Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Mechanical advantage

Let's get right to the fishin stuff eh ?  My regular readers know that I spent a year in mourning when I broke my Cablea's Fish Eagle 11 footer doing something Jethronian stupid. That rod was perfect for throwing long hours for up to 1  1/2 ounce as it was rated 1 - 3  ounce....which is hard to find with any length. It seems that all the rods rated for lighter lures are 10' or even just 9' , for distance length of the rod is everything, it's the mechanical advantage that comes with ' loading' the rod. Now that I'm not as strong as I used to be I really need more distance with less effort and 'Walla, thank you Trusty Hardware in Soldotna Alaska. They had this Rockaway Okuma 12 footer rated 1-4 ounce on season end sale and it's PERFECT. It's really a rod made for casting and not for the Halibut bait fishing that they do in Alaska chucking out a 8 ounce sinker to hold bottom in the tidal current of Cook Inlet. So you know me following the ' whats worth doing is worth overdoing' model I figured if I had to bring another bazooka rod case don't bring it with just one so if any of you Mazatlan guides need rods just holler...I got plenty.
My first morning to fish here in Mazatlan I did something I never do, I over slept. Yikes, that never happens but I did get my new rod rigged and ready so at sunset I made a tall orange and walked over to the jetty and on my third cast landed my first snapper of the 2018 season. Last year it took me 2 weeks to get an edible and this year it's ' duck soup ' as we say at Mile 14.
One of the business weirdisms here is that with some exceptions restaurants seem to come and go an awful lot. So MPeasy and I were impressed when we found this place that is all Mariscos for sure and a culinary report will be coming soon. They have absolutely every fish known to this part of the world and even a full sized alligator. I'd put more pics up but once again the technical staff is experiencing hyper slow internet and the pictures load soooooo slow that I'd miss out on all the pressing matters I need to attend to today.
Oh, oh,oh.....I got it !,,,Go into the settings on my cell phone camera and change the pixel settings so it can load faster with less data. I should have remembered why I use my first digital camera that is only 3 mega pixels when I take fishing photo's from my boat for Mile 14 on the world famous....I'll make a better blog entry real soon....so with just time for a couple pics, mmmm,mmmmm, I guess the weirdest thing I've seen so far is this.....
Even a boat guy like me has never seen a chromed anchor. I mean you gotta have some lettuce to want a gorgeous anchor. Gilberto said the guys at the marina were wondering what it cost to chrome an anchor and if anybody kinda snickered at the idea....well the beautiful people said 10,000 dollars and no. The Wine Down is home ported in Las Vegas, this guy is quite a mariner....you just breeze down Lake Mead and then a short portage or trip through the locks at Hoover Damn and then over night in Lake Havasu because you weren't making very good time when you had to take down all the antenna's to go under the bridge at Bullhead City.....then  pretty uneventful passage to the  Sea of Cortez and Walla, Mazatlan here we come. Welcome you guys , we'll see ya around town.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The southern desk

Yup, the friendly staff here at Mile 14 is jumping the jet and will be in our Southern Bureau for the next 5 months or so. One of the unfair things in life is that you can get used to just about anything and as wonderful as fall is at Mile 14 of the Kenai River I don't have much to report, all quiet on the western front....except for the election that is. BUT, that will all change directly. I talked to Mazatlan yesterday and my semi reliable source Kenny says that the Roosterfish are really crashing the beach so you know me, hot pursuit to follow. I'll bet you an unguided fishing trip that I get one to post a pic of just like this guy from a few years back real soon.
Now you notice I have a knee brace on , that brings me to Pro Guide Tip # 4 : Accessorize with anything you have to do to get / stay / be healthy and active.... It's a hard job and hobbling around and complaining about your knee / back / shoulder / hip pain doesn't fit the image of a tough seasoned Alaska fishing guide. Never ever show weakness...SO, through the years here at Mile 14 we've created an inventory of just about everything you need when things get dicey. Here's pic of one drawers worth , and not only do I believe in compression braces I also have a huge variety of topical balms and depending on the ache or pain I use Thermacare heat pads, Caspacin, lidocane, aspercreme, arnica, naproxen, lagelty and marijuana or peyote cream...mmmmm....I might be a little hypochondriac, but I don't think so. And with all things in guiding you need redundancy, you have two knees so you need 5 knee braces, simple math.
Election day today so I'm just going to add this pic without statement, everybody knows where I stand. I took this on one of our walks , it was in front of a house in town that used to have an old boat with flowers growing in it for landscaping, that was cool but this is better.
I don't usually do this sort of thing but in retirement I'm feeling free as a bird...So for all my Alaska readers, PLEASE , get out and vote and Stand with Salmon and Vote YES on proposition #1. Without yet another long winded editorial I'll just say this...don't forget that When Frank the Bank came back to Alaska and decided to be Goverrnor ( wasn't it great the way he announced right after the election that he had no idea things were so bad so all his campaign promises were off the table ) one of the first things he did do was shut down the Habitat Division at the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game. So that's from the right side of my brain, the left side tells me that all the $$$$$ that went into opposing Prop #1 tells you a lot....millions spent.....mmmmmm....so what are you guys planning that you can't just fill out a few forms and act like you care about one of the foundations of our State, Salmon...and oh by the way, they could use a little help right now.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Rat Job

That's all they are...big ol rats. And boy do they get big . I even think that the bigger they get the more destructive they are. We're not indiscriminate killers here at Mile 14, but you all know that  these things really do need to be controlled, as much as we love the wildlife....as our ever beloved Wally Hickel said as Governor of Alaska " you can't let nature run wild ". Here's few pics of Bucky, one that I executed a few years back and had mounted for Chris, he anchors the welcoming committee at Fejes and Associates.

You know me and MPeasy love to walk along the river at the Soldotna Creek for our exercise and you remember me reporting on the Beavers that moved into one of Alaska Dept. of Transportation's road run off settling ponds. These guys had a great life, a Beaver gated community if you will but boy howdy were they screwing up the function of the pond.  I wondered how long it would take for the officials to notice that Bucky's relatives had dammed up the outfall and had stored away tons of nice birch and willow trees into their feed bed for the winter. With the outfall blocked the pond rises and kills the trees he hasn't eaten yet and all the pollutants from the road just build up and build up and....well, it was an ugly scene when they finally hired a guy like me to come in and trap them out so they could fix the pond.  Here's series of pics that show just how industrious these guys are. You can see how much the water level fell, you can see the huge hut and of course all the dead trees that they lay near the hut so come winter they can feed under water on the portions submerged.

So Chris gets so many compliments on Bucky from an associate who is an Oregon Beaver alumnus that he's arranged to get a rat from a buddy of his who is a bona fide rat wrangler and have it mounted for his friend.....nothing says love like a full body Beaver mount.  Having a bit of success myself I was duly impressed with the pics I've seen of this guy's  success. The one to be mounted weighed a whopping 63 pounds....thats a lotta rat . Here's pic of the boat after a day at work.
And of course talking about Beavers here's Boris and Natasha with their rat hats...that kinda sings doesn't it.
I know what you're thinking...cut it with the rat attack...man that kinda sings too....and get on to the guide tips, right ? So here goes.
Pro Guide Tip # 3
This week it's a bit of a continuation on last weeks tutorial on scent and smell....this weeks tip is always wear the same clothes, let me repeat that, always wear the same clothes. Here's the deal, not only do you need to attract ol slimey you don't want to have him smell a foreign object . So, you don't want to smell like a human or even just smell human for that matter. Now this step in your guide development takes a strong marriage but trust me, when she sees that good ol american green lettuce rolling in she'll find you the perfect place to keep your fishing clothes right outside the house. Here's me wearing my 2000's pants and holding my 1985 - 2000 vintage Carharts.
Now I know this tip ain't easy for some you guys who like to look good, I call it the ' name on the shirt  syndrome ' but it's a big one and in the long run there are tons of benefits like ...1. you save your other clothes. 2. nobody will ever ask if you're a fishing guide. 3. you don't run out of bait. 4.  dogs like you....see....it's that simple. Now one last bonus tip on this subject - when it starts raining get your Helly Hansens on quick, quick quick,,,,the last thing you need is your pants milking out all over the boat.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Pro Guide tip #2

Before we get to that next secrets of that profession deal that I promised I gotta let you all know that these tips are only for the use of my readers and not to be passed on or reprinted. After all I still have a lot of fishing to do and would like to keep an edge on the other fishermen here on the World Famous at Mile 14. But feel free to use these tips and when you see your success sky rocket just give me a knowing wink when we pass on the river. You know the old adage, 90 % of the fish are caught by 10 % of the fishermen so I hope this helps you join our fraternity.

