“I tell people that it's Norman Maclean who invented fly fishing,” Hank Patterson says about half way through our interview. And what do you do when you hold somebody in such high regard? You make a pilgrimage to his home waters. You film the pilgrimage. And you call the film “Hank Patterson’s Reel Montana Adventure.”
Angler’s Covey: So have you been on the road a lot attending the screenings of the film?
Hank Patterson: Actually, not all that much. The film is being screened in 25 cities. There have been some surprises, towns I have never heard of. It’s been nice to show in different towns. I’m going to attend six of them, including with you guys down there in Colorado Springs. The way to watch the film is to get together with a bunch of folks, have some beers. It’s fun to watch that way. If you like what I do online, you’ll like the movie.
Angler’s Covey: Is PBR your go-to beer for watching the film?
Hank Patterson: I recommend whatever you prefer drinking yourself. I like to drink some PBR, but I also like, you know, to go to these towns and they all have their own beers. I like to check out what other people are drinking. Sometimes it’s good beer and sometimes you’re thinking “ah, my hell, you should move.” But, you know, I don’t discriminate against any beer. But I do recommend having one.
Angler’s Covey: So, I was watching the trailer. Is that the actual Brad Pitt rock (from the film version of “A River Runs Through It”)?
Hank Patterson: It is! We decided to track that down. And then we have a shot of the half-light in the canyon at the end of our film, too.
Angler’s Covey: In the movie, you talked about this as a pilgrimage. So I was wondering — did you have a spiritual experience?
Hank Patterson: Well, my experience was, I just wanted to go and experience Norman Maclean’s Montana. In a very unique sorta way. The way I would experience Norman Maclean’s Montana is apparently very different than other people would go about it. I decided it was a pilgrimage to get back to the roots of fly fishing. I tell people all the time that it’s Norman Maclean who invented fly fishing. I wanted to go up there and experience what it must’ve been like for him. I’d think about it as, uh, getting closer to my kindred spirits, Norman and Paul Maclean.
Angler’s Covey: In all seriousness, you felt like you had that kind of experience?
Hank Patterson: It was an amazing experience. “Experience” is the right word. What we tried to capture [in the film] is that this is what it was like to go on that road trip for 11 days.
Angler’s Covey: Where did you geographically start and end the road trip? What ground did you cover in your 11 day road trip, pilgrimage?
Hank Patterson: We started in Boise, Idaho and went north through Salmon, Idaho. Then we dropped into Montana and went straight to Missoula. Spent a fair amount of time in Missoula fishing because that’s, you know, where Norman Maclean was — up in that area. We fished different sections of the Blackfoot River.
We were supposed to fish the Missouri River but something fell through. That’s when I called [the local realtor lady] and said “hey do you want to go fish with me.” So, yeah, I decided to hit on a girl instead. There’s a love interest in the film. it’s one of my favorite parts actually.
Then we headed to Bozeman and fished up and down the Gallatin — because that’s where they shot the film [“A River Runs Through It”] mostly. Then we went up to Livingston and the guys at the Sweetwater Fly Shop and the Sweetwater Travel Company put us up at a really killer place on the Yellowstone. The Yellowstone blew out the day we were supposed to float it.
Then we fished Depuy’s Spring Creek, which reminded me of my favorite creek, Silver Creek, in Idaho. We fished the Boulder River where it snowed 10-12” while we were shooting. So, yeah, we ended around Livingston. Honestly, we didn't cover hardly any of the state. There’s so much of it.
Angler’s Covey: What time of year were you there, then?
Hank Patterson: We were there in early October 2013.
Angler’s Covey: Is this a 90-minute movie? 2-hour?
Hank Patterson: It runs a little over an hour. The goal was to come in under an hour. The event is … I come out and talk, maybe answer a few questions. Take a little break and then roll the film. We’ll have a raffle. We’re aiming for a good 2-hour evening. We’d rather have people say “oh man, I could have watched another 30 minutes.” We’d prefer that instead of “my hell, they should’ve ended that thing 30 minutes ago.”
It’s pretty cool that the screening can do a very small thing like helping organizations like Project Healing Water there in Colorado Springs or Reel Recovery in Idaho Falls. In Helena, we’ll benefit the local Trout Unlimited. That’s what we try do at every stop.
Angler’s Covey: So when folks leave the theatre — what do you want them thinking?
Hank Patterson: “Man, that would’ve been a helluva trip to be on.”
Special Screening of “Hank Patterson’s Reel Montana Adventure” Details:
When: April 1, 2015
Where: Stargazer Theatre (10 S. Parkside Drive Colorado Springs, CO)
Time: 6:00 p.m. for food and drinks; film starts at 7:00; Hank Patterson will be there to chat it up.
Host: Umpqua Feather Merchants and Angler’s Covey Fly Shop
Tickets: $12.00 @ Angler’s Covey (295 S. 21st St., Colorado Springs, CO) or online
All ticket holders will receive the Umpqua Koozie, Stickers, and raffle ticket set in an Umpqua bag.
Umpqua’s Tongass Waterproof Backpack ($229.99 value)
Umpqua Rocky Mountain Trout Fly Selection (139.99 value)
A portion of the proceeds support Project Healing Waters
Watch the trailer!
Orvis 101 Introduction to Fly Fishing
Orvis 201 Streamside