The Trout Bum Diaries
This DVD marks a change in fishing DVD's as far as I can see. Most fly fishing related DVD's and videos fall in two groups: the instructional ones and the story-telling ones. The first kind teaches you a specific skill, tells you about a destination or some kind of fishing. The second one tells somebody's story and accounts for one or several trips.
The Trout bum diaries are definitely the second category - and then some!
I have seen quite a few fly fishing videos and DVD's in my time, but never something like this. The closest I have been are the Norwegian videos with Baard Tufte Johansen and Lars Lenth, who are sufficiently anarchistic (read: crazy) in their approach to get close to the Trout Bum Diaries. Close, but not quite there.
What makes this DVD stand out is that it uses a modern visual language and has been acted, filmed and produced with so much more vigor and juice than the average fishing video.
Gone are the stale setups with two anglers in dry scripted dialog. Gone are the scenes from the lodges and hotels that sponsored the gig. And gone is the predictable narration delivered with little enthusiasm by some medium-to-well-known angler.
In stead we have mountain bikes in hotel lobbies, car breakdowns, beer and hangovers and all the stuff that most of us experience in some form when we go on a longer fishing trip. As a replacement for the usual slow-flowing pace in fishing videos, we have almost non-stop action garnished with real joy, real agony and real frustration.
This fishing DVD is much more like what I have seen in some of the extreme sports genres like snowboarding, off-road biking, off-piste skiing or even BASE-jumping. It has the music, the rhythm and the changing image quality so typical of these styles.
Some people will probably hate it or just find it too much in the long run, but I loved every single one of the almost 140 minutes (plus an extra 60 minutes bonus), that has been squeezed down on this DVD. Loved it!
It's such a relief to see something different in a fly-fishing world that has been almost sedated with man-and-wife-goes-to-place-we-all-want-to-go-productions.
And then we have the fish and the fishing! So many fish that it's hard to believe. So thrilling fishing that it can only spark a deep envy.
The film is shot during a six month trip to Patagonia, and even though I'm sure that any half-year long trip will produce lots of fish, this seems extreme. Fish are caught in everything from small ditches over average rivers to large, clear lakes. The number and size of fish gives you an immediate longing for South America - if you didn't have it already. Most of the places are as fascinating and beautiful as your would expect.
Some of the sequences are so astounding that it's hard to describe. There are places of great beauty but also some secluded, overgrown almost unattractive waters in really muddy surroundings. But all hold fish and the guys in the film manage to pry fish out of the most amazing places. I was personally pretty stunned by the fish that are hauled from small, narrow streams by running Woolly Buggers at very short line down through them. Some of the fish are unbelievably large and some jump right out of the small streams and onto the bank.
I thoroughly enjoyed this very different DVD, which is much more on par with modern video productions than most fishing videos, and in my view much more entertaining. Some viewers might miss some instruction or specific advice, but personally I just rode the roller-coaster and had fun.
I'll be looking forward to the next trip, which goes to New Zealand, and meanwhile I'll pass a Global Class score to this first DVD for the entertainment value and new inspiration in the genre.
One October weekend when I lived in Oregon, I fished Davis Lake on the East side of the Cascades. I hooked so many 17-inch kokanee from my float tube in one day that my arms hurt and I had to teach myself to cast with my left hand. Lesson of the day is that it is possible to have too much of a good thing.
I saw the Trout Bum Diaries Vol 1 on the Global Flyfisher Reading bookshelf list. Something about the cover caught my eye. I watched the 5-minute trailer on their site and realized that I had found a new kind of flyfishing video--what I now refer to as "fish porn". I even took the trailer and showed it to the guys at work.
$25 and a couple of days later, my DVD arrived in the mail. I eagerly popped it into my player and rediscovered what I found out 5 years ago... too much of a good thing can be bad for you.
The DVD is packed full of fish--huge fish, and lots of them. I kept thinking back to the label of "fish porn" and realizing that the porn label might be very apropos. The fishing that Angler's Exploration Group does is similar to the fishing that normal people do, only it's gaudy, overdone, and somehow surreal. Not that it isn't appealing, however.
The AEG do fishing like I do, only just a hair more gonzo. I have no problem sleeping on a picnic table at a campground alongside Davis Lake and having to chisel ice off of my wading boots and float tube in the morning. I could easily see myself making a guest appearance on a future AEG feature. Maybe I'll be Rybolov the half-Russian, half-cutthroat who teaches the gang how to order beer in far-off places such as Kamchatka.
Having grown up watching Warren Miller movies, the narrative style works well for me. It's not for everybody, though. I could see how if you were Norman McLean's father, you might have a coronary on the spot to see 20-somethings who speak fluent "dude" skittering #4/0 hair mice over Southern hemisphere spring creeks to huge browns.
If you read that last sentence and thought. "Well, at least it's a DRY fly," then this DVD might be for you.