Local fishing show hooks prestigious award

When Whitehorse's Dennis Zimmermann goes fishing with his kids, he often leaves his own rod at home.

When Whitehorse’s Dennis Zimmermann goes fishing with his kids, he often leaves his own rod at home. Fishing with his kids is more about having fun, enjoying nature and bonding with his family than bringing in a 20-pounder, he says.

It’s a notion Northwestel Community TV got on board with and now has a prestigious award to show for it.

Family Fishing Connection, hosted by Zimmermann and produced by Community Cable 9 in Whitehorse, won Top Instructional/Training Program in the Alliance for Community Media’s 2013 Hometown Media Awards.

“There are a lot of people out there that are maybe a bit intimidated on how to fish, may not be able to fish at all, or not know how to fish with their kids or their spouses or their family,” said Zimmermann. “They just go out themselves and catch fish.

“I just wanted to encourage people to get outside with their kids and connect with them.”

The show, which aired last August, beat out more than 800 entries from Canada and the U.S. for the award, which will be presented at a gala in San Francisco, California, at the end of the month.

When Northwestel submitted the show for the award, only one episode had aired. There is a second episode, on ice fishing, airing this week.

“Dennis Zimmermann, local fishing enthusiast, (and I) have been chatting for a number of years because I knew he was into fishing and I’m producing community television,” said Northwestel Community TV manager Chris McNutt. “He narrowed in to say, ‘Let’s do a show – something different. Let’s talk about what I do all the time: fishing with my kids.’

“For us, a bare-bones production shop that we are, it completely fit our sweet spot. It was a simple idea that didn’t take vast production gear, staff or resources to go film a show like that.”

The focus of Family Fishing Connection is a “special approach to fishing with family and kids,” says Zimmermann at the start of the episode.

He is joined by his sons Max, 9, and Zachery, 11, in both episodes and covers a plethora of tips for when taking kids fishing.

Zimmermann explains how to choose a fishing spot that is kid-friendly and gives some helpful tips on how to set up camp for the day. He gives a list of items one might want to bring, such as extra socks, jackets, bug repellent, sunscreen, toilet paper, bear spray, snacks and, of course, a fishing licence.

He covers topics such as rods, lures, bait, casting, bobbers, weights – all in terms of what might be right for youngsters – and even how to deal problems like snags in the line.

“It is one of my passions and it’s my way of connecting with the community and, I guess, giving back to the community,” said Zimmermann. “I like to see as many people out fishing as possible. If we’re connecting with the resource, we’re going to value it, and if we value it, we’re going to protect it.

“I see fishing as one of those great activities we can all do. It’s affordable, it puts food on the table, and it’s a great way to communicate and interact with nature.”

The award-wining episode was filmed at Hidden Lakes and the ice-fishing episode, which is airing every day this week at 9 a.m., 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Whitehorse channels 9 and 269, was filmed at Pumphouse Lake.

“I think one of the interesting things about these videos is we haven’t caught any fish yet on video,” said Zimmermann. “While that’s humbling and a little embarrassing – we do catch fish – I think there’s a bigger message there. It’s about focusing on the experience and the connection. Fish are a bonus after that … It’s not about bringing in a fish necessarily.”

“Catching fish is secondary. What you’re trying to do is to go out and have a good day with your kids outdoors,” added McNutt.

You can check out the winning episode on YouTube by searching Family Fishing Connection.

Contact Tom Patrick at