TV time for Reel Sportsman
Expo and fishing tournament planned for McEuen Park in June
TV time for Reel Sportsman
Brett Surplus, owner and creator of Reel Sportsman and Yello-Jakit Extreme Hunting Apparel, sets up a goat mount at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds on May 14
Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2015 12:00 am
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COEUR d'ALENE - For a young Brett Surplus, going hunting and fishing every weekend with the men in his family was never really about bagging trophies.
"It was all about coming back to the camp trailer at night to play Yahtzee," said Surplus, a Coeur d'Alene native. "The men would just sit there and laugh. They'd killed a fair amount of game in the past and now it was all about having fun and teaching the next generation."
When it came time to market his line of camouflage apparel and hunting bags to a wider audience, Surplus channeled his earliest memories of hunting and fishing. The CEO of Reel Sportsman and Yello-Jakit Extreme Hunting Apparel said that by focusing the company's upcoming television show on exposing kids to hunting and fishing, they educate the next generation and separate themselves from the competition.
"Everyone with shows right now has these shows that are 'Look at me, I'm a great hunter and I kill big animals,'" Surplus said. "We're looking for the experience and capturing the moment that the kids have. People get more enjoyment out of a kid getting their first deer - they can think back to when it was their first time and their heart was pounding."
To celebrate the launch of the show, Reel Sportsman is hosting an Outdoor Expo and Fishing Tournament at McEuen Park on June 13. Surplus said the daylong event is family friendly, with bounce houses for the kids, vendor booths, food and beer, and prize giveaways.
Surplus added that the Pursuit Channel loved their motto of "tackle box instead of Xbox" and the fact that he is a native to the Northwest who has been hunting in the region since he was a boy. The market for outdoors shows is primarily based out of the East Coast, he said, with program hosts filming in the Northwest for a week on guided trips.
"We don't have guides, we live it," Surplus said. "It's our backyard so we want to be able to show off our area and have an impact as far as kids are concerned."
Similar to popular programs like "Extreme Makeover," Surplus said his show will try to give children who have experienced trauma or adversity a chance to get outdoors and learn about hunting the same way he did as a child. Surplus is going through candidate applications for the show. When asked what type of children they wanted to work with, he gave an example of 13-year-old twins whose father died suddenly of a brain aneurysm.
"Their lives have been hugely impacted," Surplus said. "After a while though, people forget what happened and go on with their own lives. But it sticks with these kids, the impact doesn't end after the funeral."
Being a local who built his company from the ground up in Coeur d'Alene has provided Surplus with additional opportunities from community businesses looking to be a part of positively impacting the lives of children. He told The Press that the owners of Steel Structures of America and Surf's Up Car Wash pooled their resources to donate an African hunting trip for two hunters and two observers.
"We also got set up with the Seattle Seahawks," Surplus said. "So we will be going over to training camp and a couple of the players are going to go fishing with some of the kids featured in the show."
Planning the television show has been an unexpected adventure for Surplus. By passing on the sense of adventure and passion for the outdoors he developed as a child to the next generation, his hope is that kids will learn how to fend for themselves and continue passing on hunting skills to future generations.
"We want to impact the youth because they're going to be the ones who keep this market alive and maintain the outdoor areas we love so much," Surplus said. "I would rather the show be known for something admirable versus what I can line my pockets with."
The Reel Sportsman television show's premier 13-episode season is scheduled to air on the Pursuit Channel at the beginning of 2016.
Having a 'reel' good time
Fishing enthusiasts compete in inaugural Reel Weekend event
By DEVIN HEILMANfirstname.lastname@example.org | June 14th 2015
COEUR d'ALENE - Andrew Downs-Kuespert sported cool shades and a radiant smile as he stood onstage and held up a beautiful, 1.6-pound pike for a cheering crowd.
"It feels good to be a winner," the 7-year-old fisherman said after his moment of glory, climbing back into the boat to release his catch.
Andrew, of Hayden, won the youth competition for biggest pike Saturday during the Reel Weekend outdoor expo and Strike King Open fishing tournament in McEuen Park and on Lake Coeur d'Alene.
He and his dad, Stewart Kuespert, and their friend, Dave Frank, hit the water at 6:30 a.m. to compete for the $2,000 top bass prize, the $1,500 first-place pike prize or the top youth prizes of up to $500 in cash and gift cards. Andrew reeled in the fish - and the winnings - using spinner bait and a very realistic-looking frog lure.
"Andrew got a lot of bites. Dave and I didn't get that many bites," Stewart said. "I guess we weren't patient enough."
A fleet of about 40 boats with two-person teams and some with 12-and-younger teammates spent half of the day on the lake, hoping to find the winning catch. John Merriman of Post Falls said it was a nice day, but the recent hot weather may have affected the fish's appetites.
"We didn't do very good today," he said. "It was a lot harder today than it was the past couple weeks when we were practicing."
Merriman usually fishes on Twin Lakes or fly fishes the Coeur d'Alene River.
He shared a story of how he and his dad once caught a 16-pound Chinook salmon when he was a boy, and he explained the thrill of when a fisherman begins to feel a tug at the end of his line.
"You don't know what it could be," Merriman said. "It could be any species, you don't know what the size of it's going to be."
He said he was excited to see what the competition brought to the weigh in, and that for the inaugural event, he thought Reel Weekend was a success.
"It's awesome for our community because this is a clean and healthy sport," he said. "You're not littering or messing stuff up or vandalizing anything."
The event was spread throughout McEuen and featured merchandise and food vendors, boats and outdoor recreational vehicles on the lawn for spectators to admire, bounce houses and inflatable slides galore, a beer garden and a fish weigh-in stage near the Veterans Memorial Plaza.
Production crews for Reel Sportsman TV recorded much of the day's action for two episodes of the "Reel Sportsman" show on the Pursuit Channel, set to air in January. Show CEO, producer and host Brett Surplus of Coeur d'Alene organized Reel Weekend and said it will return bigger and better next year.
"We're rated in the top 10 as far as lakes are concerned as far as fishing-wise," he said. "The majority of it's all over the East Coast. A lot of the guys weren't doing any of the bigger circuit stuff over here, so I wanted to do something different that was going to actually be more of a presentation."
He said the event's fishing tournament was the first dual-species tournament the Fish and Game has allowed.
"Typically, they're only one species," Surplus said.
Surplus said Reel Weekend is much more than just a fishing tournament.
"It's going to help promote for new fisherman, outdoorsman," he said. "It's not just a fishing tournament, that's just one big part of it."
Fish weigh-in announcer Tony McCalmant of Post Falls is the vice president of the Panhandle Bass Anglers and pro staff with Reel Sportsman TV. He said the entire point of the show is to engage kids, especially underprivileged children, and introduce them to the outdoors.
"I get my most enjoyment out of seeing those kids come up and weigh fish," he said. "That's what it's all about."
McCalmant said final results for the fishing tournament should be online at within a few days.