by Michael Bales – Head Guide for Alaska Rainbow Lodge

What a great season we had at ARL in 2014!  We have enjoyed the four months flying our anglers around Bristol Bay.  Anglers and staff all enjoyed great weather and some really fantastic fishing.  Ron and Sharon will be back in Texas in October to begin working on bookings for the 2015 season, so right now is the best time to reserve your date and make sure you get your preferred time period.  The last two weeks in August are booked solid. We’re seeing a lot of activity for our June and July six(6) day trips.  Be sure to let us know when you would like to reserve your return trip in 2015.

Our strategy of a “Family special” pricing this past June and the first two weeks in July generated a lot of new business for the lodge.We’re offering three dates in 2015 on a half-price deal. One angler pays full  rate of $6,475.00 and his/her fishing buddy, spouse, son or daughter pays half price, or $3,237.50. The dates are June 10-16, June 16-22 and June 22-28. The six night lodging/five day fishing package makes a nice gift for your business customers or a family member who has Alaska on their bucket list. Click here for the details.

Some plans in the works for next year include purchasing a new boat for the King Salmon camp on the Lower Nushagak River and possibly a Sauna for the Lodge.  We’re tossing around the idea of hiring a masseuse for relaxing massages after a hard day of fishing. We’re always discussing ways to improve your experience here at ARL and would like to hear your input on what you’d like to see happen at the lodge.

Alaska Fishing Lodge

The docks have been pulled out of the river at the lodge and at King Salmon. Forty boats and thirty-two outboard motors have been winterized for storage during the off-season. Of the forty boats we own and you fish from, only seven live at our lodge.  The other thirty-two are out on the rivers you fish, from the Upper Nushagak about eighty-five miles North of ARL, all the way to Ilnik, two hundred and twenty-five miles southwest of the lodge on the Alaska Peninsula.

The close-down routine requires us to fly to the location of all these boats, remove the motors, tie the motors to the Beaver floats and winch the boats up off the river into the bushes. Typically we then go on to the next river and do the same thing with those boats, usually attaching a motor on each float, then loading all the paraphernalia inside the Beaver and head back to the lodge. It’s all part of the close down routine and requires several trips to all these outlying areas to collect motors, gas cans, tools and seats.  We do it all in reverse in the spring before we open.

Ninety-six fly rods and over a hundred spin outfits have been tested, checked and put to rest until next season.  Everything has been counted (and I mean everything!) and orders have been noted for next season on low inventory items.  The storage areas have been battened down to withstand fifty knot winds, which are common in this area during the winter months.

Fly Rod & Tackle Storage Building

Fly Rod & Tackle Storage Building

Russ, our long term caretaker arrived at the lodge on September 19th and is busy getting prepared for the winter. He’s been our winter caretaker for ten years. Russ arrives at ARL around September 20th each year and spends the entire winter at the lodge, just Russ and his dog Isabella.  When he leaves ARL in the Spring, he goes to the mountains in Idaho and camps around. During the winter it’s COLD – temperatures can get as low as negative forty degrees(-40F) for weeks at a time.  It’s dark much of the day with about four and a half hours of daylight in December. Russ does not have the luxury of running water or even an inside bathroom. It takes a special person to fill this position.

Alaska Fishing Lodge

Russ is such a man.  It takes a load off our minds to know that he is watching over our lodge. He will be sending us photos this season of what it’s like around the lodge during the long winter. It’s hard to believe that our home river, the Kvichak, will be frozen over three feet thick in just a few months!  Here’s a few from past winters:

Alaska Fishing Lodge

I will be getting the new Hell’s Bay skiff in January and am anticipating a great season of Redfishing the marshes, saltwater flats and backcountry of the South Carolina low-country in and around Charleston, if you’re in the area be sure to look us up.  Georgia and I would love to show you some southern hospitality!  There’s nothing like casting to and catching tailing redfish in the grass and following up a great day on the water with some low-country cuisine that South Carolina is known for such as crabs, shrimp and fresh seafood.

Redfishing in South Carolina

Our guide staff is now back home starting their winter guide service. These men are either fishing for pleasure or guiding anglers during our off-season at ARL. They live, eat and drink fishing. Jose is in Chile, Kurtis in Oregon, Dac in Montana, and Kent in Colorado just to name a few. They are planning to return for the 2015 season and are looking forward to fishing and guiding our guests in Bristol Bay next summer.

In closing, we would like to thank all of our valued customers for fishing with us this season and look forward to seeing you again in 2015!  Make sure to stay in touch with us on Facebook for updates throughout the winter months.  We will also be publishing more of Ron’s stories from Alaska on the website, you can check them out at Ron’s Alaska Stories.