Wednesday, April 10, 2019

What kinda guy

climbs over around and through glare ice for 1/2 mile just to find a pair of pliers ? mmmmm, well, it's the earliest spring salvage season the Pro's from Dover here at Mile 14 have ever seen. I actually only fell down twice which was incredible as the last thing I heard when I left the house was " are you taking your ice grippers ? "
Normally I do the salvage by sea but as it's still so icy I'm shore bound. The boat has it's advantages both with no walking and the ever present need to be Bear aware, when they come out of hibernation they're kinda dumb and kinda hungry...But it was 50 degrees and I gotta go, that river is my life ya know....and walla, even though very little bank is exposed right there in front of me gleaming away like a huge golden oak was that unmistakable shine of stainless first ten bucks of the 2019 season.
Seeings as I'm the guy who invented the sport it's just right that I should draw first blood. Now some of the new salvage operations might find better stuff later on depending on their feel for the river's rhythms but...this minnie pile is the first I'd guess... It looks like I'll be able to launch and go ' feet wet' in just a few days which is astounding as in all my years I've only ran the river once in April and that was at the very end of it.
It's been  just gorgeous since we've been home and the most orderly ' break up ' I've ever seen. We finally are doing all our hikes that are snow free.... here's the river from the bridge when we hikes the Centennial loop Sunday morning.
The only drawback  is.... as pristine and clean as Alaska is, in our town right now the air quality is horrible. There must be a better way. They use soooo much salt and sand on the roads that the street sweepers work night and day. They even use the ones that don't catch the material and are only brushes that just move it from one place to another. Everywhere you look is sand and dirt, I'm especially fond of seeing these black snow mounds everywhere, it's uniquely Alaska me thinks.
I wear a micro fiber neck gator and routinely pull it up over my face this time of year. If I'm going to get my 10,000 steps a day and lose those 10 pounds of Pacifico/tamale tummy I picked up I gotta go, go, go. Here's part of  a new mural we came across on the side of my old Alma mater , the Maverick Club, I picked out the fish part don't ya know. ....Ultra cool you guys , thanks for helping Slowdotna have some character.
I always had a feeling that being a Pro Guide was easier to get into than get out a lot of ways that's soooo true. I anguished over our decision to retire but feeling better now. The mechanics of letting go works you through the process, closing your web page, getting rid of guide gear...and then the most obvious part of my old identity, guide numbers 003 have gotta go. As my readers at Mile 14 know I'm often critical of the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game. Well, I found something they're really good at....stickers, yup those green and yellow ADF+G football stickers are tuff. So call this Pro Guide Tip # 17 - That bottle you see in the top of this photo is the ultimate solvent called  De-solv-it much better than the Goo Gone everyone has.
It's slow tedious work and there's no way to keep from scratching the ol Minnow 4 a bit. But with a about 7 hours of patience and a few beers as well as two re charges on your blue tooth speaker it's walla....your once again a normal citizen of the planet.
Of course I could have kept my name, maybe even my number for nostalgia sake but you know me, I'm a 100 % guy. When all is said and done my reputation is important to me and I don't want to look like the guy who will go right back to being a revenuer when the King fishery recovers. I'm gonna try to fit in, be anonymous and try to not look like those illegal guides that I've despised for years...we'll see how it goes, should be a story or two in it.
Just like that...done....😢

Monday, April 1, 2019

And now it's just Stuff

My friend Dave Anderson says that one of his big fears is that if he dies his wife will sell  the fishing tackle for what he told her it all cost. So just this morning I was telling my friend Cody at the gym about the piles of 'stuff' I'm dealing with. Part of professional fishing is being prepared and redundancy is important, if something breaks you need another just like it eh ? So I guess it just happens, you move along and the years go by and you see the stuff accumulate but it's all work stuff, just like a carpenters tools and then : you ain't a carpenter no more and it's stuff, some useless. I was curious so I did something that I'd never done, I counted. This is what 62 reels, 60 rods and 23 landing nets look like,,,,,,,jeez....I love that stuff, but it's gotta go.
Here's something a fisherman will get a kick out of. Below is a close up of the ' DeVito Special' which was the must have lure in the 1970's King salmon fishery . Ol Spence just repackaged the Wardens Spin / Glo product after he put them on a wire spinner twist and added a big ol hootchie skirt and a lethal 7/0 siwash hook. If you didn't have these, you weren't fishing. There were so many fish in that era and it was before the high tech bait cures that we fished these without bait  to great success.  By 78 or so I was using thread to tie Borax cured eggs that were stained red with cherry jello onto the DeVito Special...
And naturally I had to have more than one...So if any of you want to take a trip down memory lane and go retro-fishing just swing by Mile 14 and I'll set you up with the hottest lure from 40 years ago. And oh...these babies sold for 5 bucks a piece back then.
A guy doesn't have to look very hard to know when It's time to move on...ya know, when you finish the book, close the cover. I got one boat that has grass growing in it and the ' fun' boat that Pauly left here has a tree growing through the fluted gunwale. Yikes...
Of course as I work my way around this change in my life I get a little nostalgic. I knew it would end someday I just didn't know it would happen so fast. So this summer will be special, we'll go back to playing the music just for us and fishing just for us...when we want, how we want, it'll be a nice change, the rewards of hard work they tell me.
Having made some serious $ at this and having a ton of fun it's always been my fondest hope that the young guys who come behind us would have the same opportunity to have such a wonderful guiding life. I carried the water, I served on Boards, I testified to Boards and Legislatures. I've donated money and been an outspoken advocate for sport fishing, guided sport fishing. I know the guiding thing is hard for some community people to appreciate, we take up a bit of their space, we have fun doing it, it's hard to look at it for what it is...a clean, renewable committed industry in a small town that could help send Soldotna onto a wonderful future...Wouldn't it be better to support and nurture this existing business model than accepting all the new, the change, just for money...there's just something wrong about these Chamber of Commerce types that think this is all fine...there's simply just something wrong here.

