Big Tuna from my kayak in Panama

I have so much blogging to catch up on, still need to get up the photos and reports from our trips to Georgia, Florida and Mazatlan. On the road so much just not enough time to get everything I need done, but I will get on it ASAP.
In the mean time I hope you enjoy this video of my catch of a 120 pound yellowfin Tuna while kayak fishing in Panama. This was the toughest fight I have ever had from my kayak.

My Adventure on the Ottawa River or If you are going to try and kill yourself do it in spectacular fashion and get it on video

With the Ottawa river kayak fishing episode of our show airing this week, I thought I would republish the article I wrote about the trip.

My Adventure on the Ottawa River.
If you are going to try and kill yourself do it in spectacular fashion and at least get it on video

Well I am just back from the filming of the next segment of Game On, our kayak fishing adventure video . This segment was filmed on the Ottawa River in Canada and to my surprise would prove to be the most extreme segment so far. I would be spending time on the river with two former world champion white water boaters, Ken Whiting and Brendon Mark, so I felt was in good hands.

After a long flight from San Diego to the small airport in Ottawa I was dragged into immigration for a closer look. I was given the second degree and we had to go through the process of them deciding if I needed a work permit to be in Canada. From the entire airplane I was the only person they pulled into this secondary process. After a long debate and convincing them I was not getting paid they let me pass. It was after midnight when I was finally released and I was met by our videographer Will for the ride to his place to crash for the night. He told me we would be getting up early to meet the guys to fish the next morning.

This was an adventure I was really looking forward to and got no sleep just itching to get on the water. This would be the first of three days of running whitewater and fishing the eddy lines and pools that most anglers had no access to.

Other than floating down some small rapids in streams on inner tubes when I was a kid I had zero experience on rapids, but I have a ton of time in the surf on my kayak so I was feeling fairly confidant that I would handle it OK. The start off point on the river was as flat and calm as could be and I got slammed on my first cast of the lure in this spot.

I wish the rest of the river were this calm.

I figured they were going to take it easy on me for the first day even though Ken, Brendan and Will had joked about humbling me on this trip. I was feeling pretty good, that is until I saw this.

Yes I was scared

We watched three rafts in a row dump their passengers on the very first section, sending the people floating down the river. All except this one girl who took the raft for a rodeo ride.

Rodeo Ride

We watched and laughed, mine was a very nervous laughter.

Ken gave me a run down on running the river and made a plan, which was I would follow him closely down the rapids and the raft, which they were filming from would follow me down. I asked Ken “what happens if I get dumped” he said “just climb back on the kayak if you can, if not you should just float down river and the raft will pick you up.

Ken heading down first

I took a couple of deep breaths and said “well lets go, it’s only water right”. This was the start of what is, to this point in my life, the scariest thing I have ever been through. I quickly learned that running rapids is nothing like surfing, and unlike surfing there is no break between waves, the water just keeps flowing and pounding and comes at you from multiple directions at once.

Rough Ride

I did as instructed and followed Ken closely down that first section, passing one of the large rafts still stuck in the hole, and was quickly ejected from my kayak. As they told me I was right next to my kayak and quickly was back in the seat and setting up for the next section. So far so good all things considered. The next section was a different story, though to me it did not look as challenging there was a hidden obstacle that my inexperienced eye did not see and that was a hole that reached out and grabbed my kayak. I went from gliding down the river, to my kayak coming to a complete stop and me shooting right off the deck into the water and into the hole. I was later told this was Joe’s hole and I was not the first person to fall victim to its grip. Upon hitting the water I was quickly dragged back upstream and into the churning water which, even with a PFD, forced me under water. I popped up a few feet away and was quickly sucked back into the churning water to repeat the process over and over again within seconds. I could not catch my breath and even when above water could not get a good breath of air because my PFD had been too loose and was covering my face. I knew in my mind that I had help but I was scared to death that they would not be able to get to me, how could they in these conditions? Thankfully they did get to me in what felt like my final breath. First in was Ken, when you see the video you will understand why he was a champion kayaker. He side-surfed his kayak in the hole leaning over so far it is hard to believe he stayed in as I was doing my best to pull him over. He lost me once but quickly got back to me and finally pulled me out of danger zone. Brendan was next in with the raft and dragged me out of the water, adding one final insult to injury, baring my backside, as he pulled me from the water, to the crowd watching on the shore. Will did his part by keeping the camera rolling so we have some cool and exciting footage for the video. Which would have been shown at my funeral had I not survived, I have shown the footage to a few friends and the general response is “Holy Shit”. The rest of you will have to wait for the show to come out to see it.

This was a pretty scary introduction to kayaking the river and something I will not ever forget. Thankfully I had these experts there to come to my rescue, I will be forever in their dept, then again they put me in that spot I may have to try and get them back on our next trip.

Brendo and Ken

Though I was pretty shaken this was only the first day on the river and we had a lot of rapids and days of shooting to go, so after about a half hour of regrouping I was back in the kayak, this time in some flat water and doing what I love most and that is fishing. Catching my first pike and several small mouth bass.

My first pike

I still had to face the music and that meant running the next set of rapids. Though pretty intimidated I was assured this set was much easier and I should have no problems. The guys were right and I ran that set without incident and actually really enjoyed it. We ran several more sets of rapids over the course of the day with me only hitting the water a couple more times but always getting right back on board my kayak. I was so happy to have sacked up and run the river the rest of the day, it would have been easy to sit in that raft all day but I know I would of never forgiven myself. I opted not to tell my wife about the scare until I returned home.

Here are a few more shots from the first day.

My first Waleye

Doing a bit better in the whitewater

With a little bit of poetic justice I managed to catch the biggest Pike of the day right after the guys had taken their kayak out of the water at the end of the day.

Biggest pike of the day

Day two on the river was to be the same plan on the same section of river as the day before. Though I was glad I got back on my kayak the day before, I was not ready to run that top rapid again so I took a side chute of the river and fished my way to the bottom of the big section, while the boys ran it again. This time Lisa had raft duty and she flipped it in the top section. I was fishing and missed all that action.

Pike, look at those teeth, the entire roof of their mouths are teeth a true predator.

I am happy to say I ran the rest of the rapids that day and managed to stay on my kayak for the rest of the trip.

Ken running a fun section

Brendan in action

Fishing the eddy line

The next day was supposed to be the start of a two day camping trip on the river but heavy rain was predicted for that night so we opted to investigate a nearby lake the guys had never fished. The water was super clear and the lake was a very cool spot to fish, we all caught bass and Pike.

As predicted the rains came that night and we were all happy to be sleeping in beds not a wet tent. The forecast for the next day was rain until about 3:00 pm then clearing and cool.
Once again the predictions were correct so we loaded for our camping trip and headed out fishing in the rain. The fishing this day was pretty steady on small mouth bass, pike and Will got one four pound large mouth. Even better the sun came out and turned into a beautiful day.

Brendo with the big pike of the trip

We only had to run one section of rapids this day and I managed to get through unscathed. After that we were in some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen, It was almost too beautiful to be real, of course my camera battery died and I only got a few photos from this, our last day on the water.

Ken taking the lead

Dinner for our camp out.


The last morning we had to jump in the kayaks and make an hour and a half paddle in the fog back to the car so I could make my plane. I did manage one last cast on the paddle in and landed one last Pike.

I have landed a lot of what could be considered extreme fish in a kayak but at my skill level this was the most extreme kayak fishing I have ever done. I can’t wait to do it again, this time with my PFD nice and tight and my rescuers near by.

I hope you enjoy the episode of the show that documents this adventure.

Jim Sammons

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?:



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.