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
In wildness is the preservation of the world.
Have we learned enough to save the last, great wild salmon runs on the planet? This is the official Kickstarter promo video.
Yes, I realize salmon don’t swim in the flats of the Caribbean, but this story is important to anyone who cares about the future of our watery cousins, their habitats, and the cultures that grow around them.
Short Tide, Big fish.
Barjack the Angler Lost Fish Flat Indian Ocean April 2, 2011
Up at oh-six-hundred, eat chow and grab the bike. I’m getting smarter, though. Since the person that has duty goes to the office at 8am in the truck I ask for a ride and down the road we go. When I get to the flat there’s no water; low tide was at oh-seven-forty-something. I hope the tide won’t stay low then the flood in—I have tide times but no graphs. Luckily that doesn’t happen. The water rises slowly and suddenly bonefish are all over. There are no big fellas today, but I get a few then miss the next two. I examine my fly to see the hook tip pinned back. Huh. I’ve been burning through crab flies and neglecting the vise so I’m low on flies. I’m immediately struck by inspiration: the fun part is feeding them, right? For the next half hour giggling like a little kid as I feed bone after bone only to slowly pull it out of their mouth, watch them get pissed off and keep trying to eat it. Finally the tide was right so I tied on a legit crab fly went in search of permit, and… nothing, zip, nada, zilch! WTF!? Last weekend schools were all over the place and now nothing?
I’m frustrated but then I spot tails. In a school of coral munchers are half-dozen white forked tails—the fish I have been chasing all week.
Okay I don’t remember what I’ve mentioned so far about these fish, so I’ll rewind. On Tuesday I was fishing on the ocean right outside my place after work and there were these big white forked-tailed fish that have two black dots on their backs. Chased them for three days and hooked four! Yes Davin, I hooked another one on Thursday on my last Usual! These fish are insanely strong and come in on the low water, all four put me well into the backing and ended the experiences with a coral enema.
So fast forward to today, there a few but they are mixed in with parrotfish, bad news because parrots are really hard to sneak up on and if the fly line or leader lands anywhere near them they spook. I have no idea how much time passed as I was walking and watching them tail but finally the forked-tail got to the head of the school. I make the cast, lead the fish and let the current drift the fly into them. When I think it’s there I pick up the slack, give one small twitch and a fish turns, tips, eats! It takes off for the Persian Gulf and… number five broken off.
Curse, retie, about to find another forked tail when a big bluefin trevally swims up. I cast, he eats, we fight each other and as I’m about to land him the line breaks. At this point I am close to a melt down. I’ve got to land something. I think screw it, I’m going with 20-lb tippet now. By the time that’s done there are no fish anywhere and the tide is getting high—once the breakers top the reef and make it to the shore it’s game over.
Suddenly another trevally glides up all big and blue, I toss the crab fly to him he eats and I miss. Padded room. I pick up, drop, and he eats again! Ok, stick ‘im, stick ‘im, stick ‘im! Moments later I’m deep into the backing I can see my line and backing zigzagging through the water all the way into the waves crashing on the reef. If the trevally gets out there and dives it’s goodbye fly line. I’m out of options so I point the rod at him, clamp down on the reel, and walk slowly backwards.
A million thoughts flash through my head, not the least of which is the realization that a 7-weight is just silly—given the tiny margin for error with this powerful ocean-going fish and only a few yards to the reef. I also realize that anything less than 20-lb tippet is BS and a waste of time. From now on it will be nothing but 9 and 12 weights, heavy flouro, and 3x-strong hooks. Somewhere in there I actually turn the fish and get him pointed back toward shore. This could actually happen! Shutup; don’t jinx it. The fish makes another run but this time merely parallels the reef edge. This is good. Wait! That rock is out of the water… I’m running, plunging through thigh-deep water. Oh, please. I throw the fish some slack and he slows to a stop. I’m now chest deep trying to roll cast my line off the rock and through sheer desperation that works. The line is free again, I come tight and turn its head to the beach and walk it in.
