I fly fish. I've only been going for about three summers, I'm self-taught, I've caught exactly two fish and I don't know how to tie my own flies. For those of you who have no clue what that means, it means I'm an amateur. And that probably I suck. But I have learned that anglers are weird. The type of weird you can only be after spending way too much time by yourself in waders. And they love to take pictures and tell stories. That's why the photos at Surface Film II, tonight's free showcase and silent auction of fly-fishing photography, are sure to illustrate some interesting tales.
Surface Film II is coordinated by the Greenbacks of Trout Unlimited, a group of anglers in the Denver area; the curator, Tim Romano, writes for Field and Stream and is a photo editor for Fly Fishing Journal. Erica Stock, a member of the Greenbacks, wants to clarify that these are not the "grip and grin" photos of anglers showing off their best catches, or even the landscape photos you might be expecting.
"It's more edgy photography; it's different angles, content and effects," she explains. "My favorite photograph from last year was a photo of someone's mouth that had maggot flies [tied flies, not actual maggots] around their mouth, and they were just sort of hanging off. It was cutting-edge and just fun. We're trying to make conservation cool again."
The photos are under wraps right now. Since I couldn't see any of the photography in advance, I asked Erica for her best fish tale. She had three -- including one about falling into a river seven months pregnant, and another about hiking to a secluded, secret lake at night to watch moths and bats swarm while the trout jump wildly. But this was my favorite:
"We were fishing for brook trout, and while we practice catch-and-release, brook trout don't help the native trout, so we actually keep those fish," she says. "We were teaching some new folks how to fish and my husband was downstream from me.
"He went down to help our friend get their line untangled from a tree. He opened up the case of trout to distract my daughter for a moment while he climbed up to get the line and when he turned around she had grabbed the fish out of the container and was kissing all of them. He takes the fish away from her, and I come down, not having seen this, and give her a big kiss. The fish smell was still all over her face, and I was like, 'Well, that's interesting.' Then my husband was like, 'Oh, yah. She was kissing the fish.' I let her put her hands in my mouth, and everything. It was gross."
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Surface Films II , which runs from 7 to 11 p.m. tonight, features 25 prints by photographers from all over the country, a silent auction to sell the prints (the proceeds will benefit the conservation work of Trout Unlimited), a vote for "Best in Show" that will win one of the photographers a spot in Trout Magazine, two local bands and free beer, donated by Upslope Brewing Co. and The Fly Fishing Film Tour. Oh, and fish tales. Lots of them.