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 Micah?
Micah: I’m a guide up here at Naknek River Camp, Alaskan guide extraordinaire and expert bead painter. I guide up here and back in Georgia.
Flylords: How did you end up in King Salmon, Alaska?
Micah: My dad came up here and after his first season he invited me up. I helped him guide back at home. I started here as camp help, kinda started to learn the ins and outs of it, and then I decided I wanted to guide up here. So I got my captain’s license. I’ve been guiding up here for 6 years now. Each year is different and you kinda just go with it. The excitement of it keeps me coming back. You meet a lot of different kinds of people, whether it is client or staff here. There’s a lot of good times, we’re pretty close with each other, and it’s hard to beat those rainbows.
Flylords: How do you prepare for a season in Alaska?
Micah: I usually make a list of all the stuff I need. Now mentally? Mentally is a whole different story. There’s a lot of emotion, it’s an emotional roller coaster being here. There’s weeks you love being up here and weeks you don’t. We’re up here so long, a third of the year, so that can kind of suck but… I don’t know. Bring lots of extra shit because it’s going to get lost.
Flylords: Where do you live in the off-season?
Flylords: What occupies your time in the off-season?
Micah: I guide a lot of trout stuff. When people think of Georgia they think of bass and spinning rods but it’s actually not bad trout fishing. Especially up in the mountains. It’s definitely a good way to learn. Up here (Alaska) will definitely spoil you as far as fishing goes. So if you learn how to appreciate working for fish then coming up here will be a lot better. When I’m not guiding I try to stay busy. I like to have lazy days here and there.
But I commercially tie flies back home and do photography work for a buddy. I learned that so I could take better pictures up here- wildlife and just painting a better picture of the whole thing up here. It’s hard to explain to people. I found a book a couple years ago called The Alaska Chronicles by Miles Noltey. He was a teacher turned guide. Before I told my girlfriend Koda, she asked what it was like, and I told her to read this book and she said it all made more sense. He does a great job of describing the ups and downs and it’s mainly a guide perspective rather than someone that’s coming up for a week vacation kind of deal. Most clients will tell me I have a dream job that I get to fish all week but that is definitely not always the case.
Flylords: Do you guide anywhere else? If so, how if that different from guiding in Alaska?
Micah: Back home is more accessible, everything is within driving distance. There’s also a lot more pressure and you have to work harder. You still have to work hard for the fish up here but back home you basically have to know your shit to get fish.
Flylords: What is your favorite fish to target in your own backyard?
Micah: Definitely brown trout. They’re naturally reproducing there and they happen to get very large. Not all of them, but if you put in your time and work hard you can get a very large brown. I would say equivalent to the size of the rainbows that are here in Alaska.
My dad went out after a guide trip and the water was real blown out. He thought he was caught on a log when he hooked it, but it started moving. That fish was mid-30s, a tank. It would have broken the Georgia state record but he didn’t kill it. I think that states should make it easier to scale and weigh fish like that so people don’t have to kill them. You want those fish in the gene pool.
Flylords: If you were a fly or streamer pattern which would you be?
Micah: Probably an intruder. Something that takes a long time to tie, is pretty difficult for average tiers but you can get the same job done pretty much with just a rabbit strip, haha.
Flylords: What’s your favorite part about being up in Alaska?
Micah: I like the scenery and the variety of stuff we can do up here. If you wanted to you could do something different everyday of the week. You could fly out one day, boat over to Margot or Brooks…and all the species you can catch! There’s more than you could fit in a week if you tried to do it all.
Flylords: What do you miss most about home?
Micah: Cheap alcohol and family.
Flylords: Do you have a favorite memory of being up here?
Micah: Right now my favorite memory of being up here was last fall with my buddy Luke, Luke Vandenberg. We were out swinging late fall, and you know I don’t care if I catch a fish, I just like being out, you know I’m fishing on my day off. But we happened to hook into a big 34 inch rainbow. It was a cool experience to share with him. We were just out there fucking around and caught a big one. He’s a good buddy too.
To keep up with Micah and the fishing in Georgia, follow him on Instagram @micahwalkertexasranger.