That’s a Wrap!

Our last look at the 2017 season sky from our very favorite place on earth gave us an incredible aurora borealis show – what a fabulous send off!

Awesome Aurora Borealis show on our last night at the Anvik River Lodge this season

You can call them Auroras or Northern Lights, either way they’re spectacular

Yes, summer 2017 has ended and we’ve put the Anvik River Lodge to bed for the winter.  Or as Cliff likes to describe it – the lodge is now entering a period of about eight months of suspended animation.  As we get settled back in Anchorage we reflect fondly on the past season.  And from our prospective it was absolutely the BEST SEASON EVER!  We were blessed with great fishing, great weather for the most part, fantastic guests, outstanding crew, no bear break-ins, no natural disasters hit us, no major breakage or malfunction of equipment and best of all  – everyone was healthy and safe with no injuries.  Being in remote Alaska all of these positive events are appreciated  so much more, we believe, than in other areas of the state that are far more easily accessible in the event of a problem.

What a great crew we had for our 2017 season – hard working and a ton of fun!

Many folks are curious to know what it takes to close down such a remote facility at the end of a busy fishing season.  As you can imagine, it’s no simple task and we certainly couldn’t do it without our outstanding staff members and some close and dear friends pitching in to help with all that needs to be done.  It can be cold and rainy and even snowing by the time we get some of the final chores accomplished.  From inventorying just about everything on-site, to draining all of the water lines it’s a busy time and we’re as usual up against what ever mother nature decides to toss our way.  Some seasons we’re super lucky and have weather akin to an Indian Summer, but more often than not, it’s in the teens or below at night and not a whole lot warmer during the day – or its constantly raining with wind howling with no relief in site.  We all know that even the smallest task can take much longer to accomplish when you’re up against the elements.  Our yearly goal is to get out before the river starts freezing – and we normally accomplish this goal, sometimes by the skin of our teeth – which is a story for another day.

Much like the saying “What goes up, must come down” – our fall season at the most remote lodge in Alaska’s saying is “What gets brought out, must be put away”.  And mind you, after working 7 days a week for about 17 hours a day for 4 months – just the mere thought of having to tackle this chore can be daunting to say the least.  Yes, we are a hardy bunch out here in the bush – it’s not an option to not be.

The guys with one of our favorite guests horsing around by the river

How do we store everything for the winter? Lets start with the left over groceries – which we try not to have very much of by the end of the season – but it doesn’t always work out that well.  Anything perishable such as the garden produce that had to be harvested from nearly frozen ground or groceries in the fridge either gets eaten in a hurry or given to our friends in Anvik.  Some years its a pretty funny site to see so many residents driving around the village on their four-wheelers with heads of cabbage, bunches of kale or whatever other type of veggies we had a late crop off, sitting between the handlebars or strapped to the back.  Its a sure sign that Cliff has been in town and we’re winding things up.  As far as canned or jarred goods, many things that’ll go bad or break if frozen get buried in 55 gallon drums, deep enough to keep from freezing – a method we discovered after many years of trial and error.

Egypt Mountain peaking through the beautiful fall colors of the Anvik

The docks & boats of course have to be pulled out of the water and secured on land before the ice pans start developing on the Anvik.  Our trusty little tractor has made this project soooooo much easier than back-in-the-day before we acquired it.  When the water is high, things go much smoother than when we’ve got low water levels.  No matter what the circumstances are I just hold my breath until everything is out of the water safely without damage.

The fixed solar panels have to be removed and stored so as not to be damaged by the snow loads that we can get over the winter.  The rotating solar array must be disabled from tracking and tilted at just the right angle so as to not get overburdened with the snow load.  At the same time, the angle needs to be enough that the larger animals that make our yard their winter thoroughfare can’t damage it by reaching it to climb on, gnaw on or puncture with their massive racks.

All the linens, rugs, towels and such have to be cleaned and packaged up and stored where no varmints will get at them (hopefully).  And yes, we’ve arrived at the lodge in the springtime to find that we didn’t do as good of a job as we should have and our pretty comforters and flannel sheets have been used for winter nesting grounds for anything from voles to martens.

The dry goods are especially important to secure for obvious reasons.  We’re lucky to have an airtight walk-in freezer & cooler unit which also happen to be scent-tight for the most part. They’re usually perfect for protecting dry & boxed items from getting gnawed into – at least by small animals.  Bears? not-so-much – they can get into anything they want.  The fact that it’s airtight, scent-tight or not – just doesn’t matter.

Some of the staff cutting loose on Grand slam night.

Blowing out all of the sewer & water lines, anti-freezing the toilets, washers etc., is another task that must be done thoroughly or we’re in trouble in the spring.  Not doing a thorough job with this will cause either a bunch of broken water lines or dug up septic lines from curious and in-discriminating bears.  Food is food, no matter what form its in.

