Thursday, May 31, 2012

Double Digits ????

We had a guy in a rental car go through the gate yesterday wearing a nice Seattle Mariner coat and when MP asked him it turns out he works for our team.  She tell me that this guy says to keep a close eye on them because they have some young guys who are really going to come along...Well of course they do....right after we trade them to another a team. The league is full of exceptional players that came up from the Mariner farm system. Adam Jones, Freddie Garcia, Brandon Morrow, Wille Blomquist to name a few. So it was like magic when I turned the Mariner game on and saw this...
You hardly ever see double digit ball games...and you certainly never see them generated by the Mariners...AND against the team with the best record in the American League which might be the best team in baseball, the Texas Rangers. We crushed one of the leagues steadiest starters Derick Holland in the second inning for 12 hits and 8 runs. Then followed that up with 14 hits and another 8 runs off of reliever Takeyama in the 3rd inning. Wow...then along the way we scored 5 more to finish with a whopping 21 runs, a headline in any ones local newspaper.  The awesome hitting power of Texas did shine through for 8 runs, enough to win most games....but not this one. And oh, that guy swinging the bat is Dustin Ackley or new 2nd baseman and lead off hitter.

I guess I'm kind of known for my passion for things and my loyalty to them. So , I'm feeling like we've turned a corner here and all the lettuce I use for Direct TV is paying off. I've already won the Daytona 500 this year and now I'm feeling a Mariner playoff run...throw in 9 or 10 dozen King salmon and limit days of silvers along with some sun and smiles....I gotta great feeling anybody wanna bet???

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


A while back I had one of my new fishing friends tell me that he noticed three unusual things about me, he said " you're always in a good mood,  you have an unusually strong never seem to get cold". Well , comfort controll is a big part, a huge part of my job and I should have written this entry a long time ago. Theres so many things on the river that I deal with daily that we can't control that the ones we can...we'd better, and whats more important than being warm and comfortable while fishing  ?

Right now the river temp is a frigid 45 degrees, the warmest it ever gets is 54 or 55 so its simple, any air moving picks up the temp of the water and although its 62 degrees on shore where we're sitting its considerably colder. One thing I know for sure, before you leave the dock no matter what the weather is doing it always worse once you're on the water. And I also know for sure that once you get cold, you tend to stay cold. So here's my approach.

My base layer is Merino smart wool, top and bottom. Then I'm a huge believer in polar fleece, especially when its layered, so I have fleece pants and and at least 2 layers on top. Then, and this I think is a huge one, I'm a big believer in vests, keeping your 'core' warm seems to be essential. I have a 20 year old comfy brand down vest that I live in as well as my insulated Extra Tuff boots, an Alaskan standard.. Then I have gore tex wind pants and a gortex jacket. For rain I size the day up into either a gore-tex or a vinyl day, but no matter how hard its raining even if I deem it a gore tex day ( 20 minute rain gear ) I still keep the Helly Hanson vinyl in the boat.  And for me I always have a back up plan, at least one more layer to get into in case the weather turns hurricane-ish like it did to me and Nate a few years back.  Here's a couple pics that I didn't stage in my garage, a pile of fleece and then all my outer wear, ready to go.
For my fishing friends I'm always just as prepared, at least I try to be. I have extra down and polar fleece vests and several large insulated coats. I keep Grundens and Helly's in the shed for everybody and I try to get folks to at least put bibs on in the morning as the boat is usually kind of wet....but this brings us to 'guy syndrome'. For some reasons a lot of guys won't admit they don't have the proper clothing on. I always ask " you cold " ?..... " nope, I was colder than this the time I was stranded on Mt. McKinley ".... In any case guideboat 003 is huge, bring as much stuff as you want, we'll find room for it. And is essential to battling the elements, ya gotta fill up the furnace.

