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!


Rigging Tip of the Week – Brought to you by SEA-LECT Designs

Every two weeks, we release the Kayak Fishing Tales Newsletter, which has giveaways, videos and announcements. (If you don’t already get the newsletter, sign up here: ) Another great part of our Newsletter is the SEA-LECT Designs Rigging Tip of the Week, which outlines some handy tips and tricks to outfit your kayak to optimize your fishing experience. This week, Jed Hawkes of the Product Development Team at SEA-LECT goes over a very cost effective and simple solution for lashing your paddle to the deck of your kayak and for keeping knots from coming undone.

We commonly will just “deal” with small repeated tasks that are imperfect, it’s so small or common that we will spend a moment struggling with that task rather than find a simple solution to streamline it. This is either because we don’t see a solution, know of one that already exists, or perceive that moment of struggle as insignificant. But these moments add up. We commonly use our deck bungee to securely store our paddle while we accomplish a task; this can be a something as simple as taking a drink of water or more complex like tying on a new lure, assisting in a rescue, or landing the first catch of the day.

IMG_2774The Clamcleat® Shockcord Ball greatly helps assist quickly storing your paddle under your deck bungees. The ball is threaded onto your deck bungee and gives a wider radius to allow the paddle blade to slide under the deck bungee without snagging. The flattened side helps it sit nicely on the deck and the beveled corners of the hole help prevent fraying of the bungees sheath. The balls can be used on deck bungees for Fishing Kayaks, Sea Kayaks and SUP’s.


I also use the Clamcleat® Toggle Ball to add a large stopper onto small diameter cordage. The Toggle helps to cover the knot as well as provide an easy object to grab. I install these on the ratchets of by back band on whitewater and sea kayaks to help pull the back band taught.

For more information about SEA-LECT Designs, visit

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
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

IMG_5386 086_edited-1-1

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


See you all in San Diego!


(Photos provided by Lisa Utronki and June Veenstra)

Ocean Kayak ‘Torque’ Hits Montana

We finally got a chance this past week in Montana to put the latest addition to the Ocean Kayak‘s rack to the test. Oh man, am I ever excited!


The reality is that there are situations where paddling is huge hindrance, such as people who just don’t have the upper body strength, or when you absolutely need to troll for certain species of fish at a controlled speed… or if you are a photographer or videographer, shooting 5 guys fishing spread out across a lake and need to zoom from one to the other while never putting your camera down. This is when a pedal powered or motorized kayak is a handy thing. As a camera man I admit to staring at the guys that could zoom across the water with their hands free with a whole lot of lust. If I had something like that, I could keep the camera rolling instead of burning valuable time trying to get to my subjects… who inevitably catch a fish as far away from the camera as possible. Trust Ocean Kayak to come up with the ultimate solution. As soon as the Torque was announced I saw the possibilities.

One of the very first Torques off the production line was sent to Jim for us to try out in Montana. I thought we were gonna be in a bit of trouble when he told me he was bringing an electric kayak with him. The rivers in Montana are extremely shallow. Perfect kayak fishing waters, but absolutly no good for something with a motor. The local anglers all row down the river in specially designed drift boats, not a motor in sight. A motor would only hang up on the rocks and dense weed beds. On the lakes it would be fine… but we had 4 anglers, and two crew… and Jim only had room for 6 kayaks… someone was gonna be banging that motor down the river.

Jim laughed at me, and pulled out the Minn Kota motor and the battery and replaced it with a fitted keel piece that comes with every Torque… In skinny water the torque wouldn’t be a problem. It quickly converted back in to a standard kayak, just as lightweight as any Ocean Kayak Prowler. Consider my skepticism squashed.


