At Deneki, we are lucky to have some incredible staff members in place that help make our lodges among the best in the world. Two of these team members, Liz Fincher and Max Pushak, are our new Andros South and Rapids Camp Lodge Operations Managers. They even double as fishing guides at Rapids Camp as well. Liz and Max were kind enough to sit down with us to answer a few questions. Get to know our newest lodge managers below!
This is the first year both of you have managed the lodge correct?
Yep! No beating around the bush here, we are newbies to the Bahamas bonefish scene. We’ve had a lot of great help from Jason & all the staff here to get us up to speed & savvy on all things Bahamian. (Mostly keeping more Kalik on hand than you think….)
Where are you both from originally?
I grew up in Marietta, GA just north of Atlanta. GO DAWGS! Max grew up between Pittsburgh, PA and Naples, FL. He had the best of both worlds, trout fishing in PA & saltwater fishing in the 10,000 islands.
Did you meet guiding in Alaska?
Yes! But not the kind of guiding you are thinking. We met while working at an adventure sea kayak/ice climbing company called Pangaea Adventures out of Valdez, AK. It was love at first sight for me, but I had to persuade him a bit! Haha! We’ve been together since 2010 and got engaged this past January while fishing on the W. Fork of the Bitterroot, MT, our home river. We’re really excited to have the opportunity to grow together with Deneki.
If you have one week to fish for yourselves, are you going to Alaska or the Bahamas?
For me, it would definitely be Alaska. I have some wild sort of affinity for that place. For Max without a doubt it’s Alaska, a week in the Alaskan wilderness is too good to pass up.
What do you miss the most about Alaska when you are in the Bahamas? Or visa versa, what do you miss the most about the Bahamas when you are in AK?
Well I can tell you, I’m definitely going to miss these potcakes down here in the Bahamas when we head back to AK in May. But when we’re talking about fishing, I’d say I will miss the openness that the flats provide. Sometimes those bones take off into the horizon & you think they might just drop right off the edge of the world. Getting a tan for the first time in years doesn’t hurt either!
I really miss the long days up there in Alaska. You don’t feel quite as rushed & you have more time for that last cast, or the next last cast.
Max: It’s one of those ‘you want what you don’t have’ scenarios. When I’m in Alaska, I miss the ocean: the vast horizon, the warm water, fishing barefoot, & Kaliks, etc. When I’m in the Bahamas, I miss the rivers: the freshwater, the snow capped mountains, the wildlife, the power of the rushing water, etc.
What does Thanksgiving in the Bahamas look like?
This years Thanksgiving looked like a bunch of Bahamians, Englishmen & Canucks gathered round a table, laughing & sharing fishing stories (75% truth based). Max & I were the only Americans here, so we did our best to share the experience. We had all the traditional fixings: ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole combined with the traditional Bahamian macaroni & cheese and coleslaw. I even got to share my late grandmother’s pecan pie recipe! It was pretty fun, all the staff & guides showed up so we had a full house.
What is your favorite species to target in Alaska?
I don’t know if there is anything more special than getting a King on the swing. I’ve hooked into a monster once & the range of emotions that I experienced just even having that fish on (for what felt like eternity but was probably barely 45 seconds) was crippling. I get chills just thinking about it. It makes you really cherish those early Spring days, when you throw swing after swing, and you’re just waiting for that tiny hint of a pull… and you’re a goner.
Max: I love chucking crazy colored up streamers & wogging for big, chrome Silvers.
Do you have a favorite meal at Rapids Camp and Andros?
OOOH! At Rapids Camp we get an evening of fresh sushi & steamed King Crab that is out of this world. Chef Digger & our sous chef Max (the other Max) do an awesome job in the kitchen. Down here at Andros South, I’d say my favorite meal is fried snapper & lobster, with a conch salad appetizer fresh from the sea! Doesn’t get much better than that! Max: For sure cracked conch with some crab & rice down here at Andros South. Up at Rapids I like the huevos rancheros for breakfast & the guys make a mean smoked salmon on our Traeger at Rapids.
Do you two ever get competitive when fishing together? If so who catches the most fish?
Hahaha, yes. Mum’s the word.
Is there any packing advice you would give to first time Andros guests?
Bring good fishing pants & some bug spray. The pants help keep you protected from not just the sun, but those darn horseflies! And the bug spray lets you hang out at the Slack Tide tiki bar when the wind isn’t around. Good sunglasses are a must & a sense of adventure is always a plus. Having your own set of nippers with you is always nice. One piece of advice, bring along your favorite flies & don’t be scared to try something new!
Do you have any one piece of fishing gear that you find indispensable or any gear that you use in both AK and Andros.
A rain jacket. Between battling the salt spray & those afternoon rains down here on Andros or sitting through some epic downpours while fishing on the Nush, a rain jacket is a clutch piece of gear that is an easy accessory.
-We are truly lucky to have Max and Liz onboard. They will make you feel welcomed and at home in both Andros and Alaska and we couldn’t be more excited to have them apart of the Deneki Family!
More from Andros: