Monday, July 23, 2018

So ya wanna be star ....

It only happens if you go fishing. The only guy who was completely negative about going catch and release fishing this last week was a single guy from Anchorage who I had scheduled to go with John and Deb Adams who most people would pay money to just hang around with. He said he only wanted to keep a salmon like he's already caught one....jeeeez....I won't miss dealing with guys like that next year when I'm retired. Here's ol #003 doing it's thing and letting ol slimey swim away.
That fish was exercised by my old friend Ty Tobias on Friday and man-o-man it was a fighter. I snapped this pic of Ty fighting him not expecting that the best part was Jeremiah and Becca.  We had a great day and this second shot is the magic...you've had ol slimey on for two good runs and although he's jumped it was far off and you really didn't get a good look...he's ready for the net and you finally see the silver flash in the perfect turquoise water and you gasp......it's a 40 pounder, gorgeous.
One of my old customers Bill Church was scheduled to fish on Tuesday. As screwed up as ADF+G is even they are sensitive to the fact that people need some notice when they change the rules so when they announced catch and release on Monday they made it effective Wednesday.  So Bill was wondering why I hadn't called him as he'd heard the river was C+R....just your usual confusion here on the Kenai. So he was surprised when his son George landed the first of the day and we took the Louisville Slugger to it.
An hour or so later and the rod went off again and Bill's brother Ed caught a nice King. Here's me and him with the last dead King Salmon of my guiding career. I actually thought about that and it was no catharsis in my life just more of a bitter sweet deal...I wish it all made more sense.
Through the years I've learned to be careful about booking people for several days, I usually just don't do it. If the fishing is good they catch an obscene amount of salmon and if the fishing is slow after the 1st day they're ready to kill you instead of the salmon. But John and Deb Adams break that model for sure, they're just wonderful and this year brought John's dad Bob along. Here's Bob working out a fish before the release....nice.
As you can see there are no boats around. The fishing experience is wonderful. We went up to Soldotna one day and caught 25 trout or so just to shake up the fishing. And wouldn't ya know the river delivered an eater to John.
Our new friend Frank Bridge took a pic of us at the end of the day....Frank I'm sorry for not getting you on Mile 14 but you know we'll leave the light on...
This is that week....want stress, go to the grocery store. Our town must have an extra 50,000 people here chasing red salmon and of course it's show time for the great american dollar here at Mile 14. I put the boat on the trailer and park it at the house whenever possible so MP can sell my real estate.
This something I get a kick out of....yup, a budget motorhome. We see this quite a bit anymore but it never quits amusing me. Don't ya suppose it feels a bit like a prison cell in there when they close the door to go to sleep ?
And in the salmon fever department this guy here is a friend of a friend like everyone here at Mile 14. He was in hot pursuit of a large sockeye salmon when it spit the hook right in front of him. Of course the lure came flying at the source of the tension and he dodged the hook but got impaled in the chin by the swivel. Lucky for him his friend Beth Roukema is a Doctor so when it wouldn't quit bleeding she waded out to him with forceps and a suture and closed it up with one handy stitch....unbelievable is all I can say .

Monday, July 16, 2018

Out of warranty

I'd heard those stories. You turn 65 and things just start going wrong. I always thought that those stories were all part of the gag that is the ageing process....well, here I am at Central Peninsula Hospital on the day of my birthday, July 16th, having tests for just another speed bump along the way to eternity.
Yep, I'm in the test booth of the pulmonary dept feeling a little like Herb Stempel in the movie Quiz Show. I burnt my lungs with Chlorine at our building in Mexico and they haven't been the same since. As is standard human 'guy stuff ' I muscled through it all spring until I had to use a rescue inhaler on July 1st....yikes, the day my medicare kicked in. So I've also heard about the guy who leaves the planet right when he finally gets his first Social Security check....I'm going to try hard to not be that guy as well.

