Doc Of The Drakes, Backstory
Friday, 02 September, 2011 09:33
I suppose there are two types of filmmakers. Those who know what they are hoping for when they set out to shoot footage, and those who don’t. I fall into the latter category.
I had never met Robert Franklin, and when SCO Guide Pete Wood invited me to come along to fish the brown drakes with this fellow everyone called “The Doc”, I had no idea what to expect. The one thing I did know was that the brown drakes were very late this year, and on that second day of the hatch their numbers were quite erratic and the weather-dependant hatch was barely sputtering.
In my first assignment as media & marketing director for SCO, I feared the hatch could fizzle and wondered what video opportunities I could salvage. Even though I knew plenty of buddies were fishing nearby and roping nice fish, sticking with Pete and the Doc just felt right. We had another camera crew out shooting video upstream, and I knew they would be getting great “fish porn” footage. As the first few hours in the tubes with Pete and The Doc slid past, an incredible storyline began to develop. Pete explained how the two of them had fished together for 21 days back in April. Doc came down with pneumonia and landed in the hospital for several weeks. As early June approached, along with the anticipated brown drake hatch and calendar dates to fish with Pete, The Doc remained in the hospital recovering from the serious illness.
Just one day out of the hospital and The Doc was back on the water with Pete. The drakes were his absolute favorite fishing of the year, and Docs (and the drakes) timing could not have been better. Literally the day Doc was back on the water the brown drake hatch began in ernest. Just in time Doc was back in a tube along side Pete and slinging robust #10 dry flies towards rising Silver Creek trout. Right where he wanted to be.
I remember getting into the shop extra early that next morning to download the previous 2 days of video footage. Scrunching in my corner cubicle I savored watching the video of the setup and landing of that fish for the first time on screen. I teared up a bit and wondered why this fishing footage (raw and un-edited at that) was stirring such emotion. Was it the warmth and charm of The Doc that made me so happy for him? Was the companionship between him and my longtime friend Pete so strong that alone transferred the warm and fuzzy? Maybe it was the obvious physical challenges, the positive attitudes, the strange & almost divine streak of misses? I don’t know. Landing a fish of that size (we didn’t measure it but all agree on a number) is an incredible achievement for any angler.
I think the film is moving to every person for their own individual reasons. Whether it reminds them of a time, place, or person in their own life, or just a feeling of pride similar to a heroic victory from an unlikely athlete turned champion. The response to this story from the fly fishing community has been overwhelming. Voted best story at the Drake Film Awards in New Orleans, then voted top film by the Drake Peoples Choice vote, I think the film says a lot about what fly fishing truly is, and is not. If you would like to see more of the the story, the full length version of the film will be featured nationwide in the 2012 Fly Fishing Film Tour.