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Making The Big Haul

Tim Adams of ‘Bottom Feeders' still hard at work on day job

Making The Big Haul
Tim Adams takes a call while making a big haul. (Courtesy Tim Adams)

Tim Adams’ cell phone rings, then goes to voicemail.

It’s understandable he didn’t answer – he was up to his chest in ice-cold water surrounded by 200,000 pounds of fish.

But before a voicemail can be completed, Adams is calling back this strange number.

“Yeah, seining right now,” he tells the caller. “Five below zero, standing in a pair of waders, eight guys and one lady stacking net. A couple hundred thousand pounds of fish in the net.”

After talking for a few moments, he asks if the caller can get back with him later that night. “We’re going to murder them. Lots of them.”

Adams, 36, works near his home in Wabasha, Minn., plying the nearby Mississippi River and the Land of 10,000 Lakes. He catches what most consider trash fish, the bottom feeders. The buffalo, carp and white carp he nets go for pennies on the pound, but he sells them by the truckload.

Adams, one of the three subjects of Outdoor Channel's new series ‘Bottom Feeders,’ said the show is like “Any other reality show, like those alligator guys -- the life and struggle of a commercial fisherman landing carp.”

With only several episodes of the season aired, Adams has had some old acquaintences call, but his day-to-day life hasn’t changed much.

“I’m still working my day job,” he said. “The biggest change is people that I know or haven’t seen for a long time are saying, ‘Yea, I saw ya on TV.’

“But I don’t think it’s been out there long enough where I can walk into a gas station in a strange town and somebody recognizes me.”

Adams, who runs the local fish market and also fishes on a walleye tournament tour, said being on the show was a “neat experience,” but he never imagined something like this would happen.


“Nope, I never saw myself being on some TV show. Who would?”

Adams, who’s called The Middleman on the show, along with The Scrapper, Mike Johnson, and the Big Operator, Jedd Monsoor, can be seen Mondays at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Back to Adams’ haul. He matter of factly calls it a “normal winter day. Go out of the ice, cut a hole, and find fish.”

On this day, he’s brought in a real bonanza from a 15,000-acre, iced-over lake southwest of the Twin Cities. He and crew rolled their trucks and a tractor out onto the 2-foot thick ice. With a big auger and chainsaws, they cut a 4-foot-by-8-foot hole to deploy the nets with the use of submersibles, and a 15x20-foot hole to haul out the penned fish.

“You normally don’t catch a couple hundred thousand pounds, but today was a good day,” Adams said. “We have an automatic dipper that will dip them out of the water through the ice and run them across the sorting table. Buffalo over here, and carp over there.

“Tomorrow we’ll empty out that bag and know what we got for fish.”

His early estimates are 100,000 pounds of buffalo, 30,000 pounds of carp and 70,000 pounds of white carp. He says one semi is on the way then another the next day, in all the catch will require four or five tractor trailers.

“We got a couple different buyers and they’ll come pick them up,” he said. “One out of New York City, they’ll come and pick up the live buffalo. And we send the rest to Schafer (Fisheries) for his markets.”

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