Thursday, July 27, 2017

Red Update

I hate to be the ' I told ya so ' guy, but..... here's a graph that makes sense to show you the red salmon situation here at Mile 14. It was on Craig Medred's news page on the internet. Guess you have to get something that makes sense out of the nonsensical from somebody beside the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game. As you can see it the graph trend clearly shows that minimum escapement is almost impossible now. But so far they let sport and dip net continue fishing on the hopes of a miracle. I just hope that as the season winds down the commercial guys don't get turned loose on our Silvers. That'll be the next drama from ADF+G.

Monday, July 24, 2017

If I were a salmon I'd take the road....

and that's no kidding. This was hell week for us locals, all of Anchorage as well as our usual tourists were here chasing red salmon. And low and behold as things go here on the Kenai the dip netters who formed a parade going to Anchorage yesterday left disappointed.  Today more seem to be hitting the river but with only 330,000 over the sonar ADF+G has once again created as Ernie  says a 'shamoozle'. For the first time in a long time the usual Monday commercial opener is closed and I'd bet dollars to donuts that the Thursday opener will be also. But don't feel to bad for those commercial fishermen, they've already harvested 1.25 million. The problem is it's starting to look like they harvested the escapement, you know, that silly little thing called the future. Oh well....but King Salmon we got ! I just love this pic that my new friends the Hangers and Shepards mailed me. Scott's wife Johni with her King in the net , man that is the essence of sport fishing.
And here's a pic of the slimey she retrieved from the Emerald green waters of the world famous.
It was a great week and if I were counting I'd say we batted pretty well over 500 %....So I'll just give you the highlights, the idea, the mystery... Thane Davis caught about the largest. I encouraged him not to weigh it so he can in good conscious massage the story anytime he likes.
I might Jere and Jen Yates we figure in 2006, they've been on the every other year plan since. Jere is a great fisherman. No coaching and he is even confident enough to net his wife's fish which for me is the real load test of  a marriage. We're simpatico with these guys. They make fishing fun, really fun. so thanks for coming and bringing Rich and Cin.... I know we'll see you guys again. And oh, thanks for liking my new song 😊
Jere sent me the video of about a 30 pounder running around the boat on the surface like silver's do frequently....and crud, I can't get it to load for the blog and it's sooooo exciting. Here's the crew with virtual fish.
Saturday night is debrief for me ya know. As I practiced a few songs and enjoyed a tall orange this object on my prep table caught my writers eye....It's my life man and it's EVERYWHERE. The stuff is like uranium, when it's on you it stays on you. I'll bet I've sent hundreds of people home with enough of that on them that people ask...what the heck is that ????
And campers.....boy howdy is this town full of campers.  All you need is glance at the camp and you can tell certain things. This guy buy's local.
And don't be impressed....this guy has the largest collection of useless fishing junk that I've ever seen.  To some people a fishing rod is just a fishing rod, so why not get the 12 dollar deal that comes already spooled with brand x line and a bobber.....don't let me hear you're having trouble landing fish buddy...and if you do remember.....it's all on ADF+G even if you ain't got a clue.
It hurts me to see this. The person I love the most having to make room for more empty beer cans. Our town is about as full as our dumpster. I pitched in and made a dump run as our guy doesn't come until Wednesday. Someone asked why we didn't have a bigger dumpster and this tells the story, it only gets full for two weeks every July.  Hang in there baby, we almost got it knocked out again.
And lastly..... I got a word for you guy's down in Homer.  Don't think you guy's down there have an exclusive  on this deal.....This Slowdotna can be a test don't ya know.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

64

and so much more....' I been first and last, ain't it funny how the time goes past'.  Actually the fact that today is my birthday and that on July 16th 1945 the first Atom bomb was exploded the real importance of this day is that it's the night for the first new season of ' Game of Thrones' on HBO . Boy is MP ready for that deal.
In Jeff's world getting older is a cool thing. I finally feel like I'm running my own life. I'm healthy and loved so what else is there....Well, aging for me is also about comfort and freedom. As I get older I get more secure and comfortable with life, we get used to it. And not being a real church going guy I think that when the end game comes I'll be comfortable with that too, it seems to be the way life works.... don't take me wrong, we ain't in a hurry. That's me on salmon egg duty. I had a guy tell me one time that my gutting table had a better view than his hot tub, I'm a lucky guy.

