Go ahead, live vicariously. Take a glimpse into the vast Everglades through the eyes and stories of official Estrada Art crewmembers. The first of a new series of films, they will take you into the ‘glades from all angles, on poling skiffs and paddle boards and kayaks. From Islamorada, to Flamingo and Everglades City these dudes are living it.
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I fished with Eric Estrada a couple years ago, well, 2013, but it feels like more than a year and a bit. He joined our crew for something we never could figure a proper name for so I just ended up calling it the Florida Gathering… or something similar. Basically it was a bunch of bloggers and guides (and artists) getting together and fishing. We were supposed to take pics, vids, and write stories on our various blogs. I didn’t… yet. There’s stuff percolating, but nothing has been anything like put on paper. Not that it wasn’t a great (not to say epic) trip, cause it was. It was just hard to put into a simple statement. (Unless you’re this guy and can forge a week of mis-matched fishing mayhem into something akin to poetry.)
Anyways, back to Eric. He was a cool dude to fish with. Old school. A throwback to that old-world salt who not only knew his shit, but expected you to as well. And, when you (inevitably) screwed up he would tell you, not out of cruelty or spite, but out of an honest place of constructive criticism. I liked him. I also caught a big-ass Peacock Bass with him within like an hour of meeting the guy, so I might have been biased from the outset. Nevertheless, I truly enjoyed his enthusiasm and personality throughout our stay in Islmorada. I mean, not too many other anglers would be willing to drop everything, pickup a couple complete strangers from Miami International and then drive several hours and guide them for a couple days, for free! Who does that?
I’m glad to see Eric doing well and supporting local talent the way he does. The man works hard and has way of keeping in the background that seems neither braggadocios or falsely modest. It’s just who he is.
So, this is an official shout out, from one old-school salt to another.
Tight lines, brother.
WindKnot the Elder
My good buddy 345onthefly posts these vids occasionally to chronicle his ongoing pursuit of the the flats species around the Cayman Islands. Yours Truly makes a guest appearance channeling some kind of skinny island version of The Anchorman.
This film documents a good friend of mine’s journey in fly fishing starting in October 2012 to date. I know, he can fish that well already. Sigh…
WARNING! * ¡AVISO! — Gratuitous Self Promotion ahead.
After awaking from his concussion Jack wouldn’t remember a thing. He wouldn’t remember the rooster-tail shooting up his leader as the bonefish streaked off with his carefully placed fly. He wouldn’t remember the tarpon as it hung crescent-shaped in the air before crashing down, punching holes in the Caribbean as big as pianos. Nor would he recall straining against that fish for nearly an hour before the guide bent to retrieve his pliers in preparation for the release. As the guide reached down the fish made a quick burst toward the boat and left the water in a clean trajectory for Jack’s face, which was luckily turned away talking to the guide. Eighty pounds of tarpon sailed harmlessly over the guide’s head and cleaned Jack’s clock.
The full story is available in Pulp Fly: Volume One, an anthology of fly fishing related literature that plays on the pulp fiction phenomenon of the early 20th century, when an explosion of periodicals published on cheap paper brought new and unconventional voices to a wide audience. History is being repeated in the 21st century with the advent of the e-book, an inexpensive way to bring new fly-fishing writing to “print.”
And by inexpensive I mean $5.–. A latté cost more, or a cocktail, or most any magazine you care to name. Looking for a little something to get you in the mood as you fly off for spring break in the tropics? Well, download this collection, I think you’ll be glad you did.
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