A final check of all of the guest rooms, storage areas and out buildings along with our living quarters is one of the most important tasks of all.  It’s funny how you don’t see something until it’s been frozen and exploded all over the place, or it’s been shredded to bits.  Or in the case of the giant Costco size black licorice that some weasels that found   they apparently devoured the whole thing, including the plastic container!  Without going into too much detail, I’ll just suffice to say that their digestive systems were not happy with the richness of that much black licorice in one sitting – YIKES! the things we find when returning in the spring.  The good part is, we do live and we do learn and don’t normally make the same mistake again.

When the final cleaning and putting away is complete then it’s time to board-up and booby-trap – a project that takes a good long day or two at least.  The boarding up is done over the windows & doors of every building and the booby-traps……well, I guess I shouldn’t say too much about those but it can certainly be a surprise to a bear or other animal, whether it has two or four legs if they happen to fall victim to any of them.

One of the last bonfires and circle of wisdom for the fishing season

Once the final switch on the control panel has been turned off and the last doorway secured it’s time to hop in the boat and head downriver for the last time of the year.  With mixed emotions we start our journey back to “the land of stuff”.  We’re so proud to be a part of so many great adventures that our guests experience over the summer.  And we look forward to a little rest time and the ability to enjoy going out to a restaurant, watching the latest movies, getting a hair cut, walking across the room to turn up the thermostat if we’re cold, getting mail delivered to our doorstep on a daily basis and all of the little things that can so easily be taken for granted.  But we know after about 6 weeks in “the land of stuff” we’ll be pining for the magic of the Anvik River and can’t wait to get back here!

 

 

Categories: Alaska King Salmon Fishing, Alaska Sport Fishing, Arctic Char fishing, Chum Salmon Fishing, Grayling fishing, Northern Pike Fishing, Remote Alaska Fishing, Uncategorized, Wilderness Adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Late August update

Fly-fishing amongst the beautiful fall colors of the Remote Alaska’s Anvik River

Where has the time gone this summer?  We can’t believe that we’ve only got a couple more weeks of fishing left, then it’ll be a wrap for the 2017 season!

As is typical for this time of the year, the temperatures are dropping, the colors are starting to change from the rich lush greens of summer to the vibrant golds, reds & oranges of fall on the Anvik.  The fish runs are switching from the big ole’ king salmon to the acrobatic & always plentiful silver (co-ho) salmon.

Fall colors of the Anvik River

Since our last post we were blessed with some more rain which we needed.  There was actually some pretty significant weather events during late July that muddied our usually gin clear waters for a few days.  And as is usual after a good down-pour the waters cleared again in a short time.  As we’ve always known, when your in business with mother nature, you never know what each season will bring to this remote wonderland.  For the majority of the time this summer has been a dream.  Great fishing, great weather and very few mosquitoes here on the Anvik River.

Our guests have been coming back to camp after a day on the river with smiles on their faces, worn out arms and lots of stories to share.  We had a couple of guests from New Zealand who joined us for ten days on the Anvik and I’m sure they’re still telling stories.  They were able to catch plenty of fish, enjoy the hiking opportunities, shoot trap like experts, drift the river looking for bear and other wildlife and of course just really enjoy the great camaraderie that folks find here.  Some night around the campfire we laughed until we were almost in tears with these guys.

Then there was the “Raven Clan” that visited early August.  This is a family that really enjoyed their time here and knew how to make everyday fun.  Whether it was wrestling the guides on the gravel bar during lunch, corn-hole competitions after dinner or just soaking the splendor of the Anvik in while drifting the river – it is always so wonderful to see our guests have such a good time.  It really is much more than a fishing trip when you join us for an adventure.

Nice catch – Anvik River northern pike!

ANVIK RIVER FISHING REPORT: – The fall chum salmon numbers through the Pilot Station sonar are well above average this season with over 1.7M being counted thus far.  The Anvik is home to the largest summer chum spawning run, but we only get a small percentage of the fall chum salmon.  What these fish lack in numbers they certainly make up for in size.  The fall chum salmon have a much larger girth than the summer chum salmon and a quite a bit bigger over all.  It’s not unusual to catch a 10 to 12 pounder.  Our cohos are starting to show up in their usual big numbers.  They started showing up as expected mid-August, but didn’t really kick in until this past week.  The run numbers look to be of average amounts for this date.  That being said, they’re here now and are beautiful vivacious fish that are a blast to hook into!

ANVIK RIVER LODGE GRAND-SLAM & CENTURY CLUB

This is one happy looking gal with a beautiful Anvik River Fall Chum Salmon

UPDATE: – Here’s a big shout out to Tim from Wisconsin  and Coleman from Michigan.  Each of these guys achieved the feat of getting their grand-slam and century club in one day!  That’s a lot of fishing and a ton of catching!  Great job Tim & Coleman!

Since our last post our Grand-Slam Club numbers have increased by 8 women & 13 men.  This brings our 2017 season total to 70 Grand-Slam Club members and 5 Century Club members – Congratulations to everyone!

Tight lines!

