Monday, April 17, 2017

Sea Gulls

I heard my first ones of the 2017 season just now here at Mile 14....that means just one thing, ice out is about to happen. It went out in Soldotna several days ago and works it's way down stream to us. I took this pic of Big Eddy corner from our over look just a few minutes ago and you can see, open water...finally.
It's one of the wonders of this place, I don't know where they've been all winter but instantly at ice out we have hundreds of Ducks and Gulls and yes, Eagles. Here's a pic any of you that follow this blog have seen many times. Its from the sand spit 1/2 way down the road to the Launch. The water is running a bit on the top of the ice but that hard water isn't long for the world. Last year was an anomaly as the river never froze but the two previous winters ice out at Mile 14 was on the same day, April 15th.
Friday night is always a big night for me and MPeasy. I played guitar and sang for a couple hours and then we had the best ever fish taco supper. As we always do we walked down to the Launch and check on the ol Kenai's progress and it was sunny and warm as we climbed up on a picnic table to sit....I hear MP let out a bit of gasp and she's in pain, real pain. Ever sense we starting walking a lot in Mazatlan she's had knee inflammation kind of come and go but Friday night she heard something snap so it could be a meniscus problem or even and ACL or maybe a Bakers Cyst behind her knee that ruptured. Today we did X-Rays and tomorrow she see's the knee Doc and we'll know. I don't mind telling you....I've never seen her like this and it bothers me, she's always been the tough one around these parts.
So Saturday we can't walk like we usually do and a she can't tend her garden starts like she loves to do and .....well, cabin fever sets in pretty fast so we decide to road trip over to Kenai and look for birds on the flats and have ice cream on the way.  It's still to early for all the Geese we get but there were a few ducks and these gorgeous Flamingo's....
The tides in the lower river lift and float and break up the ice as the spring progresses,  It's beautiful in a uniquely Kenai way. I got a great pic of Mt. ReDoubt and then a pic of what the ice flows look like at low tide. Ol slimey will be sticking his nose in there pretty darn soon.
One of the things that we appreciate when we return home from Mazatlan is the clean air that along with the clean water makes Alaska what it is......but not during break up. The cities and the State sand the roads so much that run off and the clean up is terrible and disgusting. Kudo's to the city of Soldotna for passing an ordinance finally to make contractors use water to kill the dust when they street sweep etc. I wonder about all this yukey melt water in the storm drains feeding the river but I suppose there's smarter people than me looking out for that, or maybe not. The next pic is a common sight, black snow from the Safeway parking lot full of treated sand and cigarette see the problem eh ?
Friday night fish taco feed was exceptional. MP made the Avocado with heavy cream sauce that's soooo good. I broke out an excellent bottle of Tequila for a couple sips while I sang some of my songs I entertain with in Mexico and of course we had to have Pacifico....It made me laugh to see the coolest Mexican beer display, it just costs a bit more here, that's all....same thing but different. Salud to all of our friends in our second home , Mazatlan Sinaloa Mexico, Mile 5014....

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Early run King

Yup. It's amazing to me at how good the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game is at telling you what you can't do and how terrible they are at telling you what you CAN do. Ya know when the ADF+G used there Ouiji Board management to close our Early run fishing 6 months before the first salmon would arrive they told us it was out of concern for people like us who need to plan a little around the fishery....well, over a month ago they were given a new regulation package by the Board of Fisheries which finally applies some common sense and fishing opportunity for us and they haven't formally announced a thing ,,,,notta. So if you guys are reading Mile 14 over there at common sense headquarters hows about a news release, getting our fishery back on track around here is big news and maybe the public would like to know.

