Monday, August 31, 2015

Goal Orientated

When we were kids M.P. told her mother in a letter from Alaska that I " seemed to lack all ambition ".  Well I guess she was a bit right but we really had were just different views of what 'ambition ' is. So for being that guy I think we've done pretty darn good here at Mile 14. One of the ways I stay on task is that every year I put my goals on this board in my prep shed so every morning and afternoon I see it as I work through the summer. In the old days we needed a ton of $$$ to fuel this fire but now we've toned it down to a more simple program and then I gauge my successes and renew the projects that I need to work more on.....lets see how it's going.
1. Well, I probably don't need that course as I'm over qualified the way it is but I figure if I take the class I can learn some of the secret ways of the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game....ya know, like the secret handshake they use to get in the office when the building is blockaded  or the code phrase of the day you  use to get them to return a phone call....ya know, things like that. And I guess I could use a little primer on the use of acronym's and how they help the  confusion that works so well for them. any way....but that's just a  s.w.a.g. ..... In any case I'm willing to donate a full 2 hours to furthering my fisheries education, I'm just hoping I can get the course over the internet so I can have a few beers while I take it, kinda figure I might need them.

2. I have 10 more silver trips on the books and that revenue will 'make' our season and pay the bills until the summer of 2016 when I've decided to do it all over again one more time. So after those 10 trips if I get any other calls that $$$ will go to the hollowbody electric I want, top end is about 2 G's and if I settle for the Hofner thin it's 800.00 or the Gibson  midtown is about 1400.00... MP doesn't get why I need another guitar but...mmmm.... you don't go golfing with one club do you ?

3. Last year at this time I weighed 204 and trained as I do in the fall down to 187...I've had this goal for a while now and this year I think it's ' duck soup ' as I'm right now at 194. So THIS year is the year.

4. Done.... I finished the song pretty much and I really like it. It's snappy, it's a little dumb , it's about love , it's a break through  for me. I guess I finally learned that I was trying to do to much with the songs....kinda over thinking the whole thing and who needs that.

I heard a thing or two
In this little town
people talk so much
just a brings ya down.

I heard a thing or three
someone said it finally
they even talk-a-talk-a-talk-a whats true
I'm crazy in love with you

5. Done

6. Now I've caught em all....big and small.  Last year when I finally caught my big Robalo  it was in a weird way kind of sad because I guess I need that in my life and then I didn't have it and....make sense ? So the one fish I haven't caught a really big one of in the surf is a if I were a Mexican Red Snapper kinda fish I'd be a little nervous right now, you've been warned.

7. Yup we're going home to Mooontana at the end of Sept for a week of R+R and then MP's mom's 90th birthday. With both my folks gone now it's always strange going back but we'll do it.... and the song is a true story, ' you're always 17 in your home town '. 

8. We're spending a night at an Idaho Casino and that's how we'll pay for the trip...I got the feeling it will be in diamonds just like the last one I hit.

9. I feel great....thank you lord. And of course It's been about 14 years now I've been on my health kick and in the stoppin now.

One of the things of good health is knowing your body. So the other day I went to the doctor because I'd heard of fish poisoning and I've never seen a 3 fingered guitar picker. On the ugly scale it came in 2nd to my bee sting in Mazatlan a few years back but I'm on antibiotics now and on the mend.
You know my surf fishing Team X member buddy Ernie is here from Canada. He's put me in a real quandary as what to do with my guiding.... I think he's been  out fishing the fleet just bank fishing here at Mile 14. The other day in the howling wind I needed to get close to shore on the leeward side so I anchored up exactly where I tie up my boat and walla, a limit of silvers in an hour.
Here's a pic of me and Ern in the boat and him with two fish he caught last night in about and hour.
So my plan for tomorrow is simple. We go down river in the cold with daylight just breaking. We anchor up in place I've fished 100's of times in my life. We get into the fast paced salmon action like this guy below who caught my eye.... and then we go fish 20 feet from my boat dock. Duck soup !

Monday, August 24, 2015

Peas soup fog + inexperience + salmon fever + stupidity + greed + unmoveable object =

