Monday, November 9, 2020

LOSER

 In the movie Hardtimes Burgess Merideth's character said about his life " some of us were born losers and some of us had it thrust upon us "....And losing is something I know about, like most people I really haven't won a heck of a lot except for when I was a first ballot inductee in the Kenai River Hall of Fame. What I know about losing is you get used to it, in fact you can come to expect it and walla, there is the key to losing.  Don't worry about nothin because nothin turns out right anyway.

It's how you react to losing that's the key. Do you really want to be the guy who's so surprised he bites off part of Evander Holyfield's ear ? Wouldn't you rather be like Tex Cobb when after taking a horribly bloody beating from Larry Holmes and having lost all 15 rounds on the judges card he said he'd have won if they just had one more round. One interviewer told Tex it must have been frustrating to fight a guy with arms a foot longer than his. Tex said " it seemed that way to you too ?"  And the famous Joe Louis when his corner man tried to fire him up during a losing effort by saying " Joe he ain't touching you " replied " keep an eye on the ref then because somebody is ". 

I remember years ago at Mile 14 I was sitting on the couch with NFL legend Roger Craig watching the special post Olympic foot race between Michael Johnson and Donovan Bailey to decide the fastest human in the world. The gun went off and as Bailey pulled ahead at about the 3/4 race point Michael Johnson pulled up with ham string injury and limped off....Roger howled ' he quit, he quit ' and yup he just couldn't do it or so it appeared, another way to lose.

As a kid we lived close to Canada and being an average swimmer who's lost a lot I was interested in the swimming preliminaries which were on TV from Lethbridge Alberta. When the Canadian swimmer failed to qualify for the finals but was just one position out the announcer said " he had the fastest losing time today ". 

Just a couple years ago I had a brush up with losing. Me and Stewart were fishing the Surf Tournament with hundreds of Mexican fishermen. I caught a nice 3 pound Toro just minutes into the event and waved over the 4 wheeler who we were told to send the fish to the weigh in station with. Well the driver tried to ignore me and drive off and I was frustrated thinking this could be the first fish, or biggest fish or maybe even the only fish of the tournament...Finally I got my translator on the phone  fired up and he spoke into for me to read " sir, do not embarrass yourself by weighing in that fish ". mmmmm....

So now you're probably wondering where the hell is retired guide #003 going with this exercise...Well it's simple, I think I'm a losing expert and there are some real complexities to it . So if you know anybody who needs some counsel on losing just have them give me a call at BR549 and I'll walk them through the process...and I'll do it slowly and in an understandable way so as not to confuse them...anymore that is...
Me and MPeasy on our continuing quest to find the best Hot Water in Mooontana found a new favorite, kinda funny how my favorite changes but Lost Trail is a contender for sure....and it's right next door to our new Middle America Mile 14 bureau. Like all the others we've been to this one is off the beaten path and kind of funky, the old buildings and camp setting is cool.
I made a friend named Dale who helps run the place and used to be an educator in Alaska, we'll be coming to this place often. We were at an uncovered Hot Springs a few weeks back which had cold water so we were happy with 98 degree healing waters with just a simple covering...so nice, thanks Dale.
The big news at Mile 14 is that me and the staff will be going to Arizona soon to hopefully use it as a jump off spot to drive on to Mazatlan if all things converge into a big ol ' let's go '.  We've rented a casita in and active adult community so I should have some fun stuff to write about. With this covid spiking everywhere we feel like we need to be outside more and of course we have no schedule and very little direction in life so a new adventure is coming to us soon. So please come back to Mile 14. I'll be on a 2 or 3 issues a month schedule and if I get that phone call for losing advice I'll let you all know how it goes....we'll be leaving the hats.









Wednesday, October 21, 2020

So ya wanna be a guide ?

 Well  here's a subject from which I know the way. Watching the dynamic guide industry here in Montana has been a real education for me, it's sooooo different, Coming from the Kenai which has to be the most difficult, stressful and competitive fresh water fishery in the world all I can say is that if you think you have what it takes, try Montana, they're doing some serious fund raising on these rivers and doing it with waaaaay less of everything. My old formula, busy season-low overhead-up early-to bed late-immune to elements-work the hardest = a modest living wage, if you don't have snafu's brought to you by mother nature or the G-men that run things.

Having said all that there are two things I know for sure that I'll say now....Guiding is easy to get into and damn near impossible to get out of. AND, it's also impossible to really describe the job in detail so I tell people this, ' the problem with guiding is that it's terribly hard / difficult work and the problem is that the only people who know that are the ones who have done it for years at a fulltime / professional level.

