Team Tuesday - Sitting Down with Risty
It's been an absolute treat for us each Friday during lockdown to showcase some of Gin Glear Media's blockbuster Flyfishing Films. As the restrictions ease, we thought we might tantalise you all this coming Friday with a throwback to one of the classics. The Source Tasmania is one of the all time great flyfishing films in Australia and will no doubt get you frothing at the mouth for the weekend ahead.
As an added bonus, we found a little one on one time with our good mate Craig Rist. Risty is an avid Tasmanian flyfisho who has given the community many years of vicarious living through his epic adventures, hard slogs and incredible photography. So join us this Friday as we take you to the birth place of flyfishing in Australia and New Zealand.
Join us as we take you to The Source - Tasmania.
Manic Film Night
Friday 15th May
6:30pm AEST/8:30pm NZST
MANIC: Tell us, who is Craig Rist?
RISTY: For starters I’m no different to all the other people in the world who have had their lives enriched from picking up fly rod. It’s always been a big part of my life and it is just something I need to do to stay happy and grounded in life.
I was born in 1971 and spent my childhood growing up in the small seaside town of Port Sorell, which is located on the North Coast of Tasmania. My Father has always owned wooden boats so I spent many days and nights fishing from my father’s boats from a very young age. My parents have never let me forget the time I pulled our pet gold fish from its tank and tried to scale it when I was only 3 years old. They tell me I only got one side done before I was caught in the act. The gold fish was returned to the tank but I don’t think it lasted very long after that.
My father also exposed me to a form of fresh water fishing when I was around 8 years old. He used to take my brothers and me to small creeks close to Port Sorell to catch Tasmania’s native Galaxias, using a bush pole, cotton and a worm on a bent pin.
We would find a slow moving pool on the creek and break up small pieces of twigs, no more than a centimetre in length and throw them into the water. I remember being amazed at the sight of these tiny fish rising up to try and eat the floating sticks. We would then catch a few of these small fish and take them home in a bottle of water and put them in a fish tank. My brother and I would collect worms and other insects to feed our new native pets. Cheaper than buying more goldfish I guess !!
When I was around 13 years old, my friend showed me his Uncles fly rod and a box of flies. I was already obsessed with fishing by this stage and I was immediately captivated by this new style of fishing. I got my first fly rod starter kit on my 14th birthday which was a 9 foot 8 wt Diawa fiberglass fly rod. I taught myself to cast from books and practiced my casting rain, hail or shine down in the saltwater estuary at Port Sorell. This was where I caught my fish on fly, a small juvenile Australian Salmon. I had no flies at that time so I tied my first salt water fly using white Seagull feathers and some of my mothers sewing cotton. I soon discovered these little fish absolutely love a small white fly and I caught hundreds of these on fly when I was a kid. Nine months later I finally had the chance to go trout fishing and catch my first trout on fly.
From there fly-fishing just kept on getting better and better both in salt and fresh water. The small twigs I used to use to make those small galaxias rise, have now been changed to fishing floating flies for trout, Sarratoga, Sooty Grunter, Jungle Perch, Grayling, Black Bream, Golden Trevally, Barramundi and the list just keeps going. Fish eating flies, it just never gets old for me.
To get back to your question, who is Craig Rist ?
I’m just another crazy, adventure driven fly fisher, just like you.
MANIC: How were you introduced to Nick Reygaert and his filming?
RISTY: When Gin-Clear Media first started the Flyfishing Film Festival, Nick Reygaert used to run a fly-fishing short film competition. At that time I was already filming a lot of my fishing trips, so I entered a short film on my obsession for catching my first Permit on fly. I was lucky enough to win that competition and got into meet and become good friends with Nick. We obviously had a common interest in fly-fishing, filming and photography and I soon found out that Nick also had a similar passion for exploring new destinations and fly-fishing experiences.
I then got to know Nick much better when he asked me to help him with the Western Lakes segment in his new film The Source Tasmania. The Western Lakes of Tasmania have always been a special place for me so I was happy to try and help Nick capture what it is to cast a fly in such a unique part of the world.
I knew filming the Western Lakes wasn’t going to be easy and a lot had to go our way to make it succeed. The weather is always a concern and of course my fly-fishing ability with the added pressure to catch fish to ultimately make it all happen for Nick. I can honestly say Nick and I gave this movie 120 % right to the end when we finally landed a perfect example of a Western Lakes Brown Trout on the last hour of the last day of filming, it was such a relief for me and know doubt Nick who was flued up and limping by now from multiple 3am starts and hours and hours of hiking through this rugged wilderness. After all the time we spent together filming The Source Tasmania we defiantly form a close friendship.
Nick has always had a much greater passion than me to fulfil his dream of becoming a fly fishing filmmaker and explorer and I have always respected him for having the courage to fulfil that dream and to make it so successful, through a tremendous amount of hard work and sacrifice.
MANIC: What does fly fishing do for you?
RISTY: What does fly-fishing do for me? Hmmm that’s a hard one to put into words, but I’ll try.
For me, I think it’s a combination of high and low emotions, creativity, discovery, adventure, escape and a sense of achievement that all blend together, giving me something that I want to do again and again. It’s my drug of choice and I can’t do without for too long. I know I have a problem, but it’s a good one.