If I hadn't seen it I wouldn't believe it. Eagle Rock is THE biggest landmark on the Kenai River, everyone and I mean everyone, knows it. I only know of one other person who's hit the rock (hehehe, and he's a blog reader who I'll let keep his dignity )  and to his benefit he hit when it submerged by tide and only bent the prop.  Saturday marked the craziest and most unsafe day I've ever seen on the river. There was tournament on and thick fog. But we're used to the fog and this was a bit different. First thing in the morning a boat zoomed by and ran aground on our island 100 yards below the launch and then this. People were racing to ' get the spot ' , we had boats go by the launch at 4:00, two hours before daylight. I quit running in the fog years ago when I ran up on a tree that cost me a new outboard motor but these guys.....don't learn, don't know. I anchored behind the island 1/4 mile below the house safe and sound, the fog cleared at 9:00 and we went and caught all our silvers, easy peasy. Actually that ol rock maybe saved a life because this idiot could just as easily hit another boat head on. This is what a 30,000 dollar loss looks like.
 Now that morning it might have taken us a bit longer to catch our limit than it did the race around in the dark and fog crowd but Mark Maureen, Dan and his fiance Sondra caught this catch by noon and never broke a sweat....and oh, we wear our life jackets for any of you guides reading this that want to someday be successful...and alive.
My friend Dan there is certainly guide qualified. I net the fish, hand him the net, he applies the coup de gras , cleans the blood up and then gets everybody fishing again....and oh, he grabs the anchor line and re sets us and how about this.....he knows the guide pose.
Our old friends Dick and Loretta Hahn are here and it was deja vu. The hired me for 2 days just like they did back in the 80's before they moved to Alaska and then left  after 15 years.  I got a pic of them later but this pic of our friend Trina I had to publish for my sister Karen.....she's doing great Karen and can catch a fish, drink some wine, tell a story and has a good life... she says hi.
It took us about two hours to limit out.... and legally I might add... so we decided to run the boat to the harbor and I'd show them the cannery where I worked and lived in 1972....where were you ? I lived right there in that bunkhouse in room 17 on the 1st floor where me and Mike Galagher would play Neil songs and drink a little Carling Black label Beer. 
And how about a gorgeous restored Coastal Cruiser right where it oughta be, anchored in one of the prettiest places on the planet.
It was getting on to high tide and there were seals every where. I guess it was my week for Kenai things that I've never seen before because there were so many it was astounding. You could look out and see 50 at a time. They came to the boat for food I guess and the pics just don't do them justice. But you can count the dots and there must be 8 or 10 in that frame alone...incredible. It's pretty obvious that ADF+G  doesn't have a 'sustainable seal program '.....If I was a commercial fisherman I'd be screaming over escapement, after all those cute little water dogs are eating fish I could sell !
And for the 3rd and 4th things that I've never seen before it gets better....We've been in the line up at Beaver Creek and it's been good but I think everybody between the bluffs and Eagle Rock are limiting out daily so those places might be better, certainly quieter. We're next to a sand bar that really collects fish guts and spawned out fish and the seagulls and Eagles that are there is incredible. It' s like fishing in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. They fight and carry on, they fly into and get tangled in your line and never mind that the sound is at the threshold for ear damage. I took this pick and it just barely illustrates...and oh, always some fog to make the sound echo more.
So just as we go to end our fishing a guy in a Bayrunner pulls in behind I us to anchor and try and catch the fish he  sees us catching. In the above pic you can just see the boat below me that is pretty much the ' polite ' distance away, this guy throws the anchor out 40 feet below my boat.....and promptly drags anchor right into the guy below. Finally realizes that a collision is pending and pulls the dragging anchor and starts the Honda motor and and in half throttle fouls the guy's anchor line terribly, nicely played. It must have been wound pretty darn tight in that prop as they were locked up like a couple show dogs for about 15 minutes.... I just hope everybody was polite....but I doubt it.
So with a week of great catches and better yet great friends around and of course a few things happen that just seem to give the Kenai her personality we ended it with a party last night. We had salmon of course, we had home made country music, beer, a little wine....all right, a lot of wine , fresh garden veggies , gourmet cheese and walla....just excellent. For company we had the Hahns, Norrie and Barb Johnson, the Goltzes , Trina , the Larsons and my buddy Ernie....more on him later this week as all this excitement has me a little tiiiiired.
But I did take time to motor down river and check on Eagle Rock. I mean that poor thing could have been hurt and for me it's the most important rock in  Alaska. So rest assured, she's doing just fine and hopefully it'll be another 40 years before she's assaulted that way again.
And how about one last view of Captain Hazzlewood Charters...." we're fetched up hard on the rocks and I think we're leaking a little oil "....the King of understatement. 

