Friday, April 25, 2014

I's all my fault...but then again....maybe....

Now I ain't inspector Closeau, but you don't have to be to figure most things out in life. As everyone knows our Early Run King Salmon are in a period of 'low abundance' as the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game words it. Now as hurtful and the waste of time that it is I suppose it's natural for people to assign blame, it seems like that's the way America works. I don't think it's even close to an entirely local problem but let's assume the worst here and say it is our problem...who's to blame. I had a friend, make that ex friend, tell me "they should have shut you guys down years ago"....mmmm.....well we just caught what they let us. And the commercial fisherman, harvest is their lively hood and they only took all that the managers allowed them to. Nobody did anything here they weren't allowed or in some cases even encouraged to do. So lets just call this a mystery and we ought to compile a little evidence. Having just been on call for jury duty I know that people decide guilt using three tools, common sense, motive an opportunity and the HISTORY of behavior.

First off I'm printing a list of our wonderful natural resources that the 40 years I've been here. Most are things that used to be harvested and now are not. Some are remnant's of what they were and a few I think are plane old gone. They all share the same thing, management. It's true that our area and the Anchorage bowl has grown in population but I thought that's what management makes the population and demands of that fit the harvest. There's no doubt in my mind that people would change their harvest habits for the future. It's the only way it will work. In the future we will need a cleaner more exclusive guide industry and commercial component that fits our goals of sustainability...I think people are willing to change but managers are not, maybe. And really, I am optimistic for the future, here goes.

1. Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet King Crab
2. Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet Dungeness Crab
3. Kachemak Bay Shrimp
4. Kachamak Bay Clams , steamers and Butters
5. Deep Creek, Ninilchik River, Anchor River wild Steelhead.
6. Crooked Creek wild King Salmon
7. Early Run Kenai King Salmon
8. Ninlichik and Clam Gulch Razor Clams (just recently)
9. Moose
10. Cook Inlet Beluga Whales
11. and by jiminy we got rid of those pesky old Pike at Stormy Lake.

Well, you get the idea. I suppose they all have been effected by those things the experts can't control. Ocean oscillations, poor recruitment, age class, predation....let me tell you a story or two.

A few years ago these guys got on the band wagon with licensing and made all the charter people get their license. It's a hundred bucks every year...and every year you get a new number and fill out a generic form. Now every other revenuer in the State at least takes the time to create a data base and send you a pre printed form with your info on it. Dept. of Transportation sends your registration ready to go. The Dept. of Revenue, ditto for your business license. To State Parks credit they have their licensing ready to go as well. But not these guys, nope....that's called work.

And then just the other day the Clarion had a news headline, ' Fish and Game regulation book printed with errors'. They just forgot a few of the new regulation changes, I personally think they should pass a law that they can't add any more regs until they take and equal number out of the book. I'll get to that part in a bit. But one of the errors was the new closed water areas on this map that the Clarion printed. Doesn't look confusing to me, how about you?
As luck would have it a few years ago I was on the way to Mexico and one of our area Biologists was on the plane. I was reading Paul Greenberg's Four Fish which is an important best seller about the 4 ocean fish that they feel have gone past the tipping point, Atlantic salmon, Giant Tuna, Sea bass and of course Atlantic Cod. It charts what lead to the 'low abundance' of these fish. I showed it to this biologist and he said he was not familiar with it and it looked 'interesting'. So I asked if he'd like me to drop it off at his office when I got back from Mexico and he said....."not really".
That's page 52 of our 64 page regulation book. A real beauty, I love the arrows that help illustrate the closed water of the Kenai during red season, kinda of a 'knee bone connected to thigh bone, thigh bone connected to'.......aahhhhh, it's painful. Do you wonder why people get confused? But I know one thing, we're not on the map, the ADF+G won't bother you at Mile 14. And oh, how many books have you ever seen that don't read left to right ??? Well not this one, it reads from top to bottom like the free calendar you get at Christmas from the local gas station.

Now I could go on and on...I could tell you about the infamous radish study years ago. Or even when they were killing the trout they were studying by electro shocking them ( a fishing guide by the name of Bill Gavin shined the light on that deal) so they decided the best way to capture trout was to let their staff go fly fishing for them...that's pretty good duty. Or I could tell you about the 3000 fish sonar counts with nobody catching anything. But I won't do that.... My point is, all  us harvesters just did our jobs and if over harvest is part of the problem well it looks like we need to polish up the decision making part of this deal....lets quit the blame game and everybody start pulling on the same rope to get this thing out of the ditch. I rest my case.

If any of you are looking to book a trip and are surprised by this blog post please look at page 3 of my webpage. Our May-June fishery is closed until more fish arrive and I'm confident like other places in Alaska through the years this run will recover. So unless that happens we start fishing the second run on July 1st. Then we have fantastic sockeyes from mid to late July and our August/September Silver fishing is excellent and my favorite fishery. And of course during any of these timeframes we have great Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden fishing...and what ever we're fishing for we have the experience and that 100 % effort always.


  1. I like your style Jeff, fishing is what it is all about. We are going to have to exchange some more Mexican fishing stories when I come up in August for the silvers. Impressed with the rooster fish. Sorry about the May/June kings, give it time, they should rebound. Until then stay strong with your humor! Way to go man!

  2. Thanks Dave....that means a ton to me. See ya in August