Fly Fishing Films – Evolution and The Next Step

Its been a while since I’ve made a real attempt video edit of a fishing outing. That is partly due to time (lack thereof) and partly due to a change in the nature of my outings. In Virginia, when I went fishing, it was an event. It was a shotgun day trip to the outer banks, eastern shore or mountains. It may have involved hiking, camping or a stop at a brewery or BBQ joint. Regardless, there was always a story to tell.

I’d like to take a moment to summarize what I see some of the big events in my personal history of flyfishing videos and the culture surrounding them.

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The iphone made capturing quality video easier. Lifeproof cases made shooting in and out of water less risky. The GoPro definitely changed the game (remember when the fish eye effect was a sign of a cool video?).  My Gopro HD sits unused and out of battery buried in my gear bag.

Then there is the music. First bluegrass and mountain music. Rolf Nylinder brought Tallest Man on Earth into the game with a more artistic fishing video, Trout is All.

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And the guy who, in my mind, played a big role in re-thinking how we edit videos, including the idea of using deep track, hip hop beats you wouldn’t think would match with a fishing video, Yukon Goes Fishing, surely helped make DIY videos cool.

 

 

But even he, has moved on to other projects, though, his instagram account is still very active with high quality photography. And I believe he does put out video marketing flyfishing and a fly shop in Colorado. Instagram has moved in over Youtube and Vimeo as the the place to stake your popularity claim leading to more folks getting high end cameras instead of putting their energy into video.

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That being said, the aerial shot with a drone is currently a standard and enticing novice videographers to take a shot at sweet edits. Check out some of @jrieke21 videos. Awesome stuff.
So where does this leave us? The Fly Fishing Film Tour is still running strong, but most of the movies are starting to look the same to me. Stories about old friends reuniting, last frontier fishing, different species on the fly you never thought of (long nosed gar anyone?), or conservation. All of these are great and important, yes, BUT, I think the time has finally come.

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The “big movie,” the one that inspired a generation of fly fishers to dream of the old west, is 25 years old. And The film left on the runway for years, “The River Why” was a dud. We can do better. We must do better. I’m not saying we need to have Channing Tatum in the next leading trout fishing murder mystery, though I would watch it.

But still, I think it is time we take the next step in this fly fishing film adventure we’ve been on. Lets see it people. Let get some plot and character development. Lets get creative. There are lots of stories to tell, and I have a feeling, there is a great one just waiting to be filmed.

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Coming soon to a theater near you…. 

So, what do you think? Where does fly fishing film go from here?

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These Blurry Days

This photo sums up August trout fishing for me…

August is hot. August is humid. You are bushwhacking through nettle and wild parsnip with sweat on your brow, burning your eyes and fogging up your sunglasses. Finally, your choice to wet wade seems so like the best decision since you switched to fly fishing. The cool water surrounds your feet and legs. You swing your hat through the cold water and slosh it back onto your melon while chills run down the back of your shirt.

You're tempted to even take a drink… But you don't. You know better. You won't give in to swishing out your mouth until later in the day when you really get thirsty. (Don't worry, you most likely will not get giardia.)

I don't get to fish cooler early mornings or twilight often these days due to being blessed with a 3 year old and 10 month old, so I take the time on the water without reservation. When I get to spend it with another angler, it is an added bonus. I like seeing water from another's eyes. And in the heat, sometimes it is nice to just watch someone else cast.

These blurry days of August are intense, but they are also brief. There is a maple tree outside my office that always gets a jump on changing her wardrobe. She just can't wait to put on the blaze orange and marshal in the colors of fall. I saw the first orange leaf today. And though I'm tempted to wish for fall, just as I'm tempted to take in even the smallest sip of crystal cool spring creek water, I want to savor this hazy heat. It doesn't last long. If you are going to lust after colder days or take that sip from the creek, be prepared for weather cooler than you'd like and diarrhea that may be relentless. Take a dip in the spring, and enjoy it; don't drink it. Giardia isn't worth it.

giardia

The Zumbro

David rested in the car while we drove from La Crosse to Rochester. Cake pop coursing through his veins, he was ready to run when we got to Quarry Hill Nature Center. Unfortunately, the center doesn’t open until noon on Sundays so we just hiked around, looking for snakes, fish, birds and all other beasts possible.

