Fish Stories

I swear.. it was this big…

Kayak Fishing the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia

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

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Paddling the new Mayfly from Jackson Kayak

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Chris Funk fishing in the Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia.

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

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Paddling below the Spanish Moss that was everywhere in the Okefenokee

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Not a bad place to spend a day!

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

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Fishing with the locals

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Giving the gators right of way in the swamp

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

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

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Another species added to the list

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My new otter friend. Photo: Chris Funk

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

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

Kayak Fishing Vancouver Island, Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Kayak Fishing Show review of 2015

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

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

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

One of many great fish in Panama

One of many great fish in Panama

Charging the Surf

Charging the Surf

Fun little Roosterfish

Fun little Roosterfish

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

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

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

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

Kirstin with her big YT

Kirstin with her big YT

I was so stoked for her

I was so stoked for her

Seans bass rod Yellowtail

Seans bass rod Yellowtail

A beast of a Halibut for Jarrod

A beast of a Halibut for Jarrod

A decent one for me

A decent one for me

A nice Grouper caught and released in Mag Bay

A nice Grouper caught and released in Mag Bay

We didn't release everything we caught

We didn’t release everything we caught

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

A big AJ for Esteban

A big AJ for Esteban

Drei supplying this bid Dorado for dinner.

Drei supplying this bid Dorado for dinner.

A beast of a Rooster for Esteban

A beast of a Rooster for Esteban

My big Rooster for the trip going around sixty pounds

My big Rooster for the trip going around sixty pounds

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

Our arrival in Curacao

Our arrival in Curacao

Wes getting his game face on.

Wes getting his game face on.

Just look at that water

Just look at that water

A beautiful place to paddle

A beautiful place to paddle

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I did catch some fish

I did catch some fish

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

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

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

A couple great fish from the tournament including the biggest yellowtail

A couple great fish from the tournament including the biggest yellowtail

A couple great fish from the tournament

A couple great fish from the tournament

Johns first yellowtail

Johns first yellowtail

Our one keeper yellowtail from the trip

Our one keeper yellowtail from the trip

Paul in his custom Jackson Kayak Kraken JAL edition.

Paul in his custom Jackson Kayak Kraken JAL edition.

Filleted up and ready for the smoker

Filleted up and ready for the smoker

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

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

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

Our Entourage on the day of the battle.

Our Entourage on the day of the battle.

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

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

And another

And another

And your winner is !!!!!!!

And your winner is !!!!!!!

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

fun little trout in chilly Florida

fun little red in chilly Florida

and a red

and a red

headed back in for a hot meal with the guys

headed back in for a hot meal with the guys

And farewell from Florida

And farewell from Florida

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

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

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

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

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

Kayak Fishing show visits San Diego

The kayak fishing in San Diego this year has been nothing short of incredible with catches never seen before. I personally have caught my first ever local Yellowfin tuna and my first ever Bluefin tuna from my kayak.

My first ever locally caught Yellowfin Tuna from a kayak

My first ever locally caught Yellowfin Tuna from a kayak

My first ever Bluefin Tuna

My first ever Bluefin Tuna

We here in San Diego have had a long history in modern kayak fishing and as a community a long history of giving back to other kayak anglers in need.

With the incredible fishing we are having and a great benefit tournament going on I thought it would be the perfect time to bring the cameras to my home town and shoot a show.

The tournament this year is called the JAL memorial tournament and it is to be a day of remembrance, honoring a young man who’s life was full of his family and friend’s love and that love will live on forever.
All proceeds will be given to continue the James Lebowitz Computer Science Scholarship. You can read the story behind the tournament here.

Tournaments in La Jolla have always had a way of bringing out the best in our community as well as the best out of our fishery. This years tournament was no different, with some spectacular catches being made, including a tournament winning fifty eight pound White Seabass. I did not personally fish the tournament choosing instead to drive my boat with the camera on board, shooting video, still shots and delivering a few cold beverages courtesy of Ballast Point. We got lucky and were in the right spot to get shots of most of the biggest fish caught that day, so this should make for a great show.
Here are a few shots from that day.

