Editor’s note: This interview is part of a series with Outdoor Hub’s featured video partners. Click here to read our interview with survival expert Dave Canterbury, and click here to read our interview with Addictive Fishing‘s Kevin McCabe.
Outdoor Hub is pleased to sit down with one of the stars of Wild Fish Wild Places and The Birdmen, Denis Isbister. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Denis is an avid sportsman and eager to introduce the next generation to the great outdoors. He also professes a love of traveling and experiencing new cultures, which enhances his pursuit of the sport and also provides countless memories. Denis co-hosts with fellow angler Alan Broderick on Wild Fish Wild Places to explore not only strange and exotic fish–like their upcoming hunt for the canidiru vampire fish–but also the history and legends of the people who keep the heritage alive.
Outdoor Hub: What made you want to start Wild Fish Wild Places?
Denis: Well, I met Alan while fishing up in northern Saskatchewan. He had done some work in front of the camera for the Discovery Channel and the BBC and I had done some work in outdoor industry as well. That’s when we came up for the idea for Wild Fish Wild Places as far as a crazy travel, multi-species show. We thought we could bring something new compared to fishing shows that were already on. We went to Ireland in our first season and got absolutely crushed by weather. We had to really struggle. It was a combination of tough weather and tough fish–we had 30 mph winds blowing us around. It was great! (Denis is currently headed to Ireland again for round two.)
You have traveled extensively, where would you say provides the best fishing experience?
The coolest place we’ve been, and possibly our wildest adventure on the show, is definitely the Amazon. On our trip to the Amazon rainforest we dealt with piranha, which let me tell you, are crazy fish. We had the privilege to visit some remote villages. The people we met there is part of what made this experience so unique.
Part of the show is about exploring different cultures and places. What has traveling internationally taught you?
Traveling to other countries you really learn to appreciate what you have here in America.
What in your experience was the most difficult fish to land?
By toughest catch, I would definitely say the Golden Dorado. The sheer toughness of the fish is staggering. One of the best-fighting freshwater fish I’ve ever come across. It happened in Uruguay on the border of Argentina. I was up against this giant hydroelectric dam. The water started boiling out towards of the place, honestly it was kind of a dangerous place to fish.
I would love to go back though. The country is just so wild and so remote. It’s beautiful.
What are your goals for television and your online presence on YouTube?
My goals are to expand our fan base, expand our reach but still have a presence on television. We want to get people excited about our projects, so we’re starting a video blog so our viewers can check in and see what Wild Fish Wild Places is doing. We’re going to make our shows a little more tense, hold on to people’s attention–a little bit more raw.
What’s next for you?
I have an upcoming trip to Columbia, heading down there to chase payara, the vampire fish. We’ll be near the Venezuelan border so it’ll be really remote and really wild. It’s exactly what we want for a wild fish show to be. We have a big season ahead of us.
If you didn’t have to film a show, what would you be doing?
Well if I wasn’t filming for the show I would be probably be fishing up in Canada in Lake Athabasca–doing a little bit of fly fishing, getting after some rainbows. It’s really lovely up there and I have some local connections. My favorite fish personally would have to be the lake trout.
What makes the Dorado so hard to catch is because of how far you’d have to go to get one, but lake trout are everywhere. You can pretty much catch one with your hands.
Getting there is half the journey right?
Oh definitely. That’s what makes Wild Fish Wild Places so different. It’s about the adventure and the traveling, in addition to the fishing.
On your other show, The Birdmen, you focus on passing down the tradition of hunting to “future fowlers.” What made you want to motivate young hunters and teach them the sport?
That’s the whole premise of The Birdmen and the whole reason I started it. It’s kind of a long story. A friend of mine had a son who has rheumatoid arthritis and he couldn’t walk. Whenever he wanted to go somewhere someone who have to take him. My friend was like, “Hey, could you take him out hunting?” He was 11 years old and I took him out there, physically carried him to the field. It was such a fulfilling time in my life, and other people began asking me if I could do the same for their kids. Now, waterfowl hunting is a lot about the gear that you bring along with you, like decoys and calls, and the kids started really getting into it. I’ve always tried to motivate children to get outdoors and get excited while they’re at it. I want them to have those experiences as they grow up.
We’d like to extend our thanks to Denis for taking time in the midst of his globe-trotting to sit down and talk with us. You can learn more about Wild Fish Wild Places and The Birdmen on their websites, and be sure to check out a highlight reel of Wild Fish Wild Places below.
Image courtesy Denis Isbister