Sun and bugs out it in full force, we found our way to my parent’s condo for a lunch nap.

After nap, my goal was to get him on the banks of the Zumbro River, or the “Scumbro” as we so affectionately called it growing up.

 

The Zumbro really gets a bad rap. Due to extensive flooding, the city of Rochester did some major reworking of the river (and I suppose the dam used to cool the coal plant). As such, it slowly flows through Rochester with muddy bottoms and seemingly nothing but geese crap and carp… Scumbro it was and probably still is in some ways, but if you get just a little out of down town and the city, things really start to get interesting. The river curves and tumbles through forests and fields. As it is pretty wide, the forests don’t do much damage to the aquatic life.

 

A great bike path follows the stream and if you head down south near Mayowood, you can follow the path and jump down to the river banks.

The size of the clam shells here are astonishing. You could make a mean chowder out of these fellas. The crayfish are everywhere and around every bend there is a photo op of a great stream.

 

And form David’s perspective, this warm water fishery is perfect for barefoot wading and rock throwing.

There are plenty of people who know about the good fishing, canoeing and kayaking in the Zumbro. But I think if the down town ZUmbro looked anything like the rest of it, The name “scumbro” could easily be wiped from our memories.

The love/hate relationship with the Driftless in July

The rush of spring is over now. The fervor with which we hit the streams has settled. There is new water to explore, but this is often when folks start to stay off the streams. Maybe its the heat, but I think it is the height of the brush. The weeds start reaching their peak around this time.

It is not uncommon to be head high searching for the stream. This leads to slow trekking and the potential for falls into muskrat dens, slips down muddy banks and trips over logs.

It also leads to great less pressure on the fish, great terrestrial action, and good cover to sneak up on the honey holes.

Of course you can wet wade as the temperatures usually allow and walk through the stream to avoid the wild parsnip and nettle.

One thing is for sure, a year fishing the driftless will either break you or hone your casting. You’ll be high sticking, roll casting, bow and arrows and side casting to tight spots from even tighter cover.

I suppose July is like winter in that way. The extremes of the conditions keep a lot of folk off the water. Once fall comes and the weeds start dropping (after the awesome August/Sept hopper action), the streams get hit hard again.

For those willing to do the work, hungry trout await.

Bugs were everywhere last satruday morning, but the big rain events kept the water stained enough that few trout were rising. I’ve been seeing Hex around more often lately but have yet to see one actually on the water and not on the sidewalks. This little mayfly rode back home with me on the bill of my hat.

The Gift of the Timber Rattlesnake

In La Crosse, Wisconsin, if you drive up Bliss Road and past Grandad’s Bluff turning left on County FA you pass Hixon Forest Park. Past that, you’ll continue on the ridge to Rim of the City Road on your left. Take that past several large houses with expansive views of the river valley. You’ll reach a cul-de-sac and the there lies entrance to the Rim of the City park.

rim of the city

Some times I go up here at lunch to pick up trash. This is an easy access place that has great views. No biking is allowed, which is controversial. Ironically, the more exclusive a place (not allowing biking) allows more folks privacy to come and drink, graffiti and trash the place. Therefore, this makes for a good place to go and clean up.

It was a gorgeous day yesterday. It was beautiful to look out over the city and river valley.

I walked past a couple groups of kids lounging in hammocks. Enjoying their wide open summer days. Utere, non numera – Use the hours, don’t count them. They were living up to that.


Listening to some music, I was strolling back along the path about 200 meters from the house. In my periphery, my attention was draw to motion ahead.

I saw a snake and immediately could tell by the head shape this was not a rat snake.



