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Ontario Fishing Network
Newsletter

www.ontariofishing.net
Volume 6,  Issue 2
February 2006

 

 

Interview with Dave Mercer
"Facts of Fishing"
www.factsoffishing.com


Available March 11th  - Exclusively at Bass Pro Shops

(If you would like to listen to this interview online CLICK HERE)

T.J. Quesnel: Hi there, folks. Welcome to this issue of Today's Catch, where we interview famous fishing people, especially people from Ontario here. On the line today, I got Dave Mercer, the facts of fishing guy, and we got a bunch of questions for Dave today. How are you doing, Dave?

Dave Mercer: Good. I'm doing very good. I have to first of all apologize for my voice. I was down at the Toronto Boat Show all last week, and doing a bunch of seminars, and the family's happy because I'm home now and I'm not talking too much because I got a pretty sore throat.

T.J. Quesnel: Okay. So here, I got some questions from users off my message board here, so I'm just gonna read them out to you and you can just let me know what your thoughts are.

Dave Mercer: Okay.

T.J. Quesnel: First question is: There have been recent stirrings in the animal rights front indicating they're planning to launch big anti-fishing campaigns and many other activities very soon. What do you think anglers should do to protect fishing?

Dave Mercer: I think the most important thing is what a lot of us are doing. And what a lot of people that go to your web site, we're not the ones that aren't doing anything. But one of the most important things is to be out there and tell people you fish. Be proud of what you do. Far too many times have I run into kids when I'm doing seminars and stuff and the only place they've fished is on a Sony Playstation. Take your kids fishing, and be proud of it. Don't hide the fact that you fish.

One of the most amazing things that I've seen happen over the last year right here in Ontario is when Bass Pro Shops came. Now all of a sudden, especially in the hunting end of things, not so much - definitely in the fishing end, but especially in the hunting end, now of a sudden, every second week you have a flyer that goes in Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun, with a bunch of guns on it. So what it's doing is, it's putting fishing, hunting and outdoor heritage, which we all enjoy and love, to the forefront.

So, everybody can do their part, whether it be doing fishing tips on TV, running a web site like yourself does, or just telling people about it. The OFAH has a great organization with the Get Outdoors, the kids club, which I do a lot of work with. Volunteer a little bit of time. Teach people about fishing. I don't think you have to wage a war against groups like PETA or anything like that, because if people love fishing, then they're just gonna laugh off what they do, and until this day, all the fishing that I've done, I spend about 200 to 225 days a year on the water, and then I do all the seminars and stuff like that.

I have never seen a kid grab a rod, catch a fish and say this isn't any fun. So if you do your part to instill the sport into people and get them to love it, I think that the sport will protect itself.

T.J. Quesnel: That's interesting, yeah. It kind of leads us into my next question: How do you think fishing organizations can get more people involved?

Dave Mercer: One of the biggest problems, and I guess I'm sort of - it's funny, there's a new channel coming out, a new fishing channel coming out, the World Fishing Network. And we had - I had a meeting with them, because we're actually, and I'll break this news to you, because they haven't even sent out the press release. I hope I don't get into trouble for this, but we've actually signed a marketing partnership where myself, and also before me, they signed a marketing partnership with the Izumi group, they're gonna be promoting that channel and sort of the face of that channel.

And they've got a lot of neat fishing shows on there. But one of the ways they've referred to me, they said Bob Izumi is the icon in Canadian fishing, and anyone that tells you he isn't, in my opinion, is just jealous. He's the guy that's been around for a long time, and if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have my job. And they referred to me as, I don't know if this is a compliment or an insult, because I'm sort of the irreverent one.

And I just sort of have fun with it, and I think that's one of the most important things, and I think that's one of the reasons that a lot of kids appeal with the Facts of Fishing is because we just have fun with it. And for far too long, people have catered to fishing as an older person's sport. And you know what? Yeah, there is a lot of people over 40 that fish, and I'm not saying that's old, because it won't be too long until I'm there. But people always market it that way.

And let me give you an example. And this is something I use all the time. About 20 years ago, baseball decided we were gonna make ourselves look like the great American tradition. And we don't need to sell our sport because we are America's game. At that same time, the NBA said you know what? We're gonna shoot shirts in the crowd. We're gonna make it loud. We're gonna embrace the youth of today.

