(If you would like to listen to this interview online CLICK HERE)
T.J.: Hi, folks. Welcome to Today's Catch where we interview famous fishing personalities from across this great country of ours. Today, we've got with us Karl Kalonka from Extreme Angler TV and we're gonna ask him some questions. How you doing today, Karl?
Karl Kalonka: Pretty good, T.J. Yourself?
T.J.: I'm doing just fine. All right. We're gonna start off right into some heavy-duty fishing information here and the first couple of questions are from some of our users and the first one mentions that your favorite presentation that you mention a lot is pitching jigs in the jungles and he's curious to see what tips you have for pitching in very heavy cover, stuff like setup, which lures you like better than others, and trying to get a fish out of all that heavy cover.
Karl Kalonka: Yeah, great question. That's one of my favorite ways to fish. The biggest thing for me is it's like an adrenalin rush getting into that heavy stuff and with regard to using equipment, my best tip would be go as heavy as you can with line, with rods. I use 20, 25-pound, 30-pound test Maxima, heavy action 7 foot 6 flipping stick, which is extra heavy, but you've got to use a good premium brand that doesn't wear you down all day. Okay? Use something that has good graphite, that's light enough, but has the heavy-duty power to pull those fish out.
The biggest thing and people say, "Well, why so much the heavy line?" Well, it's not so much the big fish, although those big largemouth do live in that heavier cover. It's more the cover they live in. You want to be able to pull those fish out. Yeah, you might be able to get bit on using smaller baits and lighter line and lighter equipment, but will you be able to pull those fish out of that heavy cover? Most of the big largemouth, the fights aren't really long and intense. They're short, compact, fast, just like hooking a pig or whatever it is. They want to find they don't like that feeling. They go into the heavy stuff. They run. They pull. If you're not using heavy stuff, you're just gonna get heartbroken, so the biggest thing I would say to people tackle is No. 1 and it's paramount to success.
T.J.: So big stuff then, making sure you can yank them out of there, out of the cabbage area.
Karl Kalonka: Definitely, yeah.
T.J.: All right. So now if you're presenting a jig and pig, what's the deepest water depth you'd think?
Karl Kalonka: Well, I've been fishing lately in because of zebra mussels, etc., some of the water clarity that before wasn't as clear as it is now and some of the lakes in the Halliburton areas, Parry Sound, some parts of Georgian Bay, you get really ultra clear water. I do like to fish for largemouth shallow and heavy cover, but it just seems I'm just not getting the real big fish, so I've had to tone down a bit with the size of the jigs I use, use more of a bitsy jig with a smaller chunk trailer. I go down maybe 20, 25 feet of water. I'm looking for subtle things on the sonar. Electronics are so important with finding subtle, subtle things.
A lot of times, you're looking for those traditional arches or hooks and stuff on a sonar and that's not what you're looking for. You're looking for structure elements like drop-offs, sharp little breaks, or whatever it is and a lot of times those fish, they could be positioned right on the bottom. You won't even see them but getting your baits down in those deeper edges, especially in that ultra clear water.
The other thing I do now like fishing with some of the guys on Team-X, and these guys really know the drop-shot technique, although I won't use real light tackle I'll still use the heavy stuff but I'll rig it with maybe a two odd or a three odd hook and I'll use it like with a stick worm or soft plastic bait or little shad bait but just get it down there in that clear water and I'll stand above where I feel the fish are on my sonar and have confidence in the abilities that my sonar is showing me that I'm on the right structure elements and just shake that bait down there. You keep shaking that bait long enough in that fish's face I guarantee you those big fish, too, even though they're down there and maybe they're not as aggressive as they should be, they'll smack your bait but you got to get it in front of them. That's the key.
T.J.: Interesting. All right. I was having a little look around at your Web site and it's pretty huge. You got a lot of information there. Any new stuff you want to talk about?
Karl Kalonka: Yeah, it's pretty good. You know what? Our Web site gets a lot of traffic and I'm not gonna give it a plug, etc. and talk about all the commercial side of it but, yeah, it's in-depth and I always wanted to make it where people can go there. Easy to navigate to. It wasn't full of a lot of fluff but it's just information and how-to's that the people wanted to see on there. We've got some new things coming, exclusive Team-X tips and tactics on video as opposed to just a printed version. It seems like we're listening to our viewers and fan base, whatever, who send in things saying, "I like to see this or see that."
