Book Review: The Alaska Chronicles

I’m driving north on Colorado Blvd. when the phone rings. I reach into my pocket and think I’ve got a crumpled up bar receipt in there – it turns out to be a mousie fly pattern, one I tried on bass at least a week ago. “These shorts went through the wash yesterday,” I think to myself. Yet the deer hair is unscathed, and I tied it myself. Then I push the answer button: “Hey…I just won the Powerball, and I want to share half the winnings with you!”

My evening would get even better – the copy of The Alaska Chronicles I ordered a few days prior had just arrived. It winds up taking under seven hours to complete the read. One trip to the liquor store once I hit the pictures – The Ocean playing on the radio during the trip there, and Lunatic Fringe blared on the way back. I must get home to those pages, but in between a decision to make: does this work require cheap beer, or a cheap wine? At less that $20 for three liters, boxed white it is.

At 11pm, snoring dogs huddled under my feet and the compelling urge to fill up the glass again, I find it fitting to address this compilation directly…

An Open Letter to author Miles Nolte

Dear Miles,

First, I hope this letter finds you, and finds you well. Guiding again this season? Or off to graduate school? Whatever makes you happy – where there’s a will there’s a way.

It is difficult to explain how enthralled I was by The Alaska Chronicles, other to say I had to absorb it cover to cover in one single evening. During the adventure I gathered supplies and hunkered down, one phone ring the only disturbance. Said call was from a dear friend, a fly fishing guide – he’s getting married soon and wanted to confirm my attendance at the pre-party. “Of course I’m going to be there.” But right now I had to get back to Alaska.

I must hereby inform you that your book will be passed on to that fishy soul, pitched as a pre-packaged lesson in perseverance and fortitude – while I’d rather keep your work in my own collection, I must now share it. As you so eloquently stated, success is a matter of both knowledge and skill, and I am now convinced there must be a symbiotic relationship between the two. The Alaska Chronicles should be required reading for both guides and clients venturing into the Alaskan experience, or setting forth into any water together for that matter. Attitude is the last ingredient in the formula – those that are fun to be with on the water make for the best days, no doubt. Maybe this is why your finest hours always wind up being those when and where you are fishing with your friends, regardless of the landed outcome.

Lastly, with the understanding that much of what you wrote was consumed by your colleagues as it happened, I can only say I wish I had been there. But the book is certainly one hell of a consolation prize.

Kindest regards…

MG signing off (to weasel my way into The Drake forum?)


Tim Smith says:

Great review. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now – not sure where I first found it, but just wanted to say hello. I lived in Alaska in the 1990’s for a bit, so I’m pretty excited about this book. Thanks for passing it along.

The Professor says:

Glad to hear you are reading quality literature to the dogs ….. I expect Lynus to be a well read puppy when I return. Pleased to see I am a related post to this fine one 🙂

@Tim – Thanks! And me thinks it’s a must read, even if you HAVE spent time there.

@CB – Believe you me…I was trying hard to boot them from under the desk.

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Departure Publishing and Departure Publishing. Departure Publishing said: Cover to cover in seven hours, with a liquor store run at halftime. […]

Miles Nolte says:


I must admit that I am not a regular reader of your blog but thanks to the magic of internet communication orgies, I did indeed receive your letter. It reached me at the end of a particularly pleasant day of guiding; the Yellowstone had just cleared and dropped and we had a blessedly windless day with an abundance of bugs. I would like to personally thank you for reading The Alaska Chronicles and tell you how much I appreciate your praise.

In answer to your initial query: I am still guiding, though in Montana rather than Alaska, and I am enrolled in graduate school here at Montana State.

The best books are the ones well loved and having your copy passed along to a worthy fishing buddy is the best possible fate that those bound leaves could find. I have always passed great books on to deserving eyes and even though I now feel an odd fiduciary responsibility to encourage everyone to purchase their own copies of every book they read, I know that impulse runs contrary to the nature of stories. I still pass along my favorite books to my favorite people and I always will.

Again, thanks for the glowing remarks and, now that I made it here, I may come back and check in from time to time; I appreciate your style.

Miles Nolte

Glad to hear all is well Miles. The commentary was well deserved, and I hope my buddy enjoys it as much as I did (although I don’t think that is going to be an issue).



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