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For this installment of the Fly Fishing Film Tour Behind the Lens, we head down to Baja, Mexico with Perrin James to learn about his film, Marlin Fly. Perrin is no stranger to the productive waters off Baja and Mag Bay. Now living in Hawaii, Perrin was THE guy to get the shots needed to make an epic film about marlin fly fishing and had the passion to tell the story of Costa’s first-of-its-kind fly fishing satellite tagging project. Follow along to learn more!

Perrin James

Flylords: Perrin–before we dive into the world of Marlin fly fishing and your film, can you tell us about yourself and how you got into this work?

Perrin: I’ve been filming underwater and documenting wildlife for a little over a decade now. Most of my work is done free-diving on a single breath of air. I was born and raised in Florida, where I learned how different tidal systems work. Now I live on the Big Island of Hawaii and spend most of my time in open ocean searching for pelagic species and documenting their grandeur.

Flylords: In the best way possible, marlin and Mag Bay have kind of taken the fly fishing social media game by storm. How much did you know about this fishery before getting the call to head down and document this incredible place?

Perrin: I had a pretty solid understanding of the fishery and how most of it worked prior to joining the Marlin Fly project. I had visited Mag Bay and free-dove a bit in 2012, but it wasn’t until 2015 when Carter Andrews and Julio Meza invited me on a fishing trip down there. I remember watching Carter hook a marlin on the fly from my underwater view and thinking this was an absolute riot. Aside from the marlin fishing, Mag Bay has been historic – drawing many wildlife thrill-seekers, musicians, and writers – including Neil Young. This place just draws you in and brings you back.

Flylords: For our audience who may not know about the Mag Bay fishery or the Los Locos operation, can you give them a quick background?

Perrin: Full on Pirates…but the absolute best kind. They are family now, and if I was stuck on a deserted island I hope they would be there. It’s been awesome to watch them grow and integrate the local community into their operation. They care about the community just as much as the fishery, and I respect that. It’s how it should be done.

Flylords: Same goes for Costa’s Marlin Fly Project?

Perrin: Costa went above and beyond industry standards to tell this story, and I’m honored to have played my part in that. Their entire team worked incredibly hard on this one and I think the data we are collecting now from the Sat tags will help solidify this kind of fly fishing angler science.

Flylords: I know you’ve reworked the ending of the film, because some of the science from this project is just being reported out – but can you share some of the findings?

Perrin: We are just putting the final touches on the Marlin Fly project rendition. So, if you really want to know, you have to go see the film – ha! But in all seriousness, it’s been incredible seeing this project come full circle. The science team seems to be really impressed with the findings so far. There are so many variables that can affect the success of a satellite tag – getting them across international borders, catching the fish, determining it’s a viable candidate before tagging, tagging the fish, trusting the technology and battery life of the tag, and not to mention it’s attached to a wild animal, so you never really know what might happen.

Aside from an almost zero percent mortality rate on the fish we caught and tagged, the migration patterns that coincided with water temp and bait movement are truly incredible. We are still waiting to get back some of the 12 month tags, and I think those data will be huge considering the abnormal water temps this year (the year of the MahiMahi), not to mention the distance these fish travel after they leave Mag Bay. The film goes into more detail on what that all means, but the team is pumped to get the data back from all 15 tags (short and long term) and present those collective findings at the International Billfish Symposium in San Diego, CA this October.

Talk about high stakes

Flylords: Tell us about shooting this action-packed fishery–what type of gear were you using to get these shots?

Perrin: Wiley and I were shooting on a mix bag of Cameras. We had a Red Gemini and Canon r5c built out in underwater housings. Then we had additional dry setups on the boat. Trying to not get stabbed by a Marlin or break gear is the biggest concern, but the conditions we had were remarkably glassy and truly key to making this film work.

Stripies pushing bait boat side

Flylords: Similarly, this shoot had to be incredibly challenging from a logistics standpoint. Getting all your gear to Los Locos, shooting on hard charging pangas, and getting in the water with marlin could not have been easy.

Perrin: I actually flew to Mag Bay from West Papua. It was a terribly long flight but once hitting the ground in Baja, a few tacos and beers later, we were ready. Wiley and I spend a bit of time surfing and diving down here, so logistically, it seems to have gotten easier – or we are just getting better at dirt bagging. The only major problem these days is that the Cabo airport tries to fine/tax anyone with a pelican case. When they ask to see a camera or open a case, I just tell them no, and keep walking.

Flylords: What was your favorite shot or sequence you captured?

Perrin: There was one moment a Stripey came up and slashed a Sardine off my chest and then flared its top dorsal fins. For me, that was the shot of the trip, and something I won’t ever forget. Nick Price was also shooting for this project, and the look on his face when he jumped in the water was epic. Sharing that was pretty cool.

Flylords: As with any remote outdoors film, it really takes a whole village, (literally in this case) – can you tell us about the team and partnerships that made the film successful?

Perrin: What made this so successful in my opinion is that every single person involved in the Marlin Fly project genuinely cares about the fisheries at home or in this case, Mag Bay. It was really cool to see the anglers all fired up about the science and task at hand to protect this place.

To learn more about this project, head over to Costa Sunglasses, and if you’re enthralled by this fishery, be sure to check out Los Locos!

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