Monday, July 25, 2016

A Pain in the Bee-hind

Those of you that follow Mile 14 know I'm highly allergic to bee stings. It gets a little tiresome for MP as I'm actually about half paranoid about them after having been through a couple severe reactions lately....So...this yellow jacket infestation that we have is absolutely terrible. The worst anybody has ever seen. They're saying that the mild winters with no freezing are making them thrive and thrive they are here at Mile 14. It's horrible when you have any protein available, they smell it and walla...instantly hundreds arrive. I've been gutting fish on the boat just because.

But in truth ' Jethronian ' style, I know the right people. My friend Ty Tobias is the President of the Alaska Bee Keepers Association and he knows the way. He brings down the trapline for me and baits it with bacon, who don't like bacon and I think we're winning the war. In the  pic of the bacon I think you can actually see them hovering. It took all of 5 minutes for hundreds to arrive while he baited the traps....Well played sir Tobias and thank you for all you do. Mile 14 is livable now because of you. I looked at the traps and we have killed thousands.
Here's your annual picture of ' Woodstock with fish ' at the mouth of the Kenai River. It's turned into a tradition where me and MPeasy go to Louie's in Kenai for breakfeast on the 3rd Sunday of July. I have the fishermans Benny with shrimp and Crab and chat with the commercial fishermen I know like Senator Tom Wagoner. Then we go to the bluff for the pic and then we drive K-beach and then we go home and I sleep 4 hours while the Nascar race provides background.
As you can tell by the waves and the clouds it's windy, cold and well....your usual Kenai day. It's a  'ya gotta want to do it ' day. And plenty of people have that grit as you can see. We came across this scene that always bothers me. Fish fever, I hope nobody was hurt , it always bothers me to see a wounded boat...I'm a boat guy ya know. I had an axle ripped right off a boat trailer one time so I know the feeling, thank goodness the boat didn't get it as bad as the truck.
I know , I know, I know....where the fish....Well I seen plenty of them this  week. In fact I saw gorgeous Kings and a couple fought about as knarly as any I can remember.....but I liked this one best which was in mid-carve on our walk yesterday morning. The cedar smell made me want to take a sauna.
While Ty was executing bees his running buddy Lowell was getting some serious work done as well.  As you can see he is a grizzled veteran of the Kenai and an Alumnus of  ' Fish Pose' graduate school.  It always amazes me how an expert can take a 12 pound red Kenai King and make it look like this. He plays the lighting, he plays the angles....amazing work Lowell.
Of course  Lowell uses advanced techniques that are not available to the rank and file so my favorite pic of the week is this one....what's better than a smile on a twelve year old ? Nothin, that's what. Way to go Tanner and thanks for bringing the fam.
My friend Anthony caught two Kings in two trips....I'll never hear the end of it. I just gotta warn ya Anthony about momentum, it works both ways. One day you're the bug, the next the wind shield. So try and keep your moe-joe aligned and we'll try for an encore when I see you in September.
On Saturday I fished a laid back crew of veteran Kenai anglers. Rob had never fished with me but had fished with one of my competeters who I consider one of the very best so it was pretty cool when the rods kept going off.  They're fishing with this other guide tomorrow so I wish him well, these guys are great fishermen s once old slimeys is on the line your odds go waaaaaay up.  Here's Sean , Steve and Rob.

Well I think that's about enough dead fish pics for one week. I want to thank everybody who came along for this week in 2016. We got one more week of King fishing to go and then as my old friend Chick Kishbaugh would say the ' real ' fishing begins. Silvers/ Pinks /Trout.....2016.

Sunday, July 17, 2016


That's how old I was on Saturday. I have to tell you I feel great and am enjoying the job of guiding more than ever before....except maybe my first trip where I kinda felt like I'd gotten away with something. I'm doing my one trip a day and working as hard as ever but I've learned what's important and what's not and and my stress level is a healthy -4.2 . Of course it helps to have the best customers and and a few fish around. Here's pic of my birthday crew. Jacqi there on left is a local gal who we are destined to become friends with and Larita there brought me the cake and her husband Mike who will celebrate 4 years of marriage with her Tuesday....Thanks you guys, you're wonderful.
The Kenai River King's seem to be back, well they are back. I could tell, as these things go our first run was better so it stood to reason so would our late run. The numbers are fantastic so really it puts to rest all the hysteria people had about the ' low abundance of Kings'. Now it's obvious that it was a problem that was not exclusive to the Kenai and one that would be temporary like most things around here. Alaska is a dynamic place. Our habitat is pristine, our management is by most standards good , we have great science so all I want to say to the people that kept saying " close the river until the Kings come back ".... you're wrong, pound salt, Les Palmer....retire....but shut up first.
That's a picture of the Dennis Over family from New York. We actually caught a total of 5 in the trip but the guys wanted to keep fishing and I sure understand that. For the week we managed to bat about 700 % and the only bummer was that we couldn't get the tug for my best friends Chris and Charlie. I guess things work out that way just because. I just don't know.
That fish right there that Kiel caught was exceptional. 46 pound female. It fought like a champ and the reason I show this pic is to underline the situation. Not only is it apparent that we will make escapement and our numbers are the best in years but the fish are normal....healthy, robust and absolutely beautiful. I'm just giggly happy for the fish, for us, for the town, for our culture and especially the young guys coming behind me.
Jim Hazzlewood and John Romero with their King salmon. Two of the coolest guys I've met in a while. John is related to Soldotna royalty....his son is the Direct TV business....

