Monday, July 29, 2013

We're going catching

In a 9th inning attempt to reach King salmon escapement the ADF+G made the river catch and release on Tuesday and then totally closed it on Thursday , I hope it works....I truly do. But I'm afraid that for the first time ever the minimum goal won't be met. I just don't have the heart to be to critical right now and what good would it do we did what we always do... we went fishing. I've got the best people around me. Here's a pic of my friend John Japp who's a fairly new member of 'F' Troop expertly casting that Triton series Shimano. And though I didn't get a pic of his world record backlash on the next drift his running buddy Chuck made a semi-duplicate just for our photo viewing pleasure. Thanks guys, it was great to see you.
It was a great day but a 'water haul' all the same. So the next day we went into executive session and decided that with the Kings being released and all we'd try some new fact we decided to go catching. It's the beautiful thing about this place at Mile 14, theres lots to do, loads of options. And even with a fishy change in plans the rest of the story never ceases to amaze me. We saw this scene not once but twice while red fishing with the second one so close we could smell him. Tom thought it was ultra cool.
I take pride in not hitting things but the above Soldotna stretch of water cost me a prop for the first time in 7 or 8 years. I was releasing one of these gorgeous rainbows like this one that Jeff caught  and floated onto a rock while in neutral. It kinda made me wonder if I was getting like that ageing athlete that you hear of 'losing a step'. Oh was worth it ,on each day we went up we caught at least 25 or 30 of these guys. As you can see we use the rubber net so it doesn't take the slime off as we carefully release these wonderful fish.
Most of them were around 2or 3 pounds but we also caught a few in the 7 and 8 range and then this whopper that Doris got hold of. This fish jumped eye level several times and ran off half of her 12 pound test. We actually had one that was considerably bigger but I didn't get a pic because I wanted him released right away.
I know, I gotta work on my fish pose, having half of him covered up with my arm is kinda junior varsity . So tomorrow we set sail for silvers and failing that we run up above Soldotna and trout fish. I expect with the commercial guys shut down for King conservation the good news is that we'll see good silvers and early silvers. Stand by....and you know me, fishing is an event, it's everything, the vistas, the humor, the stories, the learning and sharing, the wildlife, the air and the sounds of an eagle screeching's all of it....and I love it. Our King's aren't doing so good right now but the rest of it is just hunky dory.

Monday, July 22, 2013

sock eyed

Last Monday I did something I seldom do, I took some folks red fishing and had an absolutely wonderful time. How could you beat this introduction to the morning ? Anybody who thinks fishing is only about catching would have to change their minds if they had been along on the morning I had with Kevin Krause and his friends.
We watched this guy for 15 minutes or so while we shared some nice hot coffee. He didn't like those seagulls taking his hard earned salmon, maybe he was even thinking it could be the bear version of surf and turf.
Then we went and found a nice quiet place to fish, all by ourselves. These guys picked up the flossing technique perfectly, we caught 15 reds in about 3 hours. I even caught 3 for our freezer. and as you can see when I told Kristen that the fish were on the bottom she took me literally. I had a great time with these guys and as I put my red gear away for the day I had this thought....welcome to the future Jeff.
The Kenai is winding down from yet another record run of reds. It hit a crescendo about 2 days ago and as I sit here typing the ol Kenai is gasping a sigh of relief. One thing I've noticed here with this deal, there seems to be harvesters... and then fishermen. The energy is incredible, you can feel it it town, you can feel it along the river and you can certainly see it as well. All along the river at any good gravel bar we have scenes like this.
Yesterday I made a run to Wal Mart in Kenai....the bite was on. I'm always looking for things that jump out at me, the unusual in Jeff's world. Well here's a guy after my own heart, shopping done with only two things, fish boxes and Rainer beer.
And of course the harvesters use the dip net technique. I don't know how this all got started but it's huge...and I mean huge. We see it all for a 4 or 5 day stretch, boats of all shapes and sizes, even a Noah's ark looking deal that I snapped a pic of as quick as I could. This years winner in the unusual boat category. Kinda reminded me of a redwood hot tub with a 50 horse yamy. I'll  bet ya all those dippers on the shore would love to own a fine watercraft like that eh?
So with all the hustle and bustle of this red run, our boat launch packed and our town on 24 hour alert  I went for my bike ride at 5 am this morning and found what I was looking for...fishermen. These guys were waded across from the mouth of Soldotna Creek. You could hear the cascade of the creek falling into the Kenai and just behind them the mountains sparkled with the sunrise. I asked if I could take this picture and he said " good morning, it's just beautiful here isn't it ? "
With our red run ebbing I see more Kings in our future, we should have a good last week of the season. This week we caught just enough to keep the wolves away, some of it was magic and some of it was tragic. But we did catch  a few nice ones like this 36 pounder of Nikki's. And thanks for the b-day moe-joe everybody, it was a great week at Mile 14.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


