bass

Kayak Fishing in the Ottawa Valley

JUNE 22-30

For our most recent shoot, I headed back to the beautiful Ottawa Valley to fish on the mighty Ottawa River. ‘The Valley’ is home to Heliconia, the producers of our show, and it’s no wonder they’ve chosen this as home base – the fishing is unreal.

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Exploring the many side channels on the Ottawa River

After many of our international trips being plagued by storms and wind, it was refreshing to see that the weather in the Ottawa Valley was going to be pretty consistent, if not incredibly hot. Most of the time, really hot days can really make for awesome evening bites, and this trip was no exception.

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Nice largemouth!

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Ken getting up close and personal with one of many fish caught on this trip

On this trip we switched things up a bit, with show producer Will Richardson playing guest host, while Ken Whiting joined us and took on the role of primary videographer for a few days. Will got to experience firsthand what it feels like to have bad luck in your home waters, as the topwater largemouth bite wasn’t on as much as we had hoped with the forecast.

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Another nice largemouth

We then hooked up with the guys from Team Jackson Kayak, who were also shooting in the area. Having Brooks, Jameson, James and EJ along for this really helped logistically with shuttles, and for getting lots of different angled shots. We hit the water hard, running rapids and fishing for small mouth bass and pike. Our luck seemed to turn around, and needless to say, the Ottawa provided and we had a great time. I was paddling the Coosa HD on this trip, and loved every minute of it – it was really stable and comfortable, key for getting through some of the whitewater we encountered on this trip.

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The man himself (Eric ‘EJ’ Jackson) ready to hit the water

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Hanging out with the boys from Team Jackson Kayak

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Scouting some of the bigger rapids on the Ottawa River

Following that, Jim joined up with local pros Dan and Manny in a secret location for some musky fishing. The boys put us on plenty of fish and we all came off the water with huge smiles.

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Super secret location in the Ottawa Valley

Finally, we hooked up with musician and narrator for Kayak Bassin’ Brock Zeman for a last day of fishing for largemouth on a small back channel. If you like our theme song for the show, Brock is the evil genius behind it!  This was hands down one of the best days of fishing of our lives, as those bass were all over our topwater frogs.

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Getting serenaded by Brock Zeman on the water…not sure what to think about that.

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Brock with another nice bass

The Ottawa River always provides us sunny skies, warm water and awesome fishing. We’re already looking forward to our next trip back to the Ottawa Valley.

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Take the kids kayak fishing

All Smiles

A Happy young angler

As a fishing guide, one of my greatest pleasures is watching a new kayak angler land their first “kayak fish”, that feeling is multiplied a hundred fold when it is one of my kids. I cannot begin to tell you how many times, after a day of hooking and handing off fish to my son, he has bragged to me that he out fished me and that he is a natural. I will never forget the time, during a trip to Punta Colorada, that my, then eight-year-old, son and I had a double hookup of Dorado from the kayak. I told him he was on his own on this one, and he handled the task like a pro. Yes, I was the proud father on that day. He is now 14 years old, taller than his dad and has become my favorite fishing partner and every once in a while he actually does outfish me.

My son Randy kayak fly fishing in Montana

If you want to get a child into kayak fishing the first thing you want to do is make sure they are comfortable on the kayak and on the water. The best thing you can do for your child is to enroll them in swimming lessons, this of course is something they will carry with them the rest of their lives. The ability to swim will take away much of the anxiety involved with sitting on a kayak, there will be no worries of “ what will I do if I fall in.”

Until the child is old enough to handle a kayak on their own, with most kids that is between the ages 10 and 12, kayak fishing with a child is best done from a tandem kayak such as the Ocean Kayak Malibu II XL. These bigger kayaks will give you plenty of stability for those times when the child suddenly wants to reach for something floating in the water. In addition to the added stability, you will have plenty of room and a dedicated place for the child to sit. When my kids were small, I would turn the forward seat so that it was facing me. In this configuration, I could always see my child’s face, making it much easier to judge how they were doing. This setup also makes it easier for me to help them with a hooked fish or retying a jig.

Setting up a Tandem with the front seat faceing backward

Going old school here, my daughter in the tankwell of my scupper pro. She is now 17.

