested it’s pulling capacity. It can tow about 5 other kayaks without losing significant speed. Thats pretty amazing when you think about it. If you have a long way to go to your fishing hole, and lots of kayak fishing buddies… one Torque might be the solution.

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Jim and I both loved the Torque. I can’t wait to get one of my own for all shoots. Go out and give one a spin, I think you will be a convert.

I will leave you with a shot of Jim rolling down the river. Oh Montana… how did ya get so darn pretty.

Will

Big Drifts, Blue Sky and Brown Trout

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Oh my LORD!

We are in the midst of day 4 here in Montana and let me tell you, nothing has prepared us for the wonders that the river has brought forth. I will start at the beginning…

Rainbow Lodge

Rainbow Lodge

We arrived to a huge surprise, our own personal lodge looking over the town of Ennis, Montana. The folks over at Rainbow Valley Lodge really set us up with a great home base. We have a full kitchen (which is good to feed 6 big guys) , beds for all and a nice big porch to enjoy a brew and tell fish stories from. From our private oasis we can easily tell how the wind is blowing over the lake… but the real magic lies in the nearby Madison River.

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The first day of shooting we hooked up with our friend Jason at Bozeman Angler, and he took us on our first drift down the Madison. It really helps to have a guide out there from the get go. Fly fishing is tricky business, you need to know what bugs are hatching, and what the trout are eating, and every river is different. Jason showed us how to handle the Madison, and his drift boat was a top notch platform to shoot the Kayakers from. The fishing was a bit slow (or we were a bit slow.. one or the other…) Didn’t matter to C.G… he still managed to haul a fish out of the river.

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I would say, as always, the fishing is only half the story out here. As usual the real fun is the people we meet along the way. I am happy to include C.G. as a member of that group of amazing people I get to shoot with.

Not only is he an amazing angler, managing to find the fish even when there seems to be none, but he is also a great teacher. Both Randy and Jim have quickly become great casters under his instruction. Proving that with the right teacher, anyone can chuck a fly.

He knows the area, knows the hatch, and can tie a knot faster than you can say… “Hey CG.. can you tie a knot for me?”

We did get to share a bit of knowledge with him however, and I am happy to say he can add a bit of fast moving water to his skills. He was a little nervous when we first hit a few long wave trains… but now he hits em all with a huge grin. What a great guy to spend your week with.

_MG_9124On the second day of our adventure, the training was over and it was time to hit some serious fish. First stop was a quick visit to our friends at Bozeman Angler to grab a few flies and meet up with our guide to the Yellowstone River, Cole. The Bozeman Angler is a very cool shop down in the heart of Bozeman. The people are super nice, and the guides are top notch. If you are heading out here to fish, give them a call. The best part is that they figured out how to guide the kayakers down the river, which should have been a bit of a challenge.. but Cole and Jason took it all in stride.

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The Yellowstone River provided a ton of fish for us. Both Jim and Randy got some one on one time with our man Cole and he showed them how to spot the flash, toss the fly and land em. It was only a matter of time before they both snagged their first trout… and not long after that Jim landed his first from the kayak.

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Not all was peachy however. Although C.G., Jim and Randy all caught fish.. many fish… on the Yellowstone. One man stood alone from the pack… watching and waiting for the right moment to catch a fish.

Mister ‘Birdsnest’ Herman watched over the group in cold, calculating silence… waiting in the wings for the right time to show his skills. By the third day, with a return to the Madison river, he still hadn’t managed to break a streak of slight misses and big chances. By day four he was getting visibly frustrated… but that all was an act it seemed.

Every trip we do, something special comes at one point or another. Double hook ups, record breaking tuna, and Montana was no slouch… Bird pulled out of that river the fish of a lifetime. A trophy brown trout. I can’t show ya the pictures yet, we want to keep em under wraps for now. Let’s just say that it is gonna blow your mind.

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Three more days of fishing ahead. Can’t wait to tell you the rest of the story.

Will

Fear the Yakkers Montana… FEAR THEM!

Hey everyone,

This last week has been a mad scramble to get everyone ready to head out to Montana. Jim packed up his truck and all the kayaks yesterday… He and his son Randy are driving across the great and wonderful USA. I am sure they will have plenty of crazy road trip stories to tell us when they arrive.

This is gonna be an exciting trip for us. Not only do we get to be some of the first folks to dump our Ocean Kayaks in to Ennis Montana’s trout filled waters, but we get to do it with the local pioneer of kayak fly fishing CG Feldman. This man is a local legend, and he hopes to show us why.

