Sunday, December 29, 2013

Southern Pink Salmon

That's one of them right there. Around these parts they're a little maligned but let me tell you these toro are one noble fish. They flat pull hard and don't run out of gas. That one I'm holding is about a ten pounder and I thought it was going to smoke my brand spanking new Patriarch reel...The other day at Marmol we ran into a school of them even larger and with my light gear I decided to only catch one because I have two more months to fish and need all my gear working. They're a cousin of my favorite fish of all time, the Roosterfish and are best suited for your medium and heavy gear. For me that would be the 30 pound outfit rated 2 to 4 ounce. But, they just don't eat so well (although I've eaten plenty) and they're just so numerous that when they hit the beach chasing sardines it's almost too easy....sound like any fish you Alaskans know? Here's a pic that I've tried to capture for you a hundred times and finally made it happen. In the middle and top you can see the bait at the surface and at the very bottom you see the Toro's casing the bait onto the beach and surfing the wave in....unbelievable exciting. Click to enlarge, its sooooo cool.
So the other day I told my fellow Team X ers that I was going to organize a Toro tournament to see just who's the best in Mazatlán at catching these beauties....of course they know its gotta be me. I love to fish them with the topwater, to see the strike and react with the hook set is to me surf fishing what a brown trout raising to a nymph must be for the fly fisherman. But the problem is that the Corvina and the Robalo that we are  really after don't go for what the Toro does. So I'm like that 12 year old kid that just keeps chucking that pixie on even numbered years on the Kenai when the guys with the bait sitting still are catching silvers....I can't help it. And so I'm thinking with all the changes in our fishery that I just might get practiced up and become the best Humpy guide on the Kenai River in the year of 2014, you know me....ya gotta have goals. And look at this, MP even catches them really good...but then again she's a pretty darn good fisherma...ahhh....fisherperson....anyway she's been around this stuff and knows what the hell she's doing. Just like me,,, kinda.
I'm sitting under a palapa writing this as we have no internet in our casa, it's broken. At first I was getting a little hinky at not having my usual communications. But, right now this outdoor writing deal is flowing real well and I think I like it. It feels a little like not turning on the TV out of habit. Kinda wonderful really. But the bad side is (there's always one of those ya know) is that I just can't blog as often as I'd like and report when something really un-outstanding happens. So bare with me, please.

So here's a pic of the Toro King and Queen of Mazatlán, madly in love. Ya know I liked the setting for this pic and didn't even know why until now. It's a spiral staircase of course, it's us....and we're going up.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Life's a beach

Last night we sat at Costa Marinera eating shrimp and watching lightning over the ocean with Bill and Sharon Radke from Soldotna Alaska. It was wonderful and something I haven't seem much of in my lifetime. It's unusually hot and humid here with day temps at 85 degrees as well as 85% humidity. Yesterday I fished in the rain with just shorts on, how strange. The usually bright sunny days have been replaced with that grey look...this is about as good as I could do for a pic, getting a picture of rain isn't easy I guess.

 
This week we went north to one of our spots for big corvina. I don't know what it is but I'm just not as lucky as some of the guys with these things. This particular trip was a new endurance record for team X, theres nothing casual about leaving Mazatlán at 4 am and getting back to the condo at 5:30 pm, that's a long hard day of casting.  I'm kinda on injured reserve status here as my left shoulder is killing me. I don't think I hurt it when I fell on the rocks the other day but it's just an accumulation of me doing too much casting, weight lifting and just acting stupid in general. Here's a pic of the boys with some gorgeous corvina....and me, well, I'm a toro specialist these days.
And in the weird fish department, Ernie caught this guy yesterday morning while we were fishing the Holiday Inn. I had two good chances at the roosterfish without a hook up. I see them chasing the Lisa (mullet) onto the beach and I run for my topwater lure. Then it's down the beach 1/4 mile chasing and throwing and hoping and....when I return Ernie has this beauty. He fishes just a little bit different than me and his steadiness pays off with this conchita or what Ern called a 'clown fish'.
 
I know it sounds it weird but in Alaska I like to grocery shop, it's a kind of a social thing for me. so here where I know less people the shopping experience is made fun with the differences 5,000 miles and two countries make. Here in Mexico you can sample the food. Sales items are a cheaper price and usually comes with a free gift, like a small bottle of clamtoe or something that would go perfectly with your Cheerios, like a bag of potato chips. Or even better, what beats just adding more....like this 8 pack that used to be a 6 pack....for 38 pesos, a little over three bucks.
And when the Soriana store (our favorite) sets the table to give you all the Christmas possibilities it's plain old mouth watering. Naturally MP being the way she is was wondering what happened to the food, wondering it's wasted....I kinda doubt it. I'd bet it ends up being a pre season warm up for somebody.
But what really jumped out at me was the artistry of the pastry chef. These cakes are ultra, doble, 10 out of 10 cooool. My favorite was the bottom one but hey had surf scenes, city scenes, comic book characters...in fact this place has just that... character...and we love it.
 
We're going to old town in the next few days to take pictures and enjoy an authentic Mexican Christmas so I hope to post more soon. But considering the difficulty I'm having with the internet I'm going to take this opportunity right now to wish all of you a and Merry Christmas and MP and I wish you all the happiness and success you deserve in 2014.....and ya know, I kinda reflect and know I have a great, loving, and exciting life, .....thanks to all of you for being a big, big, big part of it.  We love you all....JEFF and MPeasy

 



Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Eagle has landed

We hit Mazatlán with our feet moving, it's one of my credos you know ' moss don't grow on a rolling stone'. Our friend Deb Germano tipped me with pesos for a fishing trip this last September so even though we had a case of jet lag that only another Alaskan or an astronaut could appreciate we went out for shrimp our first night here. Javier at Loco Loco's was happy to see us and the shrimp was fantastic....the problem was that the bill was 420 peso and we only had 400 peso, dang I hate it when that happens.  Have you ever come home from an evening out without a single coin?

 

I've fished from boats, jetty's , rocks, rafts...well just about anything and everything in a lifetime of pursuit. But how cool was it to fish from 50,000 year old petroglths ?  Teams X was at Dimas near the formations of Pixtala so we gave it a whirl. Only in Mexico is there the freedom to stand in antiquity and be so naturally part of it all. I figure the fishing must have been better back in those days than it is now if the locals had time to carve 1500 rocks.  Here's a pic of me and Ramon when we were in between stops.....and a pic from the truck so you can see the vastness of this beach wilderness.
  • The next pic I took out at gringo point the other day. I don't know what they called it before we came along but now all of the fishing culture in Mazatlán call it gringo point. It's me Slah and Ernie,  three Amigos joined by a love of...no....a passion for the adventure and fair game pursuit of fish.
  • We had a little excitement in the neighborhood. Apparently the army had to 'encourage ' some bad guys to exit the house they were holed up in. As you can see they weren't shooting through the windows to kill them,a friend of mine said "it's just an arrest like in the states but with a different technique".  There were several windows just like this one around the house which is just around the corner from us. But please....don't worry about us, this kind of deal is rare and it has nothing to do with Mazatlán and people like us. Just imagine it's like if you were at the liquor store in Fairview when it got robbed, just kinda weird is all.
  • This years official Christmas tree was kinda disappointing, I mean it looked like a regular tree. One year it was recycled pop bottles with different colored water and the shape was like the perfect tree. But we did find what MP and I agree is the most beautiful tree we've seen yet so I took this pic at Marina El Cid....pretty nice eh?
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  • And in the Christmas spirit we ran into this camper from up Norte. Now in Alaska we have a guy who gives away Bibles from pick up truck. This guy kinda trumps him I'd say....his truck IS the Bible. It's one of the thing we love about Mexico, it seems to attract passionate people that in other places might be unusual but here are just part of the gang. Like us. His carpentry was perfect, the messages clear.
  • When this guy raced through the house the other morning I saw MP react like she's only done once before, when a bat flew through the house pinning her to the carpet. If you've never tried to kill one of these things you'd be amazed, it's no wonder they've been on the planet longer than anything else.
  • I feel bad that it took  whole week to get this blog entry out but I have an excuse, technical problems. The internet in our building is painfully slow. The wireless will work if I put the computer on the rail of the patio at 45 degree angle and then stand on  one leg. After dealing with that for a week I got smart and went somewhere else where they have fast internet and Pacifico's so I'm race ready and will blog more and better. Honest.
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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Jeff's formula for stress free airline travel


As Geno says 'tomorrow we 'jump the jet' and will be in Mazatlan in about 18 hours, I hope. I haven't done a list for a while and you know how I like those things, they just give order to this ol life. So here I'll share what I've learned about air travel, I'm no million miler... but  I am 60 years old and have  developed a few tricks....

1. Always take the double for an extra dollar.

2. Take your shoes off and let them babies breath. I figure if you have to share sounds and smells with 250 people some of them might as well be your own.

3. Have french fries....there ain't an airport in the world that doesn't have good french fries.

4. Read the travel section in USA Today. When you see where those people are going it's gonna make you feel waaaaay better about all the lettuce your spending on where YOU'RE going.

5. Before you board the plane spend 5 minutes reminiscing about the first time you took your kids on a red-eye flight.This is important now, remember, there was a time when that kid wailing away a falsetto in the key of  D was yours...or maybe even you.

6.Wear baggie clothes. Nobody needs an 3500 mile snuggy.

7.Do not watch Denzel Washington in the movie Flight the night before you fly.

8. Buy the 5 dollar Dasani on the other side of security and drink it.

9. Have your guitar tuned, you never know when somebody might want to here 'Mama Hated Diesels'.

10. The free V-8 is a great deal....

11. And the biggest thing and you all know it is , just be coooool man. Once you give them your baggage resign yourself to the fact that you're at the mercy of the system. It'll do no good to be demanding, commanding, remanding or even understanding....just be coooool man.

So, I'll give you a full rundown in a couple days how we do on our way to Mile 5014. It'll be a good story and I'd bet you chartreuse Kwikfish that I'll have a pic of my first fish caught on my first morning on my first ca.......nay it'll take longer than that, but I'll get him.
I facebooked these pics the other day of our visitor. This really is a pretty incredible piece of property. This guy walked up the trail from the river and peaked in the house. It's about as close as I've ever been to one. I took the shots through the slider, he watched us watch him for 3 or 4 minutes then moved along . Guess he just came up to say good bye...for now.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

In search of a happy, healthy, and long life

Winter has finally set in here at Mile 14, it's bitterly cold and with that comes the most stunning beauty. Us Alaskans know that there's nothing like 10 below zero to bring out the morning and evening Alpenglow and the frost like this.
The river is finally 'setting up' and it makes this wonderful sloshing sound for days. Pretty soon the ole creek will be locked up for the winter and Jet-dog will be under the supervision of our new house sitter Rebeca and me and MPeasy will be in Maz... When it first got cold it seemed like our new 100% efficient boiler wasn't keeping the house warm so we had to call our plumber. He checked it out and it was working perfect...he just said that maybe we weren't use to winter anymore, maybe kinda forgot what it was like at 10 below.....mmmmm.....time to go.
How would like to lose 5 unsightly pounds in 2 days? Or maybe set a personal best for all time sleep endurance by snoozing 18 of a 24 hour day. Maybe you'd like a little out of body experience, ya know, slip back to the 1960's for just a bit. Maybe you'd like to entertain your wife with a Dairy Queen Blizzard and then get locked in the car while she shops the Fred Meyer store ?  Or maybe you'd like to have  someone you love and trust to think that taking a pic of you like this is funny....well....if you want any of those things and way, way, way more that I just can't and won't mention....have a colonoscopy. What happened to my comb over?
The colonoscopy and the digital prostrate exam are two things I've been dodging for 10 years, successfully. But lately I got to figuring that I've got a really, really, really good life and I oughta do just about all I can to keep it is along as I can.  So about 3 weeks ago we scheduled the procedures with Dr. Kelly, he had only one time frame available before our migration, it was at 12 noon the day before Thanksgiving. Well I quickly found out why he had that time frame available...you'd either have to be out of your mind or be Jeff King to submit to a colonoscopy at noon on any day, especially Thanksgiving eve. After you've ah.....purged your system like I did for two days instead of the mandatory one day ( you know how I am about over doing things) then comes a 6 hour before the procedure of absolutely no fluids or food at all.  It was horrible. I was so dehydrated that I looked like that model builder guy with the blisters all over his lips in the movie The Flight of the Phoenix. 
Now if you ask me I'd say that's one damn fine looking colon. But....not so quick. You see that bump right about mid-ship? Well, that's exactly what this test is supposed to be looking for, either a cancerous or precancerous polyp, we won't know until the biopsy comes back. But for me I think it's kind of a yahtzee deal as no matter what the test says it's gone and so is another just like it, the only ones that were found. From what I understand what it could mean is that I have to keep an eye on it and have the colonoscopy done more often than once every 10 years...So once I get really good at this deal I'm having the procedure first thing in the morning, on a Monday so I got the rest of the week to get over the ....ahhhhh.....shock of it all I guess.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pandora