Pro Guide tip 2
Yup, licorice...some of my hot tips that will be coming will be of the motivational and kinda cerebral side of chasing fish but this one is totally mechanical. Licorice is the fishiest food in the world, if you don't like it, you ain't fishing. I guess it all started with Bert and Keith Holtan about 33 years ago. Along with other good fish food like Hershey miniature Cookies and Cream bars they would always bring licorice and walla, we started noticing that we had success. The word spread through F Troop and before you knew it all the best were bring licorice and we were making the rods bend along with our belts. The legendary Geno would bring Licorice, Nate Morton would bring licorice and Tobias raised the bar with Australian licorice....Now this is important for any of you with a weak stomach that think they can get by with Red Vines or the other flavored candies that are NOT licorice, suck it up because that stuff won't work. Why you ask ?....Well it's simple. We all know that salmon are driven by their olfactory sense and Anise which is the taste of licorice is accepted world wide as a fish bite stimulant, I spend hundreds, well some, dollars every year on a wide  array of anise scent products and you know the deal....I'm a legend.... Now you might ask what eating licorice has to do with putting it's smell on your bait. Well that's a dumb question. You'll see on Pro Guide tip # 542 that you also need to be a 100 % guy, what's worth doing is worth over doing, right ? So, you gotta eat a LOT of it, it's gotta be on your breath, stuck between your teeth, your fingers need to be sticky with it and never mind that we all know it contributes to high blood pressure, you gotta oooze licorice from your pores. Remember the time we ate the 2 pound bag Nate ?....damn , this is making me hungry....
It's been killing me to get a good video of my new Electric guitar for you but I just haven't had the right production until now. As I worked this song up I had to remember how Jet Dog would go to the bed room as soon as I opened a guitar case...One night at Angels Paradise in Mazatlan I was amped up and crooning away for my friends and from the other side of the building, the side Ernie says is the hard drinking side I hear someone yell " shut the #&*@ up and get a haircut "..... I hollered back " don't think you're the first one to tell me that "....
And hey, no comments about that 18 inches of forehead I've developed...OK ? 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

πŸ˜ŽπŸ’šπŸŽΈπŸŽ΅πŸŽ€♬🐟 @ Mile 14

There's no doubt that time goes faster as you get older...but I got it figured, it just SEEMS faster because of your lifetime of routines. So, the only way to slow down the years to come is by changing your routines. And that's what I'm going full steam at, 100 %....The future of my writing here at Mile 14 is that I really am going to put a book together about what I've learned in 37 years of guiding, the ' Guides Guide' if you will. So in each edition of Mile 14 I'm going to have short delivery of things I've learned and things that have helped me get through so many high stress bedlam inducing seasons on the world famous. So here's my first big tip for guiding success....

1. Nascar... Yup, Nascar. I found this sport in the early 90's when I was launching at full blast everyday. Up at 4:00, in the boat at 5:00 , lines in the water at 6:00, clean fish at 11:30, on the river with new crew at 12:30, clean fish and the boat at 6:00, eat supper at 8:00, asleep at 9:00 ( sometimes) then repeat and repeat and re..... It was no wonder I was stressed out and needed rest on my Sunday off the river. So that's the miracle of Nascar, if you can't sleep through one of those darn things you are a basket case insomniac. And the beautiful thing about Nascar is that you can sleep for an hour and wake up and nothing's changed, it's impossible to miss something important, they just keep circling and circling and... Now my Dad was a great Sunday sleeper and his venue of choice was Golf but I gotta tell ya , Nascar is the pro guides choice , the king of white noise.
How's that for a gorgeous object to celebrate your retirement with ? I posted this pic on Facebook and had over 100 people wish me well, I'm stunned and sooooo flattered that all my years were important years. My friend John Adams and Bill Church along with so many more others left me wonderful wishes by e-mail as well...And if you're reading this Robin thank you so much for the wonderful bottle of limited edition Crown Royal, turns out I'm not allergic to it like I used to think I was... and it makes me sing like a songbird. To ALL of you that read this thank you so much, I feel fulfilled because of you.
someone even left me a message on the sidewalk

The 2018 season wasn't without it's share of weirdnesses but the retirement bonus was this fall. We had the most gorgeous fall weather anybody can remember. We even still have leaves on the trees and some are still even a bit green just like the real world in October in the lower 48. This pic is two days old...
2018 at Mile 14 was good enough that we 'made our season' as us Alaskan says but it wasn't exceptional either. But it looks like some of our neighbors and especially the moose have thrived on the summer and fall of 18...
Every October we wait in line for our ' drive through' flu shots that Central Peninsula Hospital generously and creatively dispense. So this year because of the summer of road construction model we were routed differently and ended up in a 2 lane line up. Well the guy next to us in the jun...er...vintage truck kept starting and stopping the engine and sure enough ran out of gas while waiting. Bummer. But this is Alaska and you're never without help around here. They pushed him off and then he drove through with his flu shot neighbors. AND, the security guys got a little bonus cardio workout. I felt bad for the guy. Really. 
I hope you come back.  I'll have a guide tip every week until I run out of secrets. There will be a story every where we go just like the stickers on this Eurovan that was at the Brewery yesterday, I'm headed the same direction as you buddy. And I'll play you a song on that beautiful flamed Maple semi hollowbody electric guitar....JK

