Last week I had a chance to spend some time in Charleston with the Fly Fishing Film Tour. With a few down days after the show, I had to hit up one of my favorite creators in the industry, a guy by the name of Jeremy Clark @Jerms1977. I have been following Jerms for a while on Instagram, and he has some incredible images, along with just a good vibe on his page. After fishing with him for a day and listening to some of his stories, I knew he would make a great Faces of Fly Fishing feature! Enjoy the interview.
Flylords: Who is @Jerms1977?
Jerms: Just a dude who loves to flyfish loves to capture moments on camera and loves being a dad.
Flylords: Tell me about the first time you picked up a fly rod, do you think this moment changed your life?
Jerms: Fresh out of ten years in the Marine Corps, my wife and I moved to Charleston to start new lives and new jobs. I was reading up on how you could target redfish on big flood tides as they fed in the spartina grass and wanted to try it, so I took an old trusty spinning rod and a Johnson spoon, walked out in the marsh, and promptly hooked a tailer. I didn’t land that particular fish, but I did go straight home and start researching fly rods. I don’t know why, but suddenly I wasn’t satisfied with chasing them with any other method. Since then I’ve learned that the flyfishing community is relatively small, and I’ve met some of my best friends through connections in this sport. A few years ago my wife and I decided to adopt a child, and it was the people I’d met through the flyfishing community that reached out and generously gave of their time and talents to make our fundraising a success… we wouldn’t have our son Zealand right now if it weren’t for that.
Flylords: As a Charleston local, tell me a little about this fishery. I know you travel around the world, but what makes the low country such a special place?
Jerms: Charleston, and the Lowcountry, in general, is truly a gem. Incredible people, even better food, history, it’s got it all. But the one thing that I would miss the most about this place if I ever had to leave would be the salt marsh and its inhabitants. There is something decidedly simple about traveling through our waterways on the way to a redfish flat. I love that you can have the latest micro-skiff and all the best gear, or just simply pull to the side of the road with an old pair of sneakers, an 8wt, and an extra fly in your pocket and go catch a tailing red.
Flylords: Tell us a little bit about your travels in New Zealand.
Jerms: New Zealand is incredible, from the people who live there to the incredible landscapes and, of course, the trout! I work in Antarctica for a few months each year and travel through New Zealand to get there so I typically make a stop en route to enjoy Aotearoa. Not being very well versed as a trout fisherman, it was quite a struggle to figure out how to catch those big, wary backcountry fish. I’ve been fortunate to make some great friends there and really enjoy walking alongside a river with them, searching for feeding fish. I nearly didn’t get a chance to do any of this after almost not making it out of a high rise building that I was trapped in after a bad earthquake that devastated Christchurch in 2011. It’s a long story, but I was trapped for 6 hours in a crumbling building, fighting to get down from the 25th story to safety, all the stairs had collapsed, leaving a giant hole in the building, and most of the buildings around us had been reduced to rubble. Constant aftershocks continued to tear the building apart, and I truly didn’t think I’d ever make it out. That experience certainly changed my outlook on life.
Flylords: Do you have a favorite shot you have taken?
Jerms: It’s so tough to narrow down, but if I had to choose it would probably be a photo of my buddy Nolan after losing two redfish, one from a broken tippet and the other after it spooked and swam onto the exposed pluff mud at low tide… he wrestled with it, trying to get his hands around it, but only managed to get covered in pluff mud. The entire thing happened in about 30 seconds, and the image is of him tying a fly back on directly afterward. The whole image just conveys a lot of emotion from the recent defeat, and I love that.
Flylords: With a million fly fishing photos floating around the internet how do you try and shoot unique content?
Jerms: Other than a few goofy ideas that I come up with, like catching a redfish on an inflatable Toucan, nothing I shoot is set up beforehand. I try to just stay in the moment and let it speak for itself. Ultimately I want my images to tell a story and be authentic, and I think that resonates with folks.
Flylords: I know you also shoot weddings with your wife. Can you compare shooting a wedding vs shooting a day of fishing?
Jerms: They’re not that different, to be honest. Both involve trying to tell a story and capturing a moment that speaks volumes through one single frame. The pressure to perform is much higher at a wedding, but everyone is so happy and having a good time that the mood is infectious.
Flylords: What is some advice you can give to an aspiring photographer?
Jerms: Put a camera in your hand. Shoot every day. Shoot the things that you’re passionate about and it will be evident in your work. That’s what I think drives people to make a connection with your imagery.
Flylords: What is your bucket list destination?
Jerms: Golden Dorado in a remote jungle.
Flylords: Favorite book you’ve read in the last year? Favorite movie?
Jerms: I’ll give you two great books because I don’t really watch many movies… The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, and West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Flylords: Can you recommend a good new beer for our audience to try?
Jerms: Just one??? OK – everything that @revelrybrewing puts out is great, but give their Gullah Cream Ale a taste!
Flylords: Would you rather catch the trophy fish, or shoot a photo of the trophy fish?
Jerms: Shoot it, without question. But not just the hero shot, the entire experience. There are a few exceptions, like this photo by @l.z.jarrett of my best snook!
Flylords: If you were stuck on an island and had one rod and one fly what would they be? You could also have one lens on your camera. What lens would you choose?
Jerms: I’m particularly fond of the Epic 888 by Swiftflyfishing, and I’d probably choose a Mad Mike’s Mud Minnow because everything eats it. If I could only have one lens it would be a 35mm, no question. You could superglue that lens to my camera so I could never change it and I wouldn’t be mad at you.
Flylords: After spending 10 years in the Marine Corps, you must have seen some crazy things. Has fly fishing played a role in helping you adjust back to normal life?
Jerms: It has in that it connected me to a group of peers and great friends in such a way that would not have happened otherwise. My two favorite things are the places that fly fishing takes you, and the people who you get to share those experiences with.
Flylords: Tell me a little about Zealand. When is he going to catch his first redfish?
Jerms: Zealand is the best. Next question… But seriously, being a dad is so much fun. A lot of work, but there’s just so much reward. Zealand is almost two, and his little motor is running full speed all the time. He’ll experience his first redfish as soon as the weather warms up a bit and they get back in the grass. It won’t be long now!
Make sure to check out Jerms on Instagram @Jerms1977
Also, check out our other Faces of Flyfishing interviews!