Dave Micus, Plum Island Sound

January 9th, 2006

Almost Famous, Part 2
Norman, Paul and Mick
By Dave Micus

Mick Faherty is an interesting guy with an interesting profession. Mick is a producer for Barrett Productions, a media company specializing in television shows about the outdoors and he travels the globe filming such programs as Elk Hunters Journal, Fly Fishing America, and Fly Fishing the World.

Which is pretty nice work if you can get it.

But before you hate Mick, realize that it was his own moxie that earned him what many (myself included) consider a dream job. Mick was just a sophomore at the University of Montana at Missoula when he heard a rumor that a movie based on an arcane fishing book was being filmed nearby. A little further digging uncovered that the movie was based on A River Runs Through It, the magnum opus of fly fishing fiction and Mick's favorite piece of literature, (even though it really is a novella). Answering this Karmic call, he left books and beer behind and, with his friend, Buck Simmons, headed straight to the Boulder River (where the film was shot), begged for a spot on the movie crew, and began a fly fishing filming career that continues to this day.

Mick spent that summer as a production assistant, while Buck landed a role in the film as Humph, one of the cronies of the McClean brothers who wisely decided not to "shoot the chutes." He crashed on Brad Pitt's couch, ("he's a great guy, but NONE of those shots were of him fishing"), played croquet between shooting days at Thomas McGuane's ranch, and, latter, nearly brokered a deal between Pitt and Jim Harrison to produce a film version of Harrison's novel, "A Good Day To Die." Best of all, Mick realized what many don't; that you can make a career of your passions.

Being a producer of fishing and hunting programs has its privileges. Once, while on a quest to rid his favorite river of the non-indigenous-illegally-introduced-trout-killing northern pike, Mick was having problems getting those voracious fish to take the large Dahlberg Diver he was swimming in front of their very noses. Most of us would have the option of continuing to flail with the Diver or change flies; Mick's solution was much more elegant. He speed dialed Diver inventor Larry Dahlberg, and, with a quick cellular on-stream tutorial, was soon clearing the river of the nemesis of his beloved trout.

But it hasn't been all fun and game fish for Mick. He once hired the Buck Simmons mentioned above to pilot him to scout remote filming locations in the mountains of Montana. They were gone for a week, going deep into the backcountry, catching fish in rivers and lakes that "were seeing their first ever dry flies." This was a particularly dry summer, and, on their return, they found that the Missoula airport was closed due to the proximity of forest fires. Their second option, Kalispell, was also closed, so they headed to the tiny airport at Thompson Falls. They were able to land only because this small airport had no tower-the airport had been requisitioned by the Forest Service and turned into their main base for fighting fires in the region and, had they requested permission to land, they surely would have been turned away.

There was no fuel available at Thompson Falls, so Mick and Buck borrowed a car and ferried gas can after gas can from the town to the plane until they had enough to make it to Sandpoint, Idaho, where Buck has a homestead. But the steep climb necessary to clear the mountains surrounding Thompson Falls exacted its toll on the small plane; the landing gear failed to fully retract and when Mick attempted to manually lift the wheels using a crank within the bulkhead designed specifically for that purpose, the handle turned freely in his now shaking hands. They were an hour and a half from their destination, which is a pretty long time to contemplate exactly where you'll spend eternity.

They circled the airport at Sandpoint, burning as much fuel as possible before attempting the landing. "Harnesses were tightened, loose things secured, and final prayers uttered," Mick explains. "When we hit, the wheels fold up and break away, tearing apart the underside of the plane. Chunks of aluminum fly everywhere, there is shrieking of tearing metal, and I bounce around violently in the cockpit. As we finally slow to a stop, enough of the fuselage is torn away so that I can see the ground beneath my feet where the floorboards used to be. We're both very bruised, but other than that completely ok." Shooting the chutes seems pretty tame in comparison.

My friendship with Mick (whom I call McFaherty) began when he contacted me and expressed interest in filming striped bass fisherman for his Fly Fishing America program. I readily agreed, though feeling that his own adventures would make a much more interesting story. And as I got to know him, I was assured that not only was he perfect to portray the fisherman's passion, but we'd have a hell of a lot of fun in the process.

As long as we didn't have to fly to any remote locations.

Note: The resulting program, The 127 Shuffle, will air on the Outdoor Life Network at 7pm and 11pm on Friday, January 13, and at 8:30 am on Monday, January 15. The revised River Runs Through It movie poster used in this article was done by photographer and writer Chris Di Guardia. ~ Dave

About Dave:

Dave Micus lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts. He is an avid striped bass fly fisherman, writer and instructor. He writes a fly fishing column for the Port City Planet newspaper of Newburyport, MA (home of Plum Island and Joppa Flats) and teaches a fly fishing course at Boston University.

Previous Dave Micus Columns

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