Walkill Valley Times - By Richard Phelps/Wallkill Valley Times/October 9, 2019
I can’t tell you what I really think, after all these are my friends. If I write all the good things about their movie, it will go straight to their heads. If I write anything else, it will go even deeper, straighter into their heads.
The movie “Land of Little Rivers” was made with great passion by two friends -- Bruce Concors, Executive Producer and narrator, and Aaron Weisblatt, director, whose NYU student film, SAM, a film about my father, was nominated for an Academy Award back in the ’80’s. “Land of Little Rivers” is an engaging chronicle of the characters, water features, and the fly fishing history and techniques, of the Catskill Mountains. Filmed over 28 days by helicopter, drone, land cameras, and drift boats, the movie takes the viewer inside a special region of North America where unique conditions make for some of the best cold-water trout fishing in the world.
What are “flies”? Who invented “fly fishing”? What’s a dry fly, a wet fly? What’s important about a Blue Gordon? A Red Gordon? What’s a hackle? How to make a split bamboo fly rod. It’s all there. The story is told by the practitioners themselves, in their own words, in their own time, on their own sets.
The intersecting narration by Bruce channels some of the best writing style of Antony Bourdain. The text is informed by a lifetime on the rivers. His voice and diction are professional and controlled – attributes attributable to so many years singing dead-throat Dylan in dive bars. He is the glue, the angler with all the angles, the connections, the knowledge of, it seems, everyone in the sport, in the game. Late last summer I spent an afternoon on the river in his drift boat with Aaron on the camera. Bruce could recognize and name the fisherman in waders three quarters of a mile away just by his silhouette and casting style. This movie is his baby and fishing these cold waters is his life.
Yet, everyone featured in the film has a similar unique focus on the fly-fishing world, or the areas of New York through which the waters run. There’s Rob, the self-proclaimed alcoholic hippie river guide, whose greatest joy is having his client case the river so well, observe the insect hatch so closely, and watch the action of the feeding fish so patiently, that the day’s fishing is a single cast for a single fish, BANG! -- 17 inch brown. Case closed.
It was mesmerizing to watch the expert Dave Brandt tie one of his signature flies at his work desk, at the fly-tying table clamp, under the bright lights of the camera lamp. Equally fun to watch, the one and only cigar-chomping Rachel Finn guide her female client to a big fish on the Ausable River and then come down south and explain the difference in Catskill stream fishing to Adirondack water.
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