Today, NBA games get way more attendance than baseball games, because they appeal to the younger generation. And I don't think that there's enough things happening out there to appeal to the younger generation. One of the things that we're doing now is that we just started - it'll launch in May with the Discovery Kids. We got a brand new series starting called Facts of Fishing for Kids. And it's gonna appeal straight to kids. What I love to see people doing is get out and have events for kids.

One of the greatest things at some of the boat shows and stuff like that, is somebody else who does a fishing show, Leo Stakos from Fishing TV. I mean, people - what he does at the Sportsmen shows and the Boat show with that kids pond is great. The Violas, they did a thing a few years ago where they did the tour of Walmart stores. That's great. What Bass Pro Shops is doing just by having a 24,000 gallon aquarium is great.

But basically introduce the sport to people, and the fishing organizations, have events that actually put the rods in kids hands, because if you keep catering to - I mean, it's the same message I said last time. If you keep catering to just telling people about it, you have to actually get people to do it, because - I mean, how many kids would enjoy playing baseball if they just watched it? They enjoy it because when they hit that ball, it's fun.

So fishing organizations, what I would say, is just get out there and get kids fishing. If it means a derby from the shore or whatever, just get kids fishing.

T.J. Quesnel: Interesting. Yeah, I know -

Dave Mercer: It's a long-winded answer. I feel bad for the person that has to type all this up.

T.J. Quesnel: Oh, no worries. That's alright. We try to be a little bit irreverent here, too. That's the one thing that, when we do our videos and our little clips is we decided that there's lots of people doing very big fishing professional videos going out there and catching big fish. You very rarely see people going out there and catching no fish or little fish, and that's - a lot of times, that's what fishing is all about.

We had to teach our kids that you go out and catch a couple of sunfish or a couple little bass, that's okay. It's just not a good day. You cant clean up every day, that's for sure. And I think that's important that the kids know that.

Dave Mercer: Yeah, well especially the tournament series this year that I fished in. With the season I had, I learned long and hard this year. This is my first year back in tournaments after a couple of year hiatus, and I just really didn't focus in and fish the way I should have fished. Started off the season and had a few okay finishes, and then it just fell apart. But you know what? It doesn't matter who you are. Fishing - the one thing I love about the sport of fishing, is you never stop learning.

Every single day I'm on the water, there is never a fish - you never have an occurrence with a fish that you can't learn from. If you have a five-pound bass at your lure, and you lose it, a lot of guys would say, wow, that was - that'll get them depressed. But to me, I think of that as, well at least I made that five-pounder hit. Now maybe I didn't execute, or I didn't do the right thing, but you always should be learning from fishing, and it's pretty disheartening some days, and it was for me this season, but we're gonna turn things around next year.

T.J. Quesnel: Alright. I wanna talk about fishing shows a little bit here. I got lots of - of course, everybody's big dream in life is to be the host of a fishing show, it seems. So I got a couple of things. I got some very interesting questions. Where do you see the future of fishing TV going?

Dave Mercer: I think it's very good, and I think it's - we've have some stagnant things over the last few years. I don't wanna ruffle anyone's feather or upset anyone, but there's been some shows out there, in my opinion, that really haven't been up to par. I don't think I'm letting anything out here. I've been to your web site a million times, and I've heard a lot of different comments on different shows.

But I think that things are gonna be back on track in a lot of ways. Number one: the first reason - the first problem with our fishing shows have been, we haven't really had a network in Canada that has supported fishing shows. I mean, I'm on a bunch of different channels, but really to embrace fishing. OLN or any of those channels have never really put a set block and promoted it and had something for us, the anglers. And there's six to eight million anglers in Canada.

You think we'd be taken serious. But for some reason, we're not. But finally, with the World Fishing Network coming to Canada here, I think it's a huge opportunity for us to have our own channel. They're doing some really unique things. Right now, the number one complaint we hear about the World Fishing Network is people are saying well, a lot of the programming is old. Well, give them a chance. They just started. I know they have a lot of plans for some original programming.

Some stuff that is uniquely Canadian, and I think that that is the next swing. Now, the other thing that I do think is happening is back to the youth thing. People have to start appealing to the youth. There's a lot of great shows out there right now, but there's not too many of them that cater to the youth. If you look at what's happening with ESPN and Outdoors and all of the organizations in the States, what are kids appealed by? They're appealed by fast boats and fun stuff like that.

