Monday, July 25, 2011

WHAT ????

I was wondering why it was taking so long to get a bill for my emergency procedure at the hospital. Well the bill arrived today and now I know why it took them over two weeks to send it...they're embarrassed. And I would be too if I sent out a bill for two hours that amounted to 7 thousand big ones. I figure they've got a strategy for it all like make  sure it arrives on Monday as that's most peoples less favorite day anyway and you let the victim get through the weekend  in blissful ignorance. Oh, the 7 G's doesn't include the surgeon.....ah crud, lets get to the fun stuff.
Like this pic of Tom Riette with the King that his granddaughter Shay Lynn caught on Saturday. We were back bouncing the tide water in front of the park and we had a kwikfish on a short leash with the magnum diver that this fish couldn't resist. In fact theres so many of them not being able to resist that starting tomorrow we're going to fish without bait to cut down on the harvest.  Now that's not all bad, my boat will be clean and instead of outworking the other guides to produce more fish we fall back on plane old outhouse luck, and you know how lucky I am so no worries....What happened is this, not enough kings and way to many reds = lots of commercial fishing = incidental king harvest = us in river trying to save a few hundred kings by fishing with no bait = commercial fishing continues...Its called management. When alls said and done the forecasted red run of 3 million fish will come in at a handy 10 to 12 million. But even though its taken a toll on our kings this kind of sight is everyday at mile 14, a fish box plum full of Kenai River bluebacks.
And notice the dip nets that harvested them along the tackle tray. The tackle tray that sometimes holds actual sport fishing gear. Everbody's gotta live I guess but I'll tell you this much...we eat as much red salmon as anyone  and ALL of ours are caught with a rod and reel, that's the way we do it...its what we stand for, its what we're all about.
So in the what we're all about department I just had to use this pic of Mack and Carole, it tells the whole story.  I know I used them last year in a pic on fishing the crowd but these guys are just so photogenic and so obviously enjoy each other and the fishing that they're my poster kids...and oh, they catch an awful lot of King salmon and let them swim away no worse for wear. And the net....well...thats a 'landing' net, my favorite kind. Must be something to it because I'll bet you all of these boats here would like to use it just like Mack and Carol did.
Thursday I saw Dr. David King. On august 4th at 9 am he's going to knock me out and stick the scope down my throat. He'll trim the scar tissue and then 'dialate' the esophagus where my stricture was to make it bigger. Its basically a balloon that stretches the area and because mine is so abnormally small he might do the procedure 2 or even 3 times in the next month or two. He'll also send off tissue to be biopsied but he says he certain its not tumorous because of the location and the look of it. So, good news eh?.

Monday, July 18, 2011

80 %

That's about how I was feeling this week, 80%. My throat was so sore from the procedure and because I'm a bit leary of food I went the entire week with fluids only, the right kind of fluids of course. I got my protein from the powder I use when I'm lifting and had my soup and food pulverised. It was brutally tough watching people eating jerky and chips in the boat. So this weekend I went to some soft food and let me tell you...macaroni and cheese never tasted to good.