11.5 pounds of bluefin trevally lolls in the wash as I remove my hook. I love my 7-wt, but I think it just got retirement papers as far as oceanside is concerned.
Rigging my 9-weight,
Barjack the Angler
*IOC = Indian Ocean Chronicles
Things that Suck… & Don’t.
Barjack the Angler Permitatious Flat Indian Ocean June 4, 2011
I am wrecked, this place is gonna be hard to get over when I finally have to leave. Scratch that: impossible to get over. The wind is supposed to drop to 15knot’s tomorrow… PERFECT! I will have the big rod in hand for GT and only swap for milkfish/big bones/or permit… if I am lucky enough to see any of them. But that’s all in the future. Today is Saturday…
Things that suck on a Saturday:
- Up at 0600 hrs expecting to go on a boat charter only to get the dreaded phone call of cancellation: wind is kickin’.
- Too much wind to go on a charter.
- Casting cross body all day as not to hit myself in the head (for a second weekend in a row).
- Seeing a GT and not switching rods fast enough.
- A monster bone eats your fly and you don’t hook up.
Things that don’t suck on a Saturday:
- Catching a nice bonefish that is chilling in no water and tailing!
- Catching a PERMIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…
Okay so I want to see some old water I used to fish and Ben agrees. Initially it’s looking like a bad call; the first hour is intermittent clouds, heavy wind, and low tide. Of course, no fish spotted. Tide starts to roll in, clouds clear and I see a GT! I’ll distill the experience for you: giant trevally + me switching rods = epic fail. I Switch back, start walking again and Ben sees a big bluefin trevally, does the rod swap with style, gets some shots and a follow, but no love. I continue down the flat, and I see a tail in no water, I’m thinking, golden [trevally]? Nope: it’s a big ol’ bone with shoulders on her. I go through the usual bonefish thing and finally land her. I should have got a pic; she sure was pretty. I’ve really taken bonefish for granted the last few months, what with all the golden trevally, bluefins, permit, assorted coral-munchers, snapper, and, of course, the mysterious and coveted GTs.
I keep on walking and see another bluefin, this one with its back out of the water rooting around. I drop a cast near and it turns out to the reef. WTF? Ten feet behind him another tail pops up: PERMIT—and not just any permit. This is the biggest permit I have ever seen! Anywhere. Heart pounding, I start fogging out the glasses and have to pull my buff down. I get the angle, let a cast go, the fish turns the wrong way. Strip back in wait, walk, cloud, sun, there: tail, cast. The permit rushes at something, tails hard and glides off the flat. I just stand there as minutes pass, then there he is riding a wave in. The wave closes out, he tails, and I drop a 50-foot cast that lands perfect! Twitch, he sees it, long slow strip, he’s behind it, let the fly drop, he’s half cocked looking at it… sloooow strip he does that permit-style look at it from the left swim around check it out from the right thing and then he’s right there, two rod-lengths away! I pop it he tips up! I strip but the line won’t move—the leader-fly line connection hit the tip guide! He slowly turns and glides off—doesn’t blow out, just leaves, casually, like he was heading that way anyways. £#¢K! My mind is racing: why didn’t I see that coming? Why didn’t I just hold the line and step back rod point the rod at him? Surely the fish would have spooked and hooked itself. Right?
Luckily I didn’t have time to torture myself long. Less then a hundred yards down the flat I find myself surrounded: permit all around me! I stand there momentarily confused before I snap out of it and shoot a cast to the bigger fish on the outside. Of course, I dodn’t quite see them all so end up lining a few. They spook, circle back, I drop another cast and get a follow. Nothing. Cast again, get an eat; I suck! School spooks. I turn to the smaller inside fish. They’re still tailing so I drop a cast, strip and two start to follow, one on each side. Both fish are amped but won’t commit. I give a slow twitch then a long strip and stop. Both permit do the same damn half-cock up on it, but still won’t eat. Come on you, bastards. Long strip, one tips up, I come tight, and hear the sound of backing clearing the guides! A few minutes later I flag down Ben and he snaps a few.
