Monday, August 22, 2016

That's a lotta stuff for just 3 minutes

That's what I said as we headed to the end of our Tuesday trip. I had Dr. Shane from the Blinn group along with his wife Beth and son Austin with wife Ashley.  We're anchored up in the Big Eddy or as Greg Davis would say ' at the Edward' and along comes  Melissa the Park Ranger. Being in the mood that I'm usually in I got out my camera, it went like this....
" Is it OK if I take your picture ? ", ' Why, is it going to end up on a blog or something ?" " now what would make you ask that ?'.....( long silence from the Park Ranger ).... "I promise I'd only say good things about you"..." OK".....so here goes.......well, mmmmm, ahhhhh, she was actually kinda fun that day so keep it up Melissa, we like you best that way.
So I get my Park Ranger pic and as fast as you can say ' let me see your licenses' one of the rods goes off, no wait, two rods go off. I cast off the anchor line and we float free dodging several boats anchored below us and low and behold one of the two is a jumping , going wild Silver Salmon....which we bonk and as you can see old Austin here was mighty pleased with that deal. Catch one, release one, dodge 3 boats and never spill your coffee, I told Melissa " they don't teach that at guides school".
And as I idle back to our bouyed up anchor we get that Marlin Perkins moment with not one but two moose swimming the river within 25 feet of us. With the quiet 4-stroke power you could here them snorting and spitting water, pretty cool and what a way to end a great day.
Shane's wife Beth is kind of a city Slicker and wasn't sure about fishing or even Alaska in general. Well she had a great time and as you can see from this smile liked her first silver salmon. I guess that's the essence of guiding and when Shane thanked me for making her feel wanted there as well as safe and secure it meant a lot to me....that's my job.
It's been wet and overcast here so when the sun comes out everybody notices, one of those ' ya don't know what ya got till it's gone deals' so the other morning we got a glimpse and it caused the most unusual lighting feel. It was this weird band of sun that seemed to start at the river instead of the sky...ya know what I mean ? It was like there was only a little bit of it coming down and somehow the moisture magnified it like my coin collectors glass and....pretty scientific eh ?...that's my theory and I liked it real good.
I think everybody is struggling to catch a lot of silvers, at least I hope so and I'm not the only one. I guess I was trying to be to cute and looking in the sloughs and the high water spots so about mid week I decided to save the gas and throw the pic out and fish one good area hard....and guess what, it works. Here's pic of me and Volker with a nice one. I don't know why they wanted me in the pic but they did.
Shane has nice kids. Here's Brandon with a silver. I left the plug in him so you can see what killed him. And of course Shane was chuckling pretty hard and had to get in on it. I've seen this guy every 2 years for the last 20 years....pretty cool....
The Kenai Peninsula State Fair was a disappointment . All vendors and few exhibits. I guess I'm at a point in life where I'd rather learn something than eat Funnel Cake and buy Bee Wax soap.  And the biggest let down was that with all the B.S. going on in local politics there was only one candidate there ...a democrat if that matters to ya. So I couldn't find an influential person to talk fish politics with and explain how screwed we are being but I did enjoy watching MP watching a goose with is head submerged....kinda the same thing as a politician I guess.
And of course you know I'm on this quest to become a better person and if I could really find the meaning of life it might help....so I'll look anywhere. I just don't understand why the sooth sayer at the fair didn't have a ' includes all boxes box'....ya know a kind of big hit deal, you win it all. I mean....why should a guy have to hit 'past lives' when all ya really need to hit  is ' Love' ?
So I left the fair kinda wondering some of those kind of things....Why are the politicians so lazy ? Why wasn't the Love box on the Wheel bigger ? Why didn't they have Chocolate ice cream to go with the chocolate dip and chocolate sprinkles ?????.....why ?  But I guess it was all worth the drive, I did find a guitar playing pig...and for me, that's enough.