Well I guess I must be a little more old school than I thought. Up till now the biggest innovation in communications for me was the stamp that you didn't have to lick. But boy oh boy what I've been missing by resisting the smart phone just because I couldn't find one that works in Mexico. But me and MPeasy have them now and for me on a lot of levels it's a life changer....I mean I got apps that keep me up to date on Mariner trade rumors, watches my stock numbers, tells me where I'm at and might even help get me where I'm going. I've got my tide tables right on the machine, my boarding passes, my translator and it's even teaching me Spanish ...although real slowly. BUT, the coolest thing by far is Pandora, wow.

Anybody that knows me will tell you that in the last 15 years my music has come a long way from the days I could empty out a bar room...in more ways than one. I had a breakthrough when we first saw Gary Allan in Las Vegas during the National Finals Rodeo. His tickets were way cheaper than Brooks and Dunn and I left soooo inspired. Then it was Ray and Jeana's wedding where I discovered Kevin Fowler on a CD that was given to all the wedding guests. And now it's Pandora. I'm sure most of you know how it builds a radio station for your musical preferences and even for your everyday moods. Being more than just a music listener I need to be exposed to new styles, new ideas and though I might 'cover' many of the songs I'm drawn to it also helps my singing and hopefully acts as background for me to write and complete more music. Just this morning I got Pandora going on my Samsung Smart TV and then run it through the  surround speakers and boy howdy...we're cooking with gas. I just love what they call the ' Red Dirt sound ' that is a pretty traditional type of lyrical  country swing that comes out of Texas and Oklahoma, I'm hearing artists and sounds I never new existed. I feel like I did when I first heard the Beetles some 50 years ago....Here's the front page of my song list, I'm heading upwards of 200.
It makes  you dreamy, we all seem to know,
that play the music, who make the show.

That stand with courage and belt out your life,
close your eyes real tight  and  fly,
over the years the tears the tragedies,
the joy  the kiss the smile, your wife.

So perfect and simple so wise all along
like we make sense of it all, in one little song.
                                                                                                   JK


Sunday, November 17, 2013

It just takes time

Yesterday my nephew Mitch said something to me, like we were on the same wave length when he said " why can't time just slow down" ?  Well it seems to me that if anything it actually speeds up as we travel along this program . I just received my 7th five years of Coast Guard Merchant Mariner endorsement which will keep me guiding until I'm sixty five years old. Wow. Here's a couple pics of my first brochure, it's a long way from a professionally maintained web site. It was printed on an old type setter print machine at the Cheechakoe News run by my old friend Loren Stewart....who misspelled rainbow trout.
Then in the mid 80's I got in cahoots with a guy named Carl Butcher. Carl was an event. Anywhere you went with Carl something was sure to happen, and not necessarily something good.  Carl was a business guy and always scheming on how to turn the dollar...I learned a lot from Carl, what to do and what not to do. 30 years later it occurs to me that a big reason for our 'partnership' was to help defray the cost of  10,000 of these brochures. It was me, Carl and the Riverside House Hotel, and we did some huge business for sure and you know we had a ton of fun doing it.
Then in that time frame where I saw the Internet would be the future but we weren't there yet I still needed to have something visual to send out to people so I came up with this little collage. They cost me a buck a piece and I'd include a form letter that I would personalize for each inquiry that had specific questions. This collage has all my favorite characters from the 80's and early 90's.....Johnny Burnett, Jacques Lizin, Bill and Sally Brook, Pop Reeves, Marty Holleran , Geno and Mrs Robert Mundy in the lower left who caught that 74 pounder on the same day her husband caught a 76 pounder....I love ya all....
Here's a pic of us hard at it on a typical day in the early 90's...putting the plan to motion. Having been selected to represent Honda Marine was one of the highlights of my carreer, so far.  For 15 years I had the best equipment money could buy and took pride in keeping it clean and professional. I'd help Honda at Boat shows, I'd help fisherman with propping issues, I helped write press releases and in turn was given product to showcase....ahhhhhh.....America, what a great place.
Young wonderful people, my relatives, people I love the most in this world have been dealt a crappy hand. It's tough news that we all got this weekend. I thought I'd sing them this song that I just worked up like I'd do if we were there with them.  It's going to be alright you guys, we love you....it just takes  time.

