The Bristol Bay River Academy is a week long course intended to give an opportunity to young locals to learn how to be a fishing guide. For the past six years, the academy has been training around 12 students each summer to become guides.
The Bristol Bay River Academy teaches young people, usually ages 15-24, to cast, catch and release fish as well as how to teach others.
Trout Unlimited Deputy Alaska Program Director Nelli Williams says guides are particularly important in the Bristol Bay area.
“There’s about 75 lodges in the Bristol Bay region. And the Bristol Bay Rivers are known throughout the world as this legendary sport fishing-- it’s the place to go if you want a remote, back country fishing experience. At those lodges, guides take guests out usually those guests are from the lower 48 or another country and you are on the river with them all day. You are teaching them how to fish, you are telling them about the river and giving them the skills they need to catch the fish.”
Williams says there’s more to being a guide than just teaching how to fish.
“There’s also a whole other beyond the fishing aspect of being a guide; there’s making sure folks are safe and comfortable. If they haven’t been on a small plane before making sure they are comfortable. And then there’s also the customer service and hospitality angel. These folks travel a long way to see and experience Alaska and there’s definitely the part of a guide that’s telling them about living and working in remote Alaska and getting to share what life is like.”
The academy will be held this year at the Red Quill Lodge on the shores of Lake Iliamna. The course is free to any students in the Bristol Bay area or shareholders of the Bristol Bay native Corporation. For more information, visit their website at www.bristolbayriveracademy.org.