This Article Originally Published August 1999

by Michael Laskow

I lived in South Florida for ten years. In many ways those were some of the best years of my life. I started a family. I made some great friends, many of whom have become life-long friends. The very best kind. And I got my first real job in the music business working at the now legendary Criteria Studios.

During the last few years of my tenure there, I discovered salt-water fishing. Forget bass fishing! Been there. Done that. I grew up in the midwest catching catfish, carp and bass. Better than not fishing at all, but not nearly as challenging as the salt-water variety.

I became addicted to fishing while in Miami. I'd come home from sessions at four in the morning, spray myself with insect repellent and head to the canal behind my condo to fish. I'd hang out at the Pompano pier with the crusty old salts all night long picking their booze-riddled brains for fishing tips.

It got so bad that I called Neil Young at home on several occasions and told him I was too sick to work the next day because I heard the kingfish were running hot. Of course, my malady was miraculously cured if I caught fish! Sorry, Neil. If Fishaholics Anonymous existed, I would have been a charter member.

Last week, I had the extremely good fortune to join Interscope VP of A&R, Tony Ferguson, and legendary producer Tony Bongiovi (yes, he's Bon Jovi's cousin) for a fishing/business trip to South Florida. It's a tough gig, but somebody's got to do it.p> As we pulled out of the marina, I reveled in the morning sun and the smell of diesel fumes wafting back over the boat's transom. I was in my glory. Mr. Ferguson on the other hand, was doing his level best not to toss his breakfast overboard from sea sickness. He looks good in green. But to his credit, he hung tough and didn't hurl.p> Oh, did I mention that our first mate was a dead ringer for Bill Murray's character in "Caddyshack"? Sweet as he was, it was obvious that he'd been out in the sun too long and a couple of his oars were no longer in the water, if you catch my drift.

As we criss-crossed the ocean looking for the "big one," I realized that fishing is very much like trying to get a record deal. To improve your odds, it's best to be very well educated on the subject. You need to know everything you can find out about your target. Where they hang out, what they like to bite on, what conditions are best to stimulate them, and which baits are the most alluring to them.

Suddenly, Tony hooked a nice-sized barracuda and the line began to sing out of the reel. He quickly forgot he was seasick when he jumped in the fighting chair and battled his fish. By the way, we released everything we caught—okay, so we scared the hell out them first, but we did release them. That too is not unlike the music business!

Anyway... I digress. As Tony was reeling in his 'cuda, it struck me that it's not enough just to know how to find and attract the fish. Once you find and entice them, you have to hook them, and hook them well or they'll spit the hook. And once they're hooked is when the really hard work begins.

Give a little line, take it back when you can. It's back breaking work if it's a big fish. Most of all, it requires finesse. Hold your rod tip high. Drop and reel, then slowly pump the rod tip back up. Drop and reel again. All the while being careful not to break the line.

I'm telling you gang, it's just like the record biz. Once you've got them hooked, the only thing between you and that deal you've always wanted is just one thin line—and you better not break it.