Ya know this day and age everyone is concerned about Internet security and identity theft. Well I kinda see it now, Google as nice as they were to greet me with birthday wishes it's kinda weird that they know and can do this so easily. Thanks Google but hey, no offense but we really don't need to get personal.
I had a great week of fishing. As the days went on the murky water changed into about as good as conditions you could ask for fishing artificial only. We really only had one bum trip. I had two runnung buddies in the boat that I really bonded with. Amy and Leslie are married to a couple guys who don't fish so they came to Alaska a week before them to get it done. I laughed a lot.
We had one fish jump higher than the one Amy caught but unlike this time that ones jump made the difference and he earned his freedom. At one time Amy kinda slumped ( I don't want to say fell ) onto the floor and held the rod up with one hand as Les helped her up....of course that was after it had to be free'd from a prop....but you can't argue with success. Thanks for coming you guys and especially this...how cool, she and I had had friendly banter before I ever actually met her. At 5:30 a.m. I got a caring hug from a complete stranger.
As for this next week...well.....here's what I think. Our red run looks like this could be the year when the worm turns. Sonar numbers for sockeye are horrible as is fishing success. So we need numbers soon but the temporary halt to the commercial fishery should help us get our King counts going in the right direction again. This week I expect pretty good fishing , then we'll see what happens. I sure hope ADF+G doesn't get in a situation where they have to explain why they let so much commercial harvest happen in the early season and why nearly 2000 King got killed when they would have put us into the middle of our escapement range instead of the lower end that we're headed to now.

Norwegian boot dryer....Keith'l like this one. The best boot dryer I've ever owned and I've used a few because in my business dry feet is a must was made in Norway. They slip into your boots and are called The Konning made in Oslo Norway. So when I came across this guy (thanks for the assist MPeasy ) it was obvious he had a bit of the Nord in him....brilliant use the heat from you tail pipes.....
Starting now and for the rest of the King season with the exception of two singles all my trips are with friends....So we'll see you all soon. 😎🐟🎀🎸🎸🎡🎡
UPDATE...and a meer two hours after I published this edition of Mile 14.

So what do I know ? ADF+G just announced that we will have catch and release fishing only for King salmon either until we get fish or the season closes July 31st....It's true of course that we all want to protect the fish for the future...BUT...this is an absolute outrage. ADF+G before even assessing the strength of the Sockeye run allowed for ' emergency' orders letting the commercial guys fish extra time to the tune of 1800 and some REPORTED ( we all know there's more ) dead King salmon. Even half of these fish might have avoided our closure to keeping fish.....AND now we cannot retain Kings but the commercial guys still will be able to kill them....HOW is this conservation as they so stupidly throw that word around in the ADF+G emergency notice ???

With salmon runs failing all over the state we really need some help, some leadership, some fairness and some problem solving. We ain't getting none of that...if this continues, can you imagine Alaska without salmon ?

Monday, July 9, 2018

Please read this

Being a boat guy I just love the lines and the noble plan of a nice boat....but this time of year, the time where fish fever rules the day I notice ALL the boats and I get to thinking that this dip net fishery deal really needs a little safety chat. Ya know when I was on the Kenai Special Management Area River Board and the 21' size limit was proposed I mentioned that if we have a maximum size boat limit we should also have a minimum....ya know to avoid that deal where the guy at the gas station is holding court telling everybody how he damn near got swamped by a guide boat and you ask him what kind of boat HE has and he says " boat...hell it was a cattle trough until I put a motor on it. So....if you own this boat or one like it please read this.
You're top heavy with all that wonderful carpentry and the fact that you have your seats on the pedestal when this baby was designed for you to sit still on the bench seat and run the tiller handle...you can't build the Queen Mary out of the S.S. Minnow....Or if you own one of these little guys that Geno referred to as an I.B.R.B. ( itty bitty rubber boat)
I know if you own these kinda things you want your dip net experience to look like this....DON"T DO IT.
PLEASE, don't over load your boat. Where your life jackets. Have oars ready to deploy. Have a throw able cushion ready for your fishing partner. Avoid those blustery days at high tide....be careful, lets have a safe Dip Net season...and then go home !
And watch out for rocks....and PLEASE watch out for people sport fishing, like me.

