Oliver White’s YETI Golden Masheer Movie Adventure


Tales from the Wild, the Yeti Movie Tour of 2022, recently wrapped up its coast-to-coast road show — so, so, so, so sad if you never scored a ticket. But here’s your compensation prize: The headliner for this year’s tour is now exclusively available to stream on Field & Stream.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEMIRQ9ZAhQ

the movie, A thousand castes, is an incredible biopic and adventure that follows one of fly fishing’s most famous fly fishermen, Oliver White, as he travels to the Kingdom of Bhutan in search of the golden mahseer on the fly. It’s hard to say what’s more appealing – the pursuit of the mahseer, or the otherworldly wildlife that brought White to the doorstep of one of the world’s most remote fisheries.

We caught up with White as he stood on the banks of the South Fork of the Snake River in Idaho, watching the drift boats weave past the famous South Fork Lodge. Which White bought with fishing buddy Jimmy Kimmel two years ago. But that’s another story. For now, check out the story of the latest chapter in White’s life.

F&S: I don’t want to spoil the script for viewers, but what many people may not realize was the challenge of getting permission to do this project. Tell me what had to be done with the royal family of Bhutan to get the green light.

Oliver White: At the time we made the film, you couldn’t fish in Bhutan without permission from the royal family. And beyond that, there is a river that could only be fished by members of the royal family. However, we ended up taking leave and agreeing that one of the king’s bodyguards should accompany me to that river. This made for a truly unique experience, to say the least.

We filmed in November of 2017, and Felt Soul Media debuted the film at the 2019 Mountain Film Festival in Telluride, Colorado, where it won the Vimeo Staff Pick Award. A week later we received a cease and desist order from Bhutan. They asked us to wait for whatever the bodyguard said. This was a pain. And then Covid hit, so the shows got cut, and the delays just kept piling up.

the fisherman releases a trout with the boy
White helps his son release a cutting in Wyoming. Jeff Johnson

F&S: While you were in Bhutan, your wife was pregnant with your first son, who is now four years old. Lots of changes. You had a second child. Your signature lodge in the Bahamas was destroyed by Hurricane Dorian in September 2019. Now you have a new lodge in Idaho with Jimmy Kimmel as a partner. In the film you say that you gain a sense of purpose by being in situations where you feel… your term was “unbalanced.” Has this changed in any way?

OW: Not at all, man. Part of my success is the fact that I am a grinder. I put my head down and execute. When I’m in this mode of creation – this mode of building something – I find a lot of pleasure in it, but it requires a kind of crazy focus. When I was in Bhutan, the due date for our first child was November 28th, and I was supposed to return home around November 21st. There is no way to get through that kind of situation without focus.

Everyone talks about life balance, but the key for me is to sort it out and work through those challenges and then give myself time to come up for air and get perspective and see if and where and how to change gears That act of surfacing and recalibrating has been some of the most impactful and meaningful times I’ve had.

F&S: Acquiring one of the leading fishing houses in North America seems quite impressive and significant. Another phase of the grind coming?

OW: It has been a bittersweet change. My wife is Bahamian. My children are Bahamian. The Bahamas was a big chapter in my life. But I love the West. It’s a good place to raise a family. I’m excited about raising wild boys who go fishing, hunting and skiing. So yes. Another time of concentration.

And the South Fork is such an amazing river. I met Jim in the Bahamas and we have been fishing together for almost a decade. Fly fishing is truly one of his passions and we are approaching the lodge as something of a second home to him. When he brings his friends and family here, it’s all his. When he’s not here, we open it up to the public.

The opportunity here is staggering. The fishing is very good. Now we can make a difference by putting some love into South Fork Lodge, with ownership in place.

F&S: Across much of the West, drought has hit some of our most iconic waterways. In many areas, crowds fueled by the pandemic have gotten out of control. Climate change is upending entire ecosystems. It could be said that fly fishing in America is at an inflection point. You are definitely the Bulgarian for the future of fly fishing. Where is that positivity rooted?

OW: I completely agree. Climate change is real and happening and has real impacts. Man, you see it so immediately in the West. We’ve had the floods in Yellowstone, and there are rivers in Montana that are already on the owl schedule. I’ve been doing this all my life and I’ve never seen the demand like I do now. Which is a double edged sword. I want people to want what I want, but they have to be able to experience it first. There is the fear of falling in love to death.

But I think it’s good, so see how fly fishing is evolving with these challenges. The ethics associated with being a fisherman have evolved. From keeping the fish wet to providing the source, there is a more conscious effort across the board. And with so many people chasing trout, it’s great that it’s now considered okay to fly fish for carp. It is good to fly fish for smallmouth bass. When I started driving, everyone looked down on those kinds of pursuits. So I have a lot of respect for anglers who are pushing the boundaries of what fly fishing can be.





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