Community showers that might have hot water, basic electricity powered by a generator (so don’t forget to fill it), bears that prowl through camp at night, and sleeping in a wood and tarp tent for six months – these are just a few things that ensure that the guides up at Alaska’s Naknek River Camp never have a dull moment.
After spending last summer with this crew we couldn’t help but be impressed by their passion and dedication for what they do… and the sheer insanity. Get to know a little more about the guides that really make Alaska tick.
Flylords: So, tell us, who is Max?
Max: I am named Max Werkman. I guide in West Michigan as well as southwest Alaska. I mostly fish steelhead back home and guide the full season in Alaska.
Flylords: How did you end up in King Salmon, Alaska?
Max: My dad used to be an owner in the lodge that Jim used to own. So I met Jim through working at that lodge. Then throughout the years I just came up here and liked it a bunch so I stay up here.
Flylords: What does a typical day look like for you?
Max: Hopefully catching a bunch of fish. I just like to have a good time on the river- hopefully catch some fish, meet the people and get to know them, develop relationships so we can know each other and they can come and fish again.
Flylords: How do you prepare for a season in Alaska?
Max: Throughout the season in Michigan, I’ll do a little bit every day since it’s the off-season for Alaska. There’s a duration of time we don’t really do anything in Michigan since it’s so cold so I’m mostly focused on getting ready for Alaska during then. I’ll tie flies, make sure I have enough rods and reels, make sure tent life and camp life is good.
Flylords: What’s one thing you wouldn’t hit the water without?
Max: Honestly, a raincoat. I do not want to be wet when I’m out on the water.
Flylords: Where do you live in the off-season?
Max: West Michigan.
Flylords: What occupies your time in the off-season?
Max: I’m guiding all of the time, there is no such thing as an off-season.
Flylords: Do you guide anywhere else? If so, how is that different from guiding in Alaska?
Max: I mean, this is the type of water we fish back home. The type of trout we have up here we have at home, generally speaking, Michigan ‘steelhead’. But we have salmon in the Great Lakes, we have salmon up here so it’s not too much different. It’s just how we fish them in the water that we fish.
The waters back home are smaller- they’re more small trout stream type of stuff. Up here we fish bigger water like the Naknek. At home, they eat different types of stuff. We can fish different lures, bait flies for them. It’s the same fish but with a different attitude.
Flylords: If you were a fly or streamer pattern which would you be?
Max: Back home I would be a streamer. A friend of mine, Austin Adduchi, ties a pattern like a slug-o type fly, I’m not really sure, he has a certain variant of it. And if I was a fly in Alaska I would probably be a black leech because of overall results.
Flylords: What’s your favorite part about being up in Alaska?
Max: Being disconnected from the lower 48 and getting to spend time with all these dudes up here. We love to have a good time.
Flylords: What do you miss most about home?
Max: Normal-priced beer! And good food- anything besides normal camp food.
For some major Steelhead and Rainbow content follow Max on Instagram @_maxwerkman