Categories: Alaska King Salmon Fishing, Alaska Sport Fishing, Arctic Char fishing, Chum Salmon Fishing, Grayling fishing, Northern Pike Fishing, Remote Alaska Fishing, Uncategorized, Wilderness Adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Late August update

Another great couple of weeks on the Anvik River

Beautiful day on the Anvik River in the wilds of Western Alaska

We’ve had a number of return guests so far this year including Lou from New York who made what we think is about his 20th trip to this remote paradise we call the Anvik River Lodge.  One of our favorite sayings here is “You’ll come as a guest and return as family” and that is so true.  So many of our return guests say they feel like they’re coming home once they step on the dock here at the lodge.

Anvik River chum salmon are so plentiful and ton of fun to catch – great job Michael. Is that chum salmon trying to eat your cousin Luke?

The Anvik River Lodge is a great place to come with your family or with a corporate group as several of our guests have discovered.  We’ve had some wonderful families up here so far this season.  Many mom’s and dad’s that are joined by their teenage children, several father/son or grandfather/father/grandson combinations.  We just said goodbye to a 15 person corporate group that was a mixture of novice fishermen to much more serious hard core fishermen.  Everyone enjoyed themselves and they’re already planning their return trips.

There’s plenty to keep folks of all ages happy – even beyond the fishing.  Several horse shoe & corn-hole competitions have been held in the evenings after dinner.  The always fun “Third Night Trivia Night” continues to be a favorite.  Our authentic steam lodge and the nightly bonfires that we refer to as “the circle of wisdom” are a hit as well.  This season we just set up a trap shooting range and many of our guests have had a great time with this add-on.

A little cousin competition between Luke & Michael – nice Anvik River sockeye salmon Luke!

 

WEATHER–  The Anvik River drainage has definitely been dryer than usual this summer – be we finally have been getting rain off and on this past 5 days or so.  Yesterday we had quite a downpour, but for the most part just partial rain and high clouds during the day and showers at night.  Enough to raise the water level a bit and lower the water temperature, but not enough to dampen anyone’s spirits when it comes to enjoy themselves.

This sow grizzly and her cub wandering the shores of the Anvik River gathering chum salmon for their dinner.

 

 

FISHING REPORT – The bite is certainly on at Alaska’s Anvik River Lodge this summer.  With close to half a million summer & fall chum salmon so far and more coming up the river every day and a better than average Yukon king salmon run and an increase sockeye salmon population anglers have been having a blast so far this season.  We’re just finishing up the week with our 6th group of guests and there are smiles on everyone’s faces.  Beside the salmon fishing which is always a blast, the resident grayling are really nice sized this year. There have been some dandy sized pike caught recently too.  The arctic char & dollies are busy chowing down on salmon eggs from the spawning chum salmon and are a little tougher to catch this past week or so.  The ones that have taken the fly or spoon are beautiful as they start showing off their fall spawning colors.  I always say they look like they’re ready for date night with their pink & red polka-dot “dresses” and flaming red & orange “lipstick”.

Good times on the Anvik River catching king salmon.

GRAND-SLAM & CENTURY CLUB – Since our last blog post we’ve added 22 men & 5 women to the Anvik River Lodge Grand Slam Club roles and 2 more men a grandfather/grandson team added to the Anvik River Lodge Century Club – word on the street has it that they each got their 100 fish before lunch that day!  Making our total for the 2017 season 3 Century Club inductees and 49 Grand Slam Club members.  Keep up the good work folks.

Until next week stay tuned and tight lines!

A beautiful Anvik River Northern Pike to count toward Bob’s Century Club total.

Anvik River Lodge’s newest Century Club inductee. 100 fish in one day!  Congratulations Bill.

Xavier with another Anvik River Chum Salmon to go toward his 100 fish day earning him a Century Club hat.

Categories: Alaska King Salmon Fishing, Alaska Sport Fishing, Arctic Char fishing, Chum Salmon Fishing, Grayling fishing, Northern Pike Fishing, Remote Alaska Fishing, Uncategorized, Wilderness Adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Another great couple of weeks on the Anvik River

We’re off to a great start

My apologies –

I wrote this blog over 10 days ago and didn’t post right away because I was waiting for some pictures to go with it.  In the meantime, my computer went all haywire.  Finally got that fixed – no easy task being so remote.  Here’s the recap of our first couple of groups – ENJOY!

Our 2017 season is off to a fantastic start this summer. We’ve had two groups of guests join us so far and they just can’t get enough of the fantastic fishing, food and fun.

WEATHER: The first week’s weather at the Anvik River Lodge was a little rainy for a few of the days. We didn’t mind though because the water levels were a little lower than normal for this time of the year. And a little rain didn’t hamper the angler’s spirits or the fishing opportunities. This past group of guests were blessed with better weather for sure with temps in the mid 60’s to low 70’s. Even had to use sunscreen a day or two.

Jeff looking happy with this beautiful Anvik River chum salmon caught on the fly.

