Adventures on Playground Earth

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Kent and His Posse

Kent and His Posse

Kent and I are back from our BF Goodrich, Playground Earth / Owyhee River adventure. After spending the weekend in a coma, more or less, I’m rubbing the sleep from my eyes and trying to make sense of the surreal events of the last two weeks.

It seems like a year ago, we were power sliding the Ford Raptor around hairpin turns at sixty-five mph and feeling a little awkward when the director referred to us as athletes. Looking around at the room full of world class competitors and then at our beer guts, we didn’t feel like athletes but everyone (cast and crew alike) treated us with such respect and warmth that we felt like we belonged.

We made new friends, learned new skills and I got to experience the awkward feeling of being in front of the camera rather than tucked safely behind it. Our week at Miller Motor Sports was a learning experience all around but it didn’t prepare us for what was ahead.

Kent and I are used to rolling up on a river we’ve never seen and figuring out the local fish. That is, after all, what we do and over the years we’ve gotten fairly good at it but it became clear early on that this trip was going to be different. We were headed for a notoriously technical tailwater full of picky brown trout during one of the toughest times of the year with a 17 person film crew, 4 cinematographers, 3 remote control helicopter cameras, several trucks full of Red cameras, DSLRs, boom mics, camera cranes and 30 GoPros. Neither of us had to say a word. We each knew what the other was thinking. “What the hell have we gotten our selves into?”

The process of movie making is tedious and if you are not one of the crew, scurrying back and forth with cameras and lights and stands, the pace feels glacial. I knew this going in but it didn’t help. With BF Goodrich picking up the tab there was lots of footage to be shot of tires and trucks and us hauling ass on sketchy dirt roads and with every take, less and less time to fish. It started working on our heads.

We made several attempts to explain that fishing was not like the other sports involved in the shoot. That we were working with a hostile witness who wasn’t keen on making a film debut. It soon became clear that phrases like: “really, really technical,” and “picky ass brown trout,” and “cold front shutting them down for a couple of days,” were not scaring the hell out of the director or producer like they did us.

Everyone had complete confidence that when the camera boom had been assembled and the sound guy was at speed and the cameras were rolling and the light was right, on the stretch of river that looked good to the director (not us) and the helicopter was whooshing overhead and the still photographer was ready and everybody but the craft service gal was stomping around the river, that we would make a cast and one of these twenty-inch brown trout they had heard about would come up and eat the fly and we’d all break for lunch. On day three, with the river still not in sight, I was on the verge of a melt down.

With only a day and a half of shooting left, we finally put our boots in the Owyhee. We had missed the squala hatch and the wind was blowing thirty but we were relieved to be on the water. We spent the first hour or two figuring out where the fish were holding and what they were eating. Kent was first on the board and rallied a couple of really nice browns. Some pretty epic shots were missed while the crew got used to the idea that things happen really fast when big fish are involved but to their credit, they got up to speed quickly and we did get footage of fish. We were relieved but we knew we had a lot more work to do.

The next morning was tough. We fished a very scenic but less fishy stretch of river and the wind was relentless. It was the kind of day when you would turn the flats boat around and head for the bar. Winds were sustained at thirty and gusting to fifty. Just the kind of conditions your looking for on a river where success depends on putting a #22 fly right on a fish’s nose. Kent and I each landed a fish but the cameras missed both of them.

We decided to stay on task while the crew took lunch and set up for an interview segment (more un-fish-related footage). After testing a couple of pieces of likely water we found fish and, without the cameras, laid a smack-down on some huge browns. I hooked one of the biggest brown trout I’ve ever seen. The fish was steelhead size and with 6X tippet and a #22 hook, I wasn’t able to seal the deal but we both landed several fish over the twenty-inch mark. It felt good but it would have felt a whole lot better if the cameras had been rolling.

After our interviews we had a couple of hours left to shoot before we wrapped and drove back to Boise to pack our gear and get ready for the flight home. We felt OK about what we had accomplished but we both wished we had more of the great fish we’d caught on film and we were nervous about all of the footage of us casting five weights in gale force winds. Still, the crew and director from Camp 4 are amazingly talented and in spite of the tough conditions they had captured some pretty amazing stuff.

Tim, the director, let us pick the water we wanted to fish as long as it got evening light and we settled on a stretch with a nice bend that we felt good about. I think everyone felt like the film was in the can and we were just out there for the hell of it. Kent and I were focused on putting one more fish in front of the camera and when I hooked a twenty-four inch buck with a big hooked jaw, we felt like we were in good shape. It was devastating when the fish unbuttoned right at the net.

That’s not the kind of thing that bothers us normally. It’s part of the game and we can feel good about just seeing a big fish like that but this was different. It felt like failure. Kent took a few minutes out of the river and after a few deep breaths I stepped back up to the run where I’d hooked the big fish.

I took a look around. It was actually a beautiful evening. The sun was out and low on the horizon, the wind had stopped, swallows swirled above my head. The river was cold and green around my feet and the fields glowed gold. The camera crane was assembled and in the river, the sound guy was holding the boom mic close to the water to capture its sound. The helicopter buzzed over my head like an angry bumble bee and the still photographer clicked away. The copywriter and the art director and the account supervisor and Tim, the director, and the grips and the cinematographers and the location scout and everyone but the craft service gal were standing in the river, all of them without waders, and they were all smiling and they were all my friends.

They were all out here doing what they love and working hard, long hours and it was almost over. Two weeks of work and god knows how many man hours and how many terabytes of video and they were all standing in the river, everyone wanting the same thing. All of the ad agency folks and the film crew and the climbers and the kayakers none of whom had ever given a damn about fishing in their lives were holding their breath and crossing their fingers and waiting for me to catch a fish.