But I trust that by wading through a combination of congo drums, reliable sources and plane old gossip I've got the straight poop. For the first time in a few years we'll start fishing anytime in May we want..... Yahooo! , I love those trips. It will be catch and release for any fish over 36 inches so that the new idea is to let the biggest and best spawners do their thing for the future. Then when the sonar counts suggest we have enough fish it will be opened to keep any fish you'd like and of course if the counts are horrible into mid June or so the fishery could go the other way until a new plan takes effect on July 1st which would open things again. Being able to keep a King salmon 36 inches or less is great and that's actually a pretty noble salmon that will weigh up to 25 pounds or so I figure. Here's a pic of a beauty I caught myself in May just a few years ago that looks like it would fit the new slot.....LETS GO FISHING .Notice the rivers low and clear. No boats. And that fish was tasty I'm here to tell you....
March was a loooooong month here at Mile 14, think I'll be fishing Mexico next time that month comes around. BUT, it's not spring yet but you can see it from here. It's been melting and seems like a pretty orderly ' break up ' this year. I took this pic of the river in Soldotna this morning on our walk. It's hard to believe that I expect a catch a salmon out of that thing in 4 or 5 weeks. It's really some of the magic of this place, It's a dynamic place and the seasonal changes when we hit a gain of 7 minutes of daylight per day are astounding, when the tree's 'green up ' you can almost see it in a day. When the ice goes out behind my house soon we have thousand of ducks, birds and Eagles....instantly. Wow.
To give you an idea of our lingering  snow pack I took a pic of our old house on ReDoubt Street. That Ponderosa Pine tree me and MPeasy planted 30 years ago is now taller than the light posts....and oh, the house now is a Psychiatric office.....mmmmmm.....
Well I really don't have much to report on . My Seattle Mariners are doing terrible and today gave up a 7 run lead to lose to the Angels in the 9th inning. The first week of the season left them with a 1-6 record which is the worst start in the league.  Oh, it's gonna be a another tough season I'm feeling. What I really wanted to do with this blog is to  just to let people know we're ready to go spring FISHING and that's  done so how's about a nice ' ya broke my heart again ' type of love song.  The I-phone is OK but I think a Go-Pro would make me sound better...or maybe not...............

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Perfect Customer

Being a 100 % guy I've written often about the craft of guiding and what I've learned about the magic of successful interactions after having guided thousands of people in the last 35 years. In fact when I first started this blog I wrote ' Lessons to Guide by ' in June of 2010.'  I have reprinted that edition of Mile 14 after this blog entry. Now I know this is a sensitive matter as some people will say they don't need advice on how to be a great guided customer but you know me....I'll take that chance. After all I've had the advantage of learning how to meet people and of course chase the fish, many people I meet it's their first time they've ever hired a guide...I tell people all the time in complete honesty " the best friends I have today are people I just met one day and introduced myself to b4 we left for a fishing adventure "....we start as customers, we leave friends. Here's a pic of me and Nikki a couple years back, we're great friends.
I'll star with the 'Do's ' and not dwell on the obvious like be on time, have your licenses and dress warm...
1. Learn. Ask questions, test your guide. People like me that have devoted there lives to this thing want to share what they know and you'll be surprised how much that is about the environment , the biology of the fish, the nature of the tides and water column, politics,  the history of the area and the fishery.  When people ask me insightful questions it reaffirms to me that I'm doing some good and that my life has left something behind.
2. P.M.A.  I'm a big believer in being positive and trust me, no matter how relaxed a guide might look there is nothing more that he or she  wants to see happen  than you catch a fish... So we have that in common. I have people ask me what their chances are of catching a King quite often and of course I hate to quote statistics or percentages but I know one thing for sure.....if you don't go fishing its the only sure way to catch nothing and forget that you don't experience the chase. Be positive right up to the bitter end, it's good chemistry. Be positive , have trust, believe and if it helps you bring along your charms etc.
3. Keep in mind you're part of a team...and teamwork prevails.
4. Don't freeze up. Some of our fishing can be tedious, like the guy said about flying airplanes ' 99 % boredom and 1 % sheer terror. Every trip I encourage people to be ready and when ol slimey surprises us do your part quickly, clear your lines, lay the rods in the tackle tray, clear the middle of the boat so the hooked up person can move around the boat....and oh, then get the camera out.
5. Be honest.....if you're cold let me know as we always have spare clothes in the boat and my shed at the boat launch is just a short run away and it's full of good rain gear and warm wraps. You can't have fun if you're uncomfortable and I can't read your mind.
6. Let's talk fishing....I got questions for you too ya know so share with your guide your fishing experiences and locations. I had a couple out last year who guided on a river in south Texas and I was fascinated to hear all about the chase .
7. Safety is no attention to the safety drill an act as another set of eyes for your guide. No one will ever be cross if you mention something you see that he might not that could cause a potential problem. It's a team.
8. Just have's the easiest thing in the world.
9. You might spend a day with people a lot different than you, it's really part of the magic so just be sure not to offend , that.s easy.
10. Have faith....we wouldn't suggest you use a certain lure or color combo if we weren't absolutely sure it'll work. On the other hand the first fish on fire/chartreuse might be a coincidence but after the 3rd one we better get that thing tied on for you....
Now a few things I've learned that help you catch fish.
1. Licorice.
2. What I call ' Proper Neglect'...not to intense, be coooool.
3. Bring a 12 year old.
4. Be detail orientated, 4 and 1/2 passes of the level wind or whatever each time.
5. Bring banana's....I don't believe in that old Charter fishing maxim. When and if we fail we do it with dignity and just admit it, no excuses or blaming the potassium smell of banana's.

