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
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
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.