Friday, September 30, 2011

Basic Economics, Vegas Style

We've got a time share in Whitefish Montana that we bought from MP's mom who bought it from my mom. We've never  been there. From what I garner in my travels, timeshares are not the best investment and this one is no exception, it cost 500 bucks a year along with the RCI membership and then if you trade for another location its its about 700 bucks to use it somewhere we did for Max and Sam in Mexico last year and Tom and Angel the year before and.....well, we just need to use that darn thing ourselves, after all, we don't want  to 'lose' a week we already paid for. We might spend a ton of lettuce in Vegas next week but by jiminy we ain't going to waste a week of RCI.
Someone once said that Vegas is the perfect metaphor for America....its electric, its expensive, and you always lose. Well, I don't know about that but it does certainly teach you what money is all about, or what I think its all about anyway. We really don't gamble much but one night we will and that night we usually spend some money, then the next morning you're looking for a 2 dollar buffet.....mmmm.....whats that all about? For me the gambling has always been a real casual thing but this year I'm doing it different, I think its a matter of attitude. Every morning as I get ready to go fishing I'm 100% sure, I'm certain, confident that we're going to catch fish so why not apply that same mind set to the gambling? But part of my confidence in fishing comes from the work and preparation I've put into it so I've done the same this year with the gambling by practicing my blackjack on the computer an hour a day. I'm pretty comfortable with the basic strategy, so we'll just see....
One of the things we like about Vegas is the desert views, its expansive and a little bit like being on the ocean that way. We also like the quirkiness of the whole area.  Like this ponderosa pine cell phone that's some great thinking, blends right in with the terrain don't it? We love to hike in the desert so this year we're going to investigate Death Valley. This pic of me was taken about as close as we've gotten to Death Valley at a place called Tecopa we discovered where theres a wonderful natural hot springs. I know that thing looks to being leaning to the right but its really me leaning towards the left as always.
Theres a place few people know about called 'The Springs' right in downtown Vegas. Its an old spring fed ranch that was preserved for desert education. It has all the flora and fauna of the area as well as history where I got to meet these Mormon city fathers.
Usually by October 1st its starting to look like winter here at Mile 14. But this year its different, we've only had one frost and the fall colors as well as the fishing just keeps lasting. I took this pic to show you, its the hay field of our friend Abby's right around the corner from my house.  Notice that line along the trees that stands out so well....its just the maximum height that our moose can reach and as you can see they pretty much cause this 'tunnel type of effect along all the roads and open areas of our town.  So we're leaving this view for a week, trading a 50 degree high for the day for a 90 degree....but its a dry heat eh? Come back, me and MP should have some adventures to report in a few days.
I know you've seen this shot many times, its my everyday Jet-dog walk....beautiful.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Remember that time we.....

Me and Mpeasy pulled into Soldotna in an old blue dodge pick-up in July of  1977. We were headed south to see our old friend Walt Larson in Anchor Point when a pretty red step-side Ford pulled up close behind us honking the horn and flashing its lights.....mmmmm......two guys and they're wearing cowboy hats....So, being fresh up from Montana I'm figurin theres some kind of road rage problem or they're drunk and want to fight, I just don't know, but I pull over and tell MP I'll take care of it and to stay in the truck. Well that guy right there , Tommy Rosin and his brother Orin jump out of the truck saying "he man, where you from ? we're from Billings". I told them the 5 on my license plate  meant we were from Helena and that's how we started a 30 year friendship. Before I started guiding I fished with Tom and Orin a lot. I played music at the Maverick club with his brother Orville who had a gorgeous J-45 Gibson.  Tom plumbed the houses that we built when I worked for the Passe's so I was just absolutely tickled when he walked up and got in  my guide boat the other day for a trip that the Cabaret, Hospitality and Restaurant Association had arranged for their state convention. The other guys might have gotten a bit bored listening to old times but I don't think so, we caught a lot of fish and it was good to catch up with Tommy. Thanks buddy, that's what we like about our small town living......continuity.
So the next day I got to follow up by fishing with one of my favorite people in the entire hemisphere, Jim Bennet.  Jim is the funniest and funnest guy I've ever known and his zest for life is legendary here in Soldotna. Jim is a cancer survivor and is active in the awareness movement, he volunteers at the Hospital, he's president of the Dog Obedience group, he's an Elk and just an all around community supporter....just the kind of guy that inspires me and that I want to be around. He's also a pretty darn good fisherman who's good deeds seem to translate into to good Karma driven moe-joe.It was the last trip of the season on my books so to end it with Jim and my friend Kevin Fuze was pretty darn cool. When Jim owned Signal communications he hired me yearly for his friends and employees, pretty much put my kids through college he did so here's a big thanks to you and MP love ya....
Thats a pic of Jesse who caught his first ever salmon with me this week. My friend Greg Smith with Repsol ( the Spanish oil company) had business here and snuck in some fishing with the guys. His friend John in the pic below is retiring so it was a fishing send off for a guy who's a real outdoors man. We kept 9 silvers as you can see which is short of the limit but we released several as they guys wanted a good full day of fishing, and with the sunny weather and beautiful fall colors who wouldn't want to fish 8 or 9 hours. It was great.
So unless I get a call for silver fishing next week its a wrap for salmon in the season of 2011. Of course I hope to get a call as the fishing is really holding up well this year and I've just been enjoying it so but if I don't I'll winterize the boat and stow the rods. Theres no getting around it, Kings were a struggle this year but we had absolutely exceptional silver fishing. I met some really cool people and many of my old friends were around. I had a little speed bump with my health which kind of puts things into perspective for a guy...I end the season feeling good, knowing I gave it all 100% effort, its all I can do....

