Nathan was training hard to achieve Mr NZ status, when a longhaired guy with glasses, funky shorts and socks pulled up to his knees shows up.

Ever since I was a little kid sitting on my dad’s knee watching action movies staring Arnold Schwarzenegger, there has been this fascination with muscle. Can’t say I ever wanted to be a bodybuilder or an action movie star, I just liked the way Arnold looked and wanted to look as he did.

As the years went by this fascination grew to the point where I found myself owning and operating a gym in Morrinsville, not so much as a business/job but more to satisfy this fixation with muscles. Now owning a gym and then giving pretty much every breath of my being to this attraction which now could only be described as some sort of obsession, the time came where I could no longer justify this thing ruling my life if I was not going to do anything with it. Competing in a bodybuilding show was the most obvious thing to do and it would be great advertising for the gym.

After stepping on stage that first time there was this whole new drive, it was no longer about looking like Arnold, the goal now, was to win the Mr New Zealand bodybuilding title!

So there I am, training my ass off, working 7 days a week to achieve Mr NZ status, when a longhaired guy with glasses, some funky coloured shorts and rugby socks pulled up to his knees appears at the counter asking about gym memberships. He (Milan) then asked about personal training and was there anyone that could help? When faced with this question it’s a good idea to find out what a persons goals are to better help them. A normal reply to that question would be, “I want to lose weight for my wedding day” or “I wanna get fit for rugby season”. Milan’s answer to that same question was “I want to strengthen up my back, so that I can fight bigger fish for longer”.

At this stage my fishing experience was extremely limited. Unless catching carp at the lake while the rest of the family spent the day water skiing counts. Milan began to explain that he loved to catch kingfish and sharks, but, pretty much anything that could pull line off these super strong reels that he fished with was fair game. After being connected to these big angry fish for a period of time, his lower back would get sore to the point where he could no longer fish.

Some money changed hands, making Milan a member of the gym and a handful of PT sessions were paid for in advance. Each day (if he wasn’t fishing) Milan would come to the gym, always happy, socks up to his knees, with some fishy story to tell and we would work on making his back stronger. After training Milan for a short while he dumped a slab of kingfish on the gym counter and gave some pointers on how best to cook it. Fresh fish is fresh fish, right?! For a bodybuilder it’s gold! The best protein ever and to say it tasted great was just not doing it justice! The next time Milan tried to pay for his training I would only except fresh fish, ha ha. As long as there was fish in the fridge, membership? No charge! PT sessions? No charge! A key to the gym was offered also added to sweeten the deal, lol.

Some more time passed before Milan wanted to change the time at which he trained, only now, he wanted to train at the same time I did my own training. With Mr NZ as a goal, I could not break my routine for anything! So, instead, I invited Milan to join in? Thinking he would decline and stay with the agreed time slot, but no, he didn’t even blink, just smiled and said “I’m keen as!”

The next 18 months, 4 to 5 days a week we were spent in the gym pushing each other to the absolute limit. Having spent all that time together we became really good mates. Milan had offered to take me fishing a number of times but I was always to focused on training and staying in routine to take him up on it.

At the end of 2008, the Mr NZ title was finally mine and a few weeks off training and eating was well deserved and needed. With no training planned Milan again asked me out for a days fishing, to which there was only one excuse left: the dreaded sea sickness.

Fishing has always been something I loved to do! but, I’d get sea sick and spend the day wishing I was somewhere/anywhere else. Milan’s answer that was “Don’t worry Nathan, I get sea sick too!” Hang on? What!? This guy who lives for fishing gets sea sick? How does that work? Milan went on to say “yes, I get sea sick. But, because I get sea sick I’ve learnt to fish in coastal areas and in our sheltered harbours where the water is flat calm. There are trophy fish on our back door step! They are just a little more challenging to catch!” Milan agreed that if the dreaded sea sickness came on, that fishing would be over for the day.

That first day on the water with Milan changed fishing and my life forever!

It was flat calm! Never once did the thought of seasickness appear. Catching kahawai by casting spinners around the boat on light tackle was just the coolest thing ever! After only catching 2 or 3 fish each we were off to spot number 2. It was hard to believe that the boat was driving away from all fish, lol.

