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Craig Morgan Reels In an Incredible Fishing Experience in Bimini

The country singer and host of the Outdoor Channel’s All Access Outdoors rubs his new facial hair and explains it was time to switch things up.

Originally published in our August 5, 2013 issue featuring our 50 Greatest Songs of Summer list.

This adventurous outdoorsman thing must be sticking to Craig Morgan, because he still has the beard from his Arctic dog-sled expedition at the Fjällräven Polar. The country singer and host of the Outdoor Channel’s All Access Outdoors rubs his new facial hair and explains it was time to switch things up.

“My wife liked it, all the women liked it,” says Craig, seated on a plush couch at his record label’s offices. “We decided it was time for something a little different in the image.” It certainly gives Craig a more rugged appearance, befitting of his show, and his latest single, “Wake Up Lovin’ You” (see sidebar), is quite the stylistic departure as well.

In addition to the thrilling dog-sledding trip, Craig has undertaken a whole slew of new escapades for this season of All Access Outdoors, including a turn as a rodeo clown and a trip to Bimini for a wahoo fishing tournament. For those who don’t know, the prized game fish can grow to be in excess of 100 pounds and has razor-sharp teeth. In short, it isn’t anything like catching your typical bass or bream.

While Craig is a plenty-experienced angler, going after the wahoo was something new. “I’ve done a lot of open water, a lot of saltwater fishing,” he says. “We’ve caught wahoo, but never intentionally. It’s a different kind of fishing, it’s a lot of work.”

That’s no exaggeration. Reeling in the massive wahoo took Craig and company a couple hours. “It’s time-consuming, very physically draining,” recalls Craig, who managed to land the fish despite not being physically 100 percent. “I had just had surgery the week before on my right shoulder. I had part of my clavicle cut out, had my bicep tendon completely reattached. I had stitches in my rotator cuff—had a hole the size of my thumb in my rotator cuff. So the week before [the fishing trip] I’d had that done on my right hand and I’m right-handed. I had to do a lot of work and compensating, but it was a lot of fun.”

Along with the excitement and hard work of landing the big fish, the trip introduced Craig to a new friend. “I met John Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway’s grandson, and [we] have since stayed in touch. [He’s] just an unbelievable personality,” says Craig, smiling as he recalls the experience. “I’m not a big reader, which was odd—me hanging out with this writer.”

Spending time with the literary progeny proved to be a transformational event for Craig. “I read his book [Strange Tribe: A Family Memoir] and it inspired me and motivated me to want to read more and even write,” says Craig. “That was a point in my life where things changed and I didn’t even realize it was happening until after I looked back and went, ‘Wow, I’m starting to read books and I want to write now. I want to write my story because of that experience that weekend.’” He chuckles, adding, “And I went down there to fish. So you never know what’s gonna happen.”

Or, for Craig, what you’re going to reel in. 

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