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The Fish Bum Diaries

His head still pounding from too much goat-milk vodka the night before, Justin Crump makes the best of idle time waiting for his backwoods shuttle van to pick him up along the true backwaters of Mongolia.

Onto massive saltwater hooks, Crump lashes foot-long strands of course hair trimmed off a yak's back at a nearby village. It's a new streamer fly the wayward anglers have concocted to pick a fight with taimen, those 40-pound, 50-year-old Mongolian trout that Crump and his band of fishing bums are after.

But after a few flies, the van's a no-show. Augie, the group's guide and translator, mounts a borrowed horse and heads 6 miles through the darkness to find the van. At least it wasn't on a camel like last week.

"It was all pretty insane," recalls Crump, 24, of Grants Pass. "You just come to expect that nothing will work the way you expect."

Expectations don't weigh down Crump and his fellow Fish Bums, whose globe-trotting journeys to pursue the world's most exotic fish on flies expose them to angling mystiques never available to more pedestrian anglers mired in work, responsibility and other trappings of reality.

New Zealand for two months, Patagonia for four months. Or even their latest venture — 62 days in Mongolia last fall to catch taimen, the world's largest landlocked trout found so far off the beaten path that only beaten paths, not roads, criss-cross the landscape.

"We took horses and camels and just kept on pushing, getting as far away from the roads as we could," says Crump. "It's one of the most intense wildernesses you've ever been in, but with people there. And the fishing was just incredible at times."

And the best thing about these angling vagabonds is they like to share.

The self-taught videographers have put together two "Fish Bum Diaries" movies chronicling their Endless Summer-like pursuit of the best casting for the best trout in the best fishing waters around the world.

They are packaged as part of a series of short fly-fishing movies the group is taking on a tour this winter. Stops Monday and Wednesday were in Bend, and the tour hits Portland Wednesday.

A Saturday showing planned for Ashland proved too difficult to organize quickly and will take place some time in the spring, Crump says.

The 2008 Fly Fishing Film Tour is drawing hundreds of Fish Bum wannabes along each stop of its 70-plus city tour.

The films have the feel of that 1966 surfing documentary "Endless Summer," but on steroids. Huge taimen, fast music, crazy travel plans, the discovery of yak-hair tube flies and, yes, that strange milk vodka called "the silent death," because catatonic sleep can sneak up quickly after too many cup-sized shots.

"It's mostly the story of traveling through the country, the obstacles that we had and all the time we spent fishing," Crump says. "It's our story."

It's not your father's fly-fishing show.

The Fish Bums loath the tweedy snootiness of conventional fly-fishing television. These guys are all about fishing on the cheap.

"Fly-fishing's not just about the rich old white guys going to some expensive resort," Crump says. "I know so many people who go with pennies in their pocket and fish.

"This gives a voice to the young people out there who fly-fish," he says. "Every other lifestyle sport has their media. We're trying to shine some light on ours."

Crump came honestly to the fly-fishing lifestyle. He grew up casting for sea-run cutthroat trout in Puget Sound, eventually migrating to Montana and earning his drop-out status at Western Oregon University.

He met up with Trout Bum founder Chris Owens for a New Zealand expedition in 2005, when the four Bums filmed more than 100 hours of brown trout and rainbow trout adventures.

They broke the film down and put together a DVD, which they sell on the tour.

Crump and Owens manage and promote the tour via their AEG Media — short for Angling Exploration Group — out of a corner office at the Orange Torpedo rafting company in Merlin since late 2006.

Keeping true to their name, the Fish Bums aren't getting rich on their ventures. The film tour and DVD sales are paying their way and they've cached a host of industry sponsors.

Their next adventure begins later this year, when the Fish Bums hop a 1978 Airstream motor home fueled with bio-diesel to chronicle their steelhead-fishing adventures in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

The trip will do more than keep honest employment at arm's length and legitimate attire in someone else's closet.

"We love steelhead," Crump says. "It's going to be a great adventure."

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

Justin Crump of Grants Pass holds a large taimen caught on a yak-hair fly in Mongolia. He’s surrounded by his fellow Fish Bums who cumulatively created the film Fish Bum Diaries about their Mongolian adventure.