Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Vintage Life

My running partner / counselor / fellow democrat and lover had a big day yesterday and so  we here at Mile 14 decided to welcome her into her 6th decade with a little get together in the sunny shadow of the Kenai River here at Stewart's Landing. That pic I took on memorial day when we went agate hunting at Coho beach, she's holding some beauties.

Our son Sam surprised us with a visit from Seattle . I'd been there just a few weeks back but MP hadn't seen him for a year so even though he's a bit more ' nocturnal' than us, we're having some quality time. As we waited for our Alaska family to arrive me and Samurai took the opportunity to do what I do best...nothing important.  When I golf  I spend a little time in the woods and by the number of balls I find it's apparent I'm not the only one. We started out with the big dog driving them from the house to the parking lot but got a little bored with that so we decided to send them on a one way trip. I never did clear the river but Sam had that perfect swing that just seemed to just keep going , like a lazer shot, I'd say 280 yards. And we even had a little Junior golf instruction....Emma's were about the only ones we found. I got a a kind twisted reward feeling from plunkin a one dollar Titliest 1 into the river that some 'real' golfer had drawn his line and dotted his mark on.
Here's the pic of what Mp calls our Alaska Family. My sisters family the Mahurin's are now scattered to the wind and me and Nephew Mitch are the last Mohican's. But like most Alaskan's we forged family like friendships to make up for for having left it all behind 40 years ago.
Neil couldn't come...somebody around here has to work but Connie and Neil Arthur have shared the world with us. They were part of a group of people that Mp and I first noticed at a 4 X 4 race...after seeing that they were having more fun than anybody in town I told MP " we're going to be friends with those guys". Their daughters Jesse and Janey brought all the kids bringing a wonderful energy that I wish there was more of here at Mile 14. Dan and Teresa Sterchi who helped me stay on my first big job in 1980 and make enough money for my first guide boat. Dan was the guy that I learned it with, many a fish got it's eyes crossed by us in the early 80's. My nephew Mitch and his recently graduated nurse wife Jessica...this guy needs to write his memoirs someday. Keith and Jane Holtan, I met Keith when he was 18 and I was 28. His dad was the first guy to spend a bunch of lettuce on a new guide and taught me.....' hey ! you can make $$$$ at this '. Keith guided for me a short time and now is a close friend and peer. Destined to be a true Alaskan is Corey McKay, new to Alaska she is the sister in law of one of MP's we're darn related to her and her 3 girls.
Ahhhhh...don't she look happy cutting that cake ?
My nephew, Mitchell Lee Mahurin.
Sam, Avery and Jesse....oh, our Alaska family is expecting an addition. How's about MP's fish that aren't fish stained glass....jellyfish, get the idea.
Jane and was a really nice night but you know the Alaska deal...even when it's warm it's cold....mmmmm, got that. Thanks everybody, MP had a wonderful night.

And in the ' you heard it here first category'....I always say that whatever the Dept of Fish and Games tells you will happen usually just the opposite occurs. Well, I sense fulfillment of prophecy coming on here. Now granted only 10 days of sonar counts are available but already we are ahead in our King salmon counts by a factor of at least 3 over the last two years. Imagine that, King salmon returning to the Kenai river, what in the world is ADF+G going to do about that ?????
And here's the newest one published on Friday 5/29 . It shows we are ahead of the last year by roughly a factor of 4.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Last Sunday, May 17th marked the 30th anniversary of  our friend Les catching that fish, the I.G.F.A. world record King Salmon. I've blogged about his catch before at this time of year. But the anniversary passed this year without much hoopla, I guess the town is like me, just kinda wondering how we got to this point where I'm not out fishing on 17th like I did for 28 of the last 30 years. I did it every year and I miss that. I really never expected to get as lucky as my friend Les but in my world just to be there, the same place , the same time, the same lure, every year....well that's magic of it's own.  I can remember one May 17th when I was trolling 'the Place' ( Honeymoon Cove) with Chris Simmons. A really young kid in a fancy boat named Casey Millepsy was new to the river and trolling next to me and asked if he was fishing in the good water. Out of respect I guess he was quite a bit on the outside of me and we often fish closer so when his prop fouled the bottom I said "mmmm, not really, you need to be in a little deeper water". ( Casey turned into and excellent guide and a neat young man )....but the reason I tell that story is those things are what we laughed about for years, it's what Casey, Chris  and I shared, it's what sport fishing is really about.

