Brian Jill has fished more than two dozen countries far and wide. Big Bass in Mexico? Check. Majestic Browns in New Zealand? Check. Tantalizing tarpon in the Yucatan? Check. If there are big fish to be caught, chances are Jill and his three best buds have found a way to film it. First, there was the Trout Bum Diaries, then GEOFISH and GEOBASS, which was released in 2014.
But there’s more. Jill says the crew wants to continue to churn out sequels of GEOBASS, which initially featured trips to Mexico, Colombia, Nicaragua, Botswana and Papua New Guinea among others.
“You’d think we’d be burned out on traveling,” Jill said. “I don’t know. We get a chance to come home [and recharge]. It’s in our blood to keep looking for (new places). It’s that explorer gene. That’s the best way we can explain it really, when people ask us. It’s that explorer gene that’s inside of us that needs to see what’s around the next corner and what’s out there.”
The latest film, GEOBASS Brazil, has created quite a buzz since being released in late February. The YouTube clip generated 75,000 views the day after it was posted. In late March it was up to 84,000 and counting.
“It’s incredibly satisfying to know that we’re getting that reach,” Jill said. “It’s only possible through Costa and other sponsors that are helping us get the word out and make this more noticeable to the public. On our own I know we could get a pretty good reach, but I don’t think we’d come anywhere close to that. They’ve got channels that extend beyond anything we’re capable of.”
Jill attributed the popularity to momentum generated by previous projects. GEOBASS Brazil, for the record, was the group’s seventh trip for bass.
“It’s definitely been a gradual thing within the fly-fishing industry,” Jill said. “Since this project came about, the intention was to not only focus on the fly industry, but to break out (beyond that). In other words, make it available to everyone that’s interested in fly fishing or adventure. Really anybody would be entertained by a fishing show with four guys traveling around the world. I think that’s why it’s grown so much, the fact that it’s not geared to just fly fishermen. We don’t try to do that. I think everyone enjoys the do-it-yourself mentality.”
Jill, grew up spin fishing for bass in Florida, but has learned a few life lessons chasing the popular quarry with a fly rod.
“It seems like we’re always tying up new patterns and seeing what they want,” Jill said. “We’re always on the run, because a lot of times you can’t get the information online in terms of what you need to fish with, so we’re always bringing along our gear working with [local] people to get a shot at some of these fish. It’s definitely been a learning experience for all of us.”
GEOFISH focused on the four fishing bums as they covered 8,000 rugged miles in Mexico and South America in search of the most pristine fishing in the world. However, GEOBASS was more species focused. Its mission, less about travel, more about adventure, was to catch the biggest, baddest bass on the planet --- from peacocks in Colombia to rainbow bass in Nicaragua.
Although the crew faced off against Colombian drug lords and angry African hippos, GEOBASS was more manageable than their other films as far as the day-to-day logistics.
“We’re having to deal with a vehicle and a ton of equipment and crossing borders,” Jill said of GEOFISH. “We were a little bit more on our own. [GEOBASS] was more planned out. We’re working with someone in a different country. Once you get there, it helps facilitate things. GEOFISH was a little more off the cuff.”
Amazingly the four fishermen have stayed together through multiple projects and many a mishap. Like the time they all got stuck in the mud in Belize before two tractors and two trucks came to their rescue. Although tempers occasionally flared, a common bond held the group together.
“Guess I could blame it on fly fishing,” Jill said. “We all have a similar goal. Yeah, our personalities clash at times. And we had a history. We knew what we were getting ourselves into.”
When Jill, 37, first started chronicling fly-fishing adventures, he was just out of college in his early 20s. Twelve years later, the Dunedin, Fla. flats guide is still behind the camera and on the water, even after marriage and fatherhood.
“That’s critical, having a tolerant wife,” Jill said. “My wife is awesome. She is happy for me that I get to do this, which a lot of people would consider a dream job. I understand that it is. I don’t that for granted. And she’s awesome for letting me pursue my dreams. She allows me to do that. If I wasn’t bringing in some money and supporting the family, that would be different. I’m very fortunate that my wife is understanding.”
The time away from home has provided more than just an exotic fishing trip. Travel abroad yielded the opportunity for a fresh perspective on life outside the United States.
“I think it definitely gave me a better world view of what’s going on out there in the places that we traveled to,” Jill said. “You maybe get a better understanding of people that live in the other parts of the world. [They’re] faced with a lot of the same things that we’re faced with here. It opened my eyes to what other people have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.”
Jill has fished in 23 countries and caught more than 40 species, but he doesn’t profess to have a single favorite fish. He appreciates an array of quarry.
“I loved lagoon stuff in the Yucatan,” Jill said. “That’s because it was kind of close to home for me [with saltwater]. But you don’t get those kind of fish with situations around here [in Florida]. That was really cool. Peacocks in Colombia were awesome. Definitely high up on my list. The striped marlin [in Mexico] was awesome.”
After a dozen years of time on the water and behind the camera, Jill feels as if he and the other colleagues from MOTIV FISHING have accomplished their goal.
“We’re reaching out to a gigantic audience, especially with GEOBASS, which is awesome,” Jill said. “Bass fishing is cool with me. Saltwater’s in my blood. I’ll keep bass fishing if there’s places to go and fish to catch, I’ll do it, no problem. I think we’re all happy with the way things have worked out. We’ve got a lot more to release to the public that they haven’t even seen yet, which is something I look forward to getting out there.”
Their message, intended or not, focuses largely on perseverance, the notion that a little extra elbow grease usually pays off.
“I think we’d all agree with that,” Jill said. “If you hike up to a remote stream, you’re going to have a chance for better success than waters that are right around by you. It doesn’t always apply, but we’re always trying to get as remote as possible to create the chance to find those pristine fisheries that haven’t been destroyed to have a chance to catch gigantic fish that have never seen a fly or lure before.”