Geofish Mexico Review
Ok, ok. It’s finally been done. Finally. This is probably the first (and only) really great fly fishing video I’ve seen. At last, someone has got it right.
If that sounds harsh to all the other production crews and fly-anglers-come-videographers out there, well, let’s just review. We had the Trout Bum Diaries produced by the now extinct Angling Exploration Group (AEG, which has actually been re-invented in the Geofish series, but more on that later). These films were OK, certainly better than what was around at the time, but they still didn’t really get it. Mostly it was a bunch of guys who wanted to go fishing and maybe use the video as an excuse to get sponsorship to fulfill an angling dream. Good for them. Clever. However, it was pretty obvious that no one wanted to hold the camera. So what we got was a jumbled story-line, incomplete fishing sequences, and a final Smörgåsbord of dripping fish to finish the movie off.
Saltwater videos have done no better. The dudes that did The Search: Tahiti made a good start of it, but also had an aversion to actually holding anything so mundane as a camera when bonefish were around. As a result the film falls flat.
I mean, it’s not a complicated formula. If you set up the journey/quest by saying, “We’re off to [insert exotic destination here] to see if we can catch trophy [insert species here] on our own”, then you’ve got to get the shot. Simple.
However, film after film left us hanging. Bonefish: A Fishing Odyssey was another that started well but failed to capture the final shot. There was simply no pay-off for the weeks of searching for the elusive double-digit bonefish. Sure, there was some shaky footage at the end where Mr. Rangely-Wilson is holding a so-called 10-pounder (and since he was there and we weren’t, he’s got the benefit of the doubt) but we don’t really see it. What we get is some shaking hand-held footage of a bonefish release. No hookup, no fight, nothing.
But these were all done by amateurs, anglers that set themselves a quest and either accomplished it or didn’t. You’d think that professional guides with nearly endless time on the water could do better, but no. Not so much. Black Tailed Devils was awesome in trailer form but the actual feature film was just horrible. Save your money on that one.
A major exception was In Search of a Rising Tide, which features a couple Bahamian guides on a “day off.” Of course, it’s filmed and produced by Howard Films, and these are guys who know how to get the shot. I remember reading an interview with the videographer where he said he refuses to combine fishing and filming, because he’ll either miss the fish, or miss the shot, or, more likely, both. The man is dropping knowledge, and it paid off. For me this short film is pretty much a cult classic for anyone interested in trophy bonefish on the fly. But, it’s a somewhat different set-up. It’s not so much about a journey or quest as it is about the history of Bahamian bonefishing. It’s a glimpse into the life of the younger generation of guides that have taken the sport of bonefishing with a flyrod to the next level. Being on board with Andy Smith and “Big” Charlie Neymour as they cast flies at bonefish is a relaxing, almost comforting experience, not the nerve-wracking trek the boys from Geofish set themselves.
So, back to that. I can personally attest that their first installment, Geofish Mexico, really does capture the same sense of a wild adventure that you see in the above trailer, and they do it by sticking to the script. First, there’s the set-up: four friends (which, weirdly, includes some of the original Trout Bum players) have the idea to travel from the Pacific Northwest down to the tip of South America, by driving… and, of course, fish like hell along the way. But, this time there’s no rush to get to the fishing action. The first half of the film is dedicated to the journey, and the first half of that first half is them simply trying to get the truck they bought to actually work on recycled frier oil. There are some truly classic scenes here. Think A-Team if the dudes from Top Gear were in charge: ambitious, but rubbish. By the time we do actually get to some fishing you can seriously empathize with the guys on-screen who’ve been waiting much longer than you have. Basically, they get you into the story by mimicking—on a smaller scale—the frustrating wait they had themselves. This is a case of giving the audience what they need, not what they want, and in this world of short attention spans and 30-second film bytes, I applaud them for this. Of course, it’s also simply good story-telling.
In the end that’s what this first film is: a great story, well told. I could go on, but I won’t. Buy a copy now! You’ll thank me later.
Sitting down to watch it again,
WindKnot the (jealous) Angler