AlpenView Wilderness Lodge, Inc.
2017 Year In Review
By Dave Jones
2017 was a fantastic fishing year for our guests during both camp and lodge operations. The King run on the
Ayakulik was the strongest in several years and the saltwater king fishing in Ugak Bay was the best ever.
Sockeye, Dolly Varden, silvers and steelhead also made a strong showing at the camp. The Ayakulik lived up to expectations across the board and Isaac Fritz (camp manager) and his staff made it all the better for visiting
Halibut, rock fish, pinks and chums all made a strong showing in Ugak Bay and the streams around the lodge. The silver run showed a big improvement from 2016. We had to work for them but their average size was
If there was a missing component it was in the Dolly Varden around Ugak Bay. Fishing for them was off in
Bear Viewing was strong in both the camp and lodge operations. We always expect a great bear show at the
camp and this year did not disappoint us. There were few berries in the mountains around the lodge so the
bears spent a lot of time on the streams and beaches providing one of the best seasons for bear viewing in
By Dave Jones
Part 1, In-Season
A guest’s name in blue indicates that the person is a
repeat guest. If a
guest’s name is
red the person is a
veteran of three
or more trips with
The season kicked off by flying into the Ayakulik River to set up the out camp. Left to right across the two
lower pictures, the set-up crew consisted of myself, Erik Heeter (first year guide), Phil Rudat (second year
guide), Donnie Andrews (longtime client and helper), Victoria Velez (first year camp cook and our niece) and
Isaac Fritz (camp manager and seventh year guide).
Left to right: Mickey, Clare, Mary Jane and Roger Belter – Grand Haven, MI and Erik.
Roger and Mary Jane arrived at the lodge on June 10th. This was their second trip with us. They love to share their catch with friends back home so it was great to help them harvest some halibut and king salmon.
These halibut were
hooked at the same time providing a lot of
excitement. Roger’s fish measured 62”, 121.1#.
Mary Jane landed her
limit of kings every day.
Left to right: Gary, Phil, Isaac, Lynne and Victoria.
Gary Peterson and Lynne Lankes – Santa Rosa, CA arrived at camp on June 10th and continued to the lodge on June 14th. This was the second trip for Gary and Lynne and it was great to see them again. We had a lot of fun during their two weeks with us.
2017 was the best saltwater king fishing season ever at
AlpenView and Gary and Lynne were right in the middle of
Front: Phil. Middle left to right: Victoria, Marty, Chris, Michelle and Pat. Back: Isaac
Marty and Michelle Steed – Charlestown, SC and Chris Lenham – Harpers Ferry, WV are all long time AlpenView friends and they were joined on this trip by first time visitor Pat Wojans – Annapolis, MD.
The group arrived at camp on June 14th and continued on to the lodge on June 17th.
Clockwise from far left: Victoria, Phil, Isaac, John, Doug and Sue.
John Roy – Portland, OR and Doug and Sue Brown – Evergreen, CO arrived in camp on June 17th and continued to the lodge on June 21st. All were on their first trip with AlpenView.
The camp crew took
advantage of a short
break in June.
They got Victoria her first king salmon on the spey rod.
The crew also made a
climb on the Mountains
of the Moon, a unique
geologic feature in the
upper Ayakulik Valley
where there is little to no vegetation. A place that
is seldom visited by man.
Left to right: Mike, Paul, Mark, Richard and Bill.
Arriving in camp on June 24th were long time campers Bill Engber – Madison, WI, Richard Glad – Madison, WI, Michael Bernard and Mark Jackson – Verona, WI. They were joined by first time camper Paul Ladell. Chasing king salmon on the fly rod is what this group is all about and they took advantage of the best king run on the Ayakulik in many years.
Left to right: Sam, Richard, Tom G., Harold, Larry, Tom M., Jim and Doug.
