About ten times each year I hear from one of my customers, “Boy, you got the best job in the world.” Of course, usually this event takes place during one of those great blue days while flying in one of our helicopters. As much as I agree, hidden are the hard times and huge gambles.

Running a fly out fishing lodge in the Alaskan wilderness is much like farming. Our crop is “you”, and our harvest time at Talaheim Lodge is just ten weeks. Lodge owners rely on the unknown…fish runs and weather. Our pests are hairy large creatures. So in preparation, we carry weapons, no pesticide required!

I started Talaheim Lodge 35 years ago with just a few dollars and a dream. Today, I can’t believe what it takes to operate a first class wilderness fly-fishing lodge. We have a mile of water lines, an electrical system that would put Edison back to the drawing boards, communication equipment, boats, rafts, helicopters, airplane, buildings galore, and much more!

Another question I often hear is “what do you do in the winter, go to Florida?” (destinations can be replaced with anywhere tropical) Although I do like to look at a palm tree from time to time, much of my winter is spent in front of a computer, behind a desk at a sport show, or much of my winter is spent upgrading or upkeep on our lodge. Forty below temperatures, heavy snows, preceded by wet falls runs havoc on our buildings. We are constantly upgrading our lodge with new buildings manufactured by homegrown lumber from local timbers and our on-site sawmill.

I often hear how great it must be to make a living fishing. Actually, I might only get a few hours a year in wetting my own fly. When the smoke clears in the fall, I try to get a few half days in fishing, but during the season, there is no time.

Why do I pursue such a lifestyle? The challenge! Robert Service once wrote that “it’s not just the gold we seek, it’s the seeking.” You anglers provide me with a way to make a living in the Alaskan bush. Without you, I couldn’t afford to live here and be offered the challenges I love so much. Thanks.

Mark Miller, owner of TalaheimLodge.com