Sportsman’s Adventures — the popular cable television saltwater fishing show hosted by veteran Homestead light-tackle guide captain Rick Murphy — is about to go national. The program —now entering its 20th year on SunSports — will be broadcast on Discovery Communications’ Destination America network beginning in January. The network will air 26 new episodes on its Saturday morning outdoors block.
With only a couple of months until “go” time, Murphy and his co-executive producers, Mike Zimmer of South Miami and Barkey Haddad of Key Largo, are hard at work on new episodes, including one on redfish that was taped last month in Florida Bay. It’ll be more fun to watch when you learn what happens when the cameras aren’t rolling.
Perhaps the redfish were still reeling from being beaten up by weekenders when Murphy and company set out from the boat ramp at Flamingo on Columbus Day because they sure didn’t come easy.
It took the host and his entourage all day to catch and release five fish using a Rapala Trigger X “new penny” shrimp and a gold spoon. Haddad said they needed at least six fish to put together a 22-minute, 30-second show, so they had to return for a second day of taping.
I’m kind of ashamed to admit this, but the situation made me feel better. I cannot count the times over the past 18 years that I have set out to write a story about catching a certain species of fish while said fish steadfastly refused to appear. Considering the array of talent gathered this day to document South Florida’s 2-year-old post-freeze red drum bonanza for television, it seemed the fish were in full revolt.
“In general, it’s been awesome,” Tavernier angler Tim Mahaffey said of the fishery. “A little different today.”
Mahaffey, who may have won more fly fishing tournament angler titles than anyone in the Keys — many of them with Murphy guiding — was reversing roles with his mentor for this episode of the show. Mahaffey stood on the bow of Murphy’s 16-foot aluminum john boat, deploying the push pole and looking for reds while Murphy stood on a cooler in the stern wielding a spinning rod.
Zimmer lay amidships in the tiny boat, pointing his video camera at angler and guide while Haddad — also armed with a video camera — and I rode in a flats skiff poled by Key Largo guide captain Frank Juliano.
“Frank, if you see a fish, point him out,” Haddad told Juliano.
The water was only about six inches deep where both boats were poling, so several daring redfish were forced to reveal their position by tailing in the search for food. Others were much harder to spot as they slithered along the mud-and-grass bottom on their bellies like snakes.
Murphy made perfect casts of a gold spoon to both tailing and slinking reds, but the spoon kept picking up grass, so he never caught any. Then he switched to the Trigger X — a soft plastic bait with impregnated scent — and caught the first one, a beauty with 25 spots, at midmorning.
“Way cool!” exclaimed Mahaffey.
With the fish still hooked, Zimmer put a small Go Pro video camera mounted on a pole in the water, tracking the red’s struggles.
“We used to get in the water and swim with them, but you don’t have to with the Go Pro,” Haddad said.