The Dip's have taken over the area until July 31st when their season is mercifully over. The other day in the rain and the fog I thought I saw the U.S.S. Nimitz headed down river but it just turned out to be safety orientated dip netter....good work.
We've had a few snafu's . This guy launched his pick up truck on the South Beach of the Kenai River and blamed it on his dog ( who drowned ). He says he got out of the truck and the dog must have engaged the transmission like they do all the time.....mmmm.....in any case it's a bad deal.
Any time the Fire Department shows up it's not a good thing. The guy who owned the Camper Van under stated that he ' noticed it had been running a little hot'.
And here at Mile 14 things are in their usual state of confusion. The reds haven't really hit to hard yet so we are only at 120% percent of capacity instead of the usual 200. Right by the gutting table I couldn't help but notice something and I tell you this....it's kinda cool to look at something and totally and honestly not have a clue what it does or what it's for.
This guy here is outstanding and certainly not part of the 'Orvis ' crowd. Check out them wading shoes eh ? AND, he's an expert fisherman, no kiddin, he really is. Tony Lama would be proud.
And yes...we did some fishing this week. It had been kind of quiet, at least by Kenai standards but this week things got back to normal. Here's a shot of the fleet working the high tide at Chicago, this is my life.
John and Deb Adams are just sterling. They both caught and we just got along famously. In fact we just met and when I talked of next years retirement and my plans to save July trips for my friends and steady customers we got them signed right up. Thank you guys....and hey, wasn't it cool that you learned that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day of the same year and it was the 4th of July 😊
This guy below is Russ Hickman and being a salmon boat owner form Portland he's caught a lot of salmon, probably more than me. And he's fished the Kenai a lot so when I asked him what was the biggest King he ever caught he said 72 pounds....mmmmm......pause......ah..... Well I told him with a big ol smile " you ain't gonna catch one that big today". But he did catch a beauty and it was so cool to do absolutely NO coaching as he fought it to the net.
The photogenic award for the week goes to Brent Mattson. He missed several opportunities on the back bounce but he kept a smile and a positive vibe and walla.....gorgeous fish.
I gotta lot to do so this edition of Mile 14 has to be a bit short. We're cooking Halibut cheeks and Shrimp tonight for my B-day feast. I've got to change line on several reels. I need to clean a boat and tie some gear. Help MP look after the launch and......Game of Thrones....But we find time to train the Stellars Jays here at Mile 14, they're cool but arrogant little buggers.
video

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sigh.....

That's what me and my friend the Kenai River are doing on the eve of the most intense 3 weeks of salmon fishing in the world. There will be around 300,00 reds dip netted , around 250,00 sport caught along with 2 to 5,000 King's or so....we ask a lot of that ole River, and our community.
I've learned to deal with it all quite gracefully I think and I also think I know of what I speak as running the Boat Launch here at Mile 14 is kinda unique, stressful but rewarding and full of friendship. So for any of you that might stumble upon this blog while on your way to salmon central here's just a couple reminders... At Mile 14 we have one rule, come to have fun, no sour pusses.  And this,  Just slow down with that salmon fever deal....remember that the person ahead of you that is astonishngly driving the speed limit most likely lives here and is a bit intimidated by the traffic. Or maybe that crazy person driving the speed limit is a visitor who is taking in the beauty....relax, breath through your nose. Let's all try and be courteous of others, in fact if you already are let's just set the bar a bit higher....AND, think safety friends, always.
For all the people chasing these salmon in the next few weeks we have many who it's about preparing for the long Alaskan winter, some it's sport, some a job , some a combo of passion and sport and culture.....and some it's just a big party. We have a guy who is just a drain on our town and fishing society that stays every year at the public campground that seems to fall into that last category. Be careful and don't go with guys like this , do you really want to go fishing with a guy who keeps his camp like this...They take up 4 or 5 camp spots our wonderful visitors could use, guide fishing trips in July only ,and....then leave. Thanks a lot.
I took this pic at the store the other day. I said to the kid  ' man that's a lot of salmon cans' and he said ' you oughta see the warehouse'. His job is salmon cans, vac seal bags , smoker chips, fish boxes and coolers. We're talking tonnage.
Last week we had people catch one salmon, we had people catch no salmon and we had Chris who caught two in two trips at the same hour on the same lure.....pretty darn good. I'm helping him hold the second one because that was one knarly fish and Chris was a bit tired after the haul. This guy was 47 inches and weighed 47 pounds...
I had a first. I think I'm pretty good at the 'warm up' which is the tutorial I do every morning with King salmon. I actually do a practice troll where I show everyone how to handle the reel as to not back lash and how much line goes out. Then I show how the bite will look and how to and when to respond. I'll even over run the spool a bit on purpose to show how the reel can backlash and then I ask if anybody has questions.  Having done all that at 6:00 a.m. sharp the lines go in the water and I had a teenager named Jeremy that I think just hadn't woken up yet. I watched as he held the reel upside down and a baby backlash was forming which turned into a huge one when got out the distance and kind of jerked the rod....the diver dove and instantly, and I mean instantly slimey had it and jumped behind the boat. That Trilene held up to it for an amazing amount of time . Long enough that his dad got hold of the rod and was able to see the situation and feel the power of the fish before the line parted....and then swam off putting 70 ft of line into a friends prop.....ouch. Wish ya'd got him Jeremy. ...Wow...