So we're working on that right now, accumulating the footage and doing the tips and tactics so when it is on our Web site, it'll be easy for guys to see it. There'll be little thumbnails. They can click it. It'll say what it is, so it's not just a generic thing that people can actually adapt and pick the Team-X member that they want with the information they want and instead of scrolling through all the other ones that maybe don't apply to them, they can go right to the things that they want, with the titles and description, click it on and they either got myself or one of the other Team-X guys Bob Devine, Mark Kulik or Chong or Kennedy and boom. They're giving to the guy right as if you're asking me right now, right in front of you. That's the kind of stuff we're doing and we've got some more sponsors coming onboard with the show and we're gonna have some really good contests and some really nice prizes up for grabs coming up pretty soon.
T.J.: I know everybody likes contests and prizes.
Karl Kalonka: Oh, yeah.
T.J.: We're always working on that kinda stuff and it's nice now with bandwidth the way it is that videos aren't as difficult to put forward as they used to be. We're doing quite a few new videos as well.
Karl Kalonka: Yeah.
T.J.: All right. So you've caught some really big bass over the years on camera. What's your secret for catching all them big fish on TV?
Karl Kalonka: You know, T.J., it's really not a secret. It's more to do with all the gaining of experience and confidence I've got over the years of fishing. I've learned and this is the hardest part that laziness leads to boredom and boredom leads to unproductive days on the water. You know, the biggest thing is stay focused. I stay focused cast after cast. I'm constantly paying attention to my surroundings the weather, the way the fish are feeding. I let the fish tell me what they want. I don't have preconceived notions.
There's certain ways I want to go out and maybe there's a certain way I want to catch these big largemouth, etc. but I let the fish tell me. If what I'm doing, what I've preconceived before I went out in the morning is not working, I will, even though there's it's easy to just fall back into that pattern and say, "Well, I'll find those fish somewhere." Well, no. You got to be versatile. That's the biggest thing in successful fishing, especially for big or largemouth, not the average size. I'm talking about the real big guys. You've got to be versatile but, again, get away from those preconceived notions of how you want to catch them. Let the fish tell you what to do. Be versatile. That's the key to catching those bigger fish.
T.J.: So that was what you'd say would be the No. 1 factor?
Karl Kalonka: Oh, yeah, biggest thing. Be versatile. Stay away from not just that, "Ah, they're not biting today," etc. 'cause somewhere, somehow, those fish are biting and it's up to you, the angler, to find them and get away from that laziness of just picking up a bait and throw it all day like, "Ah, they weren't eating out today. They weren't going today." Because I guarantee you somewhere, somehow, those fish are eating and that's big largemouth's only drawback, that they're looking for the buffet. They always have to eat to stay big and that's their only drawback. They have to open that yap and that's where we if you put your bait in the right spot, they're gonna eat it.
T.J.: Interesting. So I'm looking at your stuff and it's all the Extreme Angler and Team-X and Brand X. Why Team-X and who all is on your team?
Karl Kalonka: Oh, we got all different guys on it. I looked at when I started up the show and stuff, I looked at the same kind of format like Al Linder started up with the famous In-Fisherman fame and the shows. Okay. I like to utilize and we have on our show like I like to say some of the best anglers in the country who have the ability to fish for many different species, not just bass or walleye or pike but in all conditions and all different presentations. Like I can compare it and we're not professors but I can compare it to some of the world's best universities. They utilize some of the best teachers and professors and why? And that's to educate the next generation and that's what we're trying to do.
Our show is about educating. Yeah, it's entertaining. It has to be inspiring. We want to keep the people focused on the show but it's about education. If we educate the right people now, they'll fish for generations and that's what we're trying to do with Team-X. Like and it's no disrespect to any other show host, etc. but seriously, it would take 10 to 20 lifetimes for one person to learn all the different presentations, species, tactics, etc. and I'm not gonna try to fool our viewers. We have more the more quality guys that know what they're doing on the show, the more opportunities for them to learn from Extreme Angler, so that's basically the whole thing with having Mark Kulik, Bob Devine, Dave Kennedy and Dave Chong. Like these guys and myself, we've learned over the years of fishing.
We've spent tons of time on the water but, again, we do not accept failure, although fishing can be very humbling sometimes. When that fish don't want to open up their mouth, it makes us feel pretty awful and just like every other guy or girl that goes fishing but the bottom line is we've learned how to adapt and how to try to find fish and how to change lures and how to present them, just use all the elements to that to teach the next generation and that's the keys to actually Team-X and Extreme Angler.
T.J.: So that's what you figure makes your show so different than most traditional fishing shows?
Karl Kalonka: Yeah. We try to keep it as real as it gets, too, T.J. Like really like we're there's no scripted stuff. We keep it as real. Our hook sets are real. People see the cast; see the catch. We try to stay away from all the, I guess, preconceived notions over the years of different smoking mirrors or whatever it is and being scientific. I don't believe in that stuff. I do believe in showing people what they want and we like to think that like we're the blue collar working man's show. We go on public lakes 100 percent. We're always on a public lake where anybody can go on a ramp. They can go fishing in the same lakes. They can get out there. I think that's what's important.
