Monday, June 26, 2017

Normal....

Wasn't that the name or  acronym for the group that was pushing legalization of Marijuana ???...mmmmm.....well, so what, normal is what I like and normal is what we got. MP's knee is semi good to go, my Plantar Facitis is better so we can exercise together like we love to do and as my friend Dan Sterchi says ' the fish are runnin and the livin's easy'.  Here's me and MPeasy at the river, Sunday morning 6:00 a.m.....smile baby.
And what's more normal than Alaska's best friend starting another season in Slowdotna. Like me , my friend Hobo Jim ain't going to be around forever so if you haven't ever gone you need to, From one musician to another I think I can honestly say that there's nobody in the world like him. Ol Hobo there is as much a part  of our summer as the salmon. Good luck Jim on a great year.
I know , I know, what about the fishing.....well, that's semi normal too. I just did my 20th trip which puts me waaaaay ahead of the last few years. This week ADF+G gave us the use of bait and I actually think the fishing was better before. Right now the numbers are kind of low and we're working really hard for a bite or two day and if they stick, magic. On Tuesday Jackie and Steve Watkins showed up with a local couple from Sterling. The pressure is on as the Rumley's and us have mutual friends and they've even gone on guided trips. Well, it's pouring down rain all morning and the temp was in the low 50's, a recipe for Hypothermia. We pull the gear for 5 hours with just one missed bite and as we decide to stop early and on the last 20 feet of the last troll Jackie's rod goes off. Just goes to show, never say woo is a horse race. What a gorgeous creature.
Bill and Marty Enkhausen are turning into some of my favorite friends / customers. They are upbeat, interesting and fun and as Marty is an Alaskan who lives in Texas so they visit often. Wish we'd have put a few more beans on the table for you guys but that's a pretty nice salmon.

What wasn't normal this week was that I got MP to go fishing with me. Our Uncle Al was here with his son Steve and it's a cool but long story on how he got to be our uncle so I'll just say he is and we love him. But Mp is kinda attention challenged and I was hoping she'd catch early as I knew she'd ask for a Stewart' Landing drop off a couple hours into the day. And she did, but not before she caught this gorgeous ( but small ) fish. Now if a fish this size can give a woman that's caught them all , big and small that kind of smile just imagine how easy happiness is to achieve ,,,, right ?
If you go back to last weeks blog post you remember that Eagle Rock was doing a circus balancing act. Well it just got better. The tide raised it even farther and the bird on the left did his job to keep the weight distribution and I've just never seen anything like it. But the next day our 23 foot tide floated the entertainment by us as we fished at the cross over, nothing's forever ya know.
The 21st was the longest day ....and what does that mean ? Well, in Alaska it means more than it does in most parts of the world so when I posted this on my Facebook page I got a lot of negative feedback from my Alaskan friends....who don't go to Mazatlan I'd guess. 😎😎😎


