By Dallas Shakeleton
We just returned home from a week at Katmai Lodge hosting the Let’s Talk Hookup trip along with Rock Cod Rick Maxa……
We just returned to San Diego from our trip to Katmai Lodge after spending 5 days there. Words cannot describe the location, the experience, the first class treatment and overall atmosphere of Katmai Lodge but, I will do my best!
Leading up to our trip: The customer service before even arriving at the Lodge was notable. Email communications for any and all FAQs weren’t sent sporadically and tastefully the couple months leading up to our trip. Perfect to keep the “hype” up! We had the utmost confidence in the flight arrangements that were made for us as well as what to do with our luggage. We received thorough emails on what to pack, what to wear, how much weight our bags should be for the Otter Plane and even the care of our fish. Charmel, in particular, was fantastic! I obably called 4-5 times with last minute questions i.e. Will I need
to pack a blow dryer? (one is provided in your room!) She promptly answered every call and left off leaving me even more excited for the trip!
Arriving at Katmai Lodge: We stayed at the Inlet Tower Suites. Easy and close to the airport and had a free shuttle to and from the airport 24hrs a day. If you’re coming a day early Katmai Lodge will send a list of hotels close to the airport for your convenience. We flew out at 9am on a charter plane and headed to Katmai
from Anchorage. The Gate where you will fly out is right near all the other “small” charter companies such as Raven and Penair. From there, it was about an hour or so flight through beautiful country. (I’ll be posting photos on Katmai Lodges Facebook page so look for those!) one quick transfer in King Salmon and from there it was 20 minutes u
ntil we arrived. Right off the bat, you are greeted by pretty much the entire staff! Handshakes, hugs, and hellos! From there, Andrea took my boyfriends and me on a tour around the Lodge. Where we eat
at, where we could get massages, where the sauna is, how to get down to the boats, where happy hour is held and best of all where your room is! We stayed in “Upper Eagle” or the Eagles Nest. Hands down, most amazing view. Your bags are brought to you by your designated guide for the trip. From there, you discuss what your goals are as far as catching, fly outs and gear are. Marcus was our guide. Prior to your trip, you send in information on wader size and shoe sizes so, they are well prepared to get you fitted and out on the water! Marcus brought up our sized gear, made sure it fit the way it was supposed to and we hit the water!
The Fishing and our Guide Marcus: Aside from the first day of fishing that is intended to get the gear and tackle dialed in, you make your schedule. You can wake up when you want to wake up, you eat when you want to eat, you fish when you want to fish for what you want to fish for and for how long you want to fish for and you go home when you want to go home. Our daily routine consisted of up at 5A, Breakfast at 6A, fishing at 6:30A, lunch at 11:30-12P, in by 4-5P. It was perfect for us. The gear and tackle were first-rate. Marcus did such a great job making the entire experience a very personal one and was such a great teacher! Neither Rick nor I consider ourselves avid Fly fisherman…we’re more conventional reels and bait caster people but with the help of Marcus we were killing it on the fly rod! His knowledge of the River, the fish and tackle just set us up for success every day. We targeted Sockeye, Chum and King Salmon all on the lower end of the river then, Trout and Grayling in the upper river, again BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY. Depending on what the fish were doing or what the river was doing Marcus who was a senior guide knew exactly what flies to use when to use them and also educated us on why “flesh pattern” flies were more beneficial or a leach fly was more beneficial. What I really liked about the time spent with Marcus is that he was a fantastic guide that put us on the fish and he educated us, so much so by the end of the trip we were all spotting fish jumping and catching the rolls of the sockeye coming up the river. Our boat was a well-oiled machine.
The Wildlife: John Attenborough should have been narrating our days spent on the Alagnak! From watching the Chum jump and the Sockeye coasting up the gravel bars to the Bald Eagles, Moose, Otters and of course, THE BEARS! It was amazing! Our first day, right off the bat we saw a couple, Moose. Then, within an hour of being on the water, we saw a juvenile Grizzly fishing! Just across the bank from us that young bear went down into the water up on his hind legs, spotted and caught a sockeye, brought it back up to the bank and ate it. He went back down to the river, caught a sockeye ate it. 5 different times we watched him feast on what the river had to offer! The Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles were gliding over us consistently throughout the day and every now and then the otters would make an appearance. During our 3rd day of fishing, we saw 16 bears! Sows with cubs and juveniles roaming the ridge lines all the way down to the banks. It was amazing! We’d make it back to the lodge after feeling like we just lived an episode of NatGeo “Wild Alaska” and from the deck of our room we lucked out and spotted moose and Eagles as well! Rick and I had a bet going throughout the trip- $1 for every bear and moose spotted as well as $1 for the First fish, the most fish, and the biggest fish. I’ll go on record saying he collected on this trip!
Happy Hour and Dining: Meals are all held in the Dining Lodge. Breakfast is from 6A-9A, Lunch is from 12-2 I believe…(We ate lunch on our boat every day but, you do have the option to come back to the lodge for lunch if you choose). Happy Hour is from 5-7 and dinner is 7-9. The food. Is there such a thing as too many accolades? Chefs Sean, Josh, and Nick brought 5-Star dining to the bush of Alaska.
Meals are self-serve buffet style. Breakfast typically consisted of bacon and sausage with hash browns, eggs to order, oatmeal, and a waffle station. I’m not kidding when I say…literally, best sausage and bacon on the planet. Lunches at the lodge, not too sure because like I said, we ate lunch on the boats but lunches were amazing too! Marcus has a grill on his boat so that meant nice hot lunches on the river. One day we’d have bacon cheeseburgers, the next fresh caught Salmon and another day was left over meatloaf sandwiches. Dinner was Out. Of. This. World. Homemade fried chicken, brisket, beef wellington, catfish, bacon wrapped meatloaf and our personal favorite….THANKSGIVING NIGHT with more side dishes then you’ll know what to do with. Deep fried turkey, ham with a pineapple honey glaze, homemade gravy, mashed potatoes….PIE. I mean honestly, I can go on but it’s been so depressing being back home and not have those guys cooking for me, it’s just too upsetting, I can’t. Nick, was a young man from Southern California and was an extremely talented baker. Freshly baked bread, honey whipped butter and ugh… all his desserts! Chocolate pie, Key lime pie, blueberry/blackberry crip, assorted cupcakes, banana cream pie and oh, and just a cooler full of ice cream that you may enjoy at your leisure at any point in the day. Sean and Josh are southern boys and you can feel it in their food. They take such pride in their cooking and it shows. I always looked forward to shaking each of their hands after every meal. Sean and Josh…Thank you for sharing your passion with us, hats off to the Chefs!
Final Words: On our second day at the Lodge while fishing for sockeye, my boyfriend Rick turned into my Fiancé. With the help of the ENTIRE staff at Katmai Lodge. Our engagement was celebrated by everyone! Wine in our room, a beautiful poster with balloons congratulating us on the engagement and overwhelming hails from all, staff and guests. Once you see just how remote you are placed in Alaska’s wilderness, you have this eye-opening appreciation for every inch of the operation and just how much it takes to make it operable. You are in the middle of nowhere! The nearest “store” is a 30 min plane ride!
Bob, Laura, Andrea, Wanda, Lacey, Matt, Josh, Sean, Nick, James, and Marcus, we thank you for your hospitality and your generosity. Your personal touches to our experience at Katmai Lodge elevated a once in a lifetime trip!
Stay tuned to Let’s Talk Hookup for more information on how you can join our group next year at Katmai Lodge. Check the “Trips” page at www.letstalkhookup.com …for more information on Katmai Lodge check www.katmai.com