Thursday, September 26, 2013

It's a wrap

When your boat seat looks like this first thing in the morning mother nature is trying to to tell you something, .maybe winter's coming eh? I always say that I've never met a party that didn't end and this one is there, game over. And it's to darn bad because we still have a pretty darn good run of silvers in the river, remember a big run starts sooner and ends later and that's what we have going on here.
As it got light the other morning here's the pic I promised. The fog laying on the river and the only thing warm for a 1/4 mile is that Yamaha outboard, although it did 10 minutes to defrost the water pump.
But actually it's not the cold that's putting the 2013 season to bed, it's this finicky darn river. She just wouldn't give us a break. Over the weekend the emergency management people announced that the Skilak Glacier was dumping and sure enough we started seeing it some on Tuesday and a yesterday as we fished the water turned from a gorgeous turquoise to a chalky green/brown.  Keith texted me from the middle river on my new I phone to say that they were canceling the trip, to dangerous....the water is heading our way. Here's the graph. Impressive eh?
But the fishing has held marvelously. Here's our friends Deb Germano from Mazatlan with Jim Bennett and her brother Sam and nephew Sam. Do they look cold? It was right at freezing with about a 20 mph wind blowing right up the hole as we say, straight up the river and no place to tuck away and get out of the wind. So ol Sam earned these salmon for sure.
And yesterday as the upcoming flood announced itself we worked hard and had a pretty darn good day I'd say for the 25th of September. Dave, Mike and Amanda here are a flight crew for a private Jet. They fly a Falcon 2000 and get in some fun adventures as they lay up at exotic places all over the world. So thanks for coming you guys and enjoy that salmon.
So you know me, one adventure ends a new one begins. So come back next week and me and Mpeasy will be road tripping, my first real visit to the 48 in a few years. I'll betchya I'll have some interesting views , Alaskan in the real world. And for all of you that followed Mile 14 through another season, Thanks ! Soon we'll be in Mooontana,  Minnesooota, then Mexico, then?????? I'll keep it fun for you guys, promise.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Brrrrrrrr......these are hard earned salmon

That's my friend Nate and his grandson Lucas. They came down to help me wind down the season last weekend. It was so cool, Lucas didn't know he was going fishing and you can just see that twinkle when he spends time with is grandpa....and vice versi, these two's relationship kinda had me thinking about just how special that deal is. They're running buddies and friends, they're motivators and counselors, they're support and love...lots of that. Then after we broke up from fishing another ultra cold fall day I ended up at my old friend Neil Arthur's 60th birthday party. His house was full of grand kids, 6 or 7 I'd guess. Anybody that knows Neil knows how much fun they were having, pretty cool. So....if either of you two King kids is reading this I have one thing to say...chop chop, andalay andalay, let's get to work on that project.
Kevin Fuze and his dad Mike are a couple of my favorite people. They hit the only semi warm day of the week. Always thinking ahead I traded Kev some fishing for 1/2 dozen t-shirts from his lodge for my fishing team in Mazatlan. Good day for everybody I'd say. Here's a pic of me with one of the silvers those guys caught, as you can see the fish are just tremendous this year. After all we've been through with King salmon it's just so cool to see and know that our silver fishery is just fine.
I don't know if I've ever really met anybody that lives in Aspen Colorado, and I meet a lot of people. But John and Casey here local Aspenites and cool ones at that. Being a former ski bum we had a lot talk about and it was a good thing because we didn't have a bite for the first 4 hours of fishing. And then....once we got that stink off with the first fish we built some pretty good momentum and had a great day. Never say woow in a horse race, right?
So fall is arriving. I've had ice in the boat that looked like snow and I've had to thaw out my water pump before heading downriver, it was 25 degrees at the launch when we started the other morning. But you know me, I'm like a bad house guest, the first to arrive and the last to leave, so we'll be doing one more week of it. Please come back, I'll try to get some footage that might make you feel some of that early morning briskness when we run down river, the sun just creeping up, expectations and wonder in the air, your hands kinda numb when you know you've found the right place to fish and splash the anchor. We're gonna savor that this week because it's gotta last a winter, and it will.....
But we still got fresh veggies..........thanks MP.

Monday, September 16, 2013

This + that....but mostly this...

