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For those of us who grew up watching Red Holland on Dothan’s WTVY, today’s fishing shows just can’t compare. Certainly not the tournament bass fishing programs that are popular now. I have nothing against the pro bass circuit, but in terms of good television, Red could beat them all with one hand tied behind his back.
For one thing, you never knew what was going to happen on Red’s show because he didn’t know either. Best I can tell, they usually just turned him loose with a boat and a cameraman and made a show out of whatever came next.
I ran across Fishing with Red Holland on YouTube recently and it made me miss the old programs. So as a tribute to him and all the entertainment he provided through the years, I’ve compiled a list of my top five problems with today’s fishing shows:
5. Sponsor Overload: I work in marketing so I understand why pro tournament fishermen need sponsors and why sponsors want to be seen on television. But for crying out loud, it’s getting hard to tell bass fishermen from NASCAR drivers these days. And the boats are starting to look like my son’s guitar case. Why not have fewer sponsors who pay more? Is anyone really going to buy a different fishing line because it’s on some guy’s shirt? Red fished in a baseball cap and blue jeans, the same uniform most of his audience was wearing.
4. Speed Fishing: When fishing becomes a job instead of a sport, the focus shifts from fun to profit. As a result, bass fishing is becoming more race than relaxation. (Maybe, it’s that NASCAR influence again.) They use thick line, big hooks and stiff rods to yank the fish back to the boat as quickly as possible. With thousands of dollars at stake, I’m sure it’s exciting for the fishermen but it bores me to tears. I’d much rather hear Red’s booming preacher voice narrating each catch like it was a title fight. He might not catch as many fish, but you got a lot more entertainment.
3. No Variety: Speaking of boring, after about the second or third 2-lb. bass, I get the point. And since all the tournaments now are catch-and-release, these same bass are probably getting caught week after week (which makes me wonder if some are biting just for the publicity.) I’ve always thought it would be cool to add a blackfish or gar category to break up the monotony and make it more relatable for us amateurs. And just for the heck of it, I’d like to see one day set aside for fishing with only a bream buster and 8-lb. test line.
2. Clean Hands: When I come in from fishing, Mary makes me leave my clothes in the laundry room and head straight for the shower. If I go on a Saturday, it’s usually about noon on Tuesday before the fish and bait smell wears off. And I’ve probably still got worm dirt under my fingernails from a trip to Blountstown two months ago. Keep that in mind the next time you watch a tournament. Most of those guys could go straight from their boat to church without missing a beat. Not ol’ Red, though. Red wasn’t afraid of an earthworm or cricket and you had a pretty good idea that at least a few of his fish went in the ice chest when the camera wasn’t rolling.
1. Ridiculous Gear: I was watching the FLW series one day when Mary happened to walk by. She said, “Wow, they’re really catching a lot of fish,” followed quickly by “What are they doing that you don’t?” Through clinched teeth I pointed out that they are driving boats that cost more than our house, using military-grade electronics and fishing with all the latest and greatest tackle that money can buy.
I added that they probably pre-fished the lake the day before and spoke to dozens of locals about tactics.
“If I had that much equipment, time and support, I’d catch a bunch of fish too.”
With that, Mary just smiled and said, “Now you know how women feel when Martha Stewart comes on.”
I thought about that for a minute and it made me miss Red’s show even more.