Chasing fish the size of monsters on camera is second nature for Josh Jorgensen, a Windsor, Ont., native and star of the No. 1 fishing channel on YouTube.
The 25-year-old, who’s now based in West Palm Beach, Fla., is the creator of BlacktipH, a popular channel on the video-sharing website. To date, it has 122,763 subscribers and nearly 61.5 million views.
While it’s technically a fishing show, BlacktipH is a far cry from the docile, local pond fishing programs that air on cable, early Sunday morning. Instead, Jorgensen, fueled with adrenaline and backed by a crew, chases after giant creatures like blacktips and monster bull sharks, which can sometimes rival the size of a car.
“They’re strong and exciting,” he tells Yahoo News Canada. “It’s a shark! They eat everything else. They’re the ultimate predator.”
His obsession for the terrifying fish started in childhood, where he’d draw them in kindergarten class. Jorgensen started fishing on lakes throughout Ontario — Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario — and then got more serious during vacations to his parents’ condo in Florida.
He remembers his first big catches when he was 13 where fish like the blacktip shark, which can grow up to 1.8 metres. At that point, there was no denying this hobby was meant to be something more. When he’d return from Florida to the cold of Canada, Jorgensen felt like a part of him was missing.
“I was super depressed, I felt like I was leaving home,” he says. “I quickly realized this is where I need to live.”
In 2011, Jorgensen attended Full Sail University, in Winter Park, Fla., to study web design and development. It’s a skill he says he’s equally passionate about, though lately has little time to commit to since the show has taken off.
About two or three times a week, Jorgensen will go out on the water with a crew of about five, which includes camera people and anglers. The footage is then slickly edited and uploaded once a month. Jorgensen is strict about catch and release, saying there’s no reason to kill big fish.
“They’re such important animals to the ecosystem; it’s important for them to be out there.”
Though Jorgensen has never formally studied marine biology, he is considered an expert in sharks. Recently, he was asked to be part of a team of researchers who were flown to the Bahamas for the Discovery Channel.
Jorgensen helped determine the types of bacteria found inside shark’s mouths, as a way to learn more about treating shark-attack victims.
“Infection is one of the worst parts of a shark attack,” he says. “They wanted to know what kind of antibiotics to use. They want to narrow that list down.”
As for the future, Jorgensen recites a long list of places he’d like to take the show — Qatar, Dubai, India, Thailand and Australia. He says he gets offers for reality shows regularly, but is being choosey, in part because he doesn’t believe traditional broadcasting will be around much longer. He’s also not compelled by heavily produced programming.
“They’re interested in creating drama and I hate that,” he says. “I think there’s enough drama and adrenaline with sharks, you don’t need to create it artificially.”