Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Jeff's always insightful but usually wrong picks for the year 2012

Well, I'm going to try this again and I think the odds are starting to stack my way. They say even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then so after two consecutive years of not getting a single prediction correct....I'm due.

NFL-SuperBowl... Just last night I watched the Saints run rough shod over the Falcons, they look unbeatable to me. Its hard to not root for the Pack as they just have a cool way of doing business but I'm picking the Saints to win, maybe against the Texans or those Steelers that I detest. Its been fun watching the Tim Tebow show but that deals run its course, he's traded into a life as a back-up in 2012.

NBA...the all new Clippers, the other L.A. Team.

MLB...I'm thinking that the A.L. West teams will once again prove something that the Marlins did a few years ago...yes you can buy the pennant. So, its either the Angels or Rangers to win the series. Hows that for stratedgy to get a pick right....you pick 2 and double your odds...Wasn't game 6 of the series this year just about as exciting as it gets for a baseball fan??? Another yawner for us Mariner fans.

NCAA  B-Ball Tourney....Now that's a pretty darn exciting thing lately too. It takes a pretty good crystal ball to pick teams like Butler and wasn't it Western West Virginia or some team like that?...So, we go with conventional thinking cause I'd really like to get something right this year....Duke.

Daytona 500 and Nextel Champ.... I'm proud of Team Penske for firing that loud mouth prima dona Kurt Busch. So, I have to go with them, Brad Keselowski to win both. He was right there the entire 2011 season and Penske is due for it all.

Indy 500....this season is going to be interesting for the IRL. With the crash in Las Vegas and new cars and another engine coming its a new day, which they need. So having picked a Penske driver for nascar I better be consistent and do likewise here...so...that Hunter Reay guy.

Our Next President....ahhhhh......m.....mmm......ya know, lets get back to sports here....

Iditarod... I'd like to see our own local guy Paul Gebhardt finally win the thing. He's been oh so close for several years now...and watch out for Jeff King, he's unretired and a pretty crafty guy.

King Salmon on the Kenai River....ya know, I got a feeling that after going through a few below average years that the worm is going to turn and we're going to enjoy a great run of Kings. One thing we know about the Kenai is that its a dynamic place and anything to everything can happen....So I'm predicitng an always great silver run and a king run of mmmmm...42,000, that oughta be enough.

Oscar for best movie....The Help, great movie, go see it.
Other important things in the year 2012.

Drill Baby Drill....Pebble Project has about a 25% chance of making it...But, Chuit Coal project has a 75% chance....

We're going to see a lot of new faces on our political scene. In fact, if  I wasn't so committed to guiding I might even giver er a run. I mean what the heck, could I screw something up?...I doubt it.

Now this is the big one...Theres life on Mars. Yup. My friend Chris Fejes years ago got me investigating the moon of Mars called Phoebus and I've decided that theres something going on there...hide and watch.

Great things are to be accomplished at Mile 14...we're going to have a lot of fun and I hope all you do too. I wish you all the best of health and happiness salted with success in our next year of 2012....

Friday, December 16, 2011

All I want for Christmas is.....

Maybe its an important milestone in a guys life when he realizes he has a lot of stuff, or at least enough stuff. I drive a nice truck, MP's got a nice car, we get to live here at Mile 14, what else is there really ? I never thought my life would turn out that I own 50 fishing rods, 5 guitars and at least 8 picnic tables, we're doing just fine. So, I thought I'd show you what I'd really like for Christmas, things that in Jeff's world would be really cool.

I'd like some one new to call our local call in radio program 'sound off ' on KSRM radio 92. Maybe even someone with an original and thought provoking perspective....that would be nice.

I'd like the Kenai River Special Management Advisory Board to do something...in fact anything. I don't need them to make the river run backwards or wave a wand and create a King Salmon run of 65,000 like the old days....I just need them to do something, ya know, let us know you guys are functional over there.

I'd like for once to have my boat trailer lights work when I first hook them up in the spring....that would be really different.

I'd like the State of Alaska come out with a new 'Old Hippie' commemorative  license plate.

I'd like to see Ron Paul stick around in the race, maybe right to the end, he's good for the discussion.

I'd like my two sons to find and build the kind of love that I have...as a matter of fact I'd like that for everybody that might not have it.

I'd like to see a reality TV show about the Kenai city dock during dip-net season.

Speaking of Reality TV, I'd like to see them put all the Alaska programs together....you could have Sarah Palin going broke mining gold while the State Troopers and trying to serve her a warrant all the while as Levi is deck boss on the Time Bandit as they're anchored up off of Homer partying....Theres a lot going on in this state, lets be creative.

I'd like to catch a 20 pound robalo to go with my select collection of very cool fishes.
I'd like Gary Allan to come out with a new album...the poor guys had a tough run of it so I figure after he completely recovers from his throat surgery whatever he puts out will be special.

Well, you get the idea. Simple life, simple pleasures. I guess during the holiday season its a time for reflection, I don't think I ever really thought about what life would be like at 58 Christmas's .....I wouldn't haven't been able to imagine it being like this anyway.....sweet.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mile 13.5

That's the scene 1/2 mile downriver from here. That darn river is one fickle creature, maybe that's why we get along so good.  Two weeks ago when I took the video of the river locking in for the winter I would have bet dollars to donuts it was frozen for good...well, wrong again.
Normally this time of year we'd have a ski track set down to Fall-in-Hole and then through the swamp and back up the bench to our house. But this year as you can see the river is just to unsafe, almost to unsafe even for walking.  The warm trend and rain we had broke up the ice and then the huge tides with the full moon the last few days lifted all the ice and left it sitting around like a martian landscape.
That picture of Jet pretty much shows you what we're up against when trying to take a walk. The ice chunks are all under cut and we have places where theres 5 or 6 feet of ice over the river bed....and its got holes in it everywhere. Several years ago Jet fell through into one of these cavern type deals and disappeared, she found her way out in an entirely different area than where she went through and let me tell you her owner was fit to be tied.
If you've ever launched a boat here you'll recognise the rock on the right that's a prop eater at low water. When I first started at Mile 14 that rock was huge and even at high water you could wing ding your stuff if you weren't looking. Well through the years its either sank some or the river has filled up around it or maybe its even eroded...whatever the case it illustrates the nature and vitality of this Kenai River, a wonderfully crazy place. Thought you might like the pics of our earliest 'break-up' ever, Dec 11, 2011...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cardio King

That kind of sings doesn't it? I stole it from our friend Sharon Smith who is no doubt the fittest person in our gym and we call the cardio-queen. I've been off the weight lifting now for about 7 weeks, my shoulder is finally feeling like its going to heal and I'll be able to surf fish in a few weeks, it had me worried.  I should have seen a doctor but I got a little pig headed and frankly with all that's happened this year, I've seen enough doctors....You know how I feel, theres a bright side to everything and with my shoulder injury it was this, a ramped up cardio regime and some needed weight loss.
My normal routine would be 25 minutes of cardio everyday followed by a lifting routine alternating on different body parts. So since the injury I've doubled my cardio time and alternate between a fat burn and hard cardio rest / recover type of work out. For instance today was a fat burn day, 40 minutes on the elliptical trainer set at a resistance of 10 and then followed by 15 minutes of walking at a fairly steep incline and rapid pace. For this my heart rate stays right at 120 and my sweat is just moderate like in the picture. Then on the next day I'll do a hard cardio session ramping my heart rate up to 160 by pumping hard on the elliptical trainer set at 15 for two minutes and then I manually set the resistance down to 10 and slow my pedaling down to let my heart rate recover to 130 or so and then I repeat over and over until I've done 40 minutes. Then I  walk for 15 minutes on the treadmill.  These two routines I do every morning  and have for the last two months and just this last week I've taken to going back to the gym in the afternoon and walking for an hour while I read my book. In the last three weeks I've gone from 203 pounds to 195 and hope to hit 190 my Christmas. Some of the weight has to be the hard earned muscle from lifting but I feel like I've gone just about as far as I can with the 58 year old body building deal so now its time to be lean, healthy and agile. For some reason change is not something I've ever thought of as bad, we just move on.

