The Journey Begins

Published Jun 8th 2012

Fish On - A Reel Retreat


Fish on

Today I launched a Kickstarter fundraising campaign for my new fly-fishing documentary FISH ON - A REEL RETREAT. Fish On is film that will document the stories of a group of men with cancer who have come together for three days of healing, relaxing and fly fishing at a Reel Recovery Retreat. Reel Recovery is a non-profit organization that hosts dozens of retreats for hundreds of men every year. They're a pretty amazing group of people.

I was first introduced to Reel Recovery by my good friend and partner in this endeavor, Reese Ferguison. Reese has been one of my best friends for well over 20 years. He's one of the few people on earth who remembers that I once had long, thick hair. I was not born with the male pattern baldness that now inhabits my head. The baldness, I am convinced, is the result of pulling my hair out in the early years of becoming a fly fisherman. Thousands of snapped flies as the result of poor casting, thousands of birds nest tangles as a result of poor casting, thousands of missed fish due to my slow reaction, thousands of hours spent watching fish ignore my fly as a result of not understanding bugs and thousands of hours of enjoying every minute of it led to the departure of my hair.

Reel Recovery

I have spent the past fifteen years working as a freelance, independent filmmaker. I've produced commercials, corporate videos, narrative feature films and an ESPN football documentary. Filmmaking is what I do for a living. I've spent nearly all my life fishing the rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs of Idaho. Fly-fishing is something I live for.

For years I've wanted to combine my passion for filmmaking and storytelling with my love for fly-fishing. I simply hadn't found the right story. When Reese told me about Reel Recovery, a light went on in my head. I knew, almost instantly, that I had found a story (stories, in fact) that I would be honored to tell.

The story of Reel Recovery, for me, begins with my friend. Last year Reese was diagnosed with melanoma. He underwent surgery, a litany of tests and months of ongoing treatment. In August, Reese will attend the Idaho retreat as a participant and I'll tag along to document his experience. In September we'll both attend the 2nd Idaho retreat, to document the stories of those participants. One of the great things about making this film is the opportunity to spend time with my buddy. So you know, Reese is now doing very well and speaks very eloquently about his experience with cancer and how fly-fishing has helped him in the healing process.

Travis and Reese

I am often asked "why" I enjoy fly-fishing so much. My stock answer is always some version of this: "Because when I'm fishing, knee deep in a river, stumbling along the banks, staring down a drifting fly, nothing else on earth matters. Fishing, for me, is a complete disconnect from the world and all the problems and worries, no matter how big or small, that inhabit my life".

Men with cancer are facing life altering situations and profound worries that I cannot begin to understand. Typical day-to-day worries about money, work, my car or my lawn can wreak havoc on my nerves, but they certainly pale in comparison to what those men are facing. It is my hope that fly-fishing gives these men a few days of relief and departure from their worry. I look forward to getting to know the men and the people at Reel Recovery and to losing ourselves in the amazing process of getting a hook into a trout's lip.

Because I am in the process of raising money via Kickstarter to produce this film, I think it's important that you all know I am volunteering my time. I am not being paid to make this documentary. The money raised will go towards hiring my crew, travel, equipment and all other things that go into the making of a feature documentary. I can volunteer my time but there are many costs I cannot cover. For that reason, I invite you all to visit my Kickstarter page and to contribute. There are many great "rewards" for the money you give.

Both Reese and I look forward to sharing our journey to a finished film here on Global FlyFisher. Please follow our story by checking back for updates. We promise good stories, videos and pictures.

Thanks to all.

All entries in Travis' diaryThe entries are being published as the project progresses.
When new entries are ready, they are announced here and then linked when they are published.

The Kickstarter page for the project.
The Facebook page for the project.
The organization Reel Recovery.
Our first blog entry about the project.

User comments
From: Megan · Megan_plantenga·at·  Link
Submitted June 12th 2014

I just watched Fish On. Real men are the men in Reel Recovery. God ,our Creator, made us perfect and then man fell. The greatest challenge is knowing God did not give these men cancer. It is a disease that was produced in the fall. But Jesus is a Fisher of men and I pray as these men continue to see the awesomeness of God and that they will each have a Divine encounter with God who gives eternal life through His son Jesus. God bless these brave hearted men. Fish on. Many thanks to Reese.

From: Dad & Mary · mmferguison·at·  Link
Submitted July 13th 2012

Reese we're very proud of you Travis. We wish you the very best in this project.

From: Travis Swartz · fishonmovie·at·  Link
Submitted June 10th 2012

Hello Raymond. Thanks so much for your comments. Would be honored to have you sharing our decal. Currently we offer the decal on stickers, t-shirts & hats through our Kickstarter campaign (link is on this page). The "rewards" are listed on Kickstarter on the right side of screen. Later in the summer we will likely have them for sale directly from the website we are creating. We definitely want to get you something whether or not Kickstarter works for you. Please feel free to email us at Good luck teaching your girlfriend to fish! I'm taking my wife out this summer!

Comment to an image
From: Raymond Richard · mww·at·  Link
Submitted June 10th 2012

it is so true that fly fishing brings them therapy that no one can buy,i also have a few fly fishing friends who are fighting to beat cancer ,and they forget that they are sick when they fish ,i would like to know where i cold purchase a decal like yours to offer them and show them they are not alone,i also am suporting and fighting with my girlfriend who was diagnose with breast cancer,i want to introduce her to fly fishing when possible,she is doing good and hopefully it will be over soon with healling, thank u so much for this i also fly fish and it takes me to another world even if only for a few hrs,an if she feels to it,she will be learning how to fly fish this summer with me.

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