All of a sudden it’s over—tide ripping in, waves beating me, fish gone. Sadness sweeps over me with each wave. I hate the end of the day, especially when it comes at three in the afternoon. Why is there no high tide spot to fish?
No worries. Tomorrow’s Sunday and we got a pass to go to the Plantation. Plan is to drive out there with bikes, (way too many) fly rods, (not enough) water and food at 0730 hours. We’ll park, ride the bikes for an hour and 40 or so minutes, drop them hike another 40 minutes to get to the famed Barton Point. ETA 1030am, Low Tide 1104am, gate closes at 1730. Should be epic.
Pre-hydrating and signing off,
BarJack the Angler
I’ve got a friend headed there, or thereabouts. Wish I could join but (aside from the lamentable fact that I’ve not technically been invited) I can barely afford to watch this video, much less purchase a ticket. I think we’re talking a couple grand just to get there, nevermind all the beer you’d have to drink to celebrate all the fish you’d catch. Anyways, enjoy some Queenie carnage.
(I especially love the last little bit where he’s running down the beach, casting and finally hooks up. Reminded me of Running Down the Man, which is always a good thing.)
The Good, the Bad, & the Sunburned.
Barjack the Angler Bonefish Bay Indian Ocean March 27, 2011
No amount of alcohol can undo what happened today, but I’ll try….Cheers!
Day 30-odd (and counting):
So I’ll skip to the highlight: I’m fishing along and hook a little bluefin trevally and next thing I know two Volkswagen Beatles are storming the beach, at first I thought they were sharks (had two close encounters today). Nope: two monster GT’s! I clamp down on my reel and am pulling like hell to break this fish off—figures, the one time I tie a decent leader. Eventually I snap him off, switch rods and strip out line just in time to drop the popper out in front of one of these monsters. I start stripping and the lead fish turns and follows as fast as I can strip. He glides up behind it, follows till the leader hit my tip, and explodes in a turn…………without my fly!?!? Next second I’m standing there out of breath, heart racing, one rod hanging off my back with the line wrapped every-which-way around it and me watching the fish of a lifetime swimming away.
It would have been interesting if he would have eaten since the reef was only 150 yards from the beach. Something would have broken, and I’m betting it wouldn’t have been his will.
A few minutes earlier: two fish come screaming in trying to eat some kind of blue coral-muncher fish that were in a huge school. Giant Trevally! One pushes so shallow he’s swimming on his side with his peck fin in the air! Surreal… I think I have to take a nice little sit down in the shade.
Even earlier: PERMIT! How many casts does it take to catch a permit? I went zero for 200 this weekend! I thought I saw a lot of permit yesterday. HA! Today I saw schools of 10-30, one after another, and the best I could do was get two follows. I tried small crabs, large crabs, light crabs, heavy ones, shrimp flies, clousers…. I think I came up with some new combinations for cursing. And some of them were pushing no less than 20 pounds. I want to say bigger, but they look to be narrower across the shoulders than some of the Caribbean variety.
Back at the bungalow: I have come to the conclusion wading ocean-side is gonna pay off eventually, and yes, there will pictures and the glory.
For now I must fold laundry, shower, eat, and replay today in my head a thousand times and try to figure out the deal with those permit. I know the answer for GT’s: streamers. I’ll be ready tomorrow!
P.S. The bones are always the day saver. Got one 6ish and saw bigger but was happy with him.Also got plenty in the 4 to 5 range. It’s funny: if it would have been two weeks ago I would have cast to every school I saw, today I would just walk through schools of 2-3 pounders.
Wading through bonefish,
Barjack the Angler