“There we were, Denver airport, late June 2008,” the narrator of Eastern Rises says in the opening scene. “There is a war going on, the economy is crumbling, the environment is in jeopardy. Good innocent people are suffering all over the world. We had to do something. It was our chance to get involved our chance to make a difference…but we decided to just go fishing.”
Felt Soul Media’s Ben Knight and Travis Rummel have done it again for this year’s Mountainfilm celebration, bringing some of the world’s most unique and sought-after fly-fishing to the screen, this time after heading far into remote wilderness areas on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East to catch some of the biggest rainbow trout ever.
Eastern Rises reunites the Felt Soul crew with fishing junkie Frank Smethurst for a trip into an almost untouched fishing landscape at the ends of the earth during the summer of 2008. While their film Red Gold, which took the audience and director’s awards at 2008’s Mountainfilm, was centered around the contentious fight to save Alaska’s Bristol Bay and its life-giving sockeye salmon run, Eastern Rises is all about the search to catch the fish of a lifetime.
The film starts in a tiny flat in Moscow, where the crew of six (and all their camera/fishing gear) is packed in uncomfortably tight, proving that there is always a price to pay for monster rainbow trout. As with any world-class fishing location, getting there is half the battle and in this instance, getting into the wilderness areas of the Kamchatka peninsula is no walk in the park.
Traveling long hours by train, funky buses and an antique yet effective fleet of helicopters, the fish-obsessed crew finally gets into the deep wilderness, where there are close to 140,000 rivers – many never before fished by man. Like Knight and Rummel’s earlier film, The Hatch, where trout are caught on film gorging themselves on salmon flies, Eastern Rises beautifully catches these Kamchatka rainbows slurping flies from feedlines and chasing the anglers flies’ across water’s surface with reckless abandon. The carnivorous fish this crew finds are big, mean and hungry.
And, of course, the camera also catches some great anglers at work as well with expertly crafted double-hauls, precision fly placement on the water and strikes that instantly tighten the line and bend the rod. The scenery, laughable angling and the huge trout are almost too much to handle after a long winter in the San Juan Mountains.
How did it make me feel? Envy, at its purest.
Now, no real fly-fishing trip is complete without a few mishaps; there is always a price to pay and these guys pay it any number of times with an out-of-control jet boat, a curious bear, a rough run-in with Russian vodka and a mysterious bear-eating big-foot creature.
As any angler knows, if you fish long enough and put yourself into the right situation (like deep in the untouched wilderness waters of the Russian Far East) you just might catch the fish of your life, AKA Hog Johnson.
This adventure film is 37 minutes long and will be shown on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. at the Palm and on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Masons. Knight, Rummel and Smethurst will be at the screenings.