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Have you ever dreamt of taking a helicopter ride to an untouched flat teeming with Giant trevally? How about driving through the red dirt roads of northern Australia, catching multiple ‘Anak permit in a single day, and achieving the northern Australian grand slam with one of your best buddies? For some, an adventure is incomprehensible. But, thanks to the Aussie Fly Fisher, we get a glimpse into this fly fisher’s utopia. Cape York is filmed & edited by Kane Chenoweth and highlights the adventure of American angler, Dave McCoy, joining Aussie Fly Fisher, Joshua Hutchins, in the wilds of Australia.
For this installment of F3T Behind the Lens, we sat down with the Aussie Fly Fisher himself, Josh Hutchins.
Flylords: What was the inspiration for this film?
Josh: The initial inspiration for the film was to bring an American to Australia for an experience unique to northern Australia. Cape York is a very iconic part of the North. It’s a very wild and remote place. And, there’s a lot of diversity in it. The east side of Cape York is primarily known for the Great Barrier Reef—the beautiful clear and sandy cayes, atolls, and reef systems along that side. But, the west side is made up of river systems, estuaries, and species diversity as well.
Aussie Fly Fisher has been taking clients to this area for a while, primarily due to the draw for the ‘Anak permit fishery. This film was a chance to highlight that fishery, but also highlight the various other fisheries within this area.
Flylords: Traveling to Cape York seems like a feat upon itself. Tell us what it takes to travel to Cape York?
Josh: What we did for the film was slightly out of the normal. The lodge we have in Cape York is on the west side. So, when the average person comes to visit, they usually fly into Sydney, connect to Cairns, then hop on a short flight to Weipa. And we basically go fishing from there.
However, in terms of the film we wanted to switch it up and access the east side with the helicopter. Since the east side of Cape York is dependent on wind conditions, this was a bit of a logistical beast. We only had a couple days where the wind wasn’t blowing, so we had a short window to make that section of the trip happen.
Flylords: Have you considered offering guided trips via helicopter? GT fishing by helicopter sounds like a wild experience.
Josh: We’ve definitely talked about the helicopter thing, but it would only be able to happen during the three to four months where the wind isn’t blowing. For a large part of the year Cape York receives a South East trade wind that renders the east side unfishable. But, for the three to four months when the wind isn’t blowing, it’s one of the most magical places on Earth.
Beyond the seasonal window, you would also have to judge the daily weather before committing to a full day with a helicopter. But, if the weather is looking nice on a given day, you could jump in a helicopter and do some crazy things.
Flylords: What is your favorite species to target on this trip?
Josh: For most of our season, the jewel of the crown is the permit. That’s what most folks travel for. But, one of my favorite things is a giant trevally in shallow water. I think that’s a really cool fish. Particularly if you’re wading on a shallow flat, knee-deep in the water, with a large GT swimming along—maybe even with its back out of the water. I know a permit is probably a trickier fish to catch, but I just love the aggression of a GT eat. We connect with a lot of permit every year, so for me to have an opportunity with a shallow GT, that doesn’t happen as often.
Flylords: The film highlights some of the classic Australian species that might give viewers the heebee-jeebees. Is there anything people need to worry about when visiting a place like Cape York?
Josh: We may have built up the “Austalianisms” a bit. Even though we may play up the idea that everything will kill you in Australia, it’s not completely true. Our goal was to showcase a wild area, full of species diversity, and put that in the eyes of an American coming to visit. This diversity included its fair share of snakes and crocodiles, but that’s all just a part of what makes this place so special.
Flylords: In the film you found a school of permit that seemed “easy” to catch. An easy permit sounds like an oxymoron. Were they really easy to catch?
Josh: That day I think we hooked 12, landed 9, and lost 3. And the 3 that we lost were because they were smaller fish and I tried to near-pull them in. For that situation, as long as you could have laid out a reasonable cast, I would consider those fish as an easy permit scenario. It’s not always like that every day.
That particular scenario was a sequence that you don’t get to do in filming too often. In fact, Kane was filming on the boat, then he was on the shore with a long lens, then he was on the shore with a drone… We would catch one, then we would say “Let’s put you over here and catch another one. Then we’ll put you over here and catch another one.” Then at the end of it, Kane, who has never caught a permit, caught one! He gets back on the boat and says “I’ve got one more angle.” And I said “no no no”. You’re going to catch a permit.” Within 10 minutes, we got him a permit.
Flylords: What do you hope audiences take away from this film?
Josh: Part of my mission being an Australian fly fisherman, and being lucky to see a lot of places around the world, is to express to the world what these places are like. If you grow up in an area and only know that area, you could perceive that to be fantastic, you could perceive that to be average, or you could perceive it to be whatever if it’s the only thing you’ve ever seen. I believe that Australia has incredible fisheries, and I believe that, historically, there hasn’t been much international knowledge about Australian fishing.
So, part of my overall mission is for people to know what’s offered in Australia. And for Cape York, I want people to see this film and think that this looks like a fantastic place to go. I’d love to go and do that at some point in my life.
Flylords: What’s next for the Aussie Fly Fisher?
Josh: I’ve got a pretty busy year as a guide. People are traveling more again, so we’ve got more American guests coming our way this year. I’m challenging myself to tail 100 permit. But, if I end up tailing 50, I’d be happy. I guess you have to set some outlandish goals.
And, when I’m not guiding, I’ll be spending time with the family. I’ve got three little boys and they’re starting to enjoy their fishing. I’m really enjoying taking them out.
As for filmmaking, you can count on more Aussie Fly Fisher films on the way.
Thank you Josh Hutchins for taking the time to talk about Cape York. If you’re interested in checking out trips like the one featured in the film, or many others around the globe, check out the Aussie Fly Fisher website.
Follow along with the film tour @flyfishingfilmtour on Instagram.
Buy your tickets to the 2023 Fly Fishing Film Tour HERE!