Packing for an Alaskan Fly Fishing Trip
With now 19 hours to go, this looks more organized than it is. Half those reels don't even have backing. And the list of 25 other TODO items isn't helping.

In about 20 hours, I'll be boarding a plane for Juneau, Alaska, the starting point for what I'm taking for granted will prove to be the trip of a lifetime. During this trip, I'll have the privilege of touring two regions which are inarguably two of the last great strongholds of wild salmon worldwide.

My trip begins in southeastern Alaska, where I'm lucky enough to be included in a ensemble tour of the Tongass National Forest -- also known as the American Salmon Forest -- that is comprised of representatives from Trout Unlimited, a diverse group of journalists and bloggers, professional photographers and more. We'll get a first hand look at the commercial and recreational fishing industries and the amazing ecosystem that sustains them.

After 6 days in the southeast, I'll traveling to the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, to soak up what I can of this vast region which is responsible for producing almost half the entire world's wild salmon. As many of you already know, the Bristol Bay region is under grave threat from the sort-of-proposed Pebble Mine, a massive $500 billion dollar copper, gold and molybdenum mine that -- should it ever come to be -- will almost certainly spell the destruction of Bristol Bay's fish populations and the thousands upon thousands of individuals that depend on Bristol Bay for their likelihoods and survival.

Grayling Wood Tikchik
Chasing grayling in Wood Tikchik state park (photo: Reel Wilderness Adventures).

I'll spend 6 days with David Taylor's Reel Wilderness Adventures in Alaska'a Wood Tikchik state park, which is situated on a chain of lakes within the park. We'll chase Alaska's famous leopard rainbows, sockeye, grayling and pike, just to name a few, fishing primarily the short rivers which connect the chain of lakes David's camp is situated on. If I haven't already done so in the southeast, I'll finally lay to rest my obsession with catching a big, fat rainbow on a skated mouse pattern, one I've had ever since seeing Eastern Rises many years ago.

Alagnak River Spring Rainbow
A spring rainbow from the Alagnak (photo: Alaskan Rainbow Adventures).

I'll close the trip with Paul Hansen's crew on a 5-day float down the Alagnak River, known for being "the river" to float for Alaskan rainbows and for its prolific runs of wild salmon (even by Alaskan standards). We'll cover new ground each day. Brown bear are abundant and there's a solid chance we'll see moose, caribou, wolves, peregrine falcons and/or eagles.

It remains to be seen how available proper internet access will be, and it is certain to be unavailable for long stretches during the trip. When time and access allows, I'll be posting updates from the field for those of you that are interested. I'll do my best, both from the road and once I return, to convey via images and words the reality of these amazing experiences and resources that these both these regions of Alaska provide.

Wish me luck.