Move over “North Woods Law.” Animal Planet is launching another Maine-based reality TV show that looks like a winner.
It’s called “Cold River Cash,” and it it focuses on three teams of Maine fishermen who spend 10 weeks a year trying to earn thousands of dollars fishing for glass eels, or elvers.
Animal Planet sent out a press release last week announcing the eight-part series, which debuts at Jan. 2 at 10 p.m.
I’ve watched the premiere show already (we journalists might have the job voted worst in the nation, but there are, apparently, some perks that come along with being an ink-stained wretch), and I’m betting viewers across the country will love “Cold River Cash.”
Picture “Deadliest Catch” crossed with “Dirty Jobs,” and add in a subtle dusting of “Bert and I,” and you’ve got a pretty good idea what you’re going to see.
In “Cold River Cash,” producers have turned the elver-fishing industry on its ear (a la “Deadliest Catch”) by pitting teams of fishermen against each other … and keeping score.
As episodes progress, a end-of-show tote board shows which teams are getting rich … and which teams are struggling to keep up.
“During the short two-month season, which begins every March, ‘Cold River Cash’s’ three impassioned competitive teams — the Eelinators, Grinders, and Maineiacs — work round the clock to find prime fishing holes, protect profitable territory and haul in as many eels as possible,” the Animal Planet press release explains. “[The eels] can cash in at a hefty $2,000 a pound. High demand in Asia means the fishermen could earn hundreds of thousands of dollars in a few short months, but with only 60 days to make a year’s income, each team is determined to find the most lucrative fishing spot.”
Producers from Left/Right made some great choices when they chose the fishermen they’ll follow during the show; all are colorful, some are vulgar, and some are simply hilarious.
Here are your team bios, courtesy of Animal Planet:
The Eelinators: “Hailing from Brunswick, Maine, this team, consisting of brothers Dana and Chris Hole and lifelong best friend, Ken Cornelison, brought in a staggering $600,000 by the end of the previous eel-fishing season. This year, these macho guys are fishing hard to surpass that amount and crush the competition. Last season, the team’s success was based on warmer temperature; this season, the fishermen are plagued by an unusually colder climate, so can they really count on beating the odds this go round?”
The Grinders: “Led by family man Chad Jordan, this team from Hebron, Maine, also includes Chad’s brother, Justin Jordan, new member and son C.J. Jordan, and friend Lester Toothaker, whose odd, trademark bray of a laugh and elaborate schemes to catch eel always bring levity to the competition. In the fishing world, grinding means sticking to one particular fishing hole for long, consecutive hours, and this team definitely lives up to its name. Other fishermen think grinding is an ineffective method, but it’s this team’s strategy. As Lester always says, ‘If you can’t find them, grind them.'”
The Maineiacs: “Another family team, father and son Lee and Jason Leavitt, along with Jason’s brother-in-law Mike Bradley, represent Scarborough, Maine. Unlike The Grinders, this team constantly moves around to find the best fishing spot and often ends up in the most unconventional places. Lee, or ‘Old Man Leavitt,’ is the eccentric and opinionated patriarch of the gruop and constantly drives the rest of the team insane. He is a stubborn, old-fashioned fisherman who spent most of his life on a fishing boat and a determined non-conformist who has unconventional ideas where to find the most eels. Should the younger guys go against their own guts and listen to ‘Old Man Leavitt’ at the risk of losing their entire savings?”
So there are your key players. Set your DVR for Jan. 2, and enjoy.
One more thing: When Animal Planet’s PR folks say that Toothaker has a “loud, trademark bray of a laugh,” they’re not kidding.
Hear it once, and you won’t be able to get it out of your head.
You’ve been warned.
Follow John Holyoke on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke