Monday, August 23, 2010

Its a Sign

Sign sign everywhere a sign,

making life a mystery, blowing my mind.

Do this, don't do that,

can't you read the sign ???

Well I got to looking at last weeks post and couldn't help but notice that in the background behind Orv and Al was this sign. Yikes, here we are in this quiet slough with the turquoise water gurgling by and the only man made things in sight are my boat and this obnoxious sign. Now the intent of the sign is fine, its just the details that kind of bug me. If you enlarge you'll see that they have the bank closed to red fishing from July 1 to August 15. The idea is to keep people from stomping down the fish habitat. so I kind of figure why not have the signs up during that period and take them down afterwards, and maybe just put them where its been a problem and not where nobody red fishes anyway. Yahtzee, visual pollution problem solved.
But those people at State Parks might be hard to talk to. As you can see by this picture they think more is better. Obviously they have a study somewhere that showed many people will ignore one or two signs but very few will ignore 15 all within 100 feet of each other. But these signs here were thoughtfully printed in green to match the local flora. Genius.

Now that thing that looks like a mailbox is really a piece of scientific equipment. 20 years ago the U.S.G.S. had a zealot area scientist that wanted to prove that boat wakes were accelerating the erosion and causing harm to the Kenai River. So he built this contraption to count and measure the boat wakes. Inside the wire cage is a float gauge and then a paper counter and battery is housed in the Mailbox. He built it right next to a harbor, after all what better place to find boat wakes. Well, 20 years have gone by, Joe Dorava moved on, the boat wake issue moved on, the mailbox is still you guys see what I'm getting at? The people that are worried about our impact on the river are ....well....kind of trashy really.

But you know me, theres always a bright side. There has to be or it wouldn't all make sense right? So I've found that that the signs make perfect pads for the tongue of my boat trailer. They slip right under the wheel and are the perfect size to help you get a little role when you're hooking up to the trailer. That particular sign is a Stream Bank protection sign but my favorite is under the guideBoat, its a 'more courtesy, less regulation' sign'. Hows about a 'less signs sign'...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Its a Record !

The other day was Friday the 13th and we here at mile 14 were perfectly positioned to take full advantage of it and set a new record for consecutive days with rainfall. The previous record was 35 days so on Friday at about 6:30 pm as I was barbecuing steaks the toad strangler hit and we were on the board. And you know we do things big around here and aren't going to just settle for beating the record by a day or so, I have confidence that with the current forecast we can hit 40 days. This pic above I took yesterday morning. It kind of shows you how unsettled the weather has been, its sunny and cloudy all at the same time....weird. But you know me, theres always a bright side, life wouldn't make sense if there weren't . So at Mile 14 the nice thing about all the rain is our bonanza mushroom crop and my guideboat is self cleaning, not a bad trade off I'd say. MP could tell you what all the mushrooms are and just what your chances are if you were to eat them. But me, I just think they're pretty. In the last pic you can see a whole crop of little brown guys, kind of budget Shaggy Manes.

But what we lack in sunshine we make up for with fish. The Kenai River is plug full of Pink and Silver salmon like this nice limit catch that Orville and Allan are holding. Yesterday we anchored at Eagle Rock and were kind of 'oneing' the silvers, one here, one there. I got a bit antsy and decided to look upriver and we managed to catch one more in the Big Eddy but at 1 pm we only had 3. I moved the boat one last time to a nice looking little seam that I'd never fished before and walla...4 silvers in 20 minutes. Thats a pretty good trick when you consider the way those buggers nibble a bait, I often say that to catch 8 silvers you need 30 bites. I don't think theres a sportfish in the world or at least that I've found that gets off the hook any easier than a Silver Salmon.
We also have Pink salmon, no fishing report would be complete without mentioning our abundant run of RainBow salmon...Humpies. This last pic is of me with a Kenai narly, sorry about the darkness but was raining. The males have the hump and its cartilage, the females are actually quite nice fish and when fresh have a nice mild salmon taste. They only run on even numbered years in the Kenai which is kind of odd as in other places of the state they run every year. They also are the only salmon that doesn't rear in the river. The eggs hatch out and they go to sea coming back by the thousands 2 years later. When I first started guiding I treated the Pinks like a nuisance but through the years I've come look forward to humpy years, we always....always....catch something. If you want to catch fish until it bores you a good humpy spin cast session is just what you need. When throwing spinners my rule of humpy/silver is 14 to 1, catch 14 pinks and a silver will arrive. Catch a silver on the first cast when the pinks are around and prepare to go to work, you've got alot of humpys to work through to get the odds back in your favor.

Monday, August 9, 2010

What about Trout ?

Salmon fever is alive and well here at Mile 14. But while people are racing to their silver hole at 4:00 am every morning there are hundreds of, no thousands of beautiful RainBow Trout like this going unfished. Whats with that? So you know me, I gotta be different. My friend Howard Brown is in town and yesterday I got to fish with his wife Linda and daughter Liz along with our friend Lori Blinn until noon. We caught a gaggle of salmon and then decided to celebrate our friendship with a little trout fishing. I'm off the clock and I'm excited to go fishing, its to be the first time I've handled a rod all summer.
That guy there is Howard, unlike me he's soft spoken, unlike me he's a doctor, but like me he loves to fish and has wonderful appreciation of the outdoors. I first spotted him on the dock yesterday morning and he wasn't looking for a guideboat or chatting fish speak. He was just looking out over the river, observing, looking at a bird, maybe a splash, maybe nothing at all...thats Howard. I don't really know how to describe how people get great fondness for each other and I guess maybe if you can't describe it then thats how you know. So anyway, me, Jet-Dog, Howard and Gary Blinn race 10 miles upriver and its trout heaven. We hook one on the first drift. We hook one on the second drift. This time of year the RainBows love the meat off of salmon carcasses so we're using flesh flies and real meat, shrimp or chicken skin. An hour in Gary caught this next trout. As you can see its gorgeous and doesn't have a scale out of place...unlike those trout in the Cooper Landing area that have been caught and released so many times they smile for the camera.