One thing will never change, it's absolutely beautiful here.  Rumor control had it that Beluga Whales are in the river already so MP and I went on photo safari. Didn't find the whales on that day but hey, with views like this who can complain...

Saturday, March 23, 2019

It's just a bit different

It's like silent, the air is clean and crisp, it's boy howdy dark at night and I have a feeling of well being and contentment. Now I know that in a few months I'll be itching for Mazatlan again but for right now I'm happy guy right here at Mile 14 of the World Famous. It's my place, my element. It's an amazing thing to me that with modern transportation your life can change so drastically so fast...A few Tanqueray's and 4 flights in 20 hours and walla, home sweet home....and as usual we forgot the blue print. Our house sitter locked the dead bolt that we don't have a key to because just a couple years ago we had Arkey the locksmith drill out the door knob when we forgot where we hid the key for that always forgotten ' safe keeping'.
Kinda cool that a 65 year old guy can still do that, of course I had no choice. I'm just glad there wasn't a sharp knife on or in the sink or I'd of had that vasectomy finally.

What a wonderful night we had. I played my guitars and then barbied the first steak we've had in near 5 months, a little Merlot and listened to the SoHi boys loose in the semi finals of the State B-ball championship by only 5 points....And sleeping soooo good, the King sized bed is big enough that when MP rolls over and throws that elbow like she does she can't reach me. And then we walk down to the river. The snow is going fast as it's not freezing at night. You've seen this shot many a time from our overlook, the river is clear and running high and maybe an entire month ahead of the historical ice out date.
I suppose it's part of the mild winters we're having but every spring I find more and more beetle killed spruce trees and they really change the look of the property. When the snows gone I'll fire up the ol Stihl Farm Boss and go to work, this year I'll have plenty of time.
Everybody that's been to the  paradise that is Stewart's Landing will recognize these two pics. The first is the parking lot and the walk way to the river and the next shot it from the launch looking straight down the river, gorgeous in a uniquely Alaskan way.
So I'm excited about the upcoming season. Ya know I've spent the last 37 summers doing my very best to help other people have fun and enjoy this special place...So this year I'm going to do my very best to help myself have fun so it should make for good blog editions. We'll be fishing but without some of the everyday routine of the in the rain, in the dark, when there's no fish and we can go ANY time we want, it'll be great. I hope you all keep reading.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Re Entry

Yup, we're on final approach. This time next week I'll be reporting from the banks of the world famous, it'll be quiet, it'll be gorgeous and believe it or not I'm hoping it will be rest full.. But you know in life there's always a good and a bad, a ying and a yang for everything and there's plenty to miss here in Mexico and plenty that won't be. So how about one of those lists that I say gives order do a disordered life. I once heard that a good way to help make decisions is to make a good /bad list...well this ain't that but maybe I oughta start thinking that way...makes more sense than writing a letter and not mailing it as Dear Abby would have you do.
What I'll miss
1. Fishing in the morning...being alone. Working out the things on your mind as you walk and cast and see that yup, you're first on the beach, it's just you, nothing and I mean nothing can go wrong. 
2. Mexico of course....I love the people who smile and share so easily. I love the food, the taco stand the want the best chicken in the world ? well just look for a cloud of smoke and the smell of Mesquite as you travel and about this homemade Ford Suburban...soooo coool.
3.....the Fabulouso aisle. I know it sounds weird but every store in america should have a Fabulouso aisle or display. It smells wonderful and the colors just can't keep you from smiling...So in Jeff's world if I'm shopping for Fabulouso I gotta try them all, whats best for me, the Electric Cherry or the Bold Ocean Blue ?....maybe even the Sherwood Forrest Green....decisions, decisions...
4. My friends....I'll miss them all and if I forgotten you it's only and over sight. all of you do sooo much for me, it's this place on the earth that you share so generously with me. Ernie, Slah, Maria, Willy, Alejandro, Stewart and Jay, Kiki, Raymundo and Carlos. Tim, Kenny, Juan, Sean...and the cheese guy at the market, we love you all.
5.  Fish for dinner, at least the southern style, plus here I always have french fries with my deep fried pescado but up north we'll be stopping the papa's habit, back to the gym ya know....Here's pic of a bucket full I filled up for a friend the other night.
Things I won't miss.
1.  Condo Life...
See you  Alaskan's real soon....

