Rivers of a Lost Coast Justin Coupe

Rivers of a Lost Coast Justin Coupe
Rivers of a Lost Coast is a documentary about the so-called "Golden Age of California North Coast Fly Fishing." If that sentence alone has you thinking, "Oooh, tell me more," then this film should be sought, bought and treasured. If not, well, let's just say the film might hold considerably less sway. A talking head and archival footage documentary about the post-WWII fly fishing boom that took place in the California wilds, not more than a hour's drive away from the San Francisco Bay Area, Rivers of a Lost Coast attempts to capture the history and reveal the personalities behind that most solitary of past-times. The film is loosely structured around the lives of two men, Bill Schaadt and Ted Lindner, prodigious talents and bitter rivals who revolutionized the sport with new technology and revolutionary techniques. Rivers glosses over Schaadt and Lindner's flaws, particularly painting a romantic portrait of the reclusive Schaadt, a man who became a hermit and a scrounger, devoting every aspect of his life to the pursuit of fish. The film also traces the ebb and flow of fishing in the Smith and Russian rivers, from the floods and droughts that changed the landscape to the fly-fishing mania of the '50s and '60s to the radically changed ecosystem that many of the film's cantankerous old subjects are now involved in conserving. You don't need to have ever donned a pair of hip waders to guess that the population of massive Chinook salmon and steelhead trout has depleted over the years due to over-fishing, ill-advised hatcheries, destructive dam projects and a handful of natural disasters. Ultimately, Rivers of a Lost Coast is an admirable film, but it loses its way in tracing the stories of these eccentric anglers by trying to cover too much ground. (Rivers of a Lost Coast)