This gorgeous timber rattler stopped when it saw me, and then, without rattling, slowly slid across the path and into the underbrush. It was so amazing. A gorgeous adult specimen.


I feel pretty luck to see this awesome snake.  (Here is the video) I posted some pictures on instagram and one commenter said they would have “sent him to meet his maker.” I tried to make a lighthearted response and then went on to say bites are really rare and if they see one, they should let it slide on by. They may have been exaggerating.  But I still find it sad. This was an awesome snake. If someone else had walked across it, it might have died. I’m thankful I got to see it and it went peacefully into the underbrush.

A tourist in my own backyard: a day with Rich Osthoff

Since moving back to the driftless, I wanted to spend a day on the water with a guide. I wanted formal instruction and to come ready to learn. I have many weaknesses and fly fishing. The things we are most uncomfortable with are often the things we do the least. It is a vicious cycle. Avoidance perpetuates the weakness. My weakness if wet flies and nymphs.

A driftless area guide, author and fly tier is Rich Osthoff. If you watch his youtube videos, you’ll see good size fish caught on primarily nymphming techniques.  This was the guy I needed to learn from. I scheduled an entire day with him. I saved on cost by doing a
“50/50” deal where he fished some of the day to. This worked out great because I was able to learn by watching in addition to doing. And lets face it. It is hard to fish for 10 hours straight.

At our first stop we ran into a friendly beekeeper. Nice guy who knew the area well. We were in for a hot day. 95 degrees, all sun, and big winds. Perfect for fishing 😉

The turtles were very active in early June and this day was no exception. Walked by this big snapper burring some eggs. Keep digging ma’am.

Rich showed me how he would approach his our first pool. We essentially used small nymphs (size 16-18) all day. It proved to be a wise decision.

After a couple missed fish from our first pool, we moved on.

We spent a lot of time reading water. Looking at structure and seams. Discussing casting techniques and tenkara. He fishes a “no line” technique a lot which would be similar to that with tenkara or czech nymphing. Again, this was great because when I tenkara, I almost always use dry flies, again because I’m uncomfortable with sub surface stuff.

It was early on at a long slow run when Rich gently lifted his size 16 zebra midge up before recasting that he hooked into a healthy driftless fish.

It was the biggest fish I’d seen caught all year in person. We ended up seeing several more of these hefty 20″ fish.

The day got hot but so did the fishing. I caught easily 40 fish during the day and vastly improved my subsurface game. I had one 15″ fish but the bigger ones were more shy in the bright sun.

At our last stop, when all was said and done, I washed off in the freezing waters pouring out of this spring. It amazes me to see how such clean cold water can flow freely in this place. Perfect way to cool off after a hot and sweaty day.

The drive home was relaxing. I pulled off once to quick fish another spot and watched some big fish rise to unseen insects.

If you every find yourself in the Driftless Area and are looking for a guide, Rich definitely knows his stuff, and I’m happy to recommend him (I’m receiving nothing for this endorsement and do it out of my own free will). And of course, you are always welcome to call me. I’m slowly cataloging the area for more and more spots to fish. So much water.

Retiring a fly reel

I bought my first fly reel when I was 16 years old. Essentially it was the one I could afford that seemed built sturdy. I fished off and on throughout my teens really began fishing hard the last 12 years. I have not taken good care of this reel. I accept that responsibility. I used it in the salt water and I don’t think I ever greased the moving parts. Over the last year it’s began grinding and I’ve lost some screws. It has had a good career. But I think it is time to retire.

I went to one of my local fly shops in Viroqua, Wisconsin: The driftless angler

This is a great shop with good intel and a nice inventory. After debating price ranges and feel, I settled on an Echo Base Reel. The reality is, in the Driftless, I don’t need much. Simply something dependable. Something functional. And money saved there can be spent elsewhere. 

And by elsewhere, I mean a new net 🙂 I’ve been eying the Rise nets for a while and when that sweet net caught my eye near the checkout counter, I couldn’t help myself. 
The only trouble is, my son is claiming it as his 🙂