'Mending the Line'
Frank Moore stood in France's Selune River, fly rod in hand, hoping to land one of its big Atlantic salmon like the one he spied there nearly 70 years ago.
As a U.S. Army sergeant who was part of the Normandy Invasion in 1944, the rubbernecking Moore was in a half-track crossing the Selune when he saw a freshly caught salmon, perhaps 25 pounds, hanging on a nail.
The Oregon fly-fisher in him wanted to jump out of the half-track and have at it, but the European Theater of War had something else to say about that.
But in his return to Normandy last May, Moore waded the Selune with a different kind of theater in mind. He cast for salmon as digital cameras whirred and sound techs hung booms to capture Moore's musings of fishing the river he first saw as a D-Day soldier.
"I didn't do any good," says Moore, 91. "I didn't hook anything."
But it is one of many homecoming moments for Moore chronicled in a new film documenting the return of Oregon's most famous fly-fisher — and one of America's most recognized conservationists — to his World War II haunts.
A 20-minute version of the film "Mending the Line" headlines the 2014 International Fly Fishing Film Festival that's set for a Jan. 18 showing in Portland.
The festival debuted Jan. 3 in Calgary and was sold out the following day in Denver. It will crisscross the United States all year, with viewings also scheduled in South America. It concludes Dec. 8 in Argentina.
A full-length version of "Mending the Line" also is in the works, with a screening planned in early March in Roseburg, near Moore's Idlwyld Park home on the North Umpqua River.
In the film, Moore fly-fishes many of the streams he saw as part of the D-Day force, and he visits many of the residents he helped liberate. The trek fulfills some of Moore's life-long goals while also raising awareness for the many fellow soldiers who never made it past some of those streams during the war.
He was joined on the journey by his son, Frankie, and Jeanie, his wife of 70 years.
The film is produced by John Waller, a Drain High School graduate and co-owner of Uncage the Soul Video Productions in Portland.
He filmed two shows last summer about Moore and his storied life that aired on Oregon Public Broadcasting's "Oregon Field Guide" and "Travel Oregon" shows. Moore, the founder of the Steamboat Inn and a storied wild fish conservationist, was inducted four years ago into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, and he still wades nimbly and casts smoothly and accurately on the North Umpqua.
"When you make a documentary about someone, you really get swept up in their life," Waller says. "And his life is extraordinary."
Waller says one of the most unique aspects of Moore that comes out in the film is his incredible ability to recall intimate details of often horrific battles.
While driving out of a small hamlet one day, Moore remembered the road so well that he recalled they would reach a fork in the road soon, Waller says. When they did, Moore told of an intense battle there with German soldiers which included many acts of heroism and lost life.
"We were all standing there in this most peaceful spot you can imagine, and the scene he was describing was the exact opposite," Waller says.
Jeanie Moore then broke an eerie silence by marveling at the wildflowers, a passion of her's.
The scene is in the film.
For Moore, the most intense moment came just before a Memorial Day celebration at Utah Beach, where Moore had landed during D-Day.
The Moores walked the beach as Frank Moore spoke of the terror of storming the beach.
Moore found the exact cut in the sea wall where he ran that day. Watching his son step through it became overwhelming.
"Watching Frankie walk right up through the slot through the dune that I walked through in 1944. Boy, that really grabbed my guts," Moore says.
At the many stops and ceremonies he attended, Moore was showered with praise and thanks. Two current German soldiers on leave to see the Memorial Day ceremonies thanked Moore for their freedoms.
"That was something," Moore says.
And all the autographs. Moore says he signed so many in his two weeks there that his hand and arm ached upon his return.
"I signed everything from baseball hats to ties to little scraps of paper and helmets," he says. "It was quite an experience."
Moore says he hasn't seen the film, just a short trailer used to publicize the festival.
"It'll be interesting to see what they come up with," Moore says.
This is a fly-fishing film festival, and while much of the tension and drama center around revisiting the past, some fly-fishing did occur.
But not much, Moore says.
"I caught two trout, and no salmon," Moore says. "They always wanted me to fish in the ideal light and the ideal spot, not where the fish will be."
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MarkCFreeman