At Alaska West we strive to make your stay with us the best it can be – nobody on our team is afraid of getting their hands dirty!
Yeah, the fishing is great at Alaska West. Chrome bright kings on the swing. Chums that will fight until you break your rod, or bloody your knuckles on a free-spinning reel. Silver after silver on the surface. Rainbows that put some steelhead to shame. Pinks, dollies, grayling too…
But one thing that is often overlooked is the atmosphere created in a fishing camp. Being at Alaska West all summer, we really notice the uniqueness each group of anglers brings, and it’s a lot of fun to be a part of that. Some anglers are more serious, others are more laid back, but no matter the group, it is always fun to see old friends and meet new ones.
One of our favorite parts of the week is to sit down on Thursday night and watch the end-of-trip slideshow with all of our old and new friends. It’s a ton of fun to hear the stories, see the fish that go along with them, and sometimes even appreciate the jokes!
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Jordan Sly is back today with some commentary on a critical component of any fishing lodge – camp dogs!
Most people know that dogs make great companions, whether fishing or just hanging out at home. I have a little dog of my own – he’s a beagle named Basil, and a great companion that has gotten me through a lot. I miss him a ton when I’m at Alaska West for the summer – he still has too much of a personality and the thickheadedness of a beagle to bring him up, but we are lucky enough to have a dog in camp anyway.
Whitney Gould, one of our great guides on staff here at Alaska West, has a yellow lab named Willa. Willa spends most of her days in camp sleeping, chasing sticks, swimming, and just keeping the spirits of everyone up because she always seems to have a smile on her face. As most people have found out, it’s better to have a dog around.
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On a late May afternoon that got cut short by a thunderstorm, Andros South guides Sparkles and Freddie chatted us up about their other favorite pastime: Crawfishin’.
Bahamian Spiny Lobster (crawfish on the island) are abundant on South Andros. In August, the season opens and many of the guides spend their days free-diving for the local delicacies. Grouper, snapper, conch and crawfish are captured and sold to local markets in Nassau. It’s great sport and provides a steady income while they wait for Andros South to reopen.
All the guides have their own secret crawfish hot-spots. They free-dive areas of rocky formations and coral heads off the East Shore of Andros, oftentimes at depths upwards of 40 feet! They find the crawfish by looking for ‘the whips’ – the Spiny Lobsters’ long front antennae. Once the whip is spotted, they maneuver into position and use a traditional sling & spear mechanism to get them.
A good crawfish spot can yield close to 200 pounds of deliciousness, for which the markets in Nassau pay handsomely.
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If you come to Andros South in May and want a bit of local flavor, bring a headlamp and work gloves for some Land Crabbin’. It’s a great way to spend some time with the friendly staff, see a bit of the backcountry and have a bunch of fun running around the jungle.
Land Crabs spend most of their life in the Bahamian backcountry eating leaves, berries and various bugs. But once the first big rains of the season hit, it’s time for them to leave the dry land and get ready to do the nasty. It’s mating season and they prepare by making an annual migration to the salt. Here they rinse off, drink from the ocean and well, just freshen up a bit.
Their journey to the salt crosses the more populated part of the island, which exposes them to the locals who have made Land Crabbin’ an annual fun-fest. There are no traps involved – you just pick them up!
Each evening you will find folks all over the island with flashlights, burlap sacks and 50 gallon drums lining the lone street in search of Mr. Crabby…who only wants a little love.
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One of the great opportunities that fishing provides is the ability to learn about the people in the places we visit and fish. Almost every guide at one time or another tells us stories that take us further in the local culture.
At Andros South, our guide Josie Sands stores his handmade sailboat by leaning it up against the side of his bar, “The Oceanview”, which overlooks our boat launch at Little Creek. Josie crafted this sailboat all with his own two hands using native Androsian horseflesh wood. He used a skill saw for some of the specific cuts, but the majority of the work was done with traditional use of a hammer and hatchet, a hand planer, a handsaw, a drill and other tools.
Josie usually races his sailboats during June and July, and The Oceanview is adorned with trophies from his victories.
Make sure you ask around and learn about the people in the places you visit!
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Thanks to Adam Kryder for another view into life at Alaska West!
Caviar is not for everyone, but at Alaska West when time permits we like to whip some up.
Last summer Rob Russell did the honors, bringing his fresh caviar making skills to the table, and teaching a few who were interested how to make and enjoy it.
The whole process takes about 2 hours for a batch that will serve 6 to 10 depending on appetite. We were lucky enough to enjoy a bit in 2012.
Who knows – if you join us next summer, you can find out if we make it a tradition.