High Country Fly Fishing

High Country Fly Fishing | Beebower Productions

The $1,250.00 radio made a loud plopping noise as it splashed into the lake.  It slowly dropped three feet down in icy water before hitting the bottom of the chilly lake.  Everyone froze.  The main line of communication between Dad and his model just sank.

They needed that radio.  Someone needed to fish that thing out of the lake.  The model drew the short straw.  Surprisingly, despite the polar bear plunge, the radio worked perfectly.  That proved Dad’s motto:  it paid to get the best.

Dad’s idea for a serene fly-fishing shot started off with a splash.  But his due diligence the day before saved the shoot.   Dad’s location scouting led him to this high country lake that sat at about 11,000 feet elevation.  It was perfect:  scenic, stocked with trout and the sun hit it just right at sunrise.  He even worked out everyone’s position so the next morning would be a breeze.

To get in place for the sunrise shot, though, required hiking in at 0-dark-thirty.  Dad, his model and an assistant hiked in the bitter cold and pitch black to this lake at Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico. They battled attacking tree branches, uneven mountainous terrain and October temperatures hovering around 25 degrees. 

The trio lugged camera bags, tripods, a fog machine and, of course, fly fishing gear.  Once they reached the lake, the crew scrambled to their pre-assigned locations.  The assistant with the fog machine made it to the back of the lake.  The model waded out into the lake and promptly dropped the radio.  Dad set up his tripod and camera in the foreground.  Once the radio had been retrieved, they were ready.  But darkness and thick clouds enveloped them.  It was “a hurry up and wait” scenario.

While he waited, Dad contemplated the overcast skies.  One of two things could happen.  The clouds could completely sock in around the lake, ruining his chances for a stunning sunrise and requiring another early morning hike.  Or the clouds could part like a scene from a Biblical masterpiece letting warm rays of sun saturate the model and surrounding landscape in glowing colors.  He feared the first and hoped for the latter.

God must have been smiling on Dad that morning.  Just before the sun rose, the clouds parted, giving the rays of sun somewhere to go.  The shoot was on!   The model cast his line. The assistant ran the fog machine.  Dad worked the scene from about three different points, wanting to make sure he got the best shot.

The fishing line played an integral part in the shot.  Dad purposely chose a yellow line on the rod because it snapped out from the background.  But for maximum effectiveness, the model had to make sure the line reached far into the lake.  The model snapped the line over and over again for 40 minutes.  Dad shot and shot and shot as the line traveled various distances.  Finally he felt satisfied that he had captured the moment.

Back at the studio Dad used Photoshop to really make the yellow line jump out of the scene.  The impact of the line depended on the amount of light hitting it and the distance it traveled.  The winning photo needed a bit of touching up. 

Part of the line glowed yellow because plenty of light hit it.  The other part of the line needed tweaking in Photoshop because it was in the shadows.  But after hours of work, everything finally came together to create the serene fishing scene Dad imagined.

If you enjoyed our fish story, check out these fishing images from our Old West gallery as well as our Wildlife gallery. 


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