The only instance their presence was somewhat stressful to me was when they needed to get off the boat in a hurry to catch a ride to shore with somebody, so it put a halt to my program for a few minutes. This kind of spun me out, so I went down and hurried along the guy with the sound bag.
I stuffed his last bundles of wires into the bag, zipped it up, hauled it out on deck, and did a 6-foot over-the-water toss to the guys already on the commuter boat. I think everybody about shit themselves when that bag of vital (and I’m sure expensive) gear went flying through the air over the water, but I had eye contact with the receiver and I knew it would be caught safely.
They really captured some good footage when they were out with me. Within the first few minutes of filming, I smashed into a boat. It was just a love tap, and nobody was pissed, but nonetheless it was reason enough for that high-tech camera to come poking in my face with the standard set of “What just happened?” questions.
Not long after that, my crewman John fell overboard. I had him up on the bow messing with a setnet buoy, trying to drag it around the bow so it was clear of the boat. Well, those buoys have a chain on them so they are heavy, and this one drug him over when he wasn’t paying close attention.
The footage was priceless, but John didn’t like the aspect of his falling overboard being broadcast across the nation where his friends and colleagues could ridicule him, so he told the PSG guys to not show the footage. The result was its use in just a promo clip, but not in the show, so it had viewers wondering what happened to the guy they saw falling overboard, and why didn’t they get to see more?
Another great bit of footage was when Crosby got a bunch of web in the wheel, and I towed him off the beach, then up to the anchorage where he spent the next two hours cutting it out. The funny part about this was that the camera crew was initially on my boat, so they had me wired up with the microphone.
After Crosby’s net-in-the-wheel incident, they wanted to stay aboard his boat and film the saga of the removal, so they jumped aboard the Claude M. Bristol. Well, they left me wired up with the microphone, so the notion of having that little man on my shoulder was really present, because although there were no film guys around me to indicate somebody was listening, I knew for certain that there actually WAS somebody listening, and it was PSG Brian, who was over there on Crosby’s boat. I couldn’t shut up during that experiment, much, I’m sure, to the transcriber’s dilemma.
By far the most exciting part of being involved with the film crew was when they had the helicopter out to get some aerial footage. It was about an hour after slack water, and fishing was slow, but fortunately for the show, this big shot of fish came squirting buy on the north beach.
Me and Crosby were right in the middle of the action, picking up a couple of great sets. It was absolutely insane trying to haul the net with that helicopter whirling overhead. That whirly-bird is LOUD, and it makes this crazy wind that comes right down from the sky! It was hilarious, and a load of fun, hauling that net aboard with that chopper whacking away above us. What a gas.
After the fleet was moved outside the river into the Naknek and Kvichak districts, the film crew never came out with me, but they did come out with Crosby once more. Our final interaction with them came on the Stellar Sea, Peter Pan Seafoods’ floating processor, when they did the exit interview for the season.
The end result was a highly entertaining, even educational (which should be the case coming from National Geographic) program all about me, Crosby and Bristol Bay fishing. There was a third fisherman, Syd, but he was separate from our dynamic in the show, and they did a portion on the fish cops.
The show had mixed reviews from the people in the fishing industry. It seems the majority thought it showed too small of a segment of the fishing styles in Bristol Bay. Boo-hoo, I say. The show was a fascinating little bit, and it captured the attention of anyone who laid eyes on it. The American public most assuredly will be asking for more. And if it works out, I’ll be happy to give it to them.
TO BE CONTINUED…