Here's pics of Dick and Loretta Hahn and Irv Evenson...our relationship after having met them 35 years ago underscores more than any what I always say....our best friends started out ......caught a few slimey's that day didn't we Hahny ?

Now for the ' Don'ts ...of which we have only one. The only rules we have in guide boat # 003 is that there aren't any rules. ( except ADF+G regulations of course which we absolutely adhere to)....but there is one thing that drives me NUTS and I'd bet any and all guides....
1. You're going to see other people catch fish, heck you might even see other people catch a lot of fish... There's no need to point them all out to your fishing guide, he see's it too. In fact he can probably tell you what lure and what color is in it's mouth. For me it's distraction and a breach of faith, I always trust my experience, my intuition and hope you do as well....And it's not a competition, we like to see everybody catch fish, everybody have fun.....that's it.


Lessons to Guide by

After a strange early June things are back to normal here at Mile 14. So as I was prepping my gear for the days fishing on Saturday a young guide I'd never met tied his boat up next to me and in the course of an hour asked me a few questions, like how much time do I spend preparing. I told him an hour and a half every day and told him of the 5 'P' principle...proper preparation prevents poor performance. I really think I've guided more people than just about anybody on the Kenai River and I doubt if any of the guides read my blog but these hard learned lessons are what I'd teach if asked.1. Simple, don't let this happen. Always check your tide book. It also looks good when you refer to written material.

2. Never pass the restroom without asking if anybody would like to stop.

3. Mix business with pleasure. In this crazy business of guiding it works great. Especially for you.

4. Don't get big headed over out smarting a fish...after all their brains are the size of pin head.

5. 100% effort. Always. Its the only way you can feel good about yourself in this business.

6. Don't ration bait. If you're low on salmon eggs use them even more. Fresh eggs=a bite=a landed salmon=mores salmon eggs....simple.

7. When a King salmon spits the hook, breaks the line, saws off on the prop, tangles with another boat or breaks the rod its no body's 'fault'. That's the allure, they win sometimes.

8. Its a blood a sport, catching fish is #1. But...the other parts are pretty darn cool, like this caribou.

9. Furnish Rain gearThere's so much you can't control in this business that you'd better take care of the things you can. Like peoples comfort.

10. There's no 'I' in team. That's what you are out fishing. Always say 'we' caught this or that, 'we' had a bad day......'we' ain't giving up....
11. If you're a democrat admit it, it'll liven up the conversation.

12. Don't tell jokes.
13. The word 'client' is waaaaay to formal. You're not a lawyer.

14. Your boat is just a tool. Keep it clean , comfortable and serviceable. Anything more than that is a waste of time.
15. Never hurry. This is a biggy.

16. Humpies are Salmon too. Who wouldn't be as happy as my friend Howard Brown with a beauty like that?
17. Never take a guy fishing who has a chest freezer in the back of his truck.
17. Be healthy and stay hydrated.
18. Some days when its cold and rainy and your mood begins to sour just remember you could be running a shovel instead of a boat right now. That makes for an instant smile on me.
Please come back to Mile 14. This next week I'm going to walk you all through a day on the Kenai, start to finish....