So the competitive end of fishing is definitely going to - they're gonna take a race, and I think there's a lot of great shows. It's a real changing of the guard I'm seeing. Within the next ten years, there's gonna be an awful lot of people who have been around for a long time that won't be doing fishing shows anymore. Everybody retires at some point. And there's an awful lot of young, new shows that have just started in, let's say, the last five years, that I think are gaining some steam or momentum, and will really change things.

One of the shows that I know a lot of people on the web site watch all the time is Shaun Rickard's show. I mean, I think he's doing some great things with video and teaching people and that's always what the Facts of Fishing has been about. It's not an - a lot of people say, why don't you do a half hour show with this sort of stuff? The reason that we do a one-minute tip, and let me explain this to you, is because we can appeal to more people than any half-hour show ever.

The average half-hour show gets about 100 to 140,000 people watching. We on average, our weekly average viewership is over a million people, and the reason for that is because we air during things like the Daytona 500, like a bunch of NASCAR races. We air during the Tour De France. We air during NHL Hockey. By doing that, we're hopefully taking the angler who doesn't watch fishing shows, exposing the sport of fishing, and hopefully they pick up a rod and take advantage of it. So, I think there's a really bright future for fishing shows, and I hope so. I've staked my livelihood on it.

T.J. Quesnel: Well, that's good. Yeah, I'll be honest with you. I don't watch a lot of fishing shows, and I didn't when I grew up, just because we only had two channels when I grew up. So I didn't get to see a lot of fishing on TV. Most of my fishing was done on the boat. I got a few personal question for you, Dave. Mainly, stuff like what book and author is on your must read list, and why do you think it would be a good book to read?

Dave Mercer: Well, you know what? I'm - there's not very many books that really - I'm not a big reader. I read a lot of fishing magazines. That's one thing I'll tell you. I am a fish goon. People think that if you do it for a living, you're exposed to it, and you don't - you're not a fish goon. I subscribe to every single fishing magazine, every video out there I've seen. You name it. But one book that I just did read actually was a book by a U.S. pro, Mike Iaconelli, who is the irreverent one in the States.

And he has a book called Fishing on the Edge, and it's really unique. He gives sort of an inside look into the touring pros in the States and the commitment that it takes to be a professional fisherman, because people think hey, I wanna be a pro angler. I wanna host a TV show. And one of the things that I heard from somebody at the boat show a couple of weeks, last week, was somebody said, "Oh, wow. You've done really well the last few years, and it happened really quick for you."

And I said, "Well, you know what? I just found out that I've been doing this for ten years full-time now." So it does take a long time and a lot of commitment to get to where you wanna get. And that book gives some good insight to it. So if you're looking for a fishing-related read, that would definitely be it.

T.J. Quesnel: Super. Okay, I got - so, we'll continue on this train of thought then. When did you feel it was time to become pro and to go into this full-time? How did you go about it?

Dave Mercer: It was pretty much honestly the only choice in my life, actually. There's two things that I've really ever felt at peace and felt like I was meant to do. And promise you won't laugh when I tell you the first thing. That was cross-country ski. Believe it or not, when I was a teenager, I was -

T.J. Quesnel: Okay, just a minute. I'm gonna cut you off there. You're fairly portly like I am.

Dave Mercer: Well, you know, things change. It's funny, actually. I was somewhat of an Olympic hopeful for cross-country skiing up until the age when it was 16. And a lot of things changed in my life. Actually, my father passed away, and I just totally changed as a person, and I got away from skiing. It didn't bring me happiness anymore. But the thing that, from the time I was a child, that I've always loved to do is fish. And there was never any question in my mind what I was going to do.

And that's always been to fish. And I didn't know that I was going to host a series of tips, or that I was gonna do seminars or anything. I just knew that this was what I was gonna do. And it doesn't matter - it didn't matter how I was gonna do it. I was just going to do this. So, I don't think there was ever a question in my mind what I was gonna do. I guess if you have to pick an age that I decided, the first time I actually told somebody that I was gonna be a professional fisherman, I think I was about 12 or 13 years old.

