By LANESSA MURPHY-SPAGNUOLO
News & Journal Staff Writer
The Mountain State has birthed its fair share of stars and celebrities over the years, but most folks can’t say they have hosted their own TV show. However, for Bridgeport native Curtis Fleming, his reality TV show, Fly Rod Chronicles, is more than reality; it’s a dream come true. With over one hundred episodes under his belt, upcoming Season 14 will likely be another memorable one.
Fly Rod Chronicles, a fishing program, will be kicking off yet another adventurous season on the Outdoor Channel on January 1.
If you are a new viewer, the series is more than your average fishing show. Though it is centered mainly on fishing, of course, Flemingcan be credited for exposing some the Mountain State’s prime fishing spots and beautiful geography, along with other remarkable places in the U.S.and world in his television series. Season 14 is no exception.
From Alaska to Louisiana to West Virginia, Fleming will feature fly fishing at its best along with extraordinary views, and will lenda helping hand to those in need – the true West Virginia way.
Careful not to give it all away, Fleming highlighted a few of the episodes that will be appearing in January; a total of 13 with a half dozen West Virginia-based episodes on the lineup.
In fact, Harrison County folks might see a few familiar faces this season as Fleming promised the Bridgeport High School Football Team seniors earlier this year that if they won their third consecutive championship, he would take them fly fishing. He filmed a show with those 15 seniors, embracing the opportunity to document family and community values and what it is like to grow up in northern West Virginia.
This episode was shot at the Chestnut Mountain Ranch in Morgantown, which is a Christian-based school for troubled boys. The school is home to a fly-fishingcurriculum that teaches fly tying and bug entomology.
Fleming commented, “It was cool for the younger kids to mentor those Bridgeport High School kids because the [high school students] are used to being mentors…it’s neat to see the younger kids reach out and mentor the older kids.”
The Chestnut Mountain Ranch youth were featured in an episode last season filmed in Preston County.
Along with the Bridgeport High School Team’s seniors, WVU Head Football Coach Dana Holgorsen, his father, and son will be making an appearance with Fleming during a trip to Glade Creek in Raleigh County.
Another episode will feature arelatively local attraction from the Mountain State – Stonewall Jackson Lake in Lewis County where Fleming’s oldest daughterLaken recently broke a world record using cicadas as bait.
And, it’s no surprise that Fleming’s love for fishing and his home state have once again meshed to help those in need. In one episode, he travels to Clendenin, West Virginia, which was heavily damaged by the devastating floods that trampled parts of the state earlier this summer. Fleming has been named Cabela’s (also a sponsor) official Expert Fly Fishing Ambassador and he has teamed up with that company to restore hope to two families who are flood victims.Cabela’s is offering those families a shopping spree to replace their equipmentthat waswashed away.
“The families we chose were ‘outdoors’ people and liked hunting and fishing. This will give them an opportunity to get caught back up. Then, we are going to go fish the waters that actually took everything away to let[viewers]know that life isn’t over for these people, and to show that this is how West Virginia folks bounce back,” Fleming said.
Other stops along the way this season will be Alaska, where Curtis, his wifeShelly, and two daughters, Laken and Autumn,catch five world records. Fleming described it as an ‘epic fishing experience’.Curtis and Shelly also celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary while in Alaska.
In Louisiana, the family meets with the marketing director of YETI Coolers, a sponsor. They also participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for a friend’s wife who is terminally ill with ALS. Fleming said this will be a tribute show to her, the disease, and how they are making strides towards a cure.
Fishing trips to the Bahamas and Canada will also be making the cut this season.
Future excursions to Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, California, and New Zealand are scheduled for the remainder of the year.
“We try to do as many states as we can. With West Virginia being my home waters where I grew up here in Bridgeport, we concentrate on West Virginia shows, but we try to add some flavor…wherever the fish are, we’ll go find them,” he remarked.
Now on the cusp of the fourteenth season, fishing may seem like all Fleming does for a living to some, but he says that fishing is practically what he does least.
“I had a friend tell me one time, ‘if it was easy, we’d all quit our jobs and do a fishing show’. What people don’t really realize is that fishing is about five percent of the job. You are always working with sponsors and doing appearances. By no means am I complaining…but people see the ‘blue skies’ and that the ‘fish are always hungry’,” he added.
Fleming says many folks don’t realize that a typical 30-minute show might take up to eight days to film with storms and what not intervening in the process.
Fleming has had a substantial amount of family support in making his dream a reality.
“To have my family support me in this and my dream is very important to me personally; having them involved means even more. I never would force them to fish; they chose to give me that support and they absolutely love it. It’s cool to have them travel with me to a few of these sites, but it’s also cool to come home and know that they’re here supporting me while I was gone,” he acknowledged.
As noted, he spends time getting to know some of the locals in the areas he travels and helps those in need when he can. He has fished with anyone from Country Music performers to Jerry West to the average Joe.
“Our show has been coined as ‘reality’; we show the good, bad, and ugly,” Fleming described. “Most shows only show the ‘great catches’. We show the flat tires, just plain stuff. I travel with veterans. We do a lot of work with Wounded Warriors. When we get a chance to work with them and take them fishing, it means a lot to us. Fishing does not make our show; whether we catch zero fish, or one fish, or 100 fish, it’s about the story, about that community.”
Fleming even mentioned that in a previous season they took a mechanic fishing because he fixed their tire on the spot when they needed help. He said the show was completely unscripted, but hearing his story was compelling and that is what their show is really all about.
Though Fleming is out traveling both domestically and internationally,meeting new people, and fishing,the great state of West Virginia is truly his home.
Fleming concluded, “We love our state here in WV.After college, I went to Virginia for a job. I was able to come back and see that West Virginia is where my roots are.I just enjoy being around West Virginia folks. I’ve been in states all around the country and you don’t find as many warm and ‘reaching out’ people like you do here in West Virginia.”
Don’t forget to tune in to the Outdoor Channel on January 1 forSeason 14’s opening episode of Fly Rod Chronicles. You won’t want to miss it!
PHOTO CUTLINES BELOW:
In the upcoming season, WVU Head Football Coach Dana Holgorsen (left) hits the streams with Fly Rod Fishing Expert Curtis Fleming (right).