FFSW» I remember a point where it shows Jay actually tasting the oil. Was that real?
All: Laughter, yes — absolutely real.
Thad: Yeah, it has to pass the Jay inspection test; if he doesn’t puke, it’s good to go.
Jay: It’s not that bad — c’mon, you can cook with it — really, it’s clean (laughs).
FFSW» How did you hook up with Joel Woolf of Veg Powered Systems? Why was he so willing to help convert your truck?
Chris: We sent out media packages to all the vegetable oil guys and Joel was the only guy who came back and said, “Yeah, I’ll do it.” The other guys were, like, who are you guys, you guys want me to do what? Joel was down from day one. He liked the adventure, he liked the project, he liked it all.
Brian: I honestly think that he wanted to help us out because he thought we’d die without him. And, that very well could have been the case.
FFSW» Where is the truck now?
Chris: We are hoping that it is where we left it in Panama. If it’s not, it will just add to the story.
Thad: The first place we had lined up fell through, so at the last minute, we actually had to scramble and find another place [where someone] is supposedly watching it, but honestly, we are all kinds of sweating whether or not it will be there when we get back down there. We are crossing our fingers big-time right now.
FFSW» What were the sleeping arrangements?
Brian: Basically, whoever had dibs on the primo spot, and got there first, got it.
FFSW» What was the primo spot? I can’t imagine that with your setup there was a primo sleeping spot.
Thad: Surprisingly enough, the Gheenoes on top were the way to go. You’re off the ground, which means you don’t have to worry about spiders crawling on you. You just throw your sleeping bag in the boat and throw a tarp over you, and you’re sleeping in the most awesome bunk bed ever.
Chris: It took Thad and Jay a little bit to figure that out, so they’d lock themselves in the canopy, which is sealed — no ventilation, no oxygen, no nothing. You’d open it in the morning and it was the worst thing ever. Once we all figured it out, it kind of turned into a roshambo thing where whoever gets there gets it.
FFSW» From start to finish, was there any point when any one of you guys was thinking that you should throw in the towel and abandon the project?
Thad: Not a chance. We all went into this with the mind-set that there’s no turning back. Everybody is totally committed to seeing the project through to the end.
Chris: Before we left, we had family members and sponsors that were genuinely worried calling us asking, “Are you really sure you want to do this?” It was really scary taking off to do this, but now we are in and we have to finish it out.
FFSW» I watched the film twice and it actually inspired me to go back and watch your earlier film, The Trout Bum Diaries (which I was a big fan of, by the way). In both efforts, it seems as though the group is as much into the adventure as they are the fish — do you enjoy just going fishing, or has it become something where you need a certain risk/adventure level to enjoy?
Chris: At home, of course, we are on the water whenever we can be, but the adventure thing is something that is deep within is. There’s so much more you get out of a fishing experience by going out there and, I hate to say it, going through hell to get there. But, when all the stars align and you have that awesome day, there’s nothing more fulfilling than that.
Jay: Fishing is fishing and we all love it no matter what, but it’s really nice to find spots where fish haven’t been bothered.
FFSW» There are many parts of the film that completely capture the essence of fly-fishing travel. To me, the part that captured this best was when the Mexican family not only invited you to camp on their property but practically demanded that you all stay and eat their crabs. Can you talk a little bit more about that experience?
Brian: It seems like whenever we travel to these really remote places, we meet people like this. These people in particular pretty much offered us everything they had — food, a place to stay, etc. They had a lot to share and offered it all to us. It was amazing because they weren’t expecting anything in return, nor did we feel like we had to give something back.
Thad: We were there for a few days, and by the time we left, they were literally crying. That to me was one of the coolest experiences we had on the trip. Experiences like that are every bit as gratifying as catching awesome fish. They also wanted Owens to marry their daughter, so that may have had something to do with it.
FFSW» Jay, I’m pretty sure that you were the first to hook up to the first significant fish of the trip, which was a striped marlin — the reel fell off the rod. Was that pretty much par for the course based on what you all had experienced up to that point?
Jay: I was just stoked not to be sick! It could have been a broomstick and I still would have been happy. But yeah, definitely par for the course up to that point.
Thad, Chris and Brian: Par for the course, no doubt.
FFSW» To say that you all had to jump through hoops to get to the striped marlin spot is an understatement. That being said, once you got there and had a couple of goose egg days, exactly how did it feel to hit the marlin mother lode?
Chris: We had spent at least four or five days looking for these marlin. We spent so much time and effort to get this project under way, and we got to this place and we didn’t even know how we were getting offshore. We finally found the boat and got offshore — perfect conditions and we can’t buy a marlin. None of us really had any experience marlin fishing. On the fourth or fifth day, we are all looking at each other with looks of despair — it was really frightening and then it just happened.
Thad: We spent so many days, Jay got so sick, and the swells made it almost impossible to stand up. We were just getting beaten down, and then it was like the finger of God came down and touched the ocean where this massive baitball of sardina showed up. It literally looked like a scene from the Planet Earth series. All of a sudden dolphin, sea lions, whales and then hundreds and hundreds of marlin arrived. To this day, that was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
Brian: I’m right there with you, Thad. Our panga captain was a fourth-generation lobster fisherman, and he said he’d never seen anything like that in his entire life.