Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

As I type this at 9:30 am Alaska Time my son Max and his girlfriend Skye are making a hasty retreat from the Hurricane . Over the weekend they attended a wedding in Conneticut and were scheduled to fly out of JFK this evening, well that's not happening so they were faced with two choices, sit tight in their motel or hit the road, which is what they're doing now. They've turned their rental car in at Danbury and have other friends from Minnesota that have a rented S.U.V. , the 4 of them are on the road headed west, if all goes right the 1200 miles should take them a full day and some. I hope that by this evening when Sandy hits the city they are well away maybe even close to Ohio...I'll up date this when we here from them but for now we've encouraged them to save their cell batteries so no news is good news I guess.

I'm not feeling good, I guess maybe its a healthy sign that you can love somebody so much that you can make yourself physically sick with worry. I wish I was as strong as MP that way, her head stays way more level than mine and she has this way of pointing out the practical. So lets all think positive thoughts for those young people....and all of the people in harms way today.

I'll update this....

At 2:00 pm Alaska Time MP talked with Max, they were driving through Williamsport PA. and it looks to me like they should be out of Pennsylvania by nightfall or there abouts. They are in a Large S.U.V. Max related that this morning as they left the seaboard the rain was torrential and it was hard to navigate but now the rain although bad is falling less.....they stopped for what he described as 'the best Philly Cheesecake sandwich anywhere"....thata boy Max.

7:30 am Alaska , Tuesday.....Max just left a phone message as we were at the health club. They drove all night and are back in Minneapolis with an adventure to relate. He said its amazing how fast 1200 miles can go by.

I'm tickled and releived. They made the right descision, if they had stayed on the East Coast who knows how long they would be waiting for a flight. And their timing was just right, if they had left any later it would have been more difficult than it was.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


MP and I both agreed, the best part of having this wonderful property at Mile 14 of the Kenai River was today. And through the years we've had a lot of 'todays'.  After sleeping through another snoozer football game we decided that after the high water we finally had enough shoreline for one of our exploration trips and then a sauna. All of you that know this place know how the road down kind of reveals the river a bit at a time....we see some white, bigger than gulls....
The whole Trumpeter family. They weren't scared of us and never flew, they just swam on down to the next feed bed, no worries. At the tip of the island we used to have 10 'eagle trees' , big cottonwoods that the beavers were systematically knocking over and of course the Eagles love. This is the last survivor, the one that me and MP wrapped chicken wire around the base of about 10 years ago.
And again the birds were never scared of us, I guess they know....and I guess they notice us as much as we notice them . This one here was sitting in the tree at the launch that we call ' Rays Spot' ....its still yours Ray Gavalak.
Then we found our first really cool find of the new scavenge season, a red jet unit from unit the 70's. I ran these things myself as a young guy and let me tell you, anybody that's run them knows they're temperamental buggers.  The jet unit would vibrate so much that they would eventually shear the bolts and walla....adrift on the wild Kenai. And I'll bet back in the era when this poor guy lost it the adventure was just starting, he rowed to shore, walked to the launch, got help from Loren Stewart and then shared Scotch with him, that's the way I figure it happened.
The rivers still way higher than normal for this time of year but with patience and knowing the route we picked our way downriver just fine.
I fired up the sauna as Mp rode the wheeler up to the house to get water, by then Jacques special French bubbly was good and cooled.  It took a bit to get to our optimum heat of 180 and walla, the perfect way to end the day. MP washes my hair for me and we both's the best day.

Job Hunt

With the season we had MP has been kind of encouraging me to do something that I've pretty much successfully dodged for the last 20 years or so.....