Us fish people have just  been astounded lately by the dysfunction of our Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF).  The BOF consists of 7 members that usually have fish type backgrounds are appointed by the Governor and then confirmed by the Legislature. They are big Ju-Ju, they make bag limits, fisheries allocations (both commercial and sport), new regulations and in general they are supposed to manage all the fisheries to remain healthy...well good luck with that deal.  Just recently a friend of mine who is by all standards the most qualified appointee ever with a fisheries type degree and fisheries habitat background failed confirmation. And never mind that he's sharp, articulate and honest.  Why ? Because, he wasn't enough of a sportfish advocate for some people when the board is historically divided into 3 commercial seats and 3 sport seats and one subsistence seat. That make up alone is a formula for grid lock. So to use a musical analogy just what kind of music would a guitar like this make ????
I went to my first BOF meeting in 1985 so I'd say there's few people around that have the institutional experience I have on this wacky way of trying to do things, and try is about all that happens. For years the show has been run by advocates for their user groups so it's a parry and thrust kind of deal. A little like when Hawkeye told Radar " their ringer just spotted our ringer". So now you have to be an advocate...but not too much...just right...ahh....Well let me tell you about just a few of the clowns we've had watching over the hen house or trying to. I'll just use first names here, to protect the .....well you know.

Roland.... what a guy. He was the head of a commercial fishing group and with a fisheries degree of some sort he thought he was qualified to not only be on the BOF but maybe even Director of the Dept of Fish and Game. So When the Governor appointed him to the BOF as a campaign payoff a reporter I'd guess looked into him after they had an exchange over Roland's claim that he discovered the Bull Trout in the Lower turns out Roland claimed residency privileges in Montana as well as Alaska. He plead guilty in Montana to false fishing and hunting license residency  and was fined 7500.00 and lost his hunting and fishing privileges in all the Western States that work together in these kind of cases. So, that makes him a cheat, maybe a liar. But we don't know yet what Alaska will do but seems to me that if  he took our Permanent Fund checks fraudulently, well I guess he'd also be a thief.  Just the guy we need on the BOF.

Bix....ahh so many years ago. He was on the BOF and cocktailed his way into an agreement that if the commercial guys on the BOF would vote for his proposed closure of our local commercial fisherman after a quota of 2500 Kings where caught....well he'd return the favor and vote for what they needed in their local area, and they did it.  I was sitting there as the vote took place and the Chairman of the BOF who was of course a commercial fisherman gaveled a recess and looked like he was going to puke. Well, the new regulation after a year or two of protest and procedure discussion (as well as a little legal work) got thrown out and so did Bix.

Tom...BOF member Tom was the President of the Alaska's largest Sport Fishing Group.  I knew this guy really well and when I asked him why he voted for an allocation of King Salmon in Southeast Alaska that gave 87% of the salmon to the commercial guys he replied " I got some chit's to call in".  Well, in Jeff's world there's two problems here, it's illegal  and HE DIDN'T CALL THEM IN.  Once during a complicated discussion about the math of setting escapement goals he put a number out for the BOF and when asked how he came to that number he said " just a little modern math, ya know, algebra".

Debra...BOF member Debra was so commercial fishing based that she just didn't seem to understand any of the wonders of sport fishing....maybe even the wonders of any kind of fun. At a break she told me that commercial fisherman feed their families on the fish they catch and sport people, well. it's only about fun so what has more value ?......mmmmm.....I bought her another beer, with sport money.

Jim....Now this was not BOF but it illustrates the system we're working in. I'll never, never, never forget when the 'Blue Ribbon' committee met to make the Kenai River a 'special management area' of  the State Parks system. One of the big issues with the public was to limit the number of guides ( and it should have been done) but.....Jim, a commercial fisherman when asked if one avenue of restriction was really fair he replied " we're not here for fairness, we're here to set regulations".

So that's just a sample, a small sample to fit this blog. Sometimes things just don't make sense....How's about something you've never seen before like this, three gal's on a pig. Ya know  you ladies have it going on....ever thought about getting into fish politics ????

