Cabin fire claims life of longtime King Salmon fishing guide Sunday

Nov 14, 2016

Matt Price, 49, was a legendary guide (and character), and staple feature of the bustling fishing scene that hubs out of King Salmon each summer. He died Sunday, days before he was to head south for the winter.

James Matthew Price, 49, died Sunday morning in King Salmon. He guided fishing and held court nightly in Bristol Bay for the last 20 years.

A longtime fishing guide and one of King Salmon’s larger than life characters died early Sunday morning in a cabin fire.

KDLG’s Dave Bendinger has more on 49 year old Matt Price and how he’s being remembered this week.

Audio Transcript: This past summer was Matt Price’s twentieth season guiding out of King Salmon. His friend Matt Norman from the King Salmon Lodge says he was the kind of guy who never met a stranger.

“Matt was one of the most likeable guys you’d be lucky to meet in King Salmon. He exuded a great personality and you wanted to gravitate towards him and hear the stories, and the sayings," he said Monday morning.

Matt Price pike fishing with a friend.

Norman says Price was famous for doling out nicknames to people, and was known by many as Moose and/or PriceFactor. He played football at Baylor, played on a volleyball team in Austin, Texas during the winter, and had done some acting he was never shy to remind people of. Norman says Price also loved to hunt and fish, get together with friends old and new, and tell stories all night long.

"Yeah he had a good life. Died way way way too young, but he sure crammed a lot into the time he was here. We're gonna miss him," he said.

Nanci Morris Lyon from the Alaska Sportsman's Bear Trail Lodge remembers Price as one of the true Alaska characters that made life more interesting for everyone he encountered.

"He had a heart bigger than gold and was always willing to lend a hand, and was always able to put a smile on everybody’s face, and always had one on his," she said Monday. "He shared his love and passion for the outdoors, both fishing and hunting, with thousands of visitors who came up here every year."

She also says Price was a renowned story teller, whether while out on a river casting flies by day or while holding court at the watering hole by night.

"You give him a thread, and he would turn it into a rope. He was a master storyteller, there is no doubt. He had a memory like a steel trap, and remembered things from twenty years ago that you’d long discarded."

Price went duck hunting with friends in Naknek Saturday. He died when he cabin caught fire later that night, days before he was to fly home to Texas for the winter.

Price spent Saturday hunting ducks in the rain with friends. He stayed later in the season than usual, but close friend Sharlene Comeau says he was enjoying the fall season was getting ready to head south for the winter.

"He was just telling me that he was planning on flying out Tuesday. His first stop was going to be in Fort Worth to visit his parents. And ... he was happy," Comeau said.

The police and fire department responded to the cabin fire a little after 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning. An early investigation by Borough Police suggested the wood stove may have been the source of the fire. Price was the only person inside.

"It’s never going to be the same," said Comeau. "He was the center of everybody’s universe. It’s never going to be the same."

Price's remains were transported to Anchorage for an autopsy, and his next of kin notified. A state’s fire marshall was on scene to investigate the fatal fire early Sunday. No foul play is suspected.

Reach the author at dave@kdlg.org or 907.842.5281.