From the Ring to the Rod - Meet Off the Hook: Extreme Catches' Eric Young!
By: Katie Sharp
Beginning Sunday, August 5, at 9 PM E/P, join professional wrestler “Showtime” Eric Young as he travels across the United States in search of some of the craziest fishing techniques in Off The Hook: Extreme Catches. From piers in New York City to the coasts of Florida, Eric goes from sailfishing to catching sharks on paddleboards -- and every type of imaginable (and unimaginable!) fishing in between.
I recently had the chance to catch up with Eric, as well as series producer Dan Bree, while they had some free time in between shoots to find out what was really going on behind these extreme scenes.
How did the concept of the show start?
When I asked Dan and Eric about how the show came to be, Dan said, “Animal Planet came to our production company [part2 pictures] and said ‘Let’s do a comedic fishing show!’” That’s when Dan and his team set out to find the perfect host to cast. They came across Eric, a star on Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, who had experience doing skits and character work. After that, they put together a great demo reel with Eric and the pilot turned into a series.
Eric, what was your fishing background like before the show?
He might be a bit of an amateur when it comes to extreme catches, but Eric does have some basic experience fishing in small rivers throughout Canada, where he grew up. “I fished a lot as a younger boy and throughout high school,” he explains, stating he was proud of the small catfish and pickerel he caught at the time. This fishing world is different, though, he admits. “Compared to these guys, it’s their job. It’s neat to be let into that [world] for a week at a time.”
So, wrestling and fishing … not the most common combination! Is fighting in the ring anything like “fighting” the fish out there in the water?
Extreme fishing requires a strong amount of energy and motivation, much like wrestling does. “It’s really like you are battling a fish,” Eric states. “It’s catch and release most of the time, [but it’s still] a fight.” Luckily, Animal Planet was able to find him! Eric admits, “If there was a host that wasn’t physically strong, there probably wouldn’t be a host at this point.”
How do some of these fishing challenges come about? How do you determine where you should go, who to contact?
The first step, Dan explained, is to find the extreme fishermen. Sometimes, it’s as simple as searching “extreme fishing” on the Internet; other times, it requires more physical traveling. “Sometimes, we will pick a place and just scour the city, calling fishermen and asking, ‘What’s the type of fishing you do here?’” Dan said. He stresses the importance of word-of-mouth in these excursions, too. “Many of these high-end, extreme fishermen know each other. One guy might say, ‘I do this in Florida, but you should talk to my buddy who does this in San Diego,’ and then … boom. We are off and running in to a completely different city.”
There is little down-time for these guys, and little time spent filming in one specific area. Eric’s opportunity to travel around and experience crazy techniques has really opened his mind to trying new things (no stone left unturned, if you will). “It’s been an on-going thing with the show. I will literally try anything once,” Eric said. Although he admits he has always had a mindset like this, the experiences are still exciting to him. “I’m traveling around, [learning] all these things most people haven’t even heard of – that is why the show is super cool.”
Photo credit: Taimi Arvidson/DCL
Want to see some of Eric’s “reel” crazy adventures in action? Tune into Off The Hook: Extreme Catches Sundays, @ 8 PM E/P on Animal Planet!
Katie Sharp is a Digital Media Intern at Animal Planet. Sadly, she has only fished once in her life.