Now I don't want to give everybody the impression that its always cold and wet when you fish with me, its not. But, this is Alaska after all so with the fishing, with the clothing, with the mindset of it all I strictly adhere to the 5 'P' principle...Proper- Preparation- Prevents- Poor - Performance. But ultimately everybody is really in charge of their own comfort and all I can really do is suggest and run the boat to the launch when need be.  I bring this up to all my readers because I had a trip this weekend that was great, wonderful friends, beautiful river , wildlife everywhere and we quit a little earlier than I would have liked for comforts sake....and you know me, if we had just hung in there a bit longer we'd have hit the pay-off , fishin is the mission.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

1st of the year

Betcya read that title and figured fish, right ? mmmmm....well, you know me. I'm on the side of honesty and we pitched our first no-hitter of the year today, and hopefully the last. I've been feeling guilty for not getting a blog post out recently but my strategy was to wait until today, my 1st real day of hard fishing was over so I could include a pic of ol slimey on his way to the barbie. As my friend Chick Kishbaugh  so wisely word smithed "today we fished for King Salmon...and they were not aware of it ".

And its to darn bad because I had special guys out today. For a guide like me it doesn't get any better than fishing our guys from the military and local military guys to boot. This is Mike Mathews and his running buddy Scott from Elmendorf Air Force Base. I met them a few years back when Mike won a trip I donated for their Christmas party and they've been with me ever since. These guys are steady, military Professionals, 20 year guys who make me realise our country's in pretty darn good hands, not to get mushy....but I'm proud to know these guys. Scott grew up in Wisconsin and knows his fishing and Mike a native Ohio en is rotating out in June and I really wanted him to have ' the picture ' like so many of us Alaskans have, its a gorgeous 44 pounder , silver dollar shiny with sea lice being held up at eye level and stopping at the knees...Well sorry Mikey.
The day promised rain and it didn't. We had an actual Eagle on Eagle Rock but he flew off as I fumbled to get the camera out of the water proof bag. We saw some moose but I forgot to take a pic and a boat below us caught a nice King so we were right in the game. The run is just starting and we all know its a crap shoot out there, we trolled 8 hours....but, how often do you see Fall-in-hole look like this ?
Not a boat in sight. Although there were maybe 8 or 10 boats on the river it was a quiet wilderness today. All you hear are the gulls and eagles screeching as they look for mates this time of year, pretty cool. It was so quiet at Beaver Creek that this Loon sounded like he had a Peavey Amplifier like mine. My picture taking kinda went like the salmon catching...there were actually 2 Loons together which defies the conventional knowledge that there is only one Loon per lake or area. Well, I'd have one on the surface and one diving for food....then I'd have one on the surface on the right of the boat and one on the surface on the left of the boat. Just one of those days I guess.
So we got Mike and Scott on the road back to Los Anchorage at 2:30. The outdoors like this can make you a little sleepy, especially when you drive down at 3 am. But I got no worries with these two guys, with their work schedule and what they've gone through on deployments a little sleep deprivation and a fish less day is duck soup...easy... And me, well, I'll sleep good tonight. We got guys like this watching the gate. I got my season started and worked hard, it says something when we go biteless and I get a thanks guys for everything and if I don't see you Mike good luck in Missouri, it was a great day.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Endless Journey