Right before Thanksgiving MP and I were in the grog shop shopping for the other major food group when my friend Ben Jackinsky asked me if I needed some beer for the holidays. I told him no beer, to many calories and that I am training hard....he asked me what I was training for.....jeez Ben, I replied, just life.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Weak---Strong

I just go over a miserable bout with the flu. It was your basic 3 day flu deal but being a guy who over does most things I stretched it into 4 days. I have no problems with my machismo....I hate not feeling good and I tend to panic, MP says I'm  fatalistic and expect the worst.. Well, I don't know but I do know if it weren't for her help getting through that flu deal it would be even tougher. Something you risk  as a guy is that whenever you might mention your discomfort you can bounce right  off that old gold standard of misery...child birth. But I  didn't get that this time, but I did get a few of these nuggets from Nurse Ratchet.

Honey, I'm really really hot, how high does your temp have to get before it causes brain damage do you think?....."mmmmm, how high was it  that yours was last night ? "

Oh baby, I'm just dieing here, I'm just sweating and sweating...." Hey ! , I'm a 56 year old woman OK, I sweat every night. Here, put this shirt on. Do you want to borrow my flannel Snoopy capri pants ? "

I think I'm getting really dehydrated.... " Yeh, me too. I'm havin a glass of Chardonay...you want one ?"

ya know hon, I don't seem to be getting better. Do you think it could be something other than the flu? " Well, mmmm, it could be the Noro Virus ."  The What ? Whats it do? How longs it last?....." HEY, HEY. I was just jokin, ok ?"

MP, I shivered so much last night I think I tore the meniscus in my knee...."WHAT ELSE !!!! ???? "

Boy baby, if the flu can make you this miserable can you imagine what it must be like when you're dieing? " NO, I can't,,,,but I'm sure I'll be hearing about it ".

So my hard earned advice to all you guys like me is this....don't talk so much when you're sick, drink the fluids, sacrifice monday night football for Antique Roadshow, try to dry out the sheets yourself and take care of your own reading material....I'm sure a missed a few. And make sure you say thanks and I love ya baby....and never, never, never get into that 'who's tougher' argument, its soooooo obvious.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

As close as you can get to being here


video

This year our river has behaved strangely. All year long we've had high water after high water event with the latest one coming in October when the river is usually low and slow.  Of course the more water there is the faster it runs and the faster it runs the longer it takes to freeze. Well its been so cold lately that even with the high water the freezing process has begun here at Mile 14. About 4 days ago we had pan ice floating onto the shallows at Fall-in-Hole, pretty soon the pan ice was all across the river and by the hour it was raising here as the water backed up behind the ice dam downriver.  Pretty soon it got to where it was nothing but ice and it was all standing still, quiet and settled in for the winter....or so we thought.  We were in the sauna for about an hour and when I was drying off I could here the weirdest 'whooshing' sound, and it was loud.
As soon as my glasses went fog free I could see that the head pressure had gotten to the breakable point and all the reserved ice was flushing downriver, fast and loud. I ran to the house and got the camera and recorded the video. It was much louder at first but its still pretty cool, shows the power of the river and what I tell people all the time......its a living thing, just like us. If you can't hear it turn your volume up. Now, two days later its pretty much settled in again and maybe this time for good. We were going to walk on it today but the upper crust is still to soft and you break through. So just like Thanksgiving day we've been doing our walking in town where I took these pics on t-day morning about 10 am, temperature -6.
It wouldn't be Soldotna if you didn't run into a few fish while out on your walk. I also snapped this pic of MP after she'd fixed her drooping socks, is that pic cute or what? She was just slightly fogged up.
And the local High School art class was good enough to paint the retaining wall with our location, so me and MP might not act like it....but we're never lost.
Hows about that, my first ever video blog up link. Theres lots of possibilities that go with this video deal, my buddy Ernie surf fishing a schamoozle. Or Slah rattling on in his Arabic laced Spanish language after losing whats always the biggest fish of the year....lots of possibilities.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

wheres the Beach?

