Spring is upon us in Southwest Idaho. As I write this column, I’m watching leaves and other assorted debris hurtle across my backyard in 30 MPH wind gusts.
Some conditions — even for the most hardcore anglers — just aren’t meant to be fished in.
But fear not! The wet, blustery weather eventually will give way to perfect spring fishing conditions. In the meantime, couch fishing can keep us entertained.
Hopefully, you don’t immediately envision me casting dog toys across my living room in hopes that our Yorkshire terrier, Winston, gives chase. I haven’t quite stooped to that level (although my brother and I used to “fish” for our family cat as kids, so I’m not completely innocent).
No, couch fishing doesn’t involve a rod, a reel or live animals of any kind — it’s just my nickname for watching fishing shows on TV.
There are countless options to choose from. But for a rod-and-reel enthusiast like me, two shows stand out above the rest: “River Monsters” with Jeremy Wade and “Chasing Monsters” with Cyril Chauquet.
“River Monsters” enjoyed an epic, nine-season run on Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel. It is hosted by Wade, a British biologist who travels the globe in search of fish purported to have attacked or eaten humans. More times than not, Wade solves the mystery by catching a huge, toothy predator that certainly seems capable of the crimes it stands accused of.
I’m impressed by Wade’s tenacity and grit — two traits any great angler must carry in his or her tackle box. In his travels, Wade fishes amongst deadly crocodiles while chasing giant Nile perch in Africa, bushwhacks through thick jungle to battle mighty Amazon arapaima, and swims across a raging river to wrangle a huge, flesh-eating goonch catfish in India. He also survives a plane crash, a bout with malaria and being detained as a suspected spy. Perhaps most impressively, nearly all of Wade’s catches come in fresh water — he doesn’t hunt ocean monsters until the final season.
Whereas “River Monsters” is gripping and intense, “Chasing Monsters” takes a more lighthearted approach. Chauquet, the jovial French-Canadian host, is equally dogged in his pursuit of monster fish, but he travels the globe with an infectious smile and a joke always at the ready.
I admire Chauquet’s enthusiasm and resourcefulness — two more traits of an outstanding fisherman. He approaches each trip with a childlike excitement, whether he is noodling for giant wells catfish in Europe or scaling perilous sea cliffs in pursuit of the mysterious kob in South Africa. In one episode, Chauquet’s luggage gets lost at the airport, so he proceeds to tie a fly using chicken feathers and a wine cork. It works, of course, as he later hooks a giant sailfish on the homemade fly.
Chauquet is a bit of a wild man. He develops an affinity for handlining and attempts to land fish more than three times his size using nothing but a baited hook, a line and his hands. When his favorite fishing rod gets pulled overboard off the coast of Mexico, he immediately jumps into rough, shark-infested waters and free dives to the bottom to retrieve it. Two seasons of “Chasing Monsters” are available on Netflix, with a third on the way.
On top of its entertainment value, couch fishing is a great way to expand your knowledge. I’ve learned about species I never knew existed, and I’ve picked up useful tips and insight by watching two passionate, well-traveled anglers ply their skills on camera.
So, when storms come calling this spring, try spending an hour with Jeremy or Cyril. It might not be as fun as actually fishing, but it sure beats the heck out of HGTV reruns.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.