But even though I was 80% I gave 110 % effort and the Kenai and us had a good week. We caught many kings like this one my friend Charlie Higgins is holding. He told me in June that he was going to keep coming down from Anchorage until he caught one, so once again it looks like I've worked myself out of a job.
I get up at 3:30 every morning and I'm in the boat doing my prep work at 4:00. this week we had huge tides and of course the full moon that causes them. Absolutely gorgeous and what a way to start the day when I'm the first down the hill and soak in the view alone and appreciatively.
But the view I'm getting a little tired of is this one. Three times we had to clean the garbage up after a large brown bear came visiting. We finally got a bear proof dumpster but that doesn't mean much for our peace of mind here at Mile 14. Its a little spooky knowing its the peak of the Red and King season with hundreds of people around, people walking from our place to the gravel bar to fish...and we KNOW theres at least one large brown bear nearby. In the pic you'll notice a nice bear steamer, that's no small poo poo.
MP and I just had to go see it and take a pic. We had to verify I guess what it is that makes you wait 10 minutes in line at the tackle store or not make the first light at the Y intersection. Well, this is it. Dipnetting mania at the mouth of the Kenai river. Thousands of people, thousands ans thousands of fish, thousands of problems...litter, drunks, accidents, conflicts...all the stuff I don't need in my life so we don't go dipnetting. We get our red salmon the old fashion way, sport fishing for them....well actually a friend sport fishes them for us.
Naturally I'm a little concerned for myself. We have a doctors appointment on Thursday and then I'll know when and what the surgery will entail. But I guess I've arrived in the caring department because what I'm most concerned about is the Jet-Dog, she's not doing well. I don't know if its because we're so connected she picks up on it from me or she's injured....and you know she can't talk. Those  labs seem to always have a kind of forlorn look but this week her's is different and we can all tell. She doesn't jump into the truck, she sleeps in a different place and doesn't follow me step in and step out as usual. At one point last week she jumped out of my boat and kind of 'fell' up the stairs and maybe that was it. But I'm kind of feeling that's she's had a moment like mine, we're both finally facing the ageing process and the realisation that its not all going to be easy street. Ever since we got Jet I could swear I could sense some wisdom in her eyes, the way she'd look at you and crook her head just a bit. Maybe that's it, realisation...
Saturday for the only time this year I did 2 trips, a 12 hour fishing day. My old friend Stan Kluth came down and he's not a morning person so off we went for the afternoon tide. His wife Barb caught a fish but the best thing was we got to play some music together.  Stan is THE most talented natural guitarist I have ever met, he can play it all. So after the day was done and although my throat is raw and I shouldn't be singing, we did. It was short and sweet as I was tired and starving but what a great way to end my week and celebrate my 58th birthday, July 16th....thanks Stan.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Well it all started as I was minding my own business sitting at the helm peeling a hard boiled egg. I eat  a lot of eggs for the good protein source and once you get over the fluorescent red smudges from salmon egg cure that end up on them they're pretty darn tasty. Ya know Cool hand Luke ate 52 of them and never had a problem. Right then Sally Brooks rod goes off so I finish peeling and take a bite and swallow then take another bite and swallow. I'm kind of anxious but not really for the fish she has on after all I've seen that deal thousands of time....what I was anxious for was to get this pic of my old friend Sally fighting a fish with her pants down. Like always.
Sally and her husband Bill, (b.s. Brook) have fished with me since the 1980's and this is an every year event. She NEVER buttons the straps on her Helly's and invariably its a goat rope as she flounders around the boat with a fish on. But ya know if some people like to catch fish with their pants down, no worries, I'm with ya on that one.  But this turned out to be no ordinary salmon. Sally has caught a lot of big fish and she has this one about worn out when a 150 pound harbor seal comes up 40 feet from the boat with her fish in its mouth, rodman qwickfish lure and all....mmm.....well, the first thing we do is yell a little and then I realize this seal is in pretty shallow water with a gravel bar right behind it. So I run the boat directly at him and he has no escape and our friend Toby Archuleta has the presence of mind to beat on the boat loudly with the fish bonker and walla, the seal lets go and we win. Here's a pic of the first King salmon I've ever seen lose a fight to us and a seal all in the same day.
So the fish is in the box and we set up another troll and I have this heaviness in my throat. For 15 years now I sometimes have dense food seem to get stuck in my esophagus and it always goes away and sometimes I can even kind of swallow with effort to make that happen. Being just smart enough to hurt myself I looked in web MD years ago and diagnosed myself with a common hietal hernia which is a bulge that sometimes traps food.....well, that ain't what I got and this time it wasn't going away. I worked through it for an hour or so and when I realised that I couldn't even drink water it was time to do something. Its all I can do to not panic. The pain is so unusual that if I didn't know, or think I know what it was I'd be calling 911. But instead , Toby calls MP and asks her to be at the launch when we arrive and I pilot the boat home safely albeit a little light headed. MP says, enough of this, you're going to the hospital. She first calls our best friends adult kid Jessie Arthur who works for a good Doc and she says it sounds like you'll end up in an emergency deal anyway so you better just get there. So we do.

I've got a plastic card that's cost me thousands of dollars so we give it to the admittance people and that's a breeze. Having the card is a bit like being a Crown club member with Best Western. They ask me the problem and some how or another it was wrote down as a sore throat so we waited and wait as they had other priority's. Well the doc finally arrives and wouldn't ya know its a guy I know who is also a  fishing guide. The first thing he asks is how was the bite today.....hey Bob, I'm semi dieing here OK....he can't really believe my level of discomfort so he asks me to try and drink some Mountain Dew soda. I tell him I can't and he says try anyway. So, I take a big swallow and the world just about ends, I go into convulsions as some is in the airway and my body and throat are locked up. Bob goes to running. In two minutes (after I'm done convulsing) I have an I.V. needle in me and am being given muscle relaxants. I'm on my way to my first ever bona fide surgical procedure.