Here's a pic of me playing a dark candy apple Mexican made Fender Stratocaster.  This guitar and I have bonded. I now see why the Strat is 'the players' guitar, it just fits your body and feels like it was special made for your contours. It sounds great. It stays in tune. The 'sustain is fantastic. The action is low and fast...this darn thing is making a player out of me when I used to be just a singer...with the guitar.
When I got my Gibson electric I new right away that I was kinda 'over playing' the guitar and not letting it sustain. The Gibson cost a bunch and I have a Martin that cost a whole bunch and I have this Strat that I just love and play the most, it might have cost 400 bucks....but it's Sam's. Like young people do when he moved to the 48 he left it behind, even told me I could have it which I'm still kinda bothered by. But that's the secret, it's Sam's and it's holding onto those lead licks he's done with me, it's holding that part of him and giving it to me. I believe that, I really do. So Samurai.... I love you and that red guitar, I'm sending you some lettuce for it. Or, I got a great idea, ya wanna swap a really cool 1979 Gibson????

On Tuesday our River 'blew out' pretty darn good. It just couldn't handle 14 or so straight days of rain and we're at the highest water I've ever fished in. It's weird. It's holding it's color and we're still catching fish. It crested on Saturday and now it looks like it will fall into the usual get ready for winter mode and we'll eek out some really good fishing trips has the month retires. I took a few days off this week but my message to everybody who launched was this: be careful. The water is running so fast that if something happens it's going to happen really quickly. It rained so much I didn't take a lot of pics but on Tuesday we did pretty darn good and it a torrential down pour Dale caught his dandy and a few days later Molly caught he first ever Alaskan fish, cool. The silvers this year are just tremendous, nice and big.
I just got back from my bike ride and was I impressed with the folks fishing at Centennial Campground. There's a fishing culture at work there that's exactly what this thing ought to be about. The folks are patient and helpful with each other, they're not crowding the place at 4 a.m. to 'get' the best place and none of them party boat fish, ain't got a boat. It's a pretty relaxed scene and I can see that it's about the fishing, that's what I keep it up you guys, someday I'll join you. And if any of you reading want to catch a few silvers the easy way, it's happening right now....get on down to Centennial or heck, even here at Mile 14.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Jet - Dog

Jets not been doing well. She's 12 years old now and I hear for a pure bred that's getting right up there. I guess when you got a candle that burns so bright it just don't burn so long. She's had accidents in the house. She had a terrible crash jumping into the boat a while back. I help her into her favorite place, the truck. So, last night as I tended to my Sunday ritual of over cooking a beautiful steak I was astounded...over joyed....when ol J.D. Jet-dog starting wagging her tail and wanted me to throw the ball. Yikes she even jumped over the tongue of my boat trailer, we had a ball and boy do I love that dog. Normally this picture is no big deal but there she is, ball in mouth,
Our friends Tom and Niki were down and they have a dog Hoover that they adore. Well, the girls went into executive session and decided a pain pill regime was what the Jet needed and's like a miracle. Her hind end hurt so much that she stands all day and when she goes to lay down you can just tell that it's total misery.  But the pain pill is obviously working and ol Jet is ambulatory once again. Thanks Niki, thanks Jet.
The other morning I snapped this pic of my prep board in the boat, awful darn pretty sight if you ask me. These darn things have always worked on our silvers but for some reason this year they're absolutely smokin the fish. Maybe it's the high water or maybe the turbidity but whatever it is there's something almost hypnotic about watching the jiggle of your rod tip with these guys on and then the  inevitable explosion of water and excitement when the rod goes 'off'.
And here's a couple pics of Alex Quinonez and his group who got those silvers pretty well surrounded for a few days. I'd say that's a load, the smallest of the catches was 85 pounds of fillets. The second day we fished the guys against the girls, the guys won but if I were refereeing in that they had the same number of fish I'd have given it to the girls.

