Bryan Clulee has pulled out thousands of fish during the 25 years he’s been casting his line in London.
He’s reeled in crappie at Pond Mills, caught carp at Gibbons Park and snatched walleye from the Thames under the railroad by Horton and York streets.
If you don’t believe him, the 34-year-old can prove it with the 70 YouTube videos he’s been making since 2008, under the title Ghetto Fishing Show.
Cluelee’s show isn’t your typical fishing program. Instead of the usual technical angling terms on OLN, the Ghetto Fishing Show is peppered with profanity and a few brews.
While a standard fishing show usually comes with a generic description of “guiding you to all the best fishing and destination hot spots,” the YouTube videos with a ghetto twist boast “a fishing show with a kick” in the description.
“I used to watch fishing shows all the time and the next you thing you know they’re catching another fish and another fish, now a smaller fish and a smaller fish,” Clulee said in what sounds like an east coast accent, although he was born in England with no ties to the maritime provinces. “It’s just the same old, same old every show. You got to twist it up a little bit.”
The landscapes seen on television fishing shows usually depict sweet scenes of serenity. Clulee goes to locations where trains rattle above, cars speed over bridges and stormwater runoff crashes into the river close to where he’s recording. Once in awhile, you’ll catch him in a more desolate setting.
There might not be anyone better than Clulee to take people on a Forest City fishing expedition. He’s been dipping his rod all over the city since he was nine years old and has walked his fair share of the Thames River, from the popular pockets and offbeat paths to the best eddies and most shaded spots.
“There used to be a fisherman on television called the Urban Angler and he used to go out saying he fished in all the urban areas where people don’t catch fish in the river, but he’s fishing right on the shores of Lake Ontario in the tributaries,” Clulee said, knowing the local rivers so well he has name for some fish like a 25-pound carp named Betsy and her sister, Jemimah. “We’re fishing right in the trudge here of London, Ont. where people say we don’t catch anything. We catch monsters.”
What makes the show “ghetto,” though?
The term one-man band is an understatement in Clulee’s case. He writes the sketches, catches the fish, edits the footage and puts the show’s lone camera on a tripod to film everything.
Even his “high-tech equipment” is pretty ghetto. To record from a different perspective, Clulee invented a contraption to put his Hitachi mini cam in the water using a Styrofoam cooler with a hole cut out and an empty CD case duct taped to the opening.
“It was totally waterproof. It’s like you had a cameraman in another boat,” Clulee said. “You had to keep it on a rope because when the wind took it, it took it.”
While calling it low budget might be an understatement, obviously some viewers are finding its value. The Ghetto Fishing Show has picked up more than 80,000 clicks on Clulee’s YouTube channel over the six years he’s been posting — his most popular video is just shy of 17,000.
What makes the show most “ghetto” though is the host himself.
“I’d say I’m ghetto. It just depends on your lifestyle and how you live. I’m not saying I’m a gangster because I’m not,” Clulee said. “But put it this way, I can live off about, I don’t know, two or three jars of peanut butter and jelly for about a month and a half. That’s kind of ghetto. Maybe some mac and cheese in the mix.”
Clulee is also the reason why the show is so unique. He often sings the second half of his sentences; he’s made “brown rubber grubby” his trademark phrase and starts and finishes stories by saying, “Believe it or not.”
“We’re pretty sure we’ve seen a wolverine in this area, believe it or not. It was like a small beaver without the tail on it. It was crazy and all mangly looking,” Clulee said, about a fishing trip at Pond Mills. “There’s so many stories around here and one of the guys reported seeing a cougar down here, believe it or not.”
The longtime fisher has dreams of seeing his program on television, but not on TSN or OLN. Instead Clulee aims for the late night hours of the Canadian channel Showcase.
For now though, he’s happy with touring the rivers of the place he calls home and being recognized every so often by fans in the fishing section at WalMart or at his favourite pond, believe it or not.
“It’s what I’ve always kind of wanted, not to get noticed for fishing or anything like that … (but) I just want people to know you can definitely catch fish around here.”
Below is the one of latest episodes of the Ghetto Fishing Show, but like the clip mentions at the beginning of the episode, "The program is intended for a mature audience."