Those are the things that I wanted to learn when I was growing up to fish how do I catch those fish and somewhere where I can actually do it. So we're a Canadian show. All our guys are Canadian. All our post-production here in Canadian so we try to say that we are Canada's fishing show, everything we do and everything we present. Like opportunities always come up to go different places in the spring for bass or whatever, but you know what? I won't film that stuff. I might go for the entertainment value, etc. but for filming wise, I always like to keep Extreme Angler homegrown. It's a Canadian show and it's always gonna stay that way.
T.J.: Well, that's a great thing 'cause, like I said, that's what we're trying to do as well here. I know I've had some pretty funny things happen to me whenever when I've been filming once in a while. What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you while you've been filming?
Karl Kalonka: Oh, I got a doozy and you actually can see the clip on my Web site. I lost one of my expensive rods on a hook set. I'd just finished juicing up one of my chunks with some scent. The fishing was slow, so I thought, "Ah, well, I'm gonna try this stuff, too." Pitch into a tree. Didn't think about wiping my hands, etc. The jig's going down into the tree. I feel a tick. I set the hook. The rod's just in the air like an arrow towards the tree and you see my arm stretched out.
It wasn't scripted. I don't think you can even pretend to do that but I mean it was phenomenal. Like the cameraman was almost falling, dropping the camera laughing. I'm laughing. I'm looking down at this $500.00 rod sinking to the depths. Didn't know what happened. It was just it was surreal, believe me, but if people check out Web site, you'll see it's out there and that's as real as it gets.
T.J.: Yeah. I think that one of the best things about fishing shows are the bloopers happening anyway.
Karl Kalonka: Oh, yeah, big time 'cause that's as real as it gets and that's showing people that where everybody's as real as it really is. It's not preconceived, so we try to keep that, too, and every show we always have something funny at the end to show people.
T.J.: That's terrific. I was looking at your Web site and you got something called a mobile banner on your Web site. What's that all about?
Karl Kalonka: Yeah, that's cool. We were at last year at ICAST, which is the world's biggest tradeshow for all fishing tackle manufacturers, and a company approached us. They were looking to add a property, a fishing property, to their portfolio for cell phone packages and stuff and basically it includes people can download photos of myself, Team-X, our logo and soon our popular show soundtrack as a ringtone and video tips and tactics. That's all coming out, I think, sometime in the fall but the images and things like that are available and what's pretty cool is that it's on muchmusic.com, I guess, or whatever it is.
But if you go to Much Music and I think we're the first fishing property in not just Canada but North America that's actually associated with the youngsters and the next generation on Much Music so that they can download it to their cell phones, etc., so it's pretty cool in a way when you think that there's other properties like NASCAR or wrestling and UFC Mixed Martial Arts Wrestling and Fighting and things like that and we're right up there with them as the only fishing property that's available to people with cell phones.
T.J.: Well, I can honestly say I've been working with you for a little while promoting and you guys work harder than anybody else at getting your name out there.
Karl Kalonka: Yeah, that's great. I appreciate that.
T.J.: All right. So what about DVDs? You guys gonna be doing anything like the guys at In-Fisherman or anything like that?
Karl Kalonka: Oh, yeah. We've been working on that right now. We're in the process right now of accumulating just the right amount of footage and the footage that really you can't show on TV. There's certain regulations the CRTC has with regard to commercialization on national TV, so the DVDs are perfect choice for us to for our fan base and viewers to go and get these so they can actually learn what baits we use, how we do it, and it's not just in a half hour show but these can be 90-minute DVDs and videos but they're gonna have certain species select.
We're working right now with a pretty big partnership with a big box chain that they've seen the potential that we have to offer our viewer and the customers and stuff with these actual how-to's for Canadian anglers, where to find fish in Canada, what to use, how to use it properly with different conditions, and that's probably the biggest thing people want to know is like, "Well, how do you change like from spring to summer and fall?"
Well, let's as an example, walleye. When it opens up in the spring, there's so many different ways to catch them. We'll pick like three or four different ways on every DVD and then hopefully build a library over the years that people can actually put these in their machines and find out exactly how we do it and how we catch these fish.
T.J.: That's pretty cool. I could use some advice. I can always use advice.
Karl Kalonka: Right on.
T.J.: So speaking of advice, what's I got a question here that I ask everybody. If you could put one lure in your tackle box to go out there for bass, what would it be?
Karl Kalonka: Jig. You know why a jig? Because I love to throw the jig, too, but I like for myself for all the years of fishing, I've learned that if the fishing is good, the jig still works. You can cast it out into heavy stuff. You can swim it. You can do different things with it. With the fishing slow, I've learned that I don't want to wait for the fish to come to me. I want to go to the fish. If they're moody or if the weather's shut them down or whatever it be. Maybe they've just ate a big rock bass and they're not too aggressive.
