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

Get the latest from “Kayak Fishing Tales”

Jim has put together a great little primer for all you kayak fisherman who are struggling to learn how to cast a Baitcaster from your kayak. Check it our at Kayak Fishing Tales

About 2 weeks after we post the latest vids to the KFT site, we then make them available to the world on YouTube. However, KFT is free, and you get to see the shows before everyone else, so subscribe as soon as you can. On top of that, the videos on KFT are much higher quality than their jerky YouTube cousins…

Subscribe now!

Check out a sample.. on me.

Cheers!

Will

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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.
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  • 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!

Will

Photos provided by Lisa Utronki

ExOfficio Gear for Panama!

 

Packing all our stuff in the tiny bushplane

Packing all our stuff in the tiny bushplane

One of the best things about making the ‘Kayak Fishing: Game On’ movies is that we get to take ExOfficio clothing with us on all our shoots, and this season is no exception. Today in the mail everything we needed for the Panama trip arrived in a big brown box, and none of us could resist tearing it open and trying on all the new goodies. It’s like christmas for fisherman here at the office.

 

Why do we love our ExO clothes so much? Well. Listen.

1. Traveling as much as we do we need stuff that packs light. Jim carries about 3 bags full of fishing gear on every trip, and I have to lug about 50 lbs of camera gear to every location. With the way that airlines kill you over extra baggage nowadays, space is at a premium and that doesn’t leave much room for clothes. This stuff packs super lights and after about 10 minutes on your back it comes out wrinkle free,

2. We film all day on the water most days. Solid clothing that dries fast is a must. This stuff dries really fast… I mean super duper stupid fast. I remember when I first got my Amphi shorts wet and I thought.. damn.. now  I’m gonna be wet and grumpy for the rest of the day. I was dry in about ten minutes. Seriously. ON top of that, it can take a beating and sheds salt water like it is made of oilcloth.

img_3045

3. Sun and Bugs. Most of the stuff we choose to wear on these trips must have good UV protection, and in places like Panama where mosquito carrying viruses are a real danger we have to do everything we can to keep them from biting us. ExO comes thru again with well ventilated long sleeved shirts that are infused with bug repellant. When Greg Bowdish told us last year to make sure we got long sleeved shirts for Florida, we thought he was nuts… but after the very first day on the water wearing a long sleeve ‘air strip’ shirt with the collar up to cover my neck and the sleeves rolled down, I will never go short sleeved on a sunny day again. I actually felt cooler in that shirt than I did wearing a t-shirt.

4. This stuff is super high quality, full of pockets, and my girlfriend doesn’t hate how it looks…. nuff said.

ExO sent us some of their new stuff to try out this year, and you will bet we will be wearing it all the time.  This season you will see the team sporting ‘Reefrunner‘ shoes from their new line of hardcore footwear, ‘Neptune‘ T-shirts and because none of us could resist…’Give-N-Go‘ underwear.. well lets just hope that the undies don’t show up in the movie… much…

 

Jim sportin' his undies

Jim sportin' his undies

Thanks ExO, You people rock.

Will

Kayak Fishing: GO 2 Texas by Jeff “Birdsnest” Herman

(Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – 9th March 2009) I am convalescing on the flattest, calmest piece of Pacific Bay I have ever seen. I am convalescing from a fantastic week on the water in Texas. Okay, maybe “convalescing” is not the appropriate verbage. How about: “Rehabilitating”? Nay… the constant stream of Rum Punches being brought to my beachside chase lounge makes “rehabilitation” most disingenuous. Ahhh, mobsters…. Here it is… I am refueling. Yep, filling a drained tank after a glorious week of fishing, filming, and, friends.

Jim Sammons, the king of west coast kayak fishing and the infamous videographer extraordinaire Will Richardson (the coolest Canadian this side of the Cobham River) came to Texas at the close of February. Texas was scheduled to be the first stop for Game On Part 2, and we planned to fish the Hurricane Ike -battered but unbowed -upper Texas Coast.

We set up camp at Pointe West Resort, on Galveston Island. A great home base for various fishing options on and around Galveston, and we were definitely going to need options. February weather is so unpredictable in Texas, that targeting a specific species is dubious at best. In planning for the film I had multiple locations mapped and at the ready for whatever Ma Nature threw in our direction.

The crew:

 

My best bet for good fishing was putting the crew, which included Perry Trial from TPWD, on to big trout. However with a week of unseasonably warm weather, I had a hunch that the trout would be dispersed and instead that red fish may be skittering about the shallow marshes. The water was warm enough for sure, and if the bait fish were around at all, I knew the reds would be too.

On day one of our fishing I went with my gut and took the crew over to a Christmas Bay canal and salt marsh. We choose our location well because everyone whacked good fish the first day. Reds of all sizes were caught. There were plenty of undersized “rats”, as well as some nice slot redfish between 23 and 25 inches netted for the cameras. As a bonus, some very respectable flounder were brought to hand too. The big flounder were unexpected as usually you only catch juveniles this time of year. All in all it was a great start to the trip.