That picture I took tells the story, I'm firmly standing  in the snow while my mind is walking barefoot on the beach. This Alaska is something and I know I shouldn't complain about the weather as my niece Melonie is having Thanksgiving in Fairbanks with a record cold spell of being in the - 40's...but....In the last three weeks that this blog has taken its trip down memory lane the weather here  has been horrible. We've had 2 hurricane force wind events so its either blowing, or snowin, or colder than hell.

That's the biggest flag in Soldotna, standing straight out a few days ago. For 40 years our local Chevy Dealer anchored the business community in this town. Well, like a lot of small towns we lost it when GM figured they would cut back on 'marginal' dealerships. Small towns like ours are now without the guys who always
sponsored the Kick Off Basketball tournaments all around America. But...back to the wind. Here at Stewarts Landing it uprooted at least a dozen trees. I guess because the ground is good and frozen that the week spot was there and it turned them over just like this below.
So in the spring I have a ton of work to do. It reminds me of a conversation I had with my brother one time. I was telling   about the Spruce Bark Beetle infestation that went through here about 10 years ago and I was saying that we had so many dead trees that I could spend the rest of my life cutting them and never get them all. He kind of responded with "wow, you have that much property?" and I said heck no.....but we sure got that many trees. So below you see a pic of MP's brand spanking new , state of the art, high tech and slightly smashed greenhouse. The tree that got it was just huge but we;re always lucky as it came just feet from a direct hit that would have taken out both greenhouses as well as the fence around the garden....my moe-joe is still working.
But I'm not one to miss the natural beauty of nature showing its force. I don't know what they're really called but as a kid they were 'snow snakes' to us and something you very seldom see in Alaska. Around here the snow comes straight down but the other day, oh baby, was it moving around.
The next pic we've seen a zillion times. I never get tired of it, right here at Mile 14 and its -15 in the low light of morning, Jet-dogs with me and I try to get a pic of her trying to stand and walk with the least amount of legs touching the ground....but I can't get the pic, next time.
The last pic answers a question I get often while fishing...." where do all the eagles go in the winter?" Well, that's a pretty good chunk of them right there at the South Soldotna mini mall...or to some people, the dump.
Me and MP wish everybody a happy and especially healthy Thanksgiving....I'll get on the beach real soon so please, keep coming back and I'll get some exciting fish stories and pics up on the blog, Mile 14.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The JourneyMan

