5 Movies About Fishing Every Angler Must Watch
Glorious Fishing Movies
We can't always be on the lake, ocean, or river fishing, but we can always think about it. Fishing is one of those sports that Hollywood loves to use to show someone's contemplative nature or use for some beautiful shots of a river. Either way, I'm here for it, and I'm cooking up some of my favorite movies (and documentaries) that give fishing more than just a nod (sorry, Jaws I-IV is not on the list). So grab some Raisinettes and some popcorn, and let's start the feature.
A River Runs Through It (1992)
First on my list has a pretty young Brad Pitt. A River Runs Through It, directed by Robert Redford, is based on the novella by Norman Maclean, and it launched the career of Brad Pitt and boosted interest in fly fishing which is always a good thing. The fly-fishing industry saw a whopping 60 percent increase in 1992, the year the movie came out, and grew by another 60 percent in 1993.
Interesting little trivia: the trout used in the movie were pond-raised in Montana and were kept in a specially aerated and cooled tank truck until their big moment in front of the cameras. The production team used no hooks, and no blood was drawn. The crew just tied a line to each fish's lower jaw under the careful observance of the Montana Humane Society.
Even as it celebrates it's near 30th anniversary, the movie continues to captivate viewers who resonate with its story of tragedy, family, the American West, and fishing.
Salmon Fishing In The Yemen (2011)
This movie is pure joy to watch. What makes this such a joy is its mischievous sense of humor. But it also has irreverence toward the British government, the delightful acting of leads Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, and plenty of unpredictability. You will enjoy an awful lot of laugh-out-loud moments, a few possible tears, and a bit of excitement.
Visionary Sheikh Muhammed (Amr Waked) believes his passion for the peaceful pastime of salmon fishing can enrich the lives of his people (which we all know about), and he dreams of bringing the sport to the not so fish-friendly desert. Willing to spare no expense, he instructs his representative to turn the dream into reality, an extraordinary feat that will require the involvement of Britain's leading fisheries expert, Dr. Jones (Ewan McGregor), who happens to think the project both absurd and unachievable.
Unlike Brad Pitt in The River Runs Through It, Ewan McGregor had to learn how to fly fish for his role as Dr. Alfred "Fred" Jones. A great Friday night movie date flick.
Low And Clear (2012) (Documentary)
J.T., the thoughtful even-keeled son of Townes Van Zandt — songwriting legend, believes there's more to fishing than catching fish. We are first introduced to J.T. on the Texas Gulf Coast, as he explains that it's a mistake to assume the purpose of fishing is catching fish and that instead, fishing is "a micro-examination of life itself." Just as we are settling into J.T.'s zen-like approach to life and fishing, we are startled back into reality thanks to the shouted profanity and ear-piercing chainsaw wielded by Alex "Xenie" Hall, a fishing legend in Colorado. Short-tempered Xenie, a "firewood salesman," disagrees and fishes like it's a race against time. The two crossed paths years ago as Xenie slowly started becoming J.T.'s mentor.
Very few movies or stories deal directly with the emotions involved in male bonding: rivalry, support, introspection. To see this between two such different personality types is quite interesting, especially since almost every shot in the movie could be directly from a nature photography exhibit. When J.T. says, he is at his best and worst while fishing, we immediately understand that it's the only time he can truly be himself.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
Ever since What About Bob and even earlier Caddyshack, Bill Murray has been on my list of favorite actors. This Wes Anderson joy ride is part parody and part love story. Follow their zany adventures, including family dysfunction, romance, pirates, and vengeance on the high seas.
This movie is dedicated to Jacques-Yves Cousteau; Cousteau's ship was the "Calypso." Zissou's ship is called the "Belafonte"; Harry Belafonte became famous for singing calypso songs. In the beginning, sequence, when Zissou (Bill Murray) is first introduced to the Italian audience, the model of the "Belafonte" on his desk is a model of the "Calypso," painted blue instead of black.
Being old enough to have grown up with Jacques Cousteau, I felt Anderson captured the look and feel he was after with the "movie within the movie" sequences and the yellow typographical stuff was spot-on.
It's such a quirky and fun treat to watch. Enjoy.
Perfect Storm (2000)
I know. I know. Perfect Storm is more about a storm and less about fishing but, come on! You've got George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and John C. Reilly trapped on a boat together! In October 1991, a confluence of weather conditions combined to form a killer storm in the North Atlantic. Based on a true story and dedicated to ten thousand Gloucestermen lost at sea since 1623, The Perfect Storm is a powerful movie that will take you places to which you've never been before. Director, Wolfgang Peterson, has deftly crafted an intense rendering of the story of the Andrea Gail, a sword-fishing boat captained by Billy Tyne that left Gloucester, Massachusetts, in the fall of 1991 soon encountered the storm of the century.
After a less than profitable trip out, Captain Tyne (George Clooney) sets out again in October, with a crew of five men, and heads for deep water and a place known as the `Flemish Cap.' It's a dangerous trek for that time of year, but he assures his men that the catch will be worth the risk. What he could not foresee, however (nor could any meteorologist), was that three significant storms would converge to form a single storm, the likes of which comes along only once in every one hundred years or so. Fate steps in further when, after their catch is made and their ice-making machine burns out. Which means they had no means of packing and preserving the fish. They had no choice but to go back in, directly through the storm, lest the fish spoil, in which case all of their work, and the risks taken, would be for naught.
Final Thoughts on Fishing Movies
Whether it's shorts, documentaries, feature films, or anything in between, movies about fishing, fly fishing, and even bass fishing tales will forever capture our attention and entertain us for years to come. And when it comes to documentaries, there are many on various types of fishing and often offer a wealth of knowledge. There's always something to learn, even if it's what not to do.