Monday, September 26, 2016

the season in the rearview

With just one trip left to do in a couple days I thought it might be good to review this last season while it's all fresh in my melon.  And I'm happy to say that with a turn around of our King fishery and a steady Silver / Pink run we might just have operated in the black here at Mile 14...my friend Chick Kishbaugh told me years ago " the idea behind business is to make more money than you spend".

All of us in the community ask an awful lot of this old river. Even last year we could see the King Salmon shortage improving so I expect it will be pretty darn good again come 2017. Here's the figures.....our escapement (fish to spawn) came in at 18,790 which is at the low end of the ADF+G goal of between 15,000 and 30,000. We really should shoot for higher number if any of you math guys over there are reading this. The sport Harvest was 8,558 and the commercial harvest was 6,958 with the personal use (dip netter mania) at 1,289.....That's a lot of King salmon so with just a little massaging and some actual salmon management we could have comfortably  hit the middle of the escapement goal and all still would have had a great season. Here's pic of ADF+G staff working on that 'computer error ' they confessed to on the sonar counts this year. No biggy whats a few hundred fish amongst friends eh ?
So for us, the Pro's from Dover it went like this....we fished a total of 95 people for King salmon and caught 57 Kings. I'd say that's pretty darn good. We only had one ' schamoozle' all year and that was when poor Jaqi lost her first King salmon to an idiot on my birthday. You'd be proud of me, in my youth I would have showed this guy my Montana side but at the age of 63 I just let him know how disappointed we were that he didn't move his boat. It happened first thing in the morning so I told Jaq she'd hook another one....she didn't.
You saw this picture about half way through the season....well this is the finished sculpture. Not that bad, if I had a beer with every fish cleaning it means I cleaned a LOT of fish. You'll also notice the Bee suit Ty gave me to navigate through the dangers of my allergies...it worked. I never got stung once but MPeasy got it 4 times.
Here's pic of my kids Max and Sam , pre- horsepower limit.  MP was going through the pics for her trip to Montana,,,,,did I tell you that I'm  bacheloring   right now ? Well, that's always a good story so I hope you come back to get it. Tonight's the big presidential debate...it's tough one, who'd watch that when the Mariners are playing for a chance at the Wildcard ????? In any case the person I love the most went to paint her house in Montana and meet for the first time a first cousin she didn't know she had...pretty cool
Well I wish I had some deep wisdom and observations to pass on  in the edition of Mile 14, I just don't.... I'm kinda just winding down and training like I do every fall. I really hope to achieve my goal of 185 pounds this year and if I don't....well....I just keep trying. Our rain has let up and the river is getting fishy again so I'd bet you chartreuse an flame spin and glo that I'll have some fish pics for next week.

And for all of you that were with me in 2016....MUCHO GRACIAS AMIGO'S....I've got the best fishing customers in the world.
Please keep coming back....we'll have surf fish pics from Mexico in no time at all....

Monday, September 19, 2016

Besties

Our best friends Chris and Melinda came down for what I call our annual ' gourmet fishing ' event.  It actually wasn't annual lately as Melinda had to take a year off to kick a little breast cancer butt so that made it even more important that we do what we do best....laugh, fish, laugh, fish, laugh....So it wasn't easy to get a pic of these two concentrating but I got it done. Pretty impressive eh, I don't mean to take to much credit or for that matter any credit but you can see the level of expertise that comes from being married to a couple expert fisherman...but then again my friend Ralph Imholt said this about experts " an ex is a has been and a spurt is a drip under pressure "
When I fish with these guys and especially MP I try to be mindful that everybody is totally capable around here....as MP likes to say " just let me do it my own way ! " ...and.....that's what we do. So when Chris caught hold of some phantom line and reeled in half of the Kenai river with it I was reminded of this pic I took last time we got together of the person I love the most doing it her ' own way '. mmmmmm..... a little similiar ?
It had been raining like the proverbial cow and the flat rock so when it got good and light and I noticed how brown and chalky the water was I suggested we just hang it up and go get that nap we all needed after staying up all the way until 9:00 p.m. but we decided to give it a chance. And wouldn't ya know it wasn't long before the rod went off and Chrisco had this dandy with the biggest Flat Fish lure I've ever seen used for Silvers in it's mouth. I had a hankering that in the muddy water the bigger lure might work so I suggested it to Chris because I sure as heck wasn't going to experiment on myself. jeez, look what happened.
I've netted thousands of salmon in my life and I still get a little hinky from time to time. So with that in mind I get a pretty good chuckle out of watching MP net fish....here's shot from the cheap seats as MP handles the netting and Chris is applying the ' coup de gras '. I got me an aluminum min-bat and I just love the sound of either a salmon dispatch or a Little Leaguer knocking one through the gap.

You'll notice on day two MP had her Ski gear on....it was a little chilly so I figure that's the reason she had Chris hold up the fish for her... she's certainly not afraid of an ol slimey but she is all girl for sure and who needs to get bloody when ya got a guy around. It's a great pic. These two people have changed my life....they're the best. And you Boo-boo, well, we're just so happy that you're OK, we're OK and let's keep doing what we do best.....