I  was going to follow up the apprentice blog with this one and got a bit side tracked last week, a little a.d.d. don't ya know. But it was in the 1990's that I came of age with the guiding, I had my Honda sponsorship, I was President of the Guide Association and it was time to secure my spot as a top guide on the Kenai River.
Always being one to do things myself I really never had anybody to mentor me and I certainly never had somebody really really good to show me. But I did keep my eyes open and wasn't afraid to try new things. I got to thinking that this river is so well fished that I got to doubting that a King Salmon could swim up this river without seeing a lure. So, what makes him bite this one, or that one? How can you make your lure look or be different ?( after all, every kwikfish and spin-glo looks the same) So I boiled it down to two no brainer things, boating skills and bait. I started experimenting with different scents for my eggs and I lucked into the secret of finding good sardines for the trolled lures.....we're catching a lot of fish so with that goes more eggs for bait which means we use more which means more bites which means....well, we were on our way. To this day I'm convinced that  well scented fresh eggs are 75% of success, people used to think we were lucky, well, people who work hard get awful lucky.  And I don't mean simply applying the scent to the eggs, I cure them with the scent. Not only do we change the bait super often but I also go through great pains off the river to make sure the curing process is just right. I've heard guides judge a good egg by its ability to stay on the hook or its color to the human eye.....mmmmm.....a good egg is one that catches a fish if you ask me. If you don't think I was into it just check out those Carharts I'm wearing in the pic below.
In 1990 my friend Greg Davis of King Louies Guide Service was keeping his boat at a friends dock who had built some cabins for fishermen to stay and was working to get the business started. Greg invited me down to share the dock and then he quit guideing. Well, I missed Greg as he just might be the funnest guy who's ever ran the Kenai but it was good fit for me and I stayed many years,  even after we bought the boat launch....you know how I am about loyalty. The pic below is the dock with the Honda boat and Vinces boat who is one of the guides I helped get going back in that era. In my boat is a special group, my cousin Larry Rannals and one of the fishiest people I've ever met, Gene Putman.
Even though the cabins were a 6 mile drive farther than I was used to it was a pretty nice situation. The owners didn't sell fishing trips and I didn't sell accommodations so working in unison it made for a great value for our customers. We got to be friends with the owners and having been guiding now for well over 10 years I had a pretty good customer base so I even had a second boat working. We bought Stewarts Landing in 1996 and in hind sight I guess I should have kept my boat here at Mile 14 but I felt like MP should run the boat launch without my everyday imput and I was happy where I was, always am. But in the early 2000's I started to sense some strangeness with the owners. I don't really to this day know what it was but I guess theres a certain natural resentment that occurs with all the success, no success, familiarity, ambitions....and unlike me and my life, a lot of peoples lives are always changing. On the day my dad died I got a call from the owner complaining about customers parking...although I waited until the end of the season, it was clearly time to move on.
So the next year I stayed put, right here at Mile 14 and let me tell you, I had no idea what I was missing. Life got waaaaaay simpler. I got extra sleep in the morning, I drive my 4-wheeler to work, no trailering the boat, no driving the truck, my own gutting tables, walla. The pic above is Craig Humphries and friends, the Alaska sign brought to us by John Iverson, pretty cool eh?  So by the early 2000's I'd been in the same boat for 20 years and although the old Minnow 3 was good to go I felt like if I was going to guide for another 20 years a fresh boat might be in order. Most of the guide boats on the Kenai are Willie brand boats but I'd had such good luck with Alumaweld I wanted to stay so I searched out this 1998 Super Vee. The biggest change was going from a steering console to the tiller handle and from Honda to Yamaha. She's a 21 footer and with all the walk around room and plush seats about as comfortable as you can get.
As I said earlier, I really think boating control is huge part of success in our fishery and I was bit concerned about running the tiller. And so I should have been...it was plane hard on my back the first few years but the actual learning to control the boat was easy. The tiller is so much more responsive than the wheel and I never felt uncomfortable with it. Here's a pic of my friend Brandon Greene with one of the first very large models that we got in the Minnow 4.
Is that gorgeous or what? Below is a pretty cool pic of my friend Steve Wendt hunkered over in battle. Steve's a local guy who treats himself to a trip with me every year for the last 15.  What a cool thing to have friends like Steve and Sally Brook who's summer wouldn't be the same without a trip with me. We know each others kids, we talk politics....its what my fishing has become....comfortable and relaxed, sincere and steady. Thanks you guys ....all of you.

Sally was with me this last year when my throat locked up and I was off to emergency surgery. So Sal, in 2012 I'm leaving the boiled eggs at home and we'll make it through the ENTIRE fishing trip, I promise.  I'll end this blog with a pic that my Friend Marty Holloran took in my boat in the mid 1980's. Marty has an eye for art and the unusual I'd say. Its something I try to live by, you have to have goals and to get them you have to be positive....so in that light and seeings as in the last few blogs I've recounted 30 years on the river I thought I should also announce the future, my retirement date....2025, I'll be 70 years old. Ya gotta have goals , right? We'll leave the light on.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Answers Given

A week of two away from the 2nd anniversary of this blog I figure I have about 100 regular readers and another fifty to 75 sometime readers....and that's cool by me. But compared to internetdom its a modest group which I think of as kind of intimate, maybe more personal. So, I'm going to take a risk here and blog something that I've wanted to for some time now.  I guess I shouldn't really worry about revealing too much of myself, after all I'm a guy who plays music for the masses and once blogged a pic of myself in a speedo...but still, this is personal. I think you'll like it and maybe see some reflections in your own lives, I hope so.