Monday, June 19, 2017

SPORT fishing

Directly out of the 8 inch thick Websters unabridged it says , sport ; an activity or experience that gives enjoyment or recreation : pastime : diversion......mmmmmm.....so where am I going with that ? Well, it seems that in this harvest orientated Alaska/ guiding /fishing  it's easy to sometimes lose track of what we're really doing. ' Men fish there entire lives without knowing that it's not fish they're after '....Enter Brian Mildebrandt, the guy with the thumbs up. Brian hired me to fish himself and his son Austin although the rest of his larger group was with one of the bigger guide services. Brian chose me because he read my webpage and this blog and was all in. Here's a pic of him after he released about a 30 pounder so he could continue fishing in hopes of a bigger one as he'd fished here before and new the rules and wanted a jumbo that he just  didn't catch that day. Great guy, no releaser's remorse, sportsman.
Sitting behind Brian is Chris Kinzy who was so impressed with these gorgeous fish and the chase that he spent two days camping here at Mile 14 in hopes of the catch. Chris just finished college and is touring Alaska and Canada in a 20 year old Subaru before he heads to a career. I don't meet many young people as interesting as Chris. He's a World War 2 historian like me as his grandpa was a Sherman tank commander in Patton's 3rd Army. Chris is what our lives here at Mile 14 is all about, he shared his life with us and we with him, as you can tell, we're new friends. What cool guy.
And as the mystery of fishing goes just as soon as Chris left the boat at 10:00 a.m. when his license expired and he went on to Denali his fishing partner Jeremiah caught this beauty and is taking it to a barbecue in Seattle. I had a great week with great sports people .
Maybe it was just coincidence but I had a couple strange conversations with people in the last few days that were way toooo focused on the catching rather than the fishing. As I changed oil on my outboard yesterday with the U.S. Open on in the garage and doing one of my favorite things a rental car drove up with a Texas couple in it. They had bought a ' package ' from one of the fishing Lodges I know to be great. The guy caught a King salmon AND and an 80 pound Halibut and was disappointed. Yikes !  The very day before I had a conversation with a guy on his way to Alaska driving to be here when the reds hit and, well, his questions were all about harvest.  I'd always thought the stories I hear of people coming here and canning cases of salmon to sell at flea markets were exaggerated but I'm beginning to wonder. I even think we kind of bring it on ourselves as a fishing destination, where else do you see this many fish boxes in one place ?
So here's the deal and I guess I should have spit this out a long time ago....If keeping the very most amount of fish possible is the most important thing to you, don't call me. If you have a generator and a chest freezer in the back of your truck, don't call me, If you do the math and figure a King salmon of 40 pounds at 10 bucks a pound is worth $ 400.00 , don't call me. If you want a guarantee, don't call me. If this picture makes sense to you, don't call me.
BUT, if you appreciate fair chase, please call me. If you know we don't always catch them but we do always give 100 % effort to find them and trick them , please call me. If you love nature ( i.e. ....the things you don't kill ) please call me. If you want to share our special lifestyle here at Mile 14 of the Kenai River , please call me. If you're the type that goes to Las Vegas and doesn't win money but had a great time and returns to Vegas, call me, we're simpatico. So how about this feat of mother nature, I don't think we could have balanced that thing if we tried.
And in the ' she'll never ask me to mow the lawn again ' department, Here's what happens to your sewer clean out when you don't pay attention....the good news is it didn't knock out a window when it hit the wall.
One more pic....it just caught my eye last night as Troy and Tammy were down red fishing ( and Troy caught his limit ) . The 'stuff' of sport fishing is just cool, just getting, having, maintaining of it all is a cool part of the hobby, the SPORT.


Monday, June 12, 2017

From Magic to Tragic

That's the kind of week we had here at Mile 14. We started out with the most wonderful young men fishing with there mom in excellent conditions. Burke Anderson booked me and I was duly impressed with this group....first off it's a great family that fishes together and cajoles and laughs as easily as these guys. The second thing to me was this, how often do you meet men in there early twenties that know exactly what they're doing in life ? Austin on the right is an accountant and his brother Burke on the left just graduated from St. Thomas in Minnesota and will take his ' Boards ' and be an accountant come September, this was Burke's celebration trip.
First thing in the morning with perfect light and enthusiasm Donna hit her fish, a legal keeper. As you can see the water is Gin clear and still no boats around. So we just cut the motor with nobody to work around and let her play that fish to the net with no chasing from the boat as we frequently do.....and it turns out she's fish smoocher.
So seeing that slimey come aboard got the young guys kinda pumped and low and behold Austin hooks a dandy and it spits....yikes....then 30 minutes later he hits again and it's a jumbo. It's so big that there was no need to measure , we just landed him quickly and released him, about a 60 pounder. So then we fished, and fished, and fished and.....just as we make the last 20 feet on the very last troll the rod goes off and the graduate lands another keeper. It just goes to show that anything can happen at any time so always keep the faith , be optimistic, believe.
And Then....that's what I hear the gamblers say in Las Vegas when things haven't gone right. " I hit 3 bars on a dollar machine,,,,but then....And that's what happened on the fickle ol Kenai River. It finally warmed up the snow melt and as the week went on the water got chaulky and then more chaulky. It happens every year and every year I'm still not used to it. Here's the graph and as you can see it's trying to level out and recover. Fingers crossed that it's soon.
The worst part is that my friend Ty came down with his soon to be son in law Nate who is one cool guy and moving to Oregon soon. I'd have loved to send him off with ' the picture ' but notta, two full days hard on the troll with no bites....But, they did a mini score, a kinda ' fat of the land ' deal but not too much when  they went mushroom hunting. Yup, that's 4, count em, 4, tasty Morels . Ty cooked gorgeous Fillet steaks and we each had a Morel....who says this Alaska don't fork up the goods.
In the ' you're going to get a lecture ' department, here goes. I took this pic the other day of an Eagle chowing on a washed up fresh, beautiful 40 pounder.... It could only have gotten there one way so any of you fishing guides or boat captains that fish here listen up.... We're finally able to fish again, nurture that please. Go easy on the release of these creatures. I know you want the pic but don't do what I'm seeing where they get slimey in the net and then idle over to the shallow where they get out and hold the fish for the pic. It take to long . Please, let these guys go as fast as possible with as little stress as possible. I think we can make catch and release mortality almost 0 % if we think of the fish as much as ourselves. C'mon you guys, do it right !
I'm kinda known as an ' idea guy ' but boy did I miss one here. At the River Festival there was a guy selling this. Now I've come up with some good ones like the Refrigerator that magnets won't stick to but this idea is solid.
Pure genius. The big problem with water is that it's bulky. So you dehydrate it for back packing and when you get thirsty you just add some water to your dried water and walla, your thirst is quenched. And think about your lawn, if you live somewhere that water is expensive you just sprinkle dry water on the lawn and when it rains you're in business. Dang it....man I wish I'd thought of that. The possibilities are endless. I gotta quit writing and think about this deal, maybe there's uses he's not thought about ....maybe.......wonder if he has it patented ??

