Travel Insurance and fly-fishing updates

Travel Insurance and fly-fishing updates

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INSURANCE OF ANY KIND IS ONE of those items you hope you’ll never have to use but that you’re damn glad to have when something goes wrong—and things do go wrong even on fishing trips. That’s  why if you’re going on a big-ticket fishing trip this year, travel insurance should be on your packing list.

Most policies offer varying degrees of coverage for the following unpleasant (but common) situations: Trip cancellation (due to illness of the traveler, traveling companion or an immediate family member); trip interruption; missed connections or delays; medical expenses; medical evacuation; lost baggage and baggage delay. The more comprehensive the policy is, the more expensive it will be.

Coverage for medical emergencies is particularly important to overseas travelers, as a medical evacuation to the United States is breathtakingly expensive. In fact, companies such as Medjet Assist and Global Rescue specialize in medical evacuation packages and insurance.

When you consider that a week-long trip to Montana might have a total value of $2,500, after factoring in transportation and lodging costs, and deposits with guides, a $100 to $200 insurance policy is cheap protection for your vacation in case things go awry. And things do go awry, just ask the experts.

 Mollie Fitzgerald of Frontiers International Travel has been involved in many cases when Frontiers’ clients have fallen ill during a trip and had to be evacuated. In one case, she says, a traveler to their remote Ryabaga Camp on Russia’s Kola Peninsula thought he was experiencing a heart attack. The traveler was transported from the camp via helicopter to the nearest hospital, which was a two-hour flight. He then spent 24 hours in a hospital in Murmansk, Russia, before Medjet Assist picked him up and flew him home.

“Interestingly,” says Fitzgerald, “both the Travelex [the client’s travel insurance provider] and Medjet Assist [policies] kicked in here and reimbursed him for various segments of the trip. So there very definitely is a need for both types of insurance, particularly when visiting remote destinations.”

Yellowdog Flyfishing Adventures’ Jim Klug also recommends travel insurance and has witnessed travel disasters. Just this past spring Klug says he had two people cancel a two-week trip to Campeche and Isla Holbox, Mexico, because one of the anglers fell and broke his ribs. Both anglers had travel insurance, and the entire cost of the trip (lodge package, flights and the like) was covered.

As with all insurance, it’s important to read the fine print to learn what events and situations are covered. For instance, be sure to check out the policy on lost luggage—a lost or stolen suitcase with clothes and toiletries is vastly different than a bag containing four $600 fly rods.

Fortunately, comparing and purchasing travel insurance is extremely easy online at such sites as and—but be sure to shop around to find the policy that best suites your situation.

I have personal experiance in this matter, too. Last February, I was bitten by a dog on the fifth day of a month-long trip to Costa Rica. It happened in the remote surf town of Santa Teresa, on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. The wound on my ankle was small and nearly painless, but I was worried about rabies, so I called the medical attaché at the U.S. embassy in San Jose. The doctor told me that even a small bite would be sufficient to transmit rabies if present in the dog. He also advised that I return to the U.S. immediately to begin anti-rabies treatments, as the window for treatment is short and rabies is 100 percent fatal.

Although I wasn’t happy about cutting my trip short, the conversation with the doctor frightened me sufficiently to decide to fly back to the States. This decision was easier to reach, though, when I learned that my transportation to and from Miami and medical expenses there would be covered by the travel-insurance policy I’d bought from Travel Guard. I was treated in a Miami ER, and the following morning I boarded a flight back to Costa Rica to continue the remainder of my trip. Buying travel insurance for this trip was the best $60 I have ever spent; I will never travel abroad without travel insurance. ?

Jim Reilly is a former editor of this magazine.

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Filmed in 1974, released in 2008:

IN KEYWEST, CIRCA 1974: SCRUFFY, gritty and mostly good-natured, already full of tourists in plaids who flip-flopped down sidewalks and boarded tourist trams tricked out to look like, well, tourist trams. With a drawl of a tram-driver’s spiel Tarpon begins. His voiceover is soon joined by Jimmy Buffett—yep—playing an original soundtrack composed mostly of musical laughter. Think innocence incarnate.  

Buffett tunes and string-band riffs frame the conversations to come, between some of the best writers around. Thomas McGuane, Jim Harrison and Richard Brautigan indulge themselves, each other and us, talking tarpon, waxing wise, with winks about life on cutting edges; then more tarpon talk in voices slightly slurred, maybe. But there’s meat on these bones; also in conversations with guides now legends to many—Woody Sexton, Steve Huff and Gil Drake; also Page Brown, an early and ardent Keys’ conservationist—we hear concern about overexploitation soon to come, still coming. “Tarpon fishing was and is a dream,” writes McGuane. And, addressing this movie, “this may be the only time it’s been captured.”

I am warned, politely, that my response to Tarpon just might be tainted by having lived this age, perhaps under “similar influences,” albeit in other places, while hunting different fish. Could be true. But let’s start again with a few Tarpon facts, and the provenance gleaned from Cathy Rensier of the Book Mailer, distributors of the movie; also from an excellent interview of Guy de la Valdene by Marshall Cutchin, found at

As noted, Tarpon was filmed in 1974, a UYA film co-directed by Guy de la Valdéne and Christian Odasso. (The latter would later collaborate with Orson Welles, Chris Marker, Claude Lelouch and Martin Scorsese; and with Francois Reichenbach won an Academy Award.) The film was originally edited in Paris and then offered to PBS. While interested, PBS found distributors reluctant to sign on, apparently because of the happy, bloody shark-bludgeoning orgies executed during a series of party-boat fishing scenes. (Imagine casts of Three’s Company and The Partridge Family thrust into a sunny, fish edition of that ox-butchery tableau in Apocalypse Now.) Following the failure at PBS, Tarpon dropped out of sight for 30-something years. Mostly: a few bootleg copies passed among friends and friends of friends, creating a tiny, very early cult. And then…drum roll… Odasso’s daughter Diane rescued a Tarpon or two several years ago, from either “a dripping barn in the Normandy countryside” or a “garage in Belgium.” Ms. Odasso then shepherded restoration, replication and chaptering processes for Guy de la Valdene.

Caveats: I didn’t get enough of the writers I wanted to see and hear. I was confused, I will warn you, because most of the action was with other, unidentified fellows. Make no mistake: stalking you see, but this 51 minute film is not a how-to—no bimini twists, no fly advice, no lessons about strip-sets, neap tides, wind drifts, flats-boat poling, how to bow to a silver king. It’s not even a where-to, given the when: 1974 ain’t anywhere, any more.

Never mind any ’70s flashback: Tarpon fighting scenes looked fabulous to me. Fish exploding out of sun-drenched shallows, long slow-motion sequences of piscine knights in brilliant battle, complete with slow-mo sounds of clacking armor. And…this kind of whispery sigh as tarpon leap… .

“A work of art,” Carl Hiaason says of the film, intended to celebrate and protect; to immortalize an astonishing species of fish, found in a unique environ. Tarpon, in that place, that time. It’s about a few special people who convey to a viewer something Marshall Cutchin suggests to de la Valdene in the interview, “this impending sense that it was all going to be gone before we really knew how good it was.”

That resonates, I should think. Does for me. So does the movie—enough that I’m pretty sure I’ve dreamed about tarpon at least twice now, beginning soon after the second time I watched. I even remember waking to the rattle of gill plates. ?

Seth Norman is the resident reviewer for this magazine.