Bites at Animal Planet

Hillbilly Handfishin'

8 Mar

Catfishin' Kings: The ULTIMATE Noodling Competition!




Get ready for the ultimate noodling competition! Tune in this Monday at 10PM E/P to see catfish cowboys from Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas square off against one another in a high adrenaline noodling tournament to decide who will be crowned Catfishin' Kings!

The first round of competition kicks off with North Carolina vs. Louisiana and Kentucky vs. Tennessee. Over four heats, these teams will brave treacherous lake conditions - doing their best to apply what they've learned in their home states to Texas noodlin'.

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18 Jun

Meet JoAnn & Jeannie, the Handfishin' Hotties!


There are always great women behind great men.  And, it's no different for the guys of Hillbilly Handfishin'!  Enter Handfishin' Hotties, JoAnn and Jeannie!  Hear what it's like for them behind the scenes.

We would like to introduce ourselves.  We are JoAnn and Jeannie, the Handfishin' Hotties!  This name was given to us by one of our favorite guests (you know who you are!).  We are the other halves of the stars of Hillbilly Handfishin', Skipper and Jackson.  We are right there behind the scenes as well as on the scene of every moment.  We wouldn't miss it for the world!  We thought that we would bring you a little behind the scene action since the other is TOP SECRET - we wouldn’t to spill the good stuff yet! 

We also count on Heather and Christian to help with the whole outfit!


There is a lot that happens to make Hillbilly Handfishin’ happen.  This year three of our hometown fellas came back to help us and we are so grateful they did.  They are awesome!  Thanks Tyler, Chandler, and Ralph! 

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6 Jun

Keith Hoffman: "I Don't Think I'm in Kansas Anymore"


Keith Hoffman Files a Final Report on Shooting a New Season of Hillbilly Handfishin'

Actually I was in Oklahoma but it felt like Kansas when I and some of the crew drove home from our final day in the water with tornados and storms all around us.  (Yet another thing beside snakes, spiders and wild boars that can kill you in Oklahoma.)  

Yet as I return to my desk at Animal Planet (still no bunny rabbit sorting my mail), I’ll miss the wide-open spaces, the friendly people, and the communion with nature both dangerous and beautiful.

hillbilly handfishin crew

The Hillbilly Handfishin' crew hard at work!


I’ll miss the crew who can’t change the channel when the snakes look too creepy but have to keep trudging on through muck and mire.   The crew who travelled from all over the country to shoot the show for three months and sleep on the grounds in tiny trailers far from their beloved spouses, partners, family and friends.  (There is a strict policy on the set:  No “Showmances” or as I call them “Hillbilly Handcrushes” between crew members.)

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30 May

Catfish and Leeches and Snakes. Oh My!


Keith Hoffman is on Location for Hillbilly Handfishin' and Neck-High in Leeches, Snakes and Catfish  

hillbilly handfishin' crew

It's been two days since I last wrote about my dinner with the crew in Olive Garden but it feels like two years.   

In my imagination when I got my job working at Animal Planet I would be typing at a computer with puppies and kittens scampering across my desk while a bunny stapled my papers with its paws and birds sang around my head.  

Instead I've found myself in boiling hot sun in muddy creeks with snakes and leeches out for my blood.   

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26 May

It Takes a Village to Catch a Catfish


Keith Hoffman Prepares for Big Bugs, Catfish and Bucking Broncos from Hillbilly Handfishin' Shoot Location

It-takes-a-villageI arrived in Lawton, Oklahoma, today. 

It was a hot, sunny day — a far cry from the very rainy New York City morning I left.

I’m here for the kick off-episode of the first Hillbilly Handfishin’ of the season.     Although you only see Skipper and Jackson and their families guiding each week’s assortment of guest on television, there are a lot more people (around 20 at least) who make the show happen ... — camera operators, directors of photography, field directors (if the Skipper, Jackson and company want to go to a new fishing hole — someone has to help coordinate the move), people who pay the bills, organize the lunches, record the sound (hopefully without you seeing a microphone dangling above someone’s head during a crucial catch ).  And just to make it harder, this large crew has to learn to be so stealthily quiet that the Handfishers forget they are even there.

And that doesn’t even include all the people who cut the show down to an hour (actually about 42 minutes without commercials) once it is sent to the editors.

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25 May

What Should You Be Packin’ When You’re Going Hillybilly Handfishin’?


Keith Hoffman Reports the Night Before He Embarks on Another Handfishin’ Adventure  

hillbilly handfishin Tomorrow I fly from New York City to Oklahoma to shoot the first show of the new season of Hillbilly Handfishin’.  When I was growing up I wanted to be a doctor or fireman but never predicted I’d be the Executive Producer of a hit Animal Planet show where city slickers come from all over the world to join Skipper and Jackson (the “Hillbillies”) as they catch catfish with their bare hands and feet.  In this neck of the world, fishing poles are for sissies. 

Skipper and Jackson are two of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, but part of a visit with them always includes an intimate and up-close, painful encounter with a catfish.   Refusing to join them on one of their fishy adventures would be like refusing a home cooked meal.  It’s just not polite. 

Although I live in Brooklyn, I grew up in Ohio and spent much of my youth in Kentucky and Indiana so technically I don’t think of myself as a city slicker.  But in my day, worms did all the hard work when it came to fishing.  

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