Confluence premieres fourth adventure fly fishing film

By Emily Wolfe Explore Big Sky Managing Editor

The 100-foot boat lurched violently in the storm as Chris Patterson crawled from his bunk in the hull to the bridge, where the captain was at the wheelhouse.

“I just had to get out of bed,” said Patterson, “so I started walking, but I got slammed into the wall.”

The boat spent almost three days crossing the Indian Ocean between Mauritius and St. Brandon’s Atoll, all of it in the storm.

This was the first of first of five stops in nine months for Patterson and his partner at Confluence Films, Jim Klug, co-owner of Yellow Dog Fly Fishing in Bozeman, all for the making of Waypoints, a fly fishing film focused on conservation and adventure.

“It was a pretty good-sized boat, but it felt like we were in a canoe. I was like ‘gosh, what the hell are we getting into here?’”

When they arrived in St. Brandon’s – a chain of uninhabited islands some 300 nautical miles from Mauritius – the crew headed for a sand flat off the coast where giant Trevally and Indo-Pacific Permit come to feed. Patterson, also a cinematographer for Warren Miller Entertainment, pulled out the extendable ladder that he’d bought in a Bozeman paint store and set it up on the flats to get a high angle shot unaffected by the waves.

“I turned around to Jim, who’s in a skiff we use to get to the shore, and two 12-foot sharks swim underneath the ladder.”

Conflence’s fourth film, Waypoints takes the crew next to southeast Alaska to fish for steelhead; then to the Venezuelan jungle to fish for the Payara, a toothy beast that lives in muddy class 4 rapids and is nicknamed the ‘vampire fish’; on to Chilean Patagonia, where they helicopter from an expedition ship into remote valleys to raft and fish their back to the ocean; and finally to northern India, on the Nepal border, where they float the Saryu and Mahakali rivers in search of the elusive Golden Mahseer.

The film will show at more than 30 locations across the country on Nov. 8, including at Lone Peak Cinema in Big Sky, the Ellen Theater in Bozeman, the Wilma Theater in Missoula and the Whitefish Moose Lodge, as well as theaters in South Africa, Sweden and Argentina.

A percentage of ticket prices go to regional nonprofits, Patterson said, noting that past films have donated a total of more than $250,000 to conservation groups.

The title refers not only to GPS waypoints, Patterson said, but also to metaphorical waypoints in a person’s life.

“You spend two minutes with a fish that you’ve spent your whole life [learning and working] to catch, you take a photo and then let it go… It’s a memory, but it’s also a sort of waypoint, meaning you’ve come to this place and caught this fish that you’ve always wanted to catch, and then you set your course for the next challenge, the next fish.”

Known for great cinematography and music, cool stories and fun characters, Confluence in 2010 was awarded Trout Unlimited’s “National Conservation Communications Award” for its conservation-based fundraising efforts.

As co-owner of Yellow Dog Fly Fishing, Klug, the producer, is also excellent at casting, Patterson says. That is, “casting the talented anglers we feature in the films, as well as researching the locations and finally, writing the narration.”

Confluence’s films “try to showcase the soul of fly fishing,” Klug wrote in an email from Belize, where he was working.

“We really try to base our films on specific stories – the interesting species that can be caught on a fly, the exotic and beautiful places where those species live, and the amazing characters that seem to gravitate to the sport.”

It’s possible no one else has made films quite like this – yet.

“The multi-segment, exotic “travelogue” style that we focus on seems to be a Confluence exclusive,” Klug said. “We are definitely seeing a lot of people getting into the game, and a lot of projects that people are pumping out… In my opinion [that] is great for the fly fishing industry and for the sport.”