"In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes,"
pop artist Andy Warhol once said, and my fifteen minutes
of fame was kindly provided to me by Mick Faherty of the
Outdoor Life Network's Fly Fishing America when he
and his crew filmed me and my crew fishing for striped
bass during the fall migration on the northern Massachusetts
coast line. And while the fame has lasted just a tad more
than 15 minutes, the experience will last me a life time.
The actual shooting of the program would have been enough
even if it were never aired. The fishing was good, but the
camaraderie we developed was better, and it served as the
reminder that we all need now and again: fishing is much
more than just catching fish. But a program was produced
for all the world to see (well, at least that portion of
the world that enjoys fly fishing and has cable), and I
looked forward to it with a strange mixture of excitement
and dread. Who knows how we'd look or sound on film? Would
we come off as frauds or, worse, prima donnas? I couldn't
help but feel a bit vulnerable, opening myself up to the
censure of that small but vocal hyper-critical group of fly
fishermen who feel that their way is the only way.
Being about the fall migration of striped bass, I assumed
our show wouldn't be shown until the fall, but I got the word
from Mick that it would air in January. Now the pressure
was on. A local newspaper had gotten wind of the show and
printed a brief article with the schedule, and friends and
neighbors questioned me about the program. My anonymity
was breached; I had hoped to preview the program and assure
that I didn't look the fool before sharing subsequent airing
dates with friends and relatives, but now that wasn't an
So it was with a sigh of relief that I received the following
letter from producer McFaherty:
"It is now 10am. I have 'til 1:30pm to finish your script,
at which time the audio will be put down. I've written and
produced over thirty TV shows at Barrett, and this is my
favorite. You will want to show it to everyone in the
whole world. Which is good, because they are going to
want to see it!"
On the night of the show, fellow 127 shufflers Mike Tolvanen,
Kahn, and I, along with a few other friends, gathered at
Mike's house for a little premiere party. We had pizza
and beer, and then gathered around the tube for the moment
of truth. Our fifteen minutes of fame was at hand.
We all laughed when Mike got "bleeped" for his inappropriate
language (which also earned him a kick in the shin from his
wife, Maryann), and we howled when Cody the dog chased Mike's
fish. Mike earned another kick when he said he would have
fished on his wedding night if he had been married in the
late spring. With each new scene, we reminisced about the
filming and the behind the scenes joking that went on, and
as I looked at Mike and Kahn I noticed they were grinning
from ear to ear. I'm sure I was too.
There were a number of things about the show that stood out,
first and foremost being just how well the program was done.
Mick, soundman Aaron Selmanson, and cameramen Jeff Rhoads
and Steve Theodore are consummate professionals who did an
outstanding job of the actual filming. Then Mick and the
editors at Barrett put what seemed to me at the time to be
a phantasmagoria of fly fishing footage into a coherent
story that captured the excitement of striped bass fishing.
I couldn't have been more impressed.
I noticed that I still have a pretty strong Chicago accent,
even though I thought I had lost my Midwestern twang about
10 years ago. We clearly don't recognize how we sound to
others, because Mike felt exactly the same way about his
New England drawl.
"Do I really sound like that?" I asked the assemblage after
a scene that featured me babbling about writing and dragging
out my 'a's in that mid-western style.
"Yea, you do," they all answered. A scene or two later Mike
was sharing his expertise on striper fishing, eliminating
the sound of 'r' from the spoken language and turning one
syllable words into two syllable words as New Englanders
do, there to they yah for instance.
"Do I really sound like that?" Mike asked.
"Yup," came the reply.
While the filming was fun and the results even better,
none of the shufflers are star struck. We know Speilberg
isn't going to call, and we haven't hired agents. The
audience for these types of programs is small but select,
and the response to the show from fellow fly fishermen in
person, by email, and on various fly fishing bulletin
boards has been nothing but positive and gratifying
and that's been more than enough.
After all, this was never about fame, just fortune.
It is my good fortune to have met Mick and Aaron and
Steve and Jeff and to be able to now count them as
friends. It is my good fortune to know Jim Murphy
of Albright tackle, who gave me a not-yet-on-the-market
XX rod and Tempest reel to use for the shoot (great
outfit, by the way!). It is my good fortune to fish
with two of the best fly fishermen that one could ever
hope to meet, Mike Tolvanen and Richard Kahn. And it
is my good fortune to have access to some of the finest
fishing holes on the East Coast, if not the world.
If I ever lose sight of my good fortune, I need only
to put on the tape of The 127 Shuffle and see the gleam
in my eye so well captured by Mick and crew. Then,
like the striped bass in the spring, it all comes back to me...
(NOTE: Repeats of The 127 Shuffle will air on
the Outdoor Life Network on February 21, 8:30-9:00am;
March 20, 8:30-9:00am; March 24, 10:30-11:00pm; and
March 25, 2:30-3:00am.) ~ Dave
Dave Micus lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts. He is an
avid striped bass fly fisherman, writer and instructor.
He writes a fly fishing column for the Port City Planet
newspaper of Newburyport, MA (home of Plum Island and Joppa Flats)
and teaches a fly fishing course at Boston University.