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

That's alotta concrete

Seattle, 5/9/2015 - 5/12/2015...It's a wonderful thing in a guys life when your two grown boys call you and want to spend quality time with you. Max and Sam invited me to be sponsored to a long weekend of Mariner baseball, good food, lots of walking and great fellowship. who says that getting old is tough, this deal is the pay off.  It was a bit serendipitous to me as 34 years ago MP and I stayed 5 days downtown just a block away from the Kimpton that Max put us up in . We must have had more money than good sense in those days but we're always chasing a good time and it is some of the best memories me and her share...mmmm.....and did I tell you Max is now 34 years old.
Back then it was the Hotel Hungerford and we'd wander next door to the Olympic and spend time at Shuckers Oyster bar which is still there and just the same. Just up one block is the Kimpton Vintage. Max works for the chain so we got the red carpet treatment, I have to tell you if you're a Wine Lover this wine themed Class A Hotel is for you. Every night they have a 'wine tasting' hour sponsored by a local vineyard. Then at 10 pm they have a Port wine/ truffle night cap. When we checked in Max had a bottle of Red in his room and next door I had an iced bottled of Chardonnay in mine. Each room has Vineyard name and the head board of the bed is made of wine bottle corks and they have a wall of wine in the lobby and get the best value for your money here if you're not a tea tottler. Here's pic of the name above my door, kinda magic if you ask me being in love Mary Patricia Brown. And another pic of one of the many slogans near the elevators etc.
I guess as I'm on the subject of enjoying the simple things in life I guess I can't miss this. I have to say that as much fun as I had this weekend I was certainly feeling a bit out of my element. I mean the Max and Sam are city guys and they know the way. Me, I was dumb founded by the Uber cab and the App Sam uses to get a brand new car with a cool rider to you at anytime in 4 minutes. And Max lead me on the bus system the same way, easy peasy....and just when I was getting used to how different my life is compared to theirs I saw this...
I told MP I had the secret to a get rich scheme. After all we're pretty much in the parking business here at Mile 14 and I have a real nose for parking business trends etc. What we do is buy a parking lot in Seattle and subdivide it...And for any of you still thinking we're charging you to much here at Stewart's landing hold your horses on that deal....we only charge 20 bucks to park and the Boat Launch is free...and you get to used that wonderful water closet with the blue water, not to mention it overlooks the beautiful Kenai River and not just more concrete like this place. So please keep coming to Mile 14.

It wasn't hard to find our King salmon. Twa, twa,twenty eight dollars a pound, but they'd fillet for free. I asked the fish monger if people really came in and bought a whole 35 pounder ( $ 1,015.00) ...he said of course they do, I thought you were going to buy one by the way you were looking at them...I must have sent mixed signals  because what I was really doing was trying not to puke.

The best part was the Mariner game with 42,000 people just like us. Sam went over the top and had first level seats about 15 rows back directly behind home plate, man them umpires miss a lot of calls. We got to see King Felix throw his 2,000th strike out and although our reliever made it interesting the Mariners won 5 to 3. At first it was a bit of sensory overload for me but once i got into the game and had a couple cerveza and a large order of garlic fries I was good with the world. Here's a cool pic of Felix and another of us way into the game.
On the way to the game we walked by a vintage guitar store that I was drawn to the next morning on
my daily exercise walk. What can I say about this place ???? well, I've just never been in place like this. EMERALD CITY GUITARS  where I met Jay and his son Trevor who showed me around the
store. The guitar maven, Liz was stringing up a 1980's vintage Gretsch Hollowbody and insisted I wait until she was done so I could play it.  These people are the folks that music's made of. My brother's wife Lisa has a brother named Danny Mangold who gig's in Seattle so asked if they new him...and of course they did , kizmet in my book. They had it all, a line of telecasters from the 50's to now starting at about two grand and ending up at eighteen. And a gold top Les Paul that the pic speaks for itself...I'm not saying that guys like me think all this $$$$ stuff is's the music. When you see it you wonder....where's it been , who's played it, I can hear it now. It's part of the magic of music and my new friends @ EMERALD CITY GUITARS know that. Thank you guys for making me feel so welcome and a part of it all.
On Monday it was the museum of Flight which Max navigated us to on the bus for 2 bucks ( alone I'd have taken a 60 dollar cab ride ) . This is a must see deal for any of you who like me are inspired by the human courage and genius that the development  of manned  flight took to achieve. I still am amazed  I can go from Soldotna Alaska at 40 degrees and arrive in Seattle at 70 degrees and fly 1200 miles in 8 hours, and that's with the drive to Anchorage to jump the jet. Here's me and my best buddy and my favorite plane. These B-47's were the first real jet bomber threat the USA developed. They were also really early the sweep wing design. When I was kid at Fort Wainwright I remember so well seeing them lined up on the tarmac when we go to Eielson Air Force base to swim....the jetter's had a pool.
So as I left Seattle I could only think how lucky I was to have these two kids do this for me. They're really way more than that, they're friends and I seek their counsel, they've turned into 'steady'  young men....and when I use that word ' steady' it's the highest praise I have, and ever will...  But you know me, I decided to do a little golfing on the way home, don't pass up chance for a little airport fun.  I really think I'd have hit that putt and won the Sea-Tac  U.S, Open if the guy ahead of me hadn't walked on my line.
This morning I woke up and after days of city life I had to, just had to....go to the river. MP had a big day today and I feel so good about it.  I know the sport of marine salvage takes to so much hope, patience and awareness that you wonder if you'll ever be  good. . But  I brought her along slow. We started out just looking for sinkers and then worked our way up to lures. We'd only look for minutes and now we're up to hours. And now she's full blown salvager with her first anchor, found all on her own, the holy grail of our sport. I feel like I've had a small part on helping her along the way...."ah grass hopper, the joy is int the pursuit ".