FISHING: As of today the State of Alaska Fish and Game sonar shows 250K + summer chum salmon have passed by their counter on the Anvik River. The king salmon and sockeye salmon are showing up and there’s been a few caught this past week. The arctic char & arctic grayling continue to be abundant and really good sized. The pike fishing has been pretty good, whenever there’s a weather change, they are affected for a day or two as usual. They always look like dinosaur fish to me.

GRAND SLAMS & CENTURY CLUB REPORT: An Anvik River Lodge grand slam consists of catching one or two salmon species, a pike, a char & a grayling all in one day. This is a great way to explore the diverse fishery available in the remote wilderness. For the 2017 season we’ve inducted 6 women & 15 men anglers & 1 ten year old angler (Luke) who incidentally got his all on the same lure I believe.  Another fantastic feat was performed by Tom who is 84 years old and legally blind – he got one of his grand-slams all on the fly.  He also caught an Anvik River Lodge grayling on his 97 year old bamboo rod that has been passed down in his family for a few generations and has been used all over the world in various waters. This was its first time to Alaska – very cool.

84 year old Tom showing off his fine Anvik River Lodge Chum salmon!

An Anvik River Lodge Century Club is when you catch 100 fish in one day – we don’t have very many members of this club that we started about three years ago. But we’ve got one more from our first group of guests this season. A big congratulations goes out to Bill Simpson of Soldotna, Alaska for catching over 100 fish in one day! Great Job!

Until next time everyone – we’ll keep a line in the Anvik River with your name on it!

Anvik River Lodge’s newest Century Club inductee. 100 fish in one day!

Categories: Alaska Sport Fishing, Arctic Char fishing, Chum Salmon Fishing, Grayling fishing, Northern Pike Fishing, Remote Alaska Fishing, Uncategorized, Wilderness Adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

It’s time for the crew to play!!

It’s T-minus 7 days until the first day of our 23rd season with Alaska’s Anvik River Lodge. And since our pre-season preparations or the beloved “hell month” has gone so smoothly this year many of us have had an opportunity to get out and do some pleasure fishing ourselves.  The first salmon run is just beginning and as you can see from the pictures we’ve caught tons of outstanding char and dolly varden, big beautiful grayling, northern pike, white fish, chum salmon and even a shee fish.    So far the fish counts are really great and the weather has been better than expected too.

The Arctic Char/Dolly Varden fishing is out of the world this time of the year. Blair’s catch is a great example!

Even boss man Cliff gets to go fishing once in a while.

Staff members Shelby & Tug get out for some fishing fun on the shores of the Anvik River.

JD & fiancee Chef Megan break away for a little fun in the sun. Megan caught her first northern pike on the fly – well done!

Awesome Anvik River Dolly Varden

While there were some forest fires close to the village of Anvik, we weren’t in any danger being 75 miles up-river. Had some smoke around for a few days, but the rains kicked in and cleared everything right up making a hike up the peak we refer to as “Egypt” a great adventure for some of the crew.

New guide Nick Jr. hiking up Egypt in full gear, in search of yet another fishing hole – perhaps some of the guys were pulling a joke on him?

The garden and green house are going gang busters and the crew is right on schedule with cleaning and repairs.  And as you can see, out here in remote Alaska, we have to entertain ourselves after a long hard day of work.

Blair & Jr. mimicking the Blues Brothers for a little Karaoke entertainment for us all

Seth out for a cruise on the Anvik River – what a beautiful day!!

The flower baskets are ready to hang around the beautiful Anvik River Lodge

We’ve had some bear sightings and a few National Geographic type moments. Just yesterday we were out for a drift and saw a brand new baby moose calf standing on the bank of the river. It’s mother was up on the high shore above the calf and she of course beckoned her baby to get back up with her as we got closer. As we were watching the calf moose awkwardly climbing up the cut bank to mamma a mature bald eagle swooped by with a big grayling in its talons. It was quite majestic if I do say so myself.

Here’s some great shots of the kitchen and housekeeping staff of the Anvik River Lodge showing their other talent – FISHING!

We hope you enjoyed these photos of some of our hard working crew having a little fun!  Yours in the Wilderness, Cliff, Cheryl & the whole Anvik Lodge Gang

 

Chef Megan and an awesome Anvik River Shee Fish – what a catch!

Shelby not only makes a fantastic salad, she one mean pike fisherman. This was one of her first Anvik River Northern Pike

Look at that smile – this is one proud gal, Sundi Scott with her first Anvik River Grayling caught on the fly.

Categories: Alaska Sport Fishing, Arctic Char fishing, Chum Salmon Fishing, Grayling fishing, Northern Pike Fishing, Remote Alaska Fishing, Uncategorized, Wilderness Adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on It’s time for the crew to play!!

Gettin’ Ready to Rock the 2017 Season!

As the expediting process comes to an end, the excitement of leaving the busy city life to the paradise known as Alaska’s Anvik River Lodge intensifies. The entire crew is itching to return to a place where the work is hard and endless, but life becomes more simple and enjoyable.

