Shootin' A Show
Over the years I’ve had a lot of people ask me what it’s like to be a guest captain on a fishing tv show. It can be stressful, especially when you plan it months in advance and have no control over the weather. And then to make things worse you have to catch quality fish and you only have a day or two to do it. You also need a camera boat to follow you, and the cameramen have to get the shots! However, when things work out and the fish cooperate, it’s a great feeling when you wrap up a shoot.
In mid-September I shot a show with George Poveromo for a 2016 episode of George Poveromo’s World of Saltwater Fishing. Considering he’s caught about everything that swims and has been on TV for 16 years, it can be tricky trying to plan an exciting shoot. Luckily we caught a break in the weather, and had calm seas and lots of sunshine.
The first day we planned to do some live bait tuna fishing, a little deep dropping for bottom fish and then try a little swordfishing. The day started out right when we found a giant school of pilchards and put over 500 in the well.
We stuck to our game plan and headed to the hump. A few boats were already there and we could see tuna blowing up. We started chumming with the live bait and in no time tuna were airborne! Over the next couple hours we caught two nice blackfins in the 18 – 20 lb range on light spinning rods, as well as some smaller ones and quite a few skipjack tuna.
I told George I wanted to try a little deep dropping, which he hadn’t done much of. We rigged up two hand crank outfits and ran to the next spot in 600’ of water. We each sent down a rod, but on the way down I got a bite. I knew I wasn’t on the bottom yet when we noticed a bunch of dolphin swimming around the boat. We put the conventional rods in the holders and grabbed some spinners. We hooked up a few dolphin and had rods going every which way. Fish were jumping all over, some staying on and some jumping off. I figured it would make for good TV if we could get all the tangles out and put a few more fish in the box. After a few minutes the chaos settled and we put a handful of dolphin in the cooler.
At this time we went to wind up George’s bottom rod and it was hung in the bottom. We had over 1000’ of line out and I was a little frustrated because if we broke the braid near the boat we wouldn’t have enough line to keep deep dropping. We ran the boat ahead and after a few minutes finally got tight on it. I switched with George and started trying to break it out of the bottom and finally the weight came out. A second later I felt a fish pull on the line. Could we get this lucky? After five minutes of steady cranking I could see the fish. It was the target species! A beautiful 10 lb queen snapper popped up and it was the first one ever caught on George’s show!
We did another drift after that and George landed his first ever queen snapper, an 11 pounder. Now that we had some color in the box it was time to try for a swordfish. We ran out to the sword ledge and sent down a bait. We made three drifts over the next few hours with no bites. It was getting to be late in the day, but I wasn’t giving up yet.
I SWITCHED WITH GEORGE AND STARTED TRYING TO BREAK IT OUT OF THE BOTTOM AND FINALLY THE WEIGHT CAME OUT. A SECOND LATER I FELT A FISH PULL ON THE LINE. COULD WE GET THIS LUCKY?
For the fourth drop we moved spots and sent down a fresh bait. Sure enough after a couple minutes the rod loaded up and drag came off the reel. George likes to hand crank swordfish so we put him in the harness and he went to work. I knew if we caught this fish we’d have a great show, so I kept my fingers crossed. The fish was heavy early in the fight, and then came to the surface. The fish made some pretty quick moves so I thought to myself “This could be a big one!” After 40 minutes we had the wind on leader on the reel and I could see the fish. It wasn’t as big as I had hoped, but it was still a swordfish. I consider these fish to be one of the greatest fish in the ocean, because of their strength and their ability to travel up and down in the water column. The fish was foul hooked in the dorsal fin, which explained why it fought like it did. Since George and I love eating swordfish we put the 75 pounder in the boat and headed towards the barn. I couldn’t have asked for a better day of fishing with the cameras rolling. We caught everything we wanted to and that took all the pressure off for the next day.
On day two we really focused on getting more underwater shots. Between the two boats we had three livewells full of pilchards and chummed up the blackfin tuna again. We caught another one over 20 lbs and plenty of smaller ones in the 4–10 lb range. We had 15–20 hammerhead sharks ranging from 50–150 lbs swimming around the boat chasing our fish, so that should be some epic footage.
After that we did a couple more deep drops and used a special deep water camera housing. I told George it’s a risky move sending down a $400 camera in a $500 housing, but he said if we got a fish on video it would be worth it. After ten minutes of fishing, George had a couple bites, but then the rod got really heavy. He snagged bottom and had over $900 of hardware on the other end! After a couple minutes of driving the boat around and changing the angle we finally got it out. Sure enough the bait was gone too. We played the video back over the phone via wifi and we had a queen snapper on video! The risky drop was worth it!
On the next drift we kept the camera in the boat and sent down two rods. I hooked up at the end of the drift and after a 10 minute fight a nice barrelfish popped up. Another first for George’s show. That was the icing on the cake and we called it a day at lunch time. Everything went great over the two days and we caught plenty of fish to make an exciting episode to showcase why people should fish in Islamorada!
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