Fishing is wonderful, although it's interesting having grown up with more the "River Runs Through It" style fishing - nothing else around, quiet, just casting by a river or lake. It sounds odd, but fishing is something that really takes a "sense" that builds up over time, being able to look at conditions and get a sense of the how, where and why of the lake. "Zen and the Art of Fishing", indeed - there certainly wasn't anything "extreme" about it and that simplicity is really one of the most enjoyable things about it.
Still, I can appreciate all different kinds of fishing and this series certainly defines "different". "Off the Hook" goes throughout the country visiting with some of the most extreme tactics that fishermen use to capture some of the most hardcore fish, including the Asian carp, which have taken over river systems in the midwest. I can't say the method used looks like the most effective or easy or sane, but it certainly is extreme. Other highlights from this first season include "Sailfish Smackdown", "Amberjacked up" and "Skishing Hell Week".
It isn't the fishing that I grew up with (and I'm afraid that young people today may be a little disappointed if they're inspired to try the real thing and find out that it's far more low-key), but "Off the Hook" offers some laughs, a few thrills and some very unusual/unexpected ways to go about catching a fish.
1. Shark-a-mania! Showtime Eric Young ventures to Shark Central - the Gulf Coast of Florida. First he learns how to fish for sharks using women's pantyhose. Then he fishes for sharks in the middle of the ocean... while standing on a 4-inch thick paddleboard.
2. Sailfish Smackdown Showtime Eric Young ventures to South Florida to go after the fastest fish in the Atlantic - the sailfish. But he's not fishing from the luxury of a yacht -he's fishing 8 miles off the coast or Miami, from a homemade raft he'd built himself.
3. Running With the Devil Showtime Eric Young journeys into the heart of Texas to take on the aptly named Devil's River to go fishing... from a kayak. He braves whitewater rapids, flash floods, snakes, scorpions, and extreme heat, all to find the biggest bass in the state.
4. Amberjacked Up Eric travels to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where he's going after one of the orneriest fish in the ocean - the mighty amberjack. And he's going after it 30 miles off the coast, in the middle of the ocean, from a jet ski.
5. Skishing Hell Week Eric travels to Rhode Island to skish - a combination of ski and fishing - to land a striped bass. He'll free float miles from the coast armed only with a rod, and if he lands a big one, he could be towed through the water like he's on water skis.
6. Beard Gone Grabbling Eric Young travels to Tennessee, where the catfish is king. He's there to learn how to handfish from a team of bikini-clad, local legends known as the "Girls Gone Grabblin".
7. The Death Race Eric Young heads to Long Island Sound, NY, where he'll take on 'the Race' - a dangerously fast, boulder-filled stretch of water that is an underwater superhighway for striped bass. He'll be freediving, and hunting the stripers with a spear gun.
8. Go Ahead. Mako My Day. Eric Young heads to San Diego to fly-fish, but he's not after a measly trout. He's fly-fishing for one of the deadliest predators in the sea - the Mako Shark. EY also dives for "California Gold": sea urchin gonads, a delicacy used in sushi.
9. You Don't Know Jack Crevalle! Eric Young travels to the Louisiana Bayou to compete in the Spearfish Rodeo. EY heads 30 miles into the Gulf of Mexico to spearfish at the base of oil rigs, and go after the largest fighting fish in the Atlantic, including the powerful Jack Crevalle.
10. Carpocalypse Now Eric Young heads to Illinois to battle the millions of Asian Carp that have taken over the region's river systems. He meets the Peoria Carp Hunters, and they're extinguishing the invasive problem using samurai swords and tridents, while on water skis.
VIDEO: The series is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen by Discovery. Picture quality was about digital cable quality, with mostly crisp, detailed images. Colors looked bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: Clear stereo presentation with some pleasant, well-recorded outdoor background sounds, as well as crisp dialogue.
Final Thoughts: "Off the Hook: Extreme Catches" is certainly an over-the-top fishing show. It's not the fishing that I grew up with, but it's fun, brisk and well-hosted. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality, with next-to-no extras. A light recommendation for fishermen who are prepared for a lighter series about the sport that's not to be taken seriously.