A funny thing happened when Brad Paisley's hit "I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)" rocketed to the top of the charts last year.
"I sort of became the guy you tell the fish story to," laughs Brad. Everywhere he went, fellow anglers and fishing "widows" began telling Brad their tales. But Brad did more than just listen. He jotted down the best stories and collected more from famous friends, including talk show king Jerry Springer, fishing show host Hank Parker, Gilligan's Island star Dawn Wells and fellow singers Tracy Byrd, Andy Griggs and Darryl Worley. After adding his own yarns, Brad realized he had the makings of a book -- and recently released Jug Fishing For Greazy And Other Brad Paisley Fishing Stories. Here are some of the highlights.
Brad's grandfather, Warren Jarvis, lost his battle with cancer long after he had taught his grandson to play guitar -- and to fish. Brad will never forget the last time they fished together. His grandfather had just caught the biggest carp Brad, then a teen, had ever seen.
We carried the fish home and stuck it in the rain barrel that was part of the downspout off my grandparents' porch. We plugged up the hole so it would stay full of water. And the fish lived!
That night, I think my grandfather was feeling bad the fish wasn't in the lake. I mean, it was so big, it really couldn't swim around in the barrel. It just kind of rolled around sideways. So, he went outside in the dark, got the fish out of the rain barrel, took it back down to the river and threw it back in. I had already gone to bed. I didn't even know he'd done it. It was perfect.
Brad grew up watching Hank Parker's Outdoor Magazine on TV, so he was thrilled when he was invited to be a guest on the show. While the two fished, they talked about their favorite episodes.
Hank recalled having Dale Earnhardt on the show. It was one of my favorites, too! Dale's daughter, Taylor, was on the program with him. She was fishing with a Mickey Mouse rod and reel and got a fish. She was having all kinds of trouble reeling it so she just started walking backwards up the bank dragging the thing. She just walked up the bank till it was out of the water. That killed me!
When Brad first met fellow singer Andy Griggs, they bonded over fishing, not music.
Andy told me one of the most perfect fishing stories I've ever heard. It involves him and his dad, who passed away a few years back. Andy came home to Louisiana for a visit and he could tell his dad had a lot on his mind. They hadn't been fishing for a while so even though it was raining really hard this particular Saturday, they went anyway.
Andy said, "Daddy, I don't think we're going to catch much fish in this weather." His dad had a real serious look on his face and said, "That's all right, son. It's not about the fish. Sometimes a man just needs to go fishing."
Brad found that nearly every angler has a tale to tell about fishing with their father. Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on TV's Gilligan's Island, is no exception. Dawn, an accomplished fly-fisher, grew up fishing with her dad in Idaho.
Dawn says she remembers being out on the river with her dad, sitting on the front of the boat. As soon as she slapped the water the fish would scatter while her dad would get one every time he put the rod in! but he would always make her feel better by saying, "It's not called 'catching.' It's called fishing."
Tracy Byrd's father didn't teach him to fish -- his grandmother, Nana, did. One summer when he was 9, Tracy couldn't wait to go on a fishing trip with her. But a mowing accident nearly dashed the dream excursion.
They went to the hospital and the doctors sewed up Tracy's toe. Through all the pain, all Tracy could think of was, "Dang! I'm not going to get to go on the fishing trip." Sure enough, the doctor told him he shouldn't go. He said Tracy's foot needed to be elevated for at least five days.
So Nana jumped in, suggesting they could put his foot up on the boat. The doctor agreed. Tracy and Nana fished for two weeks with his foot wrapped up and propped on her ice chest, which incidentally, was full of fish.