Missing Nature in Quarantine? Try Goin’ Fishin’

 Pull up a chair and join me for an episode of Goin’ Fishin’, Maryland Public Television’s (MPT) first nature program!  Produced in 1971 as part of a partnership with the Maryland Fish and Wildlife Administration, Goin’ Fishin’ will give you a simulated break from quarantine, appealing to both your inner sportsman and desire to be outside. Goin’ Fishin’ stars fish enthusiast Joe Reynolds, whose depth of fish knowledge is matched only by the length of his sideburns. Goin’ Fishin’ juxtaposes good old fashioned fish talk with gorgeous shots of scenic Maryland. Combine that with composer Donald Swartz’s score of mellow keyboard and woodwinds and you’ve got what may quite possibly be the most relaxing show ever made. It’s perfect pandemic watching: soothing, visually arresting, and just the right amount of quiet.

A man stands on a boat while holding a fishing rod as the boat drifts down a river that is covered in fog. In the bottom left corner is the title "Goin' Fishin'"
Screenshot of MPT’s Goin’ Fishin’, available from Special Collections and University Archives

 The February 1971 episode found in our Digital Collections features special guest Earl Shelsby, outdoor columnist for the Baltimore Morning Sun, and gives viewers the inside track on fishing for striped bass, tackle and where to find the goods. After Joe Reynolds talked some tackle, the scene shifted to the great outdoors, giving my quarantine-laden eyes a much needed dose of nature. 

General reference map featuring Maryland, but also showing portions of New Jersey (to the north east), Pennsylvania (to the north) and Virginia (to the south east).
1780 map of Maryland, Maryland Map Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Maryland

Reynolds and Shelsby hit the Susquehanna, a 444-mile river that can be spotted in the map above, coming south from Pennsylvania, just east of Baltimore County. The fisherman started their day at Wagontop, a breathtaking and strange location described as a “rock nightmare” due to the large, smooth rocks scattered throughout the water. Advising bass-seeking viewers to drop their lines where fast water dips into a pool, the two fishermen created a tableau of yellow and orange jackets against the blue of the sky. Don’t know a striped bass from a yellow perch? These images from the United States Government Posters Collection in our digital collections will help. 

Color print of a striped bass fish. Covered in shimmery scales of brown, blue and pearl, it sits in front of a pale blue background with a sticker label reading I 49.14.F53 striped bass.
Image of a striped bass in the Washington, DC region (1980), United States Government Posters Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Maryland

With the heat, the hurricane and the pandemic, Goin’ Fishin’  is just about your next best option to regular summer programming. Let the soundtrack soothe your hot and weary mind. 

To learn more about Maryland Public Television’s Nature and Environmental Programming, please check out our online exhibit!

Episodes of Goin’ Fishin’ are available in Digital Collections, along with hundreds of Maryland Public Television programs.

Emily Moore is a second-year MLIS student with a background in art and theory. In addition to her role as a student assistant at Special Collections and University Archives, she works as the Archival Assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

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