Friday, October 12, 2012


When I was a young guide I kind of thought  that all the 'stuff' that goes with guiding was pretty darn cool. I'd have all my rods out and gear displayed so people would say "wow, that's a lot of stuff". But 30 some years later I've come to view it all as just tools, like a carpenters hammer, the only difference is that I've never seen a hammer that didn't work.
So that peg board is something you see when you enter my garage / office/ headquarters and studio. That wall is a testament to America and fishing. Guys like me will buy anything that looks fishy or even seems fishy....and we'll usually buy more than one. A good chunk of them end up here on the losers wall, after all the stuff that works ends up in your tackle box, right? So lets take a look at a few of these products that were sure to make fishing magic for the Pro's from Dover....
Luhr Jensen makes some of the most successful salmon lures in the world...and the Flutter Jig ain't one of them. The development of this lure is a salmon fishing legend. In the early 80's an Oregon fishing guide was spotting  these King salmon on his fish finder that were holding on the bottom in 30' at the mouth of the White River where it meets the Columbia.  The water being deep and slow there was no way to get at the fish with the usual salmon egg type lures so he put on a saltwater jig and dropped straight down to them....walla....the first one was snagged right in the mouth and the vertical jig fishery had begun. Well it didn't take long before folks  started to notice that these fish were biting an awful lot with other parts of their body besides their mouths which kind of complicated the fishery and other techniques came back to use. The Flutter Jigs that I have were purchased at John' Sporting Goods in Everett Washington in the 80's. This place is a fisherman's dream and has a real cult following so whenever we're close we get to John's for a look see. The day I bought these he had shelves of them at 7 bucks apiece. I went to check out with two of them and John says "I'll give em to ya for a buck apiece if you buy 20 " ......mmmm.....that should have told me they'd end up on the wall.
The stingfish lure is a spin off on Luhr Jensens venerable Kwikfish lure. It has an 'e-chip' built into the bill that emits an electrical charge. The package says " as the Stingfish lure is trolled the e-chip emitter on the front of the lure gives off tiny electrical pulses duplicating the nerve discharge of a wounded baitfish". Well....I don't know about everybody else but I've towed the paint off these things and all it ever caught was water. What they seem to work best for is when I have people fishing to close behind me I chuck em into the water and invariably the guys cheap gene clicks in and he moves the boat to go get it. Perfect. I got my collection from a friend who was a tackle rep and asked me to help him sell pro cure at the Great Alaska Sportmans Show. I stood on my feet for two days selling egg cure and got paid with cases of Stingfish lures and oh....I guess I got some "monster bite' scent to,  but that's another story. I'm hoping that someday my friend Craig will call and want to go fishing, got any idea what would be a good lure for him to fish with????
Now that Nitro Diver there is impressive. The Stingfishes technological advantage had to do with sound and pulses, well this baby has a 'scent delivery system' it has Phermone technology with its included ' Nitro Gravy' with 'Factor X2'...that's gotta work right?  Once again it seems to be a take off on a Luhr Jensen Product, the Jet Diver that every salmon fisherman owns many of. The Jet Diver puts the Kwikfish lure down where the salmon live and helps it 'track' properly through the current. So what could be better than add 'gravy' to this already successful formula ? So I guess maybe I never had it rigged right  and I just gave up on them....if you really want to put the 'sport' in sportfishing I recommend you tow one of these around for an entire day with a Stingfish behind it.....and bring a book.

I saved my favorite for last, the Tasmanian Devil, made in Australia. We all know Australia was founded by prisoners and criminals so its no wonder these babies ended up on the market. The package says "They bite like the Devil"....and that's pretty darn catchy. Throw in the graphic cover of the screeching bat like varmint himself and you have a lure that any red blooded fisherman can't resist...but the fish sure can.

I'll let ya know when we're having the garage sale. I'll sell this stuff cheap, almost free as they say in Mexico. Like I say, I've got lots of stuff.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Last, First

That's the way life works, when something ends something else starts...thank goodness. Sometimes in life those things are hard to find and gut wrenching and other times they're just fun, it just doesn't mean much and that's the way we like here at Mile 14. So this weekend we had our last boat ride for the 2012 season and our first sauna of the 2013 season, moving on is something I'm good at.

The hydrologists consider the Kenai River a 'meandering stream' and let me tell you with the recent high water event it did some serious meandering. Cutting away weak banks and building strong ones is what a the living river does I guess. Our neighbor here has to be a bit chagrined that he lost so much bank, I kinda look at it this way, he still has it, its just in a different place.

