Jackson kayak

Kayak Fishing the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia

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

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Paddling the new Mayfly from Jackson Kayak

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Chris Funk fishing in the Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia.

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

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Paddling below the Spanish Moss that was everywhere in the Okefenokee

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Not a bad place to spend a day!

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

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Fishing with the locals

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Giving the gators right of way in the swamp

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

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

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Another species added to the list

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My new otter friend. Photo: Chris Funk

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

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

Kayak Fishing 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.

The Kayak Fishing Show review of 2015

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

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

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

One of many great fish in Panama

One of many great fish in Panama

Charging the Surf

Charging the Surf

Fun little Roosterfish

Fun little Roosterfish

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

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

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

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

Kirstin with her big YT

Kirstin with her big YT

I was so stoked for her

I was so stoked for her

Seans bass rod Yellowtail

Seans bass rod Yellowtail

A beast of a Halibut for Jarrod

A beast of a Halibut for Jarrod

A decent one for me

A decent one for me

A nice Grouper caught and released in Mag Bay

A nice Grouper caught and released in Mag Bay

We didn't release everything we caught

We didn’t release everything we caught

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

A big AJ for Esteban

A big AJ for Esteban

Drei supplying this bid Dorado for dinner.

Drei supplying this bid Dorado for dinner.

A beast of a Rooster for Esteban

A beast of a Rooster for Esteban

My big Rooster for the trip going around sixty pounds

My big Rooster for the trip going around sixty pounds

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

Our arrival in Curacao

Our arrival in Curacao

Wes getting his game face on.

Wes getting his game face on.

Just look at that water

Just look at that water

A beautiful place to paddle

A beautiful place to paddle

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I did catch some fish

I did catch some fish

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

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

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

A couple great fish from the tournament including the biggest yellowtail

A couple great fish from the tournament including the biggest yellowtail

A couple great fish from the tournament

A couple great fish from the tournament

Johns first yellowtail

Johns first yellowtail

Our one keeper yellowtail from the trip

Our one keeper yellowtail from the trip

Paul in his custom Jackson Kayak Kraken JAL edition.

Paul in his custom Jackson Kayak Kraken JAL edition.

Filleted up and ready for the smoker

Filleted up and ready for the smoker

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

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

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

Our Entourage on the day of the battle.

Our Entourage on the day of the battle.

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

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

And another

And another

And your winner is !!!!!!!

And your winner is !!!!!!!

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

fun little trout in chilly Florida

fun little red in chilly Florida

and a red

and a red

headed back in for a hot meal with the guys

headed back in for a hot meal with the guys

And farewell from Florida

And farewell from Florida

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

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

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

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

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

Kayak Fishing Road trip in Baja Pt 2

On the Road again!

On the Road again!

After Leaving Mag Bay, we had a long drive to Punta Eugenia which was our pick up point to get to Cedros Island, our next fishing destination. This drive is over some long stretches of dirt road so we broke it up into a couple days spending the night at a very cool hotel overlooking the water at Bahia Asuncion. The next morning we had breakfast at the restaurant next to the hotel, which was basically inside a ladies house. The food was amazing and she was a sweetheart.

Our Hotel for the night

Our Hotel for the night

Not a bad view

Not a bad view

Breakfast is served

Breakfast is served

Her food was awesome and so was she

Her food was awesome and so was she

The last stretch of dirt road from Bahia Tortuga to Punta Eugenia was wash board and shook the fillings right out of your teeth. We were supposed to meet my friends Jarrod and Adrian at the pickup point but they were a no show. Turned out they had gotten a flat tire on the dirt road and were about three hours late. We couldn’t wait for them because the winds were picking up and if we didn’t leave we wouldn’t make it over to the island that day. The guys were able to meet up with us the next day out at the island.

Jose at Cedros Outdoor Adventures recently built his own little lodge on the cliff right above the water and this place is awesome. A great view from every room, wonderful employees and fantastic food.