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A nice quiet little town

After being kenneled up with 100 other people in a city of 3/4 of a mil for four months it feels pretty darn good to have some quiet, serenity and even some of the weirdness that comes with small town Alaska. As always we attended the annual St. Paddy's day parade which for us goes like this.
1. Buy Guiness
2. Park at MP's office
3. Try to share Guiness with MP's co-workers (unsuccessful)
4. Fur hats
5. Stand outside for 11 minutes
6. Go home,  finish Guiness
Oh baby, we're a long ways from Butte Montana. The parade has always been done on the Spur highway and the City being reluctant to shut down the main thorough fare just uses one side and lets confusion reign for 20 minutes or so one day a year. That's MPeasy before we crossed to the parade side. I got a pic of Soldotna's favorite Irishman on the way....mmmmm....through the years me and Mike Sweeny have traded Catholic school stories, we've shared the gym and I'll bet you I've purchased 30 sets of rain gear from his that's small town living.
We might not have the Pacifico girls here or even Miss Barstow California like I got a pic of at the Carnaval in Maz a few years ago but we come pretty darn close with ' Miss State Farm'. And of course....everything we do in small towns is for and with the kids....
so we're standing in the middle of Birch Street where it meets the Spur Highway and a cop pulls up on Birch to see how the situation is going. Pretty cool, a little girl rushed through the crowd and all of a sudden he isn't a cop anymore, just part of our town.
So as you can see we're standing in the middle of the street and a car pulls up behind me. The driver can clearly see that the road is blocked and I guess a lot of green flying around when he rolls the window down and asks me " whats going on ' ?....I say " not much "....he gets kinda strangely impatient and just pulls out and follows along behind the Sterling Judo Club kids....yikes, in the parade.

When I was a kid the Homesteaders here ran everything. Now we have  a Borrough Mayor (who is also a homesteaders kid ) being term limited out and both candidates were in the parade of course.... and BOTH are homesteaders children. NOW THATS small town Alaska.....yawn ....!!  and they even tell ya how much they paid for their pick up truck.
I  hate to be so hard on the commercial fishermen but this is a great story, I'll keep it short. Back in 1989 when Joe Hazzlewood wrecked the Exxon Valdez uttering that outlandish understatement " we're fetched up hard on the rocks and I think we're leaking a little oil " one of the things that happened is that commercial fisherman all over South Central Alaska could not fish as the oil would contaminate the nets and then of course the fish. A huge  $$$$ settlement was on it's way and one set netter near Chisek Island who lives in Soldotna bought one of the first Hummer's our area has ever seen. He still drives it and even parades it..... I don't know, I 'd rather have clean water, I'd rather it had never happened than own a Hummer. But each to his own I guess.
30 years ago we'd drive down to the DeCanter Inn near Kasilof and watch the Ice Racers on Saturday afternoons. We'd park on the frozen lake and have a few beers with the heater running.  It was a unique Alaska thing and still is, they've kept it going and I'm impressed. The cars really don't get enough traction on the frozen lake to create any real risk I think but so that it comes off more like bumper cars than demolition derby the cars have drill pipe welded  all around. Even the pipe is unique to our area. One of my friends from the 70's Jack Fisler has been instrumental in the races and for that I say.....thanks Jack, what a cool thing, see you this weekend.
You've all been to parades right ? What do they end with ?.....mmmmm....usually the local Fire Dept has a ladder truck and an Ambulance and the police have their newest Patrol Cruiser. Well, in my town it's a snow plow....but hey that's a pretty darn nice 8' Western Plow on 2005 3/4 ton Chevy.  For all it's weirdnesses, it's nice to be home.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Early Birds

It's one of the weirdness's in my life...I'm early for everything. I'm always anxious to go and generally anxious to leave , like a bad party guest that shows up while you're still getting ready. I've heard many times in my life that the early bird gets the worm...well, the second mouse also gets the cheese eh ? So let me tell you, there's still a lot of Alaska left in this winter, I've not seen one single degree above freezing since we returned and although we love it here at Mile 14 and have earned our snowbird status honorably within many a winter in the north....I'm ready for spring, even just a hint of spring. Our first fishing event of the year a Winter King Tournament in Homer canceled, harbor frozen.

And the weirdest thing is that we're just not used to it. I've been just healthy as can be on my Mazatlan Pacifico  and french fries diet and then I get here and walla....the flu. Came down with it on Sunday night and I'll spare you the gory details, you all know it's the worst. Then I get to feeling ambulatory and this morning it went off for MP and it hurts me to see her suffering....the good news is that once again we've settled the ' who's tougher ' issue and you don't hear me bragging.  And oh, ya know that weight I gained in Mazatlan....I don't recommend the Mile 14 Influenza diet, but it works.

