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Bill Dance learns steps of old salt

New TV show heads out to sea

By Bryan Brasher, Courtesy of the Memphis Commercial Appeal

If you turn on your television this week and see Bill Dance battling a strange-looking fish, try not to worry.

There's nothing wrong with your set or with your eyes.

Dance, the Eads resident who's already famous for his freshwater fishing exploits, is just trying something new -- and for once, it doesn't have anything to do with largemouth bass.

"Bill Dance Saltwater," a new program devoted mostly to inshore saltwater angling, will debut on the Outdoor Channel Friday at 9:30 p.m.

The fish will be different, but the high-quality educational format that Dance's fans have grown used to over the years will be exactly the same.

"This saltwater fishing is some of the neatest stuff we've ever done," said Dance, who plans to air 13 episodes of the new saltwater show this year. "Some of it has been tough because we've had to battle the elements. But most of it has been so easy -- and it's just been a ton of fun."

Fish you can catch

Unlike many saltwater shows that target exotic species in out-of-the-way places, Dance's show will focus on mainstream species like redfish, speckled trout, shark, snook and tarpon. The shows were filmed in places that offer easy access to the common, everyday angler like Destin, Fla., and Venice, La.

The idea is to provide fans with a blueprint for their own future saltwater angling experiences.

"We've concentrated mostly on inshore fishing because I think more people can relate to inshore and can afford to do the inshore fishing," Dance said. "I love bluewater fishing for the giant fish, but that kind of stuff is harder for most people to do."

A trademark of Dance's freshwater fishing show, "Bill Dance Outdoors," has been his ability to both teach and entertain viewers simultaneously. That'll be his mission with the saltwater show as well. He wants to show people where the fish are -- and how to catch them.

"We've learned so much with this first season, and hopefully the viewers will learn something by watching," Dance said. "We know we've still got a lot to learn, and we're really excited about some of the stuff we have planned for the future."

Typical Bill Dance

Dance's idea for a new show was partially inspired by a saltwater trip he took with fellow fishing legends Roland Martin and Johnny Morris. That trip yielded a 200-pound-plus goliath grouper for Dance and lit the saltwater fishing fire in one of the world's most accomplished freshwater anglers.

Martin and Morris will appear in at least one of the new shows, and Dance's longtime sponsors, Quantum Fishing Reels and Bass Pro Shops, will provide the financial backing. The Cottages of Cypress Point, a fishing/housing development in Alabama's Mobile Delta, will also serve as a sponsor.

As for the show's quality, fans can expect the same first-class feel they've always gotten from "Bill Dance Outdoors" -- one of the top-rated outdoors television shows of all time.

"We've gotten some great footage, and I've just been so impressed with the job our editors have done putting the shows together," Dance said. "I really hope the fans will enjoy the new show. I really believe they will."

Bill Dance on the tube

"Bill Dance Outdoors," his already-famous freshwater fishing show, airs nationally on the Versus network at the following times: Tuesday 10:30 a.m., Wednesday 11:30 a.m., Friday 11:30 a.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m. and Sunday noon.

His soon-to-be-famous saltwater fishing show, "Bill Dance Saltwater," will air on the Outdoor Channel at 9:30 p.m. Friday, 9:30 a.m. Saturday and 7:30 a.m. Sunday. The show will debut this Friday.

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