Every spring, our friends at Orvis host their annual Orvis Guide Rendezvous. For the last eight years, they’ve been kind enough to invite me.
And I love being there. One of the greatest parts of that event is the presentation of awards for outstanding guides, outfitters and lodges. But this year was particularly sweet. It was the year that Dan Michels and his family received the award for Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Lodge of the Year.
Dan is the owner, manager, chief bottle washer, poet, philosopher and visionary at Crystal Creek Lodge in King Salmon, Alaska. He oversees operations, hosts, flies one of the aircraft guides at the lodge, too.
Dan is originally from Minnesota, where he lived the outdoor life from a young age and obtained his college degree from the University of Minnesota. He helped build the original Crystal Creek Lodge in 1988 and at that time began guiding in the Bristol Bay area of western Alaska.
“What originally began as a summer adventure has become a life’s work,” he says.
That life’s work is focused around giving people the experience of a lifetime fishing for salmon, arctic char and rainbow trout in one of the wildest places on earth. It’s about great people, great fishing and world-class accommodations.
But it’s also about doing the right thing. It’s about a conservation ethic, the desire to perpetuate a legacy of clean water and wild fish in the Bristol Bay area. Dan and his family have been, and continue to be, powerful advocates for Bristol Bay and TU’s Save Bristol Bay campaign.
We’re grateful for our friends at Crystal Creek Lodge, and we’re grateful for all the time and resources they’ve devoted to protecting one of the planet’s last best places. For years now, we’ve been shoulder to shoulder with Dan and his family in the battle over the ill-conceived Pebble Mine. Like Dan says, “The proposed Pebble Mine threatens one of the world’s last great salmon fisheries. That affects those of us here in salmon country. But as a United States citizen, it’s your country, too. It’s time for all of us to say again, ‘Wrong mine, wrong place.”
Crystal Creek Lodge
King Salmon, AK 99613