Sunday, June 4, 2017

What a week....

I chartered 3 out of the 5 available days this week and considering that the river has been closed for a few years and word of the salmons return seems to spread slowly 3 out of 5 is pretty darn good. And it takes trust, Heather here is maybe the only booking I've ever taken completely my texting, I trusted her and she trusted me, that's the key to guide / customer fishing moe -joe. You see I have never taken credit cards in my 35 years of guiding and sometimes people wonder about that...but I trust them to send a deposit or just show up on  short notice and they trust me to be the guy. Just the other day I had a phone conversation with a gal who said it makes her ' cring ' to put a check in the mail for a deposit.....mmmm.....sounds like she didn't really trust me eh ? Well, she'll be fishing with brand x. But Heather and her friend showed up on time and ready to rock. We fished the flat tide with no boats around and walla, an early morning keeper. Pretty girl, pretty fish, pretty morning.
I don't think I've ever seen more perfect conditions for fishing early run King's. It's been so cold in the high country that the river is way behind in filling and the water is ultra clear. It seems to make the fish bite hard and fight crazy. In the morning as I prep and the river is quiet they role in front of the landing like Marine Land Park. That fish she has there I was trolling so slow with the tide that the lure was nowhere near the bottom but with the clear water they just come and get it, crazy. Her friend John caught two that were over the slot, here's a release of one. Kinda crazy on the Kenai always, in the day if you were a meat hound out to keep a fish you wanted bigger the better, now that same person hopes for a smaller on, but still a noble fish.
So John and Heather had so much fun they signed up for the next day 's bonus trip. We had our first campers at Mile 14, Dean and Alex Lovejoy. Alex is an Air Force Jet guy and rotating to Ohio so he needs a King salmon to fill out his Alaskan memories. How about this cool high rise camper they had.
So Alex wants a King really bad so he was gritting his teeth a bit when Heather's rod went off about 15 minutes into the morning. Alex, never try to out fish a 12 year old or a women, ya just gotta wait your turn. So here's Heather' second legal King, Kenai River limited out for 2017.
We fished several hours and finally missed a couple bites which were our first of the season like that, they'd been biting sooooo hard. In the clear water I'm certain that the boats scare the fish, in fact the other day as we had a fish on and floated over the shallows below my house as I watched the bottom I saw several Kings dart away from the boat. So I left the lower river and fished an area all by ourselves and walla, Deans rod goes off.
As I'm really trying to run my own life now in my last years of guiding one of the things I'm doing is that  I'm staying on schedule. I sell a 6 hour trip at a good price and fish as hard and good as I can, but I stop at noon so I can get my exercise and read that morning paper that I missed for 30 years. So It's 11;45 and Alex knows it's the last troll...good things happen to good people. And Alex, being a bit of a WW 2 and Aviation history buff I really enjoyed my time with you. And for all you reading this let me tell you this....Having people like Alex in charge of our Air Force and our security, no worries that deal is in real good hands.
The next day my friend Jaqi and her friend from Anchorage are in the boat. I gotta tell you, I was so busy that I didn't get any pictures, all the fish were over the 36 inch slot. As I waited for them the fish were rolling like crazy. So crazy is what you'd have to be to not fish right there. We had 3 salmon around 40 pounds in the first hour. Our first one hit Jaqi only 5 minutes in. We had on almost spool us, we had one jump about as high as I've ever seen a forty pound fish jump and they all swam away healthy as can be. You know you're getting some work done when you have to break out the first aid kit for the blisters on Jaqi's hands. Yikes.
We ended up with a couple more releases that day that brought us to fishing 8 people and handling 12 King salmon in three days. I have to say that it certainly bodes well for the future and I hate to count my chicks before the hatch but the fishing and the sonars / science of the river show that things are better and they usually trend not just from week to week or month to month but also year to year.

