As the night begins to nod off and the day awakens I’m riding shotgun, playing navigator for the one and only Mr. Robert Field (AKA Ginger Foxtrot to some). While sipping bulletproof coffee we chat over the stack of rods between us in his packed out Tundra crew cab. We’re bound for Mason Creek on Florida’s Nature Coast to meet up with Brian Stauffer of Fish Head Kayak Charters. Our game plan for today is to chase reds, snook, and trout.
I met Robert three years ago at the Extreme Kayak Fishing Summer Slam Series in Pompano, Florida. He was eyeballing (his eyes are his GoPro on a selfie stick) my Wilderness Systems ATAK 140, which was the first one in south Florida. That started a conversation that evolved into friendship. But like most of you who follow Robert on his YouTube channel, I didn’t know the man behind the videos any more than the rest of the angling world. I figured now was a golden opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look into his latest venture.
Robert is taking Field Trips and his followers (currently at more than 102K followers) on a journey to fish and explore all of the lower 48 states. In short, I can tell you what you see in his videos is 100% Robert. The quick smile, high energy, engaging conversation and the occasional smartassery are genuine—probably why we hit it off.
Robert was born in London, England but his family moved to Maracaibo, Venezuela before his second birthday. He lived in Venezuela until he was ten. I asked him about his life in South America. He vividly remembers oil on the beaches of Lake Maracaibo, which is actually a giant saltwater inlet that had been polluted by big oil companies due to lax regulations—of course, he didn’t understand all that at the time. He remembers chasing iguanas and learning how to crack open coconuts.
He was the coolest kid in school because his family was American. His family relocated to Plano, Texas when Robert was in third grade. He would no longer be the coolest kid in school, or even close to it…or so he says. Surprisingly, he lived out his teenage years playing a lot of video games and a few sports. He didn’t discover his love for the outdoors until after college.
Five years ago, following a rough break up, Robert had an epiphany. He decided to give up his career as the Marketing Director for a large financial advisory firm in Dallas. He had just finished his Masters in Finance when he started to toy with the idea of taking the leap and pursuing kayak fishing as a legitimate career path. So he closed the door on the financial world, bought a fishing kayak, and started fishing for the first time in his life. The rest, as they say, is history. Today, Robert Field has a massive following on his YouTube channel, children want to be like him and suffice to say, there are plenty of women out there wanting to be Mrs. Field.
This year, Robert took his profession to another level by forfeiting rent and the stability of a home base. He bought a 28-foot toy hauler trailer, packed his life into it and hit the road full time. The goal for Field Trips is the same as his overall goal in life: to spend his time and energy chasing new fish, exploring new bodies of water, meeting new people and experiencing all this great country has to offer. To Robert, life is way too short and the world is way too big to stay in one place.
One of his biggest motivators for Field Trips is kind of why he got into kayak angling in the first place: chasing new species. Don’t get me wrong, the dude loves to fish—for anything—but to him, going after a new type of fish (big or small) is where the magic lies. His favorite way to fish is on a new body of water for a species he’s unfamiliar with. While it’s usually a struggle, that struggle makes finding success that much more rewarding. In other words, he’d rather take five trips to hook an unfamiliar fish once than go out to the same hole day after day catching the same one.
Robert has a “fly by the seat of his pants” approach to his new quest—and life in general. This was very evident in his first few videos unveiling his new home on wheels. His goal is finding local anglers to show him around their area, offer up recommendations on a species to target and the best body of water to find them in. Fortunately, social media makes it easy to connect with anglers from all over the country and from all walks of life. Knowing he was in south Florida at the time and heading north, I shot him a message offering our three acres in Ocala as a stopping point. He accepted.
Of the week that Ginger FoxTrot was with us we fished three days. All three were what I call grinder days: lots of paddling with lots of casting but damn few fish. Florida’s winter had been crazy, making the fishing very unpredictable. Two of those days we spent 11-12 hours on the flats. The one day spent bass fishing, we had to cut short due to a family emergency.
At first, I was worried how Robert would manage to make decent videos out of what we had. And to be honest, I felt I had let him down in this respect. “I’ve always said that fishing and hunting are two of the hardest sports to film. When wild animals are involved you lose a lot of control over the content and it’s rare that a game plan actually holds true by the end of a film shoot,” Robert assured me.
“I used to just scrap content where I didn’t fish exceptionally well, but that has slowly been changing. My goal is to transition the show to a travel show with a fishing focus; I don’t want it to be all about the fish. I think if I can capture the whole experience and highlight the people I run into along the way, the size or number of fish I catch quickly becomes less important to my audience.” The result: Fishing a New Topwater Bait for Big Bass and Catch & Cook: Grilled Redfish Darin’s Way. I was blown away with how good they turned out knowing how hard those days actually were.
When it comes to keeping his content going there just aren’t enough hours in a day. Editing consumes a huge portion of his time and acts as his biggest chokepoint in terms of getting content out (I can vouch for this.) Throughout his week with us, he was either responding to comments on social media, answering or making calls and when/if he was actually sitting down, then his laptop was in hand and the editing continued.