As you know 10 days after my 20th birthday I was trapped under a boat with my friend Steve Blossom, he died. I guess like most losses the people left behind have so many questions, ones to do with the hereafter and their own mortality. I spent years and years wondering all of the what if's , hours of agonising over what could have been if it just wasn't for...that. I had heartbreak, I had seen the other side, I had guilt, I had, well....I bet a lot of you know. But the biggest question,  the one that after all the other  things had fatigued in my mind remained was this, WOULD WE STILL BE FRIENDS ? 

Well, about 8 months ago the answer came in a round about way. My sister in Oregon was going through her stuff and found this old blue book of poetry, written by Steve Blossom. After his death his parents compiled and printed it and then inscribed a copy to Karen and Woody. They never had any contact with me.  So below are two poems, the first Steve wrote and the second I wrote after the accident . I just scanned them onto the blog and they might be hard to read....but that rawness I think is part of the story. I could have just re typed them but, well this is better. If you can't read them just click on them to enlarge with your own computer.




It   all   seems so similar and of course we know that friends have similar interests, similar passions, similar views of life, similar hobbies.   I know as far as resolution goes this might not be much, but its all I'm going to get , I think maybe its more than a lot of people get. So, after 38  years .....we're moving on, finally.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Apprentice

That's me and my first King Salmon ever, the start of a lifetime of learnin, laughin and depleting the chinook salmon resource on the Kenai Pennisula. That fish might not look like much to you but it was a big day in my life, I had caught silver salmon in the early 70's but that King right there signaled me that those babies are darn hard to catch and this whole whack em and stack em deal was going to take some hard work and an investment in technology. Technology like that spankin new 78 Dodge Power Wagon in the background. Today I kind of role my eyes up at the young guys who show up at our boat launch with a brand new Willie Boat being pulled by a brand new F-150....well, I guess I was that guy to. I bought that truck from My friend Kenny Cooper in Missoula Montana for 5200 bucks, its the only new truck I've ever had.....
Thats 1979 and that guy on the right was one of the reasons I got to guiding. We had an apartment on the river where I kept the first Minnow (the apartment building is now a fishing lodge) so me and my buddy Dan (Stergio) Sterchi would take our boss John Manson fishing. John was  a hard man to work for, when he was around you'd best be humping it but when he found out I had the boat his view of me changed. On Friday afternoons he's pay me 4 hours regular time and 2 hours overtime and we'd go fishing, my first dollar, I felt like I was doing something illegal...
My first big King. My friend Paul Kelley took this pic beside our apartment at 4 am on a July Saturday. Paul lost his hand in a sawmill accident and when he netted this fish it was...well....the outcome was in doubt. 
We had this fish and another just about as big and let me tell you, I was PUMPED....
My first 'real' boat, a 16 foot Klamath deluxe. This is one fishing machine and to this day I tell new Alaskans if you want a 'do everything' boat buy one of those babies right there. Max there in the foreground is now 31 years old and my Dad there passed away a few years back...he looks kind of proud doesn't he? This boat the Minnow 2 opened my eyes to adventure and it saw lots and lots and lots of pescado like this catch of Halibut below.
Me and Stergio, Gary Allison and  his boss Gerald. I personally caught the big halibut and it was my first time to shoot-harpon-gaff a monster...I got in a fight in Townsend Montana one time with a cowboy who wasn't as tough as that fish.
Joe Hanes told me one time I might be the best silver guide on the river, well, we've been chasing em for a while. Me and my dad and Woody on the right, that's a pretty big silver he's holding, the guy with his fly open is my old friend Bill Bertram, who's still around the Kenai area. Off to he right you see part of an old Datsun truck I had, Budget Charters coming your way. We routinely towed to Deep Creek with the Datsun and would launch in the River on the tide and return in 2 hours while there was still tide to enter the river, it was way simpler than the new tractor system they have now....

