If you’re looking for a way to help save Alaska’s Bristol Bay, you likely aren’t googling “bear attack fatalities,” but if you’re the guy planning to float more than 100 river miles through the Bristol Bay region it’s probably worth a look.
Patrick Clayton is that guy, but he won’t be going to Bristol Bay without your help. Clayton recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for an AK mission this summer, capturing photographs to raise awareness about the wild places and species threatened by the proposed Pebble Mine. If he goes, you’ll be seeing a lot more of his images, which he’ll make available for free to any nonprofits that help support his journey and oppose the mine.
Clayton says, “It’s go time on this issue. We, as a community of fly fishers and conservationists, need to get it together and stop this thing.” Pebble Mine’s shadow looms heavy on the mind of the outdoor photographer, not only because he earns a living in the outdoors, but also because he’s seen firsthand what’s at stake. Clayton has travelled Alaska as a commercial fisherman and a skier, and he hopes that bringing back beautiful, innovative images of the wild places and resources at risk will help motivate others to actively oppose the Pebble Mine.
Clayton photographs under the banner of Fish Eye Guy Photography and calls Bozeman, Montana, home. If you haven’t seen his images of fish, they are striking underwater portraits that capture the elegance of trout and salmon species anglers pursue so fervently. To get the photographs, he says, “Sometimes I snorkel, sometimes I set my camera up on a boom and use a remote control, and sometimes if I find the right spot and if I’m patient enough I can just stand there snapping pictures.” He often lets fish come to him, but this time it’s the other way around. Clayton plans to board a commercial fishing vessel before floating one of Bristol Bay’s rivers from source to sea, and will follow a run of salmon with his camera to document the massive migrations.
With hope that his campaign receives full funding, Clayton has been preparing, making contacts, and doing preliminary research, which—of course—includes reading bear attack statistics. Between that and being so invested in the project he’s hardly slept since the campaign began.
“It’s going to take a lot to push it across the finish line, but now’s the time. It’s now or never,” he says.
Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.