We were down fishing the high tide in pretty choppy conditions with a guy who's Hewescraft didn't have a lot of prop left after he found the bar at the Toilet Hole. He really was flagging all over the river and not to sound like a total jerk but he just wasn't doing it very well and guess what.....yup, there's enough fish around for everybody.
So I'm feeling great, at least about the fishing. MP's knee is better but she can't walk the 3 miles with me like we do most days. But's that's a struggle for me as well with this  Plantar Facittis I have , I'd bet many of you know how painful that can be. My vision is a bit better from the Vitreous detachment I had a month ago so I'm hoping that these things are over with....the 1st hundred years is the roughest you know. I kinda believe in signs and omens, I just believe so when I came across this on my early morning hike across the bridge I figure things are gonna be just hunk dory, it's a sign and I left it right there for the next person who needs it. How cool.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Houston, all systems are in the green....

That's what about a 40 - 45 pounder looks like just before the release, he's a got a gorgeous gold and red T-50 in the corner of his mouth. This fish had an attitude and as I like to use 25 lb. test for the plugs because I think the lighter line makes for more action it was a real challenge to land. Melissa from the Watershed Forum who helped us out house sitting this winter hooked this one and another almost identical and let her dad exercise the second. As you can she she's a bit on the petite side and these fish aren't.
John there fighting that second fish is some kind of guy. He's a retired Exxon engineer and knows the way.... Now me being all about everything fish as it's been  my life's work I don't meet to many people who can discuss world fisheries/ fisheries management / fisheries debacles / fisheries waste and politics but John there can. anybody who knows the books of Mark Kurlansky's like Cod or Paul Greenberg's Four Fish is in my book a well educated man. He even new the story of Orange Roughy which were actually invented for a new fishery on South American Tooth fish. We had a great day and is this a cool pic of a father / daughter team or what ?  Thanks for coming you guys, it was a little cold wasn't it. 😊 In fact it was the coldest I've been on the river since that day in infamy with Nate Morton when his friend Bobby wanted to get out and walk home.....from the Eagle Rock.
So I get to talking with Ivan who does the creel census for ADF+G and he tells me that he's seen and heard of a few fish and that the test netters have caught a few fish and they have yet to see any ' small ' Kings'  that would fit the new 36 inch keeper slot limit. Strange because in the last few years we saw so many 2, 3 and 4 ocean fish and this year nothing but whoppers, which is a good thing of course. So the next day we set up right at the very peak of a 23 ft. tide and within 10 minutes Todd Tillman has this fish on.... I love this pic of him fighting it from the bow in the early morning light.
We get him in the net and of course it's a keeper but not anywhere near 36 inches but still a nice little fish that is most likely a 3 ocean male. I always try to not give advice on the keep or release decision and Todd wanted to keep....maybe he saw the price of those fresh Copper River King's in the store eh ?  Yikes some fetched 75.00 a pound and in Anchorage they were around 30.00 meaning that the day before Melissa released over a thousand bucks worth of salmon. mmmmmm.....it is awful good eating. This fish was about 16 pounds.
So guided by my theory of momentum we put the same lure out for Todd's dad Jack and went back to story telling....And sure enough when things are going good they tend to keep going good and when things are going bad.....well we ain't talkin about that part, Jack's rod goes off.  this fish fought like a 35 pound female which I think is the best fish in the river. As you can see it too was short of the 36 inch slot by a couple inches was a pretty darn noble fish. She weighed 24 pounds and had fully developed eggs in her so she was a 'small'  5 ocean fish. The Pro's from Dover were off the water at 7:30 a.m.
Jack and Todd Tillman there were golden, just my kind of folks. The next day although I neglected to get pics I had the opportunity to fish Chris Owens family, locals from Anchorage. Once again it was a bit chilly and we suffered a couple ' short strikes' but Emily finally hooked another large late in the day putting our weekly exercise regime up to 5....