video

Sunday, November 10, 2013

This is serious stuff

Me and my fellow Team X members take our surf fishing serious. Last year I took 800 fish hooks and as you can see from this years pile the theme for 2014 is Fireline. I feel kinda bad that our local store had it on sale so cheap as it reflects their failure to sell it but it's yahtzee for us...1/2 a dozen 1500 yard spools for 'almost free' as they say in Mexico.
Years ago when I started in Mazatlan it was almost impossible to find fishing gear, especially terminal tackle. But now our friends at Pesca Maz have surf fishing tackle in all shapes and you know how I am about loyalty so this years pile has less tackle...I'm buying from them. What it mostly has is good deals and of course the few things that we still can't fine there, like licorice and Old Bay seasoning. As you can see I've got line and leader, a couple new surf rods, a few swim fish and some P-line jigs that were on sale. I also have a new back pack because it seems every year I give my back pack away to one of my beach vendor friends who needs it for work.

Our fishing team with the exception of Ernie are people who live in Mazatlan and I'll never in my life know the local fishing like they do...But, being a professional fisherman I know and have access to  any and all technological advances. Through the years I've pioneered the use of lighted lures, fuel injected baits, scents with pheromone technology, I've used Kwikfish that emit an electronic pulse, bobbers  that flash in the night and even spinners that sent out acoustic sonar murmurs to lure the fish to bite....and now I got this baby.
Just another fishing reel you might say. But look closer. This baby's got an on board energy core that sends an ionized electrical charge down the line to where your lure probes the depths for old slimey. We all know that fish have a sensitive lateral line area that responds in aggressive strikes when stimulated...why didn't we think of this before? My old friend Craig Berg sold hundreds of lures that only had a BB rolling around in it to create this positive energy, he'd be so proud of me , because, ...well this baby has pooooooower, enough to make the braided fish line act like a 300 yard extension cord.
I know, I know, you're thinking this baby is some 'as seen on TV' gimmick and you wonder why it would need to flash light to emit this strike inducing force field. Well, the lights you see are only to let ya know it's working, just like the monitor light on my Peavey amplifier or the red light on the Mr. Coffee. If you're not convinced by now this next pic will do it for you, c'mon this is fishing magic. You can feel the energy when you crank, it leaves a slight humming in your ears and the hair on your for arms stands up a bit....man oh man....
So, with the use of this cutting edge technology and of course the hard work that I'm known for and maybe a few Pacificos  it ought to be easy to catch that 20 pound Robalo I've been wanting. Here's a pic of Team X co founder Slah with exactly the fish I intend to catch....watch out Mazatlan, the fishin musician is headed your way. And oh, I only got one of these reels, they're in very limited supply as the plutonium fuel core it uses is in  short supply and of course it's prohibitively expensive. But hey, I'm a generous guy, I'll lend it out after I catch that Robalo.....

