By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

Matt Arey is a heck of a fisherman and a pretty talkative guy. Bryan Thrift isn't nearly as loquacious as his longtime buddy, but his record suggests that he knows things about catching bass that elude just about everyone else on the planet.

Since late last summer, the FLW Tour competitors and Shelby, N.C. residents have teamed up for a talk show broadcast via Facebook Live. They plan to do at least 25 episodes of "Let's Talk Fish" in 2018.

"We're having a blast with it," Arey said last week, just a couple of days after the most recent broadcast that featured Bass Fishing Hall of Famer Guy Eaker as an in-studio guest. "I'm sure it'll grow and from a business and industry standpoint it'll help us brand ourselves, but our main goal is to have fun and help people.

"We try to educate people on topics that they may not have access to the information they're looking for online or from other sources. We'll take any question, as long as it's fishing-related, and answer it as honestly as we can."

Pivotal Third Cog

Credit for the inception of Let's Talk Fish goes to Jeff Walsh, a tech-savvy entrepreneur and owner of the Southern Redfish Cup circuit who's a friend of both anglers. Walsh suggested that it would be prudent for them to increase their social-media profiles, and he had a fully equipped studio located within a 5-minute drive of each of their homes that could serve as the setting for the show.

Walsh handles all of the production logistics for the 50- to 75-minute broadcasts and serves as a third contributor of content.

"Between me and Matt and Jeff, we work well together," said Thrift, the two-time and reigning Tour Angler of the Year. "If somebody draws a blank, there's two other guys with a mouthful to say."

There's no question, though, that Arey, whose rsum includes two Tour victories at Beaver Lake, is the lead talker.

"Bryan and I co-host, but I definitely try to take the steering wheel when it comes to driving the show," Arey said. "I guess I try to keep everybody in line and make sure we're all doing what we're supposed to be doing.

"Bryan just adds so much credibility because of how good a fisherman he is, I purposely direct a lot of the questions to him. Even if we'd have similar answers, they'll listen to him. He's known on the Tour as a guy who doesn't give up much (information), but he's done really well on the show and even let go of a few secrets, so to speak. That's what people like."

Said Thrift: "I'm getting a lot more comfortable (with the role) I've never had an issue with talking, but most times I just felt like I didn't have a lot to say. It's been fun interacting with people from the fishing community and talking about stuff that you normally don't have time for.

"It's something that I don't think I could do by myself, though. There'd be too much awkward silence."

Off-the-Cuff Format

Each "Let's Talk Fish" broadcast starts out with a primary topic (for instance, a recent one was "What is the definition of a professional angler?"). Following some discussion on that matter, the floor is opened up to any and all questions submitted by viewers via Facebook (there's an option to pre-submit questions, but the anglers said it's rarely utilized).

The viewership has grown to approximately 200 per show and there are usually more questions than the anglers have time to answer.

"People like the interaction," Arey said. "That's the great thing about our sport you're never going to see Lebron James or Tiger Woods doing something like this, but I'll put Thrift up against anybody in the game and he doesn't B.S. He's going to tell it like it is.

"People hate it when they ask questions and they don't get a direct answer. We give straight answers and break them down into layman's terms that people can understand."

Thrift said he's not concerned about divulging info that might cost him in a future tournament.

"That was one thing that was kind of on my mind when we started, but there really aren't any secrets out there anymore," he said. "I don't shy away if somebody asks a question and I have the knowledge or ability to answer it, I'm going to do it as truthfully as I can."


> Complete details of the 2018 Let's Talk Fish schedule have yet to be finalized, but most shows will air live at 7 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesdays. To visit the show's Facebook page, where past episodes can be accessed, click here.