The view from our balcony at Cedros Outdoor Adventures

The view from our balcony at Cedros Outdoor Adventures

Not a bad place to gear up

Not a bad place to gear up

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The rooms were spacious and comfortable

The rooms were spacious and comfortable

Our first day of fishing at the island was all about the Calico bass, we got so many our hand were hurting. Most of the fish were caught in deep structure. While fishing the Calicos with soft plastics Sean tossed out a lure that had landed so many bass it had no tail left on it and wouldn’t you know it a yellowtail jumped on it. It was a great fight on his bass rod.

One of many bass for Sean

One of many bass for Sean

and another

and another

A nice bass for me

A nice bass for me

Seans bass rod Yellowtail

Seans bass rod Yellowtail

Jarrod and Adrian arrived later this day and we all hit the fish hard for the next three days. It was pretty windy on the trip but we knew there were big fish around so we charged anyway.
Some great fish were caught and a good variety as well. Jarrod landed a monster halibut and Kirstin caught the biggest Yellowtail of the trip at forty one pounds. I got a thirty nine and a thirty seven pounder. Adrian caught a big one as well and we also added some smaller white Seabass to the mix.

Jarrod with his trophy Calico for the trip.

Jarrod with his trophy Calico for the trip.

Kirstin and I holding up her big fish for the trip. The biggest yellowtail we caught.

Kirstin and I holding up her big fish for the trip. The biggest yellowtail we caught.

I was so stoked for her

I was so stoked for her

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This fish is as big as Kirstin. Well almost.

This fish is as big as Kirstin. Well almost.

Charging it in the wind

Charging it in the wind

Fishing in the wind was tough, but so worth it.

Fishing in the wind was tough, but so worth it.

A good one landed

A good one landed

and another

and another

Adrians Big Yellowtail

Adrians Big Yellowtail

A beast of a Halibut for Jarrod

A beast of a Halibut for Jarrod

Landing  yellows can be a bloody business so had to do a bit of on the water laundry

Landing yellows can be a bloody business so had to do a bit of on the water laundry

Lots of bass meant chewed up hands so Sean and Kirstin and I all resorted to the Buff landing gloves

Lots of bass meant chewed up hands so Sean and Kirstin and I all resorted to the Buff landing gloves

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Sean with a fun White Seabass caught in the rocks

Sean with a fun White Seabass caught in the rocks

Our host Jose, sharing the spotlight with me and my two yellows.

Our host Jose, sharing the spotlight with me and my two yellows.

After fishing we were tired, hungry and thirsty and great food was always ready. Jose shared with us his recipe for huevos con huevos. Yellowtail eggs mixed with scrambled eggs and it was delicious.

Huevos con huevos

Huevos con huevos

No trip to Baja is complete without a traditional Baja margarita

No trip to Baja is complete without a traditional Baja margarita

Of course as our luck would have it the winds died on the day we had to head back to the main land. At least we had a smooth ride home. The same can not be said for the ride back down the wash board roads.
We got vibrated so bad the lumber rack on my truck broke and a leaf spring on my trailer broke when I hit a large hole that I had not seen.
Thankfully the trailer breaks down pretty easy so we were able to put it in the back of Sean truck and Jarrod had met someone that knew a guy with a welding shop in town. Within about an hour and a half the roof rack was welded up, kayaks were on the rack and we were on the road home.

Back on main land and ready to load up for the trip home.

Back on main land and ready to load up for the trip home.

Jury rig the trailer to limp to the welder.

Jury rig the trailer to limp to the welder.

You can see the broken upright for the rack

You can see the broken upright for the rack

beautiful weld job and ready to roll

beautiful weld job and ready to roll

trailer all loaded up in the back of Seans truck

trailer all loaded up in the back of Seans truck

I had some requests for whole fish so I got a big Engel Cooler for the trip. Everyone laughed when they saw how big is was. Turns out it was just big enough.

This is one big cooler

This is one big cooler

But these are some big fish

But these are some big fish

The rest of the drive home was beautiful and uneventful. We stopped for some of the best street tacos I have ever had just outside of Ensenada then made the final push home.

