Mid-June – Mid July
ON the rivers… Kings started out slow on the Nushagak but were strong and continue to be consistent on the Togiak. Fish and Game reduced bag limits on Kings over 28 inches from 4 to 2 per season on the Nushagak, but kept intact the five-total fish catch per person for Bristol Bay. Soon afterwards Sockeye limits were increased on both the Nushagak and in the Wood River drainage from five fish to ten fish per day per person. The Nushagak had the largest run of returning Sockeye in many years. Estimated total for Bristol Bay is 43 million sockeyes. As the guides would call in and report they were head to tail thick in front of Nush camp. The Agulowak was referred to many days as “Salmon City” with increased limits of 10 per angler being caught before lunch. Afternoons on the “Wak” were spent dry fly fishing for trout and grayling. Likewise, on the Agulopak it has been dry fly “mania”. Long time returning guests saying they have never seen the “Pak” fish so good. The Goodnews has been “good news” for Kings and Chum both on fly and gear providing lots of action. Several rainbow destinations have been providing the opportunity to fish with mice patterns – which if you haven’t tried it you MUST do and this time of year provides much better action before the salmon spawn begins which has those fish get focused on eggs. Lake Hops provided action for both char and pike, but let’s be honest – it’s all about the scenery! Pike were hitting on top water and sub surface action such as mice, frogs and spoons. Upper Nushagak has been on fire for Dolly’s and char with some beautiful leopard bows in the mix. Togiak has been most productive back bouncing eggs, pulling plugs and down trolling spoons – though with enough patience Kings are being caught on flies. Average kings are 18-35lbs – last week clients landed a double on the boat – both fish 40 lbs. and on the board for largest gear caught this season. Board record on fly so far is 26lbs. The Togiak should stay good until the end of the King season July 31st if it is anything like last year we were catching bright fish right up to the very last day.
In summary – absolutely no one went home without a full box of fish or a smile on their face.
Stay tuned for more reports. More rainbow action about to happen out East and on local streams once the sockeyes get into full spawn mode. Silvers on the Nushagak should be showing up soon.
Around the lodge.
In the kitchen. We were sad to lose Pat, Sopidta and Barry. Pat and Sopidta opened their own Thai restaurant in Jackson Hole and Barry is staying in Montana with family obligations. We are excited to have on board, chef Ka’ainoa Ravey. Born and raised in Hawaii but with experience from just about all over the US including remote Alaska. “ Ka’ai” jumped right into the program and has proven to be a strong edition to the team. Not only does he have mad cooking skills but he also brings a contagious level of enthusiasm and energy to the kitchen. We are SO happy to have Trish back after taking a school break for two years – COOKIES are back to their original deliciousness and just having her smile, dedication and experience make the kitchen a very happy place. Returning this year as our head of house is the beautiful Yarrow Jones. We are happy to have Yarrow, Lucy and Shiann back with their incredible level of service and sincere commitment to the client experience. Jodi and Amanda joined us this year and all agree they are a great addition to the team. AND…. River jumped into the kitchen to help and has done an incredible job (author is biased) honing in on his cooking skills and contributing to the kitchen staff. All is well in the kitchen and the house!
On the guide staff, Jeff still runs the show working hard to get an entire lodge of 24 all to the same location – where the kings are biting! He was seen scratching his head on more than one occasion but in the end, pulls it all off and gets everyone to where they want to go. His team of guides are once again outstanding. Not only in guiding but in service and personality. We have a few new additions to the team and familiar names returning or switching hats. Zach and Jason are the new guides on the block, but both come with extensive experience in Bristol Bay. Super solid editions to the team. Returning from a couple of years’ hiatus is Dan Card, who if you have fished with him in the past know how lucky we are to get him back. Austin moved from the dock into guiding and has proven to be as strong as we knew he would, rocking it in the guiding position just like he did on the dock team.
On the dock and throughout all lodge operations Ryan continues to run the entire show. Never tires and never loses his smile or sense of humor. The foundation of the lodge. He has a talented team this year with Max and Mark. Both bring years of varied experience and sensibility. If you are on your way up they will be the first ones you see! Dock and lodge are running as smooth as ever. Weather has been off and on but continues to be on the dry side.
The dock was moved in June for the first time those of us at the lodge now, can ever remember. Good thing we have a chauffeur service back and forth from the lodge to the dock. Comes in handy for those long hard days of fishing
Sarah and Tiarna are in the office and the shop. Tiarna is the real boss of the show (keeping the author of this blog in line ALL the time). Every year she blossoms even more and without her, I (Sarah), could not bring it all together.
We have had long time returning clients and a few new ones or new guests of returning clients. All have left as family. We are incredibly blessed and so thankful to all of you who continue to support our Mission family. We are sad when you leave and if you are on your way, excited to welcome you back. For more photos and comments follow us on FaceBook and Instagram – #MissionLodge or #fishhard.
I want to apologize for the late posting of this blog – it has been a busy start! All is incredibly well. Stand by…. More to come…