It was a curious thing, this new camera I’d gotten for my birthday. It was 2006. The camera, my first digital, looked similar to previous point-and-shoots I’d used, but this one was different. In addition to shooting photographs, it also captured video. Intriguing.
I’d never had the cash for a camcorder, so it was novel to have the power of filmmaking at my fingertips. What’s more, my Mac at work came installed with iMovie, an intuitive video-editing software.
I mostly shot footage of my niece and nephews and taught myself the iMovie basics, integrating music with the moving images, but it wasn’t until the annual summer fishing trip that August that I fully appreciated the potential this new technology afforded me. I remember the moment like it was yesterday:
My fishing buddy, Kenny Champoux (pronounced “shampoo”), my wife, Mitzi, and I were headed up-lake in my infamously temperamental 1959 Larson runabout, The Maybe Baby, en route to our favorite fishing hole, a portage-in lake in Voyageurs National Park. Having brought the new camera along to photograph our largemouth catches, I remembered that the device recorded video and handed it to Mitzi.
“Point this at me and hit ‘record,’” I said. “We’ll make a fishing show – like Bill Dance on Saturday mornings!”
I was half-kidding. Still, after portaging a canoe into our secret, hidden lake, Mitzi shoot footage of Kenny pulling in a couple bass – and setting the hook on many a weed (he was a newbie at the time) – and pointed the camera at me a few times too, as I reeled in some bass and looked into the lens and pretended to know what I was talking about.
Birth of a notion …
After the trip, I edited the footage together, laid in some of my band’s music and posted the video to YouTube. Figured my friends and family members would get a kick out of it and that would be it.
But something about the experience flipped a switch in my mind, got my wheels turning. The democratization of the filmmaking process with consumer-level gear; the creative process of editing the clips together and orchestrating them with music; the fun I had re-living the fish-catches later when viewing the finished project – I wanted to make another show!
“Man, this would really be fun to do for a living!” I day-dreamed.
Here's my first attempt at a home-made fishing show. (Note: Blog continues below video player)
That was five and a half years ago. Last week, I made my national-television debut as Steve Pennaz’s guest on “North American Fisherman TV,” the Fishing Club’s show on NBC Sports. And what a thrill it was! If you did not watch or DVR it, you can view it here or in the video player below.
(Note: The blog continues below the video player)
A million thanks to Steve Pennaz for inviting me on the show. I hope I lived up to his expectations as a guest. Driving to the lake on the day we filmed, I certainly had my share of butterflies.
What if I got tongue-tied? What if I babbled like an idiot? What if I didn’t catch any fish? What if I fell in? (The latter, a distinct possiblilty – I’m infamously clumsy, cursed with clod-hopper feet and the grace of a rhino on rollerskates)
“Follow your fishing instincts, bend your knees and speak when spoken to and you’ll be fine,” I told myself.
On site, the producer/cameraman put me at ease with his laidback personality and complimented my choice in attire.
“I like your shirt – it will look good on camera.”
I’d picked out the shirt special the day before. It was a weird red-pink color that I would not normally wear, but, it was the only light-weight, moisture-wicking fishing shirt at the store I could afford. As one who sweats profusely, I figured it would be better to wear a weird color than to sport huge pit stains.
Biggest, most-est, first-est
From then on, the shoot went great. As soon as we began fishing, I overcame my initial nerves and forgot the camera was even there. It didn’t hurt that our largemouth pattern – targeting docks, weed-edges and holes in submergent vegetation with Texas-rigged soft-plastics – was my go-to, confidence tactic. (To see more photos, Facbook users can peruse the photo album here.)
And when I caught the boat’s first fish of the day, it really put me at ease – I was holding my own! Steve would go on to catch the most and the biggest, but at least I’d caught the first. I’d come a long way from that day in the canoe, goofin’ with Shampoo and a point-and-shoot.
A year ago this week, I was un-employed, having had my newspaper job eliminated a week before Christmas. A year ago on January 31, I started working as North American Fisherman’s social media editor. I detailed in a previous blog my unlikely trajectory from NAFC member getting North American Fisherman magazine in the mail to working FOR the magazine, so I won’t repeat that again here, but suffice to say, appearing on the TV show has been the highlight of a dream year at a dream job.
And when I think of everything I went through between the point-and-shoot and NAF-TV -- the long hours, horrible pay and belittling managers at previous jobs; the years I bussed tables and cleaned houses to make ends meet; the stress and anxiety that resulted from throwing myself headlong into a career-change gamble – I wouldn’t change a thing.
Well, maybe one thing.
I’d tuck in my shirt on TV.
You can contact North American Fishing Club Social Media Editor “Web Guy Greg” Huff at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter @lazy_ike, or friend him on Facebook at Web Guy Greg. He’s also the editor behind most of the posts on the Fishing Club’s Facebook page and the tweets at @NAFishClub.