Observations from a shut-in outdoorsman

March 25, 2020

Usually I am outdoors on Saturday morning, but last Saturday, due to the shelter-in-place order and a case of gout in my right knee, I was consigned to my recliner with the TV remote in my right hand. Naturally, I choose to watch the Outdoor Channel, where I saw a what appeared to be a lady angler preparing to go on a fishing trip. Turns out the lady was a young man with long hair that he wore in a bun on top of his head.

The trip was to a very remote jungle to catch a fish I never heard of on, yep, you guessed it, a fly. After driving to the very end of a narrow dirt road, our intrepid angler got onboard a narrow dugout boat with a native guide and they proceeded to go up the river as far as possible.

Once there, did our fisherman begin fishing? Oh no! First, he had to break out his fly-tying stuff and tie up a fly. Since he must have known for some time where he was going and what he was going after, I have to wonder why he didn’t tie up at least one fly before he arrived in the middle of the jungle, in a dugout canoe with all sorts of bugs flying around and being rocked a bit in the current.

In any case, he finally tied up the fly, which didn’t look to me like any living creature, and began casting it toward the shoreline that was covered in blowdowns and thick vegetation. Apparently, the fish that I never heard of didn’t think his fly looked like anything they had ever seen, because they either weren’t there or didn’t find it appetizing. Our hero beat the water to a frothy foam without so much as a swirl.

Finally, the fish I never heard of took pity on him and either ate the fly or decided to put the odd-looking creature out of its misery. There were the usual closeup shots of the fish sort of jumping and splashing, and the final hero shot with our star holding the fish I never heard of in his lap. It was a decent-sized fish that looked like a carp with a mouth full of teeth.

I have no idea how many fishermen have this fish I never heard of on their bucket list, but I am pretty sure they will need a bucket full of money to go where this guy did to catch one. The host and his cameraman, I would suspect, got a free ride with the hope from the travel industry in whatever country they visited that others would follow. I hope they do.

The next show was about two old friends fishing and hunting in the Florida Everglades. I have met one of the men, Fiip Pallot. The other is the show host and for the most part, he never smiles.

These two guys take an air boat well into the Everglades and spend time hunting waterfowl and fishing for bass and whatever will hit their lures. Sounds like fun, but all they do is reflect on how long they have known each other and treat each catch like it is some sort of religious experience.

As I said, I have spent a little time with Flip and he is a nice guy. Very quiet, which for someone in our business is a refreshing quality. There is certainly a place for his style on outdoor TV, and I do enjoy his voiceovers.

The last show I watched was all about catching big bass. Yeah, I know, but I was desperate. This one took place in Texas where some very wealthy guy had purchased a large plot of land and laid out a fishing and hunting paradise.

The fishing part was a series of ponds stocked with bass that were allowed to grow to enormous size. The host caught one of these giants on just about every cast. Sounds just like real life.

Not sure if this place was going to be used as a business or kept just for friends and family. They were still working on the grounds and stocking with exotic animals.

When I had my TV show out of Norfolk, Va., it was exactly like the “Outdoors Delmarva” show on WBOC. I played the Captain Willie part. We covered Virginia and Eastern North Carolina, and we had a great time. We tried to make every show fun and educational by showing people where we were hunting or fishing or whatever and how they could do the same. It’s nice to have stuff that we can only dream about, but the local stuff is just as important.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age. Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast. He has been the regional editor for several publications and was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine. Eric is the author of three books: Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits. He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at

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