Jim ran the Madison River for the first 4 days in the Unmotored Torque. Nothing much to say there, without the motor it paddled just like any other Kayak. He eventually took out the removable keel to let him get in even skinnier waters, and that made it a bit harder to paddle, as without it, the currents would push up in to the open hole and swing him around from time to time. Thats his fault for wanting to be able to get closer to shore than everyone else.. not the kayaks fault. (it paid off… he caught a ton of fish)

Finally… we got out on Ennis Lake for a real trout fishing fiasco. It was time to put this baby thru her paces. We swapped in the motor and the battery in less than one minute. The hook up was super simple. Jim got in, and proceeded to zoom accross the three miles to the fishing hole… while the rest of us slogged out the paddle. He arrived first.. and was fishing long before we got there.


A storm rolled in at about 2. It had been raining all day so we didn’t think much of it… until the first lighting strike. We needed to get back to the put in, and fast. A three mile paddle. Enter ‘Super Torque.’ Jim’s son, Randy, was having trouble fighting the wind and rain and was falling behind. Jim quickly rigged a paddle leash as a bow line and hooked Randy up to his kayak. The damn little Minn Kota never slowed down for a second… he pulled both of them to shore (and safety)… once again beating the pack. (Narrowly beaten by CG and Kendal, who wanted to beat the motor on principle)

The Next day it was my turn. I had a theory about being able to do sweet pans and fly by shots using the motor on the lake. It took some begging… but Jim finally gave in. So on the 6th day, Will got his wish, and was now motor powered.


Like many folks, when I fish, I want to paddle. It lets me tell my wife that I am “Not just fishing… I am getting exercise!”  Which in turn gets me out fishing more. As a camera person, I hate paddling. I am always having to stop rolling because I have drifted away from my subject, or need to paddle like a maniac to get to a hooked up angler. The Torque is perfect for me. I can paddle it on fishing days, or swap out the motor for those long musky trolls… ahem… I mean days where I need to film people… yeah…

For those worried about Motor noise, fear not… the thing is very quiet, (no louder than a frustrated angler muttering curse words on the water) I got some awesome fly by shots, and was able to, for the first time ever, get Jim hook to release on a trout while moving. No time lost. I was able to zoom in tight from a long way away… and there was little to no camera shake. This is the ultimate shooting platform. Kendal just drooled as I zoomed in to position for the shot.

We got a good chance to put the battery time thru the paces. It will run about 2.5 hours at top speed. We also tested it’s pulling capacity. It can tow about 5 other kayaks without losing significant speed. Thats pretty amazing when you think about it. If you have a long way to go to your fishing hole, and lots of kayak fishing buddies… one Torque might be the solution.


Jim and I both loved the Torque. I can’t wait to get one of my own for all shoots. Go out and give one a spin, I think you will be a convert.

I will leave you with a shot of Jim rolling down the river. Oh Montana… how did ya get so darn pretty.


Big Drifts, Blue Sky and Brown Trout


Oh my LORD!

We are in the midst of day 4 here in Montana and let me tell you, nothing has prepared us for the wonders that the river has brought forth. I will start at the beginning…

Rainbow Lodge

Rainbow Lodge

We arrived to a huge surprise, our own personal lodge looking over the town of Ennis, Montana. The folks over at Rainbow Valley Lodge really set us up with a great home base. We have a full kitchen (which is good to feed 6 big guys) , beds for all and a nice big porch to enjoy a brew and tell fish stories from. From our private oasis we can easily tell how the wind is blowing over the lake… but the real magic lies in the nearby Madison River.


The first day of shooting we hooked up with our friend Jason at Bozeman Angler, and he took us on our first drift down the Madison. It really helps to have a guide out there from the get go. Fly fishing is tricky business, you need to know what bugs are hatching, and what the trout are eating, and every river is different. Jason showed us how to handle the Madison, and his drift boat was a top notch platform to shoot the Kayakers from. The fishing was a bit slow (or we were a bit slow.. one or the other…) Didn’t matter to C.G… he still managed to haul a fish out of the river.


I would say, as always, the fishing is only half the story out here. As usual the real fun is the people we meet along the way. I am happy to include C.G. as a member of that group of amazing people I get to shoot with.

