Guest Post by Asher Koles of Bloodknots Fly Fishing
Fly fishing has forever been personified by tweed hats, spectacles, fat wallets and private property. The “sport” which was once for the wealthy and well to do has evolved into a broad spectrum of adventuring anglers in search of a unique experience with fly rod in hand. My favorite part about the fly fishing lifestyle is the places it brings me and the people and environments that characterize those places. I have found myself more and more putting down the fly rod and picking up the camera to document what makes fly fishing so special to me.
I fish and travel because of my attraction to the process of fly fishing. The planning, scouting, surprises and unknowns. I love to document what leads up to catching that big fish and what emotions follow after it is released. At this point for me and the other guys I fish with, catching a fish is a bonus. I once heard someone say, “Catching fish is the goal, but not the point”. The “point” has much more to do with injecting ones self into the environment and succumbing and adhering to process.
Fly fisher people hold themselves to a code of ethics or a way of doing things. At the foundation of my code, is the health and well being of the fish and it’s habitat. In my short lifetime I have seen streams that were once healthy turn to sterile, channelized irrigation ditches. More and more these places are viewed as resources and their intrinsic values are thrown to the wind. The fish are for harvest, the water is for power, drinking, and the waterways are for transport and commerce. Our rivers and fish are valuable within themselves. The communities that line the river bank are the stewards of these places and act as the voice of the rivers and fish. The environmental issues and communities need a platform in which to find common ground and start problem solving.
We have been investigating the communities and the science surrounding Steelhead and Salmon returns in western North America. The fly fishing guides, shop owners, conservationists, common folk and politicians are all fighting for current and future management of the water ways and Steelhead and Salmon in the region. Fisheries programs, dams, and politics are a few of the threats to finding a sustainable solution for these majestic fish and the communities and small scale economies that rely on their health and well being.
You always have to be ready and rolling when working on a project like this. Whether it’s someone hooking a fish, saying something important or documenting wildlife, the camera has to be charged and ready. It takes preparation and power to keep equipment rolling and charged while hiking up remote tributaries, cruising at 35 MPH on jet boats and long days shooting on the water. The PNW in the winter is a wet place and direct sunlight is hard to come by. We relied on what little sunlight we had to power our devices. Our 4am wake-up times, dark packing sessions, sunrise and sunset time lapses and shoot set ups all depended on light and power. Without our Goal Zero gear we would be wet, cold and out of juice. Goal Zero keeps us lit, powered and focused on capturing the story and narrative during this complex project.
Bloodknots is in the process of crafting a documentary on the connections the steelhead angling community, scientists and conservationists have to these fish. What drives both these species (human, salmonid) to go to such lengths to make the connection (swung flies and drive to the home waters)?