Please come back to Mile 14, we might not be salmon fishing for 7 months but I guarantee we're going to do some catching. Catchin life, catchin fun, catchin love, catchin on and probably some other fish to....

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Three Sons

Nate, Doug, Nate and buddies...and they know how to stage a pic eh? Once a year the guys try to get together here at Mile 14 for a camp out and a trip for silvers. This year the fishing reminded me of my high school basketball career, it was interesting. We had lots of nibble, nibble, nibble, fish. We had lots of nibble, nibble, nibble,nibble, jerk, fish-on... fish off. We had quiescent period of two full hours....But we ralleyed a bit late in the day and got a decent catch for supper. Leave it to Nate to grab the 'petite' model from the box, trust me there was a bigger salmon he could have used for the pic. These guys love the time together and for me its the best of the year, we talk sports (Red Sox guys ), we talk Vegas, we talk family.....and how many guides get a gift of a Maine license plate for the collection and a 2 pound bag of licorice?  Thanks guys and I'm going to try the Pai Gao poker for sure...

There must be something to it here at Mile 14 because these two guys, Hans and Kurt come all the way from Frankfurt Germany just to stake claim to that picnic table and bank fish for a week. They caught their limit of silvers on a trip with me but they also caught some gorgeous salmon right from the bank....who needs that guide anyway eh? One day they caught 5, pretty darn good I'd say. When they were here last time Hans confided to me that Kurt had lymphatic cancer and the trip was his swan song. Well they show up and Kurt tells me he's beaten the cancer and for all the friends I've lost I'm just over joyed to see a win....very cool. They come every two years so stay healthy guys and we'll leave the light on.
I'm kind of the caretaker of Geno / Pauley's boat and yesterday it was time to put it to bed for the winter so MP and I figured we better run the boat and maybe catch supper while we're at it. So we run the boat 2 miles upriver where Nate and us surrounded the salmon the day before but the boats were all anchored and lined up so we troll around them. Walla, it takes exactly 5 minutes and MP has this salmon on the end of her line....its magic. We land him, project finished, when we get home we'd only missed two innings of the Boston - Tampa Bay game....speaking of which Nate, The way that series went its a good thing your team is at Baltimore today, couple more Tampa  games and it could be 'lets wait for next season'.
So we had an 'All Alaska' supper. One fillet I put a little wasabi mayo with dill on it ( dill is a great spice for salmon if you ask me) and the other fillet got a nice basting of garlic olive oil with basil.  I grill them babies meat side down for a bit and then turn them to the skin side and apply my toppings. then we have a fresh cole slaw from the garden and I cut up some tomatoes and cukes as well....oh baby.... As I was cooking I got to looking around a bit and even though most of the flowers and veggies have run their course theres still surprises here at the boat launch. I noticed these strangely purple flowers that MP says are kind of rare thing called a shoe-fly and of course the blue flowers on top are lobelia.
And thanks to my friend Harry Thomas from Massaschuttes ( hope spell checker gets that one for me) who sent us the seeds we have several gorgeous sunflowers. They're kind of the story of Alaska summers I'd say. They're really impressive but difficult to grow, then they don't last long once they flower and they seem to want to tip over, ya know they're just difficult and like Alaska they look....well....unusual, just different.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back in the Game

After sitting on my hands for a few days due to a river scene like this we're out fishing again in nice clear Kenai colored water....but, its awful high for this time of year. The rain that I reported on last week was enough at the headwaters to make the river jump up and just barely miss a full blown flood stage down here at Mile 14. The silver fishing itself remained a bit catchy but for several days it just wasn't entirely safe to be out there with all the floating debris. You hit a log, it kills the motor, you end up in a sweeper, boats over, you're swimming....bad deal. So I had 3 canceled trips, my friend Tom Riette is a local guy who can fish anytime so we figure discretion was the better part of valor and we'd do it another time.  I have to say I was shocked here at the boat launch to several of our guides leave for fishing in the dark to 'get their spot' with all the logs floating down the ain't that important, period.