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

and the winner is....

Inspired by the recent academy awards where both Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born showed the way the musical staff here at Mile 14 southern bureau decided to critique the Carnaval Parade 2019. It's kinda hard to pick favorites when every thing is so coooool....the coolest thing was simple, thousands and thousands of people milling and sharing and laughing and....not problem 1. Great vibe, thank you Mazatlan....SO HERE WE GO.

Best in Costuming:  well it helps that I'm in the pic. 1st goes to my new friend GuitarMan and the runner up is Radio Waves. Radio Waves is iconic here in Mazatlan . He shows up everywhere and blasts Banda music on FM 89.7,,,,some time I'll tell you about being invited to play music by them.
Best Beauties:   Mmmmm, everyone nows that the code of the west runs my life, loyalty is my thing. so even though this is toughest category at this academy I'm going with the past Carnaval Queens.  So just like the locals who revere their elders I loved these ladies energy...
Runner up in the Beauties is this Gal...if she wasn't Queen of the whole Mary Ann then she should have been and we at Mile 14 deserve a seat table next year.
Best connection to The Curse of Oak Island :   It makes perfect sense to me that if the cultural memory of middle america remembers the Knights Templar being in Mexico then it's perfectly possible that they also buried the treasure and built the flood tunnels to baffle future treasure hunters. I personally think the treasure will be found next Tuesday night on the History Channel. Be watching. 
Best Vendor Food :   Well the Cotton Candy and the Peanut guy didn't have a chance when the Jicama guy arrived. This stuff was selling like hot cakes. I personally think it tastes like a radish that was left in your garden until October BUT, people here love it. It's sliced just right and then smothered in the red after it's dipped in the red is all I know, I ain't tasted that part...All I know is that is you want to be colorful for Carnaval just have this guy help ya out and you'll be wearing enough of that stuff that people will ask where you got the red plaid shirt.
Best Use of Common Sense :   I've always had a soft spot for carpenters, I tired to be one at a time in my life and realized my heart just wasn't in least for 30 or 40 years worth. But if they had told me I'd get to ride on the top of 40 foot float at Carnaval in Mazatlan I mighta stuck with it a bit. I think they fold down the really high stuff and prudence dictates a carpenter with a fist full of grabbers and a 20v DeWalt be close by to keep the thing from getting out of control....don't need that....well played Mazatlan, do you guys know anything about Salmon Fisheries management ???
Best Smile :  The staff took hundreds of pictures and after close review and 3 Pacificos we agree it's a tie. Of course we were all kinda smiled out because it's just what everybody was doing so it made this an impossible category. 
Best Float :   This is a big one. But staying in theme we had to go with Ol Smiley. good ol Smiley. He could have won by himself but throw in a doublea and it's game, set , match.
Best Mardi Gras Float :   It's huge, it's got a pretty girl, flowers AND it's purple....all the ingredients. 
Most comfortable in his own skin and likely to be a motorcycle cop in real life :
Best Dance Troupe : another tough one....but these young people had it seriously goin on. Perfect timing, costumes and energy.
Best Fish : Now this is important. If this staff can't pick a winner well we ought just head for the Blue Gill pond and bait up a maggot. It goes to the Dorado's, or are they Mahi Mahi or maybe Dolphin's,,,,anybody got a pan fish set up I can borrow ?
Best What the Hell is that :   I got no idea....but the hair looks kinda familiar.
Best Music :  This is my serious typed print now...Banda El Recodo stole the show. Big Banda sound by one of the most renowned Bands in Mexico. They played to a sold out crowd at the baseball stadium and then became the first time I'd ever seen this caliber of music in person. As the Float moved along the malecon Hundreds of people followed along filming and dancing. WOW.  I have video and if I remember I will post when I have internet strength to do it.
Best Mary Lou Reton :  
Best Beer :  We all know that Pacifico owns this town, it's made here. I'm sure the first thing that Radio Wave or Guitar man reached for when pulling off their suits was a Pacifico....BUT.... as the parade ended the trail sweepers arrived by the dozens who was there with empty trucks to help ? Corona ! So Corona gets the nod because you know that we here at Mile 14 are really just unabashed liberal greenies in search of clean air, clean water and ahhhh....a few fish. So mucho Gracias Corona, Mazatlan and of course my running buddy who just celebrated 41 years of marriage with me  over a wonderful hamburger supper on our outdoor deck...until the automatic sprinklers came on. Oh well.
Best in Love :