Monday, September 12, 2016

Perfection

Yup, that's the kind of week I had, it was perfect. You see that guy there talking with MP well he's one of my favorites on the entire planet. 25 years ago Jim Bennett hired me to guide Signal Communications goodwill event called ' SigFish' and we've been together ever since. SigFish was a sort of coming of age deal for me as it was always great pay and it let me know that I was a top guide on the Kenai River. Through SigFish I met so many people who fish with me yet, we've become friends. Tom Riette, Deb Germano, Charlie Carpenter, Mark McIntire.....the list goes on.
Jim hired me to take his kids Jimmer and Kathleen with grandson Seth out on a perfectly sunny morning. Seth there is quite an 11 year old. This kid can flat fish....he pulls the anchor, he nets the fish ( well, usually ) he's not afraid of bait or blood and well....we just had a great time, and I mean a great time . Here's ol Seth with a slimey and using a trick he learned from  me to help heighten your senses late in the day if you get a little sleepy and already used your coffee up.
It was one of a couple trips I did this week where the fishing was more important than the fish. I like that. Ol Seth learned how easily slimey can escape from a net and we let a couple go and still showed up at Mile 14 with a respectable catch. Thanks for coming you guys ....
I've been trying not to run in the fog, in fact I won't but one morning Jim Hazzlewood and his buddy Ron showed up way early and the fog hadn't even started. There really wasn't anything else to do but meander down river up and anchor up in the pitch black of night. I know it's happened before, I guess I just don't remember but I couldn't see the rod go off but even with my poor hearing I could hear a fish splashing and jumping behind the boat. We came off anchor and got this guy then patiently looked for the anchor bouy....pretty exciting. And then the fog set in and a couple hours later it was gorgeous as it lifted. Perfect.
With the season winding down the guys are doing exactly what I'm doing....relaxing. I took this pic of Eric Loomis as they trolled by the other day. I 'm thinking I'll print an 8 x 10 and drop it off, that's how I got an office full of interesting things myself.
Tom Nelson booked me and he was so excited that the crew showed up early. This day I decided not to risk it and I pulled over 1/4 mile below the house and sat out of the traffic lane figuring to fish until the fog cleared and then go to the good spots....well, guess what ? Mucho pescado right where we were. Here's Gena with the first of her entire life and the crew pic at days end, Mile 14 , Kenai River Alaska.
My old friend Nate Morton drove down with his eastern cousins. Pretty darn civilized. We start at 9:00 a.m. and finish up for cocktail hour. Nate is a guy I could spend hours with so someday when I'm retired and so is he we're gonna do just that. We scratched out a few fish but I think they were only the excuse, the reason, the vehicle to look, wonder, visit, advise and remember...to slow down, to....well you know. Here's Nate and his wife Mary flanking Wayne and Cindy.
During this perfect week we caught not one but two Red salmon like this one......mmmmmm, strange. I can't figure out if it's a super late one, a really really early one or ???? But I did check the  ADF+G sockeye sonar numbers for the day we caught it so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to hook one, 38,000 over the sonar on  Sept. 10th , not bad.
I gotta give the person I love the most a big atta boy. Her garden was the best ever. We had a bumper crop of the best raspberries, she grew apples, the normal tomato's and cukes but the coolest thing was this Cantaloupe. It had the lines, it had the bumps, it had the color , it had the smell, it had the taste,  it was.....just a bit smaller than usual. Kinda cute huh ?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Helllllo September, my favorite month

That's how ya do it around here if you want a barbecued Rib Steak on Labor Day. It's really not been so bad with the rain....it only really has rained when I  either fish, barbecue or want to ride my bike, no big deal.

mmmmmm.....well the fishing is only so so. We're catching them but being the spoiled Alaska fishing guides that we are , we're not catching them fast enough , big enough or just enough period. All week we batted about 750 % except for one.... I had this guy out fishing.
That's Ed Krohn and his buddy Steve. Ed is maybe one of the few sports people around here that's seen as many salmon as I have. He's a guy that helped build Soldotna and had the first real Body shop here, Kenai Auto. His son Mike won Soldotna Drug's Salmon Derby in 1978 with and 88 pounder. When I was a kid here in the 70's Ed and my ex-boss Wayne Passe had all the stuff, fancy jet boats and new trucks to pull them with and I'd have loved to fish the Kenai with them....now it's 40 years later and he's fishing with me, and we're friends...pretty cool. BUT.... I don't mind telling you that I had a little performance anxiety . I told him I hadn't felt this kind of pressure for getting fish since I fished the Governor.  I so wanted to catch a limit of silvers and well, that one there is the only one which is actually twice as many as none eh ?  We had a great day and talked of old times, and times to come. Of course being an old timer we had to tease each other a bit. For float fishing I had him use a new device, a bobber with a stopper and a nice Stradic 4000 spinning real on a Lamiglass G 1000 Kenai Special....but here's how he prefers his float tackle. Yup, that's a wine cork.
I finished up with the Gary Blinn crowd and we had the usual Mexi-feed that our buddy Joe Ray De La Cruz sponsored. Made me pine away for Mazatlan actually. Here's Joe Ray, he's one in a million and I especially liked this pic of Gary with the chilled beverages, he's a detail guy.
That guy in the middle of the next pic is Chuck Sanders, nice fish, he's flanked by Rich and Tom. Being a Tennessee guy Chuck can flat play all stringed instruments so every two years we have musical fellowship. I'm  learning from Chuck and someday I'll be doing those lead ins. Below the fish is a short 30 secnd video of him flat picking a little blue grass....Thanks for coming and being part of my musical life here at Mile 14 Chuck.