The doctors agree its a 'stricture' a tightening of tissue that will not allow the passage of food. Within 1/2 hour they wheel me into the operating room and as I'm trying to spit and am  choking when they lay me down I get the mask immediately and the next thing I remember was waking up with a nurse friend, Gena Pollard giving me a hug. Well that's the cool thing about a small town, we know lots of people and all the support and love I've gotten was ultra cool.  Thanks Slooooowdotna. So here's a pic of what my new friend surgeon David King saw when he looked down my throat. I know it looks a hell of a lot like I didn't chew that egg but trust me, the eggs turns to a kind of mush when eaten add then settles in the roundness of my stricture....although many hospital people told me to peel them next time. The doc said it was a time bomb, if not the egg something else would have done it. The first pic is before, the 2nd after.
I get home about 6 pm with an anesthesia fog and go to bed....I gotta go fishing in the morning. But, just my luck that its common for post anesthesia to create a fever and I have a terrible one all night so I toss and turn, shiver and freeze then sweat all night long. MP cools me off with wet towels and tells me the fever is not too bad ( later she confessed that I was burning up and didn't want to scare me...and I needed to go to work of course). But 4 am arrives and if nothing else, I've always been tough and my friend Jake Marguis from  Mexico by way of Wasilla is here with some new friends. It was a bit difficult for me but Jake and his buddy Doobie are go to guys and they do most of the work. I usually don't like to publish just plain old dead fish pics as anybody and everybody does but in this case I have to, we were firing on only 3 cylinders and still had a great day. Here's Jake with the biggest King of his life and Doob's wife Vicki with a 54 pounder that was by far the hottest and hardest to catch, meanest and nastiest King salmon of the year.

So if you want to know what the future holds, hell....I wanna know what the future holds, here's the deal. Right now my throat is in shock and from convulsing my ab muscles are so sore I can hardly sit up. I'm on a liquid diet because the last thing we need is an encore performance of that deal.  Soon I hope to eat soft food and soft food only until it is surgically repaired which will happen within a few weeks. The surgery will clean up scar tissue (you can even see some in the pic) and relax that area. Its been building for years although it is something that you are born to. So here's the lecture part....guys that put up with things instead of going to have them looked at are like parked on the railway tracks waiting for a'll come, just when is the question. So surgery in a few weeks, in the meantime I think I'll go fishing.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Through the years people leave a lot of stuff here at Mile 14. Wet raingear, broken tackle, old coolers, just mostly junk. But the other day right there on that seat where I wait for my fishing friends every morning was the darndest thing, a book called 'Bro'. And, it wasn't left there by accident either, its part of a book out reach kind of like a literary geo cache thing called Book Crossing.  Well as I don't believe in co-incidence and I'm always looking for bigger meaning I just had to read it.

Its about a nine year old kid named Tugwell Dockery who's learned more and seen more in his years than most 50 year olds. When he's quite small his parents were hit by a train while drunk and killed. He then went to live with his grandparents on a poor cattle ranch in Florida. As he was playing one day he noticed his grandma lyeing unresponsive, she had been tromped by a high strung horse and his grandpa Branch is so saddened that in a fit of anger he kills the horse with a knife right in front of Tugwell....And Tugwell has not spoken a word since. But his brother who is 9 years older, Broda Joe is Tugs voice and inspiration. Tugs life is hard and he hates, even loathes Branch. But Broda Joe brings him around slowly but surely even though more pain is to come....its what Tug calls 'heart sore'. Theres a scene where Branch gives Tug a gift of a pencil with an eraser. He tells him that the written is so easy to erase and that he wishes it were so easy for other things....Well the book is about continuation and forgiveness, its about the faults in life in a really condensed form and it got me to thinking...

Forgiveness is something I've never been good at. Maybe its the Irish in me. I'm a varsity level grudge holder. I'm a guy who actually ruminated over going to my 40th high school reunion and smacking the class bully. Years ago my friend Don Frazier who was a Teamster Union big wig told me I'd had the perfect teamster reward your friends and punish your enemies. Well, I'm tired of being that way, it takes time and energy and when you you're 58 years old why waste either. On the scale of problems this isn't a big one but you know the first step in problem solving is to admit the problem. I'm there. Thanks for the bump Tugwell Dockery.

So manana I'm going to find a cool place to let the book 'Bro' go, catch and release. I went to the net and the book came from 'ghir' in Hawaii and Slowdotna was its first stop. This deal ultra-grande-cosmicly cool so if you want to get with the program go to .