Forces of nature stole the spotlight on this week’s episode of Filthy Riches. Billy scaled an unharvested mountain, Jim taught his son how to dig for worms and the tide threatened Ray’s eel supply. Here are the five filthiest moments:
Two grown men come to blows over some worms in the mud? That’s filthy. But for Jim and Andy, worms are fighting business. The two men are veteran worm diggers. Every morning, when the tide’s low, the men wade through Maine’s mudflats searching for bloodworms. With just mini garden rakes and keen eyes, the men return to the shore each day with buckets full of worms which they sell as fishing bait. Jim and Andy gather their fortunes worm by worm, and Jim’s son Jim Jr. wants to join them.
But Andy’s not sure he wants the rookies slowing him down. A “worming turf war” nearly blew up between Andy and Jim Jr.’s buddy Wes, an inexperienced wormer who intruded on Andy’s terrain. While the two reconciled, the veteran wormer is still unconvinced he wants newcomers stealing his profits and his time. Sure enough, as the team is finishing their work out on the mudflats, Jim Jr. makes a clumsy mistake, walking right into a deep spot in the mud, and plunging into the icy water.
2. Truck vs. Tree
In Napa, Ca., burl hunters Al and Greg harvest rare mutations in wood, selling them to luxury craftsmen for huge profits. But each tree is a gamble: many burls grow underneath trees, making it impossible to know how much they’re worth without uprooting them. With high demand for burl wood products, the two hunters take big risks to snag bigger rewards, investing in pricey trees in the hopes they’ll yield precious burls.
Unfortunately, pulling a tree out of the ground is tough work for two guys and a pickup truck. Al’s truck can lift up to 10,000 pounds, so they strap it to the tree and start to pull. It doesn’t go well.
3. Rock The Boat
Ray Turner is a different kind of commercial fisherman. He’s been in the business of catching, smoking and selling eels for 30 years. On a morning run to the river, Ray finds his weir, a contraption he uses for trapping, bursting with 30 eels – a $400 payoff. He’s caught off guard: there’s no way that he’ll fit all of the eels in his pail, and the shallow river could kill the eels in the trap if Ray leaves them in too long.
Not wanting to walk away from the extra cash, Ray comes up with a backup plan. He turns the inside of his boat into an eel haven, filling it with water and dumping all the eels into his boat with him. He eases himself into the paddle boat as the eels dart back and forth underneath him in what’s now become a floating fish tank. But with the shallow river making for a rocky journey home, Ray must paddle carefully, or risk dumping himself – and his precious eels – right back into the water.
4. Dirty Liars of the Ginseng Trade
Billy Taylor is one of America’s sharpest ginseng hunters, harvesting hundreds of pounds of the medicinal root each year right off the sides of the wild mountains of kentucky. But even his skill and expertise can’t protect him from the lies of shady middlemen. When Billy gets a call from a potential new buyer for a $12,000 order, he takes a big risk to get the best root, scaling a treacherous, untouched mountain to dig for ginseng gold.
After narrowly escaping a massive storm which threatened to trap him in the mountain pass, and driving halfway across the state to meet his new buyer, Billy hopes the risks he took will pay off. Unfortunately, the buyer isn’t the pro Billy expected, coming up with only half the cash needed to make the sale. But Billy’s smarter than to take a bad deal, and calls the buyer’s bluff. He holds off until the middleman eventually comes through with the money.
5. Bear in mind
Living in the wild can get lonely. Ray has an emu named Tweedy around to keep him company. But in this episode, they’re not alone. The eel fisherman awakes to signs that a bear is near: fencing has been torn and a nearby electrical pole has become the bear’s scratching post. Tweedy and Ray are rattled, so Ray spends the day reinforcing the broken fencing, saving his emu from the threat. He’s proud of a job well done, but only regrets that he’ll smell like an emu for the rest of the day, something no one would be happy with.
Tune in next week at 10p.m. for a brand new episode of Filthy Riches: Go Big or Go Home.