My friend Nate Morton used to be the title holder in 'coldest day on the Kenai' department. I wish I hadn't had to fish through it but last Friday it rained and not that Kenai drizzle poured and with about a 35 mph wind it was right at unbearable. We made an abbreviated trip with two really cool guys that were a pleasure to meet. Ed and Ed Jr. there were amazing, upbeat and strong. I kind of made a tactical error as I didn't recommend my vinyl rain gear over Ed's Goretex. My credo has always been 'vinyl is final' and I should have had it aboard for him. Sorry Ed....But, you are the new title holder. "Coldest on the Kenai'.
That gal in the picture below is flattering statement about my guiding. Chris Degernes was the Kenai Area State Parks Superintendent while I served on the River Board and worked for the future of this wonderful place. She's the best they ever had and I think one of the big reasons is that she and her husband Bill are Park users. I don't know anybody that's as 'Alaskan' as those two. They're hunters, fishers, hikers, skiers, birders,,,,they're amazing. The days before fishing with me Chris and her Swiss friend Gabriela had taken her boat up Skilak Lake to camp and were weathered in for a few day due to rough that's Alaskan. And of course Chris knows all the guides on the Kenai and she chooses me, that's pretty darn cool
We had a great day. We talked old times and we talked the future. As always happens when you get diverse groups together we all learned a lot and left friends. Ed from the east coast, Ed from Kansas, Gabriella from Switzerland and Chris...full blown Alaskan.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Shiney Brights

I guess when I turned 60  a month back I got a little reflective about what I've really been doing....well, I got over that and I figure it just plain and simple, anybody that can help generate a smile like this one on Susan Getty is doing  some good. Is that a great smiler or what?
Her and husband Bob along with their nephew Brian were 'walk on's' as we say in the business and am I glad they chose me and guide boat #003. Brian is a jetter at Elmendorf AFB and just an interesting guy. Susan and Bob are from Reno and I wouldn't be surprised to see them more in Alaska, it always makes me feel good to meet folks who love this place as much as we do. Any of you guys with sharp eyes will notice that we have one fish over the limit....I'm a rules guy, it's a sockeye.
I got to fish with Jerry and Jen Yates who I've known since the early 2000's. They seem to come every other year or so and are taken with Alaska as well. I guess I must be on a role because I start out the trip with a hug from Jenny followed by this gorgeous salmon.
The next 4 pics are a fun series. Netting your wife's salmon will certainly 'load test' your marriage. I don't know how the other guides do it but I'm always looking to include folks in all aspects of the trip, it actually means that I just get to do less and of course that's what I'm really good at. Thirty some years ago someone that I love very much told somebody that I 'lack all ambition' , well, here's a case in point.....if you go fishing with me you can net your own fish, put on your own bait and even tie your own knots. I always say "whats the worse thing that can happen" ? OK, we might lose a fish, no biggy, we'll just fish for some more. I even know one guide who advises his people to keep their pole in the water to pull the silver down so he won't jump and get, I love it when they jump and if they get off, well, we're fishing, that's all. My friend Jerry here agrees with me.
 And when the days done those guys have a pretty darn good mess of salmon. Their grand daughter made them promise to bring some salmon home to Memphis so even though the pressure was on, we got through it just fine. Do I look stressed ? Now that's a nice silver salmon
On Tuesday I fished with Bill and Donna Sanders. They were great fun and took advantage of the free RV parking here at Mile 14. I don't know but this time of year when you're the only one in the parking lot and seeing all the bear sign around the dumpster, I'll bet it was a bit scary .....woulda been for me.
I had Thursday off, no charter. About 10 am the phone rang and a young guy wants to go fishing in the afternoon. Now I normally wouldn't do that because catching really is the point and I just seldom deviate from my planned morning of fishing. Well, there's so many silvers around I tell these guys 'no worries' we'll get em. So I anchor at my favorite place, no bites. I run down to the incoming tide and have my timing perfect, no bites. I run upriver to RW's where you can always troll a couple out in a bites. Yikes. Skunk job. And to make it worse one of these guys is Dan Baum from my old hometown of Helena Montana. We know people in common, we've hunted the same ranch land, we bonded.....So, Dan and Mikey, ya gotta give us another chance. I'll make it up to you, I'll give you  the combo to the gate lock....whatever it takes. You're cordially invited and we'll keep an eye out for you.
I couldn't believe we didn't catch any for those two , just bad moe-joe I guess . I mean  MP even catches them from shore right here at Mile 14, although she was semi-guided......