Written by Adam Cuthriel of Fishhound Expeditions
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.
All fishing in Alaska is amazing! Part of the lure of Alaska is the remote wilderness it offers. While fishlodges.com highlights many Alaska lodges which are great for most people and come with obvious benefits, some anglers may want to consider doing a multiple day float trip. Anglers that pursue these unique trips will be rewarded with many more remote settings that are only accessible by air and then by boat.
The Multi-Day Float Trip Experience
A float trip is really one of the best ways to experience the Alaska wilderness and the rivers that flow through it. A good multi-day float trip provides remote fishing that’s high quality in a simply beautiful setting. Depending on the location, anglers that experience multi-day float-trips can expect to find incredible fishing for multiple species of fish, such as pacific salmon, monster wild rainbow trout, sea-run arctic char and dolly varden as well as the beautiful arctic grayling. In addition to great fishing, anglers have the chance to see amazing wildlife in a truly remote setting and all the natural beauty that makes Alaska so great. There is also the sheer joy of waking up and floating down a wild river for multiple days in a row!
I had dreamed of fishing in Alaska nearly all my life, those dreams included big wild fish, huge mountains, and not to be shoulder to shoulder with everyone else who had the same angling dreams. Nearly a decade ago I made my dream a reality and am not simply fishing Alaska – but fortunate enough to be a guide! I had heard stories, read articles, and watched movies on a certain well-known section of Alaska that was sought after to fish in. During my first season in this “bay” area I was appalled at the monstrous gaudy lodges standing right next to each other, anglers being shoulder to shoulder on both sides of the river, and enough jet boat exhaust to make LA look like it had cleaner air. Needless to say, I got out of that situation.
My original dreams became a reality when I began doing fly in multi-day remote fishing float trips. No evidence of other humanity anywhere, just crystal-clear water teaming with abundant fish life and scenery beyond words. This style of Alaskan fishing trips differ from the typical lodge experience because they are so far removed from those constructs of society that they feel like you stepped into a time machine and are able to see the world without human influences. Vast expanses and huge mountains make up the view…not some cliché lodge with boats parked in front of it. By doing a float trip as opposed to a lodge trip, anglers are always on the river and that allows for much more time fishing as opposed to having to travel back and forth from a lodge every day. The quality of fishing is hard to put into words, seeing trout slash again and again at an offering even after being hooked and still going after it, a massive silver salmon slamming a top water fly, then another one and another…cast after cast. Watching a small mammal (a mouse fly) being absolutely crushed by huge predatory fish until all that is left of the fly is a few pieces of deer hair and a completely chewed upon mangled head complete with teeth marks! The simple joy of sleeping next to the river day after day with nothing to do but fish, float, eat, sleep and repeat is an amazing way to escape everyday life and an experience that is hard to beat.
Benefits of Floating with a Guide
These areas of Alaska are truly remote and wild but that can bring situations that most people aren’t used to dealing with. Going with an experienced Alaska fishing guide helps prevent most of those situations from turning into a reality and if they do an experienced guide has probably dealt with it before. Guides have been in these areas and can make them much more enjoyable (and safer) than say renting gear and trying to do it on your own. An experienced guide not only provides knowledge and tactics on fishing but other traits and skills that make spending multiple days in the Alaskan bush much more worry free. Guides also (should) take care of most of the work that can be involved in these types of settings which provides more time for the guest to truly enjoy the experience of the Alaskan wilderness. It’s likely a fishing vacation, right?
Multi-Day Float Trips with FishHound Expeditions
At FishHound we offer multi-day floats ranging from 2 to 10 days. We run trips throughout Alaska chasing everything that swims. Our trips are completely tailored to our guest needs and wants. We can do trips for a single person up to eight person groups. The river and length of the trip will dictate how many miles are floated in a day. Guests fish everyday on our trips, including the first day and the last. Our guides have been doing multi day trips for over 15 years and have taken that experience to create a truly amazing product.
After spending years of doing multi-day trips, the crew at FishHound Expeditions have learned about what’s important. We provide top quality gear such as Alaskan designed rafts ranging from 14-16 feet that give anglers in the front and back a chair with great support and a very comfortable fishing area. We bring a massive moveable “lodge” cooking tent that can seat 10 guests and provides a great warm environment if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Clients have separate sleeping tents complete with ultra-lite weight cots and 3½ inch insulated down sleeping pads. All dry bags are provided for guests as well as all fishing gear and tackle, no additional hidden costs. The only camping gear not provided is a sleeping bag as they tend to be rather personal items.
A Typical Float Trip Day
Our days begin with breakfast and coffee around 8 am, however with each trip we vary our start time based on client preferences sometimes earlier and some later. Guides then break down camp and load the boats while clients fish the camp water or wade down river to be picked up. We eat lunch in the early afternoon. Then after bellies are full, fish again for the afternoon or we drift gently down the river if some guests decide to take a siesta in the seat of the boat.
We typically get into our camps in the early evening. Guides then get everything set up while clients either fish or enjoy a drink on the river talking about the days experience, fish, and wildlife. Since we are on the river constantly guests always have the ability to wet a line at pretty much anytime they see fit morning or night. After a riverside dinner guests have the option to enjoy sitting around a campfire or for the truly die-hards an evening fishing session accompanied by a guide whose once his work is finished always tends to grab a fly rod and do a bit of fishing for themselves!
All food is prepared fresh not dehydrated meal after dehydrated meal. We cook everything from fresh fish to rack of lamb and barbecue ribs while anglers wake up to breakfasts of bacon, blueberry pancakes, omlettes with real eggs, and more (and of course coffee or tea). We also bring homemade desserts because remoteness doesn’t mean being away from tasty treats. A reasonable amount of beer and wine of guests choosing is also included in the trip price.
On our longer trips we get what we call a “layover” day. This is where we stay in one camp for 2 nights. These are done in areas that provide amazing fishing, usually have multiple braids to fish as well as upriver, down river and water right around camp. These layovers are also a day where a lot of guests take advantage of the portable shower that we bring on longer trips.
Adam Cuthriel is the owner and operator of FishHound Expeditions, located in the town of Willow, Alaska just an hour north of Anchorage…FishHound Expeditions offers heli-fishing day trips as well as 5-10 day fully-guided remote heli-fishing float fishing adventure to Western Alaska for those looking for the ultimate Alaska fishing adventure. There are a variety of options for heli-fishing in Alaska, but what separates FishHound Expeditions is their passion, knowledge, amenities, gear, and continuing exploration with these amazing aircraft. Their gear is handmade or purchased specifically to fit in helicopters, which allows them to bring incredible freshly prepared food, great comfortable camp scenes with cots & pads, separate sleeping tents for clients, and specific cooking/eating shelters, and lots of room for beer/wine.