Timing Is Everything

Bad timing can wave a fickle finger, while good timing can swing a mean bat. It was a combination of both that led a fishing guide into the world of television. That fishing guide was me.

The day after poor timing put two different television shows featuring me on ESPN in the same fishing block, I decided to stop at Happy Days Bait and Tackle in Florida City on my way to fish a client in Everglades National Park. As I arrived at the shop, standing next to their boat in the parking lot were two anglers, who, like me, owned a Maverick flats skiff.

As I walked by, one of the anglers, Mike Zimmer, commented on how much he liked my shows the day before. “Thanks, but those weren’t my shows. I was only the guest guide,” I said, as I made a mental note not to run for the shop and let my stalkers know I was afraid of them.

You see, in Florida City, in 1993, there were two kinds of people who approached anglers outside tackle shops: those who wanted your wallet, and those digging for information. I figured it was the latter, as a plan to direct the fishermen to the “Low Tide Run-aground” ran through my mind.

“Have you ever thought about having your own show?” asked Barkey Haddad, the other angler and well-known Key Largo fishing bum, lobbing a pitch every fisherman covets across the plate.

“Sure,” I said. “Everyone dreams of having his own fishing show, but I don’t know anything about television and only a little bit about fishing.” At the time, I was thinking, “The tall, skinny one looks like he plays baseball.”

Mike handed me his card and introduced his fishing partner Barkey Haddad. At the time, Mike was the head photographer/paparazzi/celebrity stalker and manager at NBC’s Miami affiliate.

Two weeks later, at the Miami International Boat Show, I met Barkey and Mike again, this time to talk about expanding their efforts to create a show unique to South Florida. They would name the show, Sportsman’s Adventures, and would play to average anglers in Florida who wanted to learn more about their sport.

Coincidentally, it was the same year Miami’s expansion baseball team, The Florida Marlins, would win the World Series with Mike as Video Operations Manager for WTVJ Miami.

“We hit a home run with our first season, and have been the most popular fishing show on Fox Sports Sun, Florida’s premier television channel ever since,” said Mike. “It just goes to show you can’t live your dreams if you don’t step up to the plate and take a few swings. You never know when you’re going to hit one out of the park.”

         Today, Sportsman’s Adventures airs on Discovery, Pursuit and Fox Sports Sun.