Looking for his next great fishing adventure, the self-proclaimed, “world’s greatest fly fishing guide” Hank Patterson is making his first trip to Alaska this weekend as part of the traveling Trout Unlimited Film Festival.
After previous stops in Idaho, Wyo. and Utah, Travis Swartz, also known as Hank Patterson from his YouTube videos, will be the master of ceremonies for the Kenai Chapter Trout Unlimited Fly Fishing Film banquet Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center.
Mark Wackler, TU board member said as of Thursday, only six tickets were available online and he expects a sold-out show with the 180 guests filled to capacity at the visitors center. Tickets for the fundraiser are $20 per person with all proceeds from the films and silent auction to benefit the Kenai Peninsula Chapter of Trout Unlimited’s environmental and conservation projects, he said.
Swartz, from Boise, Idaho, arrived on the fly fishing scene in 2012 after shooting a documentary for Reel Recovery, that followed a group of men with cancer on a three-day fly fishing retreat. Swartz submitted the video in a film making humor category because with his experience with fly fishing videos, “the bar is set pretty low,” he said.
His video “Fish On” raised $21,035 for cancer research and won “Best Humor” award at the Drake Magazine Fly Fishing Awards show in 2012. Since then he created the Hank Patterson persona with YouTube videos offering his “sage” advice on topics from fishing to how he would resolve the Pebble Mine issue.
“It started as this fishing guide giving amazing advice with my unique humor and took off,” Swartz said. “People started sending me free fly rods and we thought we should keep doing this.”
Wackler said Swartz is a big addition to this year’s film festival.
“He is super charismatic and witty,” he said. “His creative videos add a lot to the event and people will enjoy having him here. He is worth the price of admission.”
Doors open at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Kenai visitors center with the first film starting at 7 p.m. Wackler said a handful of videos will be shown over the course of two hours. A couple Alaskan submissions including one from Magnetic North, called “Long Live the Kings,” has interviews with Kenai River guides talking about the changing regulation on king salmon and should be the most discussed of the evening, he said.
While in Alaska, Swartz said he looks forward to fly fishing the Kenai River in Cooper Landing, going steelhead fishing, and just chilling out and soaks up the Alaskan experience while meeting locals and making connections as a precursor to a future Alaskan video.
Kenai TU treasurer Brendyn Shiflea invited Swartz to come up for the festival and will serve as one of his guides to fishing on the Kenai Peninsula.
“Coming to Alaska is on every single fisherman’s bucket list,” Swartz said. “I was stoked when I was invited up. The ability to go to different places and meet other fly guys and be able to share our fishing experiences is pretty amazing.”
As for what guests can expect from Hank Patterson, Swartz said he will talk as long as they will let him and just have fun with the crowd.
“Expect me to say a bunch of funny stuff and give advice on how to handle bears and help you forget everything you knew about fishing knowledge and technique,” he said. “It is a huge opportunity for Alaska to have me. I have had so many guys want to take a picture with me it’s like I’m Goofy at Disneyland.”
To view Travis Swartz videos visit www.hankpatterson.com
Reach Dan Balmer at firstname.lastname@example.org