Dave Micus, Plum Island Sound

February 20th, 2006

Almost Famous, Part 4
Fame and Fortune
By Dave Micus

"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 option.

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

About 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.

Previous Dave Micus Columns

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