23Mar

Fly Fishing Hong Kong – Lucky Fish for Me

Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every […]

Fly fishing China is an oxymoron. In 2006, I found this to be true after diligently trying to find a river with wild fish. I quickly realized every river in China is dammed. The rivers I found were either a trickle or dammed and made into a fish farm every 100 yards or so.  Don’t get me wrong, with proper due diligence finding a river with wild fish is very plausible in some of the more remote areas of China. Maybe some of the border areas of Mongolia or areas in Tibet or any of the Eastern border areas in the Himalayas.  After leaving China disappointed in 2006, I received some emails replies from members of a sport-fishing club based in Hong Kong that I had found through the IGFA. While Hong Kong isn’t technically China, it seemed that one of the biggest cities in the world does have a small population of sport-fishermen. On our recent stop in Hong Kong, I found this to be true. Thanks to my fly-fishing friend in Japan, Captain Keiichiro of Seakuro, I was linked up with one of the few fly-fisherman in Hong Kong, a nice Japanese fellow by the name of Koichi Hamaguchi aka: Lefty Hama. I met Hama early in the pre-dawn hours on our last day in Hong Kong. We rigged our 6, 8 and 9 wt rods as we waited for what Hama referred to as “the only sport fishing boat for hire in Hong Kong.” I felt very lucky to be fishing with one the few local fly-fishermen and the only sporting fishing charter among millions of people.

The original purpose of the trip was to target the specific sea-bass species native to the area known as “Lo Yu” or Chinese Spotted Sea-bass (Lateolabrax Maculatus). Hama, being from Japan, explained to me how the Sea-bass in Hong Kong receive a lot of catch and take fishing pressure, because of this, the fish rarely look up unlike the Suzuki or Japanese Seabass that can often be caught on the surface. Therefore, the main technique used to catch Chinese Spotted Sea-bass on a fly is using a sinking line. He explained that in the last couple years he has fished hundreds of times from the pier while only catching Sea-bass twice. After hearing this, I didn’t expect to catch anything this morning, I was really just stoked to be out fishing in a unique setting with someone from across the globe that shared the same passion as me.

We fished for a couple hours in the shimmering glow created by Hong Kong harbour’s industrial ships and marine lights. We moved from spot to spot as we cast our sinking lines towards structures created by the commercial tankers, ports and jetties. As the sun rose, the glow from the city lights dwindled and we continued to laboriously cast in hopes of something to bite. We were fishing near a Chinese navy base when our guide let the boat drift naturally by the current. All morning we had been stripping fast with hopes that the quick strips would instigate a strike. While I felt the boat naturally drift I thought it might be wise to change it up. I held the same point on my depth charger line and jigged it using the boat’s drift to create the action on the fly. For whatever reason, this was the ticket for success. I immediately felt a hard tug, as a rush of adrenaline ran through my body, I stripped set the line, raised my rod and yelled “FISH ON!”  You would have thought Hama won the lottery because he immediately started jumping up and down like he just won the Super Bowl. His excitement was contagious. I immediately got another charge of exhilaration just from witnessing his reaction. It was simply awesome. The fish made a good run against my tightly set drag before we finally saw a glimpse of the fish. At first glance, I thought “permit? no freaking way,” until I realized it was a Giant Trevally. Not a huge one, maybe 2 kilos or 4 pounds tops. We took a bunch of pictures and videos before releasing the fish unharmed.

Hama explained that in late 2012 the Hong Kong government put a ban on bottom trawling. He attributes this to our success. He explained how before 2012 it was hard to find some Giant Trevally up to a 1/2 kilo or about 1 pound but thanks to the ban on bottom trolling the bait fish populations have recovered significantly in just the course of a couple years. This was music to my ears, hearing about an Asian government doing things to conserve and improve the natural resources. Absolutely encouraging and inspiring after just coming from Japan where it seems as if conservation is not a word in their dialect. Hama clarified that he not only has only caught only 2 Sea-bass while fishing from the shore in over 100 outings, he has only caught 2 Giant Trevally in the course of two years. This made what was about to happen next completely special. In the same spot, using the same technique and the same fly, I hooked up with another fish! I couldn’t believe it and neither could Hama. It was as if he had just won another lottery AND won ANOTHER Super Bowl. He was completely ecstatic. Jumping up and down, throwing his fists in the air, yelling and screaming. This fish fought harder and was a bigger, weighing about 3 kilos, about 6 or 7 pounds. I couldn’t help but sharing Hama’s excitement. I have some great fishing buddies back home in Colorado that get super excited when I catch big fish but no one has ever shown this kind of elation for a fish I’ve caught before. It was truly a remarkable experience.

