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Trout Unlimited Alaska Sponsors Fly Fishing Academy for Bristol Bay Youth



Fly Fishing and Guiding Program Encourages Local Kids to Enter Sport Fishing Industry

For Immediate Release (May 18, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska)

Trout Unlimited Alaska, together with partner organizations, is sponsoring the second annual Bristol Bay Fly Fishing and Guide Academy in the Yu’pik Eskimo village of Ekwok this summer. The goal is to train interested Bristol Bay-area youth in the art of fly fishing and to prepare them for future careers as guides in the sport fishing industry which pumps an estimated $80 million into the Alaska economy every year.

Bristol Bay residents, ages 15-22, are encouraged to apply for an all-expenses-paid opportunity to spend August 8-13, on the Nushagak River, Alaska’s largest producer of king salmon. Participants will stay at Ekwok Lodge, 43 miles upriver from Dillingham, Bristol Bay’s commercial fishing hub. Experienced Bristol Bay fishing guides, including Luki Akelkok, will instruct participants to fly fish, interact with clients, and incorporate traditional Alaska Native knowledge into guiding. The course will also cover safety training, river ecology and the fundamentals of operating a small tourism business. Opportunities exist for summer 2011 employment as a guide for those who successfully complete the course.

Recreational fishing in the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska is big business. Anglers from around the world travel to Bristol Bay every summer to enjoy world-class opportunities to catch king, sockeye and silver salmon, trophy rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic char and Arctic grayling, among other species. Although the industry provides hundreds of seasonal jobs, local residents, particularly Alaska Natives, have traditionally played a very small part in this lucrative and sustainable industry. Most of the jobs go to seasonal workers from the Lower 48.

Trout Unlimited Alaska (TU-AK) wants to see that change. Recognizing that Bristol Bay is a region of high unemployment with staggering costs, TU-AK wants to encourage residents to get involved in the sport fishing and outdoor recreation industry by providing opportunities for local young people to learn important skills. This is second summer that TU-AK has helped sponsor the academy. In 2008, 12 students graduated from the program and several went on to work in the sport fishing industry. This summer up to 22 students will be admitted to the program and connected with prospective employers for the summer 2011 fishing season.

In addition to TU-AK, support for the 2010 academy comes from the Nushagak-Mulchatna/Wood-Tikchik Land Trust, Bristol Bay Native Corporation, The Nature Conservancy, the Bureau of Land Management, and the University of Alaska Bristol Bay Campus. Gear manufacturer Redington is providing rods, reels and lines to the academy. Umpqua Feather Merchants is donating the fly tying materials.

June 15 is the deadline to apply. Visit www.bbflyfishingacademy.org to download an application or get more information.

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