Flying and fishing are just part of Alaskan life. In order to get to remote fishing spots, an airplane is a necessity. Jeremy Pepperd and his family live the Alaskan dream in their SQ12, flying to incredible locations and catching some beautiful fish. The @xploringalaska Instagram page captures their amazing adventures. I got the chance to chat with Jeremy and his daughter Lainie about their Alaskan escapades. Below our interview with the father-daughter duo, along with some of their spectacular imagery!
Who is Xploring Alaska?
Jeremy: Our Instagram page was initially started by Lainie, but I manage it now. My son races amateur motocross down in the states, and we wanted to share our Alaskan adventures with people down there. It has been a fun way to share our flying, fishing, and hunting adventures with people all over.
When did you begin fly fishing?
Jeremy: As a kid growing up in Alaska we always were fishing, hunting, and exploring. I must have been about 14 or 15 when I really got into fly fishing. There weren’t very many people fly fishing back then. After the movie A River Runs Through It came out, I saw a lot more people on the local streams. Originally I had a cataraft and would float nearby streams, but as I got older I saw the need to get away from the crowds, so I bought my own bush plane. I grew up flying with my dad, and always knew I wanted my own plane.
Lainie: Dad has been bringing me fly fishing since I was super young, he used to put us kids in a backpack and take us out on the river.
What’s your favorite part about flying and fishing in Alaska?
Jeremy: My favorite part of flying and fishing in Alaska is just getting out and exploring new country away from the crowds. This airplane opens up some opportunities that other planes can’t necessarily offer due to its short landing and takeoff capabilities. I love finding new spots to land and fish, and it’s great to watch the kids catch fish.
Can you explain the culture of general aviation in Alaska (and the adventures that come with it)?
Jeremy: I think there are over 10,000 planes registered in Alaska. Bush flying is definitely a staple for Alaska, it seems like almost everyone has a plane. Alaska also has 33% of all
Super Cubs registered in the USA. Just as a River Runs Through It brought a new crowd of fly fishers, right now it seems like a new crowd of bush pilots is coming up due to social media and YouTube videos. As far as general aviation in Alaska, I think it’s a part of life. A lot of people grew up doing it, and those that didn’t want to do it. It opens up so many opportunities for hunting, fishing, and exploring Alaska.
Do you have any crazy stories of fly-out fishing?
Jeremy: As a pilot, you try and limit crazy as far as mistakes and such go. We do have some good stories though. In the spring we’ve flown out and broke off big chunks of ice and floated down the river on them and fish off of them.
Last summer on the 4th of July my friend called and said they were halibut fishing in the Prince William Sound and I flew down and landed on the beach. I pulled my plane up into the grass and went out on their boat. When we came back the plane was sitting on a little island of dirt and was surrounded by water because the tide had come in. We stayed there all night long to wait for the tide to retreat so I could fly out.
Lanie: There’re too many trips and adventures to think about! We’re out doing something almost every weekend, so we’re always creating good stories.
What is your youngest child named?
Jeremy: Landin Trout is my youngest son’s name. Below is a picture of Landin Trout with a rainbow trout, how appropriate!
What is your favorite target species?
Jeremy: I love fishing in general, my passion for fly fishing started with Rainbow Trout fishing. There was a time when I was obsessed with fly fishing, it was right around when I got married. My wonderful wife worked at a local fly shop for a while so I could afford my fly fishing addiction. Although rainbow fishing is where my love for fly fishing started, there is nothing like catching a king salmon or doing saltwater fishing.
Lainie: I love rainbow trout fishing, I have never caught a brown trout but I really want to.
Do you have any exciting future fishing trips planned?
Jeremy: We are always doing something, but I really want to fly up to the Brooks range and fish for Sheefish (the tarpon of the north). I also have some steelhead spots I want to go explore. Next summer I want to put a raft in the plane and fly down to Prince William Sound and go halibut fishing off the beach.
Check out @xploringalaska on Instagram to see more of the Pepperd family adventures across Alaska!