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Everything you ever wanted to know about Kenai Kings...I hope

For any of you that don't live here or do and understandably don't subscribe to our newspaper and want to know some about our King Salmon now's your chance. Today the Peninsula Clarion published the 1st of a 10 part series about our King Salmon with today's story titled ' Running in Cycles'. Today's story mostly outlined the historical use of these wonderful fish and explained the cyclical nature of anadromous fisheries in general. I'm always on the side of information and I'm really hoping that this series will help us locally here to confront and deal in a reasonable and respectful way with future management of this fishery. It seems that with a bit of a down turn that could be entirely a natural fluctuation we seem to assign blame as a community, and that does absolutely no good....It's my fondest hope that this series helps take some of the mystery away and fairly portrays the situation and maybe even fosters some solutions. So if any of you are interested it all can be seen at www.peninsulaclarion.com
As I've told people all along, I have no doubt our King fishery is in a temporary down turn. We've seen this before. It was only a few short years ago that the Deshka River was on it's knees and within two years they were increasing the bag limits out of abundance of King's. Our habitat is pristine and that's our ace in the hole. All we need is to find out where our mature Kings are going and get them where they need to go. Keep in mind that although it's been a rough spell we have met escapements. I'm one that always thinks that good comes from bad....it's the only way you can make sense of some things in life. So, here's my 10 part series on what we sports people can do to frame this fishery into something we can all be proud of when it does recover....I guess this is my dream list, how it could work so all of you and your grand kids can keep catching fish like this gorgeous one my friend Dick Hahn is holding.
1. We need to quit killing so many fish. We need to keep the sport limit 2 a year but make it so only 1 can be from the early run and one from the late run...I think one 50 pounder is a lot meat for people who like to eat King salmon like I do.

2. We need a limit on guides on the Kenai River. It's a resource related business and we need a sustainable guide community. Right now with a downturn in business we as a community should say yes we want successful business people on the river....but we also want a quality of experience for all people not just the ones who chose to use a guide. A guide permit would have no value and we would have a fair way for young people and new people to enter the fishery. 

3. We need to use the river in a gentler fashion. We should encourage more use of drift boats with more drift boat only days and incentives for guides to use them instead of the powerboats. We'll cut down on harvest and at the same time increase the quality of the experience.

4. We need the community to come together. This commercial / sport division has gone on long enough. We need people in leadership that want all aspects of the community to succeed. In order to solve problems we need to create an atmosphere for that to happen....I wish I new how we change these decades old animosities but maybe it's as simple as not listening to or involving the same old same old people year after year after year.....

5. We need to involve our people in the management of these fisheries more, and I mean hands on involvement....I t seems to me that the most cautious approaches would come from people who need it the most....us.

6. To help with number 4, we need fair allocations between the users. So I'm thinking whats fairer than splitting the available harvest fairly, 50 / 50, even Steven.

7. We should encourage and embrace catch and release fishing, maybe set aside a day just for that like we do drift boats. For some reason people in Alaska don't think these King Salmon should be handled and released....It's done ALL over the world with great success, there are places where they attribute C+R to 'saving' the fisheries. Obviously the Alaska Dept of Fish and Game doesn't see a problem with it as they routinely handle these fish. We have science that shows less than 10% mortality and that was with bait and treble hooks. Take away those 2 things and add barb less hooks and a better educated fishing public and I'd bet you anything C+R mortality is almost non existent.

8. We either need to close the river to King fishing at night or we need enforcement out at night. Knowing State Parks like I do I think that closing the river is the only viable option to stop the unfortunate poaching and cheating that goes on....we all know it and do nothing.

9. We need our guides to be truly be stewards of this wonderful place. They need to set examples. So, we need a zero tolerance policy with guides....if you're caught party boat fishing, if you're caught using bait when no bait is allowed, if you cheat you're done. Period. 

10. We need our community support organizations to think about what they're doing. Do we really want the Chambers of Commerce around here involved in nothing more than a body count ? Do we really think that more visitors right now is better? Maybe they should focus on improving  the product (the river and our fishing) over improving just the promotion and then visitation will take care of itself.  