Monday, August 17, 2015


I had several things happen this week that just made me smile with gratitude. I guess I'm pretty comfortable now with my guiding and I work as hard as always but I just do it different, like I'm finally in charge of my own life. No more am I the guy who races down the river in the dark of night to get the best spot and be the first back to the launch with a limit of, I don't mind being the 5th guy back to the launch with a limit of silvers and I'm enjoying the fishing more than ever.  Sometimes when the fishing is slow I like it better, it's the challenge.....But anyway it was quite an honor to have the phone ring and have the Director of Alaska State Parks want to go fishing with me. Before his appointment Ben Ellis was a Director of Kenai River Sport Fishing Association so he knows the way, he knows all the guides and he chooses me, that's pretty cool.
Of course Ben and I are old musical friends so we had a wonderfully comfortable day on the river catching our limit of fish and our limit of  local political B.S. ....And I have to congratulate his buddy Billy for catching the bloodiest fish of the year. Good job Billy, you're an animal.
If taking Ben fishing wasn't enough to validate what I do how about Chuck and Pam Moore who were some of my first customers from the 1980's. It's been almost 30 years since I'd seen them and we recognised each other and it was like just yesterday that we met. Nothing is more flattering for me than when people like Chuck and Pam do a return and we share the knowledge that when you really look at it, the river, the fish, the scenery , the chuckles....well we're all doing pretty darn good. Thanks for coming you guys, I love ya.

The fishing this year so far has been about a 7.5 on the 10 scale I'd say. For the first time in about 10 years we have really low water due to all the warm weather, no rain and little snow pack. So the water is so gin clear that the fish are super spooky once the sun comes up. It took me a couple days but we've down sized the lures and we look for some shade and walla.....fiiiish on.

In the ' all things important category ' I've also been a pretty lucky guy. You know how I like those sunrises and sunsets so in a few months I'll be seeing the latter across the old Pacific but for now I'll settle for the former through the woods at Eagle Rock.
For this blog I still use my first old digital camera because it's only 3.2 mil mega pixels and I don't have to shrink them to publish. It's an old Minolta Dimage with a 10 power zoom that I sometimes get lucky with, like the other day when I got this King Fischer. I don't know how rare he is but he isn't one we see every day....and he even stood still.
The other day we parked the Minnow 4 under just the right tree. This guy was sunning himself and he held this yoga pose for over an hour.
Our little town had quite an ego boost this last Friday night when the Soldotna Stars beat the Anchorage South Wolverines in the first football game of the season. Last year both of these teams were State Champions but South being the Large school conference and Soldotna the Medium school. It was real ' Hoosiers ' moment. Soldotna has a tradition of excellence and have won 30 games in a row and 7 or the last 10 years championships but to beat a school who has 4 times as many kids and is the best int the State....well's pretty cool.  Oh, it was 21 - 17.
And the flop side of that athletic excellence was this dumpster performance by my Seattle Mariners. They gave up a franchise record of runs to the Red Sox and this game was over in the 3rd inning. To coin a phrase.....'  that's ugly Howard '. hehehe....we had a carpenter years ago named Howard and Mark Passe said that to him so many times it became his name. Oh, and did I tell you they gave up all those runs with their Cy Young Award winning pitcher " King" Felix Hernandez ?  I'm still hoping to get a season ending run out of our guys but that game there kinda makes ya wonder...mmmm...2016 ?
Austin Jackson looks a little embarrassed there doesn't he ?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Silver Dollars

I have to say that me and MP came across a gorgeous sockeye salmon on our walk yesterday morning but I'm a little tired of those salmon so he was right where he oughta be... high and dry in the middle of the parking lot.
Last week Keith invited me to guide 3 days for a large family group and it was just wonderful to be out anchored up in 70 degree weather chasing my favorite salmon, coho's. Unlike those sockeyes silver salmon are great, maybe the best sportfish.  They are aggressive biters, the jump and run hard when hooked and they can be tricked into biting with several different techniques, so that gives them 2 out of 3 over the more numerous but boring Kenai River Reds that everyone seems to be just obsessed over.  I don't get it, People would rather wade hip high in water for 3 hours and snag or hold onto the dumb end of a dip net for hours to catch a boring ol sockeye when they could be chasing silvers like this one, our first of the year that it took Brody about 10 minutes into the morning to catch.
Considering the intensity of the commercial set net fishery this year I was completely surprised on our first silver trip that there were any at all to catch. I actually wrote a blog entry yesterday about ADF+G and I just can't just makes me sick to think or write anymore about the lack of concern for other users or the fish themselves that the commercial promoters at ADF+G have adopted. In all my years I've never seen such aggressive commercial sockeye harvest at all cost done...The smaller runs of our endangered Kings and usually abundant silvers just get hammered while they fish day after day after day with nets for those reds....all the time believing in their vodoo science or what they call 'management' . Did I say I wasn't going to publish the anti ADF+G rant ? me, that was the short version.