The initial drive up river is peaceful and gorgeous.  The abundant wildlife – cow moose and their calves, bears and wolfs are making their way to the river’s edge to greet us – of course then run away when they see us!  The sounds of spring are echoing through the air. However, mother-nature is our business partner and we never know what “gifts” she has left for us during our time away. As we draw closer to the lodge the questions begin to flood our minds. What unexpected surprises will we face since our early March visit? What did the snow loads do to the roofs? Which buildings will need to be fixed? Did a bear ransack the lodge again? How much erosion has occurred when the ice went out? Will we be able to the water running from the wellhead? Is the generator and solar system ready for another year? Will Blair become the Viking he’s always wanted to be? The questions are endless as is the work to prepare for the season opener. A part of the season that we affectionately call “hell month”.

Cliff & Jay work on new Anvik River Lodge ramp

 

Hell month is quite a statement, but the endless hours of work and lashings is where it gets its name. All the spring clean-up and improvements take a lot of time and energy especially when you operate the most remote lodge in Alaska. This time of the year is sure to bring torrential downpours – which is needed to help the ground thaw, but it makes for a muddy mess everywhere on the property.  We got lucky this season and the rains didn’t start until our second week here, so we were able to get tons of things done without sinking to our knees in mud.  And equally lucky this year there was no bear ransacking, no collapsed roofs and no surprises. We finally get a year where we can get straight to work on the general maintenance, lodge improvements and of course our luscious garden and grounds. Sounds easy enough right? Fixing all the things the harsh environment left its mark on. From the yard to the tower, it seems everything needs attention. The ice makers need new valves, the loading ramp needs to be rebuilt, the docks need replacement, the main lodge roof needs some repairs and the sauna roof needs total replacement – these are just a few examples. It is a never ending list that seems to always come down to the wire before the season opener. Adding to the fun is the fact that we can’t just run to the store to pick up what we need.  Although Amazon Prime has become a very useful tool indeed.

Anvik River Lodge’s greenhouse with beautiful garden starts ready to plant

Getting the Anvik River Lodge garden ready for planting

We’ve got an awesome mill on-sight for making dimensional lumber.  But so many times we find ourselves brainstorming on how creatively fix the unexpected.  Our fearless leader Cliff is a genius at making chicken soup out of chicken poop and has taught us all well over the years.

The beloved saw mill – one of our favorite tools at the Anvik River Lodge

Guide Tug – preparing for battle with a handful of bolts for the new docks

Now please don’t take any of this as complaining of any sort – quite the contrary.  Getting through these challenges and “surprises” that pop up every spring are what make all of us so proud to be a part of the most remote lodge in Alaska and we wouldn’t have it any other way.  As hell month continues the excitement for the season builds and we can’t wait to for our guest to arrive. Some come as strangers but all who leave here become a part of the Anvik River Lodge family. We can’t wait for the 2017 season to begin so we can see everyone enjoy the fruits of our labors!

Yours in the Wilderness – J.D. and the Anvik Lodge Gang

Categories: Alaska Sport Fishing, Arctic Char fishing, Chum Salmon Fishing, Grayling fishing, Northern Pike Fishing, Remote Alaska Fishing, Uncategorized, Wilderness Adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gettin’ Ready to Rock the 2017 Season!

LET’S GO SHOPPING!

More than a decade ago – long before the current reality TV craze we were chatting with our friends Audrey Bradshaw & Larry Csonka about maybe doing a show that might be called “So You Think You Want to Own a Fishing Lodge?”.  The idea was going to be for the show to let folks know what it really takes to make a remote wilderness lodge such as Alaska’s Anvik River Lodge happen.  One of the processes that would be high-lighted is the pre-season preparations of shipping and expediting supplies for the season.  Here’s a glimpse of this process from Blair’s point of view……………

Few things are sweeter than the taste of a cold beverage on the river. Out in the normal world most would drink it without considering what it took to get it there. On average every beer or soda you drink at the Anvik River Lodge is moved by us about a dozen times. It’s another task that we here on the Anvik river take part in every spring before coming up to the lodge. The loved and hated expediting season…

The Purchasing: I must admit that every year during this process I feel a little bad for the cashiers at Costco & Sam’s Club.  I feel bad for being the herd of people with fourteen, filled to the brim, flat-bed shopping carts in the checkout line. But like I try to tell people in line, “These groceries aren’t going to buy themselves”. Its what it takes to make a trip out to the Anvik River Lodge possible. You can never truly appreciate something until you’ve had to physically touch it and move it up to a dozen times. As we stand in the store and we’re staring a particular item – a thought always pops in our heads “Do we need it so bad that we want to move it 12 times?” – from the shelf to the cart – to the conveyor belt – back to the cart – to the truck – from the truck to the garage – into the packing box – to the crate – from the crate to the boat (up the river it goes to the lodge) – from the boat to the storage shelf at the lodge – from the shelf to the cooler – and finally to your hand.  Sometimes we can cut out a couple of steps and only have to handle things 9 times though.

