MORRIS: Preaching the joy of fishing

rmorris@ thestate.comApril 24, 2013 

Bobby Wilson


BOBBY WILSON developed a love for the outdoors at an early age. Wilson’s father, R.E. “Ears” Wilson, made a name for himself as a high school football coach around the state, and for having a passion for fishing.

One Sunday morning, Dad informed his son that the two would skip attendance at the Presbyterian church, instead opting to explore a brim bed outside Chester. For young Bobby, there was nothing like a day of fishing with his father.

On Monday, the elder Wilson ran into his pastor at the Chester city swimming pool.

“Coach Wilson, we missed you and your family in church Sunday,” Bobby recalls of the conversation between the two.

“I know, Reverend, something just came up,” Wilson’s dad replied.

“Yes, I know it did. I saw you and Bobby and your boat in the back of your station wagon about six o’clock.

“Reverend, let me tell you what I did. I woke up about 5 o’clock and talked to the Lord, and the Lord told me he would rather for me to be in that brim bed thinking about that church, than to be in that church thinking about that brim bed.”

More than a half-century later, Bobby Wilson is preaching the word of fishing. Wilson is the star of a weekly show “Uncharted Waters TV” that appears on the Pursuit Channel (Direct TV, channel 64).

The show features Wilson first flying his airplane over fishing backwaters around the country, then fishing in the mostly remote and previously untapped regions. Besides Wilson’s tips on fishing, the show’s appeal is the spectacular video photography of Doug Gardner, a fellow resident of Manning with Wilson.

Recent shows from the first year were videotaped in Alaska, Minnesota, Tennessee, Louisiana and, of course, South Carolina.

For the 64-year-old Wilson, the show means he can strike one more item off his lifelong bucket list. It is a list Wilson began to formulate as a youngster while fishing on private ponds in the Chester area.

Fishing out of a two-man boat with his father, Wilson bagged a five-pound bass when he was either 11 or 12 years old. He still has the newspaper clipping showing his catch.

Wilson also loved football and played two seasons at Newberry College. Upon graduation in 1971, he entered the banking business in Florence for a couple of years before going into real-estate sales. Along the way, Wilson owned a couple of convenience stores and a Best Western Motel off I-95 in Manning.

His love for fishing never wavered, and his desire to check off items on that bucket list increased. Fishing for peacock bass in South America? Check. Learning to fly an airplane? Check. Making the Bassmasters Classic? Check. Flying a float plane in Alaska? Check. Surfing the United States in an airplane? Check.

Another on the list came about after watching outdoors shows on TV. He gained immeasurable respect for outdoors show stars such as Jimmy Houston and Bill Nance and Tom Mann and Hank Parker.

“They all teased me: Man you ought to get yourself a TV show. You’re such a comedian,” Wilson says. “I said, ‘Well, I’ll put that on my bucket list.’ I did.”

Wilson commissioned Gardner to be his photographer for a pilot TV show. Gardner liked it, sent it to PBS and it was accepted. Eventually, the show also was accepted by Fox Sports and the Pursuit Channel. Wilson opted for the Pursuit Channel, which features hunting, fishing and outdoor recreational programming.

With the TV show on the air, Wilson says he has one more item to cross off his bucket list. He would like to shoot his age in golf. He shot a round of 67 when he was 59 years old. Now, however, he is shooting in the 85 and 90 range.

“I need to get older quicker, or get my game better,” Wilson says.

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