A quest to find solace during a global pandemic.
Written by Nick Jones of the Fly Fishing Film Tour
The 2020 Fly Fishing Film Tour will most definitely go down as one of the most fun, engaging, and certainly most memorable tours of all time. For myself, Paul Nicoletti, and Parker Boswell, the time on the road was something we looked forward to from the moment we finished up our Alaska guide season. Working for the tour not only allows us to travel around the country showcasing awesome films, but it also provides ample opportunities to explore new water with a group of friends I consider brothers.
Sadly, right as we were hitting our stride on the road in mid-March, major concerns began to surface across the nation. In a matter of days, the Covid pandemic halted cities and states across the country. Because of the increasing health concerns, we made the difficult decision to cut our adventures short with F3T and pull the curtains on the 2020 tour.
We’d been grinding nonstop for two months. After trekking over 10,000 miles on the road, hosting 22 individual shows, and having had far too many gas station dining experiences—we were weary to say the least. We needed to relax, we needed a break from our routine, but what we really needed was to string up our rods, unplug, and go fishing.
After doing some research and talking to some friends, we decided to disappear into the backcountry of Wyoming. Armed with a full quiver of rods, toilet paper, and enough beer to make a normal person question the state of our livers, we looked forward to our newfound freedom and the prospect of exploring new water.
The mission was simple — load up our packs, start hiking, and pound the banks with streamers in order to find the biggest browns possible.
Upon arriving, there was no doubt we made the right call — simply put, Wyoming is stunning. After setting up our base camp we immediately started working the water. The first day was a bust—no fish landed. Feeling deflated, we settled into our stash of beer and started to figure out our game plan for the next day.
Day two, although much colder and windier, brought with it the thrill of success. Several nice fish were brought to the net, all on streamers.
With rekindled confidence on fly selection and technique, we decided that the rest of the week would be devoted to exploring as much water as possible. Using the elevated banks, we worked every bit of good looking water with one person fishing and the other guys spotting.
With our new approach dialed, the final day was when it all came together. I kicked broke the ice with a beautiful brown that absolutely hammered a “goldie” streamer; as you could imagine the stoke was high for what the rest of the day had in store. Everyone was charged up and extra motivated to continue the hunt.
Shortly thereafter, Paul found some nice water downriver and began picking it apart with a two-handed rod. A few swings into the run, I heard the telltale howl of excitement.
Without a moments pause, I was recklessly sliding down the steep embankment with my net and camera in tow to help. After a wordless, tense fight, both Paul and I let out a huge sigh of relief as I scooped the net under a gorgeous 25” brown trout! This was that classic “moment” that solidified our trip as one that we will never forget. Our goal wasn’t to catch lots of fish, our intention was to find that one special fish, and this no doubt the one we were looking for!
Fish or no fish, this trip was all about disconnecting from the chaos and reconnecting with a shared passion that gives our lives so much purpose. A week without news, social media, and internet—especially in troubling times like these was the hard reset we needed.
Feeling refreshed, light-hearted, and our need for adventure satiated, we all went on our separate ways to our families. It was time to hunker down, reminisce, and weather out the storm.
Timing is a funny thing—the idea of having to remain inside with no end in sight to beat this thing would have been a much more bleak prospect without having had made the call to go be wild while we had the chance. To those of you who managed make it out, be alone, and fish before shelter in place orders came down—good on you. To those of you who didn’t – try not to stress. In time, this storm will pass — and when it does, the fish will be waiting.