Sunday, June 27, 2010
The next couple of pics were the highlight of the week. Jarod Davis there is Dan Beavers grandson from Great Falls Montana. Dan and his brother Temple are friends of my brothers and escaped Montana for a few weeks to show Jarod the Last Frontier. Jarod is one cool kid. They've had their 5th wheeler in our campground all week and once I got Jarod using the shrimp bait for rainbows he's been catching them pretty good. The other day I came up river just in time to see him release about a 6 or 7 pounder. Thats cool. The 3 of them caught lots of trout this week at mile 14...lots.
Jarod is first to the boat on Friday morning and I ask him if he's feeling the qwan. He tell s me "Jeff, I'm gonna catch a big one". So me and him are feeling the vibe and I figure I better start with a spanking new K-16 Kwikfish lure, its gold with a kind of rainbow head. We load
Temple and Dan up and downriver we go hoping that I can find the remnants of the 4 am high tide. Sure enough theres still some salt water at Eagle Rock and strangely enough not another boat in sight. At 6 am sharp we run out the lures, 2 Kwikfish and one spin-glo with eggs. I'm just settling in when Jarods rod goes off, its that perfect hard pull down that jerks the
salmon to the surface when he sets the hook. Its on and its on hard. This fish is obviously what we're after, it makes several long runs and when we finally get ready to net it surprises us with one last burst of 40 yards. Jarod fights him perfectly and after 15 minutes and 1/2 mile of river she's in the boat. Beautiful, a 44 pound female shiney fresh, she has that electric purple sheen to her back that I'm always so impressed with. Wow, huh Jarod? Tuesday morning they're fishing with me again and I wouldn't be bit surprised to see him catch a bigger one...I'll break out a new lure for sure.
Last night we went out to some of our oldest and dearest friends daughters wedding. Neil and Connie Arthur and us have shared everything from poverty on since 1977. Their daughter Janey married Chad Moore the grandson of an old homestead family here. I had a brain fart and forgot my camera. Yikes. The setting was gorgeous on the banks of the Moose River and Neil delivered the wedding party in his restored 1976 Ford 150 that he and Connie came to Alaska in.
So I messed up and didn't get any pics of the wedding. BUT, I'm making it up to you with this pic of the lilacs we came across on this mornings bike ride...in the rain. This is a friend of Sams parents house, the Dalkovskis on Kobuk street. MP and I had to agree that they're just about as beautiful as it can get.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
10. There's no 'I' in team. That's what you are out fishing. Always say 'we' caught this or that, 'we' had a bad day......'we' ain't giving up....11. If you're a democrat admit it, it'll liven up the conversation.
12. Don't tell jokes.13. The word 'client' is waaaaay to formal. You're not a lawyer.
14. Your boat is just a tool. Keep it clean , comfortable and serviceable. Anything more than that is a waste of time.15. Never hurry. This is a biggy.
16. Humpies are Salmon too. Who wouldn't be as happy as my friend Howard Brown with a beauty like that?
17. Never take a guy fishing who has a chest freezer in the back of his truck.
17. Be healthy and stay hydrated.
18. Some days when its cold and rainy and your mood begins to sour just remember you could be running a shovel instead of a boat right now. That makes for an instant smile on me.
Please come back to Mile 14. This next week I'm going to walk you all through a day on the Kenai, start to finish....
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Saturday, June 12, 2010
So in the meantime any fish over 55 inches can be kept and if you catch a Jack, under 20 inches you can take him home to barbecue. And you can always have a wonderful reproduction like the one above done. We're all smiling.
We've had Catch and Release here before. They're actually great trips as alot of the locals stay home and the river is a great experience. Right now the water is perfectly fishy and with the numbers we have I expect that on C+R trips we'll see a few slimeys...up close. A minority of people are negative about Catch and Release, I guess they just know for certain they're going to catch one to start with. Theres alot to debate about the merits of fishing and letting them swim away, but whats not debate able is thats what we've got right now...its the deal. No worries, go fishing, have fun, feel good...
Thursday, June 10, 2010
The first graph is the daily sonar counts and the second is the total to date. I know its not sweet science but you can see that with 21 days left in the month the minimum of 5500 should be easily met. How ADF+G handles it will be interesting, I hate to be skeptical of the science but I've been on the river with eyes wide open for 30 years....alot has happened.
For instance there was the great radish experiment. Yup, you read that right, radishes. Years ago somebody at ADF+G was puzzled crazy wondering how many of our out migrating smolt got caught up in our huge spring tidal swings and never made it out to sea. This person was afraid they were not counting any mortality because surely when we have the 24 ft. tides many smolt got confused on where the river stopped and started and ended up high and dry in the woods. SO, they dumped bushels of radishes upriver on the big tide days to see how many ended up at sea and how many ended up in the woods. Not just any radishes either, they painted their research radishes a brilliant red so as no prankster fishing guide could pollute the study by adding more radishes. Low and behold...lots of radishes ended up in the woods, and I mean alot. I guess the only part I can be critical of is they should have gotten those radishes that have fins.
