Thursday, May 16, 2013

River Monsters in Vermont- Jeremy Wade

I had a couple of months to think about things before finally meeting the star of River Monsters, Jeremy Wade. There is only so much that you can glean about someone from a television show. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous and unsure of what Jeremy would be like. I figured here was a guy who travels the world fishing for huge fish but also is one of the biggest reality TV stars out there. He hobnobs with all the big media folks on talk shows like it's his job, and well, it is his job. 

From the first moment that I spoke to him when I was out catching bass he put me at ease. He was an angler first and foremost. Jeremy asked me questions about the gear we were using, the species we were after, the techniques needed and other questions about the fishery in general. They were definitely fairly pointed questions about the specific fish that were needed for the show. It was very professional and pretty chill to be blunt. 

When I first got him in the boat with me I was definitely a bit unsure again. Here I am in my canoe paddling with Jeremy Wade on Lake Champlain. We are in my element and I need to produce for the cameras and for Jeremy. I didn't want to look bad and I didn't want Jeremy to look bad either. We talked fishing the whole time we paddled to our location. It was great. He asked me questions about these fish, I told him anecdotes about what we were fishing for and the lake in general and he shared stories about his experiences. I asked him about some of the species he had caught on his show, asked about his fly fishing experience (to help him out with casting) and really just shot the breeze. 

Things changed when the cameras were on and he became quite focused on what he was doing. No surprise there. That is what he does for a living. Consummate professional. 

When the cameras were off and there was down time with the crew Jeremy was just one of the guys. It is patently obvious that the crew of River Monsters has spent a lot of time together in a lot of different conditions in parts of the world that outsiders rarely visit (hey, they came to Vermont!). The experiences that they have had collectively have brought them very close to one another and it is pretty obvious when you see them talking and interacting. They are a close knit bunch with inside jokes and lots of smiles. There is a lot of kidding around and Jeremy can alternatively be the one who starts the jokes or ends up the butt of them. He is just one of the guys. 

Jeremy did get a bit frustrated when we were after gar. I don't blame him. We were all a bit frustrated. They weren't behaving as well as they should have (i.e.- they weren't taking flies as readily as we would have liked). Jeremy was persistent though. He took every bit of advice that I could give him and absorbed it like a sponge. I could tell that when I was offering him tips he was taking them to heart and he was very interested in what I had to say about the biology of the fishes we were after. 

At a couple of private dinners we had with the crew Jeremy was pretty low key for the most part. He did a lot of listening and some of the other guys really lead the conversation. He was very mellow and I could tell that he (and the other guys) was really enjoying being in good accommodations on a shoot rather than the sketchy third world conditions that they all had become accustomed to over the course of five seasons of River Monsters.

I confess feeling a bit guilty about asking him to sign a few things for me, but he did so without hesitation. He didn't seem bothered by it at all and did it with a smile on his face. Watching him sign T-shirts for all of us that helped out was awesome. These guys were professionals with that! Two guys grab the shirt, hold the corners over the hood of a car and Jeremy signs it. Pretty fun to watch... and I got the last one done with the best signature! Thanks Jeremy!

Later in the summer I got an email from Jeremy- he was going to be back in Vermont taking flying lessons and wanted to get together to fish. How could I say no?  We both had fairly busy schedules and the day that we were able to get together was less than ideal for chasing carp. He knew that but was having a great time anyway. He got into fishing because of carp and really wanted to get on on the fly. I did my best but the combination of overcast skies, chop on the water and heavy weed growth were not productive for us. After a bit we decided to get after some bowfin instead. 

Jeremy had a blast getting into a large bowfin. That sucker was 11 pounds- one of the biggest I have had in the boat. It was a beast and Jeremy was really enjoying himself. Fishing with me last August was the first time he fished without a camera on him in a year and a half he told me. I felt pretty fortunate. 

As I dropped him off at his hotel we just sat in my truck talking for an hour. We talked about a lot of things. He gave me advice about my business and what to make of it sharing his experiences running a guide service in the Amazon. He was down to earth and really gave me a lot to think about. I really appreciated that time more than any I had spent with him up to that point. Having an internationally recognizable television star sit in a beat up dirty truck talking fishing with a local fly fishing guide says a lot about the man. 

In no way was the experience that I had with Jeremy negative. Earlier this year a very popular fly fishing blog put up a piece about the preview of Season 5 of River Monsters. They claimed that Jeremy was a world class piece of work (not exactly what they said, but I am trying to keep this fairly clean). I completely refute that claim. 

I went into this River Monsters venture looking at it as a cool adventure and something good for my business. When it was all said and done though, I feel like I made a friend. I hope to have the chance to wet a line with Jeremy again. And I feel like that will probably happen. 

Jeremy with his very first smallmouth... James approves!


  1. I would have jumped at the same opportunity Drew, and anyone who says otherwise is being a chucklehead.

  2. Excellent blog drew. I expect Jeremy enjoyed your company especially to come back and fish. You never know who's/What's lurking on Lake Champlain.

  3. Drew, I am so happy for you. Makes me work harder at getting my little boat back into the water.

  4. Love the Bickersteth photo bomb. Great post and photos!

  5. What an awesome adventure Drew. I hope he keeps trying for that carp on the fly!

  6. That was a quality write up Drew, thanks and good job!