This was an absolutely awesome trip and I can’t thank my friends Sean, Jarrod and Adrian and my daughter Kirstin enough for joining me. Also huge thanks to Will Richardson and Mike McKay for documenting the entire trip.
Of course big thanks to Mag Bay outfitters and my good friend Jose at Cedros Outdoor adventures for hosting us.

Will getting it done as always

Will getting it done as always

Mike always ready to eat

Mike always ready to eat

The always lovely Kirstin Sammons

The always lovely Kirstin Sammons

The Always sarcastic Jose owner of Cedros Outdoor adventures

The Always sarcastic Jose owner of Cedros Outdoor adventures

My very good friend Sean White. Always up for an adventure

My very good friend Sean White. Always up for an adventure

Sean White and our Host Bob from Mag Bay Outfitters

Sean White and our Host Bob from Mag Bay Outfitters

Adrian  showing off the guns

Adrian showing off the guns

Jarrod always ready to help.

Jarrod always ready to help.

And good by to the rotten sealion who, though cute, likely stole more than one of our fish.

And good by to the rotten sealion who, though cute, likely stole more than one of our fish.

Interview with Jim Sammons

Have a half hour to stare at your computer screen? Here is a fun little interview I did with Mark Melnyk for his Outdoor Atlas pod cast. I think it gives you a good idea of why I love the many aspects of this sport and also why I am so passionate about keeping people safe while doing it. I hope you enjoy it.

Fully loaded Kraken Kayak up for auction for a great cause.

Please help us keep James name alive.

Please help us keep James name alive.

Recently one of our own, our good friend Paul Lebowitz lost his son very suddenly to a brain aneurism. Through a very tough time the Lebowitz family made a courageous decision to donate their son James’s organs, in hopes of helping others. To this point five lives have been saved and many more people helped. In order to keep their sons name alive they have started a scholarship fund at Cal Poly Pomona, the school he was attending when he passed.

Thanks to the support of some of our friends and sponsors we have put together an amazing kayak fishing package that is now up for Auction on Ebay, with all funds going to the scholarship fund. Please read about this great package below and if in the market for a new fishing kayak please consider bidding on it.

This is the link to the Ebay Auction.

See just one of the ways that James was able to help someone else, in this video.

Brand New 2015 Jackson Kayak Kraken
Fishing package loaded with gear.

This is the actual kayak you will win, complete with James's signature

This is the actual kayak you will win, complete with James’s signature

(Item listed as local pickup only but may be shipped for an additional fee depending on location. Arrangements for shipping handled between OEX kayaks and buyer.)

All funds from this auction will be
going to the James Lebowitz memorial scholarship fund at Cal Poly Pomona

Jackson Kayak has donated a custom
Kraken kayak for the fund raiser, with the Cal Poly colors and James Lebowitz
signature molded into the plastic.

Watch the making of this custom kayak here. 

 

Included in this awesome package.

  • New Kokatat Bahia PFD (Blue)
  • New Werner Hooked series Camano Paddle 240cm
  • NEW Raymarine Dragonfly 7 Fishfinder
  • Fishfinder professionally installed
  • New Full functioning live bait system professionally
    installed
  • Battery and Battery box from OEX Kayak Fishing
    Supplies.
  • Additional rigging package from RAM and Yakattack.. (Camera mounts, Light pole, transducer mount, phone/gps mount…….)

Package valued at over $3600.00

More information on the Kraken

This
kayak is designed for some of the most challenging paddling environments in the
world and meant to be for the offshore and big lake kayak angler.

This kayak marks the first
collaborative design between legendary kayak angler, Jim Sammons and Jackson
Kayak’s design team led by Tony Lee.  The end result is a boat shaped and
built to accommodate those hitting the open water, those looking for speed,
comfort, perfect trim and big water management.  It’s a paddlers fishing
kayak!  It’s designed for punching surf, handling rough off shore
currents, swells, beach landings and those wanting ultimate performance when
putting in long distances to get on fish.

Other items included with this boat.

  • Eight rod holders
  • Plano ammo can style tackle box.
  • Nine sections of gear track.
  • Elite Seat
  • Nalgene water bottle
  • JKrate which will be turned into a bait tank

You can read more about this great
kayak and other gear at

The first photo of the Yellow and
Green kayak is the actual kayak you will receive.

