ISLAMORADA -- Four charter captains who are based at Upper Matecumbe Key's Bud N' Mary's Marina will be the stars of a reality TV show to air on The Weather Channel beginning in May.
"They picked us for our personalities," said George McElveen, who captains the Reel McCoy. "We have all kinds of funny stuff that goes on day-to-day. That's why they filmed us."
The show, to be called "Reel Rivals," will air in six episodes of 30 minutes. New York production company Optomen wrapped up 26 days of filming last week.
"Reel Rivals" will follow the lives and fishing exploits of McElveen as well as captains Augie Wampler, Nick Stanczyk and Nick's uncle Scott Stanczyk.
Unlike reality TV standard bearers "Survivor" and "The Bachelor," the show isn't based around its own contrived competition. But competition is still at the heart of the show, said producer Brad Hebert.
"Why the show is so great is because these guys are competitive on every single day," he said. "It's like a tournament there among the captains every single day they go out."
"Reel Rivals" will show the four fishermen on the water fighting wind, waves and, of course, fish, as they attempt to help their clients boat a big one. It will also give viewers insight into the off-the-water lives of McElveen, Wampler and the two Stanczyks, including their families, hobbies and passions.
The characteristics that the captains display off the water often show up on the job, Hebert explained. He cited as an example McElveen's passion for jiu jitsu, a martial art that takes patience, dedication and a competitive streak, just like fishing for sailfish, swordfish and other trophies of the Florida Keys sea.
"He wants to be the best and strives to be the best and won't accept anything less," Hebert said of McElveen.
Bud N' Mary's owner Richard Stanczyk, who is Nick's father and Scott's brother, said it was definitely a new experience to have a camera crew around the marina for almost a solid month. The production team shot more than 200 hours of footage that will be compressed into the three hours of shows.
"It's been interesting to watch this. The scripting involved, the producing involved," Richard Stanczyk said.
He added that he expects "Reel Rivals" to provide important exposure to the Keys charter fishing industry. Along with the fishermen's on- and off-the-water exploits, Stanczyk expects viewers to learn about challenges the industry faces, including shrinking fish stocks, heavy regulations and the difficulties caused by the recession.
"We need all the positive publicity we can get here in the Florida Keys and this is a real opportunity," Stanczyk said.
McElveen said that he's not typically crazy about being on camera. But he signed up for "Reel Rivals" because of the exposure it will provide his charter business. Over the 26 days of filming, McElveen took 15 charters, including fishing the prestigious Islamorada Sailfish Tournament on the first weekend of December. Crews also went with him to other daily engagements and visited his home to film him with wife Rachel, who is pregnant, and their 5-year-old son Georgie.
"Now I just have to get over the fact that we're not going to have cameras in our face, which is nice," McElveen said last Thursday, the day that production wrapped up. "But I think it will come out well."