REVIEW: Where The Yellowstone Goes

Where the Yellowstone Goes starts not with trout but with chickens and irony. Then it jumps right into its premise–a 30 day float trip along the length of the Yellowstone, from the edge of the park to the Missouri River. The people are introduced and the reasons laid out, much like the nut graf in a magazine article, and then the focus shifts entirely onto the extended float down probably the most famous river in fly fishing.

For the viewer it’s an enjoyable low-key ride filled with breathtaking landscape and, as the opening blip foreshadows, understated quirkiness.


The movie is full of interesting people and you’re invited into their conversations in a way that seems like eavesdropping. Or, it’s akin to stepping up to a bar and joining a discussion that’s already been started. The discourse reminds me of my favorite fly fishing movie, Tarpon, in the best way.

My favorite scene involves the crew inviting Margot Aserlind, the widow of a fly fishing guide, for a day on the river near Livingston. It’s her first time on the water in years, and it becomes this tender moment recording the interplay between the river and the people who love it.

The movie takes a dark turn when the crew comes across the site of the Exxon oil pipeline that breached in July of 2011, dumping 63,000 gallons of crude into the river. This event serves as the gateway for the movie to deliver a strong conservation message.

I love the movie’s languid pace. The soundtrack is fantastic if mellow but it reminds that for many practitioners fly fishing is a contemplative–not extreme–sport. The fly fishing scenes are realistic rather than heroic as the protagonist–the director Hunter Weeks–is a neophyte and just learning. This seems appropriate, how many people have been introduced to the sport during family vacations to Yellowstone? (There is one pretty awesome fly scene where Robert Hawkins, the fly fishing guide on the trip, duels a carp.)

Overall, Where the Yellowstone Goes is an atypical but enjoyable fly fishing movie (and the only one with a sheep rescue). Then again, it’s not really a fly fishing movie. But if you love this river or find meaning in any body of water, you will enjoy this story.

For more information, go to Where The Yellowstone Goes.

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