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.

Ottawa 1

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!


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.


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

Ottawa 8

Hanging out with the boys from Team Jackson Kayak


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.


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.

Ottawa 2

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.

Musky in Canada

We made a trip last year to Slippery Winds lodge with Dan Joseph. The target species for the trip was Pike, Walleye, lake trout and Large mouth bass and we caught a ton of fish.
Dan added to the catch list with a real nice Musky. Check out the video below.

The Kayak Fishing Show in Quebec Part One

Last year we had the pleasure of fishing with Dan Joseph while up at Slippery Winds lodge in Canada and had a great time. This year Dan approached us with some ideas for another shoot and we jumped at the chance to fish with him again, and this time he was going to bring along his brother Manny. Their plan sounded just too good to pass on, the guys told us they had a spot where we could get some good numbers of big Musky and would follow it up with a secret lake loaded with big small mouth bass. How could we say no?

What a nice place for a paddle and some fishing

Of course as always our trip was hampered by rain, so much so that we had a few days that we just couldn’t get out on the water, but on the days we did get out the fishing was fantastic.
The first part of the trip was slated for a small section of the River Du Norde in La Chute Quebec. The great thing about this section of river is that it is rapid locked and there is no access to the section unless you run the small rapids or have property on the river. We stayed at the lovely Motel Eddy, which just so happens has access to the river. To say Motel Eddy was a one star motel would be a stretch but it was clean and on the river and that was all we needed. This limited access meant we had the stretch of river all to ourselves.
I would guess that this section of the river was less than a mile long, but we would soon learn that it was holding plenty of the big fish we wanted.

Jim rigging up, yes it was chilly, note the beany on my head.

If you are familiar with Musky fishing you know that the guys that do it are lure fanatics. The lures they like are big, heavy and push a lot of water, to the point that we would cast up river and use the lures to pull us against the current. Because I knew what was in store for me I wanted to make sure I had the right rod and reel for the job of the endless casting we would be doing. I contacted our friends at OKUMA Fishing to get their advice on a new setup for the trip. They pointed me to the Isis 400 bait caster and paired it with the new EVX Graphite Musky rod 9’3” in length. Now normally I would have to turn down a rod of that length because I just can’t travel with it but this rod collapses into itself down to just over 7 feet, and that fits in my rod tube just fine. I can’t tell you how happy I was to have gone with this set up. I could toss the big lures a mile with little strain on my body which meant I could do it all day long, and it had plenty of backbone to drive the big hooks home and get the fish to the kayak quickly. I can easily see using this rod for a lot more than musky, tossing lures for calico bass in the kelp or tarpon in Florida are in its future.

Five minutes into our first day of fishing Manny broke the ice with a fat musky and maybe five minutes later I had a smaller one, which was the theme for me the first couple days. I caught plenty of fish but seemed to be keeping the small ones busy while Manny and Dan nailed the big ones. To add to my frustration one of the Musky I landed decided to fillet my thumb with his sharp gill rakes. Thankfully had I had some of the new Buff fishing gloves that I could wear for the remainder of the trip to protect my thumb from more damage. Our schedule during the trip was, get up early and get in some first light fishing for a few hours, head in for breakfast then do an afternoon/evening fishing session. It was a lot of time on the water but it was so worth it.

Manny using the cradle to handle and unhook his musky

Not a bad start to the trip

On our second day we hit a different section of river that would allow us to paddle and fish for several miles. The plan, to paddle and fish upriver for about four miles and fish and drift our way back. Once again Manny gets a fish within minutes of our start and I got one soon after. We thought this was the start to an epic day but other than these two fish we had only one other hit the rest of the day, and it came unbuttoned. We blamed the slow fishing on the overnight rain that had really dirtied up the water. Fish or no fish it was a great paddle along a gorgeous stretch of river.
The next day we hit the small section of river once again and once again got some great fish but were only able to fish for a couple hours due to the downpour that kept us motel bound for the rest of the day.

Manny gets the big one of the trip a whopping 49 inches

The last day on the river was one of the best, Dan got a real big musky and I sight casted to and landed a real nice pike. There is not much cooler than seeing a fish below the surface and tossing the right lure to it, in this case a Sebile Magic Swimmer, and watching him crush it. Thank god I had on my Maui Jim sunglasses so I could spot the fish. I also finally got my big Musky of the trip this time on a Sebile Splasher, alas we got no still photos of it as it managed to escape the cradle we were using to land the fish before we could get a shot.

Dan gets in on the action with another big musky

The Pike I sight casted to.

As I mentioned the weather on this shoot was tough with a lot of rain, but we managed to get what we needed and had a great time. Thankfully to add to my comfort while on the trip in the cold conditions I had a new pair of Simms waders, I have been wearing waders on my kayak for a long time and I have to say, the quality of the Simms waders is beyond compare, it was great to be warm, dry and comfortable on my kayak even when the rain was coming down. To protect the stocking foot of the Simms waders I wear a neoprene water shoe from Body Glove. Good layers under those waders added to the comfort, the Exofficio Sol Cool shirts wick away moisture and their fleece Migrator shirt kept me warm, put a rain logic jacket on top and my entire body was warm and dry.