The first thing I have to do is thank the guys that fished with me this week. The ol Kenai was a bit slow for Kings and I have to say that combined with about as long of an anti-moe-joe run as I've ever suffered through we really didn't do very well. But my customers are the best, we caught a few and smiled a ton so my hats off  to the class of week 2, 2013. Trev, Tim and Rand, my old friend Kenny Falon and my new friends Judy, Rich and Collin....Thanks you guys, you're the best. And this guy, Tim Kennedy's dad is golden, he's a retired Lutheran minister , a man of wisdom and humor...I hope I see you again Dick.
The coolest thing happened yesterday. This moose was bound and determined to make a show for the fleet trolling the toilet hole. When she swam out a guy in a boat next to me said it would make a good blog say's ' yeh I read ya'. Now maybe I know you and just didn't recognize you or if I don't know you all I can say is thanks again for reading my blog. I hope I get to know you and you're cordially invited to join the culture here at Mile 14, come launch your boat and share some chuckles, I think you'd like it here.
And here's a pic of me and MP's new bike. Boy howdy are we gonna look like the loving couple just pedaling our way through old age. It's even got a basket for when we ride to the pharmacy to get our meds. I suppose we'll adjust but our maiden ride didn't really go so well. Both of us wanted the front, one turned left and the other right and I kinda think MP was either riding the brake on me or just flat out sand bagging because I pedaled my #@* off. C'mon baby we gotta work together.
You know how I like lists, it's about the only thing in my life that I use order. So, I'm going to do 2 lists, one of the good things about turning 60 and one about the bad things of turning 60.

1. My health insurance went up. How could that be good?...well, I used to really rant about the cost of something I don't use, that was dumb. Because now I know that means I'm healthy, which I am and that's huge.
2. All my life I've been swimming against the current. I don't know why but I just couldn't conform. Well, at the age of 60 I'm finally feeling regular, kinda normal, healthy in the head I guess.
3. I can apply that same feeling to authority. I've always hated that and I don't know why...but now I'm kinda figuring that in realty I AM the authority. Coooool.
4. I've been feeling kinda free. Free from pretensions, free to be myself. My old buddy Bill Forrest used to say "if you don't like the gate, don't swing on it".
5. Every now and then I have a younger guide ask me things and in a way show respect. I like this. As competitive a bunch as we are some guys see it....I've done it. I've dedicated my life and 100% of my energy to being this guy....Jeff King, Kenai River Guide, fish expert and lifestyle artist.
6. I might not have as many years left as younger guys but I see quality over quantity. I think when you turn 60 you have a library of experiences to draw on, to help you prioritize life, you know...I ain't wasting time on that or them...Don't sweat the small stuff...and its all small stuff. 
7. I've noticed that as I get older I get more confident, things seem comfortable. I'm convinced that the only way it could work is that you continue to gain confidence and comfort and when it's time to leave the planet you'll be confident and comfortable with that too. Maybe that's called grace.