It was only 38 degrees at 7 am  this morning when me and MP went for our bike ride, its another one of those things in life that you gotta want to do...and one of my favorite things in Soldotna's summer - light - fish season. My friend Shaun Whitmore has a car lot right down the road for us and he's got this business model where he leaves the doors open so folks like us can hassle free peruse the goods.
Its times like this that life gets kind of simple as we just wander all the 'what if's' , 'maybe's' and ' somedays' of life. Its a married deal and I bet you do it too.  MP looks a little in shock there because she's actually thinking that's a pretty darn good deal and its not hard to picture our team touring the 48 in our new used Endless Journey. mmmmm, through the years I've been invited to just about every state in the union and wouldn't it be fun to pull up and say "well, here we are, betcha didn't think we'd really come eh " ?
So I tried on the couch as I figured on it. As big and luxurious as this thing is its pretty darn small compared to our rental in Mazatlan. So it dawned on me that the reality of this 'maybe if '  was that theres a good chance that after about 3000 miles of sitting with me and hearing the same stories all day and the same songs all night MP just might run a butter knife through my PescaMaz tee-shirt. Just a little too small to be around an ultra type A smart alleck 24 / fact my mom crowned me with a cooking spatula when I was a kid for the very same reason, we were driving the Alcan and camping in a travel trailer.   So, we put that notion away and ride on to my favorite place to ride, the river walk.
Toby Keith has a song, ' Play by the rules and you miss all the fun '. So in my world some little things just have to be overlooked, I kinda figure I'm like a 1st base umpire, its human to miss a call every now and then and frankly that's what helps make the game interesting. . And, at 7 am whats it going to hurt to speed along the cool turns and twists of the boardwalk and glide down the hills. Pretty cool.  But as luck would have it we ran into the same people we ran into last year doing the same thing in the same time frame...ya gotta love Slowdotna.
Our friends Connie and Jay Goltz are retired educators and are part of the landscape in our town. They're birders and naturalists and just folks that appreciate nature. Now I'm not varsity level at it like they are but I'm learning and we chat about the birds in the background - gulls, arctic terns (both left hand and right ), robins (Jay explains the reason I think they're not as colorful here is because I'm only looking at the females)...we talk about the sandhills and the up coming Kenai birding festival that rumor has it I might be  playing some music at.  And Hahny....they said hi. So after a 15 minute interlude we hustled back to the river, its warmed up to 42 degrees and we've ridden about 6 miles.

We get home and I'm feeling the need to get on the river. A couple days back when J + J  (Jet and Jeff)salvage was out scrounging I came across the tag end of some really nice nylon cord sticking out from under the ice and I couldn't pull it in...and wondering what was on the other end was killing me. So we fished for about an hour and then went to the spot. Walla, the strangest thing I've ever found of the strangest things I've ever found in the river. This beautiful cord was attached to 2 down rigger balls that every fisherman knows cost some serious fundage. Yahtzee. But who uses this set up for an anchor? I don't know but I'd bet he's moved on to another approach. And oh, I found a real anchor too.  MP won't admit it but I know she's got her eye on that orange cord to hang things in her green house with.

Next week I'm going serious fishing, I fish hard, everyone knows that. Theres a difference between fishing serious and being manic, so I've learned to fish serious without taking it so seriously, know what I mean ?  But, if you want dead fish pics come back soon. If I turn out to be the lucky angler who catches the first one in the might even hear something kinda off in the distance, kinda like when a bird or the surf or the wind sounds soooo good , like its new....that's me, seriously.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Just another springtime in Alaska

Our good friends and lifetime Alaskans, Chris and Melinda Fejes were just down for our usual springtime icebreaker.... clam digging and a little fishing at Mile 14. Chris and I are kinda kindred spirits, he exemplifies one of my motto's and basics of life - whats worth doing is worth over doing. This approach isn't always the smartest but we seem to a survive it well and have lots of fun in the adventures. Like my old brother-in law Woody, its a good thing Chris is good at getting you out of Jam because he's also pretty good at getting you into one.

So that's a pic of me stuck knee deep on the Clam grounds, 1.5 miles North of Ninilchik , my old stomping grounds. As you can see MP is doing an exit stage left after giving me the usual ' you stupid jerk, you did it again look'. But Chrisco has a winch on his other machine and we're out in no time and off to clam heaven. I find a bit safer place to cross onto the mud flat and as we pull in a weathered old, highly agitated clam digger almost runs at us.... " you can't run the wheelers out there, its soft you'll lose your wheeler"...." no I won't, it ain't mine"...." and them damn things scare the clams", " mmmm, them clams musta got smarter since last time I was here"..... " obviously you're not from around here"...."oh man, if you only knew"....but really, me and my buddy showed some real maturity for a change and even thanked him for letting us know how stupid we were, its always nice to run into an honest man. So we dug our clams, they're not as plentiful as they used to be and we must have got on the wrong end of the beach but we did OK and when we returned to the wheelers we met and had a wonderful discussion with these REAL Alaskans, our new friends.
They're a father son team and friends, they think like we do. The guy on the right said ' yup I seen ya run that wheeler into the goop, did it myself " . The one fellow has a son who is going to guide this year for his first time, I told him to tell that young man if ever needs something to just stop here at Mile guys are on the team. Heck they were so gracious that the guy on the right just laughed when Chris called him his own kids grandpa, now that's a stylish move. So the next pic is our foursome, safely off the beach  at the rest stop.
And then a pic of us setting out for the beach. Ya can't get big clams without big equipment. As you can see Chris has the best, if you're going to Detroit don't get off in Chicago. And,  he was nice enough to leave it here at the house so I can use the same wench that got me unstuck to pull some stumps and haul some wood out of the ravine in what we call the Black Forrest. Thanks Chris...very cool...but, knowing me we could have another story on our hands real soon.