My primary rod and reel setup for this part of the trip was the OKUMA EVX Graphite Musky Rod 9’3″ with an OKUMA Isis reel loaded with 30ld. Seaguar Kanzen Braid and a short 130lb. Seaguar fluorocarbon leader.
Most of my fish were caught on the large Sebile Magic swimmer in red and white or the Sebile Spasher, all my hooks were swapped out for Mustad trebles.
The kayaks we used on the trip were the Ocean Kayak Ultra 4.7 and the Trident 13s, all rigged up with Scotty Rod Holders.
Most of the still shots were taken with the Canon Powershot D20 water proof camera and on board video was taken with the VIO POV camera.
For most of the shoot I used a Humminbird portable fishfinder on my kayak which we kept powered up with a Goal Zero Nomad solar panel.

The guys dealing with another big one in the cradle

Part two of our trip, a visit to a secret lake near Maniwaki Quebec, will be posted next week.

What have we caught while shooting The Kayak Fishing Show and Game On 1 & 2

This is a repost of an earlier blog but it has been updated to include our most recent trips.

My wife was asking me the other night what fish we have caught while shooting Ocean Kayak presents The Kayak Fishing Show and Exofficio Presents Game On. I told her, “a lot”, but it was just in my head I had never written it down. So it got me thinking about all the fish species we have been lucky enough to catch during our 2 years of kayak fishing and shooting Game On 1 and 2 and The Kayak Fishing Show. Anyway I sat down and made a list of the different fish we caught in different locations. I am sure I am missing some but here is my list along with a few photo.

Species caught During the shooting of The Kayak Fishing Show, Game On 1 and 2 by our crew.

Game On in Florida

Game On in Florida

Speckled trout
Lady fish
Salt water Cat fish
Blue fish


Red fish


Alaskan Halibut
Ling Cod

Ling Cod kayak fishing in Alaska

Ling Cod kayak fishing in Alaska

China Rock fish
Black bass
Tiger rockfish
Quill back rockfish
Yelloweye rockfish



Pike in Canada

Pike in Canada

Small mouth bass
Large mouth bass


Chesapeake bay

Jim with a Red fish in Chesapeake bay

Jim with a Red fish in Chesapeake bay

Red Fish

East Cape:

Matt and his jumping Striped Marlin

Matt and his jumping Striped Marlin

Striped Marlin

humbolt squid
Amber Jack

Howards Blue Marlin

Howards Blue Marlin

Blue Marlin
Hammerhead shark


Texas Redfish

Texas Redfish

Red fish
Speckled trout


Jim Sammons and 120 pound yellowfin tuna

Jim Sammons and 120 pound yellowfin tuna

Yellowfin Tuna

Mangrove snapper
Cubera snapper
Rainbow Runner
Jack Crevalle
Blue Trevally

Paul and his Panama Snook

Paul and his Panama Snook

Greater Barracuda
Porcupine puffer
Black tip shark
White tip shark


My first Rainbow trout on the fly

Rainbow Trout
Brown Trout

Jeff\’s Brown Trout

Petawawa Canada

Kens\’ Musky

Smallmouth Bass

Tiger Musky

Jim with a Walleye

Cedros Island Baja Mexico

Mothership trip on the Islander

Jim with a Yellowtail

Calico Bass
Yellowfin Tuna

Paul with a Calico Bass

San Diego Bay

My son Randy with a Spotted bay bass

Spotted Bay bass
Sand Bass

50 different species so far, and I am sure I am missing a few. With more great locations to come this list should continue to grow.

Of course we are still in search of more species and more great locations. If you have any ideas or suggestions on places you would like to see please let us know. We may even put you in the show. You can reach me at

Have not updated the list in a while and I have a few species to add to the catch list.

East Coast


Striped Bass

Kayak Fishing The Petawawa River

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

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

Les Boys

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

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

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

The Camp

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

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

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

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


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)

Musky fishing report- Ottawa area

Well, it had been a while since I had caught a musky in my Prowler and it was time. Early June means one thing- A time to try out all the new baits I have bought over the winter ( and sharpened several times).

I launched at 4:45 am and had until 730 to get into some Esox action. ( My daughter had soccer practice at 9 am)

morning river morning river

It was a calm morning and I had the river all to myself. Alot less pressure then filming GAME ON 1… this was training for the second DVD shoot we are doing in September.  I had 2 sets up hook cutters with me and a new set of pliers ( just in case). I brought a small mix of baits with me – jerkbaits, topwaters and some spinnerbaits.

Did not take long for a small musky to find my offering . I saw a gold flash beside my kayak and started my figure 8. BAM! she is hooked and quickly is landed. A quick solo photo and back in she goes .

cute musky cute musky

Nothing better that a musky landed by 515 AM- the pressure was off. I paddled up river and tried to located some green weeds. The spring was a cold and wet one and weed growth in the river is a few weeks behind.

Getting ready to go, I finally gave in and said last cast…as soon as my spinnerbait hit the water it was Game On… a great fight, 2 jumps and in she comes.

here she comes here she comes


A nice 38″ musky. Thank you to the kind gentleman paddling by for taking a quick photo.

No big fish but sure nice to get two in a short time frame and start the season off right and with no injuries