I had caught a couple small ones and was just in a great mood, happy to be holding a rod and having the guys bait their own hooks. I started a drift real close to shore near Slikok Creek and as soon as my bait sunk bang....heavy fish on. The hook set drives him 2 feet out of the water and we're all stunned to see a trout between 12 and 15 pounds. He splashes back into the water and gone. I reel in. No leader. Yikes, it either broke at the knot or in my excitement I had missed a loop on the knot and it had become untied......mmmmm....I could have had 'the picture' but instead I get a good ribbing from Howard. Damn professional I'd say. Well, it ain't the first or the last nice fish I lose, I hope.

This next pic I had to print. I know, its just a sunrise. But if you'd seen as few of them as I have this summer you'd be excited to. This week was average here at mile 14, we started out fishing in the rain 4 out of the 6 mornings, we ended our fishing in the rain 4 of 6 afternoons. Do you remember the scene in Ray Bradberrys Illustrated Man where the sound of the rain was driving the guys crazy who were marooned on a distant planet...well that ain't me yet but close.

So the other day I was anchored in the Big Eddy when this guideboat came by. I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I don't know this guy but he's got to be A.O.K. He's trolling Kwikfish with those kids and theres so many pink salmon that they have two on at a time. He 's not flustered at all, they're all laughing and giggling and the fish are tangling and he's running the boat and well....he's just doing a great job of guiding. Pretty cool.

Thanks for reading Mile 14. I'm getting tantalizingly close to that 10,000 read milestone. If you have some ideas or questions about anything just holler, I'd love to write it all.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Boys in the Band

As our King season was winding down I got to thinking about all the cool people I get to meet and spend the summer with. This last week I fished 8 or 9 hours with 40 people, some like Nate Morton, Dick and Lorretta Hahn and Bill and Sally Brook are friends for life. But I got to thinking that besides MP the people I spend the most time with are the guides and fisherman that use our place here at Mile 14.
The first pic is Adam and Duncan 'Chick' Kishbaugh, a father son guide team. Chick has been guiding since the 70's and moved his operation to Mile 14 about 5 years ago. I've known Adam since he was a kid, these guys are Alaskan through and through. Of all the guides at Mile 14 Chick is the one you can count on to put things in perspective. With fishing a bit slow he'll say "hell, I've seen it like this for weeks, then slow down". Thanks for the inspiration Chick. Adam is a steady guy and their formula for success is easy to spot...common every day respect for each other.
That gal that has the dog that looks amazingly like Jet-dog is Mindy Paine. She's 30 years old and as you can see 5 months pregnant. She grew up with a fishing guide father so Charter fishing is in her blood. She is tuff...She juggles 2 kids with one coming while expertly fishing and running one of the larger guide services on the river. A few days ago MP was a bit frustrated with customers not being able to find their guides easily. Well, a chat with Mindy and things were running like clockwork the next day. Her and her Husband Rueben are a couple of my favorites and its my fondest hope that the River can do for them what its done for me and MP. I know one thing, if Mindy and Ruebens business future dims it won't be from lack of hard work.

The guy on the right is Ryan 'little Mac' McCormick. His dad is another guide here and of course would be 'big Mac'. Ryan goes to college in the 48 and has the perfect summer job, running a guideboat on the Kenai River. I guess I'm at that age where I notice but Ryan is respectful and watches, he's learning the craft of guiding. He's about as clean cut and dependable a young man as you've ever seen. Ryans dad has been fighting cancer and I've been moved by their outward displays of emotion. Any guy that would just hug his dad in front of all the guys and testoreone we have here at Mile 14 is OK with me.

That guy running the boat and smiling is Tim Marks. He's always smiling. The best way to describe my friend Marksy is to say he is forever young. He's a liquor salesman, ski bum, fishing boat rat, world traveler and just an all around guessed it, he's single. His dog Coho is Jet-Dogs oldest and best friend. I really think Tim's a pretty good fisherman but he has this uncanny knack for always showing up on the very worst days. Shoulda been here yesterday is the mantra if you go fishing with Marksy, the good news is he's kind of like a pharmacist and will have a few samples of product to fit the occasion and help you get over the disappointment of a skunked fishing day.

This next pic I had to print big because its perfect. My friend Jeff Fuze knows how to pose a salmon eh? I have to go to guide school next year and this is exactly what I hope they're teaching. How to hold a salmon for max effect. Beautiful...even the smile is perfect...amazing...
The last pic jumped out at me. How strange it was to see this right around the corner from my house. Cigarettes killed my friend Claude Bradford. Cigarettes killed my friend Dick Swarner. Whats there to celebrate about tobacco? I think that everyone who smokes wishes in private that they didn't. I got to thinking that all the people who attended this 'Festival' have so many that love them, why can't they love them back by trying to stay on the planet?....just me,that's what I think.