You should start by just taking the child for a short paddle on flat water such as the bay. Leave the rods at home; see if they enjoy being on the water. This first outing, if the water is warm enough, is also a good time to practice getting on and off the kayak in the open water. Try this first in water that is just deep enough for you to touch the bottom. If your kids are like mine, they will have a blast jumping off the kayak over and over again. This will lessen any worries they have about getting back on the kayak if they fall in. The adult should get back on the kayak first, so they can balance the kayak and assist the child to get back on. If available in your area paddle by one of the haul out buoys with the Sea lions on it, this is always a thrill for the kids. Do not forget that kids get bored fast so keep this outing short and entertaining.

There are several reason we recommend starting out in the bay, you will get a better idea whether the child is comfortable on the kayak and there is a much lower chance of them getting seasick. Yes, you can get seasick on a kayak and a seasick child is a miserable child. The surf zone can also be very intimidating for kids, and many adults, unless you are very proficient in the surf zone you risk dumping your kayak along with your child and gear into the drink. Another nice thing about fishing the bays is the ability to get off the kayak for a break. When out with my kids I try to break up the day by fishing for a couple of hours, then hitting the beach for lunch or just goofing off in the sand, then fishing another hour before heading home.

A nice spotted bay bass on San Diego Bay

You want your child to be comfortable while out on the water, a kid sitting in wet clothes is going to become cold and miserable in a hurry. Just like yourself, you need to dress your child appropriately for the conditions. Along with the required PFD (personal flotation device), putting your child in a small wetsuit will keep them warm all day. You can pick up a child size wetsuit from Costco for about $24, and kids love wetsuits. I always carry some extra clothes in a drybag in case my kids get too wet. A light windbreaker is always a good idea, even on the warmest days the wind can cool your child down in a hurry. Do not forget a hat and sunglasses as well as a lathering of sunscreen before you head out. It is a good idea to also bring along plenty of your kids favorite snacks and juices, it will just make the day feel that much more special.

If the child is old enough to help paddle, that is great, they will really enjoy it and it will make them feel like they are helping with the work. If the child is going to help paddle, make the investment in a child’s size paddle. A child will struggle with a larger paddle and will become discouraged very quickly.

Just as with any type of fishing with kids, the most important factor to remember is, this outing is about the kid catching fish not you. Most kids that are just being introduced to fishing will be happier catching ten Mackerel than they would trolling around all day hoping for a Yellowtail. Again, the bays are a great place to start; you will have the opportunity to catch many fish to keep a smile on your kids face. In our local bays, your child will have a chance to catch spotted bay bass, Sand bass, Halibut, Bonita, Mackerel, and many other species.

Another nice Bay bass, and look at that smile

Bring light tackle spinning or spin casting reels that are easy for the child to master, a bait caster in most kids hands is just asking for trouble. Though you want to use gear that is easy for the child to handle and not to expensive, I steer away from the low-end “kids” rods. These rods can actually cause more problems than they solve. I do think that the child should have their own rod for which they feel responsible; I always make sure the kids take part in the cleaning of the gear after the trip. I generally load the reels with six to eight pound test to entice more bites. Fishing the drift on the moving tide, with a small grub just bouncing on the bottom, keeps the casting to a minimum and will ensure many bites. You can add a small piece of squid to help entice more bites. Another good option is to setup near one of the bait barges, there are usually a good number of smelt, mackerel or small barracuda willing to bite and give your kid a great fight. For the smelt or Macs a small sabiki or bait catching rig works great, cut it down to two hooks to avoid problems and your child will have a blast catching fish all day. Keep another rod with a small crank bait, such as a Berkley Frenzy, handy. When you make a move, let the child hold the rod while you troll to the next spot. You will be amazed how many fish you can pick up this way.

A big bat ray makes for a suprise catch for this young angler

Teaching a child to fish can be a bit frustrating at times, I know that I have had times when it was announced “it is time to go home”, just as the fish are starting to bite. Remembering that the day is about hanging out with your kid and turning them onto a sport that you love, this means patience and sometimes sacrificing what you would like to be doing like staying on the water all day. Sometimes the shortened trip will mean less hesitation the next time you want to take them out on the kayak. The rewards will be well worth it in the end when you find you have a fishing partner for life.