I know I will never get to the stage where I will know it all and I really like that. There is always something new to learn or improve on. In a lifetime of trout fishing there would always be something I could do better or know more about. Throw in the ever-evolving world of salt-water fly-fishing and international freshwater fly-fishing opportunities out there and I just don’t have enough lifetimes to experience it all.
If fly-fishing was easy and it didn’t take me to some of the most amazing places on earth I would defiantly loose interest. Tying my own flies, learning to cast, going backwards before I can move forward is all part of the final reward and euphoria I get when everything comes together.
At the peak of this my hands are shaking and my adrenalin is pumping. For me there is now better feeling or experience to have and it is something I can create time and time again, just by going fly-fishing.
MANIC: Why is Tasmania so special to you?
RISTY: I guess, growing up in a place where fishing and the wilderness are so accessible, it becomes a way of life. I take it for granted sometimes and I always appreciate just how unique and divers this small island state is whenever I return from an over seas holiday. One of the best things about Tasmania is I can be on the water in less than 15 minutes from my home and in 2 hours be in a pristine wilderness environment sight casting a fly to wild brown trout in gin clear water.
Then we have those amazing mayfly hatches, beetle falls, Giant Stoneflies and many other large terrestrials that make trout look up. Then there is the sea trout fishery and tailing trout and some great saltwater fly-fishing. Big Black Bream on the flats, King Fish, Mako Shark Tuna and Australian Salmon are all available. The problem I have is deciding what to do first.
MANIC: Your segment in the film focusses on the Western Lakes, tell us a bit about the significance and unique nature of these lakes? Why should people have these lakes at the top of their bucket list destinations?
RISTY: I’ve had the privilege of fishing in lots of different countries since I first pick up a fly rod and I can honestly say I have not found anything quite like the Western Lakes of Tasmania. I think what really makes it special is the close proximity of so many gin clear alpine lakes that offer a sense of adventure just like wanting to see what’s around the next bend in a river. Each lake is a little different to the other offering slightly different experiences. Some have many fish from 1 to 2 kg while others have fewer but much larger fish that only show themselves when the food source draws them to the surface or close into the shoreline. This is where they give the lucky angler a chance to make the right fly selection, presentation and cast of a lifetime.
The thing that really gets me in is how close I can get to these fish amongst the rocks and alpine scrub and literally count the spots on their back as they slowly glide past me as I stand or crouch motionless for them to pass. I can then set up a presentation in front of them or slip down behind them to deliver a fly to one side or behind them. The best time to see this is during the Summer months when the black Mayfly Spinners returned to the water to lay there eggs along those calm wind free pockets of water that are sheltered by the scrub and rocks along the shore line. This Mayfly stage really pulls these trout into the shoreline, from their stable diet of snails and nymphs living in the weed beds out in the middle of these lake. There is nothing quite like experiencing a blue-sky day in the Western Lakes during Summer and if you can experience one of these days during a spinner fall, then you will be hooked for life.
MANIC: How has the social and physical landscape of flyfishing in Tasmania change since releasing the film?
RISTY: I think since Nick’s release of the Source Tasmania, it has really shown both local and the worldwide audience what a great trout fishery it is and why so many anglers love it so much. I’ve even had non fishing people both male and female come up to me and say they finally understand why I love fishing the Western Lakes so much. I think that makes me just a little less crazy in their eyes anyway.
The interest in Tasmania trout fishing has defiantly grown in the last 10 years and I have really notice the increased numbers of anglers in the Nineteen Lagoons area of the Western Lakes. I think this is really good because a lot of these anglers are the next generation who are going get to experience the magic of this place and build there own fond memories just like I have and continue to do every time I go fishing. This added pressure just means those of use who want a solitude wilderness fishing experience jut need to walk a few more kilometres to find it. Believe me it is still available and I have had many days in the Western Lakes where I haven’t crossed paths with another angler.
The bushfires that ripped through the nineteen lagoons last year certainly changed the landscape in that area, but that will recover in time. Thankfully, the area West of the Nineteen Lagoons was not affected and it remains the same today as it did when Nick and I filmed the Source Tasmania.
MANIC: Tailers or Sippers? Why?
RISTY: Trout sipping down midge, caddis or beetles in a lake or river is another fantastic sight fishing option Tasmania has to offer. When fish are on these insects they can be found rising in numbers and it is always a great opportunity to get multiple shots at fish.
But for me, it’s those tailing trout that really get my heart thumping, especially when I can see it’s a big fish from the size of those fins waving at me. They can be tough to catch if you don’t have the right fly or presentation on the day and they will literally give you the fin and vanish, never to return if they suspect something isn’t quite right.
I think catching tailing trout is such a rewarding form of sight fishing because it is so tough to crack the code sometimes. It’s also the suspense leading up to a tailing fish slowly approaching my fly that makes it so special. There is always that sense of uncertainty going through my head “ Will it eat or will it give me the fin”. Then when the line draws away or a snout comes out, it’s a sweet, sweet reward for getting everything right.
MANIC: You’ve got one trip left, where to in the world?
RISTY: If I only had one trip left, I would have to go somewhere I had never been before, the fly-fishing would have to be challenging and involve an epic adventure. Peacock Bass and Arapaima in the Amazon comes to mind. Then again there are lots of places I’ve already been that I would love to go back to now that I am older and a little wiser.
If I only had one trip left in Tasmania it would be the Western Lakes on a blue-sky day for sure.