He’s truly a one-man show: the host, the angler, the camera crew, the editor, the salesman and the promoter on top of handling all the logistics of full-time RV life. He says he could use about three assistants. My wife and I agree that just one Mrs. Field would be sufficient. Robert admits he isn’t getting rich and works way more hours than he ever did working a 9-5 gig, however, most of the time it doesn’t feel like work to him. He feels very blessed to be able to wake up every single morning excited to get to work.
But it has to be hard to maintain focus. Especially when the temptation to travel to a new location is as easy to succumb to as simply hooking the trailer back up and filling the gas tank. Or on the other hand, sustaining the motivation to keep going instead of unhooking and putting down roots. It may be Robert’s biggest challenge. Loading his gear, hitching up the trailer, driving to a new location and then undoing it all usually amounts to a full-day process, which cuts into his productivity drastically. Maintaining this lifestyle, and doing it well, requires him to be extremely efficient with the time that he does have to work.
“I wish I had some secret shortcut or technique for overcoming that, but it simply amounts to working long hours when I can,” he says. A typical day of editing involves sitting at a computer from 8:00 AM until midnight or later. Usually only taking breaks to eat and get a short workout and stretch session in. But Robert knows he can’t really complain. “I often find myself editing video while sitting on the edge of a mountain, in the woods, or next to a lake or river. That helps ease the grind a bit,” he says.
Robert’s advice for the aspiring YouTuber is varied but it all boils down to one thing: personality. It doesn’t matter how many fish you catch, how many trophies you land, how epic the fishery is or how good looking you are. YouTube is a platform for personalities, and that’s what people subscribe to channels for. His single most important piece of advice for anyone aspiring to build a following around video work is to simply ‘be a person.’ Talk to the camera; talk to your audience. Tell us where you are, why you’re there, what your goal is, what you’re throwing, why you’re throwing it, etc. Tell us how you feel when you land a good fish.
Everyone replies to this advice with the same exact rebuttal: “But I sound stupid on camera.” Guess what, he thinks the same thing about himself! “We’re all self-conscious about putting ourselves out there, but you have to overcome that,” he says. “I like to pretend that the camera is my best friend and just talk to it like it’s a buddy of mine. With billions of people watching YouTube, you don’t need most people to relate to you. You just need a tiny percentage. And I guarantee that every single person reading this would appeal to millions of people if they just acted like their self on camera. The discovery may take time, but persistence always pays off.”
Of course, a lot of my time with Robert was spent yelling across our boats and various waterways but we still had a few short moments to relax and talk over beers. And I don’t think his week in Ocala will make his top three. In fact, from the time of his visit, his top three memorable moments to date:
On his last trip to Los Buzos Resort in Panama, which he frequents three times a year to serve as a guest guide to promote the lodge and fishery, he got a run on a live bonita he was trolling around. As soon as he came tight on the fish, his kayak flew forward. “I’ve never been pulled that fast by a fish in my life,” he said. “I seriously began to fear for my safety as my Hobie Outback was going faster than the hull was designed for.” Not long after, the fish snapped his rod in half following a hard change of direction. After ten minutes of fighting the fish with half a rod, it dug straight down and broke his 100-pound fluorocarbon. “I’ll never know what it was, but that fish will likely haunt my dreams for some time.”
And then there was the time he was salmon fishing near Portland, Oregon on the Columbia River with salmon roe and light tackle, when all of a sudden his line got snagged on the bottom. As he worked to get it free, the line went slack, and suddenly the biggest fish he’d ever hooked came exploding out of the water in front of him. “Two hours and the hardest workout of my life later, I got my hands on a 7+ foot, 250+ pound white sturgeon.”
But his number one craziest moment happened less than five months after getting his first kayak. “I thought it would be a good idea to go shark fishing off the Texas coast,” he said with genuine dramatics. He hooked and landed his first shark relatively quickly, a beautiful 6-foot blacktip. That’s when everything went wrong. While looking for the float at the end of his anchor line so he could set back up to keep fishing, he lost focus for just a second. “That was all it took,” he said. “I soon found myself floating in a pool of bloody bait next to my upside-down kayak in some of the sharkiest waters in Texas. It was a huge eye-opener on just how powerful and unforgiving the ocean can be.”
It’s hard to believe Robert has only been fishing for five years, when he’s got a stronger resume, more impressive video archive and more memories than most anglers can accrue in a lifetime. And I have to interject, too, Robert’s angling skill set is that of a weathered veteran of which, I’m qualified to judge.
When I pulled the cliché journalist question about his five-year plan, it’s no surprise that he has no idea. “I’m kind of living my life one state, one fish, one video at a time,” he said. “I think that’s part of the charm of this whole journey I’ve embarked on. I’ve never been happier than I am right now, so if nothing else, I hope I’m still doing exactly what I’m doing now: chasing experiences to enrich my life and my character. Before I set out on this adventure around the country, I thought the most rewarding aspect of it would be all the new bodies of water I’d explore and all the new fish I’d catch. But now, five months in, I’m finding that all the interesting people I’m getting to meet has been the coolest part of this journey so far.”
During Robert’s visit with Jodi and I, he became a permanent part of the family. His energy is infectious and a joy to be around with an extremely bright future in front of him. We’re glad to have been part of his travels and will follow his journey with the rest of the YouTuber’s. Safe travels Robert, and thank you for the educational insights into your world!