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Red's a 'Sweet' place for TV crew

Don and Victoria Sweet have had the opportunity to fish all over the world, but when it comes to channel catfish, they say there's no place like the Red River of the North.

Don and Victoria Sweet have had the opportunity to fish all over the world, but when it comes to channel catfish, they say there's no place like the Red River of the North.

Hosts of the "Catfishing America" TV series that airs on the Sportsman Channel, the Sweets are in Grand Forks through Tuesday filming episodes of the show and gathering footage for a couple of upcoming DVDs on Red River cats.

The Sweets, of Flat Rock, Mich., own Visual Films and Outdoor Productions.

"This is probably my favorite location of the season," Don Sweet said Thursday while on the river with local catfish guide Brad Durick. "Here, you get a 17½-pound channel catfish, nobody's going to get excited. That's remarkable. Any other state, they'd be going, 'wow.'

"I think this is some serious trophy fish water."

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For the Sweets, who arrived in town Wednesday, this is their second go-round fishing and filming on the Grand Forks stretch of the Red. They also were here last year, filming with Durick and Kent Hollands of Trophy Cat Adventures in Grand Forks.

The second day last year, Don Sweet said, he caught a 29-pound channel catfish that's his personal best.

They also caught a 26-pounder and several others in the 20-pound range. Coming back this year, he said, was a no-brainer.

The Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau is sponsoring the Sweets' visit to Grand Forks.

"Brad and Kent really kicked butt big time last year," Don Sweet said. "They just knew the right place, the right bait and the right time. That really impressed us. The quality of the fish made it even more appealing."

The lure of Grand Forks isn't lost on Victoria Sweet, either. Unlike many of the areas where "Catfishing America" films, there's more to do in Grand Forks than fish, she says.

Of the 18 locations the show is filming this year, Victoria says, she's only going to two, and Grand Forks is one of them.

The other is Bangkok, Thailand, where the Sweets will go after leaving Grand Forks to tackle the giant Mekong catfish, which can grow to weigh more than 600 pounds.

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"This is just a special place to come back to," Victoria Sweet said. "We travel to a lot of locations, and when we say, 'Where would we want a retirement home?,' this is one of the places."

Another cameraman handles the filming duties with Don at all the other stops.

As of Friday afternoon, the Sweets already had a couple of 20-pound catfish and a 27.5-pound whopper on film. River environments constantly change, and the Red this year is 6 to 7 feet lower than it was when they were here last year at this time, Don Sweet said.

"Catfishing America" has been on TV about a year and a half, but the Sweets have been filming fishing DVDs since 2000. They now have more than 100 titles, Don Sweet said. The videos cover all species, but a majority focus on catfish, which they say is an underutilized market.

In Grand Forks, Victoria Sweet does much of the filming, but she loves to fish and says she's not afraid to step in front of a camera, either.

"Especially when I kick Don's butt," she joked.

That's fine by Don, he says, because the aim of the program is to promote fishing for everyone.

"It's always a hope that more wives get interested" in fishing, he said. "It's good for everybody."

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The episodes the Sweets are filming in Grand Forks are scheduled to air in August.

The Sweets will be heading to the Drayton,N.D., area for more fishing today.

n On the Web:

www.visualfilms.com .

Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 148; or send e-mail to bdokken@gfherald.com .

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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