Not only is he an amazing angler, managing to find the fish even when there seems to be none, but he is also a great teacher. Both Randy and Jim have quickly become great casters under his instruction. Proving that with the right teacher, anyone can chuck a fly.

He knows the area, knows the hatch, and can tie a knot faster than you can say… “Hey CG.. can you tie a knot for me?”

We did get to share a bit of knowledge with him however, and I am happy to say he can add a bit of fast moving water to his skills. He was a little nervous when we first hit a few long wave trains… but now he hits em all with a huge grin. What a great guy to spend your week with.

_MG_9124On the second day of our adventure, the training was over and it was time to hit some serious fish. First stop was a quick visit to our friends at Bozeman Angler to grab a few flies and meet up with our guide to the Yellowstone River, Cole. The Bozeman Angler is a very cool shop down in the heart of Bozeman. The people are super nice, and the guides are top notch. If you are heading out here to fish, give them a call. The best part is that they figured out how to guide the kayakers down the river, which should have been a bit of a challenge.. but Cole and Jason took it all in stride.


The Yellowstone River provided a ton of fish for us. Both Jim and Randy got some one on one time with our man Cole and he showed them how to spot the flash, toss the fly and land em. It was only a matter of time before they both snagged their first trout… and not long after that Jim landed his first from the kayak.


Not all was peachy however. Although C.G., Jim and Randy all caught fish.. many fish… on the Yellowstone. One man stood alone from the pack… watching and waiting for the right moment to catch a fish.

Mister ‘Birdsnest’ Herman watched over the group in cold, calculating silence… waiting in the wings for the right time to show his skills. By the third day, with a return to the Madison river, he still hadn’t managed to break a streak of slight misses and big chances. By day four he was getting visibly frustrated… but that all was an act it seemed.

Every trip we do, something special comes at one point or another. Double hook ups, record breaking tuna, and Montana was no slouch… Bird pulled out of that river the fish of a lifetime. A trophy brown trout. I can’t show ya the pictures yet, we want to keep em under wraps for now. Let’s just say that it is gonna blow your mind.



Three more days of fishing ahead. Can’t wait to tell you the rest of the story.


Our Kayak Fishing Story Goes Nationwide!

It’s official! The ‘Kayak Fishing: Game On’ crew is going PRIME-TIME! Jim, Ken and I are all super excited to let you guys out there in blog land be some of the first to know, that the movie is being turned in to a TV series!


Check out the ‘Official Press Release’!

Heliconia Launches Kayak Fishing TV Show on the World Fishing Network (WFN)

July 14, 2009, Beachburg, Ontario – The Heliconia Press, a leading publisher of books and DVDs on outdoor pursuits, is thrilled to announce that starting January, 2010, The Kayak Fishing Show: with Jim Sammons will begin airing on the World Fishing Network (WFN). The 13-episode TV series will be broadcast throughout the year into 25 million North American homes in both standard and high definition.

“The Kayak Fishing Show: with Jim Sammons is the result of two years of production investment,” explains Ken Whiting, Producer of show and President of Heliconia “We’ve been shooting the show in conjunction with the ExOfficio Presents Kayak Fishing: Game On movie series for the past two years with the hopes that it would evolve into a TV series. Needless to say, we’re ecstatic to see this dream come to life and are very optimistic about what this means for the continued growth of the sport.”

The Kayak Fishing Show: with Jim Sammons is a fresh new style of fishing show which is designed to entertain, inspire, educate, and appeal to viewers whether or not they have ever considered fishing from a kayak. Every 30-minute episode follows Jim Sammons on a genuine fishing adventure in a stunning location—from the wild coast of Alaska, to the tropical waters of Panama.

“This is a major step for the sport of kayak fishing,” says Jim Sammons, Star of the kayak fishing show. “It’s recognition from the fishing industry that kayak fishing is more than a passing trend—that the benefits of kayak fishing are real, and participation will continue to grow.”