So with the winter being harsh and long God love MP, she's worried about the birds. But the bird feeders frozen down surrounded by 3 feet of snow so I take the house itself off and look for something to put it on....Problem solved in true North Dakotian style, it was her idea.
I snapped these pics the other day of one of our neighbors struggling through the coldest winter in many years. I saw them through the window as I worked some client e-mail and when I put the telephoto on him I was happily surprised by how good he's doing. But there's always somebody around to pee in your Wheaties. No sooner had he and two more got bedded down in the sunshine of the empty lot next door what we call a 'gooner' ....short for looky lou drove into our driveway and actually got out of the truck taking pictures. Up they stood and ran off to the cost of many stored calories. With the flu bug going I was just to tired and sick to step outside the house and ask...' what heck ya doing' ????
I like that my boat in it and kinda show's ya what we're dealing with here at Mile 14.
In the fishing department I have news that I'll try and convey as simple as possible...and when it comes to the Kenai River that word 'simple' you don't here often.

The Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF) dropped the gavel and ended the 2017 Cook Inlet meeting and we now have a ' plan for our early run King Salmon....about time fella's, ya know what they say ' when you fail to plan , you plan to fail. The plans weakness is that it relies on ADF+G's run projections which are sometimes wrong but always subjected to the current politics of the day....that being said it's way better than the Ouija Board management that's been going on. In essence the sonar counts and projections lead to a series of triggers that could liberalize the fishery when it hits certain numbers. These could be things like catch and release, no bait, slot limits and wide open fish and keep anything with bait if the projected numbers are big enough. Conversely if the number projections are horrible we could have closed or just catch and release fishing. One thing the BOF did finally is that they created no fishing zones where a lot of the early run Kings stage while ripening to go spawn in the smaller rivers and creeks that make up a huge part of the total run. So, all in all, good work gentlemen and Sue Jeffries. So what does that mean here at Mile 14 for the 2017 season ? With the projected run strength that has been announced it falls into the scenario where for the first time in a few years we will start fishing whenever we want but with catch and release until the sonar counts indicate how to proceed with management. Good news. Lets' go fishing , we love the river in the spring. Quiet , clean and second favorite time.  We'll release the May fish, take it from a guy who's released hundreds of them, they swim right off like they're leaving the gymnasium and you'll enjoy, it's fun.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

It's a Carnavil

They actually call it Carnaval and it's the 3rd biggest in the world behind Rio and New Orleans. My Lumix camera got some fantastic shots so I'm going to do very little dialogue here and just post a bunch of my favorite pics. This year theme was ' Alebrijes and Dragon ' , I'm not sure if I ever figured out the Alebrijes but I sure did all the dragons. It ends on fat Tuesday (last Tuesday) and it this year all the events were exceptional, like Mazatlan knows the uniqueness of the event and with the new road to Durango  completed they have turned the wick up to get more visitors....and it was working. We shared the event with thousands of people, no worries, nothing but a wonderful vibe,
I've bought many of these the Pacifico's if you're standing on them like everybody does. Oh, they cost 2 and a half bucks.
These guys tell you about the Mardi Gras spirit. They are promoting their special hot sauce and having fun doing it.
Of course Mazatlan is WAY more conservative than New Orleans or Rio but there are still a lot of pretty girls / women .  I love the way my camera froze the confetti in this pic....
In the middle of all the bands / Dragons / Pacifico floats / bottle rocket launchers / horses / dancers came this float....tossing free anti-acid samples to the crowd.
I tried to get a close up of the detail on the tell me which one you think is the best.
Being  ' Game of Thrones ' followers me and MPeasy know a bit about Dragons. Remember thescene when they were first hatched ??? worked better on TV than it did on the malecon on Fat Tuesday.
The tallest Float at Carnaval 2017....I'm guessing 45  feet.
One of the coolest things is they honor all the past Carnaval Queens. Still beautiful.
Miss Mexico was there....
Our friend Trustin was in the mood....Good Alaskan there for sure.
Who wasn't smiling ?
And we even came across some wildlife on our hike out 
Hope ya liked it.....😀😀😀😀