2020 is officially in the rear view mirror! It truly is hindsight now. Y’all good with that? We surely are. Now it’s time for some Fish On Alaska!
In addition to the Pandemic shutting down the 2020 season the devastating fire of June 16, 2020, completely destroyed the Aniak River Adventures Lodge. You may remember the photos we circulated on our Facebook page depicting the ashes and rubble. Unfortunately, it was a total loss. But read on for some exciting news from the Aniak!
When we heard from Ludi last July he summarized and closed his heartfelt letter with this.
I look forward to sharing with you that which will rise from the ashes and hope to welcome you back to the best little river on the planet as soon as possible.”
1/21 – Greetings to all the friends of Aniak River Lodge!
“This is our first communication of 2021, and a lot has happened since we last connected. As most of you already know, our past year could be summed up in three words – virus and fire… almost biblical in simplicity, but painfully accurate. However, we choose not to be defined by these catastrophes…but rather how we react to them. Rising to meet the requirements of starting over in 2021 has demanded a lot of effort and patience from many people. The picture below epitomizes the efforts of our on-site staff.
We Begin Again
The above photo was taken after the fire and near the site of the lodge. Our guys camped out at the site for much of the summer, clearing debris and cutting lumber in preparation for the rebuild. They stayed up there and worked in tough conditions until the snow drove them out in the fall. On their occasional breaks they would jump in the jet boat and spend a couple of hours fishing and by all accounts (and judging by their photos) the fishing was quite spectacular. We will be ready for a big season in 2021!
A number of issues in the village of Aniak have come to light over the last few weeks that indicate things are looking good for our upcoming season.
First, the entire village has now been immunized against the virus so travel restrictions should be changed shortly to make operating inside Aniak a lot easier. We have spoken with the city manager’s office and in the event that restrictions are imposed in the village this summer, they suggest we bypass the actual village on arrival and go directly from the aircraft to the boats. In this case we would not do our orientation in our village lodge as normal, but instead head straight upriver and do it at the camp. The way things are looking now, though, we doubt that this will be necessary.
The second issue regards the airlines traveling between Anchorage ( ANC ) and Aniak ( ANI ). As you are probably aware, Ravn Airlines – who has for years provided the air support for this route – filed bankruptcy and was liquidated last year. They were subsequently purchased and have begun re-establishing the routes they traditionally flew. We were informed last week that the terminal building at Aniak airport was purchased by Ryan Airlines (who are currently running between ANC and ANI on a limited basis.) Ryan has agreed to turn around/support the Ravn flight on this route, so Ravn is planning on resuming their Aniak flights very soon. There is no official word from them yet, but as soon as their staff and logistics are finalized, we expect an announcement. One of the relevant details that we are waiting on are the day(s) of the week they will fly in/out of Aniak. Our current turnaround day is Saturday and we expect it to stay that way, but if the flights are not available it may have to be changed to Friday.
We will further update everyone as soon as we are advised. In the event that there are complications we have arranged with 3 different private charter companies to carry our staff and guests from ANC to ANI, as a fallback option. Our preference, though, is to go with the commercial option as it takes a lot of pressure off our organization capacity, and it generally works out to be cheaper for you. In any event, we strongly suggest holding off making your flight plans between Anchorage and Aniak until we get clarity on the options…it should not be too much longer.
There is also a distinct possibility that all airlines serving Alaska’s bush villages may insist on an instant Covid test, or at least a 72-hour test as they did in 2020. It remains to be seen what they will do in this regard, and we will keep you posted. *
As the events of 2020 unfolded we made a number of changes to our operation. The most important issue to us is that we maintain the client experience and make sure that our guests continue to enjoy the level of service that we provide. The legendary fishing is taken care of by the fish, and the commitment of our guiding team; this will continue, as the latter make sure you get as many of the former to the net as is possible. Our kitchen and maintenance staff will continue to provide a level of service that will have everybody coming back for more.
The loss of the lodge has prompted us to change our guest accommodations. We are now going to be utilizing brand new WeatherPort tents (watch for photos and more details of accommodations coming soon) – WeatherPort is well known in the outdoor industry for manufacturing some of the finest soft-walled structures on the planet – placed on top of raised wooden platforms. Each WeatherPort will be slightly larger than the cabins they are replacing and will boast a bedroom with two full-sized beds (a welcome upgrade as per many requests) with new memory foam mattresses and bedding. Each tent has its own en-suite bathroom with flushing toilet and hot shower. We are moving over to a 12-volt electrical system with 110V backup, so lights and power will be available 24 hours a day and those cpap machines will now be able to connect directly to the 12-volt system. The heating will be propane, and each unit will be fitted with an exhaust fan. There will be a covered porch in front of each tent. The dining hall will include a lounge and fly tying area and also has an enclosed porch on the front. Finally, we have moved the location slightly to take advantage of higher ground, aesthetics, and views of the river.
The original upriver wilderness trout camp will still be there but it will not operate this season. We lost all the equipment for this small camp in the fire as it had been stored in the main lodge for the winter. We will have to rebuild this upriver trout camp after the main camp is completed, and due to the available time that we have – from ice-out to the beginning of the season – it will not be logistically possible to complete in time and also maintain the level of service that is expected of us.
To be clear this does not in any way impact the way we fish. The current system has been in place for a number of years now and enables us to give our guests the experience of fishing the entire stretch of river that can be reached with our jet boats. Spending the week at the new main camp you will still fish the same assigned beats each day as we have for years, including all of the water previously accessed from the upper camp. We mention this as some guests have been under the misunderstanding that if you stay at the upper camp you only fish the upper river, and if you stay at the lower camp you only fish the lower river. This has never been the case and never will be.
The virus has certainly taken its toll, but we are expecting a full, wonderful season in 2021. We are doing everything possible to make this first year in the new location one that will be filled with happy memories and the beginning of many more unbelievable fish stories.
Thank you for your support.
Back to Aniak
So, to our friends of Aniak River Adventures Alaska, why not start 2021 on a positive planning note. The fishing season of 2021 should be outstanding considering the break the river inhabitants enjoyed last season. Gather some fishing pals and give us a call with some date range preferences. We’ll go to work to make it happen!
- At Aniak River Adventures Alaska we will always keep you advised of the current local, regional and federal travel requirements from the CDC and airlines.
For more information on the 2021 Update From the Aniak call: 1.800.398.5837