Monday, August 13, 2018

Trying to reason with hurricane season

Actually it was a Typhoon, a tropical storm they say....well it hit the Kenai river at exactly 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning as we loaded up Nate's grand kinds to fish. Sheeesh....it rained so hard that my boat has never been cleaner. So now my friend Nate has fished in the coldest by all memory of any day on the Kenai which was a July day about 10 years ago and now he gets the double feature of the rainiest 4 hours in history. Bad luck.  The camera's kinda had to stay under cover but I did get one of the Kid's dad Andy Morton with a hard earned silver salmon.
I got to fish Windy Matson's family and guests. Everybody caught their silvers except the host....that's not how it's supposed to work out. In fact not only did she not catch a silver but I don't think she even ever had one on. Lot's of Pinks of course as we fished 3 hours with just her line in the water....just to remind you other so called guides, we have this rule that you must retire your rod when you catch your limit of silver salmon. Kapeesh you jerk weeds ? My advice is that you guys might take some joy in following the rules and feel good about catching all your salmon LEGAL...give it a try.  Here's a pic of J.C. Heather and Cody and then an exceptional shot of J.C holding up a nice one for Heather, she's a city girl and kinda scaredy chicken to hold them. THAT is a great pic you two.
And the group of ladies I fished I picked out just this one photo of Barb. I promised her I'd e-mail it to her so it's on it's way Barb. Thanks for coming....
And in the most ambitious fish department Amy Woltering won the category. These guys will attack anything and let me tell you there seems to be millions of them...don't tell Fish and Game or they might decide to make a management plan for them and then you know what happens.....
mmmmmm...speaking of ADF+G here's a graph of the Red run. It's a few days old but you can see that the graph is the sonar counts and the dotted line is the historical average....does it look weird at the end to anybody besides me ? In fact just yesterday they announced a sonar count of a whopping 40,000. So, me being inspector Clusoe decided I'd run up to the sonar site and do an inspection. right next to the sonar they have a fish wheel that spins and it not only verifies the fish are their but it breaks up or as they say 'apportions' the run....We have a huge run of pinks right now. So, if the wheel is working and say it runs for an hour and catches 10 salmon and 5 are reds and three are pinks and two are silvers it means something real simple...The run is half of what they think it is. BUT....the fish wheel was not running and you would think they'd make sure it would considering the dire straits the run is in.
You can see that they are going to make the magic number of 900,000 come hell or high water, even if it defies the common sense test. What ever it takes I guess. But at some point there has to be some honesty and somebody should admit they have not apportioned the run properly or at all. I guess the staff at ADF+G would rather save face and their jobs than save the fish.
So if any of you reading are thinking of doing a Silver trip in the coming months I'd appreciate it. I think the fishing is going to be A.O.K. and we have our Typhoon over with. I only have a month and a half left in my guide career so we'll be having fun....and you're invited.

Monday, August 6, 2018

It's A Miracle !!!