Arriving at the lodge on June 24, Doug Fox – TX, Larry Rose – Addison, TX, Tom Grady – Bedford, TX, Harold
Landers – Hurst, TX, Jim Campbell – N.R.H., TX, Sam Arafat – Keller, TX, Tom McLarty – Albuquerque, NM and Richard McLarty – Hurst, TX. All the group were first time visitors to AlpenView. Halibut and king salmon were the name of the game. The largest king salmon of 2017 was caught by Tom Grady while fishing aboard the
Alpen II with Captain Shawn.
During a short break at the
lodge, the staff took time to
get in on the hot king salmon bite.
I got to make a couple entries in the Kodiak King Salmon
Clockwise from left front: MaeKennah, Zack, Jake, Molly, Mickey, Erik, Kathryn, Turley and Bethany
July 8th was the start of a great family week at AlpenView. We all enjoyed roasting hot dogs around the fire at Mickey’s new fire pit.
Left to right: Isaac, Victoria, Bob, Phil and Jason.
Bob Richmond and Jason Habenicht of Anchorage, AK arrived in camp on July 8th. They enjoyed a week of great sockeye fishing, hiking and bear viewing.
Left to right: Dan, David, Ernest and Duane
Arriving at the lodge on July 15th were Duane Engels, Dan Huerta and Ernest Huerta from Corpus Christi, TX and David Huerta of Oakley, CA. The kings just kept on coming and the three brothers and their good friend had a great trip.
Left to Right: John, Chris and Norm
Arriving in camp on July 19 and continuing on to the lodge were first time visitors Christopher and Norman Robbin of Cape Coral, FL. and Jonathan Robbin of St. Petersburg, FL.
This group of first time visitors had good success at both the camp and the lodge.
Left to right, tall: Mark, Shawn and Ryan
Left to right, short: John, Sam and Charlie
July 19th saw the arrival of Ryan, Charlie, Sam and Mark
Robison, Shawn and John Lilley of Birmingham, MI.
This was a great trip with three generations of family. Fishing was strong for king salmon, halibut and rock fish but the real fish of the trip was the huge cod that almost pulled Sam
Left to right: Tim, Adrian, Peter, Werner, Dieter, Shawn, Erik, Isaac, Ernst and Dave.
We always look forward to seeing Peter Schug of Staufenberg, Germany. Peter’s group arrived at the camp on July 19th and continued on to the lodge. Other group members were Dieter and Tim Hartmann, Werner Jung, Ernst Futschik and Adrian Kober, all from Germany.
Peter landed the largest fish of the season, a 147 pound Halibut. Peter has done this twice now as he landed
the season’s largest in 2013. Way to go Peter!
Left to right, top row: Dan, Isaac, Derek and Scott
On the railing: Art, Mickey, Victoria, Marie, Rosi, Zach and Britt Bottom: Phil, Dave and Shawn
Scott and Derek Bobbitt of Nashaua,
NH., and Britt and Zach Johnston of
Woodinville, WA arrived in camp on
August 9 and continued on to the
Art and Rosi Kerchner of Covington,
WA., Marie and Dan Briggs (Shawn’s
daughter and son-in-law) of
Crescent, OR. All arrived at the lodge
on August 5.
Left to right, top row: Joe, Martin, John, Nicole, Jim, Ray, Clare, Mickey, Shawn and Veronica
Bottom row: Erik, Fritz, Dave S., Dave and Cesi
Ray Sirois of Shelburne, VT arrived at the lodge on August 12 for an extended three week stay. On August 30, Martin and Nicole Bauer of Austria arrived at the lodge followed on September 2 by Fritz Jorg and John
Thibeault of Poulsbo, WA, Joe Toth of Carson City, NV, Jim Jacobsen of Novato, CA, and Veronica Sims of
Eugene, OR and David Stimic of L’Anse, MI.
This trip marked a milestone in my career and the patronage of Fritz Jorg. 2017 was the 30th season in a row that Fritz has fished Kodiak, Island with me as his guide!
Another cool thing was the hot bite of
halibut on the cast fly. Ray Sirois landed
five halibut on the fly during his stay.