It’s no surprise that the fishing industry is embracing the sport of kayak fishing. With the current state of both the economy and the environment, anglers are looking for cheaper and less damaging means of enjoying their passion. Not only does kayak fishing address these problems, but anglers are quickly realizing that kayak fishing offers an amazing and productive experience.

About The Heliconia Press
Since World Champion Kayaker Ken Whiting founded the company in 1998, The Heliconia Press has been producing best-selling and award-winning instructional books and videos about kayaking and other outdoor pursuits. The Kayak Fishing Show represents Heliconia’s first foray into the world of TV production. For more information about all of Heliconia’s products, please visit

About WFN
the World Fishing Network is the only 24/7 television channel dedicated to all segments of fishing. Originally launched in December 2005, today WFN and WFNHD are available in more than 25 million households through North American cable, satellite and telecommunications distributors. In the U.S., distributors include Verizon FiOS, Dish Network, Charter Communications, GVTC, and more.

Game On 2 in Panama a photo report

Photo report from Game On 2 Panama shoot.

What a great operation they have at Pesca Panama. This is our floating lodge or floating bar as the case may be. They would move it every day to a new location while we were out fishing.
Pesca Panama home base
I don’t seem to have any photos of the support boats but they were top notch. Twin four strokes, full electronics and a huge bimini top to keep the sun off while on the boat. This was huge as when the sun was out it was blistering hot. Lucky we had plenty of cloud cover to keep the heat down a bit. Water temp was 86.5
We are talking long fishing days also, basically fishing dawn till dusk or even later if you take too long on a fish.
We were all very excited to get on our kayaks as we were told we would be the first kayak anglers to fish much of these amazing waters.
The first day of the trip we got into some real nice Roosters with my biggest being close to forty pounds, unfortunately no still shots of that fish but here is one of the others I got on a live bait.
Jim and Roosterfish
Here is Ken Releasing another
 Ken releasing roosterfish

We spent a lot of time fishing the inshore structure with Sebile poppers and magic swimmers, and you never knew what might hit.
Sometimes Jack Crevalle
Jim Sammons and Jack Crevalle
Cubera Snapper
Jim Sammons Cubera Snapper
Blue Trevally
Blue Trevally

We were fishing in some nasty neighborhoods and these fish were tough, wanting to pull us into the rocks and the surf. We lost a lot of lures to these fish in the rocks. You basically just buttoned your drag and at times would have to paddle the fish out of the surf zone. The pictures don’t do justice to just how gnarly these spots were. It sure was nice to be in our Ocean Kayak Trident 13’s has they handle the rough conditions so well.
Blow hole
fishing the rocks
fishing the rocks
kayak fishing the rocks in Panama
When it wasn’t hot it was raining
The Storm is coming
Paul kayak fishing in the rain
Our Videographer/Director Will in a down pour
Will Richardson getting wet in Panama

As we were moving from one island to another we saw a huge school of porpoise and swung by to check it out. Saw some tuna jumping so we tossed the kayaks in the water to give them a shot. Chased some boils and tossed out a surface popper right on top of one with my little Shimano 300 Calcutta and got slammed on the first crank.
Rather like taking a knife to a gun fight.
Jim Sammons Kayak Fishing for 38 pound tuna
Paul and I each got one his going 42 pounds and mine 38, note the porpoise behind Paul.
Paul Lebowitz Tuna and dolphin
Paul Lebowitz and Jim Sammons Kayak Fishing for tuna
Back near one of the islands we were told about a spot they called the Snook hole for a good reason. These were our first Snook ever.
Paul Lebowitz kayak fishing for Snook in Panama
Jim Sammons first kayak fishing snook

After fishing the Snook hole we decided to investigate a small tidal river. As soon as we got on the water we spotted a couple of very small crocs sinking out as we approached.
Hunting for saltwater crocs
Paul and I each caught small snappers in the river.
As we came around this bend a VERY LARGE salt water Croc Flew off the bank which was about four feet high and landed just a few feet off my bow. I think I levitated out of my kayak; needless to say this is where we turned around. The camera was rolling at the time so I am dyeing to see if they got it on tape.
The croc spot

