TNA wrestler “Showtime” Eric Young is stepping out of the ring and onto the water as the new host of Animal Planet’s new show “Off the Hook: Extreme Catches.” The novice outdoorsman is quenching his thirst for adventure by crossing the country trying out different fishing practices and all kinds of unconventional tackle and equipment. Brash got a chance to chat with the amateur angler and find out how his physical background helped in his adventures out on the water, his most frightening fish encounter, and even a little bit of halieutics help.
How did you get involved with “Off The Hook?”
The opportunity came to me – a friend had seen the call for a new host, and I got into contact with the production company shooting the show, and I sent them a video of me. They liked it and they took it to Animal Planet and they liked it, and they whittled it down, and I ended up getting the job.
How long have you been fishing?
I fished a lot when I was younger. My dad got me into it when I was a little kid. One of the first things he said to my mom when I was born was, “Finally, I have a fishing partner.” Most of my fishing was done at a young age and as a teenager. And then I got into pro-wrestling from there, and that pretty much consumed all my time. So I hadn’t fished a whole lot in the last 10 to 15 years. Then this came along, so I jumped at the chance, because I love fishing and I like to do it, but I just didn’t have the time to do it before.
How much does being a pro wrestler help when a catch gets out of hand?
It’s definitely handy. Animal Planet ended up with a host that can take a beating, and it’s a good thing because it’s a physical job. Some of the styles of fishing are rough: long days on the water, 30 miles offshore in a jet ski, free diving, and oil rig scuba diving. It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.
What’s the most remote location you’ve shot in so far?
The place we shot in Louisiana was right on the Gulf Coast and you had to go across this huge bridge. It was called Port Fourchon, and it’s basically just exists because of the oil fields and fishing. Everyone that works there either works in the oil field or works in commercial fishing. Not really close to anything and right on the water. Most of the places are pretty remote little villages and a place called Matlachay, Florida — kind of outside of Tampa — it’s a tiny little place. They say it was a quaint drinking village with a fishing problem.
What’s the scariest encounter you’ve had fishing so far with the show?
We haven’t had any really close, close calls, but the scariest thing, I think, was catching sharks from a paddleboard. There were sharks all around and blood in the water, and the only thing between the sharks and myself was just the paddle board — four inches of fiberglass. So that was pretty nerve wracking.
What’s been your biggest catch so far this season?
We caught a seven-foot shark, a nurse shark, with ladies’ pantyhose. It does work! If anyone tells you that it doesn’t, you can call them a liar because I saw it with my own eyes.
What is your best advice for a novice fisherman?
Do it with guys that know best. I’m going around doing it with men and women that are pros at these styles of fishing. They’re so passionate, knowledgeable about it; you can’t help but learn. I’m either really lucky, or I learn really quickly, or I’m doing it with the pros, and it’s probably the latter.
Any tackle recommendations you’ve received from the pros?
We don’t take any of our own stuff. We use all of their gear and the things that they use, because we want to do it the way that they do it. They don’t have a back up pole – a lot of them make their own lures. The fly fisherman for mako sharks, the guy made all of his own flies. [One] guy made all of his own plugs and lures, handmade. It’s really neat to see! They’re ingenious, most of these guys.
Going back to your background, how’d you get your start in wrestling?
I’ve been a fan of pro wrestling, since I was like 5. At that age, you’re not like, “oh, that’s what I’m going to be,” but I always thought it was awesome. I watched it my whole life, and probably around first getting into high school is when I really said to myself, I would really like to do that for a living. Right after high school I went right from high school to a wrestling gym, and trained, and starting wrestling all over Canada and the United States. It all worked out, and now I do it for a living. I’ll never take that for granted. I live my dream every single day and it’s something I don’t take lightly.
We have to ask: How do you maintain your beard?
I keep it trimmed because it gets pretty gnarly if I let it grow out too far. [I’ve] got to keep it as respectable as a beard can be, I guess. I wash it, especially if I get fish guts in it; that can make it smell pretty bad. Not a lot of upkeep to it, which is why I like it. Low maintenance.
“Off the Hook: Extreme Catches” premieres tonight at 9:00 PM/8:00 on Discovery Channel, and regularly on August 19the at 9:00 PM/8:00 on Animal Planet.