I got to do something last week that I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to do. Gotta tell you about it; let me set it up first. . . .
Way back when I was much younger I used to save my allowance to buy a fishing magazine that I could occasionally find on magazine racks. That magazine was Fishing Facts magazine and it was unlike any of the other outdoor magazines on the market at the time. It was way different than Outdoor Life, Field and Stream or Sports Afield; do not get me wrong, I would read those magazines from cover to cover, but Fishing Facts was packed with teaching about finding and catching fish, big fish. One of the writers I enjoyed in Fishing Facts was Doug Stange, and I particularly liked the articles he wrote about shore-casting for walleyes. This guy wrote about catching walleyes in a pair of waders, not in a fully tricked-out boat. Since I had no boat at the time (and still do not own a boat), and I fantasized about catching big walleyes, I dissected every story Mr. Stange wrote.
A few years later a new publication started, in fact I had an opportunity to be a “charter member” of this new group that called themselves “In-Fisherman”, http://www.in-fisherman.com/ . Unfortunately, being a “poor” teenager, I did not have the money for a charter subscription at the time and I have kicked myself ever since. I would purchase In-Fisherman from magazine racks whenever I could find it, but did not subscribe until years later. I found In-Fisherman to be every bit as informative as Fishing Facts was and still is. Much of what I have learned about fish and fishing over the years has come from what I read on the pages of Fishing Facts and In-Fisherman and then was able to apply in many hours on the water. I still read every In-Fisherman magazine cover-to-cover and have read most of their guides and books. Now, In-Fisherman also produces TV shows and those are the only outdoor shows that I watch religiously, never miss.
Eventually, Doug Stange became the editor-in-chief at In-Fisherman and has written countless articles on a variety of fishing topics for a variety of species. In addition, Doug is one of the hosts of In-Fisherman TV. He is still one of my favorite outdoor writers; I love to read his stuff and listen to his TV shows because I know that this guy knows what he is talking about. Many years ago and still today I dream of catching just a fraction of the fish he has caught. Yes, you could say Doug Stange has been one of my fishing heroes.
That brings me to last week. . . .
I got to fish with Doug Stange for a couple of days and help in filming for In-Fisherman TV!!!!! I had to pinch myself several times; I could not believe I was doing what I was doing!
How did that happen? Well, over the years I have had several little things published in In-Fisherman publications. For example, every issue of In-Fisherman has an “Adventures” section where they highlight hot fisheries around the country. I have been sending Doug Stange small pieces about hot Nebraska waters that have been featured in their “Adventures” section. One of the Nebraska fisheries that I mentioned to Doug was our Lake Ogallala trout fishery, and he replied to one of my e-mails by saying they would like to come out and do some filming there! I told I would love to help him with anything related to fish and fishing in Nebraska and last week was the time that worked for our schedules.
I learned that fishing for TV is not just going out and catching fish. Doug had specific presentations, baits and methods in mind that he wanted to make into show segments. So, we simply were not just fishing for as many and as large fish as we could catch; we had to catch fish on specific baits and presentations and demonstrate how those baits and techniques worked. In addition, the cameraman had a big ole camera, tripod and backpack full of equipment and needed us to catch fish in areas where he could get the footage they needed. I was frustrated at times knowing that I could catch more fish by covering more water, and we did some of that, but much of the time we had to “make it happen” in a certain spot on certain baits. That took a little time, but we did make it happen.
If this ruins outdoor TV shows for you, sorry, but I am betting many of you already know that it is all about the sponsors. Sponsors pay the bills to produce those shows and sponsor’s products are featured in the shows. Yes, we had to catch trout on certain baits that were provided by sponsors. I did not even use my own equipment because we needed to use rods and reels provided by sponsors. I hope that does not ruin or taint your opinion of outdoor television shows because the folks producing those shows, for example Doug Stange and the rest that produce In-Fisherman TV, have worked with the sponsors to develop equipment, baits and techniques that will catch fish. In-Fisherman TV shows folks how to catch fish using not just the sponsor’s products but the techniques and presentations for which those products were developed. Yes, we caught fish on Berkley http://www.berkley-fishing.com/ , Rapala http://www.rapala.com/ , and Pflueger http://www.pfluegerfishing.com/ products and those are the products you will see in the show, but it is about much more than that. In-Fisherman has always taken an educational approach, a blend of science and fishing, to teaching folks how to catch a variety of fish. It is about the sponsors, but it is also so much more than that.
