The Kayak Fishing Show presented by Seaguar crew returned from their final film shoot last month. Below is the trip report as told by the man, the myth, the legend, the host himself… Jim Sammons.
We are back from our shoot in Florida with A Band of Anglers’ Patrick Sebile and my Jackson Kayak teammate Bart Swab, and I am happy to say we had fantastic weather for a change.
As Patrick is based in Lake Wales, Florida, dead center of the peninsula, our plan was to stay flexible and run to whichever coast had the better weather and predicted fishing, for two days of saltwater fishing and then spend two days on the freshwater lake at Patrick’s house.
Arriving late evening in Florida, then spending a couple hours rigging gear and our Jackson Kayaks meant hitting the bed around midnight, and then back up at 3:00 am to make the two hour run to Hutchinson Island on the East Coast of Florida. We arrived to a “Nude Beach” sign (more on that later) and schools of bait off the beach, with rolling tarpon of other fish crashing through them. Unfortunately, by the time we had geared up and had schlepped the kayaks across the soft sand to the water, we were a bit late for the early morning bite.
We covered a lot of miles and spent about ten hours in the Jackson Kayak Bite Angler, and for a boat of its size it was very capable and comfortable off the beach. With my Raymarine Element mounted to the rail via the YakAttack Lock and Load system, I was able to get to a drop-off we wanted to work and saw the large bait and larger fish schools in the area. The volume of fish in the area – huge schools of Jacks, Tarpon, Spinner Sharks, Barracuda and Cobia – was really was amazing to see. Unfortunately, though we saw lots of fish, they, for the most part, were lock jawed. We did manage to get a couple spinner sharks and Patrick hooked something too big and fast to stop, stealing all his line. Before the shoot, Patrick had suggested we look into getting the Anchor Wizard systems for our boats and he was right. Installed on our boats, these anchors allowed us hold position and thoroughly fish the area.
Heading back in the evening, a bit of a storm came in. We were greeted on the beach by way too many naked bodies that were way too comfortable being naked while talking to non-naked people. I have never been so uncomfortable talking to people about kayak fishing. Of course, it is things like this that make the best stories years after a shoot.
A two-hour drive back to Patrick’s house, followed by two hours of sleep, and then another two hour drive, brought us to the other coast, near Tampa. Here we met at the Power-Pole facility to pick up a couple of new units for our boats for that days’ skinny water fishing. Huge thanks to Curt for meeting up with us at 5:30 am for the special delivery. In this shallow water, the Power-Pole was such a huge asset; I know that if I fished this water regularly, I would always have one on my boat. With the new adapter plate available for the Jackson Kayak Bite Angler, mounting the Power-Pole was simple. I loved having the ability to stand-up paddle on the Jackson Kayak Bite Angler, and with the remote, raise and lower the Power-Pole whenever I wanted to sight cast to the many fish we saw.
There were good numbers of reds and snook in the area with plenty of trout as well. Blame it on the moon phase or just bad luck – the fish, again, were not really wanting to cooperate, at least compared to the number of fish we saw. According to my Raymarine Element, we covered about ten miles, and again, the Jackson Bite was a very capable little boat. Though we didn’t crush any big fish, we did get several reds, small snook and plenty of trout on a variety of Band of Angler lures – as usual, my go-to being the Hyperlastic Dartspin. The highlight of the day was seeing Bart hook into what seemed to be a very big fish that took him under a dock. We worked as a team to get this fish, with Bart jumping in the water to get it out, but it managed to wrap around a piling and break off on some oysters. Heartbreak, but another good story.
Days three and four were spent at the lake at Patrick’s place, which meant no more long drives and a bit more sleep. The lake varied in depth and the combination of the Anchor Wizard on the bow and the Power-Pole on the stern was a perfect setup for fishing the different areas, from open water to lily pads.
The lake fishing really was a savior on the trip as the fish were much more cooperative, particularly in the early mornings and evenings. We all caught good numbers of largemouth bass and a few bowfin. Blowups in the lily pads brought lots shouts, laughs and excitement that could be heard across the lake. Best set ups for me were working any of the weedless lures from Hyperlastic (including the Dartspin, Dartprop and the Curlymin ) slowly through the weeds. I rigged my reels with Seaguar Smackdown braid with a short topshot of Seaguar Gold Label or Inshore fluorocarbon. The fluoro helped get the bites, and the braid helped cut through the lily pads so I could land the fish. The lake fishing really made for a great end to the trip.
Being on a trip and being comfortable and successful means having the right gear and here are some of the things I brought along and why.
For a PFD, I brought two for the different days. For the skinny water and the lake, I had my NRS Matic inflatable; on a real hot day, it is pretty hard to beat the comfort of this one. For fishing off the beach, I chose the NRS Chinook OS. With its pockets and attachment points, it is perfect for holding my Standard Horizon VHF radio, PLB, and small tools.
In the hot sun, the NRS Varial hoodie was the perfect shirt. With a hood and built-in neck gator, it really is the ultimate in sun protection. On a pedal boat, particularly, I prefer to have something on my feet, and the NRS Vibe shoes were awesome. Comfortable to stand in and pedal all day.
Being out on the water all day, you never know what might happen, so bringing the right safety gear is key. We each carried a Standard Horizon VHF radio and I also had my ACR PLB. As well, I carried one of the NRS first aid kits attached to my seat, along with my cell and any other items I might need in NRS Ether Hydrolock Drybags, which, though not sure it was intended, did allow the use of my cell phone through the bag, which was a big bonus in protecting the phone from the salt water and from loss.
For the different types of fishing we were doing (salt and freshwater), I brought a variety of Seaguar fluorocarbon including Gold Label, Inshore, Pink Label and Premier, and all my reels were loaded with smackdown braid. Having the right line for different situations is always key, and the reason we use Seaguar.
Rigging on a pedal kayak is a little different than I am used to, but as always, YakAttack makes it easy. With the combination of the gear track, mounting plate, fish finder mount and lock and load system, putting my Raymarine Element onto the boat was a breeze, when hooked up to the Nocqua waterproof batteries.
The opportunity to fish with Patrick Sebile was, as always, fun and educational. I often find myself just soaking in whatever I can from him. Getting the chance to not only fish with his lures but to see the different ways he rigs and fishes with them is something I will never take for granted. We can’t thank him enough for hosting us on this trip. Also, a big thanks to Bart Swab from Action Kayak Adventures for all his help on the trip, bringing us kayaks for the shoot and shuttling them all over the state.
About The Kayak Fishing Show: A San Diego, California native and certified fish and game licensed guide, Jim Sammons is recognized worldwide as a pioneer of big game kayak fishing. With his trademark fedora and his numerous special appearances on a variety of national fishing shows, Jim has become the most recognizable kayak angler in North America. But it’s his infectious enthusiasm for the sport, his lively personality and his passion for sharing the sport with others that has made him one of the most popular kayaks angler in the world. Each 30-minute TV episode airs nationwide on Bally Sports. Brands interested in partnering with Jim are encouraged to reach out to Malvin Young at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the series at www.heliconia.ca.