I just returned from the Miracle Mile where I helped  film a fly fishing segment for At&T U-Verse Sports with host Rossi Morreale and Mariko Izumi- host of  “Hookin’ Up” on the World Fishing Network. When Mariko called for ideas on a location for a fly fishing segment in Wyoming or Montana it wasn’t hard to recommend the Miracle Mile section of the North Platte River.

The goal of the shoot was to make sure both Rossi and Mariko caught some fish, had a chance to talk about Mariko’s show, WFN, and to offer the viewers a glimpse into fly fishing.  I knew the Miracle Mile would not fail to meet those expectations even though August isn’t exactly “prime time” on The Mile (or anywhere for that matter).  Even so,  I felt a responsibility to the fly fishing community of this  hallowed river to ensure we capture footage that does the Miracle Mile justice.

Making TV: Meeting the Objectives of Producers & Fly Fishing Community Expectations

Creating an R.A. Beattie quality fly fishing video or TV show takes weeks of filming and a production crew that understands fly fishing.  Since the purpose of this show was not exclusive to fly fishing and more about fly fishing as an activity for a story line, I had one day in August to generate as much usable footage for a 30 minute segment.  I’ve filmed a show fly fishing the S. Platte with Mariko and know her fishing experience is primarily with conventional gear and she’s still learning how to fly fish.  Rossi had never fly fished before. Coupled with long heavy N. Platte rigs,wind, floating weeds, film boats right on top of us, and 90 degree daytime temps…I knew I would have to be a “guide Nazzi” if we were to catch some fish while leaving the personality up to Mariko and Rossi.

Rossi Morreale & Mariko Izumi with a nice Miracle Mile Rainbow

From previous experiences filming fly fishing segments for TV, I  knew that we’d be on a set schedule/budget to capture and make something out of whatever happens in the time given.  Unfortunately, budgets and time frames don’t always coincide with ‘when and where’ fishing is going to be the best. For the purpose of this production, the first handful of 12″ rainbows and a few break-offs in Rainbow Run would have probably been enough in less than 4 hours of filming.  To call that “good enough” would have been a disgrace to the fishery, and I knew I needed to put a schedule together that would bleed out every second of daylight for the most possible footage.

R&D Prior to Filming…

I fished The Mile the day before we filmed and knew we would have narrow windows of opportunities (early and late).  Rainbow Run would fish well in the morning  and completely shut off around 11AM (along with everything else below the bridge).  The section from the dam to the bridge fished better during the heat of the day.  The lower river (bridge to Chalk bluffs) turns back on from 5ish all the way to dark. Fish were not willing to come to far off the bottom to eat so this called for long dredge rigs.  #8 rubberlegs, red or purple San Juans, trailed by whatever else in that order. I couldn’t buy a fish on the rubberlegs, but I also couldn’t catch a fish if there  wasn’t a rubberlegs on the line.  Go figure….I think the weight of this fly helps keep the other bugs down. Based on this R&D I did, I put together a schedule for the following day that would have us where we needed to be at the most opportune times.

Morning Session

I felt that to make the most out of the day, we needed to do two floats.  For the first float we put in at 8AM right above Rainbow Run with the idea to get there while the fish were eating and back row it until the fish turned off. What I didn’t want to do was put the boats in up high and burn up water learning how to fish from a boat during the morning feeding window.  On the first drift down Rainbow Run Mariko hooked up with a big fish that broke 3x like it was hair.  While I was re-rigging, the wind started to pick up and it took some time learning how to cast these long rigs into the wind, set the hook, and ultimately fight powerful N. Platte fish.  By the time we were dialed in, fishing had shut off and we had lots of bent rod footage but only a few mediocre fish to net.

Afternoon Session

Boulder Boat Works: Going Where Other Driftboats Can’t!

We took out at Rainbow Run at 11ish and then put the boats back in all the way at the dam. Until yesterday,  I had only put rafts in at this spot. Helping us with the film was Andy and Spencer from Boulder Boat Works. Boulder Boats are the toughest, lightest driftboats ever made and allows us to launch and float sections of water where no other driftboats can go.  The process of dragging the boats and than dropping them down a rock ledge burned a lot of time during the heat of the afternoon which is exactly what I wanted.  By the time we ran shuttles, got the film crew set we were at 3PM….perfect.  The canyon section fished ok and just as we got to the bridge around 5PM the fishing really turned on.  We doubled up in the run above the bridge and then doubled up right below the the bridge. I knew the evening was going to be good.

Evening Session

At this point, the producers felt they already had enough footage and only needed three more minutes of footage and wanted us to be at the takeout (4 miles down stream) by 6:30Pm. YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS?!?!  We were finally in a groove, casting where we needed to and the fish were starting to eat.  We hooked a few more fish at the bridge before producers more or less said, “that’s all folks.”  The film and sound crew had their boats on cruise control to the take-out and most the evening footage we captured was on the go-pro cam.  I really hope they decide to use some of the go-pro footage because we found some quality fish with only enough time for one pass through the meat of each run.  If we would have been given the chance to back row and work some of those runs, we could have made the entire video in those last few hours before dark.  As non anglers, the film and production crew didn’t understand that it takes time to learn how to fish from a boat and you have to be willing to keep working at the moment it all comes together.  Mariko and Rossi, made as much improvement in one day as I have seen and it really would have been fun to fish and film with them the following day, or at least milk the evening for all it was worth.  That’s showbiz though.

All and All….A Great Day on a Great River!

I think what we were able to get on film was as good as we could have done for this time of year.  Mariko and Rossi were a ton of fun to fish with, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to showcase a river that I love. I look forward to the final cut which should air in early November.

It’s time to nail down your 2024 fly fishing trip with Minturn Anglers.

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Justin Nolan

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