May 27th, 2017....what a day at Mile 14. Not only did I get to go fishing and MP turned sa, sa, sa, sixty something or other....we had a wonderful wedding event here. Our friends Aly Cunningham and Hollis Swan picked our place to declare there love forever to each other. I wish that darn wind hadn't been so cold but these young people are Alaskan all they way, they met commercial fishing..
Hollis grew up with our kids and we consider them like family. Here's a pic of the two them reflecting on the life to come... I ain't the smartest guy around but I know this, a team approach to the nuances of life works best. The preacher told stories of their meeting on a Prince William sound salmon tender and it was wonderful.
Here's pic of MP wearing her cute as can be Kuspuk and the newly weds. If you don't think these young people are 100 % Alaskan all you had to do was notice Aly's footwear, yup, Extra Tuff's. It looks like MP is grinding Hollis about his double knits.
And whats the traditional;wedding party and family pic without a boat back trolling for King Salmon in the background ? Thank you guys for sharing your wedding and your lives with us, we love you.
And in the 'man are they into it ' department I took this pic of Jeremy's new tattoo. He says that from now on rather than tell them when asked what he fishes for he'll just show them . That's an awful pretty red salmon on a pretty cool guy.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Moose Bite

 was on pretty good the other day.  Like I promised, Chris and I went fishing hard on Les Anderson / 97 pounder day.  We were one of two power boats  and one drift boat on the entire lower river....weird....and what was even  weirder was the guy in the drift boat we watched have some kinda 20 minute discussion with the State Troopers. When the Troopers left he hollered over at us that they might as well give him two tickets because he was just going to put the bait back on again....AND he did ! We watched him throw nice pretty baited lures back into the Kenai. Jeez, what a yo-yo....after 4 years of waiting for the chance to fish Early run Kings again we got this guy cheating the rules and disrupting a wonderful day for the few of us out....what a jerk.

So we pulled the gear well and hard and never had a hit. But you know me, the joy is in the pursuit and the rest of the trip was pretty darn good, except the weather of course.....plenty of wildlife, fellowship and nice coffee.
Seems like the older I get the colder I get....kinda musical eh ?  Doesn't Chris look likes he's a grizzled veteran of the Alaska experience.
So I decided to take a rest from the chase so this weekend we'll have our traditional kick off. I have days booked and we Will have some fish....As I cleaned up the other morning I had King salmon rolling around the launch, and not just a couple. So that day I did my part and between Mile 14 and Fall-in-Hole I took 500 pounds to the dump.
With everything going on these days I thought it was a good idea to take some time and build a new addition for our front gate. I want people to know what we're about and hope the flag helps get us like minded people. Like I've said hundreds of times through the years....where else in this world could a guy like me go fishing everyday and own / live in this remarkable place that is Mile 14 .
I got this neighbor that bought the vacant view lot on the civilization side of Mile 14. He pretty much clear cut the entire acre and a half but left this scraggly old Birch that's dangerously leaning over MP's greenhouses. So when I saw him the other day I diplomatically pointed out to him that it could be a problem and although I'm not one of 'those' guys I'd sure hate to see us have a problem....( and the darn tree would sometimes disrupt my satellite signal once the leaves are on it ). So....enter Steve.
Watching a craftsman work like Steve is like watching Derek Jeter field grounders. Steve is no young guy but with a passion and athleticism that comes from his dogged hard work ethic he went up that leaner and limbed it as he went. Then he set all his ropes for best leverage near the top of the tree and used his high tech pulley systems to get what he calls the ' mechanical advantage ' and walla.....end of problem. I was duly impressed, Steve is my age and if you need him call Steve's Tree Service 907-394-4778 .
And in the ' It's a good thing we've got the government looking out for us department ' how's about this...would you walk off that baby if the caution tape weren't there ?....mmmm
Hope you come back...we're gonna have fish real soon.