Where has the time gone? I feel like just a couple months ago Moby Dick was the size of a minnow, Power Rangers were all the rage, Shaq and Kobe were teammates, and bead fishing outside of Alaska was an unknown. But alas, the older you get, the faster the years pass by. I promised myself I would never turn into an older timer who would reference the “good ole days” but instead embrace the future. Well we are just a few hours from 2019 but before we focus on our resolutions for the upcoming year, lets take a look back at some highlights from 2018. Below are our top 10 most viewed posts from the past year. We appreciate your support the previous 365 days and years prior. As always, do not hesitate to share your feedback or suggestions on content you would like to see more of in the comment section below. Have a safe and happy New Years!
Dollies sure do have some Christmas spirit! Love the clowned up red and green color combination but my favorite part has to be the sharp black and white contrast on their fins. Hard to imagine a more beautiful fish. We at Deneki wish you a safe and happy holiday season. May the holidays bring happiness and joy to you and your loved ones!
Want to see more of any specific type of content on our blog? Your wish is our command. Drop us a note in the comment section to let us know.
Fun Posts from 2018:
At Deneki, we are lucky to have some incredible staff members in place that help make our lodges among the best in the world. Two of these team members, Liz Fincher and Max Pushak, are our new Andros South and Rapids Camp Lodge Operations Managers. They even double as fishing guides at Rapids Camp as well. Liz and Max were kind enough to sit down with us to answer a few questions. Get to know our newest lodge managers below!
This is the first year both of you have managed the lodge correct?
Yep! No beating around the bush here, we are newbies to the Bahamas bonefish scene. We’ve had a lot of great help from Jason & all the staff here to get us up to speed & savvy on all things Bahamian. (Mostly keeping more Kalik on hand than you think….)
Where are you both from originally?
I grew up in Marietta, GA just north of Atlanta. GO DAWGS! Max grew up between Pittsburgh, PA and Naples, FL. He had the best of both worlds, trout fishing in PA & saltwater fishing in the 10,000 islands.
Did you meet guiding in Alaska?
Yes! But not the kind of guiding you are thinking. We met while working at an adventure sea kayak/ice climbing company called Pangaea Adventures out of Valdez, AK. It was love at first sight for me, but I had to persuade him a bit! Haha! We’ve been together since 2010 and got engaged this past January while fishing on the W. Fork of the Bitterroot, MT, our home river. We’re really excited to have the opportunity to grow together with Deneki.
If you have one week to fish for yourselves, are you going to Alaska or the Bahamas?
For me, it would definitely be Alaska. I have some wild sort of affinity for that place. For Max without a doubt it’s Alaska, a week in the Alaskan wilderness is too good to pass up.
What do you miss the most about Alaska when you are in the Bahamas? Or visa versa, what do you miss the most about the Bahamas when you are in AK?
Well I can tell you, I’m definitely going to miss these potcakes down here in the Bahamas when we head back to AK in May. But when we’re talking about fishing, I’d say I will miss the openness that the flats provide. Sometimes those bones take off into the horizon & you think they might just drop right off the edge of the world. Getting a tan for the first time in years doesn’t hurt either!
I really miss the long days up there in Alaska. You don’t feel quite as rushed & you have more time for that last cast, or the next last cast.
Max: It’s one of those ‘you want what you don’t have’ scenarios. When I’m in Alaska, I miss the ocean: the vast horizon, the warm water, fishing barefoot, & Kaliks, etc. When I’m in the Bahamas, I miss the rivers: the freshwater, the snow capped mountains, the wildlife, the power of the rushing water, etc.
What does Thanksgiving in the Bahamas look like?
This years Thanksgiving looked like a bunch of Bahamians, Englishmen & Canucks gathered round a table, laughing & sharing fishing stories (75% truth based). Max & I were the only Americans here, so we did our best to share the experience. We had all the traditional fixings: ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole combined with the traditional Bahamian macaroni & cheese and coleslaw. I even got to share my late grandmother’s pecan pie recipe! It was pretty fun, all the staff & guides showed up so we had a full house.
What is your favorite species to target in Alaska?
I don’t know if there is anything more special than getting a King on the swing. I’ve hooked into a monster once & the range of emotions that I experienced just even having that fish on (for what felt like eternity but was probably barely 45 seconds) was crippling. I get chills just thinking about it. It makes you really cherish those early Spring days, when you throw swing after swing, and you’re just waiting for that tiny hint of a pull… and you’re a goner.
Max: I love chucking crazy colored up streamers & wogging for big, chrome Silvers.
