Filming with Pete
|Tim Mead fights Phelps Lake pike|
during filming for TheNextBite TV show
It all started while having a phone conversation with Pete Maina. Pete is one of the principals at the Versus Channel series TheNextBite. As anglers do, we were telling one another tales about fishing. In the course of conversation, I mentioned fly fishing for pike and that a few years ago I caught a 50-inch plus pike on my 8-weight. Pete said Esox Angler, a magazine Pete helped establish, published an article about fly fishing for pike. “I know,” I answered, “I wrote it.”
And I added that a year or so ago, my son, Craig, and I caught 72 pike over 40-inches, about 60 of them on our fly rods at Phelps Lake in Saskatchewan. Pete said, “Phelps Lake, I’ve heard of that.”
I answered, “Yeah, I did an article for the magazine about Phelps Lake.”
One thing led to another, and I said I would put Pete in contact with Brent Osika, owner of Wolf Bay Lodge on Phelps Lake with a view to doing a fly fishing show for TheNextBite television show. During the months-long negotiations that followed, Jeff Pierce, National Sales Manager for Mustad Hooks, was added to the mix. Jeff is an excellent fly caster and fly-tier – much better at both than I – and a fine companion.
In the back-and-forth between Pete, Jeff and me, Jeff sent a selection of Mustad and Partridge hooks suitable for tying pike flies. He also sent half a dozen flies he tied for the trip. Jeff’s flies were like mine in the sense we both relied on zonker strips – narrow strips of died rabbit fur – as the basis for our flies. On the Esoxhunter.com site there is an article how I tie one variation of the “bunny” flies. Jeff’s flies, unlike mine, have eyes and are barred. Mine are weighted. Jeff’s are not. Both varieties, however, caught monster Phelps Lake pike.
Also in the back-and-forth of e-mail messages, Brent suggested I arrive at Wolf Bay a few days ahead of Pete, Jeff, and the camera man. A suggestion I was eager to accommodate.
Anderson Clipping was my guide the first few days I was at Wolf Bay Lodge on this trip. While I had met Anderson on previous trips, this was my first time with him as my guide. Anderson is a top-notch boat companion and a fine guide. We had a good time together. On our last afternoon, with only a couple of hours to fish, I chided him, “Anderson, the pressure’s on. This is the first day we have not caught at least one over 40-inches on the fly rod.” He acknowledged the truth of my observation, but assured me the day was not over.
We entered a long, narrow bay. As Anderson directed the boat along one side of the bay, I caught several pike. None, however, over 40-inches. Half way into the bay, we saw three 40-inchers, side-by-side. In five casts, I caught all three. Would only have taken three casts had fish not turned slightly as I cast and the fly landed off the mark. Pressure overcome.
Though Pete and I have been in touch frequently over the last decade, we had never met. As Pete made his way from the float plane, I asked how he wanted to film. Did he have specific things he wanted to include, did he want to “story board” the shoot? “Naw,” he answered, “we just go fishing and film what happens. Then we put it together later.” And that’s what we did.
On our first day filming, Pete and Jeff and the camera man were guided by Jason Merasty. Glen Beatty, a guide with whom I’ve fished before, and I tagged along in another boat. On the second day, I was in the camera boat with Pete while Jeff ran shotgun with Glen.
Part of my duty was to give Pete fly casting lessons. We had a good time, jabbing one another verbally. Pete is sufficiently athletic, he could master fly casting were he to commit himself to it. I don’t think he has, but he could.
If you saw TheNextBite show on Versus (and if not you will be able to get a DVD with the show on it from TheNextBite.com), you saw Pete land a monster that I hooked on a fly. While Pete and I were fishing a narrow opening and Jason maneuvered the boat so we could cast, I saw a trophy pike in the shallow water about 20-feet from the boat. I shortened my line to put my fly in front of the fish. She took it. Battle on. And the camera ran.
When I got the fish close to the boat, Pete knelt with the cradle and I slid the fish into it. Success. We wanted, however, a nice “grip and grin” shot for the camera man. While Pete held the cradle, I leaned down to grab the pike. Pete and I both thought I had a good grip. Pete relaxed the cradle just as the big fish – slippery and still strong -- gave a powerful headshake. And she was gone.
The episode gave the voice over on the show an opportunity to chide Pete and me for our failure to display the big fish and provided Pete and me an opportunity to blame the other for releasing the trophy prematurely.
Everything on the show as seen on Versus was just as it happened. There were no “staged” or “made-up” shots, though some make a case that a “grip and grin” – the sort of image where an angler displays a big fish for the camera – is a staged shot. There were hours of unused footage, dozens of big fish caught and released.
Pete Maina turned out to be just as I expected. Easy to get along with, excellent angler (though his fly casting needs work), fun to be around. A good trip and I hope enough folks visit Wolf Bay Lodge as a result to make the entire enterprise worth the effort of Brent Osika and his guides worthwhile.
Last updated on Nov. 24, 2011