video
Yesterday we anchored up in a line-up with about 12 boats within view. We saw about 12 fish caught (by humans that is, the seals were feasting) and we caught 6 of them, not bad....but it takes a certain discipline that I really don't have to be so patient as to sit in one place for 6 full hours waiting for the bites.  It's my nature to move around and prospect for the mother lode but there's just not enough fish for that...my friend Keith is an artist at it so I guess I gotta learn to slow down a bit this day and age. Here's pic of Jim and his two sons Matt and Tim who persevered, good job guys.
This guy and his apprentice has been hanging out for a week or so here at Mile 14. MP calls him the ' lawn boy' . Last year if you remember I got that cool video of a couple bulls jousting but then we had a little speed bump when they jousted into the rope we have attached to a sawhorse to keep the looky lou's from turning around on our grass. A big one got intangled then wandered up to the highway for help where a do gooder called ADF+G and the rumor goes that they sedated the poor guy and removed the rope...but they didn't return it. So this year we're being way more careful with the pets....come have a look.
When he showed up he still had some velvet antlers but you can see how shiney they are when he just recently rubbed it all off. Pretty darn cool this place.

Monday, August 29, 2016

A secret to happiness

As you all know, I like to talk. So this job of mine is perfect as we have hours and hours to deepen our horizons and getting an understanding of our places on this trip around the sun. Through the years I've learned a lot from the folks I fish with, financial advice all the way up to medical insight and of course ....fishing info. But the other day a guy said something that really resonated with me" one of the keys to happiness is to expect more from yourself and less of others "....mmmmm.....I guess I've always known that you can't control others, only yourself, and I guess I knew that you feel better on the right road. It's something I've dealt with over and over, I set high standards and goals for myself and then have an unfair way of applying those standards and goals to others which makes me continually disappointed in some people. So.....expect more of yourself.... So for me it's like this, when I get around hurtful people, expecting more is the forgiveness that I've never been good at, gonna give that a try in Mazatlan this year.

Yeh, yeh, yeh....get to the dead fish stuff, right ? Well I'd say that the old Kenai is experiencing about as slow of Silver fishing that we've seen in 10 years and actually it's not all that bad. Some things in life are good even when they're bad. Even our Humpy's that are mosquito thick every other year are kinda slow. So it does my heart good to know that even with lower salmon numbers if you work hard you can still hit over 500, which we did all week. Last week I asked whats better than a 12 year old with a salmon....mmmmm, a 13 year old comes pretty close. And a 14 year old is pretty darn chuckly to.
Man does that flash at O dark thirty make for a cool pic or what ? Thanks Connor and Cam for coming along, you're the future of this whole deal so welcome to the plate. I do sometimes worry about the future of sportfishing when we live in an area where gill net's are accepted as fair pursuit, which they ain't. The net captures the fish only after he's been tricked into biting the bait and then given a fair chance to break the line, spit the hook, run through the prop, backlash the reel....100 things can go wrong. But when I see kids fishing like this when me and MP were on our walk I feel good, many smiles.....way to go guys. Life jackets, eye protection, early morning, ya got good parents kids.
Seems like lately I've had some expert fish poser's. I don't think these guys even tried to achieve perfect fish geometry but they sure did. Sam, Jody, Cam being anchored by my old friend Howard Brown. Great day guys, mucho gracias.
Just when I thought that the perfect pose was in every fisherman's DNA I caught my new friend Tom getting it done, ahhhh.....he's coaching Rich there pretty good. Now Tom is a fishing guide on the Sabine River is East Texas and he knows the way. So when you get a seasoned poser/cameraman/promoter you pay attention, right Rich ? Tom there doing the tutorial is the only guy who's ever showed up with as much fish guts and blood on his clothes as me.
The guy on the left there is Joe Ray De La Cruz...and he needs to see a fish whisperer. He never had a bite and as you can see everyone else got the limit. Here's Tom and Jane who both guide like I do and Rich....and the fish that Jane got us started with in the morning.
The other day my old friend Randy Berg trolled by. He's a steady guy and we've been friends for 35 years , I guess we kinda kicked this whole deal off. They had just seen us come off the anchor to land a silver and as they trolled by the guy in the front of the boat said " hey I got this lure here that catches nothing but humpy's "....So I asked him how much he wanted for it...

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.