When angler and songwriter Gary Shiebler auditioned musicians for his new band, he held up a spinnerbait and said, “What’s this?” Those who didn’t know were shown the door. Before long, Shiebler had assembled the World’s Greatest Fishing Band, which first performed at the 2002 ESPN Bassmasters Classic in Birmingham, Alabama. The seven-member band released a four-disc album, Papa Was a Fishin’ Man, earlier this year, with Amy Nelson-Willie’s daughter-adding her voice to some cuts. Instead of throwing bras at the band, audience members bring fish. “Once, some guy brought us a bag of fresh albacore he’d caught that day,” says Shiebler. “We bring coolers to all our shows now.”
But the WGFB has some company. In the summer of 2002, New York musicians and longtime anglers Artie Traum, Chris Shaw, and Tom Akstens formed Big Trout Radio. Their folk-blues CD was released on opening day of New York’s trout season in 2003. Big Trout Radio experiences something only a fishing band could: groupies waiting backstage…to offer free trips.