So Happy 60th b-day Jethro...did any of you know that July 16th was the date they first test fired a nuclear bomb? Yup, true story. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Since I started my guitar collection sometimes I have a little guilt, they cost a lot but they're just so cool objects. I remember asking my friend Dave Unruh who is a working musician how many guitars he owned and he replied " six....but only three that matter". Well, I've got about six and just one that 'matters', this one, just given to me for my 60th birthday. My story always comes out in my music and now it's on it.
The sound box has my favorite things, the symbols of what I'm all about with the material taken from where and what I love. Mexican beach glass, shells from a hand-holder walk, the peace that I'd always like in my heart, the hematite that's my good luck touchstone....and of course the Rooster Fish, Pez Guyo, the noblest fish I've ever tricked. The guyo is glass and Mazatlan shells, fantastic.
The neck and head stock is history and inspiration's that I like. It has the bones that I carry in my pocket to keep myself grounded. It's Montana and Alaska, it's the journey.
So if and when you get to Mile 14 you gotta have a look at this guitar. I don't mind telling you that with me turning 60 in a few days I've been kind of taking a bit of inventory of my life. And I guess I've been a bit hard on myself when I think I haven't really done fish, play music, walk the beach, ride the bike, work out in the gym...but ya know, if I've made somebody love me enough to create this I've certainly done a few things right, varsity level as I like to say. So here's a pic for you MP, mucho gracias and I love you so.
 FISH.....Man, I'll bet some of you would like to hear about that some eh? Well, this week was interesting. We're fishing without bait and that seemed to keep the locals home, The fishery was really fun, peaceful but wet and rainy. I fished a total of 13 people and we caught 5 King Salmon, and they were all a bit small. But the good news is that we're fishing and I did see some really nice fish. I expect this next week to be better of course. We have perfectly clear water for fishing the lures so all we need is a few more fish. We have a.m. tides like I love to fish and we know the run builds towards the middle of the month. So I'm optimistic...what kind of fishing guide would I be if I weren't ? As always the experience and the people were great this week, I just wish the fish were bigger but hey...even the caribou were a bit on the svelte side.
We also seem to be enjoying an early arrival of the red run, so it's that time of year. Red salmon, red eyes, red fish boxes....lets go get em....carefully.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July 2nd, 2013....

Wow, how do I explain how I was feeling this morning to be out fishing again after 2 weeks of Kenai closed?...In a word...I felt great, fantastic, at home, living, even normal.

The only restriction we're under is no bait and I guess a lot of fisherman see that as more important than I do as the river was way quieter than I thought it would be. For me the no-bait deal isn't that big, for me it's the chance to fish for them and then if they're in the river we'll catch em, period. So this morning I got the chance to fish with my neighbor Mick Wykis, his brother Don and his wife Joanie and their cool grandson Eli. Mick has lived here about as long as I have and to get hired by a local guy like him who knows other guides and knows the river well is the ultimate compliment for a guy like me. Here's a pic of Mick.
Now that's not the biggest King salmon I've ever guided but I have to tell you, it was as important as it was exciting for all of us. Mick was pulling a red big wing cheater when in the middle of our chat Eli spots it.....Mick....Mick....ever one reeled in and Mick who's caught as many salmon as I have said that it's either off or a bit small and he was right. But, like most of our fishing friends they were hoping to have a fresh salmon supper so we bonked it and bled it. When that rod went off I was about as excited as when the first customer of my career old John Manson caught his King 31 years ago. And then momentum took over. We went back to the spot and maneuvered through a few boats that had decided to fish there and walla....Don's Rod goes off. This more substantial fish circled the bow of the boat and...the line goes slack...I'm holding the net at hip level and looking for where he's gone...and a flash erupts from the water and we've got him, he's jumped right into the net. Magic.
Over that we had a good chuckle. Don and Joan are headed to Charleston tomorrow and are taking their fillets fresh not frozen for a family barbecue on the 4th of July. They're great people, thanks for coming you guys. We have some fish, had some laughs, talked story and I couldn't  be happier....and neither could these guys who've been waiting for some salmon as well.
So tomorrow we're back out. We've got the month underway and the moe-joe started. Now we'll hope upgrade in the size dept. We're also  really hoping the sonar counts go up and the month lights off. In any case we'll always, always do the best we can......