An interview with the two guys behing Tapâm, last year's Drake Video Award winners.
I have just reviewed the fascinating and exciting tarpon fishing DVD Tapâm recorded and edited by Danish Jan Bach Kristensen and German Daniel Göz, and I thought I'd approach the two adventurous anglers with some questions regarding their unorthodox fishing and stunning video production. In spite of having a tight schedule - fishing and working - they quickly returned with some answers to my questions, and even supplied a handful of very nice pictures from their trips.
1) First off... Tarpon and belly boats?! How do you get that crazy idea?
Daniel: It sounds like a crazy idea, but it comes from very rational thinking. I have traveled to remote parts of Central America extensively since 2001. I was always unhappy with the amount of infrastructure needed to fish the area. There are no guides, few boats, fuel is difficult to get. In 2007 I came up with the idea of bringing a float tube as a low impact approach. The idea was to be highly mobile in the complex water systems; guide, boat and fuel independent. It turned out to be a great idea in several ways.
2) What were your thoughts the first time you hooked a large fish and it started dragging you around?
Daniel: On my first try with the float tube it took less than ten minutes to hook a tarpon. The fish was estimated at app. 100 lbs. Oddly everything went smooth, it was almost surreal. The fish took a large deceiver right in front of my feet, I could see it all. I fought, handled and released the fish unharmed in 20 minutes. Adrenaline was flushing me permanently. The force of the tarpon is basically transmitted to the angler one-to-one, this is very impressive, to say the least. We knew right away that the float tube is a tremendous help in order to hook, fight and release large tarpon fast. The advantages were very surprising, it was quite unexpected.
3) The spot you are fishing seems to be full of fish. Is it you impression that there are many such places in the region you fish... which I guess is Central America?
Jan: The entire Caribbean coastline of Central America from Belize in north to Panama in south is littered with rivers and lagoons that all (well, most at least!) hold tarpon. Not all places are equally suited for fishing or are easy to access due to lack of infrastructure and fuel. Some areas also see considerable drug trafficking. For the adventurous angler, Central America is an exciting place - as we say in the movie: There are still places to be found!
4) Would you recommend other people to tug along their belly boat and give it a shot, or is it something that's best suited for locations like yours?
Daniel: Actually, very few people have contacted us regarding float tubing for larger fish. We like to point out that we were not on a suicide mission, nor are we high risk behavior guys. The float tube is an outstanding tool/craft that we can only recommend, yet as we have often said we stick to this easy rule: Never over-estimate your physical abilities and never under-estimate the environment you fish in.
5) I can see from your pictures online that you have also combined the belly boat with other kinds of fishing, like for tuna. Any recommendations with regards to exploring other types of fishing?
Daniel: The tuna fishing from the tube was for the same reasons as the approach on tarpon: low cost, no need for a guide and high flexibility. This is great on a DIY trip, like many do today. The outstanding advantage of the float tube with its fin propulsion is that fish do not spook from it. You can approach them so close, be it tarpon, tuna or pike. The possibilities are basically limitless, but safety first! Simple recommendations: Find a float tube that has a high seat, use very good fins, preferably diving fins, know your limits, pack plenty to drink and some light food, do your research and go explore!
6) I've gotta ask: Sharks... Crocodiles... Any worries?
Jan: Haha, many people have asked us that question! As Daniel already said, we would not do this if it wasn't safe. We listen to the locals who have never had a problem swimming in and fishing these waters. Sure, there is a tiny and theoretical possibility that a shark will make its way the many miles upstream and confuse a couple of skinny legs dangling with a fishy snack - but the odds of getting hit by a bus tomorrow is no doubt much bigger.
7) Any plans for future video productions?
Jan: I'm currently dedicating my time to my "real life" job as a biofuels researcher but still working on a couple photo projects and will no doubt do another film project sometime in the future. Daniel is in full swing working hard on a couple new film projects, something completely different from tarpon - but you'll have to wait to see what it is!
Well, I'll be one of those waiting and looking forward to more from Jan and Daniel.
If you haven't had enough you can of course watch the DVD (wet your appetite with the trailer on our video channel), but for more fishing imagery from the lenses and hands of two gentlemen, you can visit their web sites - Jan's here and Daniel's here.