Fishing records are kind of lame. You know, IGFA length records, tippet class records and so on? What species of fish you were able to haul in on what strand strength of monofilament doesn't tell us anything about the experience. Or the fish. Or the place. It might tell us something about why you're out there but, if it does, it probably tells us stuff we'd rather not know. As a general rule, fishing records don't tell us anything of value at all, except maybe that a lot of people are missing the point. But, as is the case with any rule, there are exceptions. In the case of one of North America's most iconic fish, the brook trout, fishing records can tell us quite a lot.
In the summer of 1915, John William Cook disappeared into the vast boreal forests of northern Ontario, emerging seven days later with a 14.5-pound brook trout from the Nipigon River—the largest the world had ever seen. Since Cook's catch, the still-standing record has been embroiled in controversy: many refuse to believe that Cook took the fish on the fly, many even claim it was no brook trout at all—but rather a "splake," a hybrid of crossbreeding between lake and brook trout. What has remained relatively undisputed, however, is that, due to habitat loss and degradation, the giant brook trout that fueled Cook's longstanding record are no longer found in their native North American range.
Finding Fontinalis, produced by Patagonia in partnership with Sage, YETI and Costa Sunglasses, tells the story of three anglers in search of one of Cook's mythical, giant brook trout, not in the brook trout's native territory, but a continent away in the wilds of Patagonia.
Fueled by an old gaucho's tale of a "the place with the big red fish," the film, according to Patagonia, tracks "photographer Bryan Gregson; Patagonia’s Director of Fishing Bart Bonime; and environmentalist, angler and founder of Patagonia Yvon Chouinard [as they] follow Agustin Fox, the charismatic and hardworking owner of Las Pampas Lodge, into an uncharted watershed to chase down the rumors." What begins as a tale about record, giant brook trout evolves into a story that "explores how the search for a new world record brook trout in Argentina ultimately leads the anglers to [become part of] a mission to conserve and protect much more than just the fish itself ... the land, water and culture that surround it."
A shorter version of Finding Fontinalis screened to great fanfare on the 2016 Fly Fishing Film Tour. This new, full-length version is being made available by Patagonia and its co-sponsors for download by conservation organizations for use in screenings to aid their fundraising efforts.
To see more, check out the trailer below. For screening and more information visit www.findingfontinalis.com.