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Film explores how fisherman is trying to save piece of coast

February 16, 2019

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — It was a made-to-order two days for fishing along Louisiana’s coast. The cerulean skies and deeper blue water against bottle green vegetation amplified these anglers’ main motivation for being out there — an effort to save this exquisite-yet-endangered coastline.

“We’re losing this land at such an alarming rate that I don’t know that we will be able to sustain this fishery for more than another 50 years,” says Lucas Bissett, of Low Tide Charters, as a drone flies overhead capturing sweeping footage of the encroaching Gulf of Mexico waters.

That footage would become part of an award-winning film, “Disparaitre-Disappearing,” documenting Bissett’s efforts.

Most have heard the frightening figures — a football field an hour, 1,300 acres of land a year are being lost to coastal erosion — related by Bissett, a fly-fishing guide based in Slidell, at the opening of the short film.

“We really are in a desperate situation,” Bissett later says. “And I’m telling myself I can’t just sit by and watch this place disappear.”

And he isn’t.

Bissett got the idea of planting a few black mangroves, with their dense root systems, to help stabilize the shoreline. Initially planting the shrubs on his own, his effort blossomed into a multiyear project supported by public and private entities. During the annual planting, the teams also collect the mangrove seeds, which area high school students grow for the next year’s plants.

“The reason that I’m so focused on making this a better place — it’s not something that I want to do, it’s something that I have to do,” Bissett says. “And that sort of drive is what’s kept me hyper-focused on making sure that the coast of Louisiana and the fishery I call home, the place that I make a living, stays the way it is now, or even better for the future, because my kids and grandkids deserve the opportunity to have the same fishery that I have now.”

“Disparaitre-Disappearing” (disparaitre is French for disappearing) was shot in fall 2017 for entry in the fly-fishing film circuit, and was chosen for the Orvis-Down the Hatch Fly-fishing Film Festival in April. But that was only the beginning, according to Bill Rodman, whose Baton Rouge video production company, The Bill Rodman Production Shoppe, filmed the six-minute-plus project in and around Hopedale and Delacroix.

The film aired on Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s “Louisiana: The State We’re In” before being screened at the State of the Coast conference in New Orleans in May. Rodman’s work (he runs the Production Shoppe with his wife, Flo Ulmer-Rodman) earned him his eighth Suncoast Regional Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the environmental program category. Anglers Bettering Louisiana’s Estuaries, The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, LPB and Rodman’s company partnered on the project.

The Suncoast Chapter of The NATAS recognizes excellence in the television broadcasting industry on a regional level.

Rodman, a veteran videographer also known for his years of work for WAFB, said he had never filmed in the Hopedale-Delacroix areas before.

“I usually fish and photograph in the marsh on the west side of the Mississippi,” he said. “I was amazed at the drastic changes that Lucas (Bissett) related in his own experience .

“I have had a lot of positive responses from fishermen on the stewardship displayed by Lucas Bissett in the film. Lucas is representative of a new wave of conservation-minded fly fishermen here in Louisiana and around the globe who put a priority on maintaining their respective fisheries for future generations.”

Also featured in the film is Patrick Banks, assistant secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, and Bailey Short, of Baton Rouge, owner of Southern Flats Louisiana Fly Fishing.

“He (Short) is equally passionate about saving the coast,” Rodman says.

In some of the film’s more fun moments, Short reels in redfish as he and Bissett talk about how effortless it can often be to catch multiple big fish in these waters.

Rodman said making the film was a tight shoot.

“One boat was used. I was in with the fisherman, crunched down in the middle (gritting teeth emoji),” he said in an email. “I was the sole camera operator.”

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com