When you’re a passionate angler living in a crowded state—in my case, one stereotyped as the land of highways, malls, and refineries—you have two choices: Move out or adapt. I chose the latter—finding fish, serenity, and beauty between the Olive Gardens and Costcos in Dirty Jersey. I specialize in underappreciated or surprising fisheries, locations, and people, and my new series, “B-Side Fishing,” gives me the opportunity to do what I do best.
Some anglers want fancy lodges, a sense of solitude, or destination checkmarks on their bucket lists. That’s fine, but the truth is, we’ve all got great fishing close to home. “Great fishing” shouldn’t be defined by internet threads and shiny ads; any fishing that inspires you, that gets you pumped can be great. Those are the fisheries you’ll see on “B-Side.”
Fittingly, Season 1 was filmed entirely in my home state of New Jersey. It’s chock full of scenes and fish that will buck the “armpit of the nation” stereotype. Also, let’s not bullshit around—2020 wasn’t exactly the best year for traveling. But I’m beyond proud to be starting off in Jersey, because there’s nothing I enjoy more than sharing fisheries close to my heart with fellow anglers across the country.
Have you ever seen a trout rise to a cigarette butt drifting down a seam? I have. I also knew a dude who always brought an extra pack of Winstons fluke fishing. He’d thread a squid strip on his hook, break off a cigarette filter, dunk it in squid oil, and use it to cover the point. He swore the saturated filter waved and wagged, adding more action to his offering, and also making it more difficult for a fluke to steal the squid off the hook. I don’t know if I buy all that, but the guy used to catch a lot of big fluke.
In Season 1 you won’t see me tempting trout or fluke with cancer sticks. But I will prove that chasing the lowliest member of the Esox family in Jersey provides a taste of the Northwoods—if you know where to go. I’ll show you that, under the right circumstances, you wouldn’t be able to tell the Jersey coast from the Florida Keys. I’ll ply pike from a toxic river flowing through a concrete jungle. And I’ll expose a cult of winter anglers you never knew existed, but would happily join for dinner when you learn about the oddball fish they target.
Check out Episode 1 right now either by clicking the link below or heading over to the MeatEater YouTube page. New episodes drop every Tuesday for the next month, but if you don’t want to wait that long, sign up for my Fishing Weekly Newsletter and I’ll email you immediate access to all of Season 1. Plus, you’ll get a weekly email from me about all the fishy shit we’re getting up to.
I genuinely hope Season 1 of B-Side Fishing inspires you to embrace your local fisheries. I’ve always said real-deal anglers aren’t defined by their travel, but how passionate and knowledgeable they are about their home water. We’re already putting boots on the ground for B-Side Season 2, expanding the range to fisheries across the country. If you’ve got one, let us know—I may end up crashing on your couch.