Fish Stories

I swear.. it was this big…

Kayak Fishing the Amazon River


Arriving in style at Peackcock Bass Expeditions Floating Lodge by float plane

THE KAYAK FISHING SHOW has just knocked a huge destination off our bucket list: Brazil—more specifically the Amazon Rainforest!

Long-time friend of the show, Esteban Gutierrez, joined us on this shoot and was instrumental in planning the trip. After a couple of very long days of travel, the team arrived in Manaus where we managed a few hours of sleep before being scooped
up by a float plane, which took us into the heart of the Amazon Rainforest.

For over two hours we watched in amazement as the lush vegetation and massive rivers of the Amazon stretched out as far as we could see beneath our plane.


The view from our tiny plane as we flew into the Amazon

After a smooth water landing, we were dropped off at Peacock Bass Expeditions Floating Lodge—a houseboat turned mobile fishing lodge. The lodge was incredible; being based on the water meant that our kayaks were never far from the ability to launch at the drop of a hat, nor were we ever far from an amazing meal. Each day started at dawn, essentially rolling out of bed and into our kayaks from the lodge.


Our home while fishing in the Amazon, courtesy of Peacock Bass Expeditions

For our trip to the Amazon, we decided to bring two Jackson Kayak Coosa HD’s, as the Coosa was the perfect boat for this river trip—comfort, maneuverability and standability were key factors to our success in the Amazon.


On average, we spent about 16 hours a day in the scorching Brazilian heat and although no lunkers were caught, we caught plenty of great fish. Because we had to take very small planes to our destination, our luggage was restricted to a measly 35kg each! Even with the very tight restriction, there was no way I was leaving behind my Kokatat Sea02 PFD. Even though it’s tempting to leave the PFD behind on super hot days, it makes such a difference when your vest fits well and is designed specifically for kayaking—I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—wear your PFD!


Nice peacock bass

On this trip, we were targeting hungry peacock bass, which was the perfect opportunity with try out the new Werner Paddles Camano: Hooked series paddle in the new peacock bass pattern. I really enjoyed using the paddle for the long days we were putting in, and having such a lightweight paddle that can break down was crucial due to our luggage restrictions on this trip.


The new peacock bass pattern on the Werner Camano is spot on!


Same great paddle—awesome new design!

Myself and Esteban wracked up a few new species native to the Amazon, and I even managed to get some fish on the fly. By the end of the week, hundreds of fish were caught, and we have a couple amazing episodes in the works. The long journey to get to this amazing fishery was well worth it, and we are already looking forward to a return trip!

Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for more updates as we head to our next location.

Here are some more photos from this incredible trip:


Mothershipping to a new part of the river


Esteban sneaking up on some hungry fish in his Coosa HD


The end of a long day of paddling!


Our amazing guides from Peacock Bass Fishing Expeditions


Swimming at the end of a very hot day…with PIRANHAS!


Esteban taking a very well-deserved nap on the side of the river

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!


Paddling the new Mayfly from Jackson Kayak


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!


Paddling below the Spanish Moss that was everywhere in the Okefenokee


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.


Fishing with the locals


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.


Another species added to the list


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.














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.








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.

Nor Cal Road Trip Part 2

Jim with a nice Clear Lake large mouth

After Leaving Lake Shasta we headed down to Clear Lake to meet up with my friends Sean White and Terry Gowen. Terry lives at the late and was our gracious host for a couple days.

The water in the lake was very cold and though we tossed a lot of lures we just were not getting bites. The first day on the lake was nice for about an hour but the wind kicked in and made things tough for us, well for most of us. Sean still managed to keep the fish biting while soaking minnows.

Sean with one of his many bass he got on day one at Clear Lake

When the wind came up too strong it was nice to have a nice little bar and grill right at our take out to enjoy some grub while waiting for the evening glass off.

Warm Chowder and cold beers

The evening glass off came late but the fishing was more productive and we all managed to pull in some nice fish.

Nice evening bass

Day two on Clear Lake was dead calm and the bite much better, you can see how this lake has such a great reputation for big bass. Just to up our odds Terry worked on the karma points by also doing a little lake clean up.

Terry with his Karma points tire

And the Karma pays off

Jims biggest bass of the trip

Quantity and Quality at Clear Lake

Terry mixed it up with a nice kitty cat

After more fish than we could count it was time to head in and dump some trash.

