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Looking forward to 2018 and Alaska

The new year is finally here which means we are a short 2 months away from trout season here on the Yakima. As always I am super stoked for the new season and literally cannot wait for the thaw and the wild trout of the home water waking up after a cold winter. 2018 is shaping up to be a great year and it’s my 4th season back at full time guiding here on the Yakima River.

But…trout are not the only thing I have to look forward too. I am finally headed back to Alaska this coming season. Alaska is amazing and fishing in the most northern state is like fishing on a different planet. Guiding here on the Yakima as well as all my amazing clients have made a return trip to Alaska a reality for me this season. That being said, I can’t enjoy Alaska solo… I already did that once and don’t get me wrong it was awesome but if I’ve learned anything taking people fishing it’s that this sport and especially Alaska are best experienced with fellow anglers and adventurers.

Now, when I was last in Alaska I didn’t fish as much as I would have liked. I mostly slung an 8wt off the jetty to the harbor for whatever would eat my flies. Caught all sorts of things and ruined a reel because of poor saltwater maintenance in the process. Most mornings in Sitka I would wake, have coffee with the folks I was communal living with, grab my gear and walk the few hundred yards down to the water. A few mornings there was a grey whale that would join me and I always enjoyed watching the fishing boats roll in and out. I even caught a few rock fish that the local pub cooked up for me for lunch after I dropped them off on my way to work.

Alaska was amazing, from the northern lights, whales, bears, and of course salmon and trout.  I cannot wait to share Alaska with clients for an entire week this coming year.

Now those of you who have taken a trip with me know I don’t mess around. And Alaska is no different. I spent the first part of the offseason calling and emailing all over Alaska looking for a lodge that fit the kind of experience I would want to share with clients. I am also very money conscious and don’t think $10,000 a week per person is a reasonable or real Alaska experience. Alaska is rough and tough… rugged, in every sense of the word. Witnessing it for the first time made me realize that the path I have chosen for my life was right. The beauty and wildness of Alaska but also the places that surround me here on my homewater are fulfilling. A life spent experiencing these places and the treasures they hold is a full life and something that solidified in me after visiting Alaska.

Now I don’t expect everyone who joins me on this escapade to have a soul fulfilling experience, and maybe you’ve already been to Alaska and fished your brains out. But I have 7 spots open to anglers that would like to take an adventure off the beaten path after, and I hate to use this term, legendary fish…in beautiful American wilds. Which brings me too the meat of what this trip will entail.

I’ve picked Season on the Fly Lodge after numerous calls and emails to various places around Alaska.  You can visit the Seasons On the Fly Lodge’s website here. I also got a great referral from a very good friend and mentor of mine that knows the kind of angler I am. Greg Hiester is my contact with the lodge and if you watch Season on the Fly or have seen him at Gonzaga games you know who he is. Before the holiday we got some details about the lodge and how trips go down up there as well as pricing. He’s in Belize fishing, which I’m thinking of doing next year as well so….

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Anyway, the lodge is literally on the Kvichak River and the only way to get to it is via boat. After flying into Anchorage we take a smaller charter plane just big enough to fit people and gear for the week into the small town of Igiugig, where we are then picked up by boat and taken to the lodge. Now…this lodge ain’t anything super fancy. But it has what you need to get Alaska done in comfort without being silly. It sleeps 8 plus a host, and we have hot water, and a kitchen. Food is expensive in Alaska and feeding 8 guests plus myself is quite the undertaking. Which is why I’ve got it covered. The lodge works with me and they will purchase and ship all our food supplies for $1 a pound which in Alaska is pretty freaking sweet. It takes a lot of the headache and stress out of the trip. Plus I’ll be cooking and if you’ve gone riverside with me you know what to expect. And if you’ve ever gone into the backcountry and camped with me you know I really don’t mess around. Also…pancakes and jam are basically the best thing ever when it comes to fuel for fishing. Just saying.

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SOF Lodge Kitchen

With the food taken care of and the flight and trip into the lodge covered at a great price of roughly $400 a person including gear you are looking at $2500 a person for the lodge stay. So let’s break this down so we can talk about the fishing.

$3750.00 for the charter plane to the lodge. Around $400 per person.

$2500.00 per person for 6 days at the lodge.  That’s the lodge and flight in. Once I have a full party and our menu is finalized I’ll have the food budget for each individual. The nice thing is our food is brought in separately so we don’t have to worry about weight on the plane in except people and gear. Which is around 700lbs for gear for the party.

The final cost is flying into Anchorage which is pretty straight forward.

All in all we are looking at fishing in Alaska for 6 days for under $5,000.00 a person. Which is pretty sweet considering that the average price I was finding from my shopping around was about $7,000.00 a person. If you’ve booked a trip here on the Yakima with me you know that I’m all about an affordable fly fishing experience and Alaska is no different. If I was going to Alaska on a trip for myself this is the kind of trip and lodge I would be looking for.

Now let’s get to the fishing.

The Seasons on the Fly Lodge offers some crazy awesome fishing. The Kvichak system is known for its gigantic rainbow trout, and its salmon runs. They had me at gigantic rainbow trout but silvers on top water are f’ing crazy and Greg did confirm that yes their silvers eat top water….mmmmm. The lodge also has Grayling which are on my bucket list of fish! But there is one more fish that I am really hoping to chase for a day or two… big ‘ol nasty Alaskan Northern Pike! Those toothy critters are aggressive AF and on a fly rod they are hard to beat in a fight. Plus the flies for them are rad.

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The Lodge is a true DIY place. Our group will have access to 4 Hog Island Boatworks Skiffs to use at our leisure. The boats also come with pre-programmed GPS units with fishy locations. We also have access to a guide who’s there to help us and we can book him out for the day. We can also hire a float plane and go fish with bears and chase a different species. What I’m looking forward to is spending time fishing with clients and friends together, experiencing Alaska for ourselves. Hanging out next to the wood stove, telling stories in between fishing sessions. Sitting down and eating together communally, partaking in the wilds of Alaska, and enjoying some other worldly fishing.

As we move into 2018 I have a lot to look forward to. My guide business here on the Yakima has grown almost to capacity in terms of trips. I am headed south this early spring to see what Redfish and other warm salt water species are all about. And to top it all off I’m returning to Alaska after 4 years to experience a new fishery with clients.

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They even have Hogs!

If joining me while I Host 8 anglers at the Season on the Fly Lodge strikes your fancy don’t hesitate to inquire just like any other guided trip. Alaska will be wicked fun and a great way to get out of town in August/September for a week when the home eater is slammed with people. I have 7 spots open and will be taking deposits in January for dates in August or September. I’m taking care of everything for my clients, even with gear if needed. It’s gonna be fun and a week long fishing adventure with my beardy face basically makes it a guarantee. Call, email, or message me if an Alaska 2018 adventure interests you.

It’s the new year! And fishing season is right around the corner.

Tamarack

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