We love fresh King salmon. It's the best. And believe it or not we seldom get any. But I had generous customers this week so on my Saturday I had a special treat to go with my usual Saturday evening....A nice quality gin Martini as I play my Godin guitar for a little over an hour, I'm working on a soulful rendition of ' Stand By Me ' and learning to sing Frankie Valles ' My Eye's Adored  You' for our friend Connie in Mazatlan. Then I have some wild caught shrimp that have been setting in olive oil with some garlic and MP's fresh basil.... And the star of the show, a huge King steak pouched with a little Wasabi mayonaise on it. and or course a glass of Merlot.
So we here go, July on the Kenai....You guys all have fun, be safe, be thoughtful and if you're not part of my extended Team X family here at Mile 14 when you see us on the river say hi....and oh, it's been a weird Bear year so keep an eye out. This was at  Soldotna Creek Park this week.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Skunked

You know you're secure with what you do when you just fess right up. Yup, the only thing worse than the fishing was the weather, it was a test. I did 3 trips in a row last week with just one chance, hey, I'm a fishing guide, and a darn good one, but....as my old friend the Iron Man Chick Kishbaugh said ' we fished for King salmon, and they were not aware of it ' . So I just want to thank Steve and Norm and Chris, Glenn and my old buddy Kenny Fallon for hanging in there and being the sports people they are. But in Jeff's world this means only one thing...it'll get better real soon. We were faced with a river that is filling a bit late with chaulky water and the usual in between run low sonar counts. Here's the USGS graph this morning. The pyramids are the historical average stream flow.
Bear  with me for one more graph, good news. This shows the overall early run strength starting in 2013 and ending this year. As you can see each year has gotten progressively better so it looks like we've pitched our way out of the slump. These trends usually keep continuity so it looks bright for 2018, my last year of guiding on the world famous. The red is 2017, the purple 2013.
It was awful quiet here on the long weekend at Mile 14, rained everyday. But our friends Troy and Tammy do a 'staycation' every year and caught the first sockeyes of 2017 at Mile 14. Here's their camp and them fishing...and of course , them two are plum in love.... Thanks you guys for treating us like part of your family....
We've got a new neighbor. The Conservation Fund of America bought all the Stewart wetlands down river from us and conveyed it to Alaska State Parks. For us it's good and it's bad...the good is that the public owns it now and no development should occur. The bad is, it's State Parks - who I hope will be good neighbors but we're not off to a good start. So for any of you Park Ranger yo yo's reading this here's what happens to your ' don't have fun here' signs when you put them on the wrong property. Yup, they get ripped down and tossed where they belong. 
MP has the botanical garden that is Mile 14 in full bloom and it's gorgeous.
These Petunia's below are called 'Night Sky' and boy were the expensive. She saw them in some of the City of Soldotna's beautiful parks and just had to have them. So this year they were at the greenhouse at twice the price as a regular Petunia because they are patented. Right on the plastic it said ' Don not propogate'....so of course we didn't , right ? 😉
And this guy is CaChing Cherry.....he ain't patented be he oughta be.
My favorite is the Lily's
And a Nasturshum or two....
But a guy's gotta eat ya know too....so she's got the garden and greenhouses full to the top. You can't put a price on your own food but boy oh boy, don't count the hours of work. It's a labor of love for sure.
She's got a few Marigold's that she likes the way they match the paint in one of our signs. We hope the flowers and beauty here tell people that when the check in gate says ' Welcome to Stewart's Landing '....we mean it. 
So with July and the crazyness that is dip netting upon us a lot of people in our town get kind of hinky about sharing. Ya know I have to say that even me who depends on tourism get's a little  tired of the fish crazed crowds and having the Fred Meyer store sold out of what you need and of course the traffic....BUT.... when you share with visitors that do this, it all makes sense in Jeff's world. How cool, and welcome to Soldotna.