Take a kid kayak fishing and this is what you will see. All smiles

You can learn more about kayak fishing on our website Kayak4Fish.com

Kayak Fishing Cedros island off the coast of Baja

As promised I will be keeping you up to date on our kayak fishing adventures while shooting Ocean Kayak presents  The Kayak Fishing Show with Jim Sammons and our movie Game On 2, here is a report about our trip aboard the Islander this past week.

On the morning of October 4th my videographer, Will Richardson, and I met up at Point Loma sportfishing, here in San Diego, to board the sport-fisher Islander for a six day trip down the Baja coast to Cedros Island.  The Islander, owned and operated by Shane Slaughter, along with being a great long range sport boat  has earned a reputation as the premier mothership kayak fishing operations. With her fine crew and specially built kayak rack they have long range kayak fishing down to a science. The Islander can hold 22 kayaks on her rack and with that few people it is quite comfortable at the rail. Anglers sleep in stateroom accommodations and the meals are something you would expect to get at a nice hotel not out at sea. After loading up all our gear and kayaks, filling the tanks with live bait, and getting the trip run down from our captain we headed out to sea at about 10:00am.

Islander with a full load of kayaks

Islander with a full load of kayaks

Off loading our kayaks at Cedros (photo courtesy of Paul Lebowitz)

Off loading our kayaks at Cedros (photo courtesy of Paul Lebowitz)

 Cedros Island is located three hundred miles south of San Diego which meant a thirty hour boat ride before reaching our destination. The wind was up and the seas were rough which meant a queasy ride for many aboard for the trip, the chef trying to feed us every two hours didn’t make things any better for many of the passengers, not being prone to sea sickness myself  this was a great time to sit around fattening up for all the planned paddling and pulling on fish I was looking forward to. About 24 hours into the ride down the coast the Islander crew put out the trolling lines and we were quickly rewarded with some nice football size yellowfin tuna, though not huge by any means it took everyone’s minds off of the rough ride and got them thinking about fishing

Chartermaster Paul Lebowitz with a Tuna caught off the boat. (photo by Will Richardson)

Chartermaster Paul Lebowitz with a Tuna caught off the boat. (photo by Will Richardson)

After picking off quite of few of these small tuna and a few Dorado, the skipper put the pedal down and had us at
around 4:30 pm. Though most of the anglers on the trip were interested in catching yellowtail from their kayaks my favorite prey at these islands are the Calico bass. We have these same fish in San Diego but the the quality and quantity of the Calicos at Benitos and Cedros islands is unmatched. Though still very windy we unloaded the kayaks to get in a couple of hours of bass fishing before it got dark. Fishing with my friend Paul Lebowitz we quickly paddled into my favorite place to Calico fish which is right up in the rocks and the surf, this is where the big ones live and because they are in rough conditions they pull real hard. It didn’t take us long to get on a couple of the real nice bass we were looking for.
 
Paul with a 7 pound Calico

Paul with a 7 pound Calico

Jim Sammons with a 6 pound checkerboard

Jim Sammons with a 6 pound checkerboard

Darkness came quickly and we headed back to the big boat for another big gourmet meal and some much needed sleep in the lee of the island.
The boat pulled anchor before light the next morning and made the short run over to Cedros Island where we would be fishing for the next three days. Everyone was excited to get the kayaks on the water and again most of the guys had Yellowtail on their minds.  The wind was once again relentless and you just couldn’t seem to hide from it. Even with that the guys started hooking into some great fish.
 
Cedros Yellowtail (photo by Will Richardson)

Cedros Yellowtail (photo by Will Richardson)

 
Cedros Yellowtail (photo by Will Richardson)

Cedros Yellowtail (photo by Will Richardson)

 
Cedros Yellowtail (photo by Will Richardson)

Cedros Yellowtail (photo by Will Richardson)

I stayed on the inside for a while getting in on my much loved Calico bass fishing with Reebs Kelp assassin soft plastic lures and Sebile magic swimmers.
 