Monday, August 15, 2016

August = Rain

If you fish the world famous Kenai River in August you have to be prepared for our ' liquid sunshine'.  August is traditionally a wet month but the last few years it's been extreme. Once again with all the warm weather and glacier melt in July combined with steady rain in  August we are ' bank full' and just a good storm away from another flood. Our river bank at Mile 14 is taking a beating from boats being tied up where they'd never normally reach...but the good news is the water clarity is holding for now.....here's the graph you've seen before. The pyramids on the graph are the 40 year average of where the water level usually is.
Our Silver run seems to be building but it's just not as strong as usual and even the pink salmon don't seem as plentiful either. But there's certainly enough fish around to get a tug and a smile.  This was on the Internet and made me chuckle pretty good.
Alaska Olympians receiving their Silver

This week I fished a young couple from Oxnard California and I got a first....when I asked Jim why they picked me out of all the guides on the Kenai River he said that I seemed liked a ' cool old man ".....mmmmmm....well, I guess I'm there, it's time. Here's a cute pic of his wife Lan with a Kenai Knarly.
This pic of Scott with a Coho will kinda tell you the dark / dank /wet / fluid weather we've been fishing through . Next February Scott's going to be at Emerald Bay, Mazatlan Mexico so we'll do a repeat performance with the fish Scott...and I guarantee it won't rain.
I've only had a couple evenings to work with my new Godin guitar. It's really cool. I can get a really good acoustic sound without having to hunch over that huge Martin HD-28 of mine, but still, nothing sounds like a Martin. When I get two new Jacks I'll be able to plug it into an Electric amp as well as my acoustic amp and the blends should be fantastic. This guitar plays like a Stratocaster but sounds like a Martin....darn proud of you guys making these guitars up in Canada. Here's a song, a bit rough as I'm just learning and of course being in the garage doesn't help....well....It's musicians life. When you're a kid your parents say " take that *&;#% out in the garage " . Next thing you know you're an 'old man' and you're still in the garage...

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Things I learned through Guiding

1. If rain is in the forecast it always starts at 6:01 a.m.

2. It rains Tuesdays 3 times more than on Mondays.

3. Nobody ever voted for Barrack Obama.

4. Trusty Hardware should have a 12 step program.

5. There is no such thing as ' Rain Proof ' .

6. If you think your boat is the only one catching fish, you're wrong...and a jerk.

7. Pro-Cure red hot has a half life of 22,000 years..

8. It's called ANIS oil , not an..

9. Yuri Geller is actually an ADF+G employee.

10.  The worst sound an outboard motor can make is...no sound.

11.  Don't eat hard boiled eggs while guiding.... ( this is very complex, but trust me)

12. Don't ever say " man, we caught a beauty right here back in 73 so we must be due "

13. The river is 6 ft. deep.....period.

14. Insulated  Extra tuff boots with felt insoles under Dr. Scholes arch supports.

15. In Soldotna when people ask what you do for a living....'fisherman' is the correct answer.

16. If it's sprinkling rain in Soldotna, it's pouring rain in Kenai ( hey it's that time of year ya know )

17. If you use the restrooms at Cunningham Park it's possible to hold your breath for 9 minutes.

18. Russian Roulette is safer than a stop at the Pillars Boat Launch

19. Never trust a boat coming at you with windshield wipers on

20. go slow, relax, breath through your nose, exhale, repeat.
And hows a bout a pic of my new guitar...made in Canada eh, Ernie. After months of research, begging, justifying and just basic politicing I pushed the button. She's a Godin Hybrid Ultra A-6. Has dual exhaust for either a mellow acoustic sound from an under saddle peizo pick up or a hard rockin electric sound from a bridge mounted Humbucker....a song on it for ya'all soon.



