It all started with a boat. A 1955 Lund, to be specific—pea-green paint sloughing off in sheets, tethered to a listing dock on a 15-acre lake. I caught my first bass out of that boat, and countless others after. Its equally-aged outboard provided my first lessons in mechanics and, when I couldn’t coax it back to life no matter how many times I yanked the cord, my first lessons in rowing.
This was also the dawn fishing shows. Roland Martin, Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston, Orlando Wilson, John Lurie, even the crappy local network shows—if I was home as a kid and a fishing show came on TV, I watched it. Most weren’t very good, at least not by contemporary standards, but the gilded sepia of memory tints them nostalgic.
Fishing shows have progressed in the past decades, and so have fishing boats. Now you can see the biggest and most exotic species from all over the world held along the gunwales of technologically-advanced and fishery-specific crafts. These new series are entertaining, but feel a little distant, unattainable. How many of us will get the chance to catch billfish in Guatemala or golden dorado in Bolivia? Not many, but dynamic, exciting and tasty fishing trips still exist a whole lot closer to home. Our local fish and the diverse waters they inhabit are worthy of our time and attention—as are the legions of old, American-made aluminum boats moldering in garages and backyards, weeds sprouting around their trailer tongues.
So, we decided to make a fishing show that revives some American fishing nostalgia, only updated and with a MeatEater sensibility. We wanted to celebrate down-home fishing, and we wanted to do it with a crew of interesting, informed and entertaining people.
Once again, it started with a boat. We bought a well-used, 30-year-old Alumacraft on Craigslist and sent it on a road trip, visiting different locations and anglers. At each stop, a new duo of captains got one day to make whatever modifications they could. Then they took that simple aluminum boat fishing.
We turned those trips into Das Boat, the new video series from MeatEater. Six episodes will come out right here on themeateater.com over the next five weeks. Follow along as folks you know, like Steven Rinella, Ryan Callaghan and April Vokey, join forces with others you should, like Oliver Ngy, JT Van Zandt and Frank Smethurst. We’ve got bass, gar, speckled trout and stripers, on lakes, rivers, estuaries and oceans. Check it out, tell us what you think, and send us pictures and stories of your own old boats. We’re excited to see what you’re fishing from.
Fishing Director at MeatEater