It was back to the ranch where we cleaned and prepped our hard earned table fare. MP made linguine with clam sauce which Chris paired with a wonderful bottle of Silver Oak red was that good. And the pic below was me, the grouchy gourmet frying a few of the delicate bi-valves for an appetizer. Alaska is really an amazing place, you can't get fresher gourmet food and that's for sure.

This morning it was 38 degrees and clear, 6 am me and Chris launch the Minnow 4 . Now in forty years of being here and 30 years of guiding I thought I'd pretty much done and seen it all. Well, that's the cool thing about life, just pay attention and theres lotsa firsts out there. We're happily trolling along, I've got a silver / flame magnum HotShot out and Chris is pulling an electric chartreuse Kwikfish and ....THUNK, at first I think I trolled into a rock, a real possibility this time of year but then I notice movement next to me and realise we've been Titanc-ed....struck by and iceberg.

Its the biggest tide of the year, and that's the way this Kenai River heals. The tides are so big that they run all the way to Porters, a landmark like ours but upriver a bit. The tide picks up the ice and snow and off it goes to Cook Inlet, in just the span of 2 or 3 tides the river looks completely different.  Chris and I were talking about the birds feeding on the out migrating King Salmon smolt, so, we've got the ice leaving and the next generation of our fishery at the same time, the rivers I said, this is an amazing place.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Shovel

My old boss and the guy who taught to me to work, Wayne Passe, used to say "that shovel is an incredible run one end and the other end goes all by itself ".  Of course he had other wise phrases like " that shovel ain't gonna run itself " and " you better start shoveling faster or you won't be shoveling at all ". But the best was my old friend Carl Butcher who worked on the road crew for the State. On Monday morning they went out North Kenai to patch roads and realised that they had left all the shovels in the solvents they use over the weekend to melt the asphalt off and were 30 miles away...shovel less. So Carl calls the boss, a legendary figure here in Slowdotna and explains the situation. Dale Sholin says " eh no worries, I'll send some out asap, you'll just have lean on each other until they get there".

So for any of you that rightly think I have the life of Reilly ( whatever that means) that's a pic of me doing one of my yearly least favorite chores. Thats hard work. Because the launch surface is flush with the river bottom the concrete silts in and some years theres a little, some years like this one a lot. Me and Mpeasy attacked it this morning. As you can see I've got a high tech fiberglass flat nose ... shovel into the cart, dump in the mean....the woods....and create more parking space for our fishing friends. Duck soup. As our energy was waning I asked MP just how many tons  she thinks I've moved in my life with a shovel, she told to me stop dwelling on past glory and get to work.....mmmmm....sounded a bit like Wayne Passe.

So that shovel to me is like playing music in the garage, you start that way and I guess when all is said and done you finish that way. Whatever you do, don't sell your shovels.
In my younger-macho days I used to tell the crew " I ain't happy unless its raining and I've got a Razor back (shovel) in my hand ". Well, those days are loooooong gone, now I just say "boy am I glad I'm still fit enough to run that shovel ", albeit with a little lower lumbar discomfort that a hot tub and a tall orange oughta take care of. Duck soup.  The boat launch is in the best shape its been for years, with all the snow we have high water which is beginning to clear, as I was shoveling I heard a splash that could have been a salmon.....hehehehe, hows that for rumor mongering as our season begins ? I have the boat out and almost ready, we'll do some marine salvage and then test the fishery. The launch is ready and so are we, its the season.