As we have traveled throughout Asia, a common term you’ll hear when people are asking for a tip is “lucky money for me?” I always wonder, how the hell it is lucky if you are asking for it? A tip will be given if a tip is deserved. Well, Hama and I insisted on tipping our captain this day, even though he said a couple times over, “this too much,” but we insisted because he deserved it. Later that night as we pulled out of the brilliant Hong Kong skyline towering over us, I couldn’t help from thinking to myself that this day was a “lucky fish for me,” and I attribute the luck to a nice fellow who goes by the name of Lefty Hama, because if anybody deserves it, he does.

 


26Feb

Embracing Ubuntu Through Sacred Places

Motion picture is a visual medium that requires a fair amount of adaptivity. Especially in the documentary form. You must do your best with what you have. Well this was the case when we traveled to China. The MV Explorer was supposed to be pulling into Shanghai around 8am but instead of seeing the sights of skyscrapers over the city, our awakened eyes were met with a muddy river with banks lined by industrial ports and ships. We were anchored in the middle of the Yangtze river. Our arrival to China was delayed 8 hours. The Chinese water pilot who was supposed to guide us up the Yangtze river into Shanghai must have been partying real hard for the Chinese new year because he completely missed the boat, literally. So our trip to the Zhujiajiao Water Village was canceled. On top of this, the junk boat ocean garbage recovery trip that was scheduled out of Hong Kong for me to cover was canceled due to low enrollment. I guess no one on this ship cares about the oceans we travel around the world in. It may sound like a lame trip, recovering trash from the ocean, but I’ve been to many oceans around the world and I think it is safe to say that there is always plenty of trash no matter which one you visit. So I was honestly excited about this trip, just to see what is being done to mitigate this problem. Pretty bummed it was canceled. So there I was, in China with nothing to cover. I had to come up with something.

My wonderful wife Sara and I teamed up with a great couple we’ve become friends with: Drew and Maria Kahn. Drew is a former actor and teaches drama at Buffalo State in Buffalo, New York (GO BILLS!). We all went to Lantau Island together to experience the Tian Tan “Big Buddha” and the Po Lin Monastery. We had a peaceful day taking in the beauty of this sacred place. The monastery was filled with vibrant colors and golden buddhas while one giant buddha sat on top of the hill overlooking the island. As Drew explains in this video, you don’t have to be buddhist to appreciate and find peace in a place like this. Sara found peace in the amazing buddhist vegetarian meal we ate for lunch while I found peace in the inspiring visuals this divine place had to offer.


Japan is an interesting country filled with sharp contrasts. The island is physically smaller than the state of Montana, but holds a population more than twice the size of the US.  Toilets literally warm and clean your butt in one place while in another there is simply just a hole in the ground. Japan’s best attribute is the people. Its common to have people say “welcome” when they see a westerner or foreigner on the street. They are required to study English for 6 years in school. Anyone will go out of their way to make sure you know where you are going. It is truly a great place to visit for so many different reasons, especially the fly-fishing. On my original Semester at Sea Voyage in Spring 2006 to Japan I experienced the tug of a Suzuki (Japanese Seabass) on the end of my fly line. So I was determined to do the same this time around. Our gracious host in 2006, Takashi Nakajima recommended I fish with the best fly-fishing guide in Tokyo: Keiichiro Okamoto (Captain K <- another example of how kind Japanese people are. They come up with alternate names that make it easier for westerners to pronounce) of SEAKURO Fly-Fishing. Captain K, lived up to his reputation. On average, Captain K guides 5 days a week. Aside from catering to clients like Tommy Lee Jones,  he also fishes on his own every chance he gets. If you get a chance check out his website: SEAKURO. Click on reports and you’ll find sea-bass after sea-bass. Here is his report from our night of fishing:

best fly fishing guide in Tokyo Japan: Seakuro

Capt K of Seakuro – Fishing Report

 

His report literally translates to this:

Setting sail in the sea bass fly fishing

I was going to guide you through the American guest.

Near the enthusiastic fly fisherman, I can enjoy the highest never better night sea bass.

Boyle spree! Rolled exploded to the top! Spree hit!

In many exciting scene, it was night “awesome!”.

OK just floating line.

[Capt. Okamoto]

Yokohama-bay-lights

Cruising Across Yokohama Bay

 

 

Captain K’s report is accurate. There was “never better night” for sea-bass fishing. Captain K picked me up from the ship at 9pm and we were fishing by 9:30. We navigated through the darkness amongst freight ship lights, big highway bridges and industrial ship yards.

Captain K with a nice Sea Bass

Captain K with a nice Sea Bass

 

 

 

Capt K's Custom Tied Flies

Captain K’s Custom Tied Flies

 

 

 

With my 9wt we threw his special top-water fly into the shadows, stripping it out into well lit areas. With no wind and a calm harbor we had non-stop surface action all night long. Cast after cast sea-bass would come out of no-where and slam the fly. Most of the fish we caught were in the 1 kilo range, while we managed to catch a few in the 2-3 kilo range.