I remember - funny story, I remember telling my guidance counselor in the high school I went to. You go in and you see your guidance counselor, and they wanna give you direction for what your job is going to be. So my guidance counselor asked me what I was gonna do, and I said, "Well, I'm gonna be a professional fisherman." And he said, "Oh, like out on the East Coast or something?" And I said, "No. Not like that. I'm gonna fish in freshwater and teach people how to fish, and I'm gonna do this. I just wanna go fishing."

And he sort of laughed at me, but you know, it was pretty funny. A few years ago, I got a call from that same high school, and they asked me to come speak at their reunion. And so, I sort of got the last laugh on that guidance counselor. But I think it's just never been a question for me. It's just always what I wanted to do.

T.J. Quesnel: Well, that's cool. Yeah, it's - I - from being up North here, we never thought of fishing as anything you can do professionally. And I'm certainly still an amateur. There's no doubt about that. I got a user that would like to know who your fishing idol was growing up.

Dave Mercer: Oh, my fishing idol. Bob Izumi. If I had to pick one, Bob Izumi, and it was a big honor for me, last year, we shot a show together. And I actually got to - I fished against Bob for years in tournaments. But we actually got to shoot a show together. So, it was a big honor. If I had to pick somebody else other that that, on the American side, it would definitely be Al Linder. And the reason is, I just think Al is - and I got to meet Al, and spend a bit of time with Al, luckily enough.

And Al is very much like me. And the one thing - so is Bob. The one thing about Al and Bob that I'll tell you, and the one reason that really sets them aside is they love fishing. They're nonstop about fishing. There's some people, believe it or not, that have fishing shows that don't even fish anymore, or have drawn away from it. But those guys, they love fishing. And I'm the same. If I were ever to stop, if the Facts of Fishing all ended tomorrow, I would be fishing somewhere, whether it be go being a guide up North, or whatever.

And their passion for the sport just blows me away. They're two people that, when they stop - Al sold his company In-fisherman years ago. So money was no option. But now he's got a fishing show. Why do you think that is? Just because he loves his job, and hopefully, as time goes on, people will learn that I'm sort of the same person. I love fishing, and it doesn't matter what I'm fishing for: Bass, Pike, Muskie, Walleye, Trout, Blue Gill, Carp, you name it.

I just love fishing, and talking about it, and I'm obsessed. As we're talking right now, I'm watching on my laptop, my screen saver is a bunch of different pictures of fish. I'm pretty obsessed with fish.

T.J. Quesnel: Yeah, I know. Being up North here, our fishing season's a little bit shorter than everybody else's. I know that, by mid-April, I'm waiting for the ice to come off so that we can go look for some trout until the opening weekend. I hear you. I feel very fortunate that what we do for a living has allowed me to do some really cool fishing stuff.

But like you said, you gotta remember that the future of this sport is with the common guy, and that's one of the reasons why Shaun Rickard does well is that he's showing people where to fish in the GTA area, which is, to be honest with you, are where the majority of fisherman in Ontario are, population-wise.

Dave Mercer: And let's face it, there's a lot of people who live in Toronto, people that have newly-immigrated here and stuff, that aren't exposed to fishing. And it's pretty daunting. Where do you go? We get e-mails at my web site all the time, where's a good spot to fish here? Where's a good spot to fish there? People don't know. And I was very lucky. My dad taught me how to fish. My dad showed me how to fish. And that's the reason I fish today.

But unfortunately, some kids are out there without dads, and how do they learn? Hopefully shows like Sean's and different people's shows and different people's web sites like yourself and chat zones like yourself - I hear people swapping fishing spots all the time on your web site. That's all good. It helps people get out there and start catching them.

T.J. Quesnel: So Dave, can you tell me a bit more about your Casting for a Cure program? I know that this is something relatively new that you're trying, and it's near and dear to your heart.

Dave Mercer: Yeah, it definitely is near and dear to my heart, and I'll tell you real quickly the history. My mother unfortunately passed away a year and a half ago, and me and my mom were best friends. When she was sick, her goal was to get better and start a charity and not go back to work. She said, "I'm gonna raise money for cancer." Because she was so impressed with the treatment she was receiving from the Canadian Cancer Society, and everyone involved over there.

