I spent a week with 12 beautiful models

Part I

I don't mean to brag, but I spent a week with 12 swimsuit models. All right, it wasn't a whole week . it was only four days. But imagine spending four days with swimsuit models on some of the best bodies of water in the state. That's right, we all went fishing together. One day on Bass Lake, two days on the Delta and another on Clear Lake. Yes sir, it was like dream come true.

One of the favorite models shot a Bass Lake
I could say I was so lucky because of my extremely good looks, but then many of you know better than that. I could say it was because of incredible wealth, but my banker knows better. My charm? Nah. I was so lucky because of Gary and Melinda "Mel" Garrison, owners of Reel Fish Calendars, the company that publishes the "Women in Waders" and the "Beauty and the Bass" calendars.

Last year they asked me to assist them in finding boats to use and to help with one of their photo shoots. I lined up a day at the Kelsey Bass Ranch. A few other anglers brought their boats and came early to catch a few picture fish. It was a fun day, the models were professional, Gary and Mel were a pleasure to work with, we got some great pictures, and in the end they published a fantastic calendar that our four boys are enjoying to this day.

This year I was pleased when Gary and Mel called me again, but this year was going to be different. They asked me join them on the road. I thought about it and then asked my wife what she thought. She said, "Go ahead, you'll have fun." Hmmm. she sure wanted to get rid of me for a few days. And why wasn't she worried about me being around all those beautiful models in swimsuits? Oh that's right . it's me.

Gary Garrison and "Big George" Hawley take a well deserved rest at Clear Lake with the husband of one of the models.
A couple of anglers from Fresno and John Barron from Southern California and also operated National Bass, met me at the boat ramp on Monday morning at Bass Lake. We all spent the morning fishing and then met Gary and Mel and three models at the dock. Out came their equipment; digital still cameras, lenses, cases, and one spectacular Canon digital video camera, the kind that many television shows use. Gary and Mel, and the models, along with their equipment, jumped into the boats and we took off to find the best locations.

It's funny how fully grown men, serious anglers who pay their bills, work hard, and are otherwise thought of as responsible adults, soon become giggling schoolboys when a beautiful girl is standing on their boat is a little bikini. I won't go into detail, but let's just say that by the end of the day the guys were laughing and joking to the point that one had his drink come flying out of his nose.

It was interesting to see how each girl was different. One had worked with Gary and Mel before. For another girl, it was her first time and she was obviously nervous. Luckily, she was in the boat with two guys who started joking around with her and she soon was calmed down. The third girl had modeled before and was extremely professional. It didn't take very long to have her photos shot and on our way.

This part of the shoot was so easy I started thinking, "Hey, the Garrison's have it pretty easy. What a great job." But, the shoots had just begun.

Big George is shocked to see the model in her swimsuit.
The next day we were on the Delta, just out of Isleton. Robin Lowe, owner of Super Pork, joined us and allowed us to use his beautiful gold and white Stratos boat in the shoot. There were others but we will allow them to remain anonymous.

The first model was one they hired through an agency. They didn't know her very well and it didn't take long to discover she had never held a fish before. Once we found a location she was handed a rod and then told how to hold the rod and where to stand in the boat. Then, the owner of the boat pulled out about a two-pound largemouth from the livewell for her to hold. She screamed and then ran, stopping just before running off the bow of the boat.

After several unsuccessful attempts to get her to hold the fish, it was decided that she could just take pictures holding the rod. She didn't think the guys buying the calendars would be looking much at the fish. Oh, how wrong she was. We may enjoy seeing a beautiful woman, but a big healthy bass, now that's really something.

The next few models had no qualms about holding fish; in fact, they really enjoyed the boat rides and they really do fish. What amazes me about the most of models Gary and Mel hire is, for the most part, they really like to fish. Of all the models I have met, only two had never fished and only one wouldn't touch a fish. Not bad! Beautiful women, fast shiny bass boats, big fish, spectacular locations. Does it get any better than that?

