'Day on the Lake' returns

Day on the Lake

Jerry McKinnis

PRATTVILLE, Ala. — After a successful first season, "Day On the Lake" returns to ESPN2 in 2008 with new anglers, new lakes and exciting new challenges. Borrowing the concept from Bassmaster magazine's popular and long-standing feature with the same name, "Day On the Lake" follows a professional angler tasked with unlocking the secrets of catching bass on a lake they've never before fished.

 According to ESPN cameraman Justin Darling, the show is broken down in a way that makes it easy to understand, regardless of an angler's skill level.

 "The viewer gets digestible information that they can take and apply at their home lake," Darling said.

 In the season's first episode, the show traveled to Lake Jordan in Central Alabama to meet BASS Elite Series pro angler Randy Howell. Howell, 34, grew up fishing reservoirs in North Carolina and now makes his home in nearby Springville, Ala. But Howell had yet to fish Lake Jordan.

 That is, until Jerry McKinnis dialed his number.

 "Jerry called me and asked me if I wanted to do the show," Howell said. "I had watched a couple episodes last year and was hoping to be invited at some point."

Although new to fishing Lake Jordan, Howell was old hat when it came to "Day On the Lake."

 "I had done the 'Day On the Lake' for Bassmaster magazine with Don Wirth and I already liked the concept," Howell said. "In fact, I think I did the first one he'd ever done — six years ago or so."

 So with plans made for late October of 2007, McKinnis and his crew of two cameramen met Howell and the fishing party set out for the lake.

 Darling had been out on the water the previous day with another BASS Elite Series pro, Gerald Swindle, who also lives near Birmingham, Ala.

 After filming almost all the pros on the Elite Series tour, Darling recalled the conditions on the day he filmed Howell.

 "There was a little more breeze and cloud cover than on the day we went with Swindle," Darling said. "And he (Howell) figured it all out pretty quickly — a fall pattern. Anytime you get to watch someone like Randy out on the water, it's a real treat."

 But Howell had believed that late October could have proven to be too difficult for success.

 "It's just a bad time because it's a transition period on these reservoirs," Howell said. "The water's constantly turning over — it's not cold enough and not warm enough anymore."

 There were also other factors that suggested to Howell the fishing would be tough.

 "We also had that 100-year drought going on and Lake Jordan was at its lowest water level ever."

 McKinnis kept track of the amount of Howell's casts throughout the eight hours on the water. He also lobbed questions at the angler throughout the day to help the viewer gain better insight into a professional angler's thought process.

 By day's end, Howell had casted 1,008 times and boated nine keepers.

 "I had even slowed down a bunch for the show," Howell exclaimed. "Definitely not as many casts as in a tournament."

 The angler used a white buzzbait with short striking trailer hooks in the morning. With 17-pound test line, Howell threw into heavy cover.

 Later in the day, he tossed Lucky Craft jerkbaits to suspended bass with positive results, as well.

 Howell likes "Day On the Lake" because of how it gives a glimpse inside the mind of a BASS Elite Series pro.

 "It's the most accurate portrayal of how we go about breaking down a lake to catch fish," Howell said.

 And Darling likes how the information on the show helps to give the recreational angler tips and tricks on how to fish a lake.

 "For someone with a basic understanding of bass fishing, this show is amazing because you learn so much," Darling said. "Basically, these guys are facing the same situations you would when you're out there on the water."

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