by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
Dark clouds were moving rapidly overhead as the crew from the Emmy award-winning television show “Fishing University” gathered for breakfast at Karsten’s Restaurant in Rogers City. Most of the crew had walked over from the Driftwood Motel.
Phones were out and fingers were scrolling through satellite weather maps to check the conditions. The clouds would part, but it would be another breezy day in Presque Isle County.
“If it were to rain, we could not do much,” said co-host Charlie Ingram, who had been with the show all 33 years. Both George Bush presidents have appeared on episodes with Ingram, while the Secret Service watched their every move. During the outing, Ingram caught the largest bass of his life, weighing in at 12 pounds. “I did not mean to show up the president,” Ingram said.
At breakfast, the crew talked about heavy rains that were expected early Sunday morning.
“So, we’ll just fish late today,” added Ingram. “We have been on Grand before, about two or three years ago. It has been a really good smallmouth fishery.”
There would be two, 30-minute episodes shot on Grand and Black lakes that will air in 2020, possibly as soon as January, according to “Fishing University” vice president Debra Talley. There are 13 episodes being recorded for the 33rd season.
The crew came straight from Cranberry Township north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and skipped a trip to their homes in Tennessee to keep filming.
Ray Brazier, the other star of the show, admitted to being home only two or three days in the last month. He puts about 100,000 to 140,000 miles a year on his truck, traveling to each town and lake.
Waitress Ashley Nowicki had their order and the talk at the table shifted to other lakes in the areas, such as Lake Nettie and Lake Huron.
“We have been out on Lake Huron,” said Ingram.
“The big thing about Huron is the waves,” said Brazier. “You don’t want to watch a TV show when the boat is bobbing up and down.”
“It would be like the ‘Deadliest Catch,’ ” Ingram added with a laugh.
“ONCE WE hit the water, we are Mach 5 with our pants on fire and we don’t stop until we get back to the dock,” said Jimmy Patterson, director of photography. “There is a lot of pressure on these guys to catch fish, and sometimes they don’t want to bite. These guys are really good at making them bite. It’s amazing. Charlie has been doing this since he was knee-high to a grasshopper.”
The show pits Ingram and Brazier, who team up with top anglers representing different sponsors, against each other in the episode. Best five fish wins.
“At the end of the show, they weigh them,” said Patterson. “It’s high energy, with trash talking. It’s not cut like your typical fishing show, because there is a lot of music involved. It’s like a fast music video.”
The filming process involves two chase boats providing extra camera angles.
All the boats were launched from Fletcher-Gilchrist Park that is owned and maintained by the Presque Isle County Road Commission.
“We love the fishing, we love everything you have to offer in this area,” said Talley.
Despite the rough waves, everyone stayed out until 6:30 p.m. and reported excellent results.
“It should be a great episode,” Ingram commented later.
Crews are out from late August until the first part of September.
The programs will be on the Outdoor Channel, The Sportsmen Channel and the World Fishing Network.
“The significant publicity generated through television viewings of ‘Fishing University’s’ Presque Isle County segment will bring many new visitors to our area, supporting and strengthening local businesses,” said Rogers City mayor Scott McLennan.