Then there was the pre season forecast. Every year based on previous escapements and spring smolt counts along with other scientific data the ADF+G makes an expensively researched forecast for most fisheries. For sport guys it helps set the season climate but for commercial guys the forecast helps processors, fisherman and the infrastructure prepare. It was in the mid 90's and the Kenai River Red run was estimated to be 3.1 million fish. By Kenai River standards this is so little that people talked of aid for the fisherman and economic hardship for the community. 13.1 million fish arrived which was a wonderful surprise, but, it leaves you wondering....did we just get the decimal point in the wrong place or what?
All of this leaves me reminded of a story a guy told me about the science of frogs. Somebody wanted to study how far frogs could jump. They laid a frog on the table next to a yard stick and yelled "jump", the frog jumped 4 feet. Then they snipped one leg off and yelled "jump", the frog jumped 3 feet. They repeated the process and the frog with 2 legs jumped 2 feet and with one leg one foot. So when they yelled " jump" to the legless frog and it didn't move it was obvious...frogs with no legs are deaf.
Monday, June 7, 2010
The next pic is a guy I don't know. But he's got a guitar to remember him by and you know how I am about guitars. It was like poetry, his luminary was right between Harry's and my good friend Claude 'BigFoot' Bradford. In fact as you can see Claude was so popular that he's remembered by TWO luminaries. Claude was a telephone man and one of Soldotna's favorite people. He was always everywhere. He was a musher (not a very good one), expert hunter and fisherman and the most generous guy I've ever met. At one time he was raising those huge Japanese goldfish (coi?) in a pond he'd built and I donated some goldfish to him that the kids had left when they grew up. When we parted that day he told me to stop by more often now that we were related. Claude suffered a fall at work and when he starting having chest pain he associated it with his broken ribs. It was cancer and I eulogised him at the funeral. Perspective.
Friday, June 4, 2010
When I first started guiding the early fish were plentiful and easy to catch, even now its my favorite King fishing. Although not as many fish as July we trade that off for less people and a better fishing experience, I've just loved it through the years. But in the early 80's management plans were adopted and minimum escapements (no. 1 priority, fish to escape and spawn) were set. The first goal for this run was around 12,000 as I remember. Through the years that numbered was lowered for a myriad of reasons to the 5500 we have now. I'm no scientist but I do know that the lower you set your goals the easier they are to achieve. And, like a bank account the goal is so tight that there is no savings to fall back on in case things go poorly. That's where we are right now, the shoe leather meets the street.
Like most accidents the situation here is not caused by just one thing I think. Most accidents are a series of poor decisions, this I know all to well. Something is going on in the ocean as King runs are missing all over south central Alaska. It could be deep water trawls or it could be seiners in Shelikof Strait, whatever, it doesn't matter....its us, we've screwed it up. If you ascribe to the notion that over use in-river is to blame it could be State Parks for enabling the guide numbers to grow to 400, or even the guides themselves for harvesting and harvesting with not much promotion of catch and release...it doesn't matter, its us, we've screwed it up.
The good news is that the Kenai River is pristine salmon habitat and that's our ace in the hole. This thing is just sooo fixable. We just have to do what should come naturally from all accidents, learn from it. In my life I've learned a few hard lessons and I don't know everything thats right to do. But I sure do know a few things not to do, lets hope our fisheries managers are like that.
When I started this blog I know I promised to keep it light and fun and please bare with me, I'll get back to that. I promise. But right now I just can't do it. I'm feeling a little financially threatened, I'm feeling kind of rudderless...I'm not fishing!...that's what I do, that's my deal. I'm feeling a little guilt for the fish, like I could have done better advocating for them. I'm just a bit heart broke now...
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
When I was a kid I was told "cheer up, things could be worse." So I'd cheer up and ....sure enough things got worse. This pic is the number of fish entering our River as recognised by Fish and Games sonar at mile 8. As you can see a dismal count of 24 was yesterdays tally. According to this data alone its the slowest, weakest start to the fishery ever, at least ever sense all our experts started 'managing' the fish. My own observations of catch rates etc were that the fishery was acting pretty typical for this time frame. Its still very early and the ADF+G has a spanking new sonar that must have a bug or two to work out so this might all correct itself. Lets hope so. On top of the economy and everything else a salmon shortage is the last thing we need here at Mile 14.
So, for all of us that love this place and depend on it keep you fingers crossed, sacrifice a goat or something. I'd suggest a prayer but I've learned not to use that for something like fishing, lets save those for the really important stuff, your health, your love.....