Here's a pic of Ben  and the boys from Minnesota on the dock at days end.
The girls had to work a little harder the next few days but we held our own against it and you know me, we always do as good as we can and work at it as hard as we can, it's all you can do it this ol life of a Kenai guide. Here's a couple of pics of Bree and Kimmy. I really like the pic of Kim with the sun on her face, you can just feel the river environment in her smile and in the air.
As we sat under the Eagle tree waiting for our next bite we watched this gull wrestle with a live Dolly about 16 inches long. This guy really told a side note of the Kenai River story...the darn fish was just a little to big and a little to alive for him to handle but when his buddies arrived he got worried and slid it down whole which looked to be real uncomfortable and of course he was then to heavy to fly and can imagine what happened then. He's not much different than the July dip netter that takes so many reds that his boat won't get up on step so he runs out of gas on the way home....or the set netter that wants to fish like he did in 1971 although it's now 2015 and he want's that so bad he won't change even a little bit until the people put together a signature drive for a ballot measure that will stop it all and hopefully be on the ballot this October. It's to bad , because I really think we ought to be a bit smarter and fairer than that Seagull . To bad we're not .

Monday, August 3, 2015

A blink of an July

Well July has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I'm not sure if it's our age that makes it happen this way or if it's the intensity of it all. In any case we've ' made our season ' as the commercial guys say and that feels so good now to have a pretty normal July after several ahhhh....unusual ones.  Every year since we bought the launch we make about 70 % of our income in three short weeks of sharing Mile 14 with literally thousands of sockeye and King fishermen, nobody got hurt and a good time was had by all...well except for a rare jerk or Park Ranger.  The the King season ends on July 31st and the red run tapers off and, the town , the critters and the river itself sighs a big sound of relief....we made it, although feeling a bit like this fisher woman here. Just a little tiiiiired.
Both of our King runs seem to be on the rebound and although there's a few questionable management decisions being made all of us are optimistic for the future.... It's one of my songs, ' Every Storm runs out of Rain' by Gary Allan. But I guess now that the ' period of low abundance' seems to be over I realize even more  just how important all the other parts of the experience of sport fishing are, after all it was those parts that kept me going the last few July's. Just the other morning as I did my prep work at 4:30 I whispered to MP....." isn't this gorgeous  " and I said " who wouldn't get out of bed to see this "....and she said "me".
Even though with an abbreviated King season it still feels like graduating from high school when I do my last trip of the year knowing that now I'm onto my favorite thing, silver fishing. This year my last trip was special. I shared it with the most wonderful friends. Jeff and Beth Fuze I have known for years and Jon and Tracy Hanson are new friends, just great chemistry in the boat and a great day on the Kenai. Rather than a pic of them with the fish hows about one of us all together , you can just tell....we're friends.
This July we caught a lot of fish, big and small, you decide. Some of you might look at this gorgeous King Salmon that Gayle caught and think it's a bit small. Well she's actually 6'2" and 240 pounds and that salmon was a tough one.....but we got it. And it doesn't really matter what size it is, any fish that can put a smile like that on your face is just right. So nice catch Gayle, you guys were great. Her husband Al was a working musician so we had great fellowship....stay  healthy and smiling you guys.
Me and MP are back out for our walks in the early morning and at Centennial Campground I was impressed at seeing the largest most featured and likely most expensive RV I've ever seen... and that's saying a lot. This baby has a Freight liner hauler and has a slide out patio floor as well as an extend out patio roof.  It has a total of 4 slide outs along with the patios. The little car goes in it's own garage and I'd bet we're looking at 250 large bills.
I always say 'everybody has to live''s just that some folks live better than others, well, with 'things' at least. Right directly across the road from this guys palace is this other guy who's made his own RV. and ya know, they live in the same neighborhood, catch the same fish, share a ' good morning' and go fishing....same thing but different. Oh....when you add in the tarp house I'll bet he's got more square feet, just no central vac and satellite TV.
We've got lots of birds here at Mile 14 and MP just loves them all, and knows them all. It's why she hasn't let me cut any tree's down for our Volcano view....the bird habitat is just more important. So it's no wonder she ( and I have to say even I ) are a bit affected by watching this Stellar Jay fledgling struggle to learn the way. The whole family has been around the house all summer and this little guy we call 'birdie' ( we once called him stupid but quit when we knew something wasn't right ) sits in the grass and doesn't fly so well. We've  watched him for two months now and MP puts seeds out for him. He's not well groomed like the rest and he disappeared. Here's a pic I took the other night of Birdie and his mom who's trying to encourage him to get up and fly , fly , fly.... It's a tough deal for MP, part of life here at Mile 14 I guess.
It's hard to say who or what go Birdie but I hope it was the natural way and not a neighbors cat. So this morning as we hiked I got a couple hard to get pics of one of the bird worlds predators that could have done it. These Merlin falcons used to be pretty rare here but lately we've been seeing a lot of them. MP knows their voice and habitat and well...they're just cool parts of life at Mile 14. I guess one sign of ageing gracefully with appreciation for all things is when you shop for ultra expensive binoculars to watch our feathered friends with....we like their sounds, we like their mannerisms, we like their looks....