We do a lot of filming for television... though usually we're hunting for whitetail or turkeys here in the Ozark Mountains in which we call home. I work really hard to do everything "right" and try to conduct myself professionally when I've got a cameraman watching my every move, but all too often, the "real me" comes through.
Today we received a phone call from our buddy Crowbar Russell, host of the "Ozark Outdoors" television show, who invited us to go along on a little fishing/filming adventure. We were outside shooting our bows (target practicing) when the phone rang, but we quickly put our Mathews Bows aside and grabbed our Abu Garcia rods and reels and with the children in tow, we met Crowbar and his cameraman at the South Fork River.
Spring was just around the corner and I'd been itching to do a little fishing. Winter had seemed so long. Today the weather was perfect; low 70's, a bit overcast, and perfect for spending the afternoon at the river with family and friends. It wasn't long before I had a nice fish on my line and I excitedly reeled him in. The water was a little muddy and discolored from all the rain we've had over the last several days, but I could occasionally see the fish fighting in the water and just knew I had a great smallmouth on the line. As I quickly "lipped" the fish and lifted him from the water, I heard shrieks from the on-lookers and Crowbar screaming, "NO!!"
I proudly lifted the fish for the cameramen and everyone to see. Deciding to take a closer look at the beautiful fish I had just reeled in, I realized I had my fingers in the mouth of a walleye! I screamed, "It's a walleye!" Oh my gosh... talk about a blooper! I was laughing hysterically as everyone ran to my rescue... saving me from the walleye with a mouthful of teeth! I tried to pull myself together for the cameramen, but was laughing so hard. I then put my fingers in the gills of the walleye and got one of my fingers stuck and couldn't get it out! Duh! With Crowbar's help, I finally managed to get loose from the humilating situation and of course, the cameramen didn't miss a thing!
There was a flurry of people coming and going, which is common when Crowbar is filming for a television show on the local rivers in our area. I wasn't sure if Crowbar would ever get the chance to fish, since everyone wanted to stop for a chat, but before the day was over, Crowbar had a stringer full of fish to share with his family and friends.
I wrote a story once about Crowbar and referred to him as a legend. I know of no better fisherman than Crowbar Russell and he can always catch a fish when no one else on the river has even had a bite. While standing aside Crowbar this afternoon , I asked him for his secret, but he only chuckled and then smiling, threatened to toss me off the bridge we were fishing from. Knowing how Crowbar acquired his nickname, I decided to not push my luck and ask again!
Filming for television can be quite an adventure in itself and we have a library full of bloopers and "oops" that we can sit back and watch from time to time. No doubt, even Crowbar has a collection of his own. If you haven't caught Crowbar's show on the Sportsman's Channel, you must take the time to watch it. It's filled with some of the most amazing fishing and hunting adventures ever. With a sense of humor he shares his knowledge of the outdoors with others who shares his passion and never fails to entertain his audience with an outstanding bit of wit and charm. Tommy and I always enjoy our time with Crowbar and are planning some joint adventures and television shows together in the near future. Maybe with a little luck, Crowbar will share some of his secrets with me on catching those stringers of fish!
During a recent interview for More Magazine, I was asked if I considered myself a "professional" angler. If any of you have any doubts... the answer is definitely not! I'm not sure exactly what the definition of a "Pro" is, but as with hunting... I learn something new with every adventure. Fishing is a passion, something I love to do and I know that I'll never "know-it-all" and am not sure I want to. It's too much fun learning! In the meantime though, I'll share my passion with anyone who wants to tag along to the river with me in pursuit of those elusive smallmouth and largemouth bass, and of course, let's not forget the walleyes!
What did I learn today? "Take a real good look at your fish before sticking your fingers in it's mouth!" Of course, I've caught walleye before and was quite aware of their sharp canine teeth, but in all the excitement and fun... I just forgot!
There were some beautiful fish caught before the day was over but more than anything, I had a wonderful day in the outdoors, making memories and sharing time with family and friends. Thanks Crowbar for some great memories and the chance to fish with you again!