Do you have a favorite meal at Rapids Camp and Andros?
OOOH! At Rapids Camp we get an evening of fresh sushi & steamed King Crab that is out of this world. Chef Digger & our sous chef Max (the other Max) do an awesome job in the kitchen. Down here at Andros South, I’d say my favorite meal is fried snapper & lobster, with a conch salad appetizer fresh from the sea! Doesn’t get much better than that! Max: For sure cracked conch with some crab & rice down here at Andros South. Up at Rapids I like the huevos rancheros for breakfast & the guys make a mean smoked salmon on our Traeger at Rapids.
Do you two ever get competitive when fishing together? If so who catches the most fish?
Hahaha, yes. Mum’s the word.
Is there any packing advice you would give to first time Andros guests?
Bring good fishing pants & some bug spray. The pants help keep you protected from not just the sun, but those darn horseflies! And the bug spray lets you hang out at the Slack Tide tiki bar when the wind isn’t around. Good sunglasses are a must & a sense of adventure is always a plus. Having your own set of nippers with you is always nice. One piece of advice, bring along your favorite flies & don’t be scared to try something new!
Do you have any one piece of fishing gear that you find indispensable or any gear that you use in both AK and Andros.
A rain jacket. Between battling the salt spray & those afternoon rains down here on Andros or sitting through some epic downpours while fishing on the Nush, a rain jacket is a clutch piece of gear that is an easy accessory.
-We are truly lucky to have Max and Liz onboard. They will make you feel welcomed and at home in both Andros and Alaska and we couldn’t be more excited to have them apart of the Deneki Family!
More from Andros:
In 2012 the Alaska Department of Fish and Game passed a regulation that banned all felt or other “absorbent fibrous materials” on boot soles while sport fishing in the fresh waters of the state. It has been almost 7 years since this regulation was first passed, is it still in effect?
The answer is yes but many anglers do not understand why. The simple answer is that felt or other absorbent soles provide a greater chance of introducing or spreading invasive species. These boot materials may provide better grip while wading, but they also are a pathway to introduce nonnative organisms like didymo cells, zebra mussels, and whirling disease. Even after proper decontamination methods were taken, viable invasive organisms have been found trapped in felt soled boots. Rubber boots are an alternative that not only trap far fewer organisms, they can also be more easily cleaned and successfully decontaminated.
Humans are responsible for most all of the transportation of aquatic invasive species. The Department of Fish and Game has adopted the slogan, “Think ahead, and save a watershed.” Even if using rubber soled wading boots the ADF&G suggests the following guidelines to be taken on all fishing gear and boats before bringing them into the state.
“To protect Alaska’s waters and native aquatic species, please follow these guidelines:
1) CLEAN — Rinse and remove any mud, sediment, and/or plant debris from all gear, boats, and boat trailers, floatplane rudders and floats, and anything that comes into contact with the water. Separate all pieces of wading footgear and waders (remove liners, etc.) to check for and remove visible mud, sediment and/or plant debris before leaving the area. Use a stiff bristle brush to clean all fishing gear.
2) DRAIN — Empty all water from coolers, bilge pumps, buckets, and wring out gear before leaving the boat launch or fishing areas.
3) DRY — Completely dry gear between waterbodies or trips. Equipment that remains damp can harbor small particles of invasive species that can remain viable for weeks. If drying gear completely in not possible-decontaminate!
4) DECONTAMINATE — Freeze gear until solid or wash gear in 140°F hot water scrubbing with a stiff bristle brush. If drying, freezing or heating gear is not feasible, use a 2% bleach solution to clean gear away from fresh water recreation sites. Spray or rinse gear for one minute. A 2% bleach solution can be made easily by mixing 2.5 oz. of chlorine bleach with tap water to make 1 gallon of solution.
NOTE: Bleach solutions may degrade gear made of absorbent materials. Please rinse gear on land, away from fresh water fishing areas and dispose of disinfectants as indicated on the label.”
Obviously aquatic invasive species can be transported through gear other than just wading boots but if as anglers, we can help reduce the risk by switching up our wading boots, it seems that is a sacrifice we should be able to make. Felt definitely offers a better grip when wading those large Alaskan River’s like the Naknek but one thing that we have found to help improve the grip on your rubber wading boots are the removable “crampons” made by Patagonia. There is still a lot of research being done on the transportation of invasive aquatic species but if switching up our wading boots can help avoid the introduction of a potentially harmful species, we are all for making the change!