Down at the sonar site on the high bank complete sections of trees fell into the river, some ending up 30 feet from shore....or ah, where shore used to be. I can just see  guide boat 003 anchored in the seam behind this new shoreline with a silver salmon tugging on the line. But it has to be painful for the effected property owners, they're so close to the edge now and with the trees gone their privacy is gone also. I can see houses up there that I didn't know were there, it' sad.
If any of you have dreamed of your own place on the world famous Kenai I'd bet you we could swing a pretty good deal on this place...I know a Realtor. Right next door to this my landlord in Mazatlan has a place and it looks to have survived just fine and all they'll have to do is shovel some silt out before they set up camp. I wonder if the For Sale sign came before or after the flood....mmmmmm.
This is not the way I take care of my boats but I guess alls well that ends well for this guy. Its setting in the same place as it always does right here at Big Eddy corner, its just a bit elevated. No worries, in the spring just lock the hubs in and go fishing.
For the last two weeks I've been worried sick for our salmon, wondering what the high water was doing to the adults as well as the juveniles. So heres a pic of MP with a 2 month old worn out-seagull wouldn't eat it humpy. I guess I kind of have a knack for common sense and seeing this fish relieved me greatly.  I figure if this fish could buck the current and end up just in the right place to bite here K-15 Kwikfish on October 6th 2012 then our robust and strong Kings and Silvers are doing just fine. I really do. And oh, I had a gorgeous silver hooked and started eating it to soon, it got off.
I'm not kiddin you....I know you're always be leery when you hear that, but, if theres 2 Bald Eagles on the lower Kenai right now theres 100, easy.  This place is amazing, here's a set of pics where I tried to line up nature for effect but I couldn't get that darn seal to cooperate. So its going to take two pics for you to see what was all within a few hundred feet of each other. It's enough to make me want to come back, for sure.
So that's a wrap on fishing the Kenai 2012. It wasn't what we're used to but it wasn't all bad either. We made some new friends some of which will be on my web page updates and we had a lot of fun. And ya know what, we caught old slimey pretty darn well to. So no worries, one "unusual" year isn't running anybody off here at Mile 14....In fact I'm so optimistic about the future I've been investing and improving our quality of life. Jimmy Johnsons Lowes sponsored Nascar Chevy say " never stop improveing", I like that.  So I'm in the gym, I'm on a diet, I'm reading non fiction, Matt Rigney's important book about one mans search for the last great fish  In Pursuit of Giants and just today I added a nice touch to the sauna....lights.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Nothings Forever

We've had our first 3 full days of clear and cold fall weather, you know, like they have in the rest of the world...and its been wonderful. The rains stopped and as you can see by today's USGS graph that the flood water is falling here at Mile 14 so all there is to do now is wait and see what everything looks like that's been submerged. We've got our fingers crossed that the boat launch surface is intact  and will just need some shoveling and some more gravel brought in rather than to be totally rebuilt. I hope , I hope , I hope. The red line on the graph is the official flood stage.  I decided to not put the boat to bed yet as I'm thinking that when they open the river to boating again it might be an opportunity for a 'marine salvage' know me, theres gotta be a good side to this deal and finding peoples floated away docks, garbage cans, buoy's, picnic tables...well that just might be it.

MP's home from Mooooo ntana, so all is right is Jeff's world. We celebrated her first night back with a real treat for me, a nice beef steak perfectly over cooked on the barbie as usual. ( I'm off the red meat )  barbecueing is one of my weaknesses, I'm no good . She had a great visit and helped her mom through a surgical procedure and then spent a few days in Seattle with Sam and her friend Janet Randa. Sam is off today for a business trip to Mexico City, its cool to see him doing well.

Last week Chris and Chris were down on business and we found enough time for a few laughs. The flood has the birds and everybody a little out of sorts but theres still plenty of protein sources around for those brave and hungry enough.
Here's a pic from our sand spit half way down the road. You've seen this picture many times here on the blog but this morning to see the big mountain after 2 weeks of rain I just had to click. We're used to rain and overcast, what my friend Ray Olson made up a phrase for 'mismal' but this last run of it was exceptional. We have a saying here, " if you can't see the mountains its raining, if you can see the mountains...its going to rain".  You can just make out the tip of Redoubt, dead center.
And just today I get a call that the "entire herd' was feeding in the field right across the road from my house. So I jumped on the Honda 4-wheeler and snapped this pic.  I kinda think its a small part of the entire herd but pretty cool all the same. I didn't really notice them feeding much so I figured it out right away...they were just laying around in the sun drying out, just like us.