One of the spots that I was really looking forward to fishing while in Panama was the famed Hanibal bank. This place is famous for big tuna and billfish and I really wanted to try our luck out there for a couple of days. As we would be the first kayak anglers ever to fish this spot. Unfortunately there was a medical emergency on the barge which kept it in one location for an extra day so all we got at the bank was one late afternoon. That turned out to be enough.
As we pulled up to the bank several of our other fishing boats from the barge were just leaving saying that no fish had been landed all morning. I made the comment to Paul and the rest that once they left the kayaks would take over and do some business. We all put out live baits and trolled the area in the kayaks in the 97 degree heat, which Ken was really having a hard time with, what do you expect from a Canadian. The baits we were using were large live Bonita, if we were going to get hit it would be by something big. An hour into trolling my bait go nailed and instantly popped off. You never know how many chances you will get so I was bummed. I pinned on another Bonita and was off again. The issue I was having was that with these big baits it was hard to get the lever drag reel set in a good spot to hold the baits in place but not be so tight that the fish couldn’t run with it. Well I saw some bird working in the distance and decided to head that way, I tighten down the drag a bit so I could paddle harder and got hit and popped again. This time I was pissed, the other guys had not been hit at all and I didn’t know how many chances I would get. I put on another bait this time a smaller goggle eye which would let me troll a bit faster. I was chasing the bird very hard for over a mile and was really running out of steam by the time I reached them in the extreme heat. I had just slowed down to rest a bit and got SLAMMED. I let it run a bit threw it in gear and it was Game On.
I don’t think I have ever pulled this hard on a fish, thank God for the Shimano Tiagra 12 two speed reel loaded with 50 pound PowerPro braided line I was using. The fish had my rod pegged to the rail for much of the fight ad that two speed allowed me to still gain line. In these clear waters I think the Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon leaders really helped us get bit.
Jim Sammons Bendo on a BIG tuna from his kayak
I had the fish to color in a little over an hour and when I saw how big it was I was amazed. I had the guys from the camera boat toss me a gaff and I gave it my best shot. It was rather like gaffing a stick of dynamite as when the gaff it the fish it just exploded.
Jim Sammons attempts to gaff a large tuna from a kayak
I think all I really did was piss the fish off, as it smoked off a ton of my line not to be seen again for another two hours.
By the time I got the fish back up to color my body was a wreck, my arms were dying, my hand were cramping and the always problematic muscles in my back were one big knot. The sun was starting the set and we did not want to lose this fish or fight it into the night, you would know why if you saw some of the huge Bull sharks we saw and the fast approaching lighting storm heading our way. I had the boat come in close and let them stick the gaff in the fish, good thing too because again the fish exploded and it took two gaffs to get it in the boat.
Jim Sammons with 120 pound tuna on the deck of his kayak

Happy Landing

Happy Landing

Jim Sammons with 120 pound tuna on the boat
We were not able to weigh the fish but our boat captain estimates the weight to be 120 pounds. All I know for sure is that I could not lift the fish from the deck of the boat. The picture about does not do the fish justice because its tail is still on the deck with a good bend in the fish. Great fish and a great day.

Many Rum and cokes followed up this catch and lots of Motrin for my sore muscles.
Panama is my new favorite place. The fishing and scenery were absolutely off the charts.

On a side note you will notice that in most shots we are not wearing PFDs, I am a strong proponent of wearing a life vest when out on the kayaks. The reason we are not wearing them is that the Kayaks, paddles and PFDs were all shipped to Panama in advance of our trip and the PFDs simply didn’t show up.

On another note, in this picture you can see my new favorite fishing shirt. The Exofficio Neptune.
Jim in the Exofficio Neptune shirt
It kept me cool in the blazing sun but also after getting blasted with fish blood washed up like it was brand new.

Panama is definitely a place I want to go back to, even though we put in very long hours on the kayaks I know we barely scratched the surface of possibilities on what a kayak angler can do here.