Well.....I wanted to keep it to 10 things and you know what? I could keep going. But I guess the short version of all this and what I expect we can all take from the Clarion when the series is done is this. We just all need to foster respect for all the users who are our neighbors and respect for these wonderful creatures that are our neighbors as well. Once we're in that mode, the rest is 'duck soup' if you ask me.
OK, that's my Kenai River wish list for the year, thanks for bearing with me. Can ya tell I care ? But real soon we'll be down doing what I do best, not the politics....the fishin. I hope you come back and keep reading Mile 14, we'll make it fun.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Fish Story

What do ya do when you've got a case of writers block ? Well, fall back on the age old credo that writers are taught - write about what you know. And for me it's that four letter word that starts with F, I got some great fish stories. A lot of people like me have a large fish mount collection. My old friend Bert Holtan had 100 I'd guess, but me, well I've got just 4...and they're the 4 most exciting fish I've ever handled out of the thousands we've tricked.
That fish on the right is to surf casters what a perfect game is to a baseball pitcher. It was at the end of our Mazatlan trip in 2007. My friend Rich Uberaggea and I had been out in the Panga boat  the day before with a skipper named Juanito and we had caught 2 roosters on live mullet, but we hooked 15, landed two, you figure it out. But, where we caught them was just off shore from a boulevard 1 1/2 miles from our condo. "Meet ya in the morning Rich, we're going to be there".

So being how we are we 're sitting on a retaining wall waiting for it to get light when I tell Rich that it's light enough for me and I'm going to go catch a Roosterfish. I've got my 1st surf rod, a 13 foot cheap Daiwa and a Daiwa reel with 30 pound Fireline and of course my favorite lure of all time, a chrome 3 ounce Ranger.  I chuck it hard and instantly....I can't believe....I got him....1st cast....I've never had a fish pull so hard, it's smoking off line and then.....it's gone. I tell Rich it's spit the hook but when I get reeled in the failure is clear, its me, I guess I had a bit of buck fever and had not closed the snap. It was straightened out, ranger gone, fish gone.

But the roosters are really in and they attract a crowd. I  cast and cast and watch as maybe 15 are caught. They're chasing the lures right onto the beach and you can see the silver flash of the fish riding the crest of the waves as they trap mullet against the beach. My new friend Slah catches 3 and I can't get a bite. The frenzy is cooling down and about 9 am I can see just the dorsal fin of one about 75 yards offshore, he's not chasing like all the ones I've seen so I cast at him and miss by 30 feet.....AND he turns.....he's full up to speed when he hits my red/white Ranger Lure, I got him. This fish is incredible, he runs parallel with the beach so I have to go over and under several fisherman. then he runs straight out, he pulls out 100 yards of line, I feel and adjust my drag and 20 minutes latter he's on the beach. Now I know why they call them the 'minute a pound fish'. The best part was taking him home in a cab, he's the only rooster I've ever killed, all the ones I've caught since have been released. My friend Bernie Pendergast mounted and painted him for me, just a gorgeous creature and one of natures wonderful gifts. The lure in his mouth is one of Slah's home made top water lures.
Now what kind of Kenai river guide would I be without a mounted King Salmon ? It was 1986 and my friend Marty Holleran and I are drifting spin glo's through Fall-in-hole and he hooks the biggest salmon I had ever seen up to that point. As they often do this baby jumped eye level right off the bat and gave us a good idea of what we were up against. As we fought him down towards Honey Moon Cove he kinda got us out to the middle of the river and just as I told Marty we needed to pull hard to keep him from going around the shallow side of the island he made one strong run and did exactly that....To tell you the truth I had never run a boat around the inside of this line of islands but there was only one thing to do, trim the motor up and follow. So Marty gets this fish well played out as we clang a clang along the island in 18 inches of water. When he comes to the net we have a new problem....the waters not deep enough to get the net under the fish. Yikes. Every time I  stick the net at the fish the leading edge bottoms out, the fish is lying on it's side in no water at all but finally the boat floats to deeper water and ol slimey is so tired he doesn't even quiver as I force the net around him....our first gargantuan. I learned a lot, Marty is tired, the fish is pow and everyone on the river sees us come around from the backside of the islands taking pics. He's a Hunter Fisher skin mount that was repainted by Mark Oslund several years ago. Beautiful, theres no fish in the world like a Kenai King.
Every year I make a list of goals, it helps me keep on track even when some of the goals are so large I just kind of whittle away on them from year to year. But I set the goal of a 20 pound Corvina , they are a white sea Bass and the favorite prey of my friends with Team X. But this day I chose not to go north with the team as I'd seen some roosters the day before and that's my deal, love those roosterfish and fishing the topwater. I'd walked from our place several miles north and had only cast a few times as I just wasn't seeing what I wanted. So mid morning I took off the Ranger and started to blind cast a 2 1/2 ounce Krocodile... I feel something heavy but he doesn't have the speed or strength of the rooster....but....he's heavy and shakes his head real well as I gently pull him onto the beach. It's low tide and I'm all by myself so I need to drag him up out of the wave break when he spits the hook....I run and get my body between him and the surf and then use my hands to push and throw him up the beach farther....when he's finally safe I'm surprised by his size. The Corvina make a good initial run and then kinda come in easy. There's a Mexican family watching and I ask them to take picture and of course the kids have to be in the pics, that's the most important thing. This fish I took home on the bus, the driver acted like it was an everyday experience having a huge Corvina on the bus...all the passengers looked at me like I was Roland Martin....Now my goal is a huge Robalo to go with my huge Corvina. I ordered the blank from my friends at New Wave Taxidermy in Stuart Florida. They didn't have a Corvina blank so they took the largest sea trout they had and added the right fins to make it a Corvina, my friend Mike Dinkel put it together and painted it.
My first few years of guiding I could only afford to guide June  and July for Kings. I needed to work and it still hadn't sunk in on me that I could actually make a living do this thing I love. So it's a September weekend and my friend Neil Arthur was living on the river and renting from Les Anderson who later went on to catch the biggest salmon in the world. Neil invited me to go silver fishing with another friend Carroll Eby who came down river to Les's and picked us up in his Hewescraft. It had a top on it and it was the first time ever I fished in the rain from anything but an open boat....it was great. We stopped at a place Neil calls the 'buck hole' and the bite is on. We had 2 on at once, we had 6 in the boat in the first 20 minutes, the fishing was so good we never even opened up the Lucky Lagers we'd brought along.
So that silver salmon is one of the many we caught that day. It really represents what this passion of mine is all about. Friendships, living in the moment, creating memories that will live on with us as we journey around the sun. Just the other day I went to Neil's 60th birthday party. I see Carroll all the time, we're all still friends and we all share a bit of that slimey....When we run into each other it often goes like this...." do remember the time......" and I say " of course " , how could I forget. That's fishing.