O.K., end of tutorial....Bet ya want a fishing report or at least what I think of the future of this King fishery in July. Well you heard it here first, it's going to be just fine. The sonar numbers are trending pretty close to last year which was exceptional. The bad news is that we've had a week of strangely balmy weather and the snow melt has put the river off. But, it'll clear everyday a bit this week and we're all going to have a real reasonable chance to catch ol slimey.....ADF+G is in a difficult position but of course they're the ones that put themselves there . It was prudent to start us on no bait but now the question is fairness when the commercial guys are hard at it fishing 40 linear miles of net when they deprive us of a nice smelly sardine wrapped Kwikfish lure...Boy , we ask an awful lot of this July run of Kings and all in all it holds up. But we have snivelers and conspiracy believers but ol guide # 003 sees it this way--- The problem is NOT the fish that are returning to Cook Inlet, we're actually doing a pretty good job of spreading them around and protecting some for spawn... The problem IS, the fish that are NOT returning to Cook Inlet. The bulk of them intercepted or died off at sea. So please ADF+G, let's get busy solving this puzzle....remember, the first step in problem solving is to admit there is a problem.

So, all of you fishing this week and next. We'll see you in that black boat at 5:30 a.m. .. bring a smile. There's a rumor that we might get bait turned on so we'll just see. Either way, we're fishing.😎

One of my neighbors found a use for our new signs...I like it. I don't think he's going to comply.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Fasten your seat belt, take your meds and breath through your nose....It's July

I soooo wanted to have a great time this year, a smiley swan song ya know. And of course when things go awry it effects our morale and the bottom line. So this scene is over for now and we're moving onto the most dynamic month of every year here at Mile 14.
So with June turning into totally closed for Kings and with our only real option being trout most everyone jumped ship.....except...my friends Marty and Bill Enkhausen who know the joy is in the pursuit. Instead of the the ol 6:00 a.m. LeMan's start we waited until a civilized 8:00 and then went and tried for sockeyes first. Darndest thing, on about Bill's 3rd flip he had a salmon on. Yahtzee,,,,,
I'll bet some of you recognize ol slimey there, yup, that'd be a King salmon, a jack. So it swam away. And those scabs on Bill's hands will tell you not to try and lift a halibut by the mouth. We fished reds for an hour and never roled one so it was off to Soldotna where we ALWAYS catch trout.......mmmm.... Well we get to drifting and trying different beads and flesh flys and although we had several bites and fish on we never got one to the boat. It kinda dawned on me that although the river was pretty clear it was still raging pretty well so maybe the faster than usual current was the problem. We finally got out my new light levelwind set ups and went to trolling the cutest little Hot Shot and Wiggle Warts you've ever seen and Walla...fish on...We had one huge, and I mean huge spit the hook and before the day was done we'd caught plenty of nice trout. Here's Marty with one pic we got and one of a rainbow jumping right before it spit the hook on that blue Hot Shot you can kinda see.

That Friday of fishing and fellowship was huge for me. Thanks Bill and Marty for making me feel normal. Sure was a nice quiet day on the river eh ?
So tomorrow  I start with a pretty darn full July calendar. All the folks who are with me the first 2 weeks of July have been notified that the only change for now is that we will be fishing with no bait. Everyone understands that with the closure in June ADF+G is going conservative for the July run so as to make for as much escapement as possible if the run is smaller than average. All my fishing friends just want to fish....except for one guy. The one guy that you'll always run into that has no trust, no empathy and thinks he's guaranteed fish and oh, I almost forgot rude as well as the second time he called me with the ole " I'm hearing rumor's "  B.S. it was 8;30 at night. So, he got the hook and gets the pleasure of fishing with Brand X if he can find somebody who will take him.

This week is going to be balmy warm and we'll scratch some King salmon out of the ol river. I'll then update the blog for you all that might be fishing late July if there are any changes or I expect any. You know I'll let you know as soon as I know. I have all my old and best friends coming to fish in late July so I expect it will be as much fun as I'd hope for no matter what. If we have to fish reds we will....no matter what don't buy them at the store because that's exactly what the jerks running this place want you to do....although that is a pretty good price at our local WalMart.
I wish I could control everything about this crazy life at Mile 14 but I can't.  But I do know the serenity prayer. I also know that what ever we're doing we do it 100 % and have fun doing it. So all of you that are fishing 2018, we'll see you soon....


Monday, June 25, 2018

The Plan

Fish and Game is being cautious. And so they should be based on our early run here on the Kenai and especially based on all the salmon shortages statewide some of which are absolute failures. The beautiful and always productive Anchor River has only 640 Kings in it and on the Little Susitna they can count them with hands and toes....so the Kenai Early run will come in at about 3000 which isn't good but isn't a car wreck either...but certainly makes us all a little hinky for the late run starting July 1st.

So ADF+G has been pro active and announced that to stretch the harvest and escapement they will start the season with emergency orders. No bait for the sporty's and only 48 hours at the most every week for the commercial guys. So, the bait less fishing is a bit frustrating for me as it puts a lot of luck into it and takes away one of the arrows in my quiver....we just work harder with the bait and out fish those that don't. But it should put more Kings swimming under our boat as the netter's won't get increased time unless the sonar counts are good and we're returned to bait. Right now the river is returning to it's nice green color and I expect that by the time we light the fire on July 1st conditions will be excellent...and we got a few tricks up this experienced arm. So lets keep a good vibe and root for this ol river to deliver.
I'll tell you this for sure, with two weeks of no fishing I have spent my time with prep work and I'm about as ready as anybody can get. All new line, leaders, broke out the ' saved' Kwikfish, replace all hooks....I'm feeling like these birds, waiting , waiting and more waiting. It'll happen.
I've really tried to stay upbeat but honestly it sadens me to not be doing my thing and seeing the folks who hoped for a June Kenai experience disappointed. So it was pretty cool that the forces of life would send an old friend to cheer me up...it worked. Bob Gerstlauer and I met in 1977 on my first construction project at what is now Spenard Building Supply in Soldotna. We've stayed in touch and been friends ever since. He e-mailed this pic he came across of our crew waiting for cement when we were pouring the slabs. All wonderful friends, Mark, Bruce and Craig Passe, our forman Mert Gertin and Jack McHone and Robert...I'm the guy with the hair and the white hat. August 1977.
So Robert who is always upbeat shows up at Mile 14 and things get better. Like me his life has had up's , down's smiles and tears...so to he reminded of the need for perspective. We're healthy, doing alright with our future planning and still having a ton of fun...Thanks for coming by Bob and Dana. I know we're going to be seeing you guys as we adventure the next 20 years.
I had one of these selfie pics where all 4 of us were smiling and couldn't get it to load....oh well...

So for all of you that might be scheduled with me in July or might be looking for one of the few days I have open.....here's the deal. Everyone knows I'm a 100% guy. No matter what the rules or numbers are we'll work and fish has hard as we can and have fun doing it. If by late July the King Fishery were to be even more regulated we have many options and will track down some reds, some trout, C+R Kings...we'll make some magic....and the very worst thing is you'll still have fun and have 'emeritus status' in THE.... and be invited to all future reunions.


Monday, June 18, 2018

' Houston we have a problem '

UPDATE 6/19....the river is now closed to King Salmon fishing until July 1st when we reset with a new management plan. All of my June people have been contacted.  If you are a July booking please send good vibes that the July run will be bigger as it should be. We WILL be fishing again July 1st, no worries. If anything changes you will be contacted.

I'm a guy who's never been afraid of a fight. I've been swimming upstream and fighting the current my whole life and by and large that tenacity has made me what I am....but it's tiring...and this on going struggle to run the business and preserve our lifestyle in a time of what ADF+G euphemistically calls ' low abundance' has me emotionally on the ropes. I'm about done.

We're on catch and release only for King salmon again. Yesterday's sonar count was an almost impossible 18. We had thought the Kenai was on it's way to recovery after the terrible years of 2013 and 14 but as this is now all over the state it stands to reason it would also be on the Kenai. Believe it or not but the Kenai is doing better than any of the Cook Inlet King Salmon fisheries....they are all either  closed or emergency regulated in some way. One of the Blob's behind a desk at ADF+G blamed it on the Blob of warm water in the North Pacific...nice job boy's , what a great explanation.

