Reel Adventures: Ketchie visits Samoa, Panam to film saltwater fishing show
By Katie Scarvey
Travis Ketchie has always loved to hunt and fish. Recently, his love of the outdoors has opened some pretty amazing doors for him, taking him most recently to Samoa.
It started when Ketchie, 24, and his dad, Bobby were on a hunting trip in Illinois. Eating at a restaurant, they met a man named Robert Arrington, who was filming a television hunting show.
On this particular trip, Ketchie was after a big deer, and not having much success. He’d been hunting it for almost two weeks and had come up with nothing.
“I couldn’t get it to come close enough to get a shot at it, and he told me how I could do it,” Ketchie says.
He took Arrington’s advice on how to build a ground blind, making it with corn stalks to blend in with the surroundings. He backed it up to a little hillside.
It was the last day of the hunt, and the last few hours of daylight, he remembers.
“I got the deer that afternoon,” he says.
Ketchie sent Arrington the pictures of the buck he bagged, as well as the blind that he had built. Ketchie says Arrington was was impressed with how he was able to listen and put the advice into practice.
Arrington asked if Ketchie would like to do some filming with him for “Reel Adventures,” a saltwater fishing show he hosted. Arrington is also involved with a show called “Respect Outdoors.”
The two men stayed in touch, and this past December, Arrington called Ketchie.
Could Ketchie go with him to Panama that weekend?
He didn’t have a passport, but Ketchie realized an opportunity when he heard one, so he got into high gear.
Ketchie lives in Gold Hill and works with his family’s business, Ketchie Marble Co., so getting time off was not a problem.
Although it usually takes weeks if not several months to get a passport, Ketchie managed to get one within a week, driving to Washington, D.C., to pick it up.
He spent a week in Panama, working with Arrington. There, Arrington filmed footage of Ketchie catching some some sailfish and yellowfin tuna to use on “Reel Adventures.” They later went to the Florida Keys and filmed there for three days.
Ketchie also did some filming, learning by doing.
“I’ve always filmed home stuff,” Ketchie says. “Basically anywhere I’ve been I’ve taken a camera and filmed our own personal hunts.”
But he’d never done television work.
Fortunately, Arrington was willing to let Ketchie learn on the job.
Happy with how Ketchie was catching on, Arrington invited him to go on a three-week trip to Samoa.
A friend of Arrington’s named Chris Donato had started a business there, called Salani Surf Resort. Donato was branching out into sport fishing and had brought in a 43-foot fishing boat ó “the only sport fishing boat on that island,” Ketchie says.
Sport fishing boats were unknown in the Samoan waters before they arrived, Ketchie says.
The fishing proved to be amazing.
Ketchie was thrilled to catch his first blue marlin there. Two others on the boat caught marlins as well.
“I’ve fished all my life trying to catch one around here,” says Ketchie, whose marlin weighed more than 250 pounds. It was tagged and then released.
Arrington is known for catching what many believe to be the world record blue marlin taken with a speargun ó 470 pounds.
After he caught his fish, Ketchie was tossed overboard ó ” kind of a traditional thing when you catch your first marlin,” Ketchie says.
That was captured on film as well.
During that trip, Ketchie also helped film Arrington hunting a wild boar.
Ketchie was struck by the culture in Samoa.
Although some of the homes do have electricty, there are no walls on the homes, he said. “They’re basicaly like huts,” with grass roofs, he said. “There’s no privacy whatsoever.”
Some of the wealthier Samoans had homes with walls, he said, but they were made of cinder blocks, with no heat or air.
People still bathe in the rivers, he said, and a few of the local fisherman still dig their own canoes, which they use to fish to feed their families.
Ketchie’s next adventure with Arrington is still in the works. They’re planning to travel ó and fish ó a 217-mile stretch of the Amazon River in Guyana that has only been traveled by the Amber Indians, Ketchie says. They are hoping to set up base camps along the river and allow people to travel that part of the river.
Those plans are not yet finalized.
Ketchie has also started an outfitting business, Ketchie Outfitters, to take advantage of some land the family owns in the eastern part of the state. The company sells hunting supplies and organizes hunts for deer, turkey, waterfowl and black bear.
“Reel Adventures” can be seen through Fox Sports Net regional programming. For more information, go to www.reeladventures.tv.