Why ask why The River Why?

How many times have you seen a buck lurking in the thickets, but been unable to get a shot? Here’s a great way to pull those wary animals out of the brush.

In 1995, director Robert Redford brought to the big screen the real-life story of a Montana family bonded by faith and a near-religious dedication to fly fishing. The film version of Norman McLean’s autobiography, “A River Runs Through It,” catapulted Brad Pitt into instant stardom. Ladies still recall scenes of him in tight waders!

Whether it was the onscreen charisma of Pitt, the masterful direction of Redford, or the story itself, the movie won a large following at the box office.

The impact was both immediate and sustained. Manufacturers and retailers were gleeful over the exponential rise in sales. Fly fishing clubs doubled their memberships.

Now, it wasn’t that our sport was near death. On the contrary, the American Sportsman television show, which ran from 1965 to 1986, often featured fly fishing. It introduced many legends of our sport to the masses. Names such as Lee Wulff, Lefty Kreh, Flip Pallot, Stu Apte and Gary Borger. During this period, participation increased steadily.

But by 1995, it had hit a plateau. THE MOVIE — as we call it — brought an infusion of new blood into our sport.

THE MOVIE was like a drug. Within a few years, the true believers were wanting more. The question ever since has been, “Will there ever be another great flyfishing movie?”

The answer is “yes,” and it’s name is the “The River Why”.

Based on the novel by James David Duncan, it tells the story of 20-year-old Gus Orviston (even that name evokes flyfishing — “Orvis-ton”). The young man is a maestro with the fly rod, who seeks an adventure away from his big city home and into the wilderness out west. There he meets several eccentric characters and a beautiful woman with whom he falls in love.

The San Francisco Chronicle ranked “The River Why” as one of the 35 best novels of the American West.

Recently I spoke to Kristi Denton Cohen, producer of the “The River Why” to find out more about her project.

“We’re currently in post-production and hope to be ready for release sometime this summer,” she said. “Being this is an independent film, and with a low budget, our first showings will be at festivals in hopes of creating viewer buzz and interest from distributors.”

A great strategy! Look what it did for other small films like “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Sideways.”

I asked Cohen about her great cast, which includes Academy-award winning actor William Hurt, Zach Guilford, Amber Heard, William Devane and Kathleen Quinlan. Quite a lineup for a low-budget film.

“Yes, this was a work of passion, not profit,” she said. “Our actors all love the outdoors, support environmental and conservation causes, and yes, they do fly fish. In fact, William (Hurt) fishes the rivers we filmed on, and Zach leads expeditions in that area. The performances were great, but the one that will impress audiences is William Devane as ‘Dutch.’”

I asked Cohen if viewers will be equally impressed with the scenery.

“The filming was done in Oregon, and yes, it’s outstanding,” she replied. “We used a new technology called the RED digital camera system, which should give viewers a real sense of the great beauty of the wild.”

Cohen also pointed out that they innovated funding for this film.

“We asked for — and are still seeking — donations from organizations to our project,” she said. “Up to 25 percent of our budget is dedicated for this. It’s an opportunity for them to raise a lot of money they can put to use for various projects.”

One final note. Jason Borger, one of the top names in flycasting, served as fishing advisor for “A River Runs Through It,” and was the body double for Brad Pitt. Yes, ladies, that fine butt you saw in waders didn’t belong to Brad — it belonged to Jason!

Borger also assisted in the “The River Why.” If history repeats itself, then young Zach Guilford better learn to pose in waders for his new adoring fans.

2009 spring calendar

Here are some regional events of interest to flyfishers. All are open to the public:

• Jan. 24-25 — Atlanta Fly Fishing Festival, Gwinnett Civic Center, Gwinnett, Ga. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Check castlow.com website for list of seminars and exhibitors.

• Feb. 7 — Acadiana Fly Rodders Conclave, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m, Grace Presbyterian School, 415 Roselawn Blvd, Lafayette. Featuring seminars, casting and tying demos, vendor exhibits. Check acadianafly.blogspot.com for details.

• Feb. 14-15 — Little Mo Fly Fishing Festival, Community Center, Murfreesboro, Ark. Seminars, fly-tying, fly-casting, vendor exhibits, Arkansas fisheries biologists. Check www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com for details.

• March 7 — Red Stick Fly Fishers Conclave, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m, Waddill Outdoors Center, 4142 Flannery Rd, Baton Rouge. Seminars, instruction, fly-tying, fly-casting. Check rsff.org for details.

• March 19-21 — Sowbug Roundup, Redeemer Lutheran Life Center, Mountain Home, Ark. Seminars, instruction, fly-tying, vendors. Check northarkansasflyfishers.org for details.

• April 4 — Red Stick Fly Fishers “Fly Fishing 101” clinic. Free and open to the public. Registration required as seats are limited to 30 persons. Check rsff.org for details.

• May 15-17 — Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) Gulf Coast Expo, Lake Charles Civic Center. Seminars, fly tying, vendors, workshops and other activities. Featured guests Stu Apte, Bob Popovics, Nick Curcione and Wanda Taylor. Check gulfcoastfff.org for details.

Club Meetings

In addition to these events, most of the flyfishing and kayak-fishing clubs in our state hold monthly meetings that are open to the public.

• Acadiana Fly Rodders. First Wednesday of each month, 6:30 p.m., Grace Presybterian Hall, 415 Roselawn Blvd, Lafayette. Website: acadianafly.blogspot.com.

• Contraband Fly Casters. Third Tuesday of each month, tying at 6 p.m., meeting at 7 p.m. McNeese State University, Lake Charles.

• Lafayette Kayak Fishing Club. Third Tuesday of each month, 6:30 p.m., Pack and Paddle, Lafayette. Contact Greg Sonnier at (337) 654-1227.

• New Orleans Fly Fishers. Last Thursday of each month, 7 p.m., Whitney Bank branch, 1441 Metairie Rd, Metairie. Website: noflyfisher.blogspot.com.

• North Louisiana Fly Fishers. Third Tuesday of each month, 7 p.m., YMCA Camp Forbing, Shreveport. Flytying demonstrations bi-weekly at Bass Pro Shops in Bossier. Website: www.northlaflyfishers.org.

• Ouachita River Fly Fishers. Last Monday of every month, 7 p.m., at Judd Moore’s home. Website: orff.squarespace.com.

• Pontchartrain Basin Fly Fishers. First Wednesday of each month, 7 p.m., at New Orleans Food and Spirits in Covington. Website: www.northshoreflyfishing.org.

• Red Stick Fly Fishers. Second Monday of each month, 7 p.m., Wildlife and Fisheries building, Quail Dr., Baton Rouge. Flytying the fourth Monday of each month, 7 p.m., at Cabela’s in Gonzales in odd months, Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs in even months.
Website: www.rsff.org.

About Catch Cormier 275 Articles
Glen ‘Catch’ Cormier has pursued fish on the fly for 30 years. A certified casting instructor and renowned fly tier, he and his family live in Baton Rouge.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply