Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Final Approach

I hate to be in a hurry for ANYTHING....in fact I counsel the young guys around Mile 14 all the time to  not get in a hurry but I have to tell you that the first week of November brings two things I can't get to soon enough. We jump the jet the jet for Mazatlan and this election cycle will be over !  I have to say that I haven't seen anything as tacky as this election on CNN since Joe Hanes and I were glued to the O.J. Simspon trial some 20 years ago.

Without giving you my view on who's best or what oughta happen I'll just say this...what the heck happened to plane old American civility, tolerance, respect and just simple politeness ? I'm afraid that the biggest effect this election will have on America is that it further distances us from understanding and caring for others like we already see so much of today, more alienation and more of the me, me , me, me, mentality . So here's my political signage...this election is driving us all a little nuts I think.
So I'm staying busy in prep for surf fishing. You've all see the piles of gear that I take to an already overstocked tackle locker......here's a short list.
10 Line strectcher's
60 small jigs (more in a sec)
15 Lazer Minnows, 2 ounce
1200 yards Power Pro 20 and 30
Sabichi rigs
15 B-2 squids
5 pencil poppers....well , you get the idea.

Last year I had a real breakthrough after watching my friend Alejandro down size his gear when he'd see the tiniest of sardines right in the surf being chased by Pargo or Robalo. He'd throw out a tiny white feather jig with his hand line and let it just kinda bounce around in the rocks. The genius of it is that it's so light it won't just sink and get hung up. Here's a pic of one on the left of the bigger lures.
That particular jig caught these cool looking Grouper of some sort and the nice little batch of Amarillo Pargo's . These fish are excellent eating and you'd never know they were around until you learn to see the 'nervous' bait right ion the foamy whitewater on shore and usually in the rocks.
So this year as I was tying up flesh flies for my trout fishing I figured while I was at it I'd tie a bunch of those feather jigs myself. I hate to not buy them from Rafe at PescaMaz but no worries, he's got plenty of other stuff I'll be needing. Here's a few of them done and some really small rubber swim fish from Bass Pro that oughta work pretty darn good to. Just like the trout at Mile 14 it should be rewarding to catch fish on my own flies.
So I hope you all hang in there with me....real soon I'll have adventures and catches to report on...And cheer up America...

Monday, October 10, 2016

Los Anchorage

I've heard it said that Anchorage is only 20 minutes from Alaska, it's true. On Saturday I made a quick trip up to get MPeasy as she returned from 10 days in Montana and we made a Cosco run, new spectacles. When I make that drive I'm always reminded how lucky we are, it's just gorgeous and just the right distance from Anchorage the city can't commute to work and live here but still close enough we can all still easily visit.

But don't think I just daisy sniff on the way. For forty years whenever I make the drive in the fall I stop and recon the East Fork of the Moose River to see how our Silver Salmon spawn is doing. Some years we've seen lots, some years none....if any of you at ADF+G are paying attention, make a note right here. If you see Silvers paired and spawning in a major contributor to the overall run it means our future runs are at least going to get started well, if you see none, well then we've got a problem on down the road a few years. It's simple. And this year I was pleased. It wasn't chalk full of spawners but in this one section I saw at least 50 to 75....here's a pic of pristine salmon spawning habitat. The two white spots in the foreground mid river are two Silvers doing their thing. Great news.
It's that time of year when the birds know it's time to get south. But for some reason these Trumpeters are always slow, seems like the last to leave. As I got to Tern Lake which is normally a Swan spot there were none...well, they were all at the Marsh, a stone throw from Crisco's house.
Just like us, they mate for life. Bottoms up. Pretty cool.
I stopped at the Russian to see how the morning float fishing was going and ran into an old friend. The fog was starting to lift and it was quiet and gorgeous and for a bit I was wishing I was going fishin....the best I could do was head north but I did open the sun roof and turn my Pandora onto Kevin Fowler nice and loud. You see that drift boat there ? Well I think it's the future of this fishery. I know that's not popular with the thousands of Willie Boat Predator owners but... I think.....
So me and MP are back together after a 10 dayer. I guess like most things in life you gotta find the good with the bad, lets start with the bad.
1. I didn't harvest all the tomatoes. I ignored the Kale a and abused the Brussel Sprouts but I only froze one Pumpkin.....and oh, I let the carrots get soft some how or another.
2. I didn't mow the lawn.
3. I missed her.
...........mmmmmm.....guess that's about it for the bad....now the GOOD.
1. I never watched P.B.S.
2. I didn't lose the dog
3. I worked up 2 new songs
4. I missed her...............end of report...here we are on our first walk back together.
One day while she was gone we were on the phone together when this guy came through the yard with two cows he was grunting and chasing over. Well they went to work on a couple of MP's fruit trees that we have wire around and I told her what was going on and offered to run them off and she said " don't worry, they can't hurt anything".....OK....you oughta see them now. It's Alaska, that's all.
mmmmm....well.....So maybe by the response ( none)  that wasn't the best song I've ever written. The only comment I got was from Tim and he's talking Mexico, oh well....But I'll keep trying, that's how it's done. And while I'm doing that I'm gonna head south, get comfortable, catch a few fish, meet new people, play some songs......stick around

Monday, October 3, 2016

34 seasons

I've never been to a party that didn't end. So with MP gone come Oct 1st it was up to me to close the gate and break the news to all those that love this place, Mile 14. I got two last trips in this week and met Bill Enkhausen and his family. Here's a pic of his wife Marty with one of the last silvers of 2016. It's pretty cool, Marty is an Alaska Native that grew up in the village and Kotzebue and then moved to the 48 as a teenager. They have tons or relatives in Alaska and visit frequently so I know I'll see them again....just come when it's a little warmer next time my new friends.
The next day we started at 0-chilly thirty and Ron Smith caught the very last silver of my 34th season of guiding. Thanks for coming Ron and we'll leave the light on.
Even with 34 seasons in I managed to see something I've never seen before. This pic doesn't do it justice as I was slow with the camera but you can make out that bird hitch hiking down the river on a stick just big enough to hold it. And of course with few people out I was able to get this ultra Eagle close-up.....
The other day on my walk I just happened to be on the boardwalk when this guy landed his silver. Kinda thought  my surf fishing partner and Team X member Tim Lockwood would get a kick out of it.....he's all about dead fish.  I'd take video of action shots in the boat but as a guide it's kinda goosh to be taking pics when you oughta be netting or helping...
With MP gone I've been playing the dickens out of my new guitar. As you know I'm a sometimes frustrated song writer....it's so hard to get stuff you like. Well, I put together this song I call ' A Thing or Two' and I need your help. I know I don't get a lot of comments but if this time you can help me out I'd appreciate it. You see when I first sang it for my number one critic and life navigator she told me it wasn't very good. A lot of the stuff I write tends to be to dark so I likes the upbeat in this song,it's 'snappy' as they say in Nashville. I think MP thought it was about gossip which it is but it's also a love song. It came from a discussion I had with a casual friend who really doesn't know us well a while back and in the conversation she said everybody knows that MP and I have a great relationship...mmmm.....I thought that was cool little town talk. I only published one verse so it's short, give it a listen....if you like it maybe just a short comment, if you don't I'll know by the comment absence ...thanks....

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


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


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.

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.