In this Week’s rendition of Video of the Week, we sit down with Jesse Males otherwise known as Backwater Fly Fishing, and break down his F3T film The Legend of Casa Mar. The full film is now available for viewing on Youtube and trust us when we say it’s one you don’t want to miss.

Flylords: How did the idea of the Legend of Casa Mar begin?  

Jesse: For me, it just started being down there in San Jose and living roughly 5 minutes from my good friend Peter Gorinsky. He would always talk about the area and fishing with the legends like Lefty Kreh. He was the first person to really give me the lowdown on that area. If you spend anytime down there looking into the tarpon fishery you’ll come across the northern Caribbean side but just the remoteness itself is what has made it and kept it so vague. Venturing in there is just intense. There’s no other way to put it, it feels raw and powerful.

Image Courtesy: Jesse Males

Flylords: If you have a message you are trying to convey through this short movie. What would that message be?  

Jesse: To tell a story that hasn’t been told to the fly fishing community and showcase what this place used to be. But also that this amazing place has been given rest, the jungle took it back. We are excited to show this special place to the public. But also going into it with conservation and sustainability in mind to make sure that this place stays raw. We’re only guiding two small mini-seasons down there throughout the year and then sitting back on it. All in all, I think we wanted it to be more of a historic film and introduce people to this hidden world.           

Image Courtesy: Jesse Males

Flylords: We know that you’ve been down in Costa Rica a fair bit in your career fishing and guiding. Did you know of this remote tarpon fishery?

Jesse: I lived there for 6 years until these past 8 months when I’ve been back in Florida with my wife and kids. When I first got down there and had established myself I had people asking if I was guiding. At the time I wasn’t but me and a few friends started realizing that there is an amazing opportunity here and had really only heard of Tarponville operated by Mark Martin but that was on the Southern Caribbean side. The middle of the Caribbean is long beach stretches and it really isn’t until you get to the northern Caribbean side that you start to get more river mouths and optimal habitat again. But the issue is it’s remote. You can’t just drive there, so it took a little bit of asking around and being down there to get an understanding of what was actually happening up there.       

Image Courtesy: Jesse Males

Flylords: What was the filming timeline like? Did you guys have an idea of what you wanted? Or did the film kind of just naturally unfold? 

Jesse: The first shots that I got in the film were from a 4-day trip. That was actually the first trip down there to truly see if it was “worth anything”. I brought a Sony a7 siii and a drone in a tiny pelican case. I shot the whole thing on one lens. We got there to fish and it was freakin nuts, we’re double and tripled up. Complete madness. I was on the boat and it was so crazy I just put my rod down and started filming. My original thought on filming was that I was just going to create a little youtube piece but then I talked to Tom Enderlin and Federico Hampl who had done a video for F3T featuring Machaca fishing, and I shared some of the clips from the trip and they both said that you’ve got something special here you should probably sit on this. We did another trip in May and then it lead to well if I’m going to focus on the history of Casa Mar I have to interview Peter Gorinsky as well. And the rest is what you see now.   

Image Courtesy: Jesse Males

Flylords: What’s next for Backwater Media and Jesse Males? 

Jesse: I head back down to Costa Rica in a few weeks but I’m also working on a little film with my brother Brody this summer, which has become my passion project. Alongside that, I’ve been working with CBS filming Billfish tournaments plus more media work with different brands down the line. So really the only thing on my radar here is either fishing, taking people fishing, or filming people fishing.  

Image Courtesy: Jesse Males

Flylords: Last question and it’s a tough one. What has more appeal currently fishing or fishing photography? 

Jesse: Dude that has gotten so hard. Undoubtedly there are times where the light is so good you just have to pick up the camera, give the rod to someone else, and have them cast. They’re not equal by any means but dependent upon the scenario I’m definitely reaching for the camera. You only get that particular light once, the shot is right then. That’s the problem with the media stuff is that it’s never the same, that fish is going to eat differently every single time but dang man I don’t know it’s a kind of in-the-moment decision whether to pick up the rod or the camera. 

Image Courtesy: Jesse Males

Jesse Males is a Professional Guide, Photographer, Filmmaker, and Fly Designer. A guy with many talents and a knack for adventure. Check out more of his adventures and photos here:

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2022 F3T Behind the Lens: The Legend of Casa Mar


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