Sunday, May 12, 2013

When River Monsters Came to Town

As a rule, television programming sucks; it has for years. Maybe I'm just being a curmudgeon, but I think the advent of reality T.V. has gone a long way to turn an entire generation of young people into vacuous imbeciles who are unlikely ever to make a meaningful contribution to society. I might be a little harsh in my assessment, but consider that we live in a world that puts Snooki on a pedestal and deifies Dance Moms.

There are, however, a few channels that offer programming that I do enjoy - as much as any cynic can enjoy such things. History is alright, but it was better when it was The History Channel. I could watch footage from WWII all day, every day.  Comedy Central has its moments - at least when it's not being overtly political; I'll admit to thinking South Park is pure satirical genius (maybe I'm the vacuous imbecile).

There's also Animal Planet and the network's highest rated program, River Monsters. The premise of the show is simple. Jeremy Wade (the show's host) investigates stories of massive and/or deadly fish that inhabit freshwater environs across the world. Wade and his crew have recently found themselves in Nicaragua fishing for tarpon that reside in a tidal river, and in the Ukraine hunting Wels catfish in canals that once cooled the reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. 

Sometimes the dialogue is canned and a bit too dramatic. It seems that whenever fishing is difficult, Wade consults a local shaman who will cast a spell or craft a charm to help Wade channel his inner Aquaman. If we believe the program's editing then we have to believe the charms work because Wade always gets his fish.

Theatrics aside, Jeremy Wade is a very impressive angler. He catches some truly remarkable fish, with increasing frequency he uses a fly rod, and he is a devout proponent of catch and release. Perhaps most impressive is that the man has figured out a way to fish the remote corners of the world while earning a paycheck for his trouble. There are certainly worse ways to earn a dollar.

Wade's show is currently in its fifth season, much of the filming for which happened over the last year and a half. I know this only because last year at this time the River Monsters crew was in my neck of the woods - or rather, just northeast of my neck of the woods. They filmed a portion of tonight's episode on Lake Champlain in Vermont. As is always the case with the show - the crew utilized local guides to help Wade track his monsters. One of the guides who assists Wade in this week's episode is a friend who calls Lake Champlain his home water.

Drew Price is a masterful fly fisher, a talented guide, and perhaps more to the point - he knows his water intimately. As it happens, Drew is also cut from the same cloth as Wade. Both men have a penchant for chasing prehistoric fish, animals that many anglers - especially fly anglers - might otherwise discount or avoid. Drew opened my eyes to the potential of some of these beasts - bowfin and longnose gar foremost among them.

So I guess this post is a plug - for both the show and for my friend. I've no idea what to expect, but knowing Drew as I do, I am certain we'll be given an interesting hour of television. Unless you're planning to be on the water, I can think of few ways to better spend your time.


For the River Monsters home page and programming schedule, click here ...

To inquire as to Drew Price's availability and rates, click here ...

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