1 Big Fish crew says county shoot better than expected

By Tim Barnum|News editor
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STANDISH TOWNSHIP — If someone talked to the hosts of 1 Big Fish, there’d be no doubt about it – Arenac County is the place for walleye anglers. So much so, in fact, the crew of the television show says their filming in Arenac County has been the best this season.

Don Sweet, one of the show’s hosts, who resides in Monroe, says the crew is normally on the water shooting footage for eight or nine hours, but he and co-host, Captain Joe Raymer, of Standish Township, were back on dry land in about five hours after shoving off at Eagle Bay Marina.

“Joe had told us ‘We’re not going to be on the water eight or nine hours,’ and we were skeptical,” Sweet said. “We had some significant wave action and some pretty stiff wind, but the fishing was fantastic.

“We’ve never been able to come out and shoot a show in such a short amount of time.”

“We were throwing fish back,” Raymer added.

That’s not to say it was all smooth sailing on Saginaw Bay, as Sweet said there is always challenges, especially when the show has to be edited, which takes place in his Flat Rock studio, to 24 minutes.

“I have 24 minutes to promote Arenac County, I have 24 minutes to entertain, I have 24 minutes to attract people and I have 24 minutes to appease the diehard fisherman,” he said, adding that most of the filming, however, especially in White Hall, the location of the first episode, on the West side of Michigan, throws them a different obstacle, courtesy mother nature. “In early April (when the White Hall filming was done), you usually don’t plan on 10-degree mornings.”

Sweet, whose wife Victoria films the fishing expeditions for the crews’ company Visual Media, says each episode of the upcoming season of 1 Big Fish, the initial season, focuses on one species of fish, with the Arenac County episode shot over the weekend, the fourth installment for the upcoming season, targeted walleye.

“Arenac County has some of the best walleye fishing in the country right now, in the country,” Raymer said.

However, the show isn’t just about the two anglers and their boat in search of monster fish.

“We’ve done some segments on how to cook the fish as well,” Raymer said, adding he has shown ways to prepare fish, as have other chefs.

“We’re trying to promote family getaways as opposed to two guys roughing it. … We try to get just technical enough to satisfy the diehards,” Sweet added. “We’re trying to have a broad appeal.”

This, they say, is to attract people from the metro Detroit area and other urban areas, and whole families rather than just dedicated anglers.

The two television personalities say that in the Arenac County segment, other aspects of the area, such as county events and businesses, will all be highlighted to increase demographic appeal when the show hits the airwaves this fall on channels exclusive to Comcast Cable.

However, Arenac County residents, who are wired with satellite, antenna or Charter Communications for television, won’t be left in the dark when the show does air this fall. Raymer says as soon as it is shown on TV, the episode will be available or free viewing on myoutdoortv.com. A past Visual Media show that had a run for two years, Catfishing America can be viewed on myoutdoortv.com currently.

Although the 1 Big Fish crew and Visual Media was shooting in Arenac County for the first time, implications are that it may not be the last.

“This doesn’t have to be one show in Arenac County,” Raymer said, “There could be more shows.”

Sweet says he met Raymer while instructing a U.S. Coast Guard licensing class for potential charter boat captains and noticed he had something more than just skills at fishing.

“You have to be an educator, you have to be a people person,” Raymer, the owner of Looney Toon Charters, said.

“They’re (captains) all good fishermen,” Sweet said, adding, though, that Raymer has the qualities of being a strong communicator. “Those are the ones that excel.”

Filming was also done on Saturday and Monday for other segments, those not focusing on fishing, but that will be included in the final cut of the program. 1 Big Fish is set to have 13 episodes this season.

See episodes of Visual Media’s past show, Catfishing America here.

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