Pro anglers enjoying stay in Jasper
by Briana Webster
Jan 16, 2014 | 1380 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ray Brazier, co-host of the Outdoor Channel’s “Fishing University,” signed autographs at a meet-and-greet held at Jasper’s Captain D’s Seafood Restaurant Tuesday night. Daily Mountain Eagle - Briana Webster
Ray Brazier, co-host of the Outdoor Channel’s “Fishing University,” signed autographs at a meet-and-greet held at Jasper’s Captain D’s Seafood Restaurant Tuesday night. Daily Mountain Eagle - Briana Webster
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A great day was had on and off the water by professional anglers Ray Brazier and Charlie Ingram Tuesday out at Lewis Smith Lake.

The two experienced fishermen are co-hosts for the Outdoor Channel’s “Fishing University,” which is a show where each host will team up with sponsors and try to win each week’s Corporate Cup Challenge.

The teams battle each other using matching tackle boxes with only one type of lure.

The show has been in the process of filming on Smith Lake Tuesday and Wednesday and plans on finishing today.

Currently in its 27th year, “Fishing University” not only details the ins and outs of fishing, but it also teaches high school students about various jobs and careers in the outdoors through their “Back to School” segments.

This week the show’s crew filmed at Dora High School.

A meet-and-greet was held at Captain D’s Seafood Restaurant in Jasper Tuesday night for local fans of all ages.

Brazier and Ingram shook hands, took photos and signed autographs with those who stopped by. Recently, Captain D’s joined an impressive list of sponsors of the show.

The restaurant’s CEO Phil Greifeld and the company’s top franchisee Jim McClure also were present during Tuesday’s night event.

“This is our first sponsorship of ‘Fishing University.’ Obviously, we saw the strong correlations and the strong ties between what we do and what we serve with ‘Fishing University,’ and then certainly also a strong overlap between our customer base and the customer base of ‘Fishing University,’ as you can see by those two gentlemen being surrounded by fans,” Greifeld said. “... This is obviously a good connection for Alabama because Alabama is a large presence for us. Our biggest DMAs is the greater Birmingham area — Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery — Atlanta and Nashville. It’s a great fit for us to be out here in the community.”

Captain D’s Area Supervisor Scott Allred said the Jasper restaurant is where he got his start.

He commented saying, “It’s been one of our top restaurants for many years. Jasper has been very good to us.”

According to McClure, Jasper’s Captain D’s is a successful store that ranks within the top standings of the company.

“Last year, in 2012, this restaurant had the highest sales volume of any Captain D’s in the system, company or franchise. About half of the system is company-owned restaurants, and this one’s a company-owned. This year, it was the highest company-owned restaurant, but another franchise restaurant, I think, beat it in sales volume for 2013,” McClure said. “... Everybody that’s got anything to do with Captain D’s has a good mental image of Jasper, Ala., just because of this restaurant, including me. I rolled into town last night for the first time, never been to Jasper, Ala., but I knew it was going to be a great place because it has the No. 1 Captain D’s in the system.

“So, how could it not be a great place! Of course, we went up to the lake and fished all day and that’s a beautiful area,” he continued. “The whole area is nice; the town is nice, so y’all have got it going on here.”

Both gentlemen have been accompanying Brazier and Ingram on the lake where they competed on teams against each other. When asked if they had any luck catching anything Tuesday, Brazier said he and his teammate caught “a 4-pounder, which is good for Smith Lake, especially this time of year.” 

Brazier and Ingram have been to Smith Lake numerous times before, and they both agreed it’s a great spot for winter fishing.

“It’s absolutely beautiful. I live two hours north of here, and in the winter, this is where we’d come to fish anyway,” said Brazier, who will also be back in March for the Bass Master’s Tournament. “It’s not a local lake to me, because it’s been so long since I’ve gotten to fish just for the fun of it, but I’ve been here thousands of times.”

“I’ve fished this lake a lot. I started fishing in it in the 60s when I was just a kid really,” Ingram added. “It’s so much better now than it has ever been because of the influx of blue herring to this lake, which is a bait fish. ... It’s a great fishery, especially in the winter time. It’s always been a good winter time fishery, but now with the fish being so big and healthy, it’s really doing well.”

City officials and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County were also on hand at the restaurant welcoming Greifeld, McClure, and the cast and crew of “Fishing University.” Having the show filmed at Smith Lake helps bring positive attention to the county, said city council member Jennifer Williams Smith.

“This is just more good positive exposure. With the fishing tournaments and everything, every time they come in it’s just more and more people that want to come to Walker County and check out our wonderful Smith Lake,” Smith said. “I know they’ll have a great time, and they’ll brag just as much as all the other fishermen that come through. Again, just thrilled at our Captain D’s here. I’m so excited about 2014; this is an awesome start to it.”

Susan McKinney, who is this year’s chairperson for the chamber of commerce, spoke about why things like the filming of “Fishing University” is important for the county.

“Especially when we’re looking at economic development and bringing businesses in, of course the lake is the highlight, so the more we can showcase that lake I think the more we’re showcasing our county,” McKinney said. “Linda Lewis, let me tell you, she’s major when it comes to promoting. She cares a lot about this county. We’ve got a lot happening right now with some of the new businesses.”