It was great to see Veronica again after
several years. She was our head cook at
Olga Bay Lodge, The out camp and at
AlpenView during her fourteen year tenure with me.
Left to right, top row: Mike B., David M., Bob, Clare and Erik.
On the railing: Mike H., Shawn, John, David S., Jim and Joe.
Bottom: Cesi, Veronica, Fritz, Mickey and Dave.
Arriving at camp on September 2 and continuing on to the lodge were Mike Hagerty of Oro Valley, AZ, David
Mehl of Tucson, AZ, Mike Botwin of Flagstaff, AZ and Bob Hadd.
We had to search the old photo
albums to find this groups picture on
their first trip with me in 1995. Mike
Hagerty has made many trips but the
others were here for the second time.
Great to see them again.
Left to right, top row: Don, Dan and Dana.
On the railing: Clare, Erik, John, Larry, Richard and Brad.
Bottom: Shawn, Cesi, Mickey and Dave.
On September 6, Don Busson of Hesperus, CO, John Busson, Larry Busson, Brad Busson and Richard Busson of Doylestown, OH, arrived at the camp. This group continued on to the lodge where they were joined by friends, Dan Soper and Dana Koschel of Irving, TX on September 9.
The Busson family has traveled all over
Alaska and many other great fishing
destinations. It was nice to be the ones to
show them Ugak Bay and the Ayakulik
Left to right: Chris, Erik, Dave, Don and Clare.
On September 9, Chris and Don Kuna of Kent, WA arrived at the camp. Chris and Don moved over to the lodge for the second half of their trip.
This was the final lodge group of 2017 and the fishing held up strong through the finish.
Left to right: Victoria, Byron, Phil and Paul
On September 9, Paul Honkavaara – Sanger, CA returned to the camp for his second visit Paul was joined by
first time visitor Byron Powell.
Silvers were the target species and the big river did not disappoint. A spattering of steelhead were also landed along with a bunch of Dolly Varden.
Left to right: Phil, Kerry, Frank, Brent, Alison, Jeff and Scott.
Frank Varriale of Boise, ID, Brent Varriale of Fruitland, ID, Scott Kaufman of Idaho Falls, ID, Kerry Kegel of
Ontario, OR, Jeff and Alisa Burkhardt of Vale, OR arrived in camp on September 23.
This group, of regular camp visitors, has been at the camp or lodge in every season starting in 1999. There
efforts in the past have been split. They have made several king/sockeye trips in early season and several mid- season visits to the lodge for a variety of fresh and saltwater species. For the past few years they have been
targeting the silvers, steelhead and Dolly Varden in the fall.
Left to Right: Brad, Liam, Bryant, Isaac, Donnie, Victoria, Phil, Peter and Rob
On September 30, Donnie Andrews of Denver, CO arrived at camp for the 18th consecutive year of fishing
steelhead on the Ayakulik. Also arriving on the same day were Brad, Liam & Bryant Yuill of Truro, NS, Robert Otto of St. Stephen, NB, and Peter Otto of Okotoks, AB Canada.
Turns out that Peter Otto fished with me out of Olga Bay Lodge in the early 1990s and had always wanted to return. Welcome back, Peter.
One highlight of the 2017 fall season was the
catch of nice rainbows. We normally land a few rainbows in the course of a season on the
Ayakulik, but this year, rainbows of 20 inches
were almost a daily occurrence.
Left to Right, top row: Drew, Charlie, Erik and Phil Bottom: Dave, Isaac and Don
On October 6, the camp
break-down crew arrived to
put the lid on the 2017
We were honored with the
solemn task of scattering the
ashes of our long time client
and friend “Sockeye Frank”
Pirnique. Frank always loved
fishing sockeye on the
Ayakulik near Red Lake
It wasn’t all work as we took
time for a deer hunt on a
beautiful October morning.
Note: Victoria was also part
of the crew and participated
in the hunt.