You might remember Eric Jackson from his recent kickass performance in Travis Rice’s The Fourth Phase, or from one of his more recent video projects where he is hooked up to a monster steelhead in the remote wilderness of Brittish Columbia. Eric is at the forefront when it comes to crossing snowsports with fly fishing, and we have been following his journey for a few years now. Recently Eric completed a killer project called Alignment, where he takes his two favorite sports and puts them together. We sat down with him to ask some questions about this film coming to life.
Flylords: It’s pretty awesome to see you bring two of your greatest passions together in this story. How long have you been wanting to make this film for? And what made you choose the name Alignment?
Eric: To be totally honest, I really wanted an excuse to fish and snowboard all winter haha. They’re just my two favorite things to do in life: fishing for steelhead and snowboarding. And I just had this idea to put them both together and document it, and tell the story about how the two balance out my life. Snowboarding is full of adrenaline; it’s my job, so there’s some pressure involved there, as shitty as that sounds when people are like, “You get to travel around the world and snowboard!” Yeah, that’s absolutely true. It’s the best job in the world, but it comes with pressure. And for me, fishing is just where I balance that pressure out. It’s where I recharge. If something’s not going right – not only in snowboarding – pretty much in anything in life, I want to go out and spend time on the river. That’s really what it’s all about. This has really been a dream of mine for many years and I’ve been working on it for the past year and a half, just trying to raise funding and make it happen. And finally, we had enough money to pull the trigger and we did.
Flylords: Where were you guys filming? How many steelhead do you think you caught?
Eric: We posted up in northern British Columbia all winter, it’s a pretty ideal place for steelhead and for snowboarding. We definitely found steelhead for sure, but the reality of winter steelhead fishing is, it’s brutal. Especially up in the north. And it’s cold, your guides and your reels are frozen all the time. It’s brutal. You do much more just being in the environment than actually catching fish, and really it’s not about the act of catching and holding a fish – that’s just a bonus. It’s more about just being out there and getting to experience where these fish live.
Flylords: What do you think makes the steelhead your favorite species to catch?
Eric: I just like where they live. I like the coastal rainforests, just big rivers and that’s probably my favorite thing about ’em. And really, they’re just badass fish, man. Salmon are cool, catching a Chinook is cool, they’re kind of like the kings of the river. But really, the beauty of the steelhead is that it can spawn and then go back into the ocean. Do it all over again. I think that’s what really drives me to steelhead fishing. They are just such badass species of fish. They fight hard, they look cool, and they live in some pretty incredible places. I think that’s why I’m so drawn to catching steelhead.Flylords: Alignments about both snowboarding and fishing. How can you compare those two sports?
Eric: Snowboarding and fishing for steelhead are by far my two favorite things in life, but they’re both – in terms of what they give me – are actually completely different. It’s like I was saying, the snowboarding is more of a job aspect, where I’m still having fun but there’s definitely more pressure to perform there. And then the steelhead fishing is just where I go to rest and recharge and deal with any kind of negativity that I have in my head. It’s where I go to let it go. Be at peace. It’s really a beautiful balance between the two because I feel like when I’m able to find that alignment between the two, I feel like I’m at my best at the point. Hence the name. Alignment; it’s when fishing and snowboarding come together.Flylords: After several months in the remote BC wilderness, do any dicey moments come to mind from the trip.?
Eric: Oh yeah. There were a couple avalanche scenarios where we played it pretty safe, but anytime you’re out in the backcountry you expose yourself to dangers and we had a couple avalanche moments. That’s probably the biggest fear in the mountains, but thankfully we had good plans and nobody got caught in any slides or anything so that was good. Snowboarding for the most part was pretty smooth. On the fishing side, we got tracked by a pack of wolves, which was pretty exciting. We were out on a very remote river, and we came across a moose leg. We couldn’t find the body of the moose, but we just found the leg and moose tracks all around. And then we walked down river and fished, and on our way back, we saw that there were wolf tracks just all following our tracks. They were watching us, for sure. We never actually saw them so it wasn’t that sketchy, but the hair on the back of your neck was standing up. You know they’re out there and you know they’re watching you. And it was pretty evident that they were trackin’ us.Flylords: If someone wants to plan out a trip like this, what is some advice you can give them?
Eric: You want a tip for a winter steelhead fishing? Dress warm! My god! The biggest tip I could say about winter steelhead fishing is, you’re not gonna catch a lot of ’em, it’s just time. You go, and it’s just the luck of the draw. If you can present your fly to where a fish is, and it’s warm enough, and it eats, that’s an incredible experience. But you’re not going out there expecting to catch five fish a day. That’s not really happening. It’s more about the adventure, and if you really wanna go out there and get a winter steelhead, just be ready to put your time in.