Jake was our cameraman. I am sorry, I do not remember Jake’s last name. He flew in from Montana to do the filming. Jake had been everywhere and filmed a lot of fishing and hunting footage. He did all of the hard work; all Doug and I had to do was catch fish. It was also hard at times not to fish until Jake was ready. We needed to catch fish “on film” so until Jake was all set up and ready to film we would not make a cast–did not want to “burn” any fish before the cameraman was ready.
We fished hard for two days. The evening I met Doug we did not fish, only did a little “scouting” and then went to supper. Doug made the comment to me that he only needed 3 or 4 fish “on film” to make a segment. When he told me that I was thinking that would be no problem, but as I said earlier it is a little different fishing for the camera. There were times when the fishing slowed and we worked for every fish we caught, but in the end we had no problem catching enough fish for all the footage they needed.
We started at “O”-dark, thirty both days.
Jake was much more professional than I was, he tried to get sunrise footage without line wires in it.
“Lights, camera, action”. Produce, catch fish!
Doug explaining baits, presentation techniques, and why they work.
This is one of my favorite pictures that I snapped. If you have watched any In-Fisherman TV you have seen Doug Stange use his hands and voice to explain how he is working a bait; how it needs to be manipulated to trigger fish to bite. This is classic.
Shooting some close-ups of the baits.
And some underwater footage too!
Yes, we caught fish. We did not start filming until around noon on Tuesday, and the bite was slow, but we caught enough fish to get one show segment done. Our biggest fish on Tuesday was about 18 inches and honestly I was a little disappointed that we did not do better than we did. I knew there were better fish there; wanted to get more of them on TV!
There were stretches when Doug would out-fish me, but then there were times when I did as well or better. That is fishing. The second day we caught more fish and finally got into some of the 20-inch+ trout that I knew were there. Doug caught the first 20-incher, and then later that afternoon I caught one that was just a little bit bigger. I am not going to show a lot of fish pictures, you will have “to wait until the “movie” comes out”! Ha.
Here is my biggest fish.
Got a good picture of the two of us together with my big fish.
In-Fisherman has been a huge proponent of catch & release and especially “selective harvest”. In fact you could say that In-Fisherman wrote the book and actually coined the term “selective harvest” because they did! Doug Stange is the first person I know to put the selective harvest concept into words. We did not choose to selectively harvest any of the abundant small and medium-size trout we caught on this trip, we were staying in a motel and busy trying to film a TV show, but Doug and I both talked about how good some of those trout would taste after they came off the smoker! Being the “catch & release Nazi” I am often accused of being, you know I have to include a release shot.
Doug and I were both feeling good about the fat 20+-inchers we caught until we finished filming and spent some time talking to this guy.
That is what a 26-inch rainbow looks like. Again forgive me for not getting the gentleman’s name, you know I do a terrible job of that, but he told us this was the first day he had been fishing in 24 years! I told him for a fish like that I might be willing to wait 24 years! I am going to try to make it a lot sooner than that!
We actually quit a little bit early on the second day of filming. We had all the footage they needed. Doug told me that they often spend as much as 3 days of fishing for one segment on their TV show. We had completed filming 3 segments in 2 days! I guess it had been awhile since Doug had been on a shoot where they got that much done in that short a time. I told him that if he was happy, I was happy (I have not quit grinning since!). The new season of In-Fisherman TV will start after the first of the year. I do not know the episodes in which our footage may appear and in fact since we got so much Doug said they may not use some of it until next year. Stay tuned, when I know more I will pass it along.
You all know that Nebraska is my “universe”. Nebraska is home, it is in my blood, it is where I grew up, it is where I belong. Sure, I have fished in other states and will continue to do so whenever I have the chance. But, you all know how I feel about our great state, “There is No Place Like Nebraska”. I am so fortunate to be in a position where I actually get paid to share my passion and my love for this great state with others. I do not do that just to brag about the fishing we have in Nebraska, I do that because our fisheries resources need to continue to be nurtured and cared for. The more appreciation there is for our fisheries resources the better they will be cared for! That skinny teenager who used to read Fishing Facts magazine and dream about catching fish like that never dreamed he would be able to catch so many fish and share it with so many folks like you and like Doug Stange and In-Fisherman TV. I still cannot believe it!