More Alaska Conservation News
Our good friend Nick Roberts, the Director of Marketing & Communications for the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, sent us over the press release he wrote for the BTT’s new band campaign which focuses on the connectivity between different bonefisheries. The press release and video can be enjoyed below!
Note: If you’re viewing this in a newsletter or a reader, click here to see the video on our website.
“Coral Gables, FL – Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, the world leader in saltwater flats conservation, has launched a new brand campaign to grow membership in the organization. The campaign centers on BTT’s discovery of bonefish and tarpon connectivity across state and international borders. These iconic species also connect a diverse group of anglers who pursue them, from the Mexico and Belize to the Florida Keys and The Bahamas.
Through the campaign, BTT will educate the public about the importance of connectivity to the health of the fishery in specific locations and regionally, as well as attract support for its mission to conserve bonefish, tarpon, and permit and their habitats.
“Our flats fishery across the Caribbean is a melting pot in the truest sense,” said BTT President and CEO Jim McDuffie. “Whether it’s through the migration of tarpon or ocean currents that carry bonefish larvae far from their spawns in other countries, our fish populations are connected. Some Florida Keys bonefish may have parents and siblings cruising the flats of Latin America. And many adult tarpon migrate long distances, which means that we may be pursuing the same fish in the Keys in the spring and the Carolinas in the summer.”
McDuffie said BTT wants anglers to understand why these connections are important to their favorite fishing locations and consider joining the effort to support flats conservation.
With the new brand campaign, BTT positions the organization’s 20-year history of achieving meaningful conservation outcomes driven by the power of science; from spearheading the effort to make bonefish and tarpon catch and release species in Florida to helping to protect and restore bonefish habitats in The Bahamas. Through the power of science, BTT and its collaborating scientists discovered the connectivity of bonefish and tarpon populations, which is now changing the way conservation of these species and their habitats is pursued.
“Flats anglers are passionate about bonefish and tarpon and motivated to conserve the fish and their habitats,” said Chris Peterson, president and owner of Hell’s Bay Boatworks. “Whether you fly fish or chuck lures at these species, you can do your part by joining BTT.”
The campaign launches in November across all of BTT’s media, including the Journal, BTT.org and social media. Two animated digital videos drive the effort; “5 Generations of Travelin’ Ghosts” focuses on bonefish connectivity, and “Journey of the Silver King” on tarpon migration and connectivity. The campaign, developed by ad agency Admirable Devil, also features print ads, digital ads in Facebook and Instagram, and will run throughout 2019.”
The BTT currently has a fall membership special going. The normal annual membership is $50, but they’re running a $35 special. What to offer some support? CLICK HERE
About Bonefish & Tarpon Trust
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust’s mission is to conserve bonefish, tarpon and permit—the species, their habitats and the larger fisheries they comprise. As a science-based organization, BTT pursues this mission across the southeastern US, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean through research, conservation, education and advocacy.
More on the Grey Ghost
Today, your remarkably humbled editor would like to take a quick detour in tone to announce that this will be my final post as the editor of the Deneki blog. After careful consideration, I’ve made the decision to pursue another opportunity within the industry that will unfortunately render me unable to continue to oversee the content of the blog. Not to worry – the show will go on!
Only those closest to me are likely to understand the impact that the Deneki brand has had on my life over the past six years, yet I feel compelled to share a quick story that may help illustrate it.
I used to read the Deneki blog while attending college in Maine in 2009. From the funk of my dorm room, I practically wore the edges off of my favorite fly fishing DVD, one that was filmed on-site at none-other than Alaska West, as I sought solace from too much time spent in the classroom and not enough time spent on the water. On more than one occasion, my roommates wondered in awe as to how someone could watch the same ‘fishing video’ so many times. It was back then, before my first guide gig or published article, that the Deneki brand and deep roots of the Alaska West family tree became a legacy I aspired to be a part of.
Fast forward nearly a decade, over 1400 blog posts later, after six incredible seasons guiding and overseeing the fishing program at Alaska West, and working as part of the management team at Andros South, my heart has never been fuller.
It’s been a dream come true to have had the opportunity to connect with so many in the fly fishing community. Although I intend to continue to do so through other channels, I want to thank each and every one of you who contributed, commented, or so much as read a single word on the Deneki blog over the years, as well as those with whom I’ve shared a boat, a tent, a gravel bar, or a bottle of Kalik with along the way.
Make no mistake: each of you allowed me to fulfill a dream, something I’m fully aware not everyone is fortunate enough to experience. For that I am eternally grateful. Thank You.