 

Reel Escape Films

Kick His Ass Sea-Bass

Like Captain K explained in his report, it was literally a “Boil Spree.” Fish slamming flies cast after cast. If the activity died out in one location Captain K had another we’d motor to in minutes. We probably fished 20 different locations throughout the night catching multiple fish at each. For a more detailed report and pics see CAPTAIN K’S BLOG post from our incredible evening on the water.

After a long night of catching fish after fish, Captain K motored us back to the MV Explorer. He instructed me to throw a few more casts into the corner no more than 75 yards from the back of our ship. On the third cast my fly was nailed, and I was hooked up with yet another hard fighting Japanese Sea-bass. Landing that final Suzuki was a great way to end an incredible night. After, Captain K let me pick his brain on camera while we drifted in his boat with our ship in the background. In his good English (he claims it is Kindergarten level but I told him that most Kindergarteners can’t speak half as good as he can in the US) he talked about Sea-bass fishing in Yokohama and Tokyo bay and how Japanese culture has no regard for conservation, although the growing popularity of fly-fishing is helping create awareness for the importance of catch and release sport fishing.

After the interview, I explained to Captain K that I had such a awe-inspiring experience fly-fishing with him I felt like I was “Turning Japanese.” I even sang the song to him. It was obvious he had never heard of the song and probably thought I was just pulling it out of my ass.

 

 

In the days to follow my wife Sara, our friend Andrew and I had the opportunity to travel around Japan. We spent a night in Tokyo giving us a chance to see the city and visit arguably the biggest fish market in the world: the Tsukiji Fish Market. It was an interesting experience. Imagine the best seafood market you have visited multiplied by 1,000.
Tsukiji clamsTsukiji Fish Market tuna-head

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was everything from big fish like Blue Fin Tuna and Yellowtail, to mollusks and crustaceans that I never knew existed. It was such a unique experience to see the variety of seafood but a bit sad at the same time. The market was an indicator of what little regard Japan’s culture has for conservation. If you are concerned about eating sustainable seafood its a great idea to abide by THIS GUIDE TO EATING SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD.

 

After experiencing Japan’s largest city we caught a bullet train to Kyoto. Thanks to some help from Daniel at TENKARA USA, I was linked up with a couple Japanese Tenkara fisherman.

Izakaya-Japanese Style Pub

Unfortunately due to the winter season we were not able to go fishing in one of the many mountain streams Japan has to offer. Our gracious hosts were very kind. They took my wife Sara, our friend Andrew and I to an Izakaya, a Japanese style pub. Eddie (right) and Kiyoshi (left) were awesome. They taught a lot about Tenkara fly-fishing, its origins and culture in Japan. Kiyoshi even gave us a few of his Tenkara flies. We had a tasty dinner including, sushi and cod roe in a hot pot. It was an unforgettable night.

The next day we had a chance to explore Kyoto. Japan’s cultural capital.

Kyoto-Kiyomizu-dera-Temple

The cemetery at the Kiyomizudera Temple offered a spectacular view of the city

 

Osaka-interesting-characters4web

On the way back to Kobe we stopped in Osaka for some sights and lunch. It is said that Osaka is as if lady Gaga was a city. A friend responded to this with: “so the city is just covered in a meat dress?” I’m not so sure Osaka resembled Lady Gaga but we definitely ran into some weird characters.

The last night we were in Japan Kiyoshi and Eddie the Tenkara fishermen set me and a fly-fishing friend from the ship, Chris, up with another night of sea-bass fishing. This time it was with Yusaku Tsutsui, the owner of Drag Free Fly-Fishing in Osaka. Tsutsui had explained that it may be hard to actually catch a Japanese Sea-bass around Kobe because there is a lot of catch and take fishing. Kiyoshi our Tenkara friend showed us the way to meet Tsutsui. Upon arrival, we rigged our rods as Kiyoshi broke out some pre-game treats, beers and sushi.Flies and Sushi w Kiyoshi

 

As we fished multiple spots that night he talked about how lure fishermen would take 50-60 fish out of each spot. It wasn’t nearly as action packed as the first night of fishing but still a great time.  We all had blast but more so Kiyoshi as it was his first taste of saltwater fly-fishing. While we  were only allotted about 4 hours to fish because we had to catch the train before it closed, we fished hard throwing flies into the shadows of big ships and industrial ports stripping them out into the lit areas. Tsutsui explained that the constant pressure in the area pushes the fish down, so we threw heavy flies with floating line and sink tips as well as full sinking lines. With no action most of the night Tsutsui recommended to change the fly to one that he had tied, a small white clouser, the ticket for success. While stripping my fly out of the corner created by a concrete sidewalk next to the Kobe Airport I felt a big tug. I strip set, then immediately saw a large fish surface and jump completely out of the water. Yells of excitement came from Kiyoshi, Tsutsui, Chris and I. FISH ON!

