Monday, September 17, 2012

All good things come to an end...

The 2012 season flew by faster than any I've experienced in Alaska. It may have been the bazar weather patterns, late King run, or just overall good fishing and a great crew that made it come and go quickly. All in all, the season was a huge success as we celebrated the 40th anniversary of operations at Bristol Bay Lodge.

My favorite image from 2012. A Brock Dixon photo. 
Our Artist in Residency program is in its second year at Bristol Bay Lodge. Spawned by the creative minds of Steve Laurent and Bob White, this program consists of four very special weeks at the lodge. In addition to our hardcore angling program and insane fishing, guests get to experience some pretty cool stuff during any one of these weeks.

Agulowak shorelunch, arguably the favorite each week...

Beginning in July, Nashville Songwriter's Week kicked of the AIR program for 2012. Watching five talented writers perform in the raw with nothing more than their guitars is one most incredible experiences I've ever had. I love music, and to watch these guys write songs together was simply amazing.

Liquid sunshine

Songwriter's Week was followed by Writer's Week with John Gierach. I had never read much of John's work, although I always enjoyed his columns in Fly Rod and Reel. It was a real pleasure getting to know him at the lodge, where he shared a few minutes of his latest work each night before dinner. Come to find out, John is an avid steelhead fisherman and I look forward to bumping into him on the river soon.

Artemis with Wok bow
Next was Painter's Week with Gyotaku Printmaker Scott Wells. Scott was a guide favorite, because he's been a river guide for a long time and fit right in with the crew. Each night he would ink up a grayling or char and provide a step by step look into the process he uses to create his fish prints.

Kaiser the camp-dog
The Artist in Residence series finished up with Photographer's Week and Tim Romano. Tim has shot for multiple publications and is a main contributor to the Fly Fish Journal. We had a lot fun with Tim and it was great to see a photographer with such an aggressive drive for capturing images. He even spent several hours bobbing around the lake in a dry-suit, which was cool. Too bad he couldn't find Steve's missing lens-cap under the dock, worth a hefty reward of 10 snickers bars and a $20 bill. We're really looking forward to seeing some of his finished work and I'll post some images on here as soon as I can.

The trio
Beyond the Artist in Residency Program, the summer carried on like normal. A wet July brought a late but solid King run to our three King Salmon rivers and anglers were very pleased at the number of Kings hooked daily. High water this spring meant a lot of Kings holed up in sloughs, providing some pretty amazing opportunities to get into a pile of fish on the fly.

Summer stone
The rain finally quit for a bit and allowed the rivers to drop to normal levels by the end of July. The Dolly run was epic as ever with many upper 20" fish hooked daily at Birch. We had some of the best dry fly fishing we've seen in the last three years on the Wok and Pak. We had some really awesome hatches of bigger bugs like drakes and stoneflies and it was really great to have the fish key in on this food source. It's pretty amazing to catch fish on a 6" chunk of flesh in the morning and a size 18 Sulpher in the afternoon!

An evening spey session...
Silver season came early this year and was very good especially early on. The fish were big, bright, and covered in sea-lice. A happy angler (and guide) even got a hold of one on the Wok, a river with no silver run to speak of. We finished the season with egg-drop fishing and the storm of the century. For four days it gusted to 70 mph but we were saved with an epic Silver Salmon fishery on the upper Togiak and egg-drop fishing for 100+ fish a day on the Wok and Pak. When those fish get hungry for eggs it takes serious talent to not keep them off your line!

The crew this year was by far one of the best I've worked with in the 10 years I've been with BBL. These are some of the hardest working guides in the industry, and we run them ragged 16 hours a day, 7 days a week for nearly 4 months. We take a lot of pride in how hard we work up there and our ability to finish the season strong, and these guys did it in a big way braving pounding rain and horrendous winds to get people on the fish. I can't say thank you enough, great job boys.

One of the rare times we captured them actually sitting down...
The images seen in the post were taken by Brock Dixon, a full-time guide on the White River in Arkansas. Brock worked his tail off for us this summer and managed to capture some pretty stunning images over the course of the season. If anyone is looking for a fishy guide down south he's your man, and he's got some pretty awesome fly patterns for those 30"+ browns.

Brock accompanied by Toad the rainbow

1 comment:

  1. welcome back nate, kaiser looks like my old dog i just had to put down, but fortunately i'm on my way saturday to get the next addition to the family. as always, great pics hope you had a great season, keep the post coming