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Need to Fish host Berriault stays afloat with sport

Local fishing show host has reeled in viewers for years
2020-08-13 dh
Brian Berriault stands beside the familiar waters of Georgian Bay in downtown Midland where he was born and raised. Derek Howard photo

Fishing isn’t just a sport of skill; luck is equally essential in finding the perfect moment of being in the right place at the right time, right as the fish are biting.

Brian Berriault is the former business owner of the now-closed Backwater Tackle in Midland. At age 54, he’s an avid angler, a long-time Georgian Bay guide and the host of Rogers TV's fishing show Need To Fish.

“When I had my fish-and-tackle store in Midland, [the producers] spent a lot of time at the store when they were trying to find filler stuff for Rogers Communication— the local TV show," Berriault says as he recounts how the show got its start.

"They were looking for somebody to host something for the area, to bring light to fishing around Georgian Bay and the surroundings of Simcoe County."

Along with youthful co-host Matt Pezzetta to handle the more tech-oriented aspects of fishing, Berriault has entertained many guests on 'Need To Fish' in the past decade, including his own daughter Brianne. Fishing runs in Berriault’s family.
“My dad was an outdoor writer,” says Berriault, “so I came by it honestly; if you wanted to spend time with Dad, you went fishing and hunting with Dad or you didn’t hang out with Dad.

“I won my first tournament when I was four years old. I kind of got the bug after that. I spent most of my days on the shores of Georgian Bay Wye River, and Sturgeon River; fishing, biking, walking… however we could get down to the lake to fish.”
On Berriault’s brother Shawn, “the two of us are very avid anglers. We toured together as a tournament partner team for a very long time, and we still do a bit of that, but our kids are totally involved. My daughter is a tournament angler, and so are his kids. So again, we come by it honestly; the grandkids spent a bit of time with their grandfather when he was still alive, fishing in the boat with him.”
Currently, 'Need To Fish' is on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Berriault cites Rogers’ employing safety protocols in withholding a provided camera operator for the time being, a situation which Berriault is adapting to overcome.
“I’ve been doing a lot of it on my own time with a GoPro and 35-mm digital camera, seeing if we can get some footage together to get some shows.
“This whole COVID thing’s really thrown a wrench into it,” he adds with a laugh. “I spoke to my producer and his boss, and they both said that once we can get going, we’ll get going. I enjoy doing the show. It’s fun, there’s no pressure.”
Berriault’s years of experience in the fishing world have given him insight into how the sport of fishing has been impacted by the pandemic, on both a casual and professional level.
“It’s a pretty cheap sport to get involved in,” Berriault explains. “For fifty bucks and a dozen worms, you can get to the lake. A lot of people are trying to get out of the house; you can do some social distancing even if you’re fishing from shore.
“Looking around the boating industry right now, lots of places are months and months out of stock on getting boats. Just by wandering around some of the fishing retailers, the shelves are pretty bare. So people are out there, doing their darndest to get outside and enjoy Mother Nature.

"A lot of people can’t travel now, so they’re doing the next best thing. ‘Maybe I’ll buy a boat and go to the lake.’”
All in all, Berriault is optimistic in how the population is handling the weight of the pandemic, and why fishing might be a great outlet for their stresses.
“I’ve got to believe that people are making the best of the situation in the world right now, and the future’s bright for fishing as far as I’m concerned. I’ve talked to so many people who have reached out to me and said ‘Hey, I’ve never fished before, can you give me some advice? For a rod or bait? Any advice you can give me where to fish from shore?’
“People are taking this opportunity to get outside and get outdoors.”
Those same people can take episodes of 'Need To Fish' with them on their mobile devices through Rogers TV as well as on You Tube.

And once they take that first bite, it’s near certain they’ll be hooked.