Client Day of the Bristol Bay Fly Fishing and Guide Academy is here. Today, the local youth of this rural region of Southwest Alaska will show off the new skills they’ve learned throughout the week. This year, we’re at Mission Lodge on Lake Aleknagik in the heart of Bristol Bay’s world-class salmon country.
Sunny weather beckoning, three float planes lined up at the dock, shore lunches packed and new Orvis gear donned, the group was more than ready for another big day on the water. The students were told that today was their last big trip before they'd guide their client. Given this, they set to work (and play too, let's be honest) ensuring they are ready to show their clients how to bring in a fish safely and while having lots of fun on Client Day.
Historically, day three of the Academy is when the students come alive. They've gotten to know everyone's names, they've got the basics of fly fishing down, they're not shy around the instructors and after many hours in the classroom, they are SO ready to get out on the water.
As I type, Mission Lodge is buzzing. Forks are clanking, students are laughing. Someone just asked, "where are you from again?"(New Stuyahok, he answered). It smells like pizza, and I'm slurping down a Coke knowing we have a night of activities ahead - and the long days of June in Alaska will allow for them.
We had a record number of applicants for this years' Academy. Each of the last few seasons we've seen more and more Bristol Bay young people apply for the program and with that, the coordinators are both thrilled with the incoming class and disappointed to have to turn away so many qualified applicants!
early all the students had caught at least one fish and were exchanging ideas on what flies worked, or didn't; joking on how important the knots were to landing the fish; sharing with their peers where they found the willing fish and of course, embellishing things just a little bit...(they are after all fish stories).