Or is it....we've got a river full of fish, salmon kind of fish. To try and get the escapement numbers ADF+G has finally closed all Sockeye fishing, sport and commercial. Of course it's a huge disaster for all those who are after those fish....here's what the Centennial Park parking  lot looked like on July 30th when normally the banks would be lined with fishermen with American green folded up in their wallets.
So pardon the pun here but with everything closed there's a silver lining. The first day within minutes of our first attempt to catch a silver salmon on purpose Josh caught this guy in a pouring rain. The river is full of them like it was back when I was a kid when the silvers would be here when they wanted to come and not just after commercial season closes..and that date is coming soon.
And how's about Pink salmon in July ? I had an entire crew of ladies who after fishing for Kings to catch and release decided they'd take a batch of fresh pinks home for their husbands to smoke. I've seen pinks in July before of course but not like this year, it's happening.
I got to fish with a dad and daughter who ended up with 40 pounds of silvers. They are friends of my old buddy Marty Holloran and just like him they were amazing to spend time with. My early August schedule is usually kind of light as most people know the run builds towards the middle of August so I was tickled to spend time and get a couple bonus trips in with two wonderful people. Cassidy there is water Polo player in Santa Barbara and with her approach to life you hide and watch, she'll be playing for Stanford soon.
And her dad Damien is a guy who knows the tricky navigation of a life well lived....
So as I type this edition of Mile 14 across town at ADF+G headquarters the experts are busy cooking the books in hopes of getting the net guys out to fish soon before the d-day end of season comes and the fish are managed for somebody else, like us, finally. You see to get the 900,000 number they need for escapement they are busy counting every single pink, silver, sockeye, trout , shadow, ghost and what have you to be getting the 30,000 a day they're  reporting. Never mind that it's odd and almost impossible for those kind of sockeye numbers this late in the season and especially never mind that guys like me KNOW what 30,000 sockeyes a day looks like....and they AIN'T here you dummies. Her's a pic of one of their scientific equations they use to teach the new guys who didn't take cooking the books in college.
And in the ' Things you Never See ' department I came across this. Now I'm not being  hard on the Professionals that run our River because I've done a version of this myself AND I'll admit it was my fault. So I'm hoping this poor Park Ranger was rammed by another vehicle and lost the boat or it was a mechanical failure that could not be avoided. And to have this happen right in the middle of town on one of the busiest days of the year has to bother that poor Park Ranger. I feel bad for him, I really do...I know, boats are dangerous, things can happen, hope everyone is OK buddy.


Monday, July 30, 2018

Now it's time to go fishing.

With our King season over on Tuesday and the Kenai River sockeye run in total failure it's time to move on, we're going silver and pink salmon fishing, my favorite. With all net fisheries on hold until Kenai Sockeye escapement is met I think people will be surprised at how many Coho's get into all the rivers.

So humor me a bit here as I show you the graph that pretty much tells the tale of yet another fisheries disaster in the State. The commercial fishery is totally closed and common sense says it should stay closed for the remainder of 2018, even if a few reds show up over the 900,000 escapement goal one thing we're learning is that this fishery is so powerful it could really put a a dent in all the other fisheries. Of course the sport fishing has been reduced to just one red a day and Alaska's favorite fishery the personal use dip net fishing has been closed as well....but not soon enough for our commercial neighbors who are hollering that it's unfair if people fish when they don't. Never mind that we deal in dozens or hundreds and they deal in thousands or better yet millions....it's one of Jeff's maxim's in life, you see... miserable people want you to be miserable too.
The Governor ( who needs to be unelected) came down and met with the commercial guys and listened to them blame everyone including guys like me.....sheesh.....Statistically we catch nothing and we do a lot for the economy with that nothing and I don't believe the Governor has ever once met with us through the trials and travails of guided sport fishing. I don't know what it's going to take but our community will have to pull together sooner or later if we are to all share and respect each others fishery life styles....we might as well get started now if any of you are reading. But....this is what I see.
That's me on my way silver fishing...And boy oh boy did my friend Seth get us started in the right direction. Our first silver of the year was an honest to goodness 14 pounder. I call him Super Seth because.....well, he is....About as good and eager as any fisherman I've ever met. You've got a wonderful life full of fishing adventures and fair chase ahead of you Seth, carry on buddy.
So I hope you all come back to Mile 14 as we move into our fall season. Maybe you sense that this blog just doesn't have the ooomphaa it usually has....well, it' been a bit emotional for me to deal with all the weirdness's of rules changes and fishing closures, it's not how I imagined my last year of guiding. But that's in the rear view mirror now and we'll get our swagger back...I took this pic of my work bench that kinda tells the story of this lifestyle....complicated but simple at the same time, ya know what I mean ??? all of you that guide, I know you do.

Monday, July 23, 2018

So ya wanna be star ....

