Our good friend, angler, photographer, and ambassador, Russ Schnitzer, @schnitzerphoto, on what he's been up to lately, his favorite tunes and fly fishing photography. We saved one of his "big catch" stories to share with you another day!
NAME: Russ Schnitzer
WHERE YOU LIVE: Denver, Colorado
WHAT YOU DO FOR A LIVING: Photographer and filmmaker
WHAT YOU DO FOR FUN: Fly fish, run, cycle (mountain and road), tie flies, travel, cook
WHAT'S GOING ON IN YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW?
There's always a lot going on, and that's how I like to maintain things. My most recent film, "Wild Fish Works," was part of the Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T), and I just spent some road time at those events sharing it with like-minded anglers and conservationists.
I'm working on several projects in 2015. One is a longer-term documentary based in Tillamook County, Oregon, which involves still photography and a short film. I'll also be working on a short documentary based in the Uncompahgre River watershed in western Colorado, and another story-driven piece for an outdoor industry trade association. There are always commercial photo gigs in the pipeline, as well as freelance story assignments.
Without giving too much away, the next one involves muskies, fly rods, and a little road trip with a couple fishy characters.
Finally, I have a nine month-old boy, Bowie, who is still something quite new in my life. I'll be taking him with me as much as possible, and making sure he spends plenty of time on the water and under the stars.
WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
My playlist includes a lot of "old stand-by" albums- Pavement, Built To Spill, Modest Mouse, Radiohead, Silver Jews, Sonic Youth, Uncle Tupelo, Robert Earl Keen, anything with Jason Molina. For newer stuff, lately I've been in to Purple, Tame Impala, Alt-J.
FAVORITE LIBATION? Tanqueray & tonic.
YOUR BEST RIVERS?
My response may be an easy one to anticipate, since it is like being asked to choose a favorite song. There are so many favorites, for many different reasons.
Some are sentimental, others just plain reliable. Most of my favorites, just as is the case for many others, are the ones I know best, as well as those that have figured substantially in different chapters of my life.
There is a little creek in southwestern Wisconsin's Driftless Area and another in Wyoming that will always be among the most special in my life.
Other favorites include a handful in Idaho, such as the Selway River. One particular Idaho stream helped me through a pretty rough patch, and served as a seasonal backdrop to my academic career. It will always mean a great deal to me, for reasons well beyond the fishing, though the fishing was and remains exceptional.
Other favorite spots to fish aren't rivers or creeks. I have a long history with Northcountry lakes of the Canadian Shield, including Lake of the Woods and those located within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
I also treasure the saltwater flats and lagoons of Belize, Ascension Bay, and Florida's 10,000 Islands.
PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FOR THE RIVER?
1) Don't expect to get many great shots if you're trying to both fish and make photographs. You'll get some, but you won't get much variety, and your head won't fully be in either game.
2) Don't worry about your photo gear getting dunked. If the cost of your equipment is a concern, make sure you have good insurance and get out there and get after it. The more you fret about the safety of your camera/lens, the less you'll be shooting.
3) Fly fishing, just like many other pursuits, is about much more than just a fish, or a grip-and-grin shot. Try to tell a story through your eyes, even if you're only out for a half-day. You witness something unique and special that happens every time you go out.
HOW DO YOU TRUST THE WILD?
I grew up in a rural corner of the Upper Midwest, and was fortunate to be able to tromp around in swamps and woods, fishing and hunting and learning. These things made sense to me, and became the lens through which I looked at the rest of the world.
As the years passed, I watched some of the places where I had many special experiences get plowed under, destroyed, to make way for utterly ridiculous things like golf courses and cookie-cutter homes. The realization hit heavily: Once these places are gone, they're gone forever. No other kids will be able to share in those experiences. Instead, they have more excuses than ever to get lost in their iPads and televisions with video games and the Internet.
To me, Trust the Wild means respecting the value of being outside and getting after it, however one chooses to do so. Get dirty, make some mistakes, go further than planned and don't come home early. The experience is everything.
New adventures are always ready to be made. Trust the Wild is trusting in one's self to do more, see more, and be more.