ISLE, Minn. — Whether a TV reality show about ice fishing launches Isle into the national spotlight and whether the characters paint a picture of the sport that sits well with everyone on the southeastern edge of Mille Lacs Lake remains to be seen.
But the film crew has found its hook — a plot hook, not the fishing hook with which one boisterous bar patron had his nipple pierced during a post-tournament celebration during the filming.
They've found the fishermen. Holding giant microphones equipped to cut the sound of the wind that turned the frozen surface of Mille Lacs into a swirling white blur, they've followed the crew that clears the ice roads and rebuilds the bridges spanning cracks — cracks that reroute traffic and prompt anglers to move their fish houses. They've uncovered characters colorful enough to populate a reality TV series.
What has eluded them so far is a proper villain, the St. Cloud (Minn.) Times reported.
“Finding a villain has been a really difficult task. Everyone's so open and friendly and welcoming,” said Joe Murphy, associate producer with Knoxville, Tenn.-based Jupiter Entertainment, which did some scouting in and around Isle months earlier.
He and a crew of 12 descended upon Fishermen's Wharf Resort north of Isle on Jan. 25, just in time for a weekend fishing tournament that drew a few hundred people. They've filmed between 100 and 150 hours of footage so far, planning to take today off and finish up at the end of the week.
The 45-minute pilot, in development for truTV, will portray two days at Fishermen's Wharf Resort — one of the busiest weekends of the year, set against a backdrop in which an ice crack dictated much of the action.
“You need people that you root for. An audience has to care about the characters. You want them to be either someone you love and you want them to win and succeed or, on the flip side, you want to hate them,” Murphy said.
Murphy said the crew found a bit of tension between those who work on and off the ice. But one idea to pit resort owners against each other didn't pan out.
The decision to scrap the working title “Ice Holes” may indicate a potential direction for the show.
“We did come out thinking it was going to be a very funny, male-skewed, humorous show,” Murphy said.
The show promises at least a glimpse inside some of the fish houses — which represent the culmination of resort owners' work.“The surprise was definitely the infrastructure around that simple sport. This business has so many facets to it,” Murphy said.