So we got talking, and we have this - well, I got this whole fishing thing, and maybe we can tie it in together, Casting for a Cure. And she was pretty excited about that. Well, unfortunately, she did pass away from the disease, and she never got to reach that goal. So this is something that I wanted to do. Casting for a Cure is really simple. It's not different then the Terry Fox Run, or any other charity. You participate in an event, and you raise money for a good cause.

We've decided to focus on the competitive fishing community, just because it's the easiest one to gauge. We don't wanna exclude anyone from any other fishing community, because we've made ways for them to become donors, and they don't have to be fishing in the events. But basically, you go out, you fish, you weigh in your fish, you collect pledges, and at the end of the year, we tally up your winnings. We have different pledge levels from as little as 50 cents per pound to as much as five dollars per pound.

We ask all the Casting for a Cure anglers to set a guesstimated goal, so if they're fishing four tournaments, and they believe that they'll weigh in 20 pounds a tournament, that would give them 80 pounds for the total year. You can pledge anywhere from 50 cents right up to five dollars. So there's a level for everybody. So basically, we ask our anglers to estimate what they're gonna weigh in for the year, set their goals, and let the people know so they can work out whether they wanna do 50 cents a pound, a dollar a pound, two dollars a pound, or five dollars a pound.

So there's sort of a level for everybody. Donations are totally tax-deductible. We've partnered with Canadian Cancer Society. So you can write everything off. And our goal, as lofty as it may be, is to raise $100,000 this year. And when you think about it, we have about 60 anglers that have registered so far. When you think about it, if we can get another 40 anglers to register, that's 100 anglers. That means each angler only has to raise $1,000.

Which seems like a lot, but I think, with hard work, we can raise $100,000 in our first year. We're also doing a Casting for the Cure Angler of the year. It's the angler that weighs in the most cumulative weight for the whole year, will be our Casting for the Cure Angler of the year. And we have had huge support for this. We've had anglers from the PWT, Canada's foremost PWT fisherman, John Butts. We've had him enter as a Casting for the Cure angler.

He won a PWT event last year, and he's gonna be out there fishing again this year representing Casting for the Cure. We have anglers who are fishing Bass Master tournaments around the States. We have anglers who are fishing the Everstart circuit in the States. We have anglers who are fishing the Canadian Fishing Tour who are fishing Bass, many who are fishing everything. The Toony Tournament trail, we've even talked to the folks from there about getting involved. And so it's well on it's way, and I'm amazed at the response.

T.J. Quesnel: Personally, I think it's a great idea. I don't think there's a fisherman out there that hasn't been touched by cancer. I know our family certainly has, and I think it's a wonderful thing you're doing.

Dave Mercer: Mmm hmm. Well, hopefully it makes us all look good.

T.J. Quesnel: Okay, we're gonna get into some real fisherman's questions here now. We're gonna talk about some things here. The first question in the fishing section here is: The spread of Zebra Mussels has changed fishing forever. In what way do you think it's made fishing better? And what way do you think it's made fishing worse?

Dave Mercer: It has made fishing better if you're willing to adapt. As far as making it - for some type of fishers - and the jury's still out on all these things, Zebra Mussels and Gobies and stuff like that. As far as the Bass end, smallmouth bass fishing has never been better in the history of this country. I honestly believe that. We're catching giant fish. You look at a fishery like Lake Simcoe, there's multiple sevens that are caught there in a year. It's just - it's crazy.

And part of that reason is because of Zebra Mussels. They cleared up the water. They made it more of a hospitable environment for the bass. The negative thing is, things change. I heard a lot of people that said, you know, I fished this same spot for the last ten years, and all of a sudden, I'm not catching any fish. Well, fish have changed. Fish are - the water's clear, so a lot of the fish have moved a little bit deeper. A lot of the fish have started to relate to a little different structure.

Things that have really have helped combat the Zebra Mussel thing is things like Fluorocarbon lines, things like that, because they're more abrasive-resistant, they're more invisible in the water. So, things have cleared up so fish aren't sitting quite as shallow as they have in years previous. But it's just an adapting thing, and it'll be interesting to see how Zebra Mussels affect things in the future. But right now, I haven't seen a huge negative effect so far, especially on the bass fishery.

