Alaska veterans and active duty soldiers are about to embark on a dream
fishing trip – even by Alaskans’ standards.
Bristol Bay Native Corporation will host eight veterans and soldiers to
go on a five-day, all-expenses-paid trip to its Mission Lodge, an
upscale fishing lodge located in Aleknagik, near Dillingham, Alaska.
BBNC also will award internships to top students of the Bristol Bay
River Academy, which is operated by Trout Unlimited and provides
sportfishing guide and conservation training to youths – mostly Alaska
Natives – in the Bristol Bay region.
The Anchorage chapter of Project Healing Waters is coordinating with the
disabled veterans, some of whom remain on active duty. PenAir is
providing the veterans with air transportation out of Anchorage. The
trip will take place June 18-22.
The veterans will stay at the Mission Lodge, and will travel by float
plane to several world-class sportfishing areas in the Bristol Bay
region. Graduates of the Bristol Bay River Academy will guide the
veterans. King salmon are returning to the waters of Bristol Bay, and
fishing should be excellent.
“The Mission Lodge and local Bristol Bay fishing opportunities offer the
perfect environment to help military personnel take in the natural
beauty of Alaska,” said Jason Metrokin, president and CEO of BBNC. “It
is a place for reflection and peace, not to mention some of the best
fishing in all of Alaska. We are proud to be able to support our
“Trout Unlimited is pleased to help support this opportunity to show our
appreciation to wounded warriors who have put their lives on the line
for our country,” said Tim Bristol, director of Trout Unlimited, Alaska
Program. “Bristol Bay offers spectacular sportfishing and we’re excited
to have graduates of our Bristol Bay River Academy team up with these
veterans to fly-fish together and offer instruction where needed. We’re
very proud of both our graduates and our vets, and it’s a special thing
to have them pair up, especially here, home to one of the great wild
fisheries left on the planet.”
The veterans and soldiers who are participating are actively involved
with Project Healing Waters. The program seeks to aid disabled active
duty military personnel and veterans recover physically and emotionally
through fishing opportunities and skills workshops focused on activities
such as fly-tying and casting.
The veterans and soldiers were invited on the Bristol Bay trip as a way
to thank them for their service, said Laura Orr, soldier and public
relations manager with Project Healing Waters. “They are so excited
Orr said she has personally seen success stories thanks to the program.
“I’ve seen people who were depressed, have just about given up,” she
said. “Then they try this and they have that ‘Aha!’ moment. Now they are
open and friendly. It really helps them relax and make good memories
again. Seeing that moment is amazing.”
Mission Lodge is owned by Bristol Bay Native Corporation. This is the
first season of the lodge’s operations under BBNC ownership. The lodge
operated as a mission school for nearly half a century, and was
converted into a first-class fishing lodge in 1984. Mission Lodge offers
an exceptional experience with upscale comfort and fly-in access to some
of the best wild salmon, rainbow trout and other native species in the
world. Go to www.missionlodge.com.
Bristol Bay Native Corporation is one of 13 Alaska Native Regional
Corporations formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of
1971. The corporation has over 9,000 Eskimo, Aleut and Athabascan
shareholders with ancestral ties to the Bristol Bay region. More
information can be found at www.bbnc.net.
Trout Unlimited’s Alaska Program works to preserve, protect and restore
wild salmon and trout populations throughout Alaska. Through sound
scientific data, strong grassroots outreach and advocacy, and hands-on
involvement in conservation projects we protect some of the most
pristine and prized rivers on the planet, restore those that need some
help, and engage the next generation of coldwater stewards in Alaska’s
The Bristol Bay River Academy (formerly the Bristol Bay Fly Fishing &
Guide Academy) merges salmon and river education, with recreation and
conservation principles to educate, engage and inspire Bristol Bay young
adults to become local leaders in salmon stewardship and prepared for
jobs based on healthy salmon in their home rivers. BBNC and Trout
Unlimited, Alaska Program, are among the academy’s program sponsors.
Founded in 1955, PenAir offers passenger and cargo services to several
rural Alaska communities, primarily between Anchorage and the Alaska
Peninsula, and points in the Aleutian Islands.