That would be my running partner with a nice King salmon. You'll notice a kitchen chair in the boat and that improvised PVC pipe rod holder, that's how Budget Charters got its moniker. At this point of my career I was obsessed with harvest and catching so things like comfort and safety kind of took a back seat to the fishing. On the console was my self taught bait system, thread to make old slimey hold onto the eggs a bit longer.
She's still that gorgeous and smiles just as readily.  As you can see she's helping me work on the patience part of guideing...whats the matter with all this line?....did you buy the cheap *^$# again?....how come I always get the bad reel ?....That pic was actually taken in the boat I had to have, the boat that came to be the 'million dollar' boat that I bought for 8200 dollars from Skip Hoskins, we finalised the deal at the Maverick Club.
I spent 20 guide season in her, a 20 foot Alumaweld Guide Special with a 90 horse Merc and a 25 horse Kicker. Now we had the right tool, now we're going to get some work done. The Minnow 3 is low to the water so she doesn't catch much air when trolling, she's 5 feet wide for walk around stability and with the jet shoe on it it runs in 6 inches of water. I had Gary Allsion do a custom paint job on it and it looked as fast  as it was.
Thats Ed Waslh in the stearn of guidebat 003. The motor was Mercury's 'tower of power' a gas guzzleing in line 6 cylinder. To this day I'm always way early for my fishing trips and I think I learned that from that Mercury....that thing took forever to start. It had an actual starting procedure that if not followed would mean a flooded motor and a half hour wait....pump the bulb to hard, (it didn't have a choke but instead a direct fuel pump) push the fuel plunger 6 times and make sure the motor is in a perfectly down position, turn the key, pray.....
That pic of my old friend Ray Lavalee and his buddy Joe was taken right here at Stewarts Landing, Mile 14 Kenai River Alaska. I'll never forget this day as it was Memorial day and the river was packed with both people and fish. As you can see the boat now has a Johnson 35 horse and a 15 kicker thanks to the State Parks horsepower limit regulation that was put into effect in 1985. They made the Kenai a State Park and wanted to slow the boats down so this controversial rule cost all of us a ton of lettuce...I remember sitting in a meeting when the rule was proposed and telling my friend Rod Berg..."they can't do that". Wrong again, Jethro. In fact Ray there was fishing with me because he was put out of his own boat by the regulation, it was a Water Walker 2 built by Rick Cheverton in Anchorage and had a 454 Chevy engine in it.
The scene below actually signaled the end for big fast beautiful boats like Rays. Two jet boats came around the corner right here at the Big Eddy and were going so fast that the closing rate made it impossible to avoid a collision. This boat here ended up high and dry, 40 feet from the water. Nobody was killed but several folks had broken bones and the scare of their lives. All of us that were so effected by the horsepower limit had to admit that as bitter a pill as it  was to swallow it was a good thing...Now I just wish we'd have another fresh idea that could help the river as much as it did.
The pic below was my first legit 70 pound King to come to the boat. As luck would have it MP's sister Paula caught it. This fish was a bruiser, it jumped, it ran, we hooked it in the Big Eddy and landed at HoneyMoon Cove. Paula and her husband there, Eric, were on their honeymoon and that fish kind of took Paula out of the game. She threw her back out and had to see the doctor then had days of bed rest....that's when you know you've tussled with a salmon.
In the mid 80's I met Jacque Lizin who kind of helped change my life. Working for Sabena Airlines Jacko sent me lots and lots of customers and taught me and MP about good food and wine. As an Airline guy he can fish anywhere in the world, and you know where he likes it best? yup, right here at Mile 14. In this pic Jacque has a silver on, the rod is a one piece Fenwick that I had made by Dangerous Dan Ring, the rowboat man. That rod is fiberglass and let me tell you...you could land the Queen Mary with that baby.
Below is ole Griz....Loren Stewart. It was mid May and we were working around the boat launch and we see a salmon role....then another, and another. Well, it takes me about 15 minutes to hustle home and get the boat and Loren catches this fish on the first drift right here in front of the boat launch. Wow. He's got an old Berkely Bucaneer with a Spinning reel and yellow Stren line. While he had the fish on I was kind of shielding my face figuring the rod could explode at anytime. It didn't and we had fresh salmon for supper. It was this day that got me to fishing earlier and earlier every spring. I'd bet dollars to donuts the Minnow 3 caught the first King out of the Kenai for at least 10 of the 20 years it fished.
So in 1990 I get a call from my friend Ron Swanson who owns the Honda dealership. Honda has just come out with the 1st 'large' 4-stroke motor and he wants me to showcase the product. Yahtzee. I ended up running two different motors and went 10 years without buying an outboard. Going to the Honda was one of the best and biggest changes of my guide career, it was like when I quit smoking, big Ju Ju. It was quiet, it didn't smoke, it was frugal on gas, it trolled smoothly...I had the best stuff on the river, no doubt, and to be a spokesman for Honda was huge...I'd arrived, I'm a full blown, go to, professional guide.
Well,  thats a short trip through the first 25 years or so. What started out as me dodging work turned into a lifetimes pursuit....ahh....but I'm still dodging work...and pretty successfully I'd say. So please come back to the blog next week and I'll run through this last decade and the Minnow 4.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Busy Work