So as for business if all my fishermen are reading this we are taking it one week at a time. And of course a new plan starts July 1st and we will be fishing and hope the July run does O.K....if it doesn't it will be like this June time frame where the early weeks will fish well and once a problem is identified and dealt with it's past the middle of the month when all my best friends are scheduled to fish....keep your fingers crossed.  A week is a lifetime on the Kenai so please trust you will be notified of anything that would effect your trip......jeeeeeez.... I'm tired of it and I was so hoping for a wonderful year. But.... we shall continue with dignity. The red line is us and for everyone scheduled this tuesday through about Friday here's the double whammy, you've seen this graph before and when the rain makes the level jump like that you know what it means,,,,muddy water. So for us that might trout fish if C+R Kings are slow the clarity is impossible for a few days. It ain't me, it's mother nature ya know.
Red 2018, purple 2014, green 2015, blue 2016, black 2017
You can see the water began to drastically rise on the 14th. These events happen and we should have clearing water soon...and then we fish.

Monday, June 11, 2018

JEFF COME HELP ME !

Was the first thing I heard this morning, my heart is just now getting back to a normal pace. It's actually a good thing that this wacky lifestyle of ours has us getting up at 3:30 every morning because a few more hours and it could have flooded the entire house.
It's happened before but it's still weird to me how after being in one place for 50 years a pipe decides to give up and not just leak but full on spurt H2O everywhere. You'd think it would warn you with a little drip but things in my life don't work that way.  But you know me, lucky , lucky , lucky...the flood was contained and although we had a pile of Max and Sam's Nintendo stuff where that basement mess it is it was contained to just a box or two and we are drying it all for you best buddies if you are reading this....So we're off....another week at Mile 14.
That's my old cowboy buddy double J, John Japp fighting a large not even close to the slot salmon. This new rule is a funny thing. Some people are all about the catch and release....until it actually happens and then the boat goes through a bit of a quiet spell. But him and Penny had a great day and although the fish they caught they couldn't eat they both agreed the day was fun and it's better to catch them than not to no matter what. I will say this about it....it's just plain weird that for nearly forty years I've rooted for a huge salmon when we get a hook up and now you don't say it but for some folks you're rooting for a 36 incher.

Keith invited me to do a day with a large family from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Not only was the day great and the company fantastic but I had the chance in the morning to catch up with some of my old guide friends that I don't see much. My old friend Ray Debardalaben who introduced me to Kevin Fowler music at his wedding has a kinda different approach than me....here's pic of his tackle tray with everything, and I mean everything within easy reach. Listerine, a space bilge pump, Sea Foam, you name it, he's got it. I guess it's like the guy you might work with that has the desk that looks like that.
Mike, Lee, Clarrisa and Matt were just wonderful. This is my serious face now....it's what I love about the job. Meeting people from exotic area's and so different but also the same as you. AND, I always learn something. So Chrisco this is the deal about the Viet Namese noodle soup that we all love. It's not pronounced Foo or Fa, in Viet Nam it's an order of Fur. Honest, I think ol Lee there might be an expert.
When we came up Beaver Creek the craziest thing happened. Duh....well it ain't called Beaver Creek for nothing I guess. This guy swam in formation with us up the entire creek. It's as close as I've ever been to a Beaver except maybe for the ones I executed while trapping. I did have that one I had to go mano-on-mano with few years ago before finally dispatching him with the 410 snake charmer...some day ask me to tell you that story, it's a dandy.
It was so cool to fish with Rob Simpson and his wife Melisa and her dad Mac. Rob has fished the Kenai with one of the guides who used run from Mile 14 so he new who I was . When I asked him why he called me when he knows so many other guides he just said ' he's watched ' me. It was a great trip and me and  Mac kinda bonded, old guy stuff ya know....
We went to the River Festival of course. Blue sunny sky's and music, that you can't beat. Our town is getting to be a nice place to live for sure. But of all things I noticed at the Festival this gal who owns the Artsy Junction did the Salmon Sisters Extratuff boots a one up. MP has a cute pair of Extratuff's but these....walla...The official footwear of the Kenai River never looked better.