Next up on the 2022 F3T Behind the Lens… We had the privilege of interviewing Jesse Males about his film “The Legend of Casa Mar”. The Legend of Casa Mar details the history of one of the most legendary tarpon fisheries on planet earth.
The film dances back and forth from past to present with a breathtaking interview from fly fishing legend Peter Gorinsky, IGFA archive footage, and supporting footage taken during the production of the film in 2021. This film follows anglers Jesse Males, Mark Evans, Micah Baly, and Thony Nunez as they uncover what the jungle has now been hiding for decades. Vibes of jungle exploration mixed with stunning tarpon action make this film run full-throttle from start to finish.
Flylords: So, who are you?
Jesse: As simple as this question may sound it certainly isn’t an easy one. Haha. By trade, you can describe me as an international fly fishing guide and a freelance outdoor photographer/videographer. I am also a writer, custom fly tyer, and fly designer. My main focus for the past 6 years has been growing my main business, Backwater Fly Fishing. Backwater Fly Fishing is the main hub in which my other businesses, Backwater Media Productions, and Backwater Flies both stems. I am also one of the founding members of 506 Outdoors which provides unique fishing opportunities throughout Costa Rica. As if that wasn’t enough of a mouthful I am also the husband to a wonderful wife and the father of two boys.
Flylords: What inspired you to make a film about Casa Mar?
Jesse: After living in Costa Rica for the past 6 years and growing our guiding business, my team and I decided to start looking at running some tour options for jungle tarpon fishing. We knew areas where tarpon could be fished but we wanted something that would stand out and really liked what we had seen on the ocean side of the country versus some of the jungle river opportunities. After exploring a number of areas, we landed at the mouth of the Colorado river and things immediately made sense. After spending some time in the area we felt we had a good grasp on the fishery and were beginning to figure out how we could open it up to some of our clients. During this process of exploration, we end up filming some amazing tarpon action and the film began to develop from there. It really picked up after talking with my good friend Peter Gorinsky and hearing his stories of the area’s history. The place certainly became more compelling and the story for the film began to grow. After making a few more trips to the area we knew we had to put the film together because the story was just too special.
Flylords: How did it feel when you finally were able to go back and continue making the film after COVID restrictions were lifted?
Jesse: We were thrilled beyond belief. Diving headfirst into a fishery like that and then having it be so close but still inaccessible due to the restrictions was very difficult for us. Needless to say, we were pumped up to get back out there and keep working on the project.
Flylords: Did you have a favorite shot from the film, can you give us a little backstory on it?
Jesse: Undoubtedly one of my favorite shots is at the very end of the film when the last tarpon jumps right before the credits. The fish clears the horizon and does a wild backflip. This shot was huge for us because it was one of the last things we filmed on the very last day of filming. What makes the shot so crazy is that the day of fishing was a bit slow and we were all worried we may not get the shots we needed to close out the video. Then my friend Mark stands up in the boat and says. “It can happen at any moment…LIKE RIGHT NOW! Then he strips his line two more times and a 90lb tarpon slams his fly and goes absolutely crazy! We all couldn’t believe he called that fish the way he did.
Flylords: What equipment were you using to shoot the film? Did you have other videographers with you?
Jesse: Believe it or not, we shot this entire film on the Sony A7siii. No external monitors or anything. Just run and gun style through the EVF. I had a small pelican case containing that camera and a DJI Mavic Air. That was all.
Aside from some shots of me in the video, the entire project was filmed, edited, and produced all by myself. My good friends Mark, Micah, and Thony did most of the fishing and helped with keeping my spirits up when it seemed like things just weren’t coming together.
Flylords: What was it like getting to spend time and interview Peter Gorinsky?
Jesse: Peter has been a great friend of mine for a number of years now and someone that is an outright legend in the world of fly fishing. Any of the moments that I have spent with him are precious to me and I am very grateful for them. For those who don’t know much about Peter, he pioneered fly fishing in Central and South America back in the ’60s-’70s. Peter was born in Guyana but it has been said by many anglers that if Peter had been born in the USA he would have been a household name. He is a charismatic storyteller that really helped add to the film in a monumental way.
Flylords: What do you think the future holds for that fishery in Costa Rica?
Jesse: As of right now, I would have to say that the amount of fish we have on the oceanside here is likely to be the largest congregation of tarpon on planet earth. The fish have been there for decades and I like to think they will continue visiting those areas as long as there remains plenty of food for them to eat. It is estimated that these large ocean fish are coming from Columbia or Venezuela straight to Costa Rica and then kicking off towards Cuba/Puerto Rico etc. Then repeating the circle. We are very excited to open the place up for guided trips in the years to come.
Flylords: Is there anyone you would like to thank for helping this film come to life?
Jesse: I would certainly like to thank all my friends that spent time out there with me during the film’s production. Those were some of the best moments of my life and times that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Flylords: What is next for Backwater Fly Fishing?
Jesse: Backwater Fly Fishing does so many different things so it is hard to say. I think I will continue to focus on growing the guiding operation in Costa Rica, as well as also look for more professional freelance photo/video opportunities to be involved with moving forward. I have been very much a “lone wolf” in most of my efforts in the fly fishing industry so I think it would be nice to change that up a bit and find a group of people I enjoyed working with more professionally. As always, through platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube I will continue posting rad photo/video content from my trips, fly tying information, and continue to do what I can to keep the fly fishing industry moving in the right direction.
Follow along with the film tour @flyfishingfilmtour on Instagram.