T.J. Quesnel: Alright, okay. This brings me to my next question: How do you cope fishing lakes that are so full of floating weeds that they're like a bathtub full of spaghetti? And before you answer that, I just wanna interject. I watched your first DVD, and I think the most amazing part of that whole video, because I had never seen it done before, was when you were fishing on top of the weeds with that rat.

That was hilarious. I don't get to do a lot of bass fishing up here, but I just thought that was unbelievable. I'm definitely gonna get out and try that, because it looked like a lot of fun.

Dave Mercer: There's nothing more exciting, I honestly believe, then rat fishing. It's so exciting, and we're getting ready for our third DVD. Our second DVD's coming out shortly. But our third DVD, and we're gonna have rat attack two. We're gonna go back rat fishing. I got a little something up my sleeve for that one. So, I won't tell you what that is, but it's gonna be pretty cool.

But T.J., we're gonna get you rat fishing this summer. I'll get you out. But I'm pretty experienced at doing that, because I grew up on Lake Scugog, and Lake Scugog, for any of those who you know it. I know a lot of you do. It's just a big mud hole with lots of floating vegetation. So, the number one problem that people have, when they see all those weeds, and you hear it all the time. You hear people say, ooh, it's too weedy here. You know, that's the worst thing you can do, because fish live in weeds.

I say it in all my seminars. If you're not fishing near the weeds, people go out in a lake and they fish out way in the middle. Fish spend very little time right out in the middle of a lake. Unless you're talking about a salmon or some walleye in Lake Erie or something, and it's following the bait fish. Fish relate to structure, and that structure's weed. That structure's stump. That structure's drop-off. Anything that's different. So, there's a lot of fish, especially bass in those thick weeds.

Get right in them and fish them. The rat is an easy way to go over the surface. But another thing we did in that video was, we used really heavy worms, and got through it. You wouldn't believe the amount of fish you catch in that thick stuff. But the biggest mistake anglers make is they just throw to the edge of it, or something like that. Think of a fish like you, okay? You imagine, if somebody - if you're not really in an active mood, and there's food way over in the other room, are you gonna run over and get it?

But if somebody puts it right in front of you, you're gonna grab it, right? I mean, it's just like when there's a bowl of chips at a party or something, and it's sitting on a table, you might not grab it. But if somebody puts that bowl in front of you, you always grab a handful. So you have to go in after those fish. You have to put that bait right in front of them, right under their nose, and how you do that is, you just go in there combat-style and get in those weeds and muck it up.

T.J. Quesnel: Oh, wow. Like you said, I usually don't do that. I usually cast to the edge of the weeds, and if there's nothing there, we move on. What's your favorite body of water to fish?

Dave Mercer: The next one I'm gonna be on, I guess. There's - I don't know if I have a favorite. I love fishing Scugog, because it's my home lake. It's a pretty frustrating lake sometimes. Simcoe's a great lake. It has phenomenal smallmouth fishing. Pretty tough to beat Lake St. Claire. Just a phenomenal fishery for everything. I've had tournaments there where I caught 60 to 100 bass in a day. The Muskie fishing speaks for itself.

It's just a phenomenal fishery, that whole St. Claire, Erie area. So, I don't really have a particular favorite that, if I could fish one lake. Rideau Ferry up in Ottawa is just awesome. We're going up there for a tournament this year. So it's a phenomenal largemouth fishery. But I just love fishing. That's the truth, when I say whatever the next lake I fish on, whether it be good or bad, you could always learn something. I don't have one favorite, I guess.

T.J. Quesnel: Okay, what - here's a question I get a lot, because we do get a lot of beginners on our web site that are looking for the proper equipment to use. And, I guess my next user wants to know, what would be a good rod/reel/lure and line combination for a person just wanting to get started into fishing for bass. Either shore or boat fishing, doesn't matter. But something that's a good all-around rod and reel.

Dave Mercer: Okay. The neat thing, actually, that we're doing with Bass Pro Shops right now, is come the Spring Classic, which starts March 11th to the 19th, they should have a line of Shimano rods out that we've picked seven models that I've approved, basically. And these are the seven different rods and reels that I think fit into everybody. So there is a six six model. You wanna get a six six, a medium, medium-heavy rod.