Jim Sammon and a Cedros Calico(photo by Will Richardson)

Jim Sammons and a Cedros Calico(photo by Will Richardson)

But the calls of yellowtail fishing kept coming in over my VHF so I switched gears and gave the yellows a shot. Within short order I had boated four of these tough fish.
 
Jim Sammons with Cedros Yellowtail (photo by Will Richardson)

Jim Sammons with Cedros Yellowtail (photo by Will Richardson)

Jim Sammons with Cedros Yellowtail (photo by Will Richardson)

Jim Sammons with Cedros Yellowtail (photo by Will Richardson)

Day two at Cedros was more of the same with me starting out fishing the bass on the inside while the rest of the guys hunted yellowtail. On this day the wind was up even more and half the crew decided to fish off the Islander while the other half stuck to our kayaks.  Trying to stay as tight to the island as I could to keep out of the wind I was tossing a Sebile Magic Swimmer into the rocks for the bass and getting quite a few of them. While I was releasing one of my bass the water erupted a couple of hundred yards behind me. In two feet of water a large school of larger yellowtail was crashing on a school of bait in water barely deep enough to cover their backs.  Because I had my bass rod in hand, a Shimano Calcutta 300 TE, I launched my swimmer towards the school of fish and the lure was quickly inhaled. Because I was fishing in the rocks for bass I had my drag locked to keep the fish from running into the rocks and breaking me off. This of course bent my rod in half as the big yellow took me for a ride out to sea. How I landed this fish without him breaking me off I have no idea, I was rocked on much heavier gear a little later that day. Captain Shane came over in the boat skiff and took the fish off my hands to get it into the cooler on the boat so I could have top quality fish when I got home.

Jim Sammons and Shane Slaughter with my bass rod caught Yellowtail. (photo by Will Richardson)

Jim Sammons and Shane Slaughter with my bass rod caught Yellowtail. (photo by Will Richardson)

The guys fishing on the kayaks got thier share of fish but word came back that the guys fishing the big boat had really put a hurt on some good numbers of fish.
The morning of day three at Cedros Island brought another day of wind, and though we tried fishing close into shore the wind made fishing very tough from the kayaks. I fished as close to the shore as I could and got a good number of bass but most of the guys just stayed aboard the Islander and fish. Tired of fighting the wind the fiew of us that did fish the kayaks headed back to the boat by 11:00 am. The captain said he was marking good numbers of fish very close to the island so we all decided to fish the big boat for the afternoon. What followed was about as wide open of a yellowtail bite as I have ever seen , at one point everyone with a line in the water was hooked into a fish. The only bad thing about that was the knowing that without that wind we could of all been on these fish from our kayaks, though no one was complaining, there was too much action going on aboard the boat.
Jim Sammons with a boat yellow

Jim Sammons with a boat yellow

The Hot corner (photo by Will Richarson)

The Hot corner (photo by Will Richarson)

 
Paul Lebowitz with another nice YT (photo from Paul Lebowitz)

Paul Lebowitz with another nice YT (photo from Paul Lebowitz)

This bite went on for about three hours and a lot of fish hit the deck.
After that we started our long 30 hour boat ride home, once again in tough conditions. A couple of stops were made on the way home for some nice size yellowfin tuna but mostly is was just slow going heading into the wind and swell.
 
Though the conditions were not ideal on this trip I think it will show people the potential of this type of trip with the kayaks. If only a bit better weather was had I know our counts from the kayaks would of been out of this world.
Anyone interested in one of these trips should contact the Islander Sportfishing office.
 
Once again we are always looking for that next great kayak fishing destination, so if you have some ideas please feel free to contact me at  Jim@Kayak4Fish.com
If you are not already getting WFN, please contact your cable provider and let them know you want WFN so you too can watch The Kayak Fishing Show with Jim Sammons.
 