So...when I announce that I'm coming out of retirement it'll be right here in the Big Sky and here's why.

On the Kenai two motors and a 21 footer will set ya back about 30 large...The guide boat of choice here is what Geno accurately called and I.B.R.B. , itty bitty rubber boat. And you can get one for a couple G's and if you really want comfort and I'd guess more safety you go with the rigid crafter for maybe 7 to 10 grand....AND, if you're just starting out who needs a trailer, at the end of the day you just ask your customers to help you hoist it into the bed of your 1995 Toyota  T-100.

The mechanics of the fishing, the weather and even the fish themselves are hugely different. Just think of the pictures...To do the old 'guide pose ' as taught at the College level course which is mandatory to be a Kenai Guide not only do you have to judge the direction of the sun and shadows but you better tighten your grip and have a good smile while holding up 50 pounds. Heres my buddy Lowell has a text book pose...and then the Blue Ribbon trout stream pose.

So on the world famous we fish four people whenever we can , it's the $$$ ya know. But on the Blue Ribbon two is just the right number and they charge twice what we do...Less people, more lettuce, makes sense and is something I'd been trying to get to for years. As far as the actual mechanics of the fishery which of these two situations look to be easier to work through ?

One of the reason I decided to write about guiding was when I realized the Blue Ribbon guides work day...when we do our walk every morning you see them at the donut shop as late as 9:00...no dark thirty tee time like we do on the world famous. They tell me the reason is because the air has to warm before the ' terrestrials '  hatch so there is no need to start early and because you just float along there's no best spot to get to first...It's just soooo relaxed. Here's a pic of our typical morning and well....yawn....


And of course for the Blue Ribbon to remain Blue Ribbon the fishing is all catch and release. So, there's no ' bag limit mentality and no standing at the gutting table for a full hour dealing with a 6 humpy and 3 silver bag limit for four people...I'd bet a guide on the Blue Ribbon has never been asked " jeez Jeff, if you bought all that fish in the store what do you suppose it would cost " ? 


Now...for the weather. Everyone knows it's more fun when you're warm so that makes being warm and keeping or getting your customers warm is a huge part of guiding. I've never ended a trip from poor fishing but I have many times for poor weather. As my friend Ernie Mills said to me as he jumped the jet after a 2 week fishing adventure on the world famous in which it rained every single day and had the river at flood stage when he left ... " How in the Hell do you people live here " ???  Here's the facts
Average yearly rainfall   Hamilton 13 inches, Soldotna 22 inches
Average July Temps Hamilton high 85, low 50, Soldotna high 65, low 48
So, you don't have to go fishing looking like this !
One thing the two fisheries DO have in common is what I call ' guide bias '...it's simple, people just naturally hate that you get paid for doing what they do for fun...how un american. So these people think your customers shouldn't be able to do what they do because they ' were here first' or ' just because '. They convince people that the guided angler is some how different and oughta pay for all the management and access so they can go fishing in a spot where the person who paid for it can't....kapeesh ?
This sign is the Blue Ribbon equivalent of the Alaska State Parks signs that litter the Kenai which basically say don't have fun here.  This sign tells you which part of the river is restricted for the check writing guided angler on which days as to give the unguided public their chance to fish without having to deal with those #$*&@* guides.....seem familiar Alaska ?  On the world famous everything is just bigger so it goes that it's also true for the pain in the ass. This Park Ranger gal checked all our peoples licenses routinely, I guess she heard the secret of how we get customers....." pssssst, go fishing with me and you don't need a license, but shhhh keep that quiet ". Man I don't miss her a bit .
I'm just now starting to collect my fly fishing ' stuff '. And all of us professionals know it takes a lot of stuff. But given the size of the boats I can't imagine anybody hauls around as much stuff as a Kenai guide. My friend Keith has stuff in every nook and cranny and if you can ask him for something he doesn't have I'll buy you a Heineken . " thanks for the coffee Keith, I don't suppose you have any sweetener " ?  " sure what would you like Sweet and Low, Sugar or Splenda " ?   And Hows about my tackle box which is mostly terminal tackle and my prep table. Got some stuff.

So wish we good luck on a new career path. I'm gonna sleep in, wear shorts, charge more, eat store bought fish and ......well here's two things that will never happen once I get that state of the art I.B.R.B. lifes gonna get a lot easier.


