Northeast Michigander Erik Peterson helps fishermen land trophy catches

Courtesy Photos Erik Peterson, left, holds a rainbow trout aloft after a successful fishing trip in Alaska. Peterson, a resident of Northeast Michigan, has spent the last decade serving as a fly fishing guide in Alaska during the summer months.

ALPENA — As a lifelong fisherman, Erik Peterson enjoys the thrill of hooking and landing big fish.

But he also enjoys seeing others catch them and for the last decade, he’s helped dozens of fishermen land once-in-a-lifetime fish.

For the past 10 years, the Northeast Michigander has spent his summers leading guided fly fishing trips in Alaska, helping fishermen from all over the world land coveted Alaskan trophy catches.

“People come from all over the world,” Peterson said. “It’s like fishing with your buddies. You’re meeting different people and watching people catch the fish of a lifetime.”

Peterson is well known to Alpena area residents as a former Alpena High School hockey star who went on to play with the Alpena IceDiggers.

Erik Peterson is a lifelong fisherman who began doing guided trips on the Au Sable river in Northern Michigan. He typically spends June, July and some of the fall in Alaska guiding trips for salmon and rainbow trout.

But fishing is another of his lifelong passions and, after his playing days were over, he turned his attention toward guiding.

He started on the Au Sable river, but dreamed of eventually guiding in Alaska and reached out to different lodge owners there about opportunities.

He got his chance with the Alaska Bear Claw Lodge in Aleknagik, where he worked as a guide for four years.

For the past six years, he’s worked at Blue Fly, a bed and breakfast guide service in King Salmon, Alaska.

“We call it God’s Country. You’ll be flying in a float plane and you can just see everything for miles. It really is the last frontier,” Peterson said. “Everyone is so nice and helpful and if you see someone in need of help, you stop and help.”

Located southwest of Anchorage, King Salmon is a popular spot for Alaskan fishing and Peterson and Blue Fly’s other guides — including owner Patricia Edel — lead fishermen on the Naknek River and surrounding waters during their trips.

Peterson said when he first began guiding, fishermen typically found out about trips like the ones Blue Fly offers in magazines.

Now, Peterson said, places like Blue Fly are more well known. Hundreds of customers post photos on social media of their Alaskan catches and Blue Fly has its own pages on Facebook and TripAdvisor.

Peterson said he spends about 40-50 days each summer as a guide in Alaska. He typically starts in June, guiding for sockeye and chinook (king) salmon and rainbow trout and coho (silver) salmon in July.

He also spends part of the fall there, guiding fishermen as they try to land trophy catches.

When he’s not fishing in Alaska, Peterson runs his own guide service, Northern Drifters Guide Service, and does guided trips in Arkansas for trophy brown trout.

One of those trophy catches is the rainbow trout, which can grow in excess of 30 inches and 18 pounds in Alaskan waters. Fishermen come from all over the world and spend big bucks for fly fishing guides like Peterson to offer them the chance to hook into these speckled beauties.

“It’s like the fish of a lifetime. It’s pretty much what people come to Alaska for,” Peterson said.

When he’s not in Alaska, Peterson runs his own guiding business — Northern Drifters Guide Service — and can be found on the Au Sable. During the winter months, he also does guided trips for trophy brown trout on the White River in Arkansas.

“It’s been great. I’ve never thought I’d be able to do this and make as much money as I have as a guide,” Peterson said. “Once you prove you’re a great fisherman, people see that and people come back year after year. A lot of them are like family.”


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