Reel Knights

While returning from the big ICAST tackle show in Las Vegas this past summer, I had to spend a few extra hours at the airport, due to flight delays somewhere or the other that screwed up my departure time. Of all the places I’ve been, Las Vegas wins the prize for the city that can offer up the most big-time fun. But once you’ve had enough, you’re really itching to get out of there. That’s why a delayed flight out of Vegas hurts the most — especially if you’ve gambled away all your cash and wind up broke at the airport surrounded by slot machines. I coined a phrase several years ago that you probably won’t find on any Las Vegas television commercials or print ads anytime soon: There’s nothing worse than being broke in Las Vegas.

As I settled in for the long wait in one of the torture devices that passes for airport seating, a couple of young fellows showed up and sat down across the aisle. They sported a bunch of fish-oriented apparel, so I asked them what they were up to. One of them, Chad Cook, told me that they were in Vegas to attend the ICAST show in connection with the Reel Knights Fishing Club, run out of the University of Central Florida — my alma mater. (I graduated from there in 1989.)

We chatted awhile, and they eventually asked me if I’d like to come out sometime and do a talk for the club. I said sure thing, and handed them my card and told them to give me a call sometime.

Well, they did, and this past Wednesday night I headed out to the campus to give a little talk about outdoor journalism and how I got started in this business and share some anecdotes about the cool places I get to visit.

About 30 or so students showed up, and I rambled on for about an hour — probably boring them to tears with stories about my early days at Sport Fishing and Marlin and how much things have changed in the digital world.

The Reel Knights Fishing Club has sponsored fishing teams in several bass events around the country, and even won the 2011 ACA Boat U.S. National Championship in Lewisville, Texas, last year — “the most coveted prize in collegiate bass fishing,” according to their site. Man, I wish they would have had this kind of thing at UCF when I was going to school there — might have kept my butt on campus a bit more. You can check out the club’s website at They’re looking for sponsors to help them get out to fish more events, both fresh and saltwater — a good cause if there ever was one. Thanks, fellas, for having me out for the talk — I enjoyed seeing the campus again.