REEL Talk Host

Captain Debbie Hanson, host of ESPN Reel Talk Radio, took over at the helm of the show from Captain Rob Modys in January 2020. Hanson is a freshwater fishing guide and outdoor writer living in Estero, FL. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as USA Today Hunt & Fish and Florida Game & Fish Magazine. She is also a weekly contract blogger for

Hanson’s national speaking engagements include the Saltwater Sportsman Seminar Series with George Poveromo and the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival.

When she’s not on the lakes and canals of Southwest Florida or hosting Reel Talk Radio on Saturday mornings, Debbie can be found lending angling support and encouragement to women of all ages. She has traveled to countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Africa to further her quest for fishing knowledge while connecting with anglers from across the world.

REEL Talk – History 

Reel Talk Radio made its first broadcast in December of 2001 on 770AM, the ESPN station for the Fort Myers – Naples, Florida market. It ran for one hour on Saturday mornings from 7am to 10am. The original studio was small with one desk, two broadcast mics and a mixing board manned by producer Roger Speheger. Host Dean Hicks (known as Deano by his friends) fondly referred to the studio as ‘the closet.’

It didn’t take long for word to get out to local fisherman about Reel Talk. Deano’s good sense of humor, his amazing fishing knowledge and his pirate-like voice quickly attracted listeners. He had captains from every corner of Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties call in with fishing reports. There was also a bevy of regular characters that made the show interesting.

Listeners became familiar with Big Tuna, Frankie-the-Yankee, Barry Cuda, Captain Cowboy, Snook Terry and many more. Soon the show was extended to two and then three hours. Even though Reel Talk Radio was all Deano, and named for his very successful tackle shop, Reels Inc., that never stopped him from including any and all tackle dealers in the local area. If they had something he didn’t, he’d let listeners know. There were no lines of competition when it came to fishing businesses in and around Fort Myers.

He had a knack for building lasting relationships and for his support of the marine industry and the environment. One of the best examples is Mr. Dave Westra of Lehr’s Economy Tackle. Dave has been a nonstop regular on the show thanks to the friendship he and Deano shared through the early years. It continues even today.

Unfortunately Deano lost a battle with cancer in May of 2007. During the fight the host chair was manned by Capt. Chris Wittman, Capt. Rob Modys, magazine editor Jim Griffiths, and local businessman and fisherman, Wally Thomas. All were determined to keep the popular show on the air.

After Deano’s passing the hosting job of Reel Talk was given to Wally Thomas. He had some big shoes to fill. He grabbed the reins, added sidekick Capt. Mike Gavala, and the two of them headed up the show for the next two years. In April of 2009 Wally decided he needed to spend Saturdays with his growing family and passed the helm over to Capt. Rob Modys.

With the support of family and friends, the Lee County Board of County Commissioners agreed to rename the Causeway West Artificial Reef Site to the Dean Hicks Reef in Memoriam to Dean Tod Hicks. The GPS numbers for the Dean Hicks Reef are 26. 22.199N, 82.17. 282W and the site is located approximately 15 nautical miles from the Sanibel Lighthouse in 45 feet of water.

Capt Rob Modys hosted Reel Talk until January 2020, when he and JoNell relocated to Fort Lauderdale, and passed the mic over to Capt. Debbie Hanson who currently hosts the show today, along with producer Rick Church.


*Dave Westra, Owner of Lehr’s Economy Tackle (

*Jim Fortman, Professional Captain at Naples Backwater Fishing Charters and Guide Service (

*Alex Dolinski, Professional Captain at Spot On Charters (

*Greg Stamper, Professional Captain at Snook Stamp Charters (

*Nick Davis, Fly Angler, Owner of 239 Flies (

*Joe Mahler, Professional Fly Casting Instructor/Outdoor Writer (


*Capt Rob Modys, Retired Captain/Outdoor Writer/Former Reel Talk Host

*Capt Barry Nicholls, Captain Barry Cuda Charters

*Bradley Finch

*Capt Steve Johnson, CCA/

*Capt John Fetter, Catching the Cure Charters

Radio Show Phone Numbers …

(239) 337-ESPN (3776)

Got a question for the Pro Staff …

Email questions to: [email protected]

Contacts …

20125 South Tamiami Trail
Estero, Florida 33928

(239) 495-2100