Keys anglers star in ‘Reel Rivals’

Florida Keys sportfishing is destined for primetime broadcast attention when a new television reality series debuts May 7 on the Weather Channel.

The first episode of “Reel Rivals” is to air at 9 p.m. featuring the daily competiveness of Keys sportfishing captains George McElveen, Nick Stanczyk, his uncle Scott Stanczyk and Augie Wampler. The four skippers base their boats at Bud N’ Mary’s Fishing Marina in Islamorada.

“‘Reel Rivals’ is about the competition between four sportfishing captains in the sportfishing capital of the world,” said Brad Hebert, co-executive producer for Optomen Productions, which created the show for the Weather Channel. “It centers on relationships on and off their boats.

“They’re entertaining, comical and [episodes are] full of twists and turns,” he said about the 30-minute shows.

Hebert and his video production crew focused a slew of cameras on the four skippers for almost a month. They subsequently spent four months in post-production to create six shows that are to air with the anticipation the series will be extended on an annual basis.

Hebert says viewers should be forewarned that “Reel Rivals” is not a typical nuts-and-bolts fishing show, although plenty of sportfishing action is included. He added that the natural attractions and climate of the Keys add to the show’s appeal.

“The location is beyond what is advertised in terms of beauty as well as the diversity of species,” Hebert said.

Following the premiere, subsequent episodes are slated to air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. through the end of June. Programming dates and times are subject to change.

The Hampton Inn at mile marker 80 plans to host a premiere party May 7 and the show’s principal characters are expected to attend. Happy-hour drink specials are to begin at 4:30 p.m. and complimentary appetizers are to be served starting at 8.

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