The 2023 F3T is underway – click here to find a local showing and purchase tickets.

Next up in the 2023 F3T Behind the Lens series takes us deep into the backcountry of the Eastern Sierra Mountains in California. Where a trio of characters led by Seth Blackamore are in pursuit of catching golden trout and good times! A film by @theflyfishjournal directed by @liamogallagher. Flylords was lucky enough to catch up with filmmaker Liam Gallagher, to learn more about what went into the making of this film. Check out the full interview below.

Flylords: How did this film turn from an idea to a reality?

Liam: It was all Seth’s idea. Seth Blackamore has been living in the Eastern Sierra for almost a decade and he’s always exploring the high alpine lakes. From what I know, Seth has been scheming this trip with Alex Blouin from Sage for a few years now. Originally, they’d had it on the books for Summer 2020, but then the pandemic delayed things for a few years. Come 2022 Seth re-ignited the fire with Alex and set things in motion to make the trip happen in early September. I got the call from the crew at the Flyfish Journal, they needed someone to help with the film and I jumped at the opportunity. There was room for one more angler and Amanda Monthei is a friend of mine from Bellingham. She’s spent a lot of time exploring remote corners of this country as a wildland firefighter and she’s always down for a bit of Type 2 fun.

Flylords: What were the logistics like in this film? Was it hard to get all the gear from the fishing gear to the camera gear into the backcountry?

Liam: The logistics were pretty straightforward, thanks to all the planning Seth put into it. He lined up a local packer to get all our gear into the backcountry for us. We just had to show up at the Pack Outfit in the morning, help them load the mules up and we were off. The pack-in was about 9 miles and it was super smooth. I was pretty nervous about riding a mule, but it was really easy. The mules were more or less self-driving, so we all got to sit back and take in the crazy views. We packed into a zone Seth has been coming to for years. Typically he’ll hike in, but he’s always wanted to pack in and this trip was just the excuse he needed to make it happen. The outfitters were awesome. They made it all so easy.

Once we made it into the zone where we’d base camp for the trip, the packers helped us unload and they went back down the valley. Horses and mules are expensive to keep at camp, so our trip was one-way. We’d have to hike out. But the hike ended up being pretty manageable.

The biggest logistical challenge was just packing properly. I had a lot of camera gear to manage, plus I needed all my camping gear, food, and clothes in one pack. It was a big pack. I was happy to let the mule haul it uphill for me.

Flylords: Tell us about the characters of the film, how were the group dynamics?

Liam: Seth Blackamore led the way. Seth doesn’t guide people fishing, but he could. He’s a natural leader, super knowledgeable, and really easy to get along with. Plus he gets ‘em. He’s maybe the fishiest dude I’ve ever met.

Amanda Monthei had the best day of fishing of her life. She proclaimed such on our second-to-last day. That was a nice moment, all of us headed out after a full day of catching fish, descending down a mountain, camp dinner, and a couple of beers waiting for us. She beamed positivity the entire trip.

Alex Blouin is a low-key harmonica god. He ripped a little mouth harp in the film and there are a few other recordings from the trip that didn’t make the edit, but they’re bound to end up on the Internet soon. This was the first time I hung out with Alex, but after this trip, I can confidently say I’d go anywhere with that guy.

Flylords: What is so special about golden trout?

Liam: I think the colors are the coolest thing about them. They’re psychedelic. So many colors. And each fish was a little different than the other. They’re not that big, they don’t have a lot to eat up there at 12,000 feet and their season to feed is so short, but what they lack in size they make up for in coloring.

Flylords: What kind of fly fishing gear were you guys using for the golden trout?

Liam: We were all fishing 4 weights, the Sage R8 Core and Trout and Click series reels. Floating line. And basically hopper dropper combos. Zebra midges did the trick.

Flylords: What was your most memorable moment from the trip?

Liam: Most memorable moment from the trip was the first lake we fished on our second-to-last day. We didn’t know if the lake had any fish in it and it was a hell of a hike to get up to it. We slogged uphill for a couple of hours, more or less scrambling up boulders the size of cars. Then when we got to the lake there were fish rising everywhere. And there was this mayfly hatch. We got giddy. It was a great start to what turned out to be our best day of fishing.

Flylords: Any challenges or logistical nightmares on the trip?

Liam: The altitude was definitely a challenge. It made moving pretty slow and definitely took a toll on our bodies. Alex, Amanda, and I were all flying in from sea level, so we expected to take some time to get used to the elevation. Seth was smart to have us show up a day early and spend at least 36 hours at about 9,000 feet so that we could adjust to the altitude.

Flylords: Given the backcountry setting, what kind of camera gear were you able to pack in? How did you get those underwater shots?

Liam: Packing in all my camera gear was definitely a challenge, but I slimmed down my kit a bit. I had my Sony FS5 and a few lenses, my drone and also a Sony mirrorless body, and an underwater housing. It was a lot of gear to pack, but I’m glad I had it all. Especially the underwater housing. The water was so clear that it made for some great underwater images. And thanks to the golden trout for cooperating.

Flylords: One piece of gear you wished you had on the trip or were very fortunate to have with you?

Liam: Let’s see, I think I was most thankful for my little camp stove and kettle. Hot meals and hot coffee were a real treat out there. Being well-fed and fully caffeinated definitely helped me get through some of the more challenging days. Also, having a great sleeping bag and pack really helped out. I’ve got a cousin who works in product at The North Face and I hit him up last minute, to see if he could help with some gear. He hooked me up with a Superlight 10 down sleeping back and a Trail Crush 50L pack. The pack was perfect. Just big enough, but still super lightweight. And the sleeping bag couldn’t have been better. It got cold at night up at 12,000 feet, so having a warm-down bag was a real treat. Big thanks to Tim Beck! I owe you one cousin!

Flylords: What message are you hoping viewers walk away with?

Liam: I just hope they enjoyed watching us go on this wild little adventure. There were a lot of moments that didn’t make the edit and there’s a feature in the newest issue of The Flyfish Journal that adds a bit to the story. Viewers should seek out an issue of the mag and read up. Seth and Alex also contributed some incredible images to the print piece and I think it really rounds out the story.

Special thanks to Liam Gallagher for taking the time for an interview. Stay tuned for more iterations of the Fly Fishing Film Tour, F3T Behind the Lens series by clicking here. Photos from Alex Blouin and Seth Blackamore.

The 2023 F3T is underway – click here to find a local showing and purchase tickets.

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2023 F3T Behind the Lens: The Belt Buckle


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