Not only that, we are being joined by our favorite texan Bubba, Jeff ‘Birdsnest’ Herman and my partner in crime Kendal Larson, who is gonna be taking the pictures that make Jim look good. The hope is that we all have a chance to post here and tell you about our exploits over the next week and a half. But first things first… we gotta get there.

Kendal, Jeff and I will be arriving Saturday afternoon in Bozeman, load the flyrods in the rental and zip out to meet Jim. We are staying with the wonderful folks at Rainbow Valley Lodge. These folks have been super good to us, check out their site, and book your fly fishing vacation with them! Honestly, these are some of the nicest folks I have ever talked to, and they really have bent over backwards to help us out.

The Lodge

The Lodge

So, once again it is gear packing time. Jeff will be packing up a full contingent of Temple Fork Outfitters rods and reels, and Rio Flyline. Jim just got a shipment of shiny new waders from Hodgeman, which he has been drooling over for months. ExOfficio is setting us up with the perfect clothes for flyfishing… so we don’t look like bums out there, and just to make sure we can see the fish, we will be wearing polarized sunglasses, thanks to Maui Jim.We are so happy with the excitement from all these folks about what we are doing this year, that we want you all to know about it. With the TV show on the horizon, and another movie on the way, we couldn’t be happier. Thanks to everyone for helping us fish better and look like we know what we are doing.

I just received an email from CG yesterday telling me that the hatch is going off right now and the flyfishing has been INSANE. Looks like we will get a bit of rain for the first couple of days, but smooth sailing from there on in.. and besides.. what kind of Game On shoot would it be without a little foul weather? Here is a pic of CG with a beauty of a trout… ignore the boat, we will be fixing him up with an Ocean Kayak Trident 13 when we get there.

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Tons more to tell you, so keep an eye on the page over the next few days! We should be doing tons of live blogging and tweeting from the water.

Follow us on twitter… yeah thats right.. we twitter now, either on this page on the right hand bar —>

or at http://twitter.com/yakfishmovie

Wish for fish!

Will

Our Kayak Fishing Story Goes Nationwide!

It’s official! The ‘Kayak Fishing: Game On’ crew is going PRIME-TIME! Jim, Ken and I are all super excited to let you guys out there in blog land be some of the first to know, that the movie is being turned in to a TV series!

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Check out the ‘Official Press Release’!

Heliconia Launches Kayak Fishing TV Show on the World Fishing Network (WFN)

July 14, 2009, Beachburg, Ontario – The Heliconia Press, a leading publisher of books and DVDs on outdoor pursuits, is thrilled to announce that starting January, 2010, The Kayak Fishing Show: with Jim Sammons will begin airing on the World Fishing Network (WFN). The 13-episode TV series will be broadcast throughout the year into 25 million North American homes in both standard and high definition.

“The Kayak Fishing Show: with Jim Sammons is the result of two years of production investment,” explains Ken Whiting, Producer of show and President of Heliconia “We’ve been shooting the show in conjunction with the ExOfficio Presents Kayak Fishing: Game On movie series for the past two years with the hopes that it would evolve into a TV series. Needless to say, we’re ecstatic to see this dream come to life and are very optimistic about what this means for the continued growth of the sport.”

The Kayak Fishing Show: with Jim Sammons is a fresh new style of fishing show which is designed to entertain, inspire, educate, and appeal to viewers whether or not they have ever considered fishing from a kayak. Every 30-minute episode follows Jim Sammons on a genuine fishing adventure in a stunning location—from the wild coast of Alaska, to the tropical waters of Panama.

“This is a major step for the sport of kayak fishing,” says Jim Sammons, Star of the kayak fishing show. “It’s recognition from the fishing industry that kayak fishing is more than a passing trend—that the benefits of kayak fishing are real, and participation will continue to grow.”

It’s no surprise that the fishing industry is embracing the sport of kayak fishing. With the current state of both the economy and the environment, anglers are looking for cheaper and less damaging means of enjoying their passion. Not only does kayak fishing address these problems, but anglers are quickly realizing that kayak fishing offers an amazing and productive experience.

About The Heliconia Press
Since World Champion Kayaker Ken Whiting founded the company in 1998, The Heliconia Press has been producing best-selling and award-winning instructional books and videos about kayaking and other outdoor pursuits. The Kayak Fishing Show represents Heliconia’s first foray into the world of TV production. For more information about all of Heliconia’s products, please visit http://www.helipress.com.

About WFN
the World Fishing Network is the only 24/7 television channel dedicated to all segments of fishing. Originally launched in December 2005, today WFN and WFNHD are available in more than 25 million households through North American cable, satellite and telecommunications distributors. In the U.S., distributors include Verizon FiOS, Dish Network, Charter Communications, GVTC, and more. http://www.wfn.tv