Goin’ Commando—Lake Commando
K.J. Houtman 01.02.14
Two, five, three, seven, four…what comes next? If you like figuring out patterns like this, and you love to fish, you will want to tune in to one of the hottest new fishing shows in the country: Steve Pennaz Lake Commandos. Experience the whole thought process behind building patterns. The new season airs Tuesday nights on the Pursuit Channel and twice weekly on Tuff TV and Comcast Southeast. Not to cheat on the answer to the number pattern above, but check out nine great things about this show.
Competition against conditions
They don’t wait for the perfect conditions to film a show, they work with whatever they’ve got. The beginning of each show opens with the conditions: cloudy, sunny, clear, stained, or dirty water. The teaching process begins as the host dissects what they have to work with that day.
Competition against each other
One talented pro is in the boat against Pennaz. He takes them on—sometimes besting what they do, sometimes not. He’s cocky enough to enjoy the competition but humble enough to give cred when and where it belongs. If his competitor outfishes him, he’ll own it. “Competition makes you fish harder and smarter,” said Pennaz. “After all, pride is at stake and nothing is really more important than that between two fishing competitors.”
Neither angler has information on where they are going to film that day. So as soon as they find out their destination, they have some quick info-digging to do. They can talk to people at the bait shop and jump online checking reports or maps. Kind of sounds like the hoops all of us have to go through when dissecting new water.
They don’t tell us the specific lake or river they are fishing, a huge positive. Rather, they tell us the type of lake or river: size, structure, depth, and maybe a little bit about its general reputation. That’s something that we can apply to any lake in our own neck of the woods. The show doesn’t become a tourism piece—it really dissects a body of water for what the facts are, and we get to translate that important information to our own home water options.
Pennaz and his co-host start with the same presentation, but each angler tweaks it. The nuanced changes show how important incremental adjustments are in catching fish. “Too often anglers say, ‘They aren’t biting today,’” said Pennaz. “They will change completely different techniques, like moving from a crankbait to a jig. But we find that if they aren’t biting, quite often it is smaller, incremental changes that make a difference.” In one show last year, both Pennaz and his co-host were fishing identical Carolina rigs, but Pennaz was using 1/2-ounce braid and his guest was using 3/4-ounce fluorocarbon. “The smallest adjustments can make a huge difference. We’re in the same boat, fishing the same technique on the same spot, but I’m using a reel with 7:1:1 retrieve ratio and my co-host is using 7:9:1. That means I’m retrieving 22 to 23 inches of line per turn and he’s pulling 28 to 29 inches. That’s all the difference. He was schooling me.”
High-tech, high-energy graphics
The show feels young and modern with the tech-savvy graphics between show segments. It doesn’t look or sound like Grandpa’s fishing show—even if Pennaz has a little more salt these days mixed in his salt-and-pepper beard.
Decisions in the same boat
Sometimes the two anglers are almost elbowing the other to share the bow. They can see the other’s strategy and make an adjustment—and then raise the stakes even further. The heightened, playful competition comes from working the same space with full permission to adjust, observe, steal, copy, mimic, and adjust again. “What’s he doing?” is a question both pros are asking as they fish, especially if the other angler is putting fish in the boat at a faster rate or getting on bigger fish.
Pennaz is a well-respected angler and a familiar voice and face after leading the editorial team at North American Fisherman magazine and hosting numerous television shows for 20-plus years. Having fished the world over, he truly is a multi-species angler and the show highlights all different types of fishing. He doesn’t get stuck in a bass fishing rut.
All 13 shows from last year are on their YouTube channel, and even new shows will be available online after they air. So it’s great if you have Pursuit, Tuff TV, or Comcast Southeast—go ahead and catch the shows whenever or set the DVR. But if you don’t, the YouTube channel and Facebook updates makes the show accessible to everyone.
“Viewers are learning to build patterns,” said Pennaz. “I’ve been fortunate to fish as much as I have over the years in my career, in so many unique locations. But this show has improved my decision-making skills incredibly. I’m a better angler for it, and I hear from viewers they think the show is helping them improve, too.”
Careful. Get too good and you might just find an invitation to go head-to-head in his Ranger Boat in a future episode of Steve Pennaz Lake Commandos: Man vs Lake vs Man.
K.J. Houtman is the author of the award-winning Fish On Kids Books series, chapter books for eight- to 12-year-olds with adventures based around fishing, camping, and hunting. Her work is available at Amazon and local bookstores. Find out more at fishonkidsbooks.com.