Last week, we featured one of our favorite throwback films, Running Down the Man. This week, we had the chance to talk with Ben Freeman, producer of “After the Man”, a film that revisits the epic opportunities that the Baja has to offer.
Fly Lords: What gave you the idea to make a sequel to Running Down the Man?
Ben: Running Down the Man is one of the most iconic fly fishing films. It put Baja and Roosterfish on the radar, if not the map for every fly angler and started a revolution that brought (for better or worse) hoards of people to Baja in pursuit of an awesome fish. In the 10+ years since ‘Running Down the Man’ came out, however, Roosters have slipped back into anonymity and we wanted to change that.
In 2016, I visited Baja for a combination vacation/fishing trip and was fortunate enough to meet Grant and to have the opportunity to fish with him. We had been looking for a subject for the sequel of Running Down the Man and it quickly became clear that Grant would fit the bill perfectly.
Fly Lords: For those who haven’t seen the film, explain who Grant is.
Ben: Grant is the “old man on the beach” – The OG Baja beach fishing guide. Grant is one of the early pioneers of the fishery in Baja and Cabo San Lucas. Born in Texas, he soon moved to Mexico where his obsession with fishing began. He’s been fishing Mexico for most of his life and guiding for over 20 years. He also founded Baja Anglers in the late-90’s and has dozens of world records to his name.
Fly Lords: Why is Grant so dedicated to catching these fish?
Ben: You’ll have to watch the film for this one :-).
Fly Lords: Tell us about the roosterfish that you caught in the film.
Ben: We had spent six 12 hour days in the Baja heat hunting roosters and it was nearing the end of the trip. We had a few shots, but nothing materialized. I was beginning to get a little desperate… were we going to have a film? The fishing wasn’t good. Then in an instant, it turned. In the middle of the afternoon, we saw a few fish coming within casting range. I waded out to my armpits and made the longest cast I could, stripped fast, and suddenly he was on! He took about 200 yards of backing out twice before reluctantly coming in. I’ve caught a lot of fish, but this one definitely stands out as one of the most special. A true grande.
Fly Lords: What is the appeal of catching these fish from the beach instead of a boat?
Ben: Catching a roosterfish from the beach is the only way to do it. It’s an engaging and visual experience – something we fly anglers all crave. You’re fishing for huge fish in crystal clear water and you’re watching all the action happen right in front of your eyes. When a ‘grande’ turns on your fly, it’s pure adrenaline.
It’s also WAAAAaaaaay more difficult. As fly fishermen, we have masochistic tendencies. We pursue fish in the manner that’s one of the *least* efficient and effective. We’ve put away the word processor and laser printer and pulled out the typewriter. We do this because of the thrill of the hunt and the joy it brings to catch a fish on super light tackle. Fishing from the beach is just a continuation of this. From a boat, the skill lies with the captain’s ability to find fish. From the beach, it’s all about the angler and it’s distilled down to one thing: Angler vs Roosterfish.
Fly Lords: What was the highlight of the trip?
Ben: Seeing Grant’s face as he reeled in his Rooster.
Ben Freeman is the founder of Trident Fly Fishing, an online retailer of fly rods, reels, tying supplies, and pretty much anything else you can think of. When he’s not making films, you can find him traveling the world trying to be like Jeff Currier.
This interview was conducted by Fly Lords team member Conner Grimes (@doublehaulfishing).