What a trip it’s been. But, as is the case with all fishing trips, “last casts” are a necessity. Not in an inevitably finite sense, but because last casts are a requisite for new fishing trips. Here’s to the next one.
Hope to see you out there.
A Few Favorites Along the Way
Dozens of businesses nationwide with an economic interest in the Bristol Bay fishery have come together to form a coalition known as Businesses for Bristol Bay. Amongst them are major outdoor brands like Orvis, Simms, YETI, Sitka, and many more. They’re joined by commercial fishing processors, well known supermarket chains like Publix and HyVee, as well as professional chefs and restaurants across the country as well. Why? Because the Bristol Bay fishery generates $1.5 billion annually for America’s economy and supports upwards to 14,000 jobs. Simply put, Bristol Bay means business!
Some of these great partners have made it easy to support the campaign via purchases of special edition products. Check some of them out below. Holiday shopping anyone? We know what we’re asking for!
- Nautilus Reels. Thanks to a generous matching donation from the S. Kent Rockwell Foundation, Nautilus helped raise $12,500 for Bristol Bay by producing a limited edition of twenty five No Pebble Mine reels. The response was amazing, and the initial run sold out in less than 36 hours!
- Sight Line Provisions. Edgar Diaz turns out some incredible items from his workshop in Austin, TX. Make sure to take a peek at the exclusive No Pebble Mine edition of their sockeye salmon leather cuff. 50% of the proceeds go toward protecting Bristol Bay.
- Simms Fishing Products. Bristol Bay was featured during Simms’ Save Our Streams initiative. All of the men’s and women’s t-shirts featuring artwork by a Bristol Bay artist have been sold by Simms, raising thousands of dollars. However, if you are in Alaska, you might still be in luck. There may still be some available from a local group in Bristol Bay. If interested, contact email@example.com for more information.
- RepYourWater. The good folks at RepYourWater took the iconic “No Pebble Mine” circle logo and gave it a fresh new twist (see photo above). The design has been incorporated into both decals, and hats. In fact, the hats have sold out of not one, but several production runs already! A new batch is expected in early spring, but you can also contact RepYourWater to inquire about dealers in your area that may have still have some in stock. Also, be on the lookout over the next six weeks for a Fish Mask featuring the No Pebble Mine design.
Rumor has it that more special Bristol Bay items could be in the pipeline from additional partners in coming months. So, if you’re planning on doing some shopping in the near future (ahem, the holidays are coming), why not support Bristol Bay at the same time?
For more on the Businesses for Bristol Bay coalition along with information on other ways you can get involved, be sure to check out their website by clicking right here.
More on Bristol Bay
A couple weeks ago, our good friend and Sportsman’s Alliance of Alaska director, Scott Hed, gave us an informative update on the current status and threats of the Pebble Mine project, an open pit mine proposed to be built in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska.
Well, a lot has changed since the midterm elections last week, so today Scott is back with an update on what that means in terms of the fight against Pebble.
Post-Election Pebble Mine Update
We’re excited to tell you about some brands offering special products to help support the fight for Bristol Bay (stay tuned for a follow-up post, next week). But first a quick update on that fight in the wake of the recent elections.
Republicans added slightly to their majority in the U.S. Senate. Control of the House of Representatives flipped parties, and the Democrats will lead the House in the next session of Congress. This will offer opportunities to engage leadership of select committees with jurisdiction over matters that connect to Bristol Bay and Pebble Mine. With the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proceeding at a recklessly fast pace (and unprecedented for a project of this size, we might add), we must work to slow the process down and make sure it relies on strong science and information rather than be driven by any political agenda.
Alaska’s newly-elected Governor Dunleavey is viewed as far more friendly to the idea of Pebble Mine. Control of Alaska’s legislature will also likely shift to a pro-development majority as well. Lastly, Ballot Measure 1 (aka Stand for Salmon) was defeated at the ballot box. BM1 would have strengthened permitting standards for large development proposals in fish habitat areas. The extractive industries collectively spent $12 million in a massive misinformation campaign, yet over 80,000 Alaskans still voted in favor of passing stronger protections for salmon.
What’s Ahead in 2019?
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will possibly be releasing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement in January for review and public comments. Obviously, you’ll be reminded to get your comments in support of Bristol Bay submitted. Thanks in advance for saying “No Pebble Mine” one more time.
As noted earlier, new leadership will be in place in Congress. Be ready to contact your members of Congress, educating them on Bristol Bay and the need for a robust, inclusive, transparent, and science-backed permit review process. Again, you’ll be kept informed on how and when your voice will be needed.