There in the warmth of the evening sun and the goodwill of my new friends and with great hope and very little in the way of expectations, I made a cast. What followed may be the best single hour of fishing I have ever experienced.

Kent and I stood side by side in that far flung desert river and, cast after cast brought big beautiful brown trout to hand as fast as the film crew could shoot them. Sometimes faster. We caught fish for crane shots and helicopter shots, we caught fish for release shots and macro shots and underwater shots. I remember Tim asking me to cast for the camera and having to say, ” I can’t, I’ve caught another fish.”

The crew grinned like kids at an Easter egg hunt and marveled at the beautifully colored fish. The agency guys beamed and told us, “you guys are amazing!” We spanked fish, shoulder to shoulder, until the sun sank into the river and if we’d walked back to the truck on the surface of the water like Christ when he appeared to the fishermen at Capernaum, no one would have batted an eye.

It was a great show for the cameras and it was just what we needed and Kent and I both worked very hard for it, but we both know better than to believe our own press. The amazing thing about fly fishing is that it can make you feel like a hero one day and a zero the next. We were fortunate to have a great afternoon of fishing while a brilliant film crew was there to pay witness. It could have easily gone the other way. Regardless, it would have meant nothing without the hard work and dedication of the talented folks from Camp 4 or the faith that The Martin Agency had in us or the vision of BF Goodrich to put this whole project together at considerable expense.

If you’re looking for the heroes in this story don’t look at Kent and me. We are just doing what we do. What we love. We are thrilled and humbled and honored to be part of Playground Earth. The same goes for the film crew and the agency and even the clients. We are all doing our jobs. Jobs we love, but jobs just the same. If, like me, you’re looking for someone to thank, someone to congratulate then look no further. It’s you. I mean that sincerely, even if it sounds cheesy. Without the support of our readers none of this would have ever happened. From Kent and me both, thank you for making our jobs totally rock ass!

Playground Earth is still in production but episodes will be online as soon as May. Stay tuned and we will keep you posted as they are released.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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27 thoughts on “Adventures on Playground Earth

  1. Great write up, can’t wait to see the final cuts. Glad it worked out. I can’t imagine the stress of having to fish in front of a whole film crew like that. You guys need your own show on the BBC, you could call it Top Gill.

    • Top gill! I like it!!!

      It was really stressful. The fishing didn’t worry me but the film is another story. These guys do great work but I’m not sure about those shots of me casting a 5 wt in 30 mph wind. ; )

  2. Totally Jealous! Such ROCK STARS! As an Art Director, I understand the amount of stress can be extreme…!

    I look to fishing as an outlet…a stress release. Don’t lose that! Don’t become the next Duck Dynasty/Swamp People/River Monsters/Myrtle Manor…don’t do it. We, your people, would love to see it…but at what cost?!?

    I look forward to seeing guys at Cannes and Sundance. I’ll soon place my order for a set of “G&G” BF Goodrich tires on my FJ Cruiser.

    • Brian,

      Thanks for the congrats. I don’t think you have to worry about us becoming the next Duck Dynasty. It sure would help support my growing family though ๐Ÿ™‚ but it’s a one in a billion shot. If we ever do a show it’s going to be on the terms that G&G will be exactly the same on TV as it is on our website. I’ve got Louis a.k.a Gasoline on my side, and he’s no sell out.


    • LOL! The autographed set. Don’t settle for anything less.

      We actually had a shot at a reality show a while back but couldn’t reach an agreement. We just aren’t interested in acting like asses on TV. We do that in our spare time.

      BTW, as an art director, hire me to shoot something…anything. That’s what pays for all of this fishing business.

      Thanks Man.

  3. That many cameras at that many angles… This may be the best chance to see some incredible fishing ever. Can. Not. Wait.
    Congratulations to you both. I can’t imagine how that must have felt, to get onto some great fishing at the 11th hour. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • John,

      It was a big relief for sure to get fish on camera when the light was perfect and the was sun setting. I couldn’t have done it without a great partner that had my back at all times. There’s no I in Team. Looking forward to everyone seeing the moments we captured.


  4. That’s awesome! Congratulations on the great day especially in front of the cameras, can’t imagine that kind of pressure on the water.

    Can’t wait to see the video footage they caught should be amazing!

  5. I saw you guys out there and wondered if there was any way i could find out how to see the movie you were making. Good to see you guys enjoyed the Owyhee river, being a boise local, I’ve fished the owyhee many, many times and there are big FISH there. good blog post

    • There are big fish indeed! I tangled with one giant.

      Dude!!! You should have come and introduced yourself! I hate that we missed fishing with you. We’ll be back. Stay in touch.

  6. Pingback: Playground Earth Part 2: Flow | Fly Fishing | Gink and Gasoline | How to Fly Fish | Trout Fishing | Fly Tying | Fly Fishing Blog

  7. All I can say it a great big DITTO to everything that has been said. I too am looking forward to the “end product” and watching you guys’ debut as movie stars. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. It’s too bad you guys missed the skwala hatch! Can’t wait to see that video. The owyhee can be great, but wind always seems to be an issue… Till the sun starts to set! Pretty amazing you guys can just step into a river you have never fished and have such success. Took me a long time of fishing there to get the hang of it!

    • Matt,

      That river did prove to be technical at times and a challenge. we were grateful we figures it with our limited time and cameras in our faces. It took us a little while to dial in for sure. I just can’t wait to go back. I fell in love with that river. You’ll have to email us a photo or two next time you catch a nice brownie. They are gorgeous by you. Thanks for the comment.


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