By Bob Bramblet
TV host Cefus McRae has an undeniable enthusiasm and a unique perspective that breaks the typical mold. His down-home Southern charm, contagious laugh and true passion for the outdoors are quite evident in The Nuts and Bolts of Fishing, his weekly TV show now in its seventh year. I had the good fortune to fish with Cefus during a conference in Crystal River, Florida and was surprised to find out he is a dedicated kayak angler.
With access to so many boats, why do you use a kayak?
"I prefer a boat and motor, but I do my fair share of kayaking too. For me, kayaks offer a way to get into places where boats just can't go. I have done some mothership trips and offshore trips, but really the best reason I have found is the ability to get into some skinny water and the ease of transporting a kayak while travelling is another reason. I started kayak fishing back when Hobie first introduced the MirageDrive, it's been that long ago. At the time it seemed cutting edge at the time and I wanted to give it a try."
What kind of kayak do you primarily use?
"I use a few different kinds. I use a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140 for a lot of stuff. The Hobie Pro Angler is another one I like for hands free operation so I can spend more time fishing or swatting bugs. You and me are big guys so we need something stable, versatile and comfortable. The Pro Angler has the more comfortable seat, but it's much heavier too. It really depends on what kind of fishing I am going to do."
What's your biggest fish landed in a kayak?
"That would probably be a 40-45 pound amberjack out of Carrabelle by the towers. That was one of those mothership trips."
Have you ever featured kayaks on the show?
"We have done a few kayak shows too, mainly fishing out of the gulf coast and panhandle areas. I think we filmed those shows early on, when kayak fishing just began taking off. It was just before it became more mainstream."
Where is your favorite place to fish?
"I guess if I had to pick one place, it would be wherever the fish are biting. Ha-ha! One place would be Jupiter because of the close proximity of the deep water. Another of my favorite places would be Steinhatchee because of the beautiful flats and the variety of fish. Any of the number of farm ponds we pass every day are great with a fly rod or just some crickets and worms. Also, I love the late winter in Louisiana just off the ridge for tuna and wahoo and other denizens of the deep. It can get really nasty that time of year so you have to pick your days carefully."
Those areas produce a big variety of species. What's your favorite fish to go after?
"Cobia is definitely at the top of my list. Fishing for cobia is truly fishing. Especially sight fishing, you have to be at the top of your game. You have to be stealth and tease them into biting. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle that have to be in perfect alignment to do well with cobia."
All those years of fishing and filming you have fished with some characters. Who, in your opinion, was the most interesting person you have fished with?
"The most interesting person I fished with was Fish Fishburne. That guy was like Robin Williams on steroids. He is off the chain. He is a real nice fella and a great fisherman, but crazy. I think he would tell you the same thing. We were actually filming a tournament and I was on his boat. He broke about nine rods that day and he still placed in the tourney. He had a hard time finding sponsors so he talked his grandmother into giving him some money to fish the tour. He called his team 'Team Grandma.'"
If you could fish anywhere in the world that you haven't been to already, where would you go?
"That would be someplace like the Canary Islands, or the Azores. They are out in the middle of the Atlantic and produce some of the largest billfish. Those are kind of bucket list places for me that I have heard about all my life, the unbelievable monster fish they catch all day long. I have pretty much fished everywhere else, all through North America, Central and South America, the Pacific. My favorite place has to be Fiji. We caught a lot of fish there, around Castaway Island. It's a beautiful area."
What would you say is the most interesting thing about Cefus McRae that everyone should know?
"I am not really sure there is anything interesting about me period. I don't have a monopoly on charisma or skills. Maybe that's it, the most interesting thing about me is I am not very interesting. I am an average guy who tries to live a good life, raise my kids with good values and I just try to be a good person. I don't think there is anything wrong with being an average guy."
The Nuts & Bolts of Fishing airs year ’round on FOX Sports South Saturdays at 9:30am EST and on Comcast Sports South Sundays at 9:30am EST, plus multiple times during the week on both networks from Maryland to Kentucky, Texas to the Keys and all points in between.