We had two great days at Clear Lake with Sean and Terry and had one more day left to fish on our CA Road Trip. We headed a bit further south to Lodi California to fish the Delta with Bam Miller.

Fishing the Delta was a bit different from the lakes we had been fishing, this was more overgrown canals. Though the fishing was really slow it was a great place to paddle and we saw a ton of wild life. We managed a few fish each, made a new friend and got to fish a new area, I call that a success

Jim fishing the Delta

One of the many owls that buzzed us during the day

Will got this great shot of one of the Owls

Another Owl shot

Our new friend Bam Miller fishing from the Jackson Kilroy

One of Jims Delta Bass

We had a great day on the water on the Delta but it was about time to head home.
We drove about two thousand miles on the trip and had a wonderful time. I can’t thank the guys enough that helped us out on the trip. I cant wait to come up and fish with you all again. Perhaps not during a drought next time. Still want to get on the rivers after the steal head.

Heading home.

Nor Cal Road Trip Part One

California Road trip

Because we had to cancel a couple shoots this year due to some bad weather at the planned locations we decided to hit the road in my home state of California to visit and fish with some friends and teammates at the northern end of the state.

On the first day of the trip we stopped at Liquipel to get an introduction to their product and get some of our gear treated. For those of you that have not heard of Liquipel it is a micro coating that can be used on many items including electronics to protect it from water. Here is a little sample video from their site.

Not only do they have this coating but also have skins to protect your phone screen from damage. We dropped a large ball bearing on the screen of a phone and had no damage. I see this a perhaps a great addition to a fish finder screen. They even had a treatment for fabric that has huge potential to us paddlers.

Checking out the goods at Liquipel

After our tour of Liquipel it was back on the road for a quick stop in Santa Barbara to visit an old friend for lunch then the long haul up to Shasta Lake. All told we had a 17 hour day to get to our most northern location for the trip. Thanks goodness for truck stop coffee, Dukes beef jerky and Bigs sunflower seeds.

At Shasta Lake we were hosted by my Jackson Kayak fishing teammate Jeff Baker. Our initial plan was to spend a day drifting and fishing the Sacramento river and half a day fishing Lake Shasta but as always plans are subject to change. Our normal issue on trips is we tend to get followed by rain, but not on this trip. Just so happens we decided to go fishing during the worst drought California has seen in years. Because of this there simply was not enough water to drift the river, so we spent our first day on Lake Shasta. Now Shasta does have pretty big fluctuations in water level anyway but as you can see in the picture below it was beyond low on our visit.

Note the normal water line up near the trees


On a positive note we didn’t have to use the boat launch just pulled my Malone trailer right up to the water any place on the lake

We set up to troll for trout and had a second rod for tossing lures for bass. The trolling set up was a dodger above a small hoochie which gave off a really good flash and action at paddling speed. The wind came up pretty early so we ducked into cover when we could tossing lures hoping for bass in the frigid 46 degree water. I decided to throw a small Sebile magic swimmer soft as I could fish it weedless around the heavy structure. Well of course while fishing for bass I manage to catch a trout on the magic swimmer. These lures will catch anything. That trout was the only fish we managed to catch that day as the wind really came up hard and pushed us off the water. I didn’t even get a photo of the fish because the slimy bugger slipped out of my hands before we got the camera out.

Lake Shasta is a man made lake so there are a lot of submerged trees and even a submerged town in the lake. With my Raymarine Dragonfly fishfinder I was able to get some screen grabs that really show off the structure. It was pretty amazing the detail I got from this unit.

Split screen view of my Dragonfly fishfinder.

Because we were off the water fairly early we decided to stop by Headwaters, the kayak shop that Jeff works at to get a look at their line of Jackson kayaks as well as a closer look at the new Jackson Big Rig.

Checking out the Jackson white water boats and the new Big Rig

The next day we hit up another lake in the Shasta Lake area and had much better luck, as least as far as the wind and weather goes. We tried the same routine trolling for trout and casting for bass but this day I had no luck at all while Jeff landed several trout and a Pikeminnow, which I had never seen before.

Jeff Baker with a nice sized Pikeminnow

After about five hours on the water we loaded up the truck and headed to Clearlake to fish with my friends Sean White and Terry Gowan, but I will save that story for the next installment.

Huge thanks to Jeff, his wife and their lovely daughter for hosting us and for letting us crash at their house. I hope I can return the favor if the come to San Diego.