When you’re at Alaska’s Anvik River Lodge keep in mind that everything here was brought by us. The little things like trash bags to band-aids we have to think about months in advance before we actually use them. There’s a lot to be said for experience and we’re going on our 22nd season of this process.  We create a master list of every possible thing we may need over the next five months and head to the stores to get it.

The Packing & Shipping: The devil is in the details with this process. We are always trying to make everything as efficient as possible. For instance, if we choose to ship certain items on the barge as opposed to bypass mail our packaging techniques and systems are different. I’ll address the barge shipment first before bypass mail just so everyone knows what we are talking about.

We try to send as much as possible on the barge, it’s a little slower than our bypass shipments but it is a bit less expensive. And on the barge we can ship non-mailable items such as boats, roofing materials, tractors, recumbent bikes, alcohol etc. Most items we ship on the barge are packed in crates that we build ourselves. The crates are made of either ¾” or ½” plywood cut to either 4’ or left at their original length. We do this so we can disassemble all the 2/4s and plywood, collect up the screws, and use it all on building projects at the lodge. That way we are making the most efficient use of every pound we ship out to Anvik. Even the pallets we have to scavenge, (which is getting much harder thanks to the DIY pallet project fad) we haul up to the lodge for projects.

After we build a crate we tight pack it with groceries and supplies. And I mean tight pack. We’ll send anywhere from five to fourteen of these crates out each season depending on projects at the lodge for the year. Prior to shipping we silicon the seams, wrap them in plastic to keep the contents from getting wet and band them shut. We learned about all of this the hard way in the early years.

Once we have all of our crates built and loaded we deliver them to Carlisle trucking where they in turn haul them north of Anchorage about 400 miles to Nenana.  In Nenana they’re loaded onto Ruby Marine’s barge and are shipped down the Yukon to the village of Anvik.  This leg of the trip usually take about a week to 10 days depending upon river and weather conditions.

As we anticipate the arrival of the barge in Anvik we get as many things done as possible.  Most projects hinge on the arrival of the barge freight.  For instance, any building or repair projects that need to be done can be started but rarely finished until the barge gets in with the bulk of the building materials.  Once our barge freight gets to Anvik we disassemble the shipping crates and haul the contents up river in two 23ft. Wooldridge boats.  This is a minimum of 6 hours round-trip travel time plus another couple of hours for the time it takes to unpack and repack the supplies onto our boats – making sure the weight and balance are good and we’re maximizing the payload on each boat.  The barge will usually arrive in Anvik sometime within the first 10 days of June, which gives us two to three weeks before we open for the season.  A few years ago the ice conditions were so thick that the Yukon wasn’t navigable until well into June.  The barge got to Anvik on June 22nd – three days before opening day that year – talk about hustling, you have no idea.

One of the other forms of shipment we use is a system called Bypass mail. Bypass mail is unique to Alaska. The federal government understands that getting everyday items out to bush Alaska is very expensive. When you’re paying $10 a gallon for milk, if you can even find milk, it can be almost too expensive to live. The Post office will ship grocery items to approved companies (stores, lodges, and other businesses) at priority speed but at parcel post prices. In our case we have to pack boxes that are not more than seventy pounds, stack them on pallets, and shrink wrap them. We then have to use a very large scale to weigh the pallets, submit our total weight to the post office, and wait for an air carrier to approve the shipment and receive it. After we drop it off at the air carrier they have 72 hours to get it to Anvik where we will receive it on the other end and begin the process of hauling it 75 miles upriver to the lodge. Most items in this particular group include produce, meats, as well as other perishables.

Transporting the Staff & Dogs:  The final method we use to get items to the lodge is on our private charter flight through ACE – the same company that transports our guests to Anvik from Anchorage. The crew, the dogs and most fragile and super important items such as our office files, computers etc. and some garden starts go on this flight.  We also include items that we donate for Anvik’s annual “Clean-Up, Green-Up” day and picnic.  Once the snow melts the whole community comes together to clean up debris and garbage that’s been covered up by snow and ice over the winter. It is another awesome tradition that Alaskan communities have. This day signifies that summer is upon us and is everyone celebrates with hard work, games, prizes and good food. It’s our chance to be able to give back to this great community and so fun seeing the pride everyone shows in making Anvik beautiful this time of the year.

 

 

 

Categories: Alaska Sport Fishing, Arctic Char fishing, Chum Salmon Fishing, Grayling fishing, Northern Pike Fishing, Remote Alaska Fishing, Uncategorized, Wilderness Adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blair’s report on the spring time re-con mission to Alaska’s Anvik River Lodge

One of the unseen aspects of running the most remote lodge in Alaska is what I like to call the “Gathering Season”. With the lodge dormant in the clutches of the long Alaskan winters comes one of our best friends for gathering – namely – snow. With the use of snow machines, or what people from the lower 48 may call snowmobiles, we are able to move firewood and logs quickly and efficiently over the several feet of accumulated snow.

