Saturday, October 13, 2012

JT Van Zandt, the Blackfoot Rio, and Low & Clear

As Bill mentioned in an update, we screened the recently released documentary Low & Clear, featuring longtime friends John Townes (JT) Van Zandt and Alex "Xenie" Hall on a trip to British Columbia's steelhead water. The film also provides great shots of Xenie on his home waters of Colorado and JT stalking redfish on the coast of Texas. The release of the film on DVD in September coincides with the upcoming fall run in Idaho, for us folks living in the interior Rockies, as well as the fall/winter run of steelhead in the Pacific Northwest. The timing couldn't be better. At the same time, do not view this film with the expectation of getting your stoke on for the upcoming steelhead runs. No, this is an entirely different film and that is what is most refreshing.

I had the pleasure of guiding JT and some of his colleagues on the Blackfoot this past summer. For those that enjoy a bit of music, you may recognize the name. JT is the son of music legend, and my personal favorite songwriter, Townes Van Zandt. After letting JT know this fact, conversation quickly moved on to the film, life, world views, his first steps into fatherhood, and, of course, fishing. He requested an honest review of the film and was genuinely interested in hearing feedback on the finished project. We mutually agreed that the day felt nothing like a guided day on the water, but instead felt like a day fishing amongst friends. I want to thank JT for perspective, conversation, and the
cold beers. I look forward to heading down his way in the near future and catching some reds as well.

Low & Clear is a film about friendship, the different paths we take in life, fishing on one's own terms, no matter the circumstances, and the yin and yang between different personalities that come out on the water. As anglers, we've all been there, especially with the fellas we fish with the most. JT say it best in the film, when he mentions that personalities come out when fishing, and there is no way to hide it. I believe this is true and I'm sure all of us can attest to having some of our worst and best days on the water. I guess a large part of what brings us back is the opportunity for redemption, second chances, and continued humility, both with the fish and the friends who tolerate us, despite our flaws and brutally honest moments as people.

I believe the film depicts the ebb and flow of emotions and relationships perfectly. Low & Clear allows us to look into the lives of others and, in some ways, gain some perspective on our own lifestyle choices, our friendships, and the paths we continue to follow. All of this, with one of the things we love to do the most as the backdrop, fishing. The beauty of this film is that the fishing is secondary and what is most real in our lives takes center stage: the connections that are made through fishing accompanied by those times of frustration and success on the water.

If you are looking for a film that provides something different from the usual fish porn films that we are subjected to through various fishing media outlets, I would look no further. A group of us thoroughly enjoyed the first screening, with moments of laughter, some moments of silence, discussion, and moments of introspection. Low & Clear presents a lot of questions, some answers, and plenty of reasons to continue down the path of casting to the next rise or tug. The film carries a great variety of music, including some classics from Townes, as well as amazing filming and editing from Tyler Hughen and Kahlil Hudson. Pick it up and enjoy folks. See you on the water.

The link for Finback Films and the trailer for the film are posted below:

The trailer:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fall Arrives Today

Zach Scott streamer fishing the lower 'Root.

Salmo trutta on a mayfly.
Yet another typical season change is in store for western Montana:  one day it's summer, the next day it's not.  A big cold front and pressure shift is underway that will bring the first real rain in months and snow to the high country.  This should be the ticket to kickstarting two of my favorite things: prespawn brown trout and prolonged autumn mayfly hatches.

The fishing has been pretty good lately, even with the abnormally hot weather.  October caddis, both the giant ones, and other species have been hatching regularly for a few weeks now and there have been enough mayflies out to keep fish interested on top all day long.  Tricos are still around in the late mornings and afternoons, with a smattering of blue-wings and mahoganies during the midday, and even the occasional pale evening dun still hanging around.  As the cool down rolls in, we should start seeing more Mahoganies and Baetis, and the hatches will be more spread out through the afternoons.

This is also the time of year when brown trout start to get particularly angry, especially towards members of the same species.  Streamer fishing near prime spawning habitat, such as perfect gravel bars, side channels, and springs can spell fun times.  My favorite fall fish imitations all look like small brown trout, with yellow, brown, red, and white.  Also, because the water is low and clear, you can get away with much more sparsely tied patterns, as opposed to the big water-movers you typically throw in the spring.  Retrieves can usually be quicker too.  Stick with the streamer and you usually will be rewarded with a mature Salmo trutta specimen.  Best of luck and enjoy this last month and a half!  Before you know it, we'll be back on the slopes!