But don't think it's all fish, it ain't for sure. On my birthday I spotted this sun dog collection and it just said what I wanted to say.....
The Rain's letting up
The sun's on it's way
My half empty cup
is half full day
And I've learned the tight turns
just around the bend
Off in the distance 
I ship my ship coming in
 Thank you Kevin Fowler
And I finally found a good use for them dip nets.....yup, when you fetch up hard  on the rocks as old Joe Hazzlewood said you just break out your 150 dollar dip-net and push yourself back out into that old world famous Kenai River. I wonder just  how many reds he was figurin on putting into that little I.B.R.B. ( itty bitty rubber boat)....dip netters.......aaaaaargh......

Monday, July 11, 2016

Kenai Gold

That's a whole box of it. It takes little fish to catch big fish and it seems that the Sardine bait fishery in San Francisco bay failed this year and a box like that is a rare thing in Slowdotna Alaska. But being an adherent to the 5 P principle ( proper preparation prevents poor performance) I got plenty of them. So on Saturday which was our first day of being allowed to use bait I had confidence that we could make the ' rod go off '....This fish that Todd Tukey caught was text book, it did everything these wonderful fish can do. It bit hard, it ran out 100 yards of line, it jumped and several time it was my favorite show, you're a little tight on them and they come up shaking their heads and splashing real well....flat exciting.
And you'll notice not a boat in sight. I don't know what it is with our guides these days but they were all up river fishing when the tide was absolutely perfect for the down river fishing, oh well, we didn't really miss them. Here's a pic of a great family, the Tukeys from Maine...
I got to use my new water proof camera this week. Boy was that exciting. One thing about having spent most of my adult life in a boat on the Kenai River is that I am certainly a rain expert. I've sat through many a toad strangler...Tuesday was rainy but Weds the 6th of July in the year of 2016 was flat poured...all day... Here's a couple pics that might help you feel one millionth of what me and Bill Church and two Ed Churches fished through...thanks for being tough guys.

Kimmie here grew up in Great Falls Montana so we had a pretty good day of Montana speak. I have to admit, Montana is a gorgeous, cool place...but after 45 years of  Alaska it seems so limiting when I go there. Do ya know what I mean ?... But Kim and Brian who live in Rhode Island go there all the time and fish and hunt so it was kinda cool that they both caught the biggest fish of their lives.... so far that is, that's the way I look at it.
So yesterday was the first day of dip netting. I know this ain't the right place because I know my friends / readers wouldn't ever do anything like these jerk wads...but I have to show the pic of what me and MP came across on our walk. Ya know I've had fish fever as bad as anybody, I still get it, that excited ' I gotta hurry' feeling, but I'd never...Our visitors that do this oughta be ' uninvited ' to our town. Hit the road jerks, don't come back. Period.
I don't have a song for you this week but I did come across this poem. I liked it . Although it's about commercial fishermen I guess me and MP's lifestyle fall right in line with this. We rely on the fish, we rely on the government, we can't control the weather...we work damn hard.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

July is busy....

But not to busy for me MP to do what she does so well....create. Now at Mile 14 we have the first and I'd say only Riverside Free Little Library. There's a lot to love about this woman of mine and her direction when she wants something is impressive. I realized a long time ago that she'll not rest until she gets it done so I've learned that no matter what it is ya better just pitch in and roll with the flow. Here it is.
Now I'm not saying that's she's a.d.d. but I have to tell you,  This project started in the garage on one of my gear prep tables and then moved to the laundry room before it made it to the kitchen counter then onto the kitchen table and then back to the garage where we finished the nailing on my tool cabinets, 4-wheeler and a dairy crate. No Kiddin. The maestro at work.
And with the finished product.
And of course a message or two. She wants everybody to know that it's 100% recycled material...except the love that is...that's all original.
The other day we had a day off and we decided to walk the beach in Kenai one last time before the hoards of dip netters take over in a week. We do these walks rain or shine and as cruddy as it was at Mile 14 this morning it was flat miserable in Kenai.... I don't know how those people can live there. On a day like this when the sky, the water, the sand all look the same I flash back to my commercial fishing days. I know not everyday was like this but my memory says it was...miserable, lonely, barren, just a hostile environment....Alaska....
It actually put me in a bit of a funk , guess I got to remembering stuff. So when we came across the ball parks I was dry in the car and had a good laugh. I don't what the gulls were doing and especially wonder what they do to get rid of them at first pitch.... I know one thing, a guy with a camera walking amongst them didn't phase them a bit. They were there by the hundreds.
As we head for Dip Net season the signs are everywhere. We've kind of sold our town out over this mass fish production deal. We got campers camping on every free spot of terrain available. Boy howdy is that an Alaska experience or what ?
When you're expecting a total harvest of around 1/2 million sockeyes in the dip net fishery and maybe another 1/4 million in my thing....the sport fishery I guess you'd better have some boxes.
I'll keep a big old smile and we'll work through the rush here at Mile 14 like we always do, with grace and humor. I love to see new thing so when I see Europeans in rigs like this so excited to be traveling Alaska you have to welcome them to our town....what a cool rig.
Here's pic of my new neighbors yard. He's been down asking about the boat launch several times now and finally I see why.....he does have a lot of kids so, let's net. Wished I'd seen fishing poles.
So I hope everybody has a  fun but especially a safe dip net season. I've never done it and I intend to keep it that way so if you're fishing for a dip net charter you've got the wrong guide. All B.S. aside be careful. We've been very lucky as all this has grown and the fishery is ultra crowded so wear your PFD's and save the beer for later. This pic below was on Craigs List, a guide soliciting dip net charters. I don't know....5 people, you have assume the fish box is full as well, no PFD's and it just looks reckless if you ask me. In a severe boating manuever all those fish can shift and slide to one side and.....just be careful....and ask you guide to be as well if he ain't.