The anchor went down, the berley went in, the kahawai went over towing a ballon behind it. Then after a display of green flashes, a big yellow tail and a wall of white water as my kahawai was hunted down and inhaled. I landed my first kingfish! and as the saying goes, I WAS HOOKED! Hook, line and sinker.

The very next day I got my very own Saltiga, rod, braid and all the gear needed to hunt kings in shallow water. From that day forward, if Milan was going fishing and there was room on the boat for another person and 95% of the time there was, then I tagged along.

For the next 2 years when the weather was crap myself and Milan would work massive hours and when the weather came good the boat was loaded up and towed to where ever the fish were biting. 2 or 3 days a week were spent on the water fishing. A large number of those days Nikolaj (Milan’s friend and business partner, aka, the big boss) was on the water with us. Between Milan and Nikolaj there was an untold amount of fishing experience. They both have very different ideas and varying fishing styles. I was standing in the middle of these 2 guys as keen as humanly possible to learn everything and anything fishing. Just one big sponge soaking up all their years of fishing knowledge! In the end, developing my own ideas about things and a fishing style all of my own.

One fishing trip I was unable to get away from work to attend was the boy’s annual trip to the Far North. On this trip the boys encountered some amazing fishing and seen things most of us can only dream about. It was right there and then, while witnessing Mother Nature in all her glory, that the idea for big angry fish was first voiced. A fishing show that was all about fishing New Zealand’s coastlines and harbours for trophy fish and teaching the viewer the tips and techniques so they to could get out on the water and target these amazing fish. On the 11hrs drive home, Milan and Nikolaj pretty much had the whole business plan nutted out and written down.

I will never forget Milan walking into the gym and saying “we’re going to start a TV show about fishing” and asking if I was keen to help? Of course I was keen to help! but, there was the small matter of a gym that needed looking after. That very same week one of the members of the gym asked if the business was for sale? And the next day offered a more than fair price for it! Now, I’m a big believer in the saying “everything happens for a reason”. This offer to buy me out felt like there was something out there telling me, that helping the boys make their very own fishing show was a great idea.

The big plan was to invest around $50,000 on cameras and editing software. Film some insane fishing action, edit a pilot, show and give it to TV3. Get a time slot, find some sponsors and film a series. Simple right? So SO very naive, ha ha!

Next time the weather allowed, it was not just fishing gear that was loaded into the boat. There was a whole heap of camera boxes, tripods, batteries, laptops and audio equipment. After 3 days on the water, all memory cards were full with the footage needed for the pilot show. It was edited and sent to TV3. Excited, proud, confident, were all words you could use to describe what we thought of that pilot.

TV3’s response was a whole lot different. “Sorry Milan. Already got too many fishing shows and this one is just rubbish. Couldn’t even watch the whole thing and who are the hosts? One guy has got his socks pulled up to his knees, and the other guy eats too much! But, here’s what your doing wrong, fix these things and maybe another channel will pick it up”.

After plugging up the wholes in our little hearts, lol, we set out filming again with their criticism in mind. Made another pilot and sent it in, and again TV3’s response was not good. “It’s crap! It’s just two guys in a boat fishing. Couldn’t even watch it to the end. Here’s where you’re going wrong. Do these things better and maybe another channel will want to air it”.

Over the next 24 months several pilots were dropped in front of TV3, costing anywhere between 5 and $10,000 each to produce. Then, finally Milan gets a phone call, answers the phone to hear “Milan, I’ve just finished watching your last pilot and it’s really, really good! We watched it right to the end, it was so exciting! I was laughing at one point and I even learnt something. I showed it to a few of my fishing buddies and they loved it! After watching it they want to get out on the water and try do what you guys did. We have a time slot at 5.30pm on Sundays that you can have if you want it? BUT, I need 13 shows edited ready to go in 8 months time”.

It’s taken nearly 2 years to produce one show that TV3 likes and now they want 13 shows completed in 8 months time!? Holly ¥€£# }]#+*!!!!!!!