Community showers that might have hot water, basic electricity powered by a generator (so don’t forget to fill it), bears that prowl through camp at night, and sleeping in a wood and tarp tent for six months – these are just a few things that ensure that the guides up at Alaska’s Naknek River Camp never have a dull moment.
After spending last summer with this crew we couldn’t help but be impressed by their passion and dedication for what they do… and the sheer insanity. Get to know a little more about the guides that really make Alaska tick.
Flylords: So, tell us, who is LBJ? Who is Mario?
Mario: Mario is from northeast Ohio. Born and raised a steelhead fisherman. Came up to Alaska three years ago- it’s pretty hard to not come back.
LBJ: My name is Josh Trammel. Otherwise known as LBJ, Little Baby Josh, from Ohio. This is my 6th season at NRC. And that’s about all everybody really needs to know about me.
Flylords: How did you end up in King Salmon, Alaska?
LBJ: I started here when I was 16. An outfitter back home used to host trips up here and they got me a job up here.
Mario: I met LBJ about 6 years ago and he tried to get me to come up here but I was in school. So I didn’t come up until I graduated in 2018 and finally I decided it was my time to come up here. So I’m here now and we’re living together and guiding every day.
LBJ: And starting our family. We have to watch our language around this right? Hahaha.
Mario: It is a big family up here though, that was a great intro to a little bit more. We all see each other as brothers, anytime one of us is struggling we always bring each other up and help each other out any chance we get. That’s part of why I love being here. I know there’s other lodges where it’s not like that and we have that brotherhood here where we are a team, 100%.
LBJ: We get a bad rep because there’s a lot of us but we are all good people.
Flylords: What does a typical day look like for you?
LBJ: Typically our guide days we are one the water by 8. Get off around 4. So we all get up around 6 or 6:30.
Mario: Sometimes 7:30, depends on the night before. But I guarantee we are all on that dock at 8 o’clock ready to roll every morning. We all get to the dock around 4, we don’t like to get back at different times.
LBJ: Depends on the day too. Depends on what you’re doing. If you’re on the main river and that kind of stuff we’ll be back by four. But going to Brooks and flying out and going across the lake is different.
Flylords: How do you prepare for a season in Alaska?
Mario: A lot of tying flies, that’s a big part of it. I try to buy all the gear that I think I’ll need while I’m home, it’s a lot easier to get stuff. We have a PO box so we have the ability to get things while we are here but we spend a lot of time preparing gear while we are back home in the lower 48. And then waders, clothing, you name it. We normally come up with two or three bags apiece.
LBJ: Starting at the end of April I start shotgunning 6 beers a day just to mentally prepare myself for what’s to come beginning of June until mid-October, as I should.
Flylords: What’s one thing you wouldn’t hit the water without?
Mario: Rain jacket! You never know when the weather changes up here. You can go out and it’s beautiful in the morning and you end up in a shitpile of rain or shitty weather in the afternoon. My rain jacket is a big priority.
LBJ: Beads. You can’t have enough beads, it’s Alaska.
Flylords: What is your favorite fish to target in your own backyard?
LBJ: Oh that has to be a tie between river smallmouth and pike. They’re very similar in the ways we fish for them and they just can’t be beat, I like them both.
Mario: I grew up fishing for Walleye with my old man and my uncle and it’s a big tie between fishing for Walleye in many of the inland lakes that we have or steelhead fishing the streams of steelhead alley.
Flylords: If you were a fly or streamer pattern which would you be?
LBJ: Sex dungeon.
Mario: It’d be a fly because you can go both ways. I mean, it’s very versatile that’s what I meant to say.
Flylords: What do you miss most about home?
Mario: Organization and cleanliness. We deal with what we have here and make do with certain circumstances that we are given.
LBJ: Yeah, it’s not normal life back here. Miss my family, miss my lady, miss my truck.