Saturday, October 10, 2020

Anonymous

 That's how I've been feeling. I think you would to if you went from a town where you've known everyone for the last 45 years to a town where you knew no one. Expectations and reality don't usually collide in my life so this part of the deal I guess I just overlooked a bit...I do miss that  store visit where it's impossible to not chat with a friend or fellow guide....So it was a moment, that Kizmet thing, that we're attached to the world  thing that will happen in life if you have an open heart and maybe just need a little help....MP and I  decided to check another Hot Springs off our list and I called to make reservations at the Historic Symes Hotel in Hot Springs Montana, about 3 hours away if you're daisy sniffing along the way. The call went like this after the receptionists said they had availability....

OK, I'm ready for your information and Credit card number...

Cool,my name is Jeff King

Oh, we have a friend with that name

Really, does he live in Alaska ?

Yes, yes he does...

Does he mush dogs ? ( that Jeff King is famous )

I don't know but I do know he is a fishing guide

Well ( now I'm figuring it's a customer who we always befriend ) you must have fished with me ?

Oh no....wow this IS Jeff King...we grew up together.

And it was my one of my best buddy's ever Tom Beneventi's sister Lori.

We had a great visit. Like all of us her life didn't take a direct path and the zigs and zags of life found her raising 6 kids in Hot Springs Montana a town of 500 people on the reservation. She loves it there and now so do we. The waters that artesian everywhere in town are known as some of the best and heaviest mineral waters in the world and have been the economy for a 100 years . The Symes Hotel was built in the 1920's, it's funky, ultra friendly, our kind of place.

In the morning we went for the 102 degree pool and this is the view at sun up. We chatted with a young gal from Missoula and an interesting couple who come over from The Tri Cities to stay for 4 days every so often...I asked what do they do all day and the guy gave me that 'what a stupid question' look and said ' nothin". This sign next to the office tells you a little bit about the informality at the Symes Hotel.

We tried to get our 3 mile walk in but just like the last place there wasn't a lot of choices...but we did walk enough to see that the water is everything in this little town, there are several small 50ish style motels with the Hot water in the rooms and even an undeveloped natural pool just outside of the town. After we walked we stopped on main street at the only store to get milk and a Danish. We were just in time to see an ugly situation where the proprietor threw somebody out of the liquor store across the street from us. Now I don't know what ya gotta do to get the hook at the Liqour store at 10 A.M. in Hot Springs Montana so I can't tell you what to not do.....mmmmm...
Liking the eclectic I spotted 2 houses in this little town that looked more like Mexico than Hot Springs Montana. You can tell their owners love the places. It was a cool little town and we'll be back.

MP's grandfather used to do a getaway and soak at a Hot Springs that she couldn't remember the name of until we saw the sign for Camas Prairie so it was pretty cool to think we were sharing an experience with somebody she loves so much....This is definitely one of those places that I say ' ya gotta want to be there ', you don't end up in Camas Prairie by accident and if you do you're a loooong way from where you oughta be. Right in the middle of this wilderness high desert we found this, no town no nothing just this....
A close up will show you the unusual architecture. We were going to go home a different way but I went back about 20 miles so as to not miss these shots...I got a little time on my hands.
Here's a shot of the prairie .  I had the same feeling I had in Death Valley a few years back, can you imagine walking along side your wagon and cresting a hill to see this ahead of you....call my mom and tell her I'll be late for dinner.
I stopped and took a panorama pic with my phone of Camas Prairie and I hope this works for my blog. But the entire area has stridation type lines where you can see the varying levels of ancient Lake Missoula that took up most of this part of Montana and eventually ended up being just Flathead Lake which is pretty impressive by itself. mmmmmm sorry, the upload is beyond my blogging skills....Stick with guitar video's right ?

AND....we found a river and will be looking at property in Plain's Montana area...This place is gorgeous and this river has H2O...I stopped at several boat launches and you can see that larger prop and jet boats are used and the fishing is excellent, semi wild....I'll let you know.
And on the Kevin-O-meter .....we shot a scene in town town that was either a shoot out or a bomb deal. Lots of smoke and of course you know me, I got us in trouble for trying to get to close...Maybe if I'm a big enough pest they'll give me job.  For anybody who follows Yellowstone this is my spoiler alert and I'll be honest....I don't know s*^%

Thank you all for following along with us...my posts are becoming less frequent and I know that but it's like my music when I say it's only that if people hear it ....so...I'll try to find the unusual as always and try to post more often...keep the faith.


