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Inside Sportfishing

Telly and ACE award-winning producer Michael Fowlkes discusses his tools of the trade By John Virata

According to the American Sportfishing Association, there are more than 44 million recreational anglers in the United States. These anglers  contribute to a $116 billion economy that is primed by the love of angling. With that comes the affinity to all things fishing related, from clothing and tackle, to fishing vacations, children's fishing derbies, and cable shows that highlight the sport. People love to fish. At the recently concluded Fred Hall Fishing Show in Long Beach, California, anglers were out in force checking out the latest tackle technology, soaking up tips and techniques from professional anglers, to purchasing the latest fishing DVDs.

There are many personalities who document the fishing experience on TV. Bill Dance and Jimmy Houston pretty much have the largemouth bass cable shows sewn up, and Big Island local Mike Sakamoto (The Outdoor Channel's Fishing Tales), who sold his Hawaii-based show a few years ago to the Outdoor Channel, all have entertained anglers on TV for years. However, there is one guy who has consistently delivered some of the most awe-inspiring footage every year to a national audience; Michael Fowlkes, executive producer of Fox Sports' Inside Sportfishing. Winner of 14 Telly awards, Inside Sportfishing brings its viewers to the most exotic locales on the planet to fish for some of the gamest fish. Marlin, Giant Sturgeon, and Bluefin tuna have all been guests on Fowlkes half hour programs for the last 15 years. That is approximately 26 half hour programs each year for the last 15 years.  Not bad for a guy from Newport Beach, California who stumbled onto a course in filmmaking at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California.

A nice Dorado shot off Baja


Fowlkes took an interest in filmmaking after taking a nine week course on 8mm film editing at the Orange Coast College film school. After the exposure to the world of film at Orange Coast College, Fowlkes knew what his calling was. 

"The first day I walked into the studio, my legs literally collapsed under me.  I knew that very instant, looking at the big theater screen in the front of the studio, that's what I wanted to do with my life. . . put images up there.  Turned out to be a 30" screen, but nonetheless, I thank God I get to do what it is I do everyday," Fowlkes said.  "Needless to say filmmaking became my major. Only problem is that show is the small word, and business is the big word.  You have to understand business in order to play in show business.  Without the financial base, creativity doesn't stand a chance.  Fifty percent of my time and efforts go into sponsorships and taking care of my clients. Without them, I'd be on the street.  Programming is only a wrap-a-round for commercials."

Fishing in "No Bad Days"

To get a glimpse into Fowlkes' digital endeavors, DMN senior editor John Virata spoke briefly with Fowlkes (who also won three ACE awards for his work that appeared on Showtime/The Movie Channel, Disney and Paramount, has a teaching credential in communications and  even taught film editing at OCC) at the Fred Hall Fishing Show and conducted this interview with him after his return from a shoot in Vancouver.  

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Related Keywords:Inside Sportfishing, Michael Fowlkes, Giant Sturgeon,

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