Item listed as local pickup only but may be shipped for an additional fee depending on location. Arrangements for shipping handled between OEX kayaks and buyer.

The kayak will be on displayed and shipped from OEX in San Diego. If you would like to discuss shipping options or get a shipping estimate please contact Brent. Santa Clara Point Recreation Center, 1010 Santa Clara Pl, Mission Bay, CA 92106
(619) 758-9531

More information on the Scholarship fund:

 

The James Lebowitz Memorial Cal Poly Scholarship


James Andrew Lebowitz, 18, was a successful freshman computer science major at Cal Poly Pomona when a brain aneurysm cut short his journey. Always a giver, James offered the gift of life to many in desperate need.

His strong heart went to a fellow California 18-year-old. One kidney saved the life of San Diegan George Martinez, a substance abuse counselor credited with rescuing a family friend who’d watched James fight and win his own battle. The other rescued a child. His lungs give breath to an educator; his liver saved another life, the fifth in all. Two people received the priceless gift of sight.

James was one of one of only 120 students admitted to Cal Poly Pomona’s Computer Science Program in 2014 – a signal achievement for a young man who had to overcome many difficulties posed by an autism spectrum diagnosis. James loved the campus community, and was loved in return. He’d found his place. He was never happier.

In the midst of the worst tragedy any  family could possibly endure, Paul Lebowitz and his wife, Susan, sought to serve the Cal Poly student community by establishing a scholarship in James’ name. The James Lebowitz Memorial Cal Poly Scholarship will be awarded annually to a computer science major, in perpetuity. “Helping other young people much like James is a fitting honor for our son. Long after we’re gone, his name and story will live on at Cal Poly,” Paul Lebowitz says.

You can save lives, too. Please register as an organ and tissue donor today by visiting the Donate Life California Celebrating James webpage ( http://donatelifecalifornia.org/james).   

Read about James’ lifesaving organ and tissue donations in the Union Tribune (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/jan/17/outdoors-kidney-donor-lebowitz-martinez/) and Western Outdoor News (https://www.wonews.com/Blog.aspx?id=2982AuthorID=59052t=Giving%20back%20after%20tragedy).

We want to thank all of the sponsors of this auction for all of their support during this tough time. Please help us make James name live on!!

To make a tax deductible donation directly to Cal Poly Pomona, visit https://secure.qgiv.com/for/?key=calpolyadvancement. Please be sure to write “For the James Lebowitz Memorial Scholarship Fund” in the Additional Information portion of the online form.

JAL Memorial Sticker Sale
YakAttack, Yak Gear, Native Watercraft, and Wilderness Systems are working together to raise money for a scholarship fund at Cal Poly Pomona in honor of James Lebowitz. Stickers are $5.99, with an optional $10 add-on for a raffle entry.

http://www.yakattack.us/James_Lebowitz_Memorial_Sticker_p/dcl-jl.htm

http://www.yak-gear.com/shop/kayak-fishing-gear-yak-gear-apparel/JL-Memorial-Decal

Some Kraken on the water shots.

Catch and release of my first Yellowtail on the Kraken

Catch and release of my first Yellowtail on the Kraken

The production on the Jackson Kayak Kraken is beginning and I can’t wait for you all to get a chance to get on one and paddle it and check out some of the cool features the team has put together for this boat. I am still paddling a pre production boat but it is VERY close to being a finished product. Thought you might like a look at it while on the water. There was a pretty good rolling swell, strong current and thumpy surf at the launch and the Kraken performed perfectly. Thanks Kirstin Sammons for joining me on the water yesterday to take some shots.
So you have an idea of how much the Kraken carries.
I weigh 230
Full bait tank is around six gallons
Five rods
Full Tackle box
Fish finder
Battery box for finder and bait tank
Game bag with 5 ice packs.
Some other stuff I am sure I am missing.

The Kraken carried all this weight with no issues and paddled like a dream. On a recent trip I added to that several very nice size fish and again it carried the weight very well.

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