What happens when two young dreamers make their way North to the Future and meet in a small town Alaska tackle shop? A love story, a company, a family, and big plans for the future are born! We have been so blessed and are appreciative and grateful of the fact that we've had the helping hand of many wonderful Alaskan old-timers along the way. Many have since left this earth, but we thank them for all they have taught us, done for us, and been to us. We couldn't be here where we are today without those wonderful people.
Below you will find some photos and a timeline of the last decade or so of us living the dream. We know you have many choices when it comes to hiring a guide for the Kenai, so we'd like you to see where your hard earned dollars go! When you support our business, you support our family directly, and we thank you for that.
John has been a fishing enthusiast since he was big enough to cast a rod. He grew up fly fishing the fine western mountain streams of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico & Wyoming for trout and hitting up some sturgeon fishing in Washington, as well as some good old pike fishing at a favorite family spot in South Dakota.
John started planning his trip to Alaska as part of his 5th grade class project. After graduating high school, he and his best friend Adam packed up a truck and hit the road. As soon as he crossed the bridge at Kenai Lake he felt the tug of the Kenai River on his soul and a feeling of home. Within a couple days, he had fished the river, made new friends, and landed a job guiding for a local outfit. The next summer, he met his bride-to-be while buying some tackle.
Heather grew up surf casting for stripers off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina and fly fishing in the tiny mountain streams of Western VA. She was raised in a boatyard, spending weekends with her dad and brother enjoying lightly supervised salty days messing about boats, piers, barges, machine shops, fishing, catching crabs, and climbing an old crane at her grandparents' home on Scott's Creek. The love of flowing waters and the sea grew in her heart from a very young age.
A crossroads in life presented itself after graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in Biology and having worked for the VT Stream Team supporting reasearch in stream ecology for a few years. Was it grad school or travel? Travel won and having read Michener's Alaska a couple years before while doing field work in Costa Rica, Heather was inspired to venture north for the destination! Serendipity provided a job in Cooper Landing selling tackle. It wasn't really a job in the field of stream ecology, but close enough!
John and Heather were married in the summer of 2003 by the wonderful Native Alaskan Rev. Willie Johnson in Cooper Landing, rest his soul. Kenai River Float-n-Fish was born the following winter and opened the door for business in 2004. 12 years later we are dreaming big dreams and looking forward to more adventurous years ahead!
John arrives in Cooper Landing and is immediately hired to guide the Kenai by Howard Mulanax, owner of one of our town's orginal guide services, Cooper Landing Floating & Fishing Co.
Heather graduates from Virginia Tech, takes a job at the Gwin's Lodge tackle shop in Cooper Landing.
We tie the knot, celebrate a floating and fishing reception on the river, & spend our first winter in AK at Chief's "Kick Ass cabin" on Kenai Lake. The dream of Kenai River Float-n-Fish is born. A long winter of inspiration includes the study of how Nome was settled with wall tents, plenty of moose meat & whiskey, and a healthy dose of faith. The additional guidance and mentoring from Howard Mulanax is a big help also.
Kenai River Float-n-Fish is founded February 2004. We rent a spot of land from legendary Babe Osowiecki and construct from bought, salvaged, and donated materials a wall tent office. Our life savings are combined and we acquire a shiny new Fish Rite drift boat. We also purchase one Sioux tipi from Chief, which we call home from May-October for the next 3 years to save some scratch. Winters are spent caretaking Howard's cabin.
The family is about to grow! Howard recognizes that a tipi in AK is probably not ideal for raising a little one, so we start the process of buying his cabin.
After a long winter Monica debuts in May. This is the first summer spent in a home with wood walls and roof.
Welcome Cecilia, our little Valentine's Day gift!
In a month's time, we celebrate Float-n-Fish's 10th anniversary, Cecilia's 2nd birthday, and mourn the passing of our beloved friend Howard. We are proud to carry on his legacy.
We realize we've long achieved our original 5 year plan and just finished our 10 year plan. A new dream is born and we start saving for a sailboat and planning for a family voyage.
We put every extra penny in the sailing kitty, take an extended sailing trip on Ressurection bay out of Seward, and celebrate "tiny home living" by building ourselves a summer wall tent so that we can rent our home as a vacation rental.
John is your enthusiastic and smiling guide! 2017 marks John's 17th year guiding clients on the Kenai River, right in his own backyard. You will appreciate his skill, intimate knowledge of the river and the area's history, ecology, and old-timer folklore, as well as his sense of humor and patience.
Shuttle driver, reservation agent extrordinaire, housekeeper, master gardener, Coast Guard licensed captain, ordained minister, bookkeeper, webmaster, volunteer librarian, Mom. Heather wears many hats and chances are she can help you with what you need! Oh and of course she likes to fish, too.
Born to fish, what else can we say? Monica has mastered the spinning rod, is getting dialed in on the dry fly, learning to be an oarswoman, and is absolutely loving every minute! She looks forward to seeing new faces in the van everyday and is happy to share with you what she is currently reading. Now booking trips with Monica for the 2035 fishing season.
Cecilia is our littlest fisher lady. She has a wild heart and a deadly rod! She loves to give the fishies a nice, big kiss before she lets them go. She is both a summertime river fisher and ice fishing master, and is teaching us a thing or two every single day, whether we like it or not!