EASTERN RISES

OK, so it’s no big secret that I have trouble sleeping.

It’s not that I don’t want to sleep. It’s more like I seem to lack the switch that tells my brain to shut up, shut down and recharge for the night. I can lie there and ponder and ponder and ponder until the first grey streaks of dawn peek through the window blinds and then I get so annoyed with myself that I couldn’t get to sleep even if I wanted.

Lately, the “ponder gene” has been in overload.

So, the other night when it became obvious that sleep was going to allude me yet again, I slipped out of bed, crept into the living room and popped a DVD that my fishing buddy, Sean had received in the mail from one of his numerous (and generous) contacts and which he had kindly forwarded to me to review.

It was called Eastern Rises and it followed a tight knit group of intrepid flyfishermen as they sought to fish some of the last uncharted waters in the entire world – the Kamchatka Pennisula of Russia.

Seriously. This place is so remote that it still has speculative parts on the maps and charts and the only way in is via WWII vintage Russian-built helicopters of questionable soundness piloted by almost WWII vintage Russian-built pilots of even more questionable soundness.

Rick Steve’s European vacation this ain’t.

Now, the fact that one of the guys looked, acted and sounded like my nephew was reason enough to keep me watching. But as I watched, I found myself fully absorbed in this story of adventure, discovery and…fishin’.

My heart ached at the sheer beauty of the place these guys had chosen to visit and my pulse raced as they fought some of the most incredible members of the trout family I have ever seen. (Yeah, probably not the best choice of videos for trying to fall to sleep but that wasn’t going to happen anyway.)

As I continued watching, I couldn’t help but think of how excited I get when I discover some hidden pocket water or stream divert that others have nothought to fish and I could imagine how deeply those guys must have reveled in the sheer joy of fishing water that NO ONE had ever fished before and taking fish that had NEVER seen an artificial bait before.

I laughed (quietly) at the ridiculous proportions of the “flies” they were able to use (think ghetto rats) and I studied carefully their techniques for fighting and landing insanely huge, very ticked-off, no-doubt-about-it, top-of-the-food-chain predators.

Now, this neat little film did have it’s questionable moments, like every documentary does, though I guess you could say that it does serve as a fairly serious public service announcement regarding the wisdom of imbibing vodka produced in some Russian backwoods still thousands of kilometers from civilization (read that as medical assistance) with women of questionable ethics who have been drinking the stuff since their mamas put it in their baby bottles.

But all that aside, this video was a stunningly beautiful look at one of the last truly wild places left on this ever shrinking, little blue orb we call home.

It was an astonishing glimpse at possibly some of the last truly wild Salmonids in the world.

And it was just the kind of mini-vacation I needed amidst the turmoil of a very busy week. And though it would never equal the feel of actually having a fly rod in hand and actually being out on the water, even if only a less than pristine urban body of water, it was still a vivid reminder of why I love this addiction called urban fly fishin’

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