On “The Oprah Winfrey Show” today, viewers will get to watch Oprah and Gayle King foray into the world of fly fishing. And I say that’s absolutely fantastic. In fact, I’d suggest that this might be the best “media” thing to happen to fly fishing in years.
The Honest Angler got wind of Oprah’s day in waders last month from a unconfirmed TMZ report and a photo that was floating around the web.
My friends Brian and Jenny Grossenbacher were selected to guide Oprah and longtime friend Gayle King on the Merced River in Yosemite National Park. I had a chance yesterday to chat with Brian (in addition to being one of the best guides in the country, he’s a supremely talented outdoor photographer and author whose work often appears as “First Shots” and otherwise in Field & Stream and elsewhere), and I got some inside scoop on what went down.
This episode really revolves around our National Parks, and is intended to inspire more people, particularly African-Americans, to get out and enjoy the wonderful natural treasures therein… fly fishing being one way to do so. That’s a darn solid ideal, if you ask me.
Turns out that the fishing conditions were beyond difficult, production time was limited, and options were few… but apparently, Oprah made a genuine (and quick) connection to fly casting.
“Oprah was very much a quick study,” described Brian. “I could see how she’s attained the success she has. She’s extremely focused and driven. There was zero ‘diva factor’ and zero attitude. She was all ears, and had casting down in minutes. Beyond that, she was a genuinely gracious person to be around.”
I hope this won’t turn out to be a once-and-done deal. Apparently, Oprah doesn’t either.
“She assured us more than once during the shoot that she had wanted to fly fish for some time, and she hopes to come to Montana and do it more often,” Brian said.
One way or the other, I’d suggest to you that, in reaching out to her massive audience and saying nice things about fly fishing, Oprah will do more to stimulate interest in this sport (and our National Parks), perhaps since A River Runs Through It hit the silver screen in 1992. Certainly more than a lot of companies (including some selling you gear, and not putting back) have done… more than making movies of ourselves to show to ourselves will ever do… and more than any writer “preaching to the choir” can hope to accomplish.
As Teddy Roosevelt might have said: “Bully to Oprah!”
I’ll be tuned in this afternoon.