And we can show you those. You come in the store, and they're gonna have them all in display and stuff like that. Find something that fits in your price range. But if you're gonna pick a length of rod, it's a six six, and I'd go with the medium-heavy, because if your rod's too light, you're gonna miss fish. But if your rod's too heavy, you can always loosen your drag and stuff like that. So go with a medium to a medium-heavy spinning reel. Something - Shimana spinning reel that fits into your price bracket.

As far as line, I would probably go with a braided line, just because Zebra Mussels and things like that - I'm picking this, if you could only pick one line, I'm gonna pick a braided line. A Stren super-braid or something like that. I think they have a 14 pound test, which is the thickness of six pound. So you can get a nice, supple light line. And for a lure, if I had to only pick one lure, if you had asked me two years ago, it would probably be a tube jig, because you can just catch anything that swims on that.

But the one lure that I would say, if I had to pick one particular lure right now, it would definitely be one of those gulp-sinking minnows. I cannot believe the amount of fish that you can catch in those. And I've had opportunities where I've taken sponsors who don't fish much out, and you don't have to do anything with that. You cast that bait out there, it sinks. And I've caught pretty much everything that swims on it.

If you're fishing from shore, you can catch small pan fish on it. You can catch bass on it. You can catch pike on it. You can catch just about anything on that bait, and the key to it is it's so simple to fish. If you can cast it out, let it sink. The only mistake you can make with that lure is just using it, working it too much. Let it sink all the way to the bottom. If you don't have a hit, pop it up and let it sink again. And you'll catch fish.

T.J. Quesnel: Interesting. Yeah, and I looked at a bit of the gulp stuff. I don't use a lot of plastics, but that stuff sure does look good. Okay, I know you like to brag. Every fisherman likes to brag.

Dave Mercer: No, not me.

T.J. Quesnel: Oh yeah. I do. I don't catch enough big stuff to brag about. So when I do catch one, I love to brag. So I'm gonna give you a shot here. Apparently, sometime recently, you caught a world record fish. Is that correct?

Dave Mercer: I did. I did. It's big. It's even bigger and uglier that I was. It's called a Tambaqui. It's a member of the piranha family. It's not gonna be - I know, it sounds pretty cool, because it's a member of the piranha family, right? But when you learn about it, it's a vegetarian piranha. So it's not quite as cool as you think it is. But actually, it was 31 pounds.

The previous record was 20 pounds, and we're right now in the process, and we have been for a while, with the IGFA trying to get it approved. The problem is, I don't know if it will ever be approved. And at this point, to be totally honest, it's not a huge concern of mine, and I'll explain to you why. You can release a fish, but we had the fish, and we waited on the IGFA-approved boater grip. We were down at Saranda resort in Venezuela, and we weighted the fish, and it was official weight and everything.

Their one bone of contention, they're saying yes, they've already told me yes, we know you beat the record. The previous record was 20 pounds. So even in the picture, you can tell the huge different between the fish. It's 11 pounds difference. Their one bone of contention is, we did not take the fish to shore to weigh it. But I had a choice: bring the fish to shore and it's probably gonna die for sure. Weigh the fish on the water, and we can release it, and it's still swimming around there today. So we decided to release it.

If it had brought it to shore, it would have killed the fish for sure. And I decided to release it. So, that may be the one hiccup in getting my name officially in the book. But the IGFA has already approved it. It is definitely an unofficial record. The only thing holding us off is the weighing it on the water thing. But we're still arguing with them. So we'll see what happens.

T.J. Quesnel: Well, like you said, you know you caught it, and that's all that really counts, you know?

Dave Mercer: You know, the cool thing is, it was all on video - you've seen it, obviously, because it was on the DVD. But to catch it all on video and everything, it's probably the flukiest thing I've ever done in my life. Number one, to go to South America and be lucky enough to be able to catch the world record. But not only catch the world record, but catch it while the cameras are rolling.

And actually, to make it even flukier, my guest that day was one of my top sponsors, the Vice President of Shimano Canada, Tom Brook. So, I impressed the sponsor, I got it on video, and I got the world record. So, there was a little celebrating that night.

T.J. Quesnel: I was gonna say, that's like winning the lottery. I know when we do fishing clips, a lot of people think it's pretty easy. But I'll tell you, to get it to all come together at the same time, sometimes it is, it's just luck.

