Interview with a Lodge Owner: Adam Cuthriell, FishHound Expeditions

When we first built the page for FishHound Expeditions we could tell there was something special about the company. There was an underlying passion for both the Alaskan wilderness and guest experience that came out in the photos and words we saw.  

We had a chance to sit down with owner Adam Cuthriell and explore this passion. Adam was gracious enough to give his time despite being somewhat sleep-deprived and with his daughter who was born just weeks earlier.

fishlodges.com: Please tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey to owning fish on expeditions.

Adam Cuthriell: To own FishHound expeditions has been a dream, honestly, since I was 14 years old and was first getting into fly fishing. My buddies and I have always daydreamed about how awesome it would be to own a guide service in Alaska. So basically it’s been a dream of mine since I was 14.

 

fl.com: How long have you been guiding and what’s the average number of years of experience of your guides?

AC:I’ve been a guide since I was 19 years old and I’m 39 now—so I’ve been guiding 20 years! Most of my guides have been guiding for four to five years, but we do occasionally reach out and get new guides who have whitewater experience and train them. But most are very fishy dudes who’ve been doing it for a very long time.

 

fl.com: Where do you fish, and why did you choose to base your operation there?

AC: I live in Alaska and that’s pretty much an answer all unto itself. Alaska is one of the last great frontiers in the world and the fishing is incredible. We run trips throughout the entire state, everything from South central to Kodiak, to Western Alaska.

fl.com: Can you describe what a float expedition trip is like and how it differs from typical fishing lodge vacation.

AC: Lodges are awesome, but lodges are somewhat restrained and tend to have more travel than areas that are remote, like where we do our float expedition trips. The rivers we operate on don’t have any lodges—they’re completely wild. And we very rarely see anyone else because there is no sort of substantial pressure. The fish are larger, more aggressive. There’s so little pressure compared to a lot of other areas that have lodges on them and guides on them, day after day after day.

It’s different [with us] because you’re always on the water. When the weather is adverse, we’re on the water. On the other hand, if you want to finish dinner casually, have cocktails…and then if you want to go out and fish [some more] you have the ability to, as our movable lodge is right on the river constantly.

We don’t have a hot tub, but we have more fishing, and comfortable accommodations. All of our tents are large enough that you can stand up in. All of our cots are bed high. They have insulated down pads on top. So it’s a cot and a down pad. I’s almost as plush as a mattress in a hotel room or a lodge. The food is just as good—we eat King crab, fresh caught fish, fish tacos. We do steak, blueberry pancakes, and my wife makes all of our homemade desserts. It’s a similar food scene as you’d find in a lodge, but some would argue better because you build up such an appetite in the wild.

 

fl.com: Who is a float trip best suited for?

Anyone who likes to fish, and fish a lot! Whether you’re a beginner or super experienced, these rivers provide you countless chances to learn different ways to fish.

fl.com: Your customers have many options for fishing in Alaska…why do they choose to come fishing with you?

AC: Our clients choose to fish with us over anyone else because of our experience and our attention to detail. I’ve worked for many different outfitters throughout my life. I’ve seen things done the wrong way…and that has provided a better understanding of the the comfort levels guests really want. Large tents that you could stand up in, for example. Cots with pads. Good food. The real reason why folks choose to fish with us as myself and our guides is…we love what we do. Alaska is our home. We’re not someone who’s just up here for a month or so doing this as a summer job. This is our life. This is what we do. We are full-time fishing guides.

We're not someone who's just up here for a month or so doing this as a summer job. This is our life. This is what we do. We are full-time fishing guides.

fl.com: You’re not the only one doing multi-day float trips. What makes your float trip experience unique and better than others are offering?

AC: Our gear separates us from everyone else. We’re constantly updating our gear. It’s state-of-the-art, modern, lightweight. So not only is it comfortable for everyone to fish in the 100% outdoors, It’s also very ergonomic. As far as fitting into planes and helicopters, everything has a purpose and everything has a meaning.

Our food also sets us apart from others. We eat really good food. Nothing’s dehydrated. Myself and my guides are out on these trips 80 plus days a year, and if we just ate dehydrated food and didn’t drink beer, we’d be very grumpy. We include a reasonable amount of beer and wine on our trips to keep our guests happy, if they choose to. If they don’t drink, we bring soda and other mixed drinks for them to enjoy. Most other float trips don’t do the elaborate food that we do, or include beer. We take all the guesswork out of everything and include it all.

fl.com: What’s you favorite species to catch and why?

AC: That’s a tough one. All the fish up here are pretty amazing. Using a two handed rod and spey casting to Kings. Nymphing for large trout. And my personal favorite: mousing for big fish. A rainbow trout is definitely my favorite fish and then a steelhead. According to science they’re the same thing, but all anglers know they’re different.

fl.com: What is the absolute best time to book a trip with you?
AC: Summer! I know that’s a pretty broad spectrum answer, but really from mid June all the way through October, the fishing’s incredible. Early season is probably my favorite because the trout are more willing to take a mouse (which is truly the ultimate dry fly) on the surface. Watching a two foot long trout come up and annihilate a small mammal—it’s awesome!
Probably the best time to come though is the fall, when fish are fat and they know winter is coming so you can catch some really big fat fish then.

fl.com: Who are your typical customers? Where are they from? What do they do? And why do they choose to come fishing in Alaska with you?

AC: Our typical customers are folks from the lower 48. We get a lot of people from California, Colorado, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma…pretty much everywhere actually. Alaska is one of those “bucket list” places for people to fish. And it is truly, should be on the top of everyone’s bucket list.

 

fl.com: What wildlife do you commonly see that guests find exotic?

AC: We see a variety of wildlife on our trips, everything from moose, bear, caribou, foxes, wolverine. The most exotic animal that a lot of people see is either the caribou or of course the the big bears, which are pretty fun to see.

 

fl.com: Have you ever had a close call with bears out in the bush?

AC: Yes. I have had quite a few encounters with bears. Most have been pretty safe and just bluff charges. There was only one time where I really thought my number was going to get called.

In addition to a more traditional lodge experience (but perhaps still incomparable, as it’s deluxe in every way despite being exceptionally remote), Fishhound Expeditions offers something fairly unique: multi-day, fly-in, float expeditions into wild Alaska.

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