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 Sam?
Sam: I am a 21-year-old part-time fly fishing guide in Alaska, part-time student. Born and raised in southeast Michigan.
Flylords: How did you end up in King Salmon, Alaska?
Sam: I met Jim and James through fly fishing up in Baldwin and down in Belize. I was looking into getting into guiding and they were looking for guys up here so they gave me a summer job. Then I went home and got my captain’s license and I’ve been up here ever since.
Flylords: What does a typical day look like for you?
Sam: I don’t think there’s really a typical day by any means up here. Usually we are on the water, if all plans work. Usually start the day off with everyone on the boat by 8AM. We get our game plan the night before and see what the clients want to do. Most of the time I’m fishing the main river. If the Salmon are running we’ll fish for sockeye at the beginning of the year, then silvers later on. And we’ve got trout fishing between that too. We leave it up to the clients and what’s fishing best. It’s usually an 8 to 4 kind of day. If we are on flyouts that will change up a little bit but that is a typical day.
Flylords: How do you prepare for a season in Alaska?
Sam: It was a little tough at first, not really knowing what to bring, but I had a lot of help from other guys who have been up here before.
Flylords: What’s one thing you wouldn’t hit the water without?
Sam: Rain jacket, especially up in Alaska.
Flylords: Where do you live in the off-season?
Sam: I split time between southeast Michigan and in Ontario.
Flylords: What occupies your time in the off-season?
Sam: School for the most part and then I do lawn and landscaping as well.
Flylords: Do you guide anywhere else? If so, how if that different from guiding in Alaska?
Sam: Not at the moment.
Flylords: What is your favorite fish to target in your own backyard?
Sam: Probably smallmouth. It’s one of the first main fish I started fly fishing for and I really grew fond of the fish and the species itself. Growing up near Lake St. Clair and the Huron River.
Flylords: If you were a fly or streamer pattern which would you be?
Sam: Probably a dry fly just floating on top of the water some days. Haha. I’d probably be a game-changer of some sorts, just gotta be a little different.
Flylords: What’s your favorite part about being up in Alaska?
Sam: The fishing itself, it’s second to none up here. A chance that 30inch plus rainbows, you’ve got your five species of salmon, it definitely brings me back. The weather isn’t always ideal but it’s definitely worth it.
Flylords: What do you miss most about home?
Sam: Friends and family for the most part. It’s not always the easiest thing to do when you’re up in the middle of nowhere for months at a time. And sometimes my own bed.
Flylords: What is your favorite AK memory?
Sam: On a day off, myself and four other guides went out on the lake and found a little creek and fished it for quite a while. Ended up catching rainbows on a mouse at 12 o’clock in the afternoon on a bright and sunny day, sockeye, chums, little bit of everything right in this little creek that probably nobody has really touched. It was really cool.
Flylords: Final Thoughts?
Sam: No Pebble Mine!
Keep up with Sam’s hunting and fishing on Instagram @sam_solotorow45