I went to Deneki Outdoors Alaska West Lodge on the famed Kanektok River in Western Alaska, never thinking I would score the pinnacle of fly-fishing achievements.
Queue backstory and climax in one fell swoop
An epic adventure is not complete without setting goals and then knocking them clear out of the park. The pursuit could be very personal, like attempting to perfect your spey casting stroke – all of the guides at Alaska West could certainly assist there. You might have photography in mind, capturing an image of the perfect take the moment the fish is fooled with presentation concocted by Mother Nature herself, delivered via proxy through a switch rod. Or you might have even bigger plans, such as trying to bag all five Pacific salmon species, a.k.a. the Alaska Grand Slam consisting of chinook, chum, pink, sockeye, and silver. They can surely be found together at Alaska West, if your timing is precise.
All worthy undertakings.
However, to reach beyond mere human endeavor, to transcend godliness in the angling world, achieve veritable self-actualization, one hurdle stands exponentially taller than the rest…
Catching a Starry flounder on the swing!
Legitimately, as in hooking the beast right in the pie hole, and on stacked and weighted tube flies at that.
Proof is no longer in the pudding – it has been memorialized in this very blog post for all denizens of the interwebspheres to be amazed, astounded and/or eternally captivated. Count the seconds until Platichthys stellatus supplants steelhead as the spey rod target of choice.
The well-oiled machine
In a nutshell, nary a wrong could be had on this trip. Much of the credit goes to the staff at Alaska West though. Howbeit Starry flounders were on the major feed, everything else about the operation also screamed WELL-OILED MACHINE. The folks running the place are of course the moving parts.
When you are sitting in the middle of nowhere, you expect something to go awry. A motor won’t start, a tent starts leaking, a meal is served cold? Yet nadda. The guides always knew the where to’s and how to’s, and spent plenty of time providing constructive feedback to the anglers i.e.
Gracie, you spey cast like my grandmother your cast needs a tweak…do this instead. And they worked their asses off on our behalf, for ten hour stretches a day. The accommodations were comfortable and tidy, and the food was tasty and extremely plentiful (I carried home five additional el bees to show for it). The entire crew was perpetually friendly and enthusiastic. It clearly rubbed off on the guests too – everyone in camp seemed to always have smiles on their faces, even when the wind was howling and the rain was dumping.
That said, there was one solitary issue that must be pointed out…
Complete and total domination of our target species was thwarted, as we had to keep dealing with these pesky critters:
MG signing off (because achievement is a matter of perspective, intact mental faculties notwithstanding)
Editor’s Note: A
yarn-spinning old bastard from Texas professional photographer (who can fish) was on scene for every incomparable moment of this trip, and more than 3,500 frames were shot. Post-processing is estimated to take a week to ten days, at which time more representative images of the unreal experience that is Alaska West will be unveiled. Until then, the rank amateur on the team will continue delivering snippets.