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

It must be spring

Everybody has their own favorite indicator of spring. Our old neighbor Roy Mullen always said it was when the snow melted off our roof so he could count how many Frisbee's the kids had lost. For me it was always going fishing....seeing that first King of the year or even catching him like I have many many times, some as early as today. But now I gauge it with other things in nature I guess. We spotted out first Robins here about a week ago and we have one living here that is driving us nuts...he seems to be courting having forgotten one basic standard of life in Alaska...if you want a good mate for sure think about  bringing one with you.  That guy right there sits in the same tree next to our check in gate and has this cackling call that is on about a 5 second cycle. Every now and then he hits the ground to grab a worm or something and then it's right back to the tree for more love ballads. Now MP says he must be a male because there's another one about 1/8 a mile away doing the same thing and they haven't found each other so they must both be my mind they could also both be females, or just not like each other, or related, or maybe even a democrat, who knows? he is...
Another thing you see around here is Boats. Unlike the 48 these babies sit high and dry all winter just waiting for that first trip. Not only do you see a lot of boats you see them in all shapes and sizes....and sometimes you even get to thinking ' man am I glad that guy ain't MY fishing buddy'. We came across this fine watercraft that started out as a 16' Starcraft and ended up a 16' double decker cabin cruiser...with....a 1986 40 horse Evinirude, with the skag missing...Jeff knows those smokey old 2 cycles, he bought several of them. I guess I shouldn't make fun of a guys boat, my first one wasn't exactly the Queen Mary and Bill Forrest once told me  some sage wisdom....never make fun of a guys dog, boat or what he smokes.
And we in Alaska keep a close eye on the trees this time of year to finally see them 'greening' up. Maybe I just see things different but while I was looking for that greening up deal I was impressed with finding an entire neighborhood that leaned to the left....just like me. .I'll bet ya them tree's there get REALLY green.
Now I won't bore you again with my adventures with J+J salvage. Everybody knows I invented the sport of low water  retrieval on the Kenai River. It takes a certain kind of guy to risk an 1800.00 dollar lower unit and prop to go and find rusty pliers...But the rewards are huge, status ya know, there's no doubt I lead the league in rusty pliers so if any of you need a pair to rehabilitate just give a holler, I got lots. Here's how our quarry look in their natural state.
Back when I was framing houses for Wayne Passe he used to say " all I want to see is elbows and a$#^....mmm...ooops....well lets forget about that....but the point is to do a good job you gotta be focusing. Here's a pic of my favorite salvage partner,,,even more than the Jet for sure. She's doing it just right but the skipper seems to have put the boat in the wrong place, that's the story of a guides life I guess.
That day I took a pic you've not seen before. After having written this blog since, well a long time and having published just about every pic there is to take of this unique spot of American dirt that we live at,,,Mile 14....I go this pic of our house from across the river before the 'greening up'  hides us away for the summer. One time when we were gutting fish I had a guy from Anchorage (that has wonderful vista's ) tell me...." your gutting table has a better view than my hot tub"...I said "thanks".