Thursday, September 24, 2020

In Hot Water

 Having already  been to 2 of the 17 developed Hots Springs in our area we decided that touring all them might just be a fulfilling experience and we ended up this week at White Sulphur Spring where we had been in 2013 driving the back roads to visit Max in Minnesota. Being kinda social and having nobody to talk with except the MPeasy we adopted some Russian Old Believers that had been to Oregon for a wedding...they were quite impressed that MP recognized the womens hats as not being Amish, Hutterite  or Mennonite . Now this Hot Springs has all it takes to comfort the weary soul. The water is 102 Fahrenheit and is full of minerals, Chloride, Sulfate, Biocarbonate, Nitrate, Lithium, Sodium and Potassium, Magnesiam Iron and Alumina as well as silica...Man oh man.


 

We had been up to Cascade to help a my buddy paint another buddies cabin on....The Missouri River. Now, after being on the Kenai for a lifetime it's hard to be to impressed. The Bitteroot here in Hamilton just ain't working for me, if you can't power up a boat in it I'm not it's guy. But this stretch of the Missouri is impressive and I finally found my interest perked.  And let me tell you there's some revenue going on here...and I like that of course. In a 5 hour morning I watched at least 30 or 40 driftboats float by, spaced out and fishing well. There was a really good seem just off shore from me that I wondered why nobody was on when finally this boat took up station and was rewarded with a double hook up. The trout looked to be about 20 inches.
Looking up the river and across. We actually went east to get away from the smoke and you can certainly see it in the color values of my pics. Finally over the weekend a front came in and changed the air flow from California and our smoke is better...Kinda makes ya wonder just what else 2020 might have in store for us...or are we running out of disasters. ? 

After I fished at sun up that morning I walked back along the river and came across this pond refection. Now it ain't a smoking volcano at sunset or a foggy Kenai morning but I think it's pretty darn nice...And, we're about to experience something that is very rare in Alaska...a thing call Fall, you know Autumn. MP used to say that in Alaska there are two seasons, this winter and next winter. But here we have the month of October with 60's and 70's forecast.
We were up in that neck of the woods to be with my friend Curt. He's had one of those convergence's that this ol world will throw every so often and I've been concerned for him. My friend Chris a few years ago while working through a similar string of gut wrenching sadness told me that the lord never gives you more than you can handle...I hope that's true and all I can do is be here for you buddy .💚 Here's a pic of MP and Curt, a couple of the best people I've ever known.
Shortly after we arrived here at the Mile 14 USA Bureau we went searching for some close by big water. Lake Como is only 10 miles away and it is gorgeous....but...that day in July that we were there it was just boat goofy. I mean there were some fishing boats and if they were ALL fishing boats I'd like that and we could make magic. But there were water ski boats, pontoon boats and I just don't get it but big ocean going glass touring boats with people just riding around....I mean once around the lake and walla, you've seen it all . Is it going to change the next time around at 40 MPH ? I don't think so, slow down go fishing is my advice.
That's how the lake looked from the overlook. Now in July there wasn't so much bank that you notice below tree line in that pic. Turns out the lake is an impoundment and levels fluctuate with demand. So, this September day the only boats were kyaks...Now I'm known as a pretty good low water guy, I know my boats and am in tune with my environment but this launch is waaaaaay to long for retired guide #003...it just plane ol won't work...

So in Jethronian style I was thinking about my other hobby and the possibilities of Marine Salvage with the low water. After all those speed boat guys must lose stuff out of their boats, in fact I bet things get blown out of the boats so I was kinda doing a preliminary grid search when I came across these alien submerged  circles or ???? Could it really be ? There's a lot of unknowns here in Moooontana, hay circles and cattle mutilations, BigFoot and now... 

There was just one guy fishing so I watched for a bit and as has happened many times in my life just as I was questioning his fishing skills based on his body language and the fact that his casts looked like he was throwing a shot put...he caught a fish . So I had to ask, a nice rainbow after an hour of throwing. I can do that although lately MP has been saying that I very well could have completely emptied my inventory of fishing ju-ju and may never catch another fish ...we'll see about that MPeasy.
And on the Kevin-o-meter here's pic of the Yellowstone guys building a set on @nd Street here in Hamilton Montana. They've  transformed a Law office into The Montana Cattle Association and today will be shooting street scenes. We're going to check on the progress when we walk in a couple hours and then my strategy for fame...It has to be real looking so they are going to shoot scenes with local traffic so all I have to do is drive around town for a while....So keep an eye out in sthe series for that old White Chevy with Alaska plates...