 

Kayak Fishing The Petawawa River

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

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

Les Boys

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

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

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

The Camp

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

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

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

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

petfishing-3793Coffeeeeeeee

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)

Panama Trip follow up

Game On 2 Kayak Fishing in Panama

I have received a few emails asking for more details on how the trip was run and some logistics.
We arranged out own flights into Panama city all other flight and transfer arrangements were handled by Pesca Panama
We flew into Panama City; we were met by a driver that took us to a very nice hotel Casino for the night. We were up early and met in the lobby at 5:00 am the next morning and were driven to a smaller airport to jump a plane to David. This was all arraigned by Pesca Panama and is included in the price of the trip.
For those making this trip be prepared to cough up some extra coin for your baggage at this point. Your Rod tube better not be much over seven feet or it may not make it on the plane and there are fees for bags over 30 pounds.
After the one hour flight we were met in David by several drivers to pick us up and load our gear. It was just a ten minute drive to the barge. I am reluctant to call it a barge because it was very nice.
We loaded and prepped our kayaks and gear put them on the small boats and headed out fishing by 8:30 am. The barge then moved to an island where we met it that night. We were never near any populated areas after that and saw no one other than our group of five fishing boats, and rarely saw them other than back at the barge. You could fish from dawn till dusk if you chose to, we usually were the last ones off the barge each day. Wanting to let the paying customers get going without us in the way, yeah right, we were just too tired to get going after spending 12 hours in the kayaks.
Here is a shot of the fishing boats.
Pesca Panama fishing boats
As soon as the last fishing boat was away from the barge it would head to another location were we would meet it later that night.
The accommodations on the barge though not five star were very comfortable, though a little cramped when we were all trying to get ready to go. We slept four to a room with two bunk beds in each room. Take a hint get in the room first and get the bottom bunk.
cabin on Pesca Panama
The crew on the barge and the fishing boats were all top notch and were there to help us at every turn.
Most every night the bar tender, Jamie, was at the rail handing us our first rum and coke as we stepped off the fishing boat and would have your second one in your hand at the first sound of clinking ice cubes. Meals were served as you arrived in the open air on the front of the barge.
dining area on Pesca Panama
The food was awesome, generally some form of fresh fish, seared Tuna, baked Wahoo etc… We were often served ceviche or sashimi as an appetizer. Breakfasts were served as you awoke and again it was filling and good.
One night we got slammed by weather and ate inside then watched a great movie called Game On 1, you may of heard of it. 🙂
inside Pesca Panama
They had a nice flat screen TV and a library of movies. We really didn’t use this area of the barge much just on that rainy night.
We had our lunches out on the boats which were generally sandwiches or burritos and snacks, there was also a well stocked cooler on the boat loaded with waters, sodas, juices and beers.
This place is made to fish and you spent little time on the barge and a lot of time out fishing in some of the most spectacular areas I have ever seen. Picture fishing next to a waterfall for snook while listening to Howler monkeys in the jungle, simply amazing.

Ken fishing for snook

Jim fishing for snook


There were two showers on the barge and each night you could just toss your clothes in the hamper and they would be clean for you the next afternoon, meaning we could have brought a lot less clothes with us then we did. This was a great addition to their already fantastic service.
Unfortunately the trip came to an end all too fast and the process was reversed on the last day. We fished till noon, which gave us five and a half amazing days of fishing, then ran all the way back to David where we met the barge, had lunch, packed, plane back to Panama city, Hotel for the night and head home.
In Panama City I am sure you need to treat it just like any big city but we all felt very safe there.
What a great trip it was. I would go back in an instant.
If you plan on making this trip as a kayak angler, you can expect to out fish the bigger boats on the incredible inshore fishing, many of the places we hit the boats just couldn’t get to and these fish had never seen a lure. These fish hit hard and pulled hard so expect to lose a fair number of lures, bring strong gear and load up with Powerpro and at least 40 pound leaders, even then you will get hit by fish you just can’t stop before they bust you off.
The kayaks they have there are OK Trident 13’s with seats and two flush mounts. I found it very nice to have my Shimano bait tank with me, not as a bait tank but as extra rod holders and storage. It was also great to have a portable fish finder to stay in safe areas. There were spots that seemed very safe then the bottom would jump up and you would have large breaking waves out in the middle of a large bay.
For those long days on the water you will appreciate an extra seat pad and your own Carbon fiber paddle. I have a Lendal that breaks down to five pieces that makes it great for travel.
Feel free to contact me directly if you have any specific questions about the trip.
I know this location is going to make a great segment to Kayak Fishing Game On 2.
Jim@kayak4Fish.com

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