Monday, August 1, 2016

Graduation

I guess that's the best word to explain how I feel every year at the end of King season. It's a heck of a life where 3 weeks every July can make or break you financially . But MP and me mustered through it just like we always have in the 20 some years we've owned the boat launch and the 30 some years I've guided....somethings in life don't get easier just because you know how to do them. We're up at 3:30 every morning to open the gate, MP has the hardest job as she deals with literally thousands of people, me, just 4 a day....and of course the usual banter at the boat launch. Here's pic that shows my life...I go the entire week without going into town. I usually get to the garage with things put away by 1:30 or so and have a beer. I'm usually a Pacifico guy but those clear bottles reassured me this July that there wasn't a bee in them.
This is how my work bench looks when I purge the black boat #003 of all the King gear and transfer to all my silver gear,,,I got a bunch of stuff....
For 13 years ol Jet-dog would wait for me on the picnic table everyday of July. It always really helped me. Now with her gone I guess I'm a little more alone  but this year my new buddy Cameron here really stepped up to put that ol smile on my face no matter how the day went or the weather hurt....Thanks Cameron....mischevious looking little guy ain't he ?
We had great success this July, lots of King salmon to the boat and it makes me feel good to know I still have what it takes, no laziness. Starting with when bait was allowed we never got skunked. This fish here was a 9th inning rally that saved that streak last Tuesday...Ol Jaxson there ain't as good a poser as Lowell, but pretty close.
Ginny Simpson caught a beauty. I don't know why she needed help holding it up because she sure didn't need any help landing it.
The last 4 days of the season I did something I've always threatened to do and that's plan my trip around the tide so we fish the best part of the day. The first day it went off without a hitch and we caught 4 Kings and then....the wind hit. It was blowing 15- 25 for two days and although we fished pretty well it was hard on morale. One day I retreated from Mile 5 up to Mile 7 just to get behind the lee of the bluff. As we fished in 2 foot whitecaps at Mile 5 in a 21 footer with 32 inch sides boats half as big made there way to the dip net fishery. It's amazing nobody was killed. Here's a pic I took as we ran around Mud Island on Saturday, it really doesn't do it justice but you get the idea.
So with the wind and tide it's high risk, high reward. It was very flattering to be hired by Mick
Wykis my neighbor to take his friend and family out. He knows many a guide and chooses me, thanks Mick for the trust. Here's a pic of the Friday catch with them, Mick, his daughter Aly and friend Larry. As you can see we fished all alone in the lower river, that takes some confidence.
It was like magic....on the last day of the season my new friend Jaqi caught our first silver of the year. Everybody knows that it's my favorite fish and fishing so I took it as a harbinger of good things to come. Not only was it our first silver but it was an exceptional one to boot. Jaqi had her King salmon cut off by an incompetent boater on my birthday and I was so hoping she'd catch one on Saturday but she settled with a smile for that nice Coho. We'll get that Chinook next year Jaq....I promise.
Through the years I've been a little hard on the State Parks Agency....The Rangers are like Jack booted Hitler youth and their lack of respect for our Private property is stunning....and of course they're trying to put us out of the boat launch business... But lazy they ain't. Any agency that has time and effort to put their ' don't have fun here'  signs on a floating objects deserves a 2nd chance from me. So based on that and the fact that the Director is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world I'm going to chill out with State Parks and give them a break....for now.... that is.
Actually it's brilliant. Like a roving billboard. Now EVERYBODY on the Kenai knows what not to do....maybe someday they'll let us know what we CAN do....

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Pain in the Bee-hind

Those of you that follow Mile 14 know I'm highly allergic to bee stings. It gets a little tiresome for MP as I'm actually about half paranoid about them after having been through a couple severe reactions lately....So...this yellow jacket infestation that we have is absolutely terrible. The worst anybody has ever seen. They're saying that the mild winters with no freezing are making them thrive and thrive they are here at Mile 14. It's horrible when you have any protein available, they smell it and walla...instantly hundreds arrive. I've been gutting fish on the boat just because.