Well, by picking a bait like a jig, even for walleye, too, probably one of the most versatile baits, but that jig and chunk, I can put that thing almost anywhere from 2 inches of water to 25 feet but I can with different line strengths, etc. and different presentations, I can put that bait right on a fish's nose potentially, right in their living room or kitchen or whatever it may be and chances are if he sees it and it's close enough to his face and I can shake it around, he's gonna eat it.
And the biggest thing for me with the jig like that, it's not so much the catch. I love catching big largemouth. It's the hunt, the anticipation of the capture and once I catch them, every big bass I catch, any bass I catch, I release, okay. But it's the anticipation of catching that big fish. Like that's what keeps me inspired and it always keeps me fishing.
T.J.: Yeah. Well, we're always after the big fish. I haven't been too successful at big fish lately. I had a little 9-inch pike put a hook through my hand the other day, so you got to even be careful with the little ones.
Karl Kalonka: You got it.
T.J.: That's for sure. I'm sitting around the campfire a lot of times with these guys and we're all sitting around saying, "Geez. We could do a fishing show. How hard could that be?" What's it like to do a fishing show and be a professional angler like you are? Is it difficult? What are some of the problems and issues that you have.
Karl Kalonka: It's awesome. I try to deal with like in any business, there's always gonna be the pitfalls because there's competition and things like that. You've got to learn to deal with that. Got to have thick skin. When I was bit younger doing this kind of stuff, things got to me, stress, etc., but I learned, man, I'm lucky. Like I truly believe I've been given a gift by my parents and maybe it's good DNA or whatever it is 'cause my whole family loves to fish and now with my wife and two girls, same thing. They just love to fish and my biggest thing as I look back on my life, let's say, later on hopefully, knock on wood, that I can look back and say, "Hey, man, what I had and what I'm doing is priceless." You know what I mean? Forget all the glory, all the accolades and people, this and that. Whatever it is, I can look back and say, "I did something in my life that I love to do and I fished." Period.
The magazine and the TV show simply just showcases the glorious opportunity I've been blessed with but my biggest thing is years ago driving a truck that I just decided this wasn't for me. This was back in '93, '94. This wasn't me and I only can control my life. Like last week, I've been doing some seminars now at high schools and stuff and the schools are coming to me and ask to talk to the students about inspiring the choices I've made in my life and things like that and it's pretty humbling like to see these 15, 16, 17‑year‑old kids ask me questions about this and that, not so much the fishing part but, "How did you start and what gave you the confidence to do this?"
And I made a lot of sacrifices and there is some regret, I guess, at some point, but basically, I'm living the dream and for a Canadian to say that, it's not easy and there's only a handful of us out there that actually do this full time that can pay the bills and still get out and fish so, basically, I just figure I'm blessed and I just make the most of it every single day.
T.J.: Well, it certainly sounds like you do. So we're just about gonna wrap this up. Do you have anything new coming to Extreme Angler that we should know about?
Karl Kalonka: Yeah, it's pretty cool. We sat down with the guys and we caught we call it the Hog Pen and that's what all the Team-X guys sit around. We just trade ideas and innovative things like, "What can we do to make the show even better? Fast pace. Maybe attract some more viewers or educate people. So I'm not gonna let the cat out of the bag but we've got some real cool spins coming up to this year that we're filming now for next year's show that I think it's gonna hopefully keep us again just separated a little bit from the rest of the pack. Again, with our Web site as well, too, we're adding some really cool interactive stuff, more contests and stuff, so people like every day or every couple of days they can go to our site and there's something new to check out on Extreme Angler.
So basically, yeah, we're excited. We've been filming so many different things from crappy and the perch, all kinds of trout, lake trout, pike, walleye, white fish, you name it, this spring to make it a really multi-species show this year and, of course, bass season opens in four days, so all our guys are dye in the wool bass fisherman so we're looking forward to that and hopefully put some more big giants on the film again this year.
T.J.: You should move up north. There's some spots up here bass is open year round.
Karl Kalonka: Well, when I get the invite, we're coming.
T.J.: Well, I'll have to have you up to my camp one of these days.
Karl Kalonka: For sure.
T.J.: It's no Hilton but it's my camp.
Karl Kalonka: Right on.
T.J.: All right. Well, we've been talking to Karl from Extreme Angler TV today. That's www.extremeanglertv.com . Thanks a lot for being with us, Karl.
Karl Kalonka: Okay, T.J.
T.J.: You have a good one.
Karl Kalonka: Okay. Thanks very much.