Jim with a great flounder (I say it was the lucky Lendal hat!):

Perry with a nice red:

On day two we rolled the dice and went to a deep water spot to see if any trout were still hanging around. Jim had a red and a flounder under his belt, and I felt duty bound to get him on a speckled trout so he could complete a proper “Texas Slam”. (Texas Slam = Red, Trout, and Flounder.)

How’s that old adage go? “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Well, our road was unpaved/destroyed by Hurricane Ike, and getting everyone to the trout launch spot was a time consuming affair. Poor Jim and Will were basically 4 wheeling in a Chrysler rental car that was so low to the ground yellow stripes in the road were trying to duck and cover. Alas, we all made it to the launch and set out for fishing. We grinded for a few hours, but with a late start and unseasonably warm waters, the trout hole was a swing and a miss.

Bird on the move:

Pardon. My drink has been long empty and our waitress Elda has seemingly vanished? I must find my sandals and make way to the beach bar for refills. More soon on our Texas Fishing Adventure, after proper refreshments have been secured….

—Bueno Amigos… mas aventura de pesca Tejas…

On the afternoon of day two Jim and I headed back to Christmas Bay for more marsh fishing, while Perry and Will went to meet a pilot for shooting some aerial footage. Our pilot was no ordinary prop jockey. Nay my good friends, we secured the services of Walker – kayaker, fisherman, pilot, privateer (seriously, it’s on his business card), and just a genuinely cool dude. Walker flew half the crew over Galveston Island, Follett’s Island, and Bolivar Island while Jim and I fished. We each caught some reds, but it wasn’t as hot and heavy as the day before. Regardless, we had quite a time watching Walker fly low circles over us sans passenger doors. Perched precariously, Will hung out the door by his safety belt to shoot video. Cool stuff indeed.

Return your seat backs to their upright and locked position:

Whose shooting who?:

shoot2

shoot2

On day 3, we shook off the cobwebs from a night of trading fish stories and drinks. As the big winds were increasing steadily, everyone decided marsh fishing was again the first-best option. Fishing was marginal with no big fish caught and an inconsistent bite. But, everyone went bendo a few times, albeit no bragging rights were cemented.

Wind and Waves:

After breaking for lunch we headed for another spot in the lee of the wind. I still needed to find some trout and figured this particular spot in West Bay would produce. Bah, the wind started humming to 20mph and we fought it and a bigger than expected tide. No joy, no luck. As the sun started to go down though, I suggested we blind cast a marsh on the way back to the launch. With the grinding potential of our blind casting we were finally rewarded with a speckled trout to complete Jim’s slam. It wasn’t a monster sow trout, but it was a respectable keeper caught as the sun was setting. How can you not like that? It was a cool moment. A genuine moment. A moment when potential and opportunity combine into a worthy flash of Experience (capitalization intended). For me, that’s fishing, mobsters…. Not the fish, but the potential of the fishing, the potential of the trip, the potential of the next cast, the potential of experience.

 

 

The sun has set here in old Mexico. The battery on the lap top is almost drained along with my drink. I am back on the rod and reel tomorrow…. My better half Angee and I have secured a panga and the services of Captain Jose for a morning of trolling for bonitos, spanish mackerels, and jacks.

The recounting of the Texas trip was only half over when I stopped above. It was a great experience already, and it was about to become even richer. Hell, it become profoundly richer and the actual fishing was terrible by professional angling terms. However, it turned out to be some of the best “fishing” I’ve ever had the privilege to participate in.

 

Next time: Heroes on the Water. Fishing with wounded veterans at the Manske Ranch in Vanderbilt Texas.

Bueno!

Bird

The Game Begins…

_ak2522200971Welcome to the ‘Kayak Fishing: Game On 2’ blog spot. ‘Exofficio Presents; Kayak Fishing: Game On‘ followed the amazing adventures of professional kayak angler Jim Sammons as he ventured across North America in search of fun, friends and big fish.

The film is out now, and if you haven’t seen it…um.. well… go get a copy, gather up your fishing buddies and prepare to have your socks removed by explosives… explosive fishing action that is!

But the adventure for the Kayak Fishing: Game On crew has only just begun. Myself, Jim and the rest of the team have already begun another incredible adventure, and this is where you can get all the details, as they happen.

For the next year we will be traveling all over the place, with kayaks, fishing rods.. and hopefully.. fish. We just got back from an epic time in Texas (which I will let Jeff Herman fill you in on the details) and are about to head off to Panama. 

The plan is to keep you all up to date with the latest antics, photos and videos from all our trips. For now… the boys out here are gonna hit the water and do a little fishing before the rest of the locals manage to get the snow off their motorboats.

Will