Beginning in January, people around the country will get a chance to watch a few clever Mainers try to strike it rich in the slippery business of eel fishing.
“Cold River Cash” will debut on the Animal Planet cable network at 10 p.m. Jan. 2. The reality show will follow the work and play of three teams of Maine eel fishermen during last spring’s 10-week eel season.
Baby eels, known as elvers, are in such high demand in Asia that they can bring as much as $2,000 a pound. Some eel fishermen can make hundreds of thousands of dollars in one season.
“The stakes are high; the rivalry is intense; and the threat of danger is constant as each team struggles to come out ahead,” reads a line of the news release from Animal Planet announcing the show. The “stakes” mentioned are the fishermen’s potential earnings. No prize money is awarded.
Animal Planet crews were around Greater Portland in March and April, filming scenes for the first season. At that time, the show was tentatively being called “Eel of Fortune.”
Also at that time, the season was off to a slow start and Maine Department of Marine Resources officials had already seen 20 violations by eager fishermen, mostly for fishing without a license or fishing too close to a dam.