Chambliss says the show makes for good TV because it focuses on two elements audiences can’t seem to get enough of: drama and danger. “We’ve got plenty of both,” he says. “We’ve got my ex-captain who is my ex-captain for a reason, and we ended up working on the boat together. We’ve got a girl who is trying to train to be a commercial spear fisherman and we’ve got the third boat, the Just Shoot Me that’s just the cream of the crop. They’ve got Paul, one of the best shooters from Boca Raton, and have one of the best shooters that God ever put on earth, Richie, who we call GTO for the Great One.”
The show also creates a working rivalry between the east and west coasts akin of the Biggie vs. Tupac of the fishing industry. “I think they wanted to do the east vs. west for the drama,” Chambliss says. “We’ve got the Atlantic Ocean, which is the real ocean compared to the Pacific Pond, the bathtub I had to work in over there. It was hard to learn how to work over there. There was a lot more fish but they were itty bitty. The first couple days, I couldn’t shoot any of them. I’d just swim right over them.”
Catching Hell also provides a fisheye view of the underwater vistas that the diving crews experience during a typical work day. “The fact that we film underwater lets people see what it looks like,” Chambliss says. Audiences will learn the difference between the one and done club of trophy fishing and the high stakes world of commercial fishing where time underwater plus weight of the catch can equal big money at the end of the day. Chambliss recalls his $1,500 haul that he likens to the Halley’s Comet of fishing.
It happened en route to a new diving location and the boat stumbled upon a little piece of bottom that was teeming with fish. Most of the time, Chambliss says these spots turn out to be a doughnut – empty as the hole in the middle. This particular day, he struck pay dirt with what is known as a meatball – a fishing hole so full of fish that “I had these fish coming up 20 feet off the bottom greeting me,” Chambliss says. “That was once in a lifetime. It doesn’t happen very often.”
Chambliss is serious about his work underwater but takes his time on camera with a grain of salt. “We would act up on purpose and get ourselves put in time out on the luxury boat,” he says. “That way we could sit in the A/C for a couple hours.” The show’s producers were looking for personalities to cast the on the show and Chambliss more than filled the need. He is unabashedly confident, especially when he’s talking smack with the “hooks”, the fisherman who spend hours on the business end of a bandit reel while the guys who are spearfishing usually call it a day after a few hours. “There is a lot of work involved standing on a bandit reel,” Chambliss says. “They call what we do lazy fishing.” A typical day at the office involved four to six dives a day. Each dive takes approximately 30 minutes which equals two to three hours of work per day, not counting the time it takes to gut, ice and store the day’s catch. “I only fish around three hours a day, and they got to stand there all day.”
Chambliss is not above doing a little hard work. Before joining the cast of Catching Hell, he paid his dues spearfishing professionally the last 10 years. Prior to that, he carved out a successful career doing high-end remodeling work. When the economy bottomed out and the remodeling work all but dried up, Chambliss knew it was time for a change. “The economy tanked so I had to do something to make a living,” he says. “I called up some people up that I knew were doing this and I got on a boat. I’ve done it long enough now that I’ve got a reputation for being there on time. I stock the boat for you. I bring fish up.” Chambliss is proud to be a part of this show and anxious for the season to unfold. The only drawback is that the show is running on the Weather Channel during hurricane season. “If a hurricane hits or some other catastrophe happens, they stay strictly on the weather but what can you expect?” Tune in to Catching Hell on Sunday nights at 9pm.