Monday, October 1, 2018

Ya gotta have hope

It's been a many a year now that we've been on our healthy lifestyle thing.  It used to be only the gym but in the last 10 years MP and I have enjoyed walking together for 3 miles every day we can, when we have time we don't miss a day. Two of our favorite jaunts are along the river where I love to look and wonder and chat with the fishermen we meet along the way. When we do our Soldotna Creek walk we cross the creek two times and every time for the last ten years I look and look and look and hope as I tell MP , " someday we're going to see King Salmon in there again". Well, there they are.
An obvious spawning pair right at the bridge on East ReDoubt, they're back.
I know that it shouldn't sound strange to see salmon in an Alaskan stream but it's been years since we or anybody else has seen them here. In the early 70's Woody had a friend who lived in the building where the Kenai Watershed Forum is now, we'd routinely see dozens and dozens of Kings. But as the years went on and all the runs got smaller the first to show the stress were what we call the 'discreet' runs that help make up the overall Kenai run. Just like Slikok Creek across town this was an important incubator but just a really small part of it all and the fish were gone all in all. . In fact a few years ago Soldotna Creek was treated with Rotenon (sp) to kill ALL the fish in it fearing that Northern Pike could be migrating to the river from the lakes upstream that had them...obviously at that time they didn't think there was a remnant spawning population of King Salmon that we sorely need back. SO...it was with enthusiasm and wonder as MP and I watched them actually do the deed. The redd had already been dug and the male was milting and then covering the gravel as he slapped around in the current on his side. I left that walk feeling good, I kinda think that if you see two there's more, one thing I've learned is that salmon don't come in ones. This may not be the brightest bright spot we have going on but it's something, it's something good.

This walk was in the middle of a bit of high water we had from the Skilak Glacier dumping so as we walked and talked of the wonderous salmon we had just seen I was thinking maybe the water was high enough to float out the huge snag we walk by on the boardwalk behind the Park. The snag was intact and low and behold I can see figures that a recognize resting under the cover. Adult Silver Salmon waiting out the rushing water in a quiet and safe place....I'm feeling like a fish whiperer.
What a great walk...Hope you come back. I've got a great idea for a blog entry about a few things I've learned guiding that helped me get through 37 years of the unusual.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Now what ?

Every year when I do my last trip I ask myself that...just like I did after graduating High School in 1971. And just like that although it feels a bit different this year because, well you know, I got a bright future ahead and I'd bet ya dollars to donuts the last part of my life is going to go as well as the first...I'm gonna make it happen. On my last trip down the world famous I took this pic to commemorate the day...I don't think I even need to say a thing...everything's better than O.K.
Speaking of MP, did I tell you about her melons ? Instead of waiting to be where she can grow fruit she decided to take a chance this year with her valuable green house real estate. Well, they ain't as large as we'd both like but they're about the cutest little melons you've ever seen. The look, taste and smell just like the Mexico variant, just a bit smaller....I guess not everything is big on the Kenai.
If you want to see big check out this Silver salmon that Ty caught on my last day of separating people from their money for fishing...somehow that still seems somehow strange....But around here 18 pound silvers are a rare breed. I think I've only seen a few and I do believe I've most likely seen more of them than anybody to date. On my registered scale this baby was 17 3/4 . Usually it goes like this, that silver that you just caught that looks like 16 is 14. The 14 is twelve and on it goes. So for me it was a bit of kismet that one of the largest Silvers of my guiding was also one of my last.
That last day for me was bit serendipitous. It was fun and sad all at the same time and I want to thank my 3 friends who came along, I'll never forget this day...and we did pretty darn good for the waning days of an average silver run. Between the 4 of us we definitely had the experience advantage at work.  I grew up with Tom Beneventi and he was on his 4th Kenai trip but his first visit to Mile 14 in the 20 some odd years we've been here. Ty Tobias first fished with me in the early 90's when I was in Cahots with Thompson's Halibut Charters and he's a veteran of many campaigns. Keith Holtan and his dad were a couple of my first good customers when Keith was playing Hockey at U.A.F. What can I say about Keith, he's as crazy to fish now as the day I met him. We've shared a lot and I wish him the best for another 10 years or so of guiding here on the world famous. Check out the sign in the background, I built it as part of my tuition for Loren Stewart in 1984.
I've learned a lot of different things from guiding and I'll save all those life lessons for another blog. But ol guide # 003 can flat take a fish pic....Here's Keith with our first fish of the morning, not bad eh ?
If anything that goes with me everyday and has for 30 years tells the story of a hard guy hard guiding it's this. I have different ones for egg flavor and sardine marinade...oh baby the secrets to success. If any of you out there want it just send me a message and we'll work a deal....really now....it could be yours...