And the coolest part is that long after I'm gone somebody is going to have these fish. I hope it goes like this...."man that's a huge salmon"...."yep,  my great great grandpa caught it back in the 1900's, guess he was a hell of a fisherman".

Friday, October 18, 2013

USA

When you put 2800 miles on a rental car in North Central America you learn and see a lot. I guess what jumped out on me the most was what Winston Churchill said about Americans, they have character. A farmer in North Dakota took time to build an object that was a huge ship type anchor chain that must have weighed 2 tons hanging from a tree that said 'North Dakota wind chine'. And then there was this.
The cowboy looks over the heard, it's us I suppose. So along this desolate stretch of Montana you find the contrasts of great success and always America's broken dreams. I guess you don't get one without the other, that's the way it works.
The people who live in these outposts of Montana are rightfully proud of their place and what it took to be there. I was struck at how almost all of these little towns and sometimes even families had their own museums to show us the way. Just like our own Soldotna Homesteaders Museum these people have put together the story for us, and pridefully so. At first I thought it was kind of funny but as we journeyed on I saw it....these people feel special, and so they should.

The other day we got on this barely paved-no stripes-no shoulders road where we only saw a few cars for 30 miles. It was absolutely gorgeous and I wondered just how much of this Montana there was that I hadn't seen before.
As we started down a hill into a valley I just had to stop the car and take this picture.
We turned the corner and fueled up in Anaconda where all the copper from the Berkley Pit was smelted years ago. Even though when I first saw the stack I knew the story I was still a bit surprised. Of course here in Alaska the Pebble Project is the catalyst for the age old debate of  how industry can co exist with nature, I guess these two pics show whether it can or can't...you decide.
As we traveled the big issue of course was our shut down government deal. I noticed some people would be angry and some thought it was funny. I haven't really given it that much thought and I don't think people like this did either. Maybe they know it's just a sign of our American passion and character.
So I guess this trip left me a better American. If only the people in the world that don't like us could see what I just did it might give them pause. The precision of the corn farming in Minnesota, the durability of the Montana rancher or the hard working young guys drilling the  Bakken Field...It's a pretty cool place, with character.