Next time you catch a fish, Clayton Anderson would love you to lift it up proudly for the world to see. And if you want to push it out toward the camera lens and gently extend it as far as possible, that’s even better. He says there’s no shame at all in putting your best fish forward. Even when you’re obviously trying to make it look bigger than it really is.
Talk about a song with a hook. The country singer-songwriter found inspiration for his catchy new single, “Show Me Your Fish,” while thumbing through popular online sites like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. He hopes it will snag him lots of new fans. And wind up as the perfect background music for future fish pics.
“It’s all over social media. You catch your fish, and what do you do? You hold it up, stretch your arm out, and try to make it look as big as you can” says Anderson. “I couldn’t believe nobody had written the song already.”
Clayton Anderson’s Early Love of Fishing
Clayton Anderson was an avid fisherman for many years before he followed his boyhood dream of becoming a professional musician. Some of his best memories are of lazy evenings on the rivers and lakes of southern Indiana with his beloved grandpa. They enjoyed many hours fishing for crappie from a cozy flat-bottomed jonboat. But he doesn’t have many pictures to show for it. While today’s anglers almost always have at least a smartphone within reach, times were different then. “We hardly ever had a camera with us,” he says with a shrug.
He recalls it being almost effortless catching fish with his grandfather, Don Cummings. He got to listen to fantastic stories and they had a fine meal afterward. “One of my favorites was just drift-fishing,” he says. “We’d just float down the river and catch a bunch of perch. It was easy, and I loved fishing for them and I loved eatin’ them. My grandma could fry ‘em up real good.” Even though they didn’t have a camera on board, Anderson says most of their catches wouldn’t have been post-worthy, anyway, but that wasn’t the point. “We never fished for trophies, we’d fish to eat ‘em,” he says.
Born in a Small Town
Lake Monroe and the White River are both a short drive from Bedford, Indiana. Clayton Anderson describes Bedford as “one town over” from the one that his musical hero John Mellencamp calls home. The so-called heartland rock ‘n’ roll sound of the Midwest must be contagious, as Anderson has always straddled the line between rock and country. Even when his college-era cover band earnestly played rock and pop hits of the day, fans remarked that they loved how he’d turned them into country songs.
Wanting to fulfill his parent’s expectations, Anderson enrolled at the University of Indiana, studying chemistry at first and then marketing. But his heart gave in to a stronger calling. His mind wandered one night as he tried to prepare for an exam on the nearly deserted top floor of the school library. “I was up there trying to study but not really loving what I was doing, so I just started writing this song. That was the start of me saying, ‘Hey, I want to try doing some original music.”
At the time, the Clayton Anderson Band was playing lots of frat parties and such. They soon recorded an EP so they could hand out self-made CDs to promote their shows. He took a job selling mortgages and was also working for a small landscaping company. He was mowing a lawn when the homeowner, aware that he had a band, mentioned a talent competition that was coming up. It was called Kenny Chesney’s Next Big Star.
“We entered it in Cincinnati and ended up winning the whole thing, and that changed my whole direction. I quit the home mortgage job and was still mowing yards during the week. But we started touring in the South and out to Texas. It took me a while, but I finally figured out how to move to Nashville in 2010. It’s been full-time music ever since.”
Back to the Water
Clayton Anderson returns to the water often, and lately it’s been because of the career path he chose. He had a big tour planned when the COVID pandemic hit. But many of the conventional venues had to shut down. Anderson came up with what he saw as a safer, socially distanced alternative. He planned a Lake Tour that saw him and his band performing from marinas and fishing piers, on sandbars and pontoon boats, even backyards on the shore with makeshift stages.
Rather than a sea of crowded bodies in a club or arena, he would look out to smiling sunburned faces in and on the water. Fans floated up on all manner of watercraft. From rubber rafts to pleasure yachts, cabin cruisers to kayaks, and lots of center consoles. He says a few boaters even trailered up and followed them from show to show on different waterways.
“In a way it pushed me back to where I started. Back when I’d take my guitar and go up to the lake and play around the boat docks or at parties,” he says. “And it was safe. It was outside and people could get as close or as far away as they wanted to. We had so much fun. We just decided to do it again in 2021, and I think we’re going to do it again in 2022, too”.
Angling for Success
All these years later, winning that Chesney competition in Cincinnati remains a source of pride for Clayton Anderson. As their prize, he and his band opened the headliner’s show at the Riverbend Music Center, with LeAnn Rimes also on the bill. “It was really cool and I’ll never forget it, and I’ve fought like crazy to get back on that level. It’s taken about 10 years, but I think we’re getting real close to where we’re just gonna blow it right up”.
He’s hoping that “Show Me Your Fish,” will help him reach that goal. He co-wrote the song with successful seasoned pros Christian Davis and Dave Audé, and Audé also produced it. (He has worked with blockbuster mainstream artists like U2, Sting, Rihanna, and Beyoncé.) “It’s definitely a modern country sound, but it fits right with what we’re doing,” Anderson says of the song. “I’m hoping it’s gonna be the one that breaks us out there. I think it’s so catchy. I hope every time somebody posts their fishing picture on Instagram they’ll put our song with it. And hopefully when people hear it they’re going to say, “This is the greatest fishing song ever written”.
Some serious anglers may get annoyed when they see others over-emphasizing the size of their catch. But Clayton Anderson loves it. “That’s part of the fun of it,” he says. “Us guys, we’re always trying to exaggerate a little bit, you know.”