The other day I built this collage. I was trying to use up the ink in my printer ( so that I can use my new scanner and show you next week pictures from the Kenai 30 years ago)....(the scanner that Sam left) and this sunset compilation is something I'd been wanting to do, I might just lead the world in sunset pictures....and it kind of matches my mood, I've been in a bit of a funk lately. I guess I'm just having a hard time getting used to the idea that of the the 3 people I love the most 2 of them are not in Alaska with me anymore. Part of it I guess is the frustration of love, no matter how much you want, how well you know, whatever you'd do to make it happen, you can't make other people happy and have a good life, they have to do it themselves. All you can do is make yourself happy and hope that it is a foundation for all you love. It kind of blends in with the truth or relationships, as close as MP and I are, as much as I think I know her and can sense her....well, I ain't her and she ain't me and I really don't and never will really know for certain what she thinks and what she goes through, but I wish I could. Am I rambling?  I'll get over it , I just wish I could do more for Sam right now.
So doctor Jeff prescribes a regime of busyness to help me over these temporary blues. I've been doubling up on my gym time although today I was forced to stop lifting with some kind of deep muscle pull in my bi-cep, it'll heal, I always do. On Friday I'm installing new carpet in the master bedroom and replacing a window with a crack in that has bothered MP for the 15 years we've lived in this house. I cleaned out the wood stove in the sauna. And the other day I built this bottle tree which will be a nice addition to the eclectic mix of things we have here at Mile 14. As you can see we have a modest start on the bottles and I think its going to be ultra cool.....so yesterday when shopping for a bottle of wine to go with supper we were looking at bottle colors rather than varietals and cost.....mmmmm... this could get weird. I found my self looking in the recycle bin at the dump, theres gotta be some red bottles somewhere.
MP loves her birds, the nut hatchers and chicadees, the Jay birds and woodpeckers. So as she got out the feeder that Dick Hahn built for her 10 years ago I got to thinking that the birds might not notice but it looked a little rough. But the birds liked it so I built a spanking new one with the same dimensions as the old one. MP was impressed, she didn't even ask me to do it.  I guess maybe thats why my Mexican buddies call me mon da lon, man who wears apron.
So I'm staying busy. busy body = busy mind. I'm going to lay off the weight lifting until my arm feels better and I'll concentrate on cardio exercise and losing some body fat. I'll practice my music, watch the series, take a sauna, write the blog, order some surf fishing tackle,  cook supper, just keep busy, no worries....I might even do the dishes...So come back in a week, when I get this scanner figured out I'm going to post pics of fishing back in 'the good ole days'. I'll print pics of my first few boats and the fish they brought in. I'll bet I can even find some pics and history of this place right here.....mile 14, Kenai River Alaska.