The graph at right shows you where we are. The pyramids at the bottom are the average flow for this time of year. Once again I'll tell you this is the coolest info and its nice to see a real usable use of our government funding. Just google USGS real time stream flow data and then add the Kenai to your favorites. Every morning I go to this page to check our conditions and then go to the NOAA weather forecast....which has to be the most conservative forecaster on the Internet. According to NOAA the best it EVER gets around  here is 'partly sunny'.

So we have two more weeks of fishing to go here at Mile 14. I have my friend and confidant Nate Morton coming this weekend and next week I have friends and even a double day booked where we're doing a trip for the Cabaret and Bar owners Association. With the high water we kind of have to re-learn the fishing trends a bit so yesterday with a fun group of folks from Australia we did our research and frankly didn't do quite as well as we're used to. We caught them but didn't set any records....but I'm confident we're going to make the lines tug real good in the next few days.
Great smile huh?....thanks Jere, you're a cooool a guy. So please come back to the blog and we'll wrap up the fishing and then a road trip to Las Vegas via a side road to Death Valley and more. Then we'll do a little bird hunting and...well....have fun. As we approach 20,000 reads I gotta thank you all, pretty cool to have you with me.

Monday, September 5, 2011


This week was defined by limits.....we caught many limits of silvers and on several occasions met our limit of rain. On Weds I did a fundraiser trip for our friends at the Kenai Watershed Forum, from this picture of Mike you can see just how wet it was. The guys from Utah arrived with nice Gore Tex rain gear but to me it was definitely a vinyl rain gear day. We started as usual at O dark thirty and it took until 11:30 or so to catch our limit, so we fished about 4 and 1/2 hours....when we broke up for the day the guys said they really enjoyed the first two hours.
We also had our limit of seals, they're everywhere. The Kenai has the last salmon to come into the Cook Inlet basin so every savy seal in South Central  Alaska is right here this time of the year. When they are around it effects the bite, the silvers ares spooked and swimming fast. We frequently see them with fish in there mouths and yesterday I saw one try and take a fish off an anglers hook. In other parts of the world the local fisheries managers might be wondering about their impact on the overall silver run. But not here, those guys are way to busy tracking radio tagged salmon and refilling the coffee pot...So I figure we have at any given time 50 to 100 seals in the lower river X maybe 5 silvers a day for dinner = maybe an average of 350 fish a day @ 30 days =10,500 dead cohoes which should = a little notice by the Dept of Fish and Game...HELLO guys....Kenai River Calling....
One morning as it was getting light I was struck by the beauty enough to take this picture. I guess its kind of the human condition that we get used to just about everything so I try to stay conscience of that and reaffirm my love for this deal every so often. This morning the tide was up and the water just weirdly  flat, there was just a slight misty fog laying on the water and the mountain was just peaking over the trees illuminated with a hint of alpenglow ....gorgeous....
I have a rule....I never tell people what to do or not do and I never get to finicky with the gear, after all this stuff may cost a lot but they're only tools to be used for harvesting salmon. BUT, this deal here is an illustration of what NOT to do with your guides fishing rods. Believe it or not, and it tested my limits, I didn't say a word about it, I just retrieved the anchor line myself after we let go for the next fish.  Its also an illustration of why I'm a Lamiglass guy, these rods are ultra tuff. I think the Loomis brand is the most popular here but 30 years ago my first expensive rod was a Lamiglass know how I am about loyalty. They work for me and I work for them, buy Lamiglass, its the best.
Here at Mile 14 we've kind of raised up those two young eagles that I always report on. They've become a fixture around here and we finally have them eating at the table, how refined.  But, we're still working on their table manners because after this deal is done you don't really want to sit down and have a hot dog at that table, its a little gross. But theres still plenty of season left and I figure theres  time for training before they have to leave for a winter at the dump.
OK, OK, here's a dead fish picture. My friends Jay and Lesley Gammel with two cohoes that were caught virtually at the same time. It rained the entire morning and when Les caught our last fish to limit out at 10:00 I was a pretty darn happy fishing guide. We went to the house and cleaned the fish, I cleaned and gassed the boat, took off 5 layers of polar fleece and hung them up to dry. Then I sat on the recliner feeling the warmth of the house while still wearing my merleti smart wool long johns and fell instantly asleep, I call it 'old guide syndrome'....Hope you guys all have as good a week as I'm gonna...