Talaheim Lodge takes pride in the fact that we’ve set up an environment that not only continues to attract experts, but retains them. Most of our staff, like our salmon, returns year after year. This season we welcome back all three of our Alaskan fishing guides: Scott, Mason and Doc. Scott’s been a part of the Talaheim family for nine summers now, Mason, four, and Doc, three.
With the official start of summer finally here, we sit down with our expert team of Alaskan fishing guides before they take to the water, to reflect on work, the great outdoors, and of course, the art of fly-fishing.
Scott hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he spent his childhood fishing on the south shore of Lake Superior. When he’s not in Alaska, you can find him on the tributaries of his youth, or editing the angling journal, The Steelhead News, or running a private foundation that funds coaster brook trout research, all of which you can learn more about here. Scott was weaned on Steelhead.
Talaheim: You’ve been with us eight seasons now, what draws you back to Talaheim?
Scott: I’ve worked at other fishing lodges, and have also been a guest at a few. I know a good operation when I see one, and Talaheim has a pretty great program. Everybody is dedicated, we all get along, and we know what we have to do in order to have happy clients. And there’s a lot more to having happy clients then making sure they catch a few fish.
Mason, a recent college graduate from Swanee: University of the South, where he studied Natural Resources, is originally from Creedmoor, North Carolina. Not only did he recruit his brother to work as a fishing guide in the great state of Alaska, this summer he recruited his girlfriend as well. We’re proud to welcome Susan as the newest addition of Talaheim’s staff.
Talaheim: What drew you from North Carolina to Alaska in the first place?
Mason: I always wanted to see Alaska. The wilderness was the biggest draw for me. Isolation is something I don’t take for granted, and there aren’t many places in the world where you get this sense of it. On any given day, you’re not likely to see another person on the water. That type of fishing is rare and solidifies the fact that you're somewhere special.
Before joining Talaheim, Doc spent six years in the army and was deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan, where he trained extensively with helicopter operations. On the off-season, he returns to his hometown of Muskegon, West Michigan to guide anglers alongside the Muskegon River.
Talaheim: Out of your three seasons at Talaheim, do you have a favorite memory?
Doc: I have a lot of ties for favorite, but probably the most unforgettable was the day I flew to the West Fork with Mark. On the way, we saw two wolves, including a giant black wolf. Then we caught Dolly Varden and Rainbows all day. Our only river companion was a Grizzly fishing just downstream. Then on the flight home we saw a large bull moose, a cow with a calf, and another grizzly in the highlands. That day was hard to forget. The type of natural beauty you get from a place as remote as Talaheim gives you a feeling of freedom that I think is only possible in just a few places on our planet.
Talaheim: What do you think makes Talaheim different than other Alaskan lodges?
Scott: It would have to be the helicopters. Besides the exhilarating ride to the river, it’s the ability of the helicopter to put us where there are no other anglers. It’s like having private water all to yourself. In other Alaskan operations, where they’re dependent upon jet boats and floatplanes, where one floatplane can land, so can others. Who wants to combat fish in the wilderness? Plus you can’t beat flying to fish remote water with a helicopter. Every flight is an adventure. I look forward to every day.
Talaheim: What’s the oddest thing you’ve had to do since working for Talaheim as an Alaskan fishing guide?
Mason: Spend the night on a gravel bar protecting the helicopter from bears after it broke down. Oddly enough, that's probably my favorite memory as well.
Talaheim: What’s your favorite part of being an Alaskan fishing guiding?
Doc: I enjoy watching guests become amazed by Alaska. You can literally see them absorbing the story– a story that will last their lifetime. You can see it in the smiles, in the frowns, and in the photos they’ll share with everyone when back at the lodge. I enjoy being a part of that story. I also enjoy my job because a major requirement is to make sure everyone is just having a good time. And I always make a good lunch… the lunch is very important.
Talaheim: Now a question for all three of our fishing guides– what advice would you provide anglers visiting Talaheim’s Alaskan fishing lodge for the first time?
Scott: Most anglers could use much more practice fly-casting. It makes more sense to do this at home, not when you are in a clutch situation to make a 90 foot spey cast for the king salmon of a lifetime. Also, make sure your gear is up to the task. It’s sure to rain a few days; after all, it is Alaska. So, will your raincoat really keep you dry?
Mason: Bring your own boots. Talaheim does provide waders and boots for guests who need them, but there’s nothing like being comfortable in your own boots when fishing and walking all day.
Doc: Bring polarized sunglasses so you can spot the fish. Also important: a camera and a smile. The rest, we’ll take care of.
Need more tips from our guides on what to pack for your trip to Talaheim’s Alaskan fishing lodge? Check out our FAQ’s.