I’ve had some interesting and eventful fishing trips with an extremely diverse group of people, and Friday may have been a pinnacle for this type of float. It all started about the end of March with an email from a gentleman named Ricky Walker. He was inquiring as to my interest in filming a fishing program. A fishing program from the United Kingdom, with a gentleman named Paul Young, no less. I ignored the email, as this type of thing is arriving to my inbox way too often. My doubts were sent into a tailspin a few days later when I arrived home from work, with Brenda informing a had just missed a phone call from Ricky Walker. She explained what he had told her, and I really didn’t know what to think.  I needed to research this and Googled the two names. A lot of websites with those names showed up, along with TV shows related to fishing.


My next step was to verify the validity of all this. With Fairline Productions and “Hooked on Fishing” being a product of the U.K., specifically Glasgow, Scotland, I needed to contact someone in the know. An e-mail went to my favorite Scottish import, Ewan Tompson of Purceville, VA. This is another friendship made through the experience of fishing. I have annual “gatherings” in September with folks from all over the east coast and the mid-west and Ewan started coming to them about three years ago. After contacting him and telling my tale, he informed me, in no uncertain terms, that Mr. Young was the real deal, and I had best U.K. all species angler offering to fish with me. I had best jump all over it!


I went to my inbox and reread the email from Ricky Walker. Fairline Productions Ltd. has been commissioned by the Discovery Channel (Europe) to produce an all new 15 part series of fishing shows entitled, ‘Fishing Road Trip USA’. Featuring their fishing presenter, Paul Young, the series would focus on two great fishing locations in each state on the east side of America. And so I was contacted and asked if I would perhaps like to be showcased. Needless to say, I was! They were looking for an enthusiastic angler or guide who knows the territory they fish well and are happy to be on camera, maybe fishing alongside their presenter Paul Young. I would be an idiot to refuse an event like this to stroke my rather large ego, now wouldn’t I?


Ricky explained, via emails and phone calls, although the series is a road trip, instead of one continuous journey, they were doing it in 3 parts. Part 1 had them headed for the Florida Keys, shooting for just over 3 weeks would see them finish around North Carolina. They then would return to the UK to recover and start the editing process, etc. I would be featured early in the 2nd leg of this series.


Well, on June 22, I, along with my partner, met three rather jovial Scotsmen in Roanoke, VA for some steaks and too many brews, and to hash over details of the following day. There was Ricky Walker, his second camera manned by a gentleman named Chris and Paul Young himself. I have never met nicer gentleman in my life. Full of vim and vinegar!  I spent a rather sleepless night that night, waiting to get going with these guys.


We met Friday morning, once again at a local eatery, were we dined from the “boo-fey” (buffet). I learned a few colorful phrases while spending time with these guys. We headed to the river and a most excellent adventure began. The filming started as the torrential morning rain subsided. One of the questions Ricky asked me concerned rattlesnakes. Did we have any? Sure, along with copperheads, black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders and “mountain ‘gators”. Ricky inquired as to just what a mountain gator was. I simply told him they were a rare and elusive creature locally, and if I spotted one, I’d point it out to him. We were miked, coached, and I found out early the day would be more about filming than fishing. We did three or four takes at the ramp, Paul introducing himself to me. We launched, and the trip of a lifetime had started on its course.


We did several takes of various shots during the day, but never were able to get missed fish to do the take over…..oh well. The first set of rapids we hit had a grassbed on the tailend, and I had Paul cast to the slack water adjacent to the vegetation. He had a beast on as we were slightly at the mercy of nature. I coached and rowed as Paul fought and narrated. But this fish, after Paul had a great introduction to our favorite gamefish, would not be subdued. Mr. Young was instantly impressed with his quarry. He quickly understood why a riverine smallmouth was my favorite fish to target. Paul told me he found it very refreshing to find an angler/guide that still had a passionate fire burning after doing what I have done for so long.


We spent the day floating, fishing, and filming and getting to know each other, Paul spent the day in the back of the raft, with Ricky filming from the front of mine for the first half of the float. Chris was our shadow camera with John being on the oars of the second raft.. During the course of the day, we discussed tackle, technique and the river in general. I explained how over the course of fishing the New River for a quarter of a century, I had learned where they lived and which lures would convince them to visit my world on occasion. During my time as an angler, I have had the fortune of fishing with, as well as meeting a varied group of folks, one of which is Charlie Case, owner of Case Plastics. I explained to Paul the benefits of Charlie’s fishing lures and how well they performed. I have touted the effectiveness of these products to the point of Charlie took me on to be on his pro-staff.


One of the most interesting events of the day was while drifting through the “tailout of the glide”, just before entering the “popply” water of a class III, Ricky suggested that we “side by side” through it for an action shot. Well, I thought this was a bad idea as the water was as boney as I had ever seen it and didn’t think that we needed to be in close proximity to one another about now. This took care of itself as we entered the top of the run and immediately hanged. The ghost raft went through as I swore and cussed. Think I might have made up some new swear words. I also forgot that I was miked. Anyway, I got us freed and showed Paul a ride Disney can’t match! This class III at low water has a tendency to swallow a raft in the wave train. We then eddied out where the others where beached and filming. Ricky informed me of my blue words at the top of the rapid and honestly, I couldn’t apologize enough. Not to worry, he said. It could be bleeped and used as a tease for the series. Would Paul and Sam get through safely? What was going to happen to theses two gents? Tune in to “Hooked on Fishing” and find out! What a hoot!!!


The Scots got a bit of a show the last mile or so of our float as the skies overhead turned grey and ominous. The thunder, lightening and torrential downpours started. Paul and I found refuge in a ditch on an island. Seeing an opening from the lightening after a few tense minutes, we made a break for the take out in a severe downpour. I learned nothing smells quite like a wet Scotsman and a wet hillbilly.


As the day ended, Paul had landed a few smallish brown fish, they had seen several huge carp and a “mountain ‘gator” (muskie) that was 10” between the eyes. All in all, a great trip, a learning experience and without a doubt, one of the best stories that grand daddy will tell his grand daughters. Sometimes, it is good to be Sam………….

Sam Rorrer©

June 23, 2006