TV’s “Fly Rod Chronicles” series features area fishing folks
If you love spectacular fishing and hunting vistas, you may already have seen the award-winning fishing show “Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming.” The Outdoor Channel television series is in its 10th season and is going into its sixth year.
Fleming, a 15-year educator and former Timber Ridge School teacher, travels with his crew across the country and the world in search of the best fly fishing and hunting adventures. “Fly Rod Chronicles” is about the places they travel and the people they meet and sharing their stories.
Fleming’s wife, former Paw Paw Schools Principal Michelle Fleming, and daughters Laken and Autumn Fleming have been featured in episodes filmed at scenic spots like Wyoming and Florida. Michelle Fleming now works as administrative assistant for the series.
Morgan County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Wade Shambaugh is a longtime friend who has fished and hunted with Curtis Fleming for years locally and across the United States. Shambaugh serves as a videographer and photographer for the TV series and does a couple of trips a year for the show.
The series is full of humor, family fun and Fleming’s passion for people, fishing and nature. He said the series has been called a “reality fly fishing show” because it shows someone getting stung by a bee or them winding up with a flat tire.
The show was just nominated for four Outdoor Channel Golden Moose Awards and is in the top five for the Best Overall Fishing Series. It has nearly one million viewers per episode.
How it started
Fleming, who originally hails from Bridgeport, West Virginia, grew up loving the outdoors, fishing and hunting and watching “Wild King-dom.” He wanted to create an outdoor show with good, clean family fun that was different and that showcased the beauty of West Virginia.
The show had its roots from when he worked at Timber Ridge. Fleming would assign essays to students on why they’d like to go on a fly fishing trip. He would take six kids with the top essays fishing.
Wade Shambaugh filmed “Fly Rod Chronicles” first show in southern Virginia where Fleming caught his biggest trout ever. Shambaugh was also the sole film crew for a wilderness float trip in Alaska.
They dropped them off in a float plane onto a glacier lake with their tent, food and supplies on their back and picked them up downstream nine days later, Fleming said. Big grizzly bears circled around during their float.
Shambaugh said he shot everything freehand without a tripod. There was no way to recharge camera batteries. It was some of the very best episodes they’ve ever filmed, Fleming said of Alaska.
“It was the trip of a lifetime,” Shambaugh said.
Guests, special shows
Guests have included celebrities and everyday folks. Fleming and daughter Laken did a father-daughter float trip with West Virginia University Coach Bob Huggins and his daughter Jacqie for the show.
Last week’s episode featured Fleming’s dad Sonny pursuing his 30-year quest for a bull elk in New Mexico. Fleming’s dad had taken him out west every year for many years to hunt and fish. This time his father got the big elk and it was a special time for both.
“Fly Rod Chronicles” did a special tribute to fallen West Virginia State Trooper Eric Workman, a fellow West Virginia Angler Association member who had a passion for musky fishing and a dedication to protect and serve, Fleming said.
On the show, they take wounded war veterans fly fishing through Project Healing Waters and teach them how to make lures as therapy. It’s a way of giving back, Fleming said. Michelle Fleming served in the military during the Gulf War and both of their families come from service backgrounds.
They also work with Casting for Recovery doing fly fishing clinics with women that have battled breast cancer. It helps get the women closer to the outdoors and gets their minds off their cancer.
Their current focus is a series of shows about West Virginia. The West Virginia Department of Commerce is sponsoring 13 original “Fly Rod Chronicles” 30-minute episodes. Six shows will be filmed on West Virginia streams, rivers or lakes, while seven other episodes will include state features.
“The show shines a national spotlight on West Virginia’s scenic beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. By touring our towns and talking to our people, the program will help viewers learn about the attractions, culture and heritage that make West Virginia ‘almost heaven,’” said state Commerce Department Cabinet Secretary Keith Burdette in a press release.
Future shows include West Virginia sites on the Potomac, Greenbrier, Cranberry and New Rivers as well as Panama City, the Rocky Mountains, northern Georgia and Spain where Ernest Hemingway used to fish.
Shambaugh said he and Curtis Fleming have hunted and fished in West Virginia, Virginia, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, northern New Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico for the show or just together. Other episode locales have included Belize, Brazil and North Carolina.
Laken Fleming said her favorite part of “Fly Rod Chronicles” is that she gets to travel, see new places and meet new people. The Coach Huggins float trip was a favorite.
Shambaugh’s favorite spots were Wyoming, northern New Mexico and Utah, but also here in West Virginia. People think they have to go out west for spectacular fishing, but where they hold the annual fly fishing tournament in Petersburg is just as great, he said.
Shambaugh said that doing the show has been a tremendous experience for him. They’ve made lifelong friends everywhere they’ve traveled. “Curtis and Shelly are the nicest, most wonderful people,” he said.
Michelle Fleming said she misses everyone at Paw Paw and Morgan County Schools, but loves her new job and the show’s positive energy. Her goal is “to show off what we have right here at home in West Virginia.”
Curtis Fleming said it’s been a dream come true to have it be a family show with his wife handling administrative tasks and his oldest daughter Laken working for him too.
Fleming said each place they go is very special and that he feels very blessed to be able to do the show.
“My favorite place and best fish is when I can come home to be with my family and friends in West Virginia,” he said.