October 24, 2012
He's listed as one of the Trout Bums on the Costa Del Mar Explore site, but Brian Jill is neither a classic trout fisherman nor is he a bum.
Jill, who lives in Palm Harbor, FL, grew up in nearby Clearwater but attended college in Colorado, where he took a degree in anthropology and found a passion for fly fishing.
“Saltwater brought me back to Florida,” said Jill, 35.
Today, Capt. Jill is a Tampa Bay-area fishing guide and one of four roving video-journalists for the GeoFish film series. The ostensible goal of the GeoFish project is to “fish the entire planet, one continent at a time.” It's produced in partnership with Daytona Beach, FL-based Costa, and focuses on fly fishing in what Jill described as “the last great fisheries out there.” It's also a great tribute to contemporary digital film-making. Highlights of the adventures, as well as photos and tidbits, may be viewed online at Costa Del Mar Explore; the same website also has a link to buy the first DVD, featuring Mexico.
When I caught up with Jill, by telephone in September, the mission was halfway between North and South America, their Ford 250 awaiting shipment across the Darien Gap in Panama. Jill was also contemplating what'll be perhaps his biggest adventure of all: Fatherhood.
“My wife's awesome—she knew what she was getting into when we got married,” he said. “My friends and I, we go on these trips anywhere from a month and a half to two months, then we come back for production, then plan and prepare for the next trip.”
I asked him about some of their Pacific coast experiences.
“We started in Portland, Oregon, converting the truck to run on vegetable oil,” said Jill. “Driving south, we experienced some incredible areas… One of the places that stands out to me was Baja, Mexico. That southern area, around Magdalena Bay, is amazing, with offshore fishing second to none. Striped marlin fishing is off the hook! That was the first time we caught marlin on a flyrod. We went after them for 5 days, and on the third day, we found these fish busting schools of sardines, with frigatebirds diving down on them. We were trolling hookless teasers, and the fish were charging into our spread. We hooked 10 striped marlin on fly; even had a double on at one point!”
As one might expect, a fishing excursion covering thousands of miles and many months would also have a few low spots.
“We hit Belize in the rainy season,” Jill recalled. “That jungle exploring stuff was some of the most exciting to film, but we got stuck in a mudhole for three days. Couldn't get out. We set up our tents right there. We tried everything in our power to get the truck out; finally it took two tractors and two other trucks to pull us out. At that point I was ready to be back home!”
“We do everything in-house, as far as filming and editing,” Jill said of his traveling crew. “It's taken us some time to figure out the technical side of it. We all participate in front of the camera, behind the camera; whoever doesn't have a fishing rod in their hand, has a camera.”
In between his remote adventures, Jill has been cultivating a charter clientele around the tarpon, snook and redfish of the Tampa Bay area.
“Tampa hasn't been well known for fly fishing,” he said. “People hear Florida and they think Key West, Islamorada, but what we have here in Tampa, it's catching on. I get a lot of people from Europe or western U.S. states, traveling through Tampa, who want to get a quick day of fishing in. Around here locally, I'm also seeing a new generation of younger anglers starting to get into saltwater flyfishing.”
Jill guides out of a Hells Bay Waterman 18; his guide service, appropriately enough, is Lost Coast Anglers. He does, in fact, wear Costas... specifically the Blackfin frames with 580 Glass lenses in Green or Silver Mirror. "The green glasses are good on the shallow flats; they give good contrast."
When the “F2Veggie,” as the guys call it, gets into South America, Jill looks forward to fishing Bolivia for golden dorado, and finally southern Argentina, for sea-run brown trout. “We'll be working our way down there into March and April of next year,” he said.
Florida Sportsman will be watching!