A bald eagle in a photo bomb on the 4th of July while photographing Mr. Jimmy Carter.

Yes, Mr. President

My good friend Brian Harry, owner of Intricate Bay Lodge in the Bristol Bay region, gave me a phone call at the end of his 2016 season. He asked if I could set aside some dates 10 months out, and if so, did I mind having a background check from the Secret Service!?!? “Who is it?” I asked. “Can’t tell you right now, but can you do it?” Brian replied. “Sure, why not,” I said, now fully committed to the unknown.

Fast forward 10 months and a lot of paper work. I got to the lodge still unknowing of who exactly would be arriving the next day. After the Secret Service was finished debriefing me about the safety protocols, strict rules and etiquette expected, I learned I’d be photographing Mr. Carter, the 39th President of the USA.!!!! I prepared to for the following day of introductions and the first day of fishing.

“Mr. President,” a hand built Fenwick rod by Phil Clock, dates back to the late 1950’s.
Jimmy Carter Catch Magazine
Mr. Carter with his classic and genuine smile, ready for another day on the Copper River.

The following morning we were off: Mr. & Mrs. Carter, four Secret Service men, three guides and a photographer. We charged out in a monumental jet boat assault, as if carrying enough firepower to fend off the entire Alaskan brown bear population. Before Mr. Carter stepped out of the boat at the first fishing hole of the morning, the guides discussed the best way to get their highest profile client into a trophy trout. No pressure, right? The Secret Service quickly spread out, sending men up stream, across the river and one by the former-president at all times. The crowd went silent as Mr. Carter stepped into the run to make his first cast. It was as if Arnold Palmer was teeing up for a birdie on the 18th hole for the championship.

Heading up to the next great piece of water on the famed Copper River.
With deep roots in fly fishing, Mrs. Carter has a personalized Ross real #10 from production.
First Lady of the United States from 1977-1981, Mrs. Rosalyn Carter.
Rain or shine, Mr. Carter fished 8 hours a day!!!
Swinging for a few trout on the lower Copper River.
When the former President has a fish on, all river traffic stops.



Silence and complete attention followed. The guides spotted a few fish just down river, and strategic casts needed to be made. Mr. Carter stepped up and replied in good measure, and the fight was on! A large Copper River trout met his fly and wanted to head back to the lake in a screaming run downriver. The president was into his backing in mere seconds, tactfully managing to turn the fish and begin a 30- minute Clash of the Titans battle between on the river. At one point, other boats stopped downstream, choosing to give President Carter and his big trout a wide birth.

The job of netting fell to Brian Harry. While this task is routine, and often a natural and easy reflex for a lodge owner or guide, netting a former president’s trout was a whole new level of pressure. Turn it up a notch. You just don’t lose a fish at the net for a man who once held a hand over the big red button in Washington D.C.! Brian rose to the occasion, and 26 inches of Copper River rainbow was the grand prize. According to the group, it was one of the largest trout Mr. Carter had ever landed. Amen!

Perhaps the most stressful netting job of Brian Harry’s life. Sure don’t want to mess up Mr. Carter’s biggest fish of the week.
Guide Chase and Intricate Bay Lodge owner Brian Harry holding Mr. Carter’s best trout of the week.
Twenty-six inches of Copper River beauty!
The smile says it all! Mrs. Carter seems happy for her husbands great trout!
Even the bears wanted to get a view of the former president.

My good friend Brian Harry, owner of Intricate Bay Lodge in the Bristol Bay region, gave me a phone call at the end of his 2016 season. He asked if I could set aside some dates 10 months out, and if so, did I mind having a background check from the Secret Service!?!? “Who is it?” I asked. “Can’t tell you right now, but can you do it?” Brian replied. “Sure, why not,” I said, now fully committed to the unknown.
Fast forward 10 months and a lot of paper work. I got to the lodge still unknowing of who exactly would be arriving the next day. After the Secret Service was finished debriefing me about the safety protocols, strict rules and etiquette expected, I learned I’d be photographing Mr. Carter, the 39th President of the USA.!!!! I prepared to for the following day of introductions and the first day of fishing.

Secret Service: Mrs. Carter has a knot in her leader, call in the lodge owner for a fix ASAP.
Mrs. Carter with a nice leaping rainbow.
Mrs. Carter puts some focus and pressure to a nice fish.
A nickel-bright trout fresh from the lake, putting on a show for the former president.
A true sportsman, Mr.Carter appreciates every trout…including the small ones.
Guide Wade feels good about the next cast.
Heading to the lower Copper River on a perfectly calm morning.
Brian Harry spots the next fish for Mr. Carter.

With the first big fish to hand on the first day and at the first hole, the stage was set for the amazing week to follow: interesting conversation with both Mr. Carter and the Secret Service; new friends; and countless fish on the fly for the president and his friends on the trip. We celebrated the 70th Wedding Anniversary of Mr. & Mrs. Carter and the Fourth of July holiday on the river. By the end of the week, this group had become a team of sorts, sportsmen enjoying the outdoors together. No titles or positions, just people casting fly rods and savoring the time spent in Alaska’s fly fishing paradise…one of the last true wilderness areas in the world. – Abe Blair

Seventy years of happy marriage- a truly special day and trip.
The Carter group is all smiles after a perfect week at Intricate Bay Lodge.
A lodge and view fit for a president at Intricate Bay Lodge.

Contributed By

Abe Blair

As an artist choosing to work with the medium of photography, I am always trying to push the natural limits of my cameras, wether it be film or digital. I am traditional in my method working to get the image correct in the camera without building one in the computer. This makes every finished image a personal success and through this traditional method each image has a life and soul of its own, one that I am excited to introduce and share with my viewers and collectors.

Working with my first film camera in 1992 ignited a fire and passion that has burned strong ever since. Shortly after high school, I followed my passion and pursued a career photographing Skiing and Snowboarding. Through those years I traveled the world while honing my craft. I learned how to work with nature’s dramatic and rare light that is often found in the mountains while reading weather patterns and putting myself where the light was best. Now I use my camera as a painter would use their brush, focusing more on the mood and power of a pre-visualized scene before the camera even comes out of the bag. Through a process of continued visits to my selected locations I am able to study the light and weather patterns through the changing seasons and truly connect with my surroundings. This process combined with patience and great light is a path I look forward to following for many years to come. 

Intricate Bay Lodge info – Here

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