Last Chance to Get It Right – by Gregory Fitz PT – 2

© Cameron Karsten Photography photographs steelhead fly fishing on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State for Patagonia and the Wild Steelhead Coalition

I grew up in the PNW and the Olympics acted as my backyard as soon as I was able to drive. My friends and I would pile in and we’d take the long winding highways to the coast in search of waves, bonfires and whatever the weather had in store for us. Rarely did we stop at the rivers. We sought the confluences where freshwater met salt; a long journey’s end or just the start for a molecule of water. And likewise for the sea-run rainbow trout, or better known as steelhead.

This project written by colleague Gregory Fitz and published by Patagonia was an honor, a return to my backyard after the long self-isolated stretch of COVID shutdowns and a reawakening into the beauty, fragility and wildness that the Olympic Peninsula is. Like the waves I’ve spent countless hours feeling roll over my back and sliding like a river under my feet, the steelhead of the OP move with the tides, and the way we manage our fisheries. In the words of writer and angler Fitz, “Instead of arguing for more opportunities to keep pounding on fish, we should be fighting for policies that give their populations time to rebuild. We should be proud to catch fewer fish, even if that means closing rivers when it is necessary.”

Last Chance to Get It Right by Gregory Fitz, published by Patagonia.

Last Chance to Get It Right – by Gregory Fitz PT – 1

© Cameron Karsten Photography photographs steelhead fly fising on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State for Patagonia and the Wild Steelhead Coalition

The Olympic Peninsula (OP) is home to one of the last remnants of primeval temperate rain forest in the continental United States, but it is the rivers that draw anglers to the coast each winter. Named for the Indigenous peoples who’ve lived here for thousands of years, the Hoh, Queets, Quinault, Quillayute, Elwha and other rivers are volatile, wild watersheds with a powerful strain of large steelhead that evolved to migrate during the cold winter deluge.

The above is an excerpt from an article written by Gregory Fitz for Patagonia regarding the state of wild steelhead within the wild tributaries of The Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. I had the pleasure of photographing Greg, Steve Duda (Patagonia’s Managing Editor for Fly Fishing), Matt Millette (Head of Marketing, Patagonia Fly Fishing) and Gray Struznik (Fly Fishing Legend and Guide) for two days as they floated, waded and wandered the waters in search of the seasonal steelhead run.

The published article speaks for itself. It is poignant, crafted with an ease of the need to spring to action, as well as consider all parties involved. Gregory paints a picture of the OP as it is – a rainforest of endless ferns, brambles, huckleberries and salal with climbing towers of ancient breathing wood carpeted with wet mosses. It is a place of beauty that is on the edge of imminent disaster.

Can we embrace restraint and become guardians of these rivers and wild fish, instead of mobs of enthusiastic user groups? Long days of fishing give a guy plenty of time to dwell on this question. When I’m leaning against the current, and the fly is swinging through the cold water at the right speed, I find myself settling into a blend of gratitude and anticipation that I struggle to describe to anyone who isn’t an angler. Time seems to slow, and I feel connected to the river, the ancient cycle of fresh and saltwater, and the weight of what we have already lost. I want to believe that we can do better and demand better of our peers. If we can’t meet this higher standard, then the only option is for all of us to stop fishing here until we can adequately honor the privilege, and our responsibility, instead of taking it for granted.

I offer the link to the full article published on Patagonia’s website Last Chance to Get It Right as well as additional photography from this winter’s assignment. Speak up for our planet and take action with the following organizations:

Wild Steelhead Coalition

The Nature Conservancy

American Rivers

“End of the Line” Meta Magazine Issue #19

For more, visit www.cameronkarsten.com

Meta Magazine (A Life Well Ridden) – “End of the Line”

© Cameron Karsten Photography photographs Jann and Boe for Meta Magazine as they fly fish and camp while riding the WA Discovery Route in Washington State

This was not supposed to be my trip. A buddy of mine, Paris Gore, photographer extraordinaire and skilled pilot, called me up and dropped few details. He was out, busy with other projects, and knowing my flyfishing experience and love of motorcycles, he thought I’d be interested.

Honestly, I was hesitant. Unsure of the crew, the route, the timing, the COVID. I called the writer, Jann Eberharter, fellow angler and rider leading the charge. We chatted, and soon I was in. No need to blink. And thank god I didn’t because the proposed trip for Meta Magazine was a must.

Below is an excerpt from End of the Line, written by Jann Eberharter for Volume 19 of Meta Magazine (A Life Well Ridden):

“Darkness began to surround us as we rolled out of out sleeping bags on the edge of a beautiful stretch of water some 20 miles south of town. A big chunk of concrete served as a perch above the hole, letting us cast into the black abyss, wait for a tug, and then set the hook with a loud ‘Yeowww!’ The fish were hungry enough that we kept serving up an all-you-can-eat buffet of stimulators and chubby Chernobyls, prolonging our own dinner late into the evening.”

