Next up on the Behind the Lens feature of F3T we had the pleasure to sit down with our good friend Jako Lukas to discuss his new film, Glorious Bastards. Australia is world famous for its natural wonders, wide open spaces and of course wild things that want to kill you. From its beaches to the deserts, the Outback and the Great Barrier Reef, it has a lot to offer, but for fly anglers, it’s coming of age as one of those truly global “bucket list” fly fishing destinations. Despite the increased attention, there are still so many untouched or remote fly fishing adventures to be had around this amazing country. Forced to pick just one, the Capt Jack Productions team rigged up and went exploring the wild and untouched coastline of Northern Australia.
Flylords: Tell me a little about how this project came to light for you, how did it all begin?
Jako: Well basically, I had met Josh Hutchins in Mongolia a long time ago. The following year he managed to come back with clients and fished the same camp that I was guiding and running. He had just finished a trip to the Wessels in Australia. Immediately when we got to Mongolia he told me about it. He told me his idea about that he wanted to get a crew of fishermen together and go back to the Wessels, but go further north of where they originally went. It was tough, when he mentioned the people that were planning to be involved, I was thinking this is probably never going to happen. Everybody is scattered around the world, but let’s see what happens.
Long story short, the group messaged each other two months before we actually left for the trip. Christiaan and myself were in, Oliver couldn’t make this first trip, and Keith wasn’t sure… He was supposed to go to Siberia. I spoke to him when we were fly fishing in Africa and talked about how excited I was for the trip… Soon after he canceled his Siberia trip and we were off!
We weren’t originally planning on making a film, just to get out there and get some content but, yeah, it worked out and we had an amazing trip and it was super cool.
Flylords: What’s the story behind the title?
Jako: It’s kind of a funny one. The guy that actually came up with it was the editor of the Mission magazine in South Africa. When we got back from the trip I sent him some photos and told him about the blue bastards we caught. And then we kind of had been thinking … He finally said, “Do you want to call this movie Glorious Bastards?” Because there are blue bastards in there, there are South African bastards in there, there are Australian bastards in there, and there are bermain bastards in there.
South Africa and Australia have a long history of just hating each other in sports so we are bastards to each other, so yeah, it’s kind of played off, and obviously, it’s played off a little of Inglorious Bastards.
Once you see the main film, it’s definitely got a kind of a retro feel to it. It’s really just a fun piece… That’s all it is. I never proclaimed to be a professional when it comes to movie making, but I think it’s fun.
Flylords: Tell us about the landowners and their part in this film.
Jako: There’s quite a good piece in the film about the landowners. How we got to know them is through Waterline Charters. The guide and the company wanted to go to this area, but it is owned by the native guys. They meet this artist, which is kind of the “chief” of the village and was actually born on the Wessles islands. Theoretically, the land is kind of his and the native peoples. He was kind enough to grant us permission to go and fish there, along with the crew from Waterline, because he knows that we’re there to protect the fishery. We just wanted to do sport fishing and catch and release.
He is one of the most well-known indigenous artists in the world. I wish that we had more footage, but unfortunately, when we went to go see him he was a little bit drawn back with all the cameras and stuff. He’s an amazing artist, an amazing person, super funny and I wish we had the cameras rolling all the time.
Flylords: Was this fishery truly untouched by fly fishermen?
Jako: Yes, as far as our records show … There’re some people that send me messages about having been there with sailboats and stuff, but as far as we know, we were literally right at the top north point of the Wessles islands and believe that we’re the first people to fish that area.
The fishing shows. I’ve never in my entire life seen permit or blue bastards that deep and stupid. The fish that we are presenting to people in this movie are some of the most difficult fish to catch in the world. There, it was pretty easy.
Flylords: Talk about your sawfish encounter.
Jako: It could be seen to be the best moment of my entire life. We were actually busy fighting a species of bermain specific to that area. After I helped him land the fish, I looked back and saw these giant fins out. It didn’t make sense, because the water was pretty shallow. The first immediate thought was that it was a swordfish, because the previous trip they did further south, they rescued a swordfish with nets around its bull.
That’s what played in my mind immediately and I said to the guys, “I will never see this again in my life. I want to go over there. I want to touch it. I want to just look at it.” And obviously went very carefully around it. Even in the video, you can’t get a good idea of how massive that thing was.
On two trips they’ve done in that area only two were seen which is super rare. I’ve been told to send this footage to Nat Geo and other research companies because there’s a research program in Australia where they find it so difficult to see these things. They’ve just got photos of some dead ones. It’s basically like that mammoth tusk we picked up when we went to Siberia. It’s even rarer than that.
Flylords: What other species did you target?