"Big George" Hawley after a hard day of guiding swimsuit models.
One of the girls only models part time. Her full time job is working as a bartender. She held her own with the guys. You know how bass anglers are, constantly joking and picking on each other. Well, she sat in the boat and didn't sit and take it; she gave it back, which naturally elevated our respect of her immensely.

While shooting one of the models, two guys were trolling the river when they spotted all the hub-bub, then they noticed the girl basking in the sunshine on the bow of a Bass Cat. They wouldn't stop fishing, but they never took their eyes off her. As they passed by one angler nudged his buddy who promptly took out a pair of binocular so they could continue watching the girl. Or maybe they were just admiring the metal-flake paint jobs on the bass boats.

Back behind one marina, two other anglers were in a boat slip when they realized there was a photo shoot involving women and big fish. That's when they brought out cameras of their own to remember the moment.

Troubles started to interrupt the shooting this day. One girl called and said she couldn't make it and another failed to show up. "Some of the problems dealing with models," said Gary. "Sometimes it can be difficult."

This angler wanted to remain anonymous after the model in his boat caught a bigger fish than he did.
The next day we went to Lundborg Landing. The girls showed up but we were a boat short. It was my job to locate a replacement boat. I would have to utilize my best sales techniques to get another angler to bring his boat out for the shoot. I called one angler and said, "Hey, you want have a beautiful woman in your boat wearing a skimpy bikini?"

"When and where?" he asked. I told him and he said, "I'll be there in 20-minutes." Ten minutes later his boat came around the corner. I'll tell you, I can sell anything!

One very attractive young lady showed up with her boyfriend. She went with Mel to find just the right swimsuit for the shoot. When she returned her boyfriend looked her up and down and said, "Honey, you look beautiful." And he was right.

That afternoon Gary and Mel loaded up their fifth-wheel and took off for Clear Lake. I met them there a few hours later. Four models they have worked with before were driving down from Oregon to join them. Everyone was going to stay in the fifth-wheel. I decided to get a room to help alleviate over-crowding. If I had stayed, this story would have been titled, "I spent the night with four models." My wife is very trusting, but even she has limits.

Early the next morning Gary and I met with "Big George" Hawley, one of the most well known guides on Clear Lake. He took Gary and I out for a little fishing and I have to say, George is a good guide. We were on fish the second he dropped the trolling motor.

Jeanne will be on the cover of the 2005 Beauty and the Bass calendar.
Big George is probably still telling everyone how he "Whupped" me, but the truth of the matter was that I was in the back of the boat and wasn't really trying to catch fish because I wanted Gary to have all the fun. There were a few fish that just gave up when they realized whom they were dealing with and I was forced to set the hook.

After catching a few fish we headed back to camp to meet with the models and get ready for a hard day of taking pictures. I know, I know: . tough duty.

Naturally, floating around Clear Lake in three bass boats filled with beautiful women and numerous cameras caught the attention of people, especially a construction crew that was building a house. While one of the models was standing on the deck, we could hear the cheers and jeers from the workers who had dropped their tools to enjoy the scenery. So, they will need an extra day to finish the house . apparently they felt it was worth it.

"Big George" Hawley, drove his boat out to a small island and then went to the bow, dropped the trolling motor, and began following instructions on just where to position his boat. George was talking and telling us stories, not realizing the model in the boat with him, who had been wearing sweat pants and a T-shirt, was quickly losing her outerwear. George turned to look behind him and saw her standing there in a small brown bikini, his mouth fell open and he said, "Good God girl, what happened to your clothes?"

By the end of the day we had photographed five models for the upcoming calendars. George went home and I loaded up my pickup to head back to the Valley. Gary and Mel were getting ready to go to Shasta for a few more shoots and then back home to Oregon.

You would think the story ends there, and for me it did, but for Gary and Mel, the work was just beginning. Look for Part II and learn more about what it takes to produce these calendars and some of what they have gone through to be successful.