“A Journey Upstream” full film on YouTube 12/20/2021 at 7pm!

It isn’t often that two college students from Brookville, Maryland, make a movie that is seen by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, and it’s rarer still when their subject is about the importance of clean water to two pivotal fish species in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. 

Braker brothers. (Left, Eric) (Right, Andrew)

“My brother and I are young anglers who want to make a film about the importance of clean water to brook trout and striped bass, and we wondered if we could interview you and maybe do a session out on the Bay?”

That was the email message I got back in June of 2020 when I first heard of Andrew and Eric Braker and learned about their film project, A Journey Upstream.

Our main goal is to create a fly-fishing film that highlights the fun and beauty of our two favorite native Maryland fisheries and acquaints the public with the concepts of habitat connectivity, water quality, and conservation. We also hope it inspires people to get out on the water for themselves.”

I was intrigued, not just because it involved fishing but also because Andrew and Eric were speaking the language of environmentalism from an angling perspective, something we don’t hear as often as we should. When they sent me some snippets of the elegant video footage they had already collected – including interviews with Dylan Taillie, an environmental communicator for the University of Maryland, and John Neely, the chair of the Maryland Sports Fishing Commission – I couldn’t wait to join the project.

Andrew and Eric traveled across the Bay Bridge to my fishing workshop on Kent Island along with their friend and ace photographer, Kirk Marks. With the cameras rolling, we sat in my worn leather recliners and discussed their vision for the project. Before long, we had a fishing trip planned.

I won’t give away the details except to say we caught a dish-calm August day that started with breaching dolphins and breaking rockfish and ended with vivid lightning and violent thunder as we raced a summer squall across the Bay.

A few months after the trip, and no doubt after countless editing hours that even made my sloppy fly casting look good, Andrew sent me an excited text message to say that the film had been selected by the Fly Fishing Film Tour. The “F3T” as it is nicknamed, is arguably the most prestigious collection of short films in the world of fly angling. The films are meticulously selected from hundreds of entries, then taken on the road to theaters all over the United States, Canada, and eight other countries. As a result of the pandemic, in addition to in-person screenings, the tour went virtual this year allowing for an even bigger audience.

A Journey Upstream is a huge success, collecting several awards along the way including the Lefty Kreh Youth Film of the Year. It has established the Braker Brothers as influential and creative sources in the world of fly-fishing. In addition to the F3T, it was selected for other important film tours and has received rave reviews from pretty much everyone who is interested in preserving and protecting the outdoor places we love. 

Andrew and Eric have graduated from college and moved on to other intriguing film projects. Fortunately, A Journey Upstream is now available for everyone to watch on YouTube. I hope you enjoy watching it with a fraction of as much fun as we had on the day we went fishing. I think you’ll agree that the Braker Brothers met the goals of promoting habitat and conservation that they outlined in their first email to me. They especially nailed the last one – A Journey Upstream REALLY makes me want to go fishing!

A Journey Upstream premiers at 7:00 PM on December 20th. YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/f-Q-YriUDFQ

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay works hard to preserve and protect habitats for important species like native brook trout. Interested in more content exploring the relationship between fish and their habitat?

Trout in the Classroom: https://www.allianceforthebay.org/2018/04/trout-in-the-classroom/

Stream Restoration: https://www.allianceforthebay.org/2015/11/protecting-one-of-marylands-pristine-brook-trout-streams-with-the-chesapeake-forest-fund/

The State of Brook Trout – 2021 Sportsman’s Forum; https://youtu.be/fT5L_UG82fk

Shawn Kimbro, Alliance board member and author of three popular fishing books, Chesapeake Light Tackle, An Introduction to Light Tackle Fishing on the Chesapeake Bay, The Right Stuff, Gear and Attitudes for Trophy Light Tackle Fishing, and How To Catch Chesapeake Panfish. His books are instructional and inspirational with a strong emphasis on environmentalism and ethical fishing. A frequent speaker to fishing clubs, conservation groups, and environmental organizations, he is recognized and respected across the Chesapeake region as a leading voice for stewardship within the fishing community.