WINTER COLUMN: 'Top Hooker' debuts with local captain
Hollywood. That's the new nickname for Charleston fishing guide Capt. Patrick Crawford, given to him by fishing buddies ribbing him about his role in the new reality television series “Top Hooker.”
The show, which debuts tonight at 10 on cable's Animal Planet, pits 10 professional anglers against each other in unusual fishing challenges.
The first episode includes contests to see who can catch the most goldfish with their mouth, as well as the most tilapia with a landing net — while zip-lining over a lake.
In addition to the arguably dubious honor of being named the nation's “Top Hooker,” the series' winning angler could take home $30,000 and a new truck.
Playing off its suggestive title, the show features anglers with over-the-top nicknames. There's a “Beefcake South African,” “Bowfishing Babe” and “Sexy Spearfisher.” Crawford is billed as the “Cocky Captain.”
Though nicknames are nothing new for Crawford — years ago he was known as “Elvis” for the massive sideburns he wore at the time — participating in such a huge production certainly was.
The whirlwind experience began last fall, when after a long casting process Crawford learned he had landed a spot on the show. Only a week after getting the call, the Lowcountry captain left for California.
“We shot and filmed all over California,” Crawford said. “We fished in freshwater, saltwater — you name it.”
Because of the competitive nature of the series, Crawford and his nine fellow competitors remained cut off from family and friends throughout production. The digital blackout — no phones, no social media — was surreal, he said.
“For the first day and a half, I was feeling my thumb roaming around like I was using my phone,” Crawford said with a laugh. “And then it turned into the most peaceful thing in the world.”
Isolated, cast members lived and worked together throughout the shoot (Crawford can't divulge how long it took).
“We cooked together, we ate together,” Crawford said. “It was a weird experience. You become really close with these people, because you have no other connection with the outside world.”
And although the anglers were competing against each other — with presumably only one winner at the series' end — they became good friends and have since kept in touch, Crawford said.
“I still talk to everybody daily, believe it or not.”
Crawford plans to be at Finz Bar and Grill in Mount Pleasant tonight, watching the debut with a big crowd.
“It's an open invite,” Crawford said. “We've got the whole place to ourselves.
“Come by and laugh at me.”
To learn more about Capt. Crawford, go to allurefishingcharters.com or call (843) 225-3474.
Sea bass season opens
The black sea bass fishery opened Saturday for both commercial and recreational fishermen.
Sea bass season opens
Federal fisheries managers truncated last year's fishing season after catch limits for the relatively small but easy-to-catch bottom fish appeared to be met. The move angered many local fishermen, who argued that sea bass appear to be more plentiful and larger than they've been in years.
New stock assessments backed up these claims, and managers recently endorsed a plan to double the current annual catch limit and possibly avoid more shortened seasons.
The recreational bag limit is five fish per person, per day, with a minimum size limit of 13 inches (total length). Anglers using natural baits to fish for any snapper-grouper species, including sea bass, must use non-stainless steel circle hooks. Both recreational and commercial fishermen also must use dehooking tools when fishing for bottom fish.
Clam season closed
The state's clam season closed Friday and will reopen Oct. 1. Bacterial levels increase when water temperatures rise above 80 degrees, so shellfish harvesting is prohibited during the summer months.
Clam season closed
South Carolina's oyster season closed May 15.
Reach Matt Winter, manager of niche content and design and editor of Tideline magazine, at 843-937-5568 or email@example.com