Before YouTube and Instagram Reels and streaming shows, there was Flip Pallot’s Walker’s Cay Chronicles. The fishing TV show aired on ESPN for 15 years (longer than Seinfeld) starting in the early 1990s. With it, Pallot gave viewers an honest look at the people and places he found essential to the sport of saltwater angling.

There was no pageantry, manufactured drama, or glitzy celebrities. Instead, Pallot’s show was about fishing and friendship. Its calm, low-key vibe was the polar opposite of the high-speed bass boats and big-racked bucks on other outdoor shows at the time.

Pallot is still out there doing what he loves, even though fewer people are watching. And in the noisy world of digital outdoor content, it’s important to check in with people like him. It’s not because Pallot is the saltwater fly fisherman of our time. Or because he truly lives the life, which he does, traveling the country in a homemade camper from his home in Florida to fish and bowhunt all over the place. It has more to do with Pallot’s thoughts on why we all hunt and fish in the first place. But, we’ll let him tell you that in his own words.

F&S: Where are you at these days—on the road or at home?

Pallot: I’m in between, just getting ready to leave town again, recovering from hunting season. From September through the middle of April, it’s pretty much hunting until the end of turkey season. Starting next week, I’m back into fishing.

F&S: I’ve read that you didn’t learn how to hunt and fish from a family member, as many people do. Who were some of your mentors?

Pallot: I had three or four major mentors in my life. I’m lucky to have had that many. They weren’t just people I admired, they were people who invested in me with a willingness to share over long periods of time. One of them was Lefty Kreh. He shared lots of life lessons with me, as well as things about fishing and casting. Stu Apte was another true mentor whom I spent hundreds and hundreds of days with traveling on the water and learning. And a third person by the name of Pete Peacock taught me the woods. I consider those three guys my mentors and people who truly shaped my life.

F&S: Why did you want to make Walker’s Cay Chronicles?

Pallot: The only other outdoor show at the time was The American Sportsman, on ABC. We all watched it religiously. It featured entertainment personalities or sports figures being invited to fish or hunt with people who really knew what they were doing.

Even though it was very well done, it didn’t mention the relationships that real people have when they go hunting or fishing. And those relationships are the central focus of what we do. It’s not so much killing something or catching something, but the time spent in the woods or on the water with people who are like-minded or who you can have a conversation about life with—not necessarily football player or TV entertainer.

Today, we have more outdoor TV and video than ever before. Do you feel like things have moved in the right direction?

No, I don’t. I think, sadly, creative control has shifted to the sponsors because there is so much competition for their sponsorship. They’re able to dictate how much air time their products get and how frequently they’re mentioned or used. And all that takes away from the ability to create high production value in a 20-minute format. In the absence of creative control, I think the end product suffers tremendously, loses entertainment value, and winds up becoming an infomercial.

Even with independent creators and YouTube?

No, it’s much less there. But I also think—and this is a very general statement—online viewers have a much shorter attention span than traditional television viewers. The formats are shorter online, and the shorter formats can limit the entertainment value of a product.

So what makes a good hunting or fishing story?

Well, I think it’s about the folks, and about the place. It’s about the campfire and lacing up your boots and launching the boat—all the things we used to be able to see that there’s no time to see now.

How do we get back to that?

I don’t know. I think the world is just changing, and there may not be a demand for it anymore. Still, the pendulum has a way of swinging.

Speaking of old values, you hunt with a traditional bow. Why?

This could wind up being a long answer, but I’ll try to keep it short. I think that instant gratification in today’s world is out of control, and I don’t understand it. We have more disposable income and leisure time than we’ve ever had, yet people are so anxious for things to happen without investing in skill. From my perspective, we have a distorted view of what’s important in the outdoors and in life in general.

People need $1,200 fly rods and $130 fly lines. It’s completely out of control. We’ve been making graphite fishing rods now for, I don’t know, 50 years. Do you think that there’s a new taper out there that’s going to make you cast better? Do you think there’s better cork that somebody just stumbled on in Indonesia? No, it’s all marketing.

Walk into a fly shop up to the wall of fly lines, and there are bass tapers, bluegill tapers, carp tapers, sailfish tapers, wind tapers, distance tapers, etc. The whole thing has been marketed to death. If [hunting and fishing] returned to the basics, it could all be so much more enjoyable.

Portrait of outdoor personality Flip Palot, with a saltwater fly rod over his shoulder.
Pallot, ready to hit the water. Courtesy of Flip Pallot

What do you enjoy more, hunting or fishing?

Hunting has always been my first love. I love fishing too, but it became a vocation and remains a vocation. But hunting has always been the love of my life and the place where I’ve spent more time. And I think that it has in many, many ways influenced the way that I fish and the way that I think about fishing.

How so? Do you mean that casting from a flats skiff is a bit like stalking?

Oh, sure, sure. Most of the fishing that I do is hunting. Using a plotter or a bottom machine that can look sideways and tell me that a tarpon is 30 yards at 1 o’clock isn’t my idea of going fishing. I see that it’s recreation, but it is so far from the world of my mind that I could never do it.

So where can today’s outdoorspeople learn the traditional skills you’re talking about?

There are wonderful teachers of old skills online, and that’s the one really great thing that I can say about the internet. It’s a repository for old information and old ways of thinking. If I were a young person curious about what was possible, that would be a great starting point.

What do you think folks would gain from a more old-school approach to hunting and fishing?

Well, I don’t know. I think that they’d get closer to the essence of what it’s truly all about. Although I don’t know if I can say that because it may be all about something else now with all the technology. It’s just simpler, quieter, and more respectful.

There was a time not too long ago, within the last couple of hundred years, when we depended 100 percent on animals. We depended on them for clothing, for tools, for cordage, for lard, for glue, for everything. And then a shift occurred, and they now depend on us for everything. Animals everywhere depend on us, and we’ve done a bad job of living up to our responsibility and our debt to them.

In my mind, if we hunt and fish in traditional ways, then we keep things in balance. But when we go into their house, which has now greatly shrunk, with crossbows or rifles that are accurate to a mile, we’re not living up to what we owe them. We change the playing field, and we’re tilting it every year more and more in our direction. At the same time, we’re shrinking their habitat and their numbers.

I know that I’m no longer able to influence anybody at this point in life. I mean, I’m way closer to the end than I am to the beginning. All I can do is hope that there’s an epiphany, that we realize that the planet is at a tipping point. I just hope it dawns on other people at some point.