Jako: Our main three targets were blue bastards, both species of bermees, the anarch and the blotchy, and then we wanted to catch a Tusk fish which unfortunately was unsuccessful.
Flylords: What was the ideal rod and fly combo for these fisheries?
I’d say the majority of the time we were fishing ten weight saltwater rods. We used Thomas and Thomas rods for the stress, Mako reels, and then just a tropical floating Cortland line. Then a tapered leader with some wire and fly that we tied.
Flylords: What shoes did you wear?
Jako: Funny enough, in this area we were walking barefoot. Which was a bit risky. It was mostly myself, Christiann, and Keith that were walking around barefoot. I think the Australians were a little bit questioning us, because they’ve got so many dangers out there that could kill you. However, I would usually be walking with either Simms Vapor Tread Boots or a Flat Sneaker.
Flylords: What was the toughest barrier you had to overcome?
Jako: It’s a very very long way there. First you have to get to Australia, then you have to get to Cairns, then you have to get to Gobe, and then you jump on the boat and sail for 12 hours to go up to this area. It’s not for everybody, but I always said the juice is worth the squeeze to go that far.
Fishing-wise we were very privileged… This place was untouched, so the fish weren’t really spooky and the numbers of bermains that we caught and blue bastards are just second to none.
Keith actually ended up going a round trip that took him 72 hours to get to where we were. It took ages… Christian and I flew from Austin and it took us about 52 hours to get to the spot where we were on the boat.
The film also doesn’t show Christiann sick as a dog when we got to the boat. He got the flu but just punched through it. Then there were drones flying away from the boat we couldn’t catch. There’re always these small frustrating things that go wrong, but at the end of the day it was amazing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Flylords: Tell me about the boat fleet you were a part of.
Jako: It was probably the fanciest boat that I’ve ever been on. We had the big yacht which is the Phoenix I. I don’t know exactly the length, I think it was like a 150-foot superyacht. All the bells and whistles, so we were very lucky there. And then we had three panda boats with us. It wasn’t exactly perfect for fly fishing, but we did use it a little bit with the trolling motors.
I even had somebody send a hate message on my Instagram saying that I’m a trust-fund baby and swore at me and all sorts of stuff. And it’s further from the truth. I come from no money and I’ve just been working at making all this stuff happen. I was lucky enough to meet some companies through hard work and they allow us to market what they have.
Flylords: Tell us one major highlight of the adventure.
Jako: I have to mention two! First, is catching my first blue bastard. It was not just my own fish, we all saw it together, with Keith, Christiann, myself and Lee. It ran to the rocks, Christiann and Lee managed to get it away from the rocks. It ended up with the whole team effort landing that fish and my first blue bastard which is something that I’ve always wanted to catch since the first day I heard of them.And the second, was at the end of the day and we didn’t really expect too much. We went into these little waves, saw bermain tails come up, I jumped out like a Navy Seal out of that boat and made it. Of course, a vicious crush on the fly and it ended up being my first amarck bermain, which is just adding to the species’ list.
Flylords: Can anyone fish these waters?
Jako: No. So basically the only people that are allowed to take people out there fishing is Waterline Charters. So other than that, you’re not actually legally allowed to go close to this area. If you can sail past it, you can’t do any kind of commercial fishing or sport fishing. You have to go with Waterline or get the native guys’ permission. It is very difficult to get permission because you have to form a relationship with the natives and Waterline has matured that relationship for a long time.
Flylords: What’s the future look like for this fishery?
Jako: Oh yes! I can tell you now that I think Australia as a whole is the next frontier in fly fishing. I know people have been fly fishing it for ages, but it’s always been on my hit list. The Australians end up doing what people are not willing to do.
With the way they’re managing it, it’ll stay amazing. Whether it’s Northern Territory, Exmouth, Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef, people should consider the trip. They’ve got so much to offer and they are very good at looking after their fisheries.
Flylords: You plan on going back?
Jako: Oh yeah! Definitely! I want to see a lot more. I also want to go fish for that one fresh-water bass species. The one that Josh Hutchins went fishing for… Murray Cod! The native name is Goodoo. Then there are Kingfish on the flats, plus so much to do around there. The sooner I can get back, the better.
Flylords: What is your message to the viewers of this film?
Jako: These movies are not to show people stuff that’s out of their budget. This is stuff to give them a dream and something to hope for. Even if they’re a little bit older and can’t do that kind of travel, it’s to at least get them to see these places if they’re never going to have a chance to see it. It’s all coming from a good place and hopefully people can go out there, that’s kind of the message that I’d like to show.
Also, follow along with the film tour @flyfishingfilmtour to see where they will be next!
Find out when F3T is in your town, and buy tickets before they sell out!
This interview was conducted by Flylords team member, Collin Terchanik.