Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Be Very Careful What you Wish For.....      by Flip Pallot

What a wonderful job you have Flip! What a wonderful life! Fishing all the time in exotic destinations around the world.:I wish I could have a job like that! Folks say that to me almost every day...and you know what...Theyre absolutely right! It is a wonderful life and a wonderful job. But as with all things, theres a price. And a job, even a great one, is still a job. I know this because I still fish frequently for fun and its much different than fishing in front of a film camera.
Just about thirty years ago I was involved in my first television fishing film. Stu Apte invited me to join him as a boat captain in Costa Rica to film an episode of the A.B.C. American Sportsman series. Football ledgend, Dick Butkis, was to be the guest on the show and Stu was going to teach Butkis how to catch Pacific Sailfish on light plug casting tackle. I was going to operate the boat. It was a dream come true! It was Costa Rica...It was Dick Butkis...It was the American Sportsman...It was my hero, Stu Apte... it was sailfish...and all I had to do was drive the boat, hang with Dick and Stu and watch the sun go down over a far away ocean!
It was one of the best weeks of my life. My dreams came true and I never had a stressful moment during the entire filming. Stu, on the other hand, was stressed to the point of going Postal. It was his responsibility to insure that I ran the boat correctly, that the camera boat was in the right position, that we found fish and that we could get them on film. He was stressed about the weather and Customs and getting the film back into the States without its being X-Rayed. He was stressed about the connecting flight to San Jose and stressed over whether the editor in New York would have enough material to make a quality film. Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out what had happened to my good fishing buddy Stu. He had always been so convivial. So much fun to be around. Why, all of a sudden, was he consumed with non-fishical things such as overweight baggage, currency exchange and a missing role of film?
Much later in my life I would come to understand Stus preoccupation with these items and to accept the responsibility for making certain that I and the film crew were in the right place at the right time and that fishing opportunities were not missed. Oddly, much of my training for the making of fishing films came from many years of guiding in South Florida and in Montana.
Mostly, I guided folks who had a limited time to accomplish their fishing dream. Often that dream involved a bonefish, tarpon,snook or permit and often the time frame was not much more than a day or two. Some folks were there for the total experience. I really loved guiding them. Others were totally focused upon catching fish. These are the folks who keep guides on the top of their game and are the folks, who in many ways, prepared me for the film business..
In 1989, the idea for the Walkers Cay Chronicles was germinated. At this point, the American Sportsman and the Outdoor Life series had both ended their runs on network television. I had just finished two seasons with a show called The Saltwater Angler on TNT. Pat Smith, who had been the producer of both the American Sportsman and Outdoor Life had spoken with me many times about our doing a series together which would feature wonderful destinations, real anglers, and relationships. The timing seemed right. We brought a group together which formed a production company and we made a pilot film to show to prospective sponsors and networks.

When the pilot was completed, we needed someone to narrate the series. We gave this question a lot of thought. We really didnt want a generic sounding voice and we really didn’t want a regional sounding voice either. After listening to a lot of voices, we decided to try for a popular singer/song writer named Hoyt Axton. Hoyt had done a number of popular commercials and his voice was well known, if not recognized.
Hoyt’s office was in Nashville and was mostly a recording studio. He knew nothing about fishing and had never seen a fishing show but was interested in speaking with us about the narrating gig. Pat and I went to Nashville. My brother Scott joined us...Hoyt was one of his idols.
After introductions were made and a little was said about the film, we began projecting it on a screen in Hoyts office so that he could get a feel for what the show would look like. The opening scene was my skiff, being poled along a mangrove shoreline in the Everglades by good friend John ,Dozer, Donnell. I stood atop a casting platform on the bow of the skiff with a fly rod in hand, ready to cast at  tarpon. I wore a T-shirt and some fairly short, short pants.  Hoyt, who held the remote control, all at once froze the frame and said...”Hey Flip, are those your legs, or are you standing on a chicken?”  We Had our narrator!
Joining the team soon after were Rick Patterson, sound recordist and producer along with Bob Hana, camera man and producer. Rick, Bob and myself were in the field together for almost 16 years, while back in New York, Angelo Bernarducci put it all together in its final form. Poor Stu...If he’d had a team like that he wouldn’t have gray hair today. Being able to share responsibilities in the field allows me to concentrate on the fishing while Rick and Bob concentrated on production. All three of our ideas are reflected in what was generated on location.

Guests on the show were always friends who were excellent anglers and generally had some tie to the location. On of our last shoots, in Florida, the guest was my great friend Bill Bishop. Bill loves to explore and especially loves tarpon, so we made it Bill’s show. We went to a new, secret location and hunted tarpon. All in all a wonderful experience, but it was work for me...‘still worrying about all the things that have to come together to make a show worth watching... BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!!!!!!!


  1. I loved your show!! It was part of my Saturday routine on ESPN outdoors!! That last Show your film Crew stayed in our Condo while you and Bill were next door! Is there anyway to get the last season on DVD? Take care and Tell Bill the Funeral Directors form MI say hello!

  2. Thanks Flip. I really enjoy the stories. Please keep them coming.

  3. Thanks Flip. I really enjoy the stories. Please keep them coming.

  4. Well now....It is a bit more challenging....when you are wading after Tailing Reds in the short sweet Spartina Grass of the Carolina Coast.