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The fishing was followed by a huge BBQ and the handing out of the prizes. Over five thousand dollars was raised for the JAL scholarship fund and a great day was had by all.

After the tournament we spent the next five days shooting in La Jolla for another episode. I will have write up about that soon.

A visit to Yankeetown in Levy County Florida

Fishing the grass bed in Florida

Last month the Kayak Fishing show was invited to visit Levy County Florida for some kayak fishing and local hospitality. We were not disappointed in either. We had some tough weather, with wind and rain but when we got on the water it was awesome. Even on the tough days the scenery was well worth getting out for a paddle.

Damon Bungard from Jackson kayak joined me on this trip and brought along his custom kayak hauling, bomb proof high speed camper Xventure trailer.

Damon’s Road tripping mobile

We stayed at a very cool little place called B’s Marina and Campground which was located right on the water. We hooked up with Captain Rick from Osprey Guide service for the week to show us around the area and put us on some fish.

Captain Rick waiting on the kayakers

Damon brought along three kayaks for the trip, a Kilroy for him and a Cuda14 and Big Rig for me. Each of these Jackson kayaks was rigged with the new Power-pole Micro anchor which were just awesome for hold position in the wind. I ended up spending most of my time fishing from the Big Rig because I loved the stability of it and the ability to not only stand up and sight cast to the fish but the fun of fighting a big fish and getting towed around while standing..

Pulling on a Black Drum, stand up sleigh ride.


Better sized fish I had to sit to land em


Damon in on the action on the Kilroy

Besides the fun fishing this place was a bird watchers paradise. So many species of birds to be seen in such a cool setting.

Close encounters with Spoonbills


I think every other tree had an Osprey nest


Always cool to get a fly by from some peilicans

Besides the bird life we saw many manatee, turtles and one of the coolest things I have seen, dolphin pushing mullet up against a bank to feed on them.

Open wide

Open wide

And we caught plenty of fish too.




Damon getting em on the fly


And I got to add another new species to the list with this Florida Gar

If you like to fish or just want a beautiful place to visit and paddle you should visit Levy County you won’t regret it.
Here is a sneak peak of the show we shot in Yankee town.

Cool New promo video for The Kayak Fishing Show

This is the new ad running on WFN promoting season five of Jackson Kayaks Kayak Fishing Show with Jim Sammons.
I have the pleasure of fishing with some of the greatest guys around while shooting this show. Lines like my friend Sean White has at the end of the ad always has us laughing!!!!

The Show starts airing this Sunday April 6th, I hope you enjoy it.

Panama, a kayak anglers paradise!

Panama Sunset

I have been to Panama to kayak fish three times, twice with Pesca Panama and most recently with Paddle Panama, and I can say honestly it is one of my top destinations.

The quantity, quality and variety of fish is like no other place I have been.
Unlike my first two trip with Pesca Panama, the trip with Paddle Panama is a land based “camping” trip in a remote area known as Bahia Honda.

On the trip with me were James McBeath from Jackson Kayak and Ben Roussel one of my Jackson Kayak teammates. Both James and Ben have already written up their reports on the trip as seen below.
Bens Panama Blog
James Panama blog.

The guys were great to fish with and we had a wonderful time.
Some highlights of the trip for me were figuring this new fishery out, switching to vertical jigging and really getting the fish to bite. Thank goodness for my Raymarine fish finder to help me locate then stay on top of the deep structure. It made all the difference in the world.

Going bendo on the vertical jig.

Of course getting my personal best Roosterfish is something I will not soon forget. I knew it was a big one so I got the guys in the camera boat to weigh it for me. We hung it from my 60 pound rated Boga grip and it went well past the 60 mark, we guessed it was around 70-75 pounds.

Jims personal best Roosterfish.

You can see some of that great fight and more on this short video report from our trip.

If you want a little adventure and the shot at some great fish you really should give Panama a try.