Fishin’ with Zona for Phil Marks

I just got back from filming a special segment for the Strike King Pro Journal with Mark Zona.

And man, did we have a good time.

There’s nothing unusual about that, because we always have fun together. My sides still hurt from laughing so much.

But there were some solemn times, too, because this show that will air sometime this winter was dedicated to a good friend to both of us, the late Phil Marks, one of the greatest guys I’ve ever worked around.

Phil was Mr. Everything at Strike King, including the man behind the scenes who had a major role in turning Strike King Pros’ needs and concepts into many of the popular lures anglers use today.

He wasn’t just a lure designer and corporate guy. He is one of those anglers who could have fished professionally but chose the business side. And, above all, a good human being.

It was only fitting that we film this Pro Team Journal show on a small Texas lake that Phil guided us to for a Strike King Journal show several years ago.

Phil loved flipping deep grass with jigs on that lake, so in honor of him that’s what we built the show around. It was our own celebration of life for a guy we admired and loved.

 We shared a cabin on the lake with some Strike King Company folks that knew Phil as well. We grilled out and spent the evenings sharing stories and having good laughs.

It was cool that we were selected to do the show since we both knew Phil so well and loved being around him.

One might say we’re the odd couple since Zona lives in Michigan and I live in Louisiana. Yet we have a lot in common and have been close friends for 20 years even though we grew up 1,500 miles apart.

He says we’re step brothers because of the commonality with our upbringing, passion for hunting and fishing and the daffy way we carry on when fishing. I don’t recall what ever drew us together in the first place, but like they say, “birds of a feather flock together.”

Oh, and believe me, we know how to have a good time. Those moments of silliness you see on a Zona show or on Bassmaster LIVE, amount to about 10% of what goes on off-camera when we’re together.

Silliness aside, Zona is one of the sharpest, wittiest and most talented on-screen guys I know, not to mention an incredible angler and someone who is very business savvy.

I’ve gotten the opportunity to hang out with people who are true superstars in various sports. I’ve had a blessed career that has connected me with some good people that are fun.

But Zona? He’s right there near the top. Sure, that dude is weird in a good sort of way, but he says that about me, too.

That’s why we’re step brothers, in an odd sort of way.