FFSW» OK, the snook spot — completely blew my mind. It looked as though it was one spot that you saw on a satellite image that must have spoken to one of you very strongly, because what you went through to get there looked insanely awful. Was any one of you pushing extra hard to get there? Luckily, you were rewarded handsomely for your efforts, but damn — what if you went through all that and didn’t find a single fish?
Chris: The intel started back home when we were planning the logistics. It was really just a shot in the dark — none of us had been there or explored any of that stuff. We knew there were big snook in the Yucatán and also knew that we had to get really deep in there because of the problems with netting. If we wanted to get beyond what the netters have access to, we had to keep pushing. We had to go deep — it was a crapshoot but it was a jackpot.
Jay: It had been raining for weeks. Water clarity was horrible because of the weather, and I was almost over it. But then the weather broke and there’s no question whether or not it was worth it.
Brian: I’d go through it all again in a second.
FFSW» Speaking of being rewarded for your efforts, in my mind, this film strongly parallels Homer’s The Odyssey. The epic poem’s hero, Odysseus, is also on a journey of a lifetime and takes on many mental and physical beat-downs. But Odysseus’ tortures were always followed by major rewards — just like yours. What was the most rewarding aspect of the trip?
Chris: When you look at a spot on a satellite and you have no idea logistically how exactly you are going to get there, and three months later you’re there and all the pieces of the puzzle come together — that was it for all of us.
Thad: We really had no choice but to move forward. So really, the big reward is that all the hard work and all of the lumps we took (and believe me, we took many lumps) paid off in the end. Rewards like we came out with don’t come without getting your ass kicked here and there.
FFSW» Why do you think fly-fishing is such a great vehicle for an adventure like this? I mean, sure, any group of buddies could certainly take the same route in a truck powered by vegetable oil, and chances are they’d return home with awesome stories. But to me, there’s something about fly-fishing and adventure travel that’s a perfect marriage, which is what makes the film what it is, in my opinion. Do you think I’m just biased because I’m a fly-fisherman?
Brian: There may be a small bias there, but I also agree that they go hand in hand, and it’s appealing to audiences that have any interest in international travel and adventure.
Jay: It’s in your soul so you are going to automatically be attracted to it. We do it because we love it, and only people who have that passion for fly-fishing can fully understand why it works.
FFSW» At the 2012 International Fly Tackle Dealer Show, I sat in on a round-table discussion, moderated by Costa’s Al Perkinson, with all of you guys about how to grow the sport of fly-fishing. Do you think this project has the potential to grow the sport?
Thad: For sure. And really, that’s the goal. We want to draw non-fly-fishermen in and have hopes that the project will inspire them.
Chris: A lot of the earlier films we did were confined to the industry, but the reach-out wasn’t that big. But what we wanted to do with Motiv and GeoFish was to really step outside of the industry and create a product that was completely inspiring to anybody.
Jay: Absolutely — it already has been. In the early days, we’d have maybe 30 people show up for the film tour, and last year, we had a thousand people show up. They screamed and had fun. It’s not a question of will it help — it already has and it will continue to help.
FFSW» What is this entire project about for all of you? There’s got to be more than the fish-catching aspect that drives you all to pursue an adventure like this.
Brian: Getting a chance to explore the wildest places out there, meeting some of the coolest people ever and just the overall experience — that’s what does it for me. Actually, the fish are kind of secondary, but they do make it worthwhile as well.
Thad: Yeah, the fly rod is the excuse to see the world.
Chris: Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. Some people do it with a surfboard, some people do it with a mountain bike, and some people just do it — we do it with a fly rod.
FFSW» You guys are filmmakers, and therefore you are storytellers. I’m sure it’s not a good feeling to be shot at, be threatened with big rusty knives by Mexican thieves, be without passports in what many consider to be a sketchy part of the world — the list of trials and tribulations from the film goes on and on — however, is there any part of you that is happy that all these things happened? There’s no denying the fact that instances like these definitely make killer stories when it’s all said and done.
Brian: You are absolutely right. I don’t know if I’d say that I was happy that they happened, but without a doubt it adds to the overall story. After the fact, we look back on it and are, like, “Yeah, probably a good thing that happened — this is going to be a hell of a story to tell our friends and put in the film.”
Jay: In my opinion, it’s not an adventure until something goes wrong. There’s nothing in the world wrong with five-star hotels, but let’s be honest: They are designed to run seamlessly. I’m glad these things happen because, you’re right — it does come out better. Personally, I love it when things go bad; that’s when I feel most alive.
FFSW» Having completed the Mexico leg, what was the most valuable lesson that you learned?
Chris: Getting the equipment and knowing how to use it. We are driving across some gnarly terrain, and having the right equipment to get us out could literally save our lives.
Jay: If you believe in and work hard toward something, you can accomplish some pretty crazy things in life. We started with nothing. I mean, when this began, I was literally in bankruptcy and living in my basement. I think now is an appropriate time to thank Costa. Please, make no mistake, I don’t say this because Costa is a sponsor. ... I say this because [its people] believed in the project from day one. So much so, they encouraged us to extend the project to all seven continents.
Thad: For me, the most valuable lesson we learned was that the difference between an obstacle and an adventure is your attitude. That’s kind of how we have to roll with everything that hits us.
Birth of GeoFish
While plenty of companies have successfully branded their products using traditional strategies, marketing guru Al Perkinson goes against the grain when it comes to letting consumers know what Costa sunglasses are all about. About six years ago, Perkinson came in contact with a group of young filmmakers at the Fly Tackle Dealer Show. In a conversation, Perkinson revealed that he felt the Trout Bum Diaries really captured where fly-fishing is heading. Little did he know, he was actually speaking to the Trout Bums themselves.
Perkinson and the boys stayed in touch, and a couple of years ago, Brian Jill, Chris Owens, Thad Robison and Jay Johnson formed Motiv Fishing and approached Costa with a project that would take the crew from Oregon down to the bottom of South America. Both parties were in a position to partner up, which led to a similar concept but on a much larger scale.
“Adventure and exploration are two concepts that pretty much anyone can appreciate on one level or another. We believe that positioning fly-fishing as a gateway to adventure and exploration will have a much broader reach, which is what the sport needs to bring more people in,” Perkinson says.
The GeoFish project had to have looked intimidating and aggressive on paper, but now that the first leg is complete, the show must go on, and there’s no telling what will happen next. Learn more about the GeoFish project and the Trout Bums at: www.costadelmar.com/explore. To purchase, go to: www.motivfishing.com.