Using a snow machine to gather fire wood for the Anvik River Lodge

Cliff, JD, Nick, and I have just returned from our early springtime adventure out to the lodge. The primary focus of this expedition is to first check out the lodge to assess any damage that may have occurred over the winter. Sometimes this can be as simple as a stove pipe being broken off due to the overwhelming snow load on the roofs, or it can be as dramatic as a bear break in. Last year for instance we were unable to make it out to the lodge early in the spring so we were taken off guard when Nick and Cliff arrived at the beginning of May to find that a Sow grizzly bear and her cubs had decided to make the lodge their winter den causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage. But that is a story for another time.

This year as we set out from Anchorage on that sunny March morning the temperatures out in Anvik were still in the sub-zero category. We arrived in the village of Aniak then proceeded on to Anvik on the local milk run Cessna Caravan with longtime pilot Ron as our captain. Upon arriving in Anvik we could definitely tell that the winter had not yet given up its grasp in western Alaska as much as it had in south central. From there we had a longtime local friend fly us out to the lodge in his bush plane. It took several loads in the plane for all of us to make it safely to the lodge. On our initial entry back to the lodge we always take more than we need because we never know what may encounter.

Upon a quick hot lap of the grounds we realized there was no apparent damage which was a huge relief. We then proceeded to begin building fires in all of our woodstoves and firing up the Toyo-stoves. Because the weather on the Anvik River had been quite frigid this winter it took a day or two just to bring the log walls up to a temperature to where the inside of the building was warm enough to no longer need heavy wool sweaters. When you find a bottle of anti-freeze that was in fact frozen, you get a perspective as to how brutally cold it must have been.

Once we established all was well and good we began to plot out a project list of what was needed to be accomplished over the next couple weeks of our stay. We knew we had to gather as much firewood and lumber wood as possible to avoid the mud-fest that comes with early summer logging. Cliff made an approximate materials take off list so we knew time was of the essence to accomplish our goals before we needed to leave.

Now, if we were able to just fire up the snow machines and head off into the woods to begin our task it would be one thing, but this is not the way things are in the bush. It always seems it is the small details that become a time sink. For instance, when our generator batteries had died and froze it makes the process of getting it to run a bit more involved. There wasn’t enough juice in the solar charged batteries to run things for long due to the long dark days earlier in the year.  But we were able to get the generator going with only a couple hours of a heat gun and some Cliff “MacGyver” techniques. The same goes for the tractor which we would need to use to plow all the snow away from the buildings so when the thaw occurs we would not have to deal with a small sea of melted snow around the foundations of the buildings.

After a couple days of “housekeeping items we could finally focus on our main task, gathering wood. It always takes a few runs to get back in the groove and make the process run more efficiently. The snow was deep so when we would dismount from the machines it felt a lot like wading the river. JD made some comment about his spirit animal being the T-Rex and how he was not built for these conditions.

For several days it was a constant rotation of finding proper trees, dropping them, limbing them, cutting them into moveable portions, loading them on sleds, and transporting them back to the lodge. Although it could be -20 degrees in the morning it would warm up to a blistering 15 degrees during the day. With every load it seemed to become easier and more streamlined.

We definitely would work long days, but occasionally we would find time to go out and be swashbucklers. We mixed in a little ice fishing

A little ice fishing fun on the Anvik River in March.

and some overall exploring during our little breaks between work. On one of our adventures we found where a pack of wolves had killed a moose no more than a few days before we had arrived no more than 300 yards from the lodge. Although we saw tons of wolf sign we never encountered one on this trip.

Nick check’s out the spot where a pack of wolves killed a moose on the frozen Anvik River just days before their arrival.

Another important task is to be able to go through what supplies we have at the lodge and double check everything we may need for the upcoming season, so we can meet the barge deadline in early May.  We’ll talk more about this whole process in another blog post.

However, after a couple weeks it’s time to leave and head back to Anchorage. In typical fashion we quickly gathered our belongings, reattached our electric fence, boarded up the windows and awaited our friend’s arrival in his bush plane to transport us back out to civilization.

Having a break in the sled.

In closing I’d just like to comment that no matter how much time we spend out at the lodge, it never seems like enough. But once the snow melts and the ice vacates the river we will be back for Anvik River Lodge’s “hell month” when the real work begins – stay tuned.

 

Categories: Alaska Sport Fishing, Arctic Char fishing, Chum Salmon Fishing, Grayling fishing, Northern Pike Fishing, Remote Alaska Fishing, Wilderness Adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

WHEN IT’S SPRINGTIME IN ALASKA….IT’S FORTY BELOW

Alaska’s Anvik River Lodge covered in snow – BEAUTIFUL!

Or so the song says. It’s not quite -40 degrees at the lodge, but it is pretty chilly. Cliff, Blair, Nick & JD just ventured out to do the spring re-con mission and report that it was -15 degrees, but warming to a balmy 0 this afternoon. The really great news is, there is no damage from the cruel winter weather or the animals. Many of you will remember last years surprise of the sow and cub breaking in and camping out over the winter! But with our outstanding crew we were able to get everything ship shape before we opened up for the season.  Luckily this year the guys report that all is well and things look great out at the lodge.  They’ll be out there for a couple weeks getting firewood and timber put up for the season, then it’ll be back to Anchorage to start getting supplies packed up and shipped.  Stay tuned for the progress as we’re getting geared up for our 22nd season. WE CAN”T WAIT!!

