For this video of the week, we had the chance to interview Matteo Moretti about his film that he created while on the 5 rivers odyssey this summer. The film highlights some of the conservation efforts that were put into effect, as well as some amazing fishing in between projects.
FlyLords: Give us a little bit of backstory of the 5 rivers odyssey.
Matteo: The Trout Unlimited Costa 5 Rivers Odyssey is not just a fishing trip, rather it is a unique opportunity for college anglers to explore, learn about and share stories relating to native fish, public lands and clean water. In years past, the Odyssey has traveled all over the United States from road tripping across the country to flying in Alaskan bush planes. This summer, however, I along with three other college students, explored the Columbia River basin for five weeks. Our mission: to gain a greater understanding of what has happened to the world’s former salmon mecca.
Throughout our journey we met with local fishing guides, Trout Unlimited volunteers and project managers, leaders of groundbreaking river restoration work and members of Native American tribes all in an effort to understand and piece together the story of the basin and the people who care for it. To become familiar with the land, we not only partook in several conservation projects, documenting the tremendous work that was being done and getting our hands dirty, but we also had the opportunity to fish for and catch native trout in their natural habitat.
FlyLords: Explain how these conservation efforts will leave an impact in the coming years.
Matteo: One thing people often forget is that conservation is a long-term game. Despite how much our society has trained us to want immediate impacts, these projects do require patience. But, some of the conservation efforts we had the privilege of witnessing, while still on a longer time scale, have already had tangible impacts – showcasing the basin’s resilience. Specifically, one project on the McKenzie River in Oregon is utilizing a groundbreaking river restoration technique called Stage Zero restoration that is already yielding overwhelmingly positive results. By restoring incised portions of the river, adding proper substrate for spawning and creating viable rearing habitat for juvenile fish, the project allowed hundreds of Chinook salmon to return to the river to spawn for the first time in half a century this past fall. To be a part of and tell the story of such a positive environmental success is quite inspiring.
FlyLords: What was your favorite moment of the trip?
Matteo: By far my favorite moment of the trip was when a fisheries biologist, Ian Wilson, invited us to fish and camp on his property abutting the Wallowa River. This opportunity presented some of the best fishing of the trip. Sure, you could measure a “best fishing day” by the metric of size, quantity, etc. but this was one of our favorite times fishing because of the experience as a whole. We were a bunch of fishing fanatics telling stories, shouting oooooh‘s and ahh‘s every time someone hooked or lost a fish. We valued each other’s company and we shared each other’s passion. This is the last fishing scene of the film and for me it is one of the most impactful because I think it’s a perfect reflection of how the kindness and power of fishing brings people together.
FlyLords: What was it like to link up with 3 other guys you didn’t know, and how did that dynamic change over the summer?
Matteo: It’s funny thinking about this because we reflected upon it so many times throughout the trip. We all went in with a completely open mind, but everyone definitely had some preconceived notions of each other that we all shattered and that was honestly one of the most exciting and entertaining parts of the trip. Similar to what I say at the beginning of the film, a lot of times when you put a group of strangers together there can be a lot of awkwardness. Our group clicked immediately. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys in Dan, Dyer and Morgan – we each brought our own sense of humor, skills and dynamic to the group and trip. The first few days are always a little dance testing out what each person is like, but I can say with full confidence that the friendship we developed on this trip will last a lifetime.
FlyLords: What was the goal of this film?
Matteo: I want people to come away from this film feeling uplifted — whether from the constant smiles, warm summer vibes or sense of hope present in each interaction. Too often in today’s day and age, almost any news or piece of media we are exposed to or hear about in relation to the environment is overwhelming negative, depressing or uninspiring. That is not to say that our planet isn’t facing some incredibly dangerous and pressing issues relating to climate – especially on the topic of native fish – however it is important for people to see (especially kids of my generation and younger) that there are positive impacts being made. By shining a spotlight on smaller conservation efforts and the heat and soul put into these projects – not the millionaire’s next big idea to save the world – I hope to show the incredible impact that we can have on environment even if we all start small and do something now.
FlyLords: How can someone get involved in the 5 rivers odyssey this coming year?
Matteo: Every spring, the 5 Rivers Program announces the new Odyssey location/trip. There is a fun application process and all you need to do to apply is write a blog, submit a 1-minute video/5 pictures and be an active member of your college’s 5 Rivers Program.
FlyLords: What’s next for Matteo?
Matteo: Wow, honestly I wish I knew, but I think that is a part of the fun. Over these past two years, I have been so fortunate to have opportunities to expand my skills and take on some incredible fishing/conservation film projects. Each one of these experiences has given me more and more confidence to finally realize that storytelling through film and photography is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I hope to enter the outdoor media and branded documentary film industry upon graduating college. Experiences like making “Resilient Waters” give me the inspiration to keep going and help me realize that sharing these stories is paramount to protect and preserve our environment. I will continue to learn and develop my skills as a storyteller to make sure that these stories do get shared.
Along with creating this film, Matteo is also a member of the FlyLords content team. You can see some of his articles here.
This interview was conducted by FlyLords team member Conner Grimes (@doublehaulmedia).