What does fly fishing mean to you? Is it the pursuit, the feeling, the opportunity to get away, or is it something a little more? For most of us, I’d say fly fishing is a combination of these things. Maybe for some, it’s a job, for some, it could be their “church”, and for most of us, it’s a connection to the fish we target. For our first rendition of Trout Week in partnership with Trout Unlimited, we are rolling out just what makes Trout so special. A whole damn week dedicated to the fish that goes hand in hand with the very sport we love.

In this Trout Week article, we are listing the top 5 conservation films to bring light to the ever-evolving change within our watersheds and what we need to do to help preserve our favorite species ecosystems. Whether it’s the Everglades, Alaska, or your backyard this week is about inspiring change and shedding light on some of our favorite ecosystems.

1. Everyone in Between

Starting the list out we Join Captain John Landry in the Captains for Clean Water’s film Everyone in Between.  This film focuses on the battle we are fighting to protect and preserve Florida’s Everglades and Alaska’s Bristol Bay ecosystems. A moving film that puts our challenges and fights into perspective, “The battles are complex and arduous, but united, we move mountains.” 

2. The Return

The Return is a film by KGB Productions about Dave Sweet and his relentless pursuit to save one of the west’s great native species, The Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. In 1993 they realized they would have a major ecological problem when the first Lake Trout was reported in Yellowstone Lake. From that point on, Dave Sweet has spent over a decade helping to bring back the Yellowstone Cutthroat from the brink of extinction. Along with his daughter, Diana, a fisheries biologist, he will travel into the infamous Thorofare area of Yellowstone, the most remote wilderness in the lower 48, to see if his efforts have been successful and if the trout have returned to their native spawning grounds.

3. DamNation

“A couple of decades ago it was Radical in terms of thinking you can take a Dam out.” Imagine taking a Dam out and opening up a watershed to reconnect the fish to that were there originally for hundreds of thousands of years, I mean it gives you; Hope.” DamNation needs little introduction to the outdoor community but even from its release in 2014 dams in our rivers still seem to be one of the main topics of conversation. Whether they may be deadbeat dams that no longer produce electricity or the 4 Lower Snake River Dams who have had devastating outcomes for our lower 48 Salmon and Steelhead populations. DamNation gives you eye-opening statistics to Inspire what needs to happen next. #FreetheSnake

4. Big Land

Big Land by Tight Loops Fly is about finding one of the last great Brook Trout strongholds in North America. Driven by a 15-year-old rumor of an untouched and forgotten Brook Trout nirvana. 4 friends embark on the adventure of a lifetime in search of a wildness seldom found in the urban sprawl of the Anthropocene. In an effort to better understand America’s first sport fish, and the eastern seaboard’s only native trout, filmmakers Chase and Aimee Bartee lead a canoe expedition into North America’s last great and unexplored frontier; Labrador.

5. Artifishal

Artifishal is a film by Patagonia and Josh ‘bones” Murphy on the fight for the future of our Wild Fish. While there are many factors to include in the decline of our wild fish populations Artifishal focuses on the threats posed by fish hatcheries and fish farms. These issues include altering the gene pool and causing nutrition issues in the greater ecosystem surrounding wild salmon. “How far can we go to manufacture wildness.”

Extra 6th Pick: Our Two Hands

Image Courtesy: Asher Koles

Our Two Hands by Asher Koles is a deeper look into the adversity and problems we face with our Wild Salmon and Steelhead. This film is an examination of the underlying cause of this decline, as well as the innovative voices in the angling community and general public fighting for a wild fish future in the Pacific Northwest. “Animals don’t go extinct because we shoot the last one or a bulldozer scrapes away the last of the habitat, they go extinct because the web of relationships that sustain them unravels.” We know this is only a teaser for the full film but the full film can be rented or bought on Vimeo to help support Asher make more fantastic cinematography and continue to spread the word for wild salmonids.

All in all, Trout Week means a lot more than just shining a light on one of our favorite species it’s a call to action. A call to act as a steward, friend, or just to maybe open your eyes a bit more while you are on the water. Whether your home water may be the marsh, mangrove creeks, or a meandering mountain river it’s all Home Water worth protecting.

Make sure to check out these other awesome articles as well:

2021 F3T Behind the Lens: Escape

Lost Cutthroat Species to be Reintroduced into Native Range

Argentina Bans Salmon Farming

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