Dave Mercer: Yeah. There's so much involved. And, to be totally honest, when I started, I was pretty na´ve. I just went out and did whatever. But to get everything to work right: the weather - and then there's camera problems that sometimes you deal with. We've been out, and we've had some phenomenal footage, and we get back, and we find out that there was a problem with it or something. So, we're pretty lucky that that all worked out. But I rather be lucky than good any day.

T.J. Quesnel: Alright. Well, I'm gonna give you one last chance to plug your new DVD. So tell me more about your new DVD and the next one coming out after that. They seem to be pretty popular. I know I really enjoyed the first one.

Dave Mercer: Well, you know what? That's another thing that really blew us away. Putting the DVD together for me was a - it was sort of a dream, because I've done the Facts of Fishing for a long time. We started doing the Facts of Fishing on the new VR. We were on once a week, and now we're on over 400 times a week. Sometimes up to 500 times a week on six different channels throughout the country. But I still wanted to share that whole fishing experience with people.

The one minute tip is a cool, helpful thing, I think, and we've been very lucky that it's done well. But I wanted to take people fishing and show them things. And so, that DVD allowed that. And one thing that blew me away is, we're officially the number one selling fishing DVD in Bass Pro Shops, company-wide. And that's due to the people that went out and bought it. We sold more DVD's out of one store than some DVD's were sold out of 35 stores.

So we outsold every fishing DVD last year, and I'm hoping we can continue that up. So our next DVD comes out March 11th. March 11th to the 12th, I'll actually be at Bass Pro Shops promoting the DVD, and then I'll also be there the following weekend. So from March 11th to the 19th, that's the Spring Fishing Classic. That's gonna be huge. It's gonna be an awesome thing. Lots of seminars. Lots of things going on. And lots of deals.

March 17th, they have their midnight madness sale. If you weren't there last year, you gotta check that out. It's nuts. They bring big crates of things like tackle boxes and they're like okay, these tackle boxes are four bucks for the next ten minutes. And you watch people run around the store. So it's pretty cool.

T.J. Quesnel: You shouldn't be saying stuff like that.

Dave Mercer: It's pretty wild. It's pretty amazing. And I hope to see you there. But they - so, our next DVD is out on the 11th. We got a ton of great pike footage on there. We have some walleye footage on there. We have some smallmouth footage on there, and we actually have a special guest on this DVD, and I'm releasing this here. Nobody else knows about this until now. We actually have Kevin Van Dam, the Bassmaster Classic champion, has done a segment in partnership with Strike King for the DVD.

So we'll actually have Kevin Van Dam, probably the world's greatest bass fisherman on the DVD, as well as the world's biggest loudmouth, I guess, me. So, it's gonna be great. And we're already in planning stages for Volume number three, and I'd like to thank everyone for supporting it, and hopefully you support it again this year, and let Bass Pro Shops know what you think about it, because we just wanna make a better one every year, and we'd like to make it a tradition that hopefully, ten years from now, T.J., you got ten of them sitting on your shelf.

T.J. Quesnel: Well, that would be pretty good. Alright, Dave, well, I really wanna thank you for letting us talk to you today. You've been very informative, if not, a little long-winded, that's for sure. But that's alright. Nothing like talking lots, that's for sure. We both have a knack for that, I think.

Dave Mercer: Yeah, no kidding.

T.J. Quesnel: But, if anybody wants to visit Dave on the Web, his web site address is www.factsoffishing.com. There's tons of stuff there, I know. I know you did a photo contest for Fuji, was it?

Dave Mercer: Yes, for Fuji. We did that.

T.J. Quesnel: I know a lot of our members entered into that.

Dave Mercer: Yeah, it was cool. That was actually $20,000 first place prize. And the winner - I don't have the winner's name in front of me, but they're coming to Plumber's Lodge with me. So we'll be doing that again. We have a bunch of other contests on there, and so there's always something on there. When you're not on the greatest web site, which is yours, and you have a little time to kill, come on over to ours.

T.J. Quesnel: Well, that's fantastic. Hey, thanks, Dave. I really appreciate it. And you have a great day, sir.

Dave Mercer: Thank you. Hope to see everyone on the water.

T.J. Quesnel: Alright.

Dave Mercer: Bye bye.

 

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