Globetrotting videographer brings Elites together for duck hunt, camaraderie.
LISCO, Neb. — Few people have brought bass fishing to the world like Jake Latendresse. The thing is, not many fishing fans have any idea who he is.
A mainstay on the Bassmaster LIVE crew, Latendresse has climbed in the boat with virtually every Elite angler while they chased their dreams on the sport’s biggest stage – them with a rod in their hand, Latendresse with a camera in his.
Latendresse has created a special bond with most all the Elites. That was evident recently when a half dozen Elites gathered at Latendresse’s winter home on the North Platte River in Nebraska for a week of chasing waterfowl. All pretenses were dropped, and anglers took direction from the cameraman.
Editor’s note: Click here for photos from the amazing hunt.
It was interesting to see the anglers gather under one roof and not have competition on the water drive the conversation. The anglers, Bill Lowen, Patrick Walters, David Mullins, Caleb Sumrall, Lee Livesay and Stetson Blaylock, barely mentioned fishing in their four days together. There was a dynamic shift from fierce competitors to fierce friendship, all brought together by a cameraman.
To top it off, the Elites were the center of attention for a completely different kind of television show. Every hunt was recorded by Jim Ronquest, 2006 World Duck Calling Champion and host of Rich-N-Tone’s RNT-V. The scenes were incredible, and cameras captured some of the best anglers in the world taking part in some of the best waterfowling in the world.
“Jake has an amazing place to hunt,’’ Blaylock said. “But in our world, we get to hunt a lot of amazing places. This may have become a top-of-the-list thing for us now, but really we are here because of Jake.”
Most all the Elite Series cameramen, who bring the special moments of competition to the masses, remain in the realm of unseen and sadly, unknown. Latendresse, a 10-year veteran of bouncing around in a boat in scorching sun and frigid runs, has brought the thrill of victory and agony of defeat in live video like few others.
Remember Taku Ito’s “smallmouth Disneyland,” or Brandon Palaniuk’s one-hour smallmouth frenzy on Lake Champlain? How about Lee Livesay’s frog and championship on Lake Chickamauga?
That was Jake.
In his decade of covering virtually every day of Bassmaster LIVE for the Elites, Classic and Opens, Latendresse has logged somewhere around 2,500 hours of fishing footage, pieced together in eight-hour increments. Those moments don’t come without a connection to the guy in front of the boat.
“Jake is just one of those guys who roots for all of us; we can feel his passion,’’ Lee Livesay said. “At Chickamauga, I could just feel him with me in the back. I knew he was on my side, and you have no idea how important that is to your confidence when you are in that position.
“Not to mention, he has an addictive personality that everyone wants to be around.”
For Latendresse, that’s part of his job. Off camera, he never stops asking questions, from technical aspects of the anglers’ fishing to more personal levels.
“Part of my job is to get them relaxed and passing on their true personality through the camera lens,’’ Latendresse said. “Being a producer, I’m not afraid to ask questions to bring out their character.”
It was during those questions that Latendresse found common ground with many Elites, and that was a passion for duck hunting.
“Now at virtually every event, we talk about duck hunting before takeoff,’’ Latendresse said. “It’s just a common denominator.”
Truth be told, Latendresse probably has a common denominator with almost everyone. His life reads like a character from the movie Secondhand Lions. In simple vernacular, he’s done just about everything and been virtually everywhere.
“He’s someone you love to listen to and hear his adventures,’’ Livesay said.
At only 52, Latendresse has carried his camera to 49 countries, making seven trips to Africa alone. He’s worked in Pakistan, Mongolia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, all over Canada, Tajikistan, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Mexico. Those are just the ones he could remember off the top of his head.
“My solitary passion is bowhunting; my social passion is duck hunting,” Latendresse said.
He was raised hunting in the Camden Bottoms of Tennessee, near Kentucky Lake, where his father started him duck hunting at 3 years old. Following in his father’s footsteps, the adventure has never stopped.
The elder Latendresse was a World War II veteran, where he was shot and stabbed at Guadalcanal. Those injuries gave him the motivation to always keep pushing forward, to reach for the most from life. He traveled almost everywhere and did just about everything.
When he got out of the military, he was a card dealer at the first casino in Las Vegas. From there it was commercial fishing in Florida, then Tennessee, where he’s basically credited with starting the freshwater pearl business in the United States as a mussel diver along the Tennessee River.
“He was my hero,’’ Latendresse said of the man who laid the groundwork for his series of adventures.
If you were to talk to the modern-day heroes of the Bassmaster Elite Series, many of them would say they have one in the unseen, unknown cameraman in the back of their boat, Jake Latendresse.
In between his globe-trotting and Elite Series duties, Latendresse has a guide business on the North Platte River for whitetail and waterfowl called Prairie Rock Outfitters, a place where Elite anglers gather and get along.
Check out James Overstreet’s photos of their amazing duck hunt.