Ladin Langeman wears his fishing emotions on his sleeve.
When he lands a fish, his excitement beams through the camera and into your living room. When a big one wriggles free, his heartbreak is equally palpable.
Langeman is the host of “Fishing with Ladin,” a fly-fishing show he produces and stars in with his brother-in-law and fishing partner, Steve Ronholt. It airs at 6:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays on KLEW-TV and a handful of other Northwest television stations.
While filming a future episode in the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, basin recently, Langeman hooked into a monster cutthroat on a small willow-lined stream shaded by tall fir and cedar trees.
“Oh, that’s a big fish,” he beamed as the cutthroat made a rod-bending run. “Oh my gosh.” But his elation was quickly followed by dejection when the monster slipped the hook. His shoulders shrugged as he threw back his head and closed his eyes in short-lived frustration. It’s the kind of everyman reaction that makes the show appealing to serious and not-so-serious fly anglers alike.
“Geez, that was a gorgeous, big fish,” he said. “Shoot, that was a nice fish, Steve. Those are the show-makers right there.”
Langeman and Ronholt, teachers from Medical Lake, Wash., spent the day fishing with Pat Way and Mike Beard, owners of Northwest Outfitters, a Coeur d’Alene-based fly-fishing and guide shop. The lost fish will more than likely make it on air.
“We really do try to keep it real,” Langeman said. “When you go fishing, mistakes happen and things happen and it happens to everybody. So if it happens to us, we definitely keep it in the show. I think a lot of people appreciate that.”
Ronholt said Langeman’s generous sense of humor and self-deprecation helps to make light of the times when things don’t go according to plan.
Their audience has come to expect a certain amount of errors and the unintended comedy they produce.
“And I’m really good at making mistakes so it works out,” Langeman said.
A bond is formed
The two men married sisters and Ronholt soon taught Langeman how to fly fish. He, in turn, brought his interest in filming and editing to the mix. He previously played around with producing a cable access show.
Then on a fishing trip to Yellowstone National Park, Langeman brought his camera.
“I had a buddy come along thinking I would do a show myself and not knowing Steve would be too interested to put all the work in,” he said.
“But basically that whole trip, we ended up tagging along with Steve and filming him because he was catching all the fish and I kind of realized if we actually want fish on the show, we better recruit Steve to this operation.”
He did. Now with the show airing on a handful of stations, the brothers-in-law aim to produce about 13 episodes a year. It’s more of a hobby than a job, but it’s one that takes them to more exotic locations than they would otherwise visit.
“It pays for our fishing trips and a little bit extra, but there is not much in it for us,” Ronholt said. “We get to go to places we would never go and it’s a good excuse for the wives for us to get out of the house and fish a little more than we would otherwise.”
That’s why they call it fishing
The tragedy of the big cutthroat’s escape happened during the first run of the morning and seemed to signal a long day of good fishing. But neither Langeman nor Ronholt would touch another fish for hours.
They tried different spots — deep fern-lined pools with slow moving emerald green water, and shallow cobble-bedded runs with cut banks and over-hanging willows. They tried dry flies, emergers and nymphs. But nothing seemed to work.
Way and Beard shook their heads as they watched the men place perfect casts and make beautiful drifts through promising runs only to have their offerings rejected by the scores of fish undoubtedly lurking in some of the prettiest water Idaho has to offer.
“Man, I don’t get it,” said Way after one drift.
Beard raised his arms above his head and then clasped his fingers together and folded them on his head in frustrated disbelief after another.
But when you are fishing and trying to produce a show, you can’t give up. Late in the afternoon, Langeman finally landed a decent fish on a nymph. With their hopes renewed, they moved downriver hoping to find actively feeding fish.
At the direction of Way and Beard, they gave up on dry flies and resorted to drifting nymphs beneath strike indicators. Their routine is to trade off with one of them fishing and the other operating the camera.
Langeman was first to fish through the run and set the hook when his indicator was sucked below the surface in the warm but fading light of evening. After an honorable fight, a 16-inch cutthroat yielded to the net.
They exchanged handshakes and fist bumps with the guides while admiring the fish. They set it free and then replayed the event in a short on-camera discussion. Ronholt was up next and after about five minutes he landed the fish of the day, an 18-inch cutthroat with golden skin, dark spots on the tail and a red slash under its jaw.
They repeated the same recap routine and quickly returned to fishing.
Each caught another fish or two before daylight faded to darkness.
Now they face hours in the editing room to put the show together.
“There is some time involved in it for sure,” Langeman said. “But it’s fun, it’s fun work.”