In Southwest Alaska, a lot of good ideas start in a steam bath or maqii, an Alaska Native version of the sauna -- small wooden buildings with stoves inside, stoked with driftwood, where friends and family sit together and let the heat cleanse their bodies and souls.

Tim Troll remembers a night in the steam, when an elder from Ekwok, Luki Akelkok, hatched an idea -- a fly fishing academy for young people in Bristol Bay.

The school would also expose them to jobs as guides or other careers in the sport fishing industry, which mostly employs people from outside the region.

That was more than 10 years ago. Currently, the Bristol Bay Fly Fishing and Guide Academy recruit about 15 students every summer for a week of intensive training -- in not only fly fishing and tying flies but courses in marine ecology, fisheries management, and the business of running a lodge.  

This year, the academy was held at the Bear Trail Lodge in Naknek, which is run by one of the academy's first instructors, Nanci Morris Lyon.

It's always fun to see pictures of beautiful Bristol Bay and watch people fish. But in this episode of Frontiers, we look at fly fishing through an economic lens -- and consider that old saying about how teaching someone to fish is so much more powerful than giving away a fish, that only feeds someone for a day.  

Here are some of this week's highlights:

-  Fishing for the Future: A look at how the academy is inspiring a new generation of anglers to seek opportunities right in their own backyard.

-  Homegrown Success: A visit with Kvichak Aspelund, a graduate of the academy, who now has a summer job at the Bear Trail Lodge.

-  Featured Guests: Tim Troll, one of the founders of the academy and Casey Sifsof, from the Bristol Bay Native Corporation. They share the story of how an elder's dream became a reality that today is helping to create new leaders for the region. 

 

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