A great end to an incredible trip

A great end to an incredible trip


 

As the videographer on Semester at Sea I get the privilege to join course field labs in different countries. In Japan I joined the Intro to Anthropology class on a visit to a textile facility where they use ancient techniques to manufacture kimono, traditional Japanese garments. Students also had the opportunity to try on various styles of kimono. It was very interesting to see how much kimono has influenced Japanese culture.

I also joined the International Business class on a visit to Yokohama’s Nissan Plant, while I was not allowed to shoot video inside of the plant I managed to get some footage in the museum. After students met with a US  representative from the US Embassy in Tokyo. She shed light on to a number of interesting dynamics going on in Japan’s economy, one of them being the push to get women back into the workforce.


28Jan

Hawaii’s Big Island: Paradise in the Sky

Our first stop on the Spring 2014 Voyage was Hilo, Hawaii. With only 1 day in port on the biggest island in the Hawaii chain it was tough narrowing down what to do. After catching an 8 pound bonefish on Oahu this October I was determined to catch another. Oahu has expansive flats with ample bone-fishing opportunities while the Big Island is better for off-shore fishing. I was able to connect with a local fly-fishing guide Don Memmer. Don is a school teacher as well so I was not able to fish with him but he was super helpful by pointing me in the right direction. I spent the morning throwing flies to bonefish cruising the shoreline of a saltwater pond near the town of Hilo. I had no luck hooking up but as always, casting to cruising fish is fun regardless.

That afternoon I joined a Semester at Sea field program on a trip up Mauna Kea. This massive volcano is the largest mountain in the world when measured from the sea floor. Rising up from sea level this 14,000 ft peak is an astonishing place to visit. In addition to its height the dormant volcano lies in the middle of the pacific ocean which creates little to no land turbulence and is also known for 300+ clear nights a year. These factor creates one of the best places to star-gaze conduct astronomy research in the world. Therefore, 10 countries worldwide have some serious telescopes on the summit.

10 students and I traveled to the top of the summit where we only had about 30 minutes to take pictures and enjoy the sensation of being on top of the world. It was quite different from being on top of a fourteener in Colorado. The fact that you were looking out to sea level made it feel unreal. Unfortunately we were not able to star-gaze from the top. On the trip down, with some convincing, our tour guide let us stop at the visitor center, which sits at 9,000 ft, to star gaze for about 5 minutes. Although it was 5,000 ft lower, this place still yielded an amazing view of the crystal clear sky. It gave me enough time to take a couple still photos of the night sky.

In this video, astronomy professor Iain Campbell takes us on a journey from sea level to the summit of Mauna Kea. His Scottish accent and deep appreciation for the unknown really made working on this piece interesting and fun. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did producing it.

 


18Jan

Semester at Sea – Spring 2014 – First Thoughts

I was fortunate enough to travel on Semester at Sea as a student in the spring 0f 2006. After a life changing voyage I made it a goal to somehow experience this unique way to see the world again. Well, here I am, back on the ship as the videographer for the Spring 2014 voyage. Its quite interesting being back as a staff member and not as a student ready to take on the world. This time around is definitely different. The excitement is still there it just comes in different forms. For example, as a student you can’t wait to meet new people and experience new things. As staff, those feelings are still there in essnce but its more about accomplishing goals and making a difference in peoples lives. The videographer position is the perfect vehicle to make this come to fruition.

Please enjoy the first video we produced on the Spring 2014 voyage.


01Jan

Black-Footed Ferrets

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has been working with United States Fish and Wildlife Service to help restore one of the most endangered mammals in North America, Black-footed ferrets.  This video highlights the reintroduction and monitoring efforts.


25Oct

Abel Reels – From the Factory to the Field

A promotional piece for Abel Reels

 


17Sep

Hunting Colorado’s Public Lands

Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s video production crew (Dennis and I) have traveled the state for the last two years capturing footage from the peaks to the prairies. We have organized this footage in a way that is hopefully helpful to those looking to learn more about hunting Colorado’s public lands. We broke down the state into ‘life zones’ and have identified the game animals that live in each zone. It is an interesting way to look at finding your next hunting spot. To be able to decipher each life zone’s habitat and where the animals will be during which times of the year can give hunters insight as to where to hunt. We have also provided information on the different land management agencies such as Colorado’s National Forests, BLM lands, State Wildlife Areas and State Trust Lands For more information on hunting in Colorado visit HERE.


19Apr

Pow Day 2013