In August of 2010, at the end of a hectic and exhausting summer, I found myself in western Alaska for a week at the Alaska West Lodge. Frankly I was a little burned out. The weather, which can be a formidable challenge in Alaska, complicated my travel arrangements. From Anchorage I was still two bush planes a bus and a boat ride from the camp which rest on an island in the Kanektok River. I fully expected to be spent by the time I got there. I found quite the opposite. By the time I reached the camp I was recharged with excitement by the place. Western Alaska is quietly beautiful. The travel itself had been visceral. I recall flying low over deserted wetlands, looking down and identifying parts of an airplane on the ground below. I remember thinking, "yes, you are in the bush now".
While the other guests were unpacking, having a snack or smoking a cigar, I was getting into my waders and lining up my rod. I just couldn't wait to see what this place had in store for me. I waded into the Kanektok and within a few cast my indicator disappeared and I was tight to a big rainbow. There I was in heavy water with no net playing a big fish. Clearly, I had not thought this through. About that time a boat rounded the bend. It was my buddy Andrew Bennett who had come up a few days earlier. Andrew hopped out of the boat and landed my fish. It was about twenty eight inches. Andrew smiled and ask, "is this your first fish"? "Yep", I replied. He laughed, "well don't expect this every cast, OK".
Those cold damp days at the end of summer glow warm in my memory. Days busting big rainbows and salmon, watching western Alaska become harsh and grey as fall made it's brief appearance. Nights warm with food and laughter. A year later the images in my mind are less vivid but no less invigorating. I have never seen it as my job to show what a place, or a time, looked like. A quick google search can accomplish that. Rather, I see it as my job to show what it felt like. To show how the experience affected me and perhaps changed me. I hope these images can do that for you.
Louis Cahill lives in Atlanta, GA and works everywhere. An advertising photographer with over thirty years experience and about as many holding a fly rod Louis has spent his life looking through the lens. He’s not interested in what everyone else sees. You can see more of his work at www.ginkandgasoline.com and at www.louiscahill.com.