But in truth ' Jethronian ' style, I know the right people. My friend Ty Tobias is the President of the Alaska Bee Keepers Association and he knows the way. He brings down the trapline for me and baits it with bacon, who don't like bacon and I think we're winning the war. In the  pic of the bacon I think you can actually see them hovering. It took all of 5 minutes for hundreds to arrive while he baited the traps....Well played sir Tobias and thank you for all you do. Mile 14 is livable now because of you. I looked at the traps and we have killed thousands.
Here's your annual picture of ' Woodstock with fish ' at the mouth of the Kenai River. It's turned into a tradition where me and MPeasy go to Louie's in Kenai for breakfeast on the 3rd Sunday of July. I have the fishermans Benny with shrimp and Crab and chat with the commercial fishermen I know like Senator Tom Wagoner. Then we go to the bluff for the pic and then we drive K-beach and then we go home and I sleep 4 hours while the Nascar race provides background.
As you can tell by the waves and the clouds it's windy, cold and well....your usual Kenai day. It's a  'ya gotta want to do it ' day. And plenty of people have that grit as you can see. We came across this scene that always bothers me. Fish fever, I hope nobody was hurt , it always bothers me to see a wounded boat...I'm a boat guy ya know. I had an axle ripped right off a boat trailer one time so I know the feeling, thank goodness the boat didn't get it as bad as the truck.
I know , I know, I know....where the fish....Well I seen plenty of them this  week. In fact I saw gorgeous Kings and a couple fought about as knarly as any I can remember.....but I liked this one best which was in mid-carve on our walk yesterday morning. The cedar smell made me want to take a sauna.
While Ty was executing bees his running buddy Lowell was getting some serious work done as well.  As you can see he is a grizzled veteran of the Kenai and an Alumnus of  ' Fish Pose' graduate school.  It always amazes me how an expert can take a 12 pound red Kenai King and make it look like this. He plays the lighting, he plays the angles....amazing work Lowell.
Of course  Lowell uses advanced techniques that are not available to the rank and file so my favorite pic of the week is this one....what's better than a smile on a twelve year old ? Nothin, that's what. Way to go Tanner and thanks for bringing the fam.
My friend Anthony caught two Kings in two trips....I'll never hear the end of it. I just gotta warn ya Anthony about momentum, it works both ways. One day you're the bug, the next the wind shield. So try and keep your moe-joe aligned and we'll try for an encore when I see you in September.
On Saturday I fished a laid back crew of veteran Kenai anglers. Rob had never fished with me but had fished with one of my competeters who I consider one of the very best so it was pretty cool when the rods kept going off.  They're fishing with this other guide tomorrow so I wish him well, these guys are great fishermen s once old slimeys is on the line your odds go waaaaaay up.  Here's Sean , Steve and Rob.

Well I think that's about enough dead fish pics for one week. I want to thank everybody who came along for this week in 2016. We got one more week of King fishing to go and then as my old friend Chick Kishbaugh would say the ' real ' fishing begins. Silvers/ Pinks /Trout.....2016.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

63

That's how old I was on Saturday. I have to tell you I feel great and am enjoying the job of guiding more than ever before....except maybe my first trip where I kinda felt like I'd gotten away with something. I'm doing my one trip a day and working as hard as ever but I've learned what's important and what's not and and my stress level is a healthy -4.2 . Of course it helps to have the best customers and and a few fish around. Here's pic of my birthday crew. Jacqi there on left is a local gal who we are destined to become friends with and Larita there brought me the cake and her husband Mike who will celebrate 4 years of marriage with her Tuesday....Thanks you guys, you're wonderful.
The Kenai River King's seem to be back, well they are back. I could tell, as these things go our first run was better so it stood to reason so would our late run. The numbers are fantastic so really it puts to rest all the hysteria people had about the ' low abundance of Kings'. Now it's obvious that it was a problem that was not exclusive to the Kenai and one that would be temporary like most things around here. Alaska is a dynamic place. Our habitat is pristine, our management is by most standards good , we have great science so all I want to say to the people that kept saying " close the river until the Kings come back ".... you're wrong, pound salt, Les Palmer....retire....but shut up first.
That's a picture of the Dennis Over family from New York. We actually caught a total of 5 in the trip but the guys wanted to keep fishing and I sure understand that. For the week we managed to bat about 700 % and the only bummer was that we couldn't get the tug for my best friends Chris and Charlie. I guess things work out that way just because. I just don't know.
That fish right there that Kiel caught was exceptional. 46 pound female. It fought like a champ and the reason I show this pic is to underline the situation. Not only is it apparent that we will make escapement and our numbers are the best in years but the fish are normal....healthy, robust and absolutely beautiful. I'm just giggly happy for the fish, for us, for the town, for our culture and especially the young guys coming behind me.
Jim Hazzlewood and John Romero with their King salmon. Two of the coolest guys I've met in a while. John is related to Soldotna royalty....his son is the Direct TV business....

But don't think it's all fish, it ain't for sure. On my birthday I spotted this sun dog collection and it just said what I wanted to say.....
The Rain's letting up
The sun's on it's way
My half empty cup
is half full day
And I've learned the tight turns
just around the bend
Off in the distance 
I ship my ship coming in
 Thank you Kevin Fowler
And I finally found a good use for them dip nets.....yup, when you fetch up hard  on the rocks as old Joe Hazzlewood said you just break out your 150 dollar dip-net and push yourself back out into that old world famous Kenai River. I wonder just  how many reds he was figurin on putting into that little I.B.R.B. ( itty bitty rubber boat)....dip netters.......aaaaaargh......