Visit www.CameronKarsten.com for more.

Wonderful Machine Blog: Cameron Karsten Helps Sage Fly Fish Market Itself to New Demographics

Here’s a nice little write up at Wonderful Machine’s blog. The original post can be found here.

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A leap of faith that companies take from time to time involves marketing themselves to demographics outside their main consumer base. It’s a risk, to be sure, considering the number of resources these companies need to invest in this kind of advertising push. This is what fishing rod manufacturer Sage Fly Fish, with the help of photographer Cameron Karsten, is trying to do.

Fly fishing is mostly known as a retiree’s sport, so Sage wants to break the old model and show imagery of all persons young and old, as well as shots of both seasoned anglers and novices.

Sage is a leading brand in this market, and it sells products for a wide variety of fishing locations, from freshwater streams to saltwater oceans. As a result, Cameron has done a good bit of traveling in and out of the country.

Every season, Sage utilizes their imagery for the different seasonal fishing taking place around the globe. For example, there is a heavy winter steelhead run in the Pacific Northwest, so new products are unveiled for this technique during this season.

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These images are shot months in advance and are rolled out within their appropriate season, used on everything from social media channels to print runs in select fly-fishing periodicals. Their also published on the web for online sales and made into big banners for trade-shows.

Of course, fishing takes a ton of patience, but that’s to Cameron’s benefit. The hours-long process allows him to think creatively and try new things, which helps both him and the client.

Fly fishing is a very slow methodical process, whether sighting fish, working a hole in the river, or spey casting a stretch of nice running water. As a photographer, I have a lot of time to work the angles, get the shot of the cast, and then try something unique, creative, out-of-the-box.

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During these shoots I’m a fly-on-a-rock, following the angler as he fishes various holes and ripples, chasing tailing fish on the flats, or doing the basic mechanics of tying on a fly, changing line, or releasing a fish. The goal is to capture not only the cast, but the culture and story of a fly-fishing angler.

In getting the whole picture, Cameron sometimes has to create wide shots for specific uses. His arresting panoramas perfectly capture all there is to soak in while fishing in some gorgeous places, and they’re used quite nicely by Sage.

These wide shots are meant for large banner presentations at trade-shows or on the web. The goal is to show the beauty of the location with the subject within the setting. To set these up, I place the individual within the space and allow my eye to find the perfect positioning so I can capture the perfect cast that represents Sage and the sport. I then shoot plates surrounding the subject, which creates a large banner image once stitched together in PhotoShop. The images often render 4GB or more in size.

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Another nice development within these shoots is the sense of camaraderie amongst the brands that market products aimed at the same people. Where Sage wants to sell equipment, Patagonia wants to sell merchandise, and YETI wants to sell gear. As the person who mixes everything together, Cameron can produce batches of imagery that tell a full story and help each organization.

The great thing about this culture of fly fishing is there are so many high-end companies who want to work together — brands that have similar stories in their own light but look to affiliate with one another due to their experience, quality, and value. On a lot of these fly fishing campaigns, I’ve been able to bring on different partners. Companies like Patagonia and YETI have fantastic gear for all of these environments. So, to bring on these brands is wonderful and makes the whole adventure complete with quality equipment.

Below is a link to a booklet we shot on-location in Idaho, and more work can be found at www.CameronKarsten.com.

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Belize Pt 3 – Sage Fly Fishing

Belize Pt 2 – YETI

On water or land, there’s always a place to be thirsty and carry the right vessel.

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Belize Pt I – Dark Seas

There’s a place in paradise with a little casita along its shores. Here, the whole world slips away.

visit www.CameronKarsten.com

The Last Great Wild Place

The Olympic National Park is in my mind one of the last great wild places on earth. It’s absolutely remarkable with thick rich flora and fauna, and some of the last largest stands of trees. To venture into its rivers is an experience in and of itself, especially when you’re walking with two great anglers. Dylan Tomine and Nate Mantua are highly educated about the remaining wild fisheries around the world, especially the great steelhead runs along the West Coast. With Sage and Patagonia, I had the opportunity to spend two days wandering up and down the tributaries with them, and a host of other wildlife.

 

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STORMR Deer Camp: Into the Hoh Rainforest (Pt. IV)

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When there is a river nearby, there must be fish. Always bring your fly rod, seek the thrill and reel in those steelhead. Somewhere up the S. Fork Hoh River on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State on a Stormr assignment.

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