There were four in the party: myself, photographer Colby Lysne, my friend Edwin Aguilar, and Scott Wood, who more times than not can be found in the other end of whatever canoe I inhabit. Dropping through tundra, we’d first negotiate the Kipchuk through a 1,000-foot-deep canyon. Then we’d slip into the Kuskokwim lowlands, where the river carves channels through square-mile gravel bars and unravels in braids until it flows into the larger Aniak. Some of the most remote country left in Alaska, it is the second-largest watershed in the state, with just a handful of native settlements. We timed our launch for a shot at four of the five Alaska salmon species—kings, pinks, sockeyes, and chums—with a wild-card chance for coho and the Alaska Grand Slam of salmon. We’d been counting our fish for months.