Categories: Alaska Sport Fishing, Arctic Char fishing, Chum Salmon Fishing, Grayling fishing, Northern Pike Fishing, Remote Alaska Fishing, Uncategorized, Wilderness Adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on WHEN IT’S SPRINGTIME IN ALASKA….IT’S FORTY BELOW

Why the Early Season is so Much Fun – a Guide’s Perspective

Chef Megan – got out of the kitchen to fish for some early season Chum Salmon

We invited the staff to join The Alaska’s Anvik River Lodge Blog. Many of our guides have been with us for well over five seasons and they can’t wait to get back up to the lodge every spring. The following is some insight by guide extraordinaire Justin Doucet (J.D. to everyone that knows him). ENJOY!!

DON’T MISS THE VALUE OTHERS OVER LOOK

The early season (June 25- July 15) at the Anvik River lodge consist of the largest salmon run of the year, highly aggressive pike, acrobatic grayling and ravenously hungry arctic char. This combination makes for some of the best fishing opportunities on the Anvik.

The Anvik River is home to one of the largest Chum salmon runs in Alaska, averaging 400,000- 700,000 fish, at times exceeding 1.2 million fish. This amount of fish in a crystal clear river is truly a remarkable site to witness. The chum salmon range from 7 to 15lbs and fight like hell trying to elude the net. Some of my best days on the river have exceeded over 100 chum a day between 2 anglers, that’s basically reeling in 700 to 1500lbs of salmon a day per boat – that’s a work out. The number of fish that are available during the first few weeks of the season is tough to beat.

Slammin’ Chum Salmon on the Anvik River.

What a catch!! A beautiful summer Chum Salmon on the Anvik River.

Fishing for Chum is exciting, most of the time you see the aggressive takes. One minute your lure is working its way through the water then all of the sudden you see this 10+lb fish, (swimming so fast you might miss it if you blink) slam your lure. You set your hook perfectly and your rod is dubbed over and your guide is PUMPED! You get that fish landed for the grip and grin – proof positive that you are a skilled angler.

WHAT THESE FISH LIKE TO GO AFTER – The Chum love spinners like the #3 black Vibrax with silver sparkles commonly known as the Micheal Jackson. They also love the natural swing of the fly hitting voodoo leeches, intruders, and popsicles.

PIKE FISHING GALORE! On top of the spectacular Chum Salmon fishing; the PIKE fishing is phenomenal. The northern pike are just coming out of their spawning season and are eager to hit anything. The guides love to rig up a top water lure this time of year. Pike are a prehistoric, mean looking toothy monsters and when they hit top water lures it is a thrilling experience. As you reel in and work the lure the still water begins to move and suddenly comes alive, at times seeing 3 to 4 different fish creating a wake as they speed toward your lure, the fastest pike wins and a huge explosion erupts. BOOM a huge pike is fighting you with all his might head shaking & water thrashing. As you reel it in several more pike are hoping for a quick meal. If the excitement of top water isn’t your thing a spoon or a jig would work just as well. This is one of the best times of the year to fish for these aggressive predators of the north.

Nothin’ like catching an Anvik River northern pike on the fly!

Plentiful and exuberant the Anvik River grayling can’t be beat – spin or fly it’s all exciting.

If you’ve had your fill of catching salmon and pike the Grayling and Char are in the same kind of feeding frenzy. The water is finally warming up the river is free from all ice and dirt, and they need to get as much food as possible before winter sets in again. This is the time Grayling are most likely to hit on dry flies, the grayling will come clear out of the water like acrobats flipping and twisting to grab your fly. Although rare it’s also the best time to catch Char on a dry fly as long as you are up to the challenge, you could be part of the elite group that catches one. If you’re not a fan of fly fishing, don’t worry as they are just as eager to hit spoons and spinners with vicious strikes. They both put up fights that will have you begging for more. Whether you’re a seasoned vet, beginner fly fisherman/women or one that loves to fish with ultralight gear fun can be had by all.

This is a great example of the beautiful char you’ll catch on the Anvik River.

If you’re planning your next or your first trip to Alaska consider the early season. The salmon are plentiful and will give you a workout. The pike explode the water and get your adrenalin pumping. When the pike and salmon fishing wears out the Grayling and Char will fill in the gaps for an exciting fun filled fishing vacation, all at an incredible value that should not be overlooked.

Categories: Alaska Sport Fishing, Arctic Char fishing, Chum Salmon Fishing, Grayling fishing, Northern Pike Fishing, Remote Alaska Fishing, Uncategorized, Wilderness Adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Why the Early Season is so Much Fun – a Guide’s Perspective