It only happens if you go fishing. The only guy who was completely negative about going catch and release fishing this last week was a single guy from Anchorage who I had scheduled to go with John and Deb Adams who most people would pay money to just hang around with. He said he only wanted to keep a salmon like he's already caught one....jeeeez....I won't miss dealing with guys like that next year when I'm retired. Here's ol #003 doing it's thing and letting ol slimey swim away.
That fish was exercised by my old friend Ty Tobias on Friday and man-o-man it was a fighter. I snapped this pic of Ty fighting him not expecting that the best part was Jeremiah and Becca.  We had a great day and this second shot is the magic...you've had ol slimey on for two good runs and although he's jumped it was far off and you really didn't get a good look...he's ready for the net and you finally see the silver flash in the perfect turquoise water and you gasp......it's a 40 pounder, gorgeous.
One of my old customers Bill Church was scheduled to fish on Tuesday. As screwed up as ADF+G is even they are sensitive to the fact that people need some notice when they change the rules so when they announced catch and release on Monday they made it effective Wednesday.  So Bill was wondering why I hadn't called him as he'd heard the river was C+R....just your usual confusion here on the Kenai. So he was surprised when his son George landed the first of the day and we took the Louisville Slugger to it.
An hour or so later and the rod went off again and Bill's brother Ed caught a nice King. Here's me and him with the last dead King Salmon of my guiding career. I actually thought about that and it was no catharsis in my life just more of a bitter sweet deal...I wish it all made more sense.
Through the years I've learned to be careful about booking people for several days, I usually just don't do it. If the fishing is good they catch an obscene amount of salmon and if the fishing is slow after the 1st day they're ready to kill you instead of the salmon. But John and Deb Adams break that model for sure, they're just wonderful and this year brought John's dad Bob along. Here's Bob working out a fish before the release....nice.
As you can see there are no boats around. The fishing experience is wonderful. We went up to Soldotna one day and caught 25 trout or so just to shake up the fishing. And wouldn't ya know the river delivered an eater to John.
Our new friend Frank Bridge took a pic of us at the end of the day....Frank I'm sorry for not getting you on Mile 14 but you know we'll leave the light on...
This is that week....want stress, go to the grocery store. Our town must have an extra 50,000 people here chasing red salmon and of course it's show time for the great american dollar here at Mile 14. I put the boat on the trailer and park it at the house whenever possible so MP can sell my real estate.
This something I get a kick out of....yup, a budget motorhome. We see this quite a bit anymore but it never quits amusing me. Don't ya suppose it feels a bit like a prison cell in there when they close the door to go to sleep ?
And in the salmon fever department this guy here is a friend of a friend like everyone here at Mile 14. He was in hot pursuit of a large sockeye salmon when it spit the hook right in front of him. Of course the lure came flying at the source of the tension and he dodged the hook but got impaled in the chin by the swivel. Lucky for him his friend Beth Roukema is a Doctor so when it wouldn't quit bleeding she waded out to him with forceps and a suture and closed it up with one handy stitch....unbelievable is all I can say .

Monday, July 16, 2018

Out of warranty

I'd heard those stories. You turn 65 and things just start going wrong. I always thought that those stories were all part of the gag that is the ageing process....well, here I am at Central Peninsula Hospital on the day of my birthday, July 16th, having tests for just another speed bump along the way to eternity.
Yep, I'm in the test booth of the pulmonary dept feeling a little like Herb Stempel in the movie Quiz Show. I burnt my lungs with Chlorine at our building in Mexico and they haven't been the same since. As is standard human 'guy stuff ' I muscled through it all spring until I had to use a rescue inhaler on July 1st....yikes, the day my medicare kicked in. So I've also heard about the guy who leaves the planet right when he finally gets his first Social Security check....I'm going to try hard to not be that guy as well.

Ya know this day and age everyone is concerned about Internet security and identity theft. Well I kinda see it now, Google as nice as they were to greet me with birthday wishes it's kinda weird that they know and can do this so easily. Thanks Google but hey, no offense but we really don't need to get personal.
I had a great week of fishing. As the days went on the murky water changed into about as good as conditions you could ask for fishing artificial only. We really only had one bum trip. I had two runnung buddies in the boat that I really bonded with. Amy and Leslie are married to a couple guys who don't fish so they came to Alaska a week before them to get it done. I laughed a lot.
We had one fish jump higher than the one Amy caught but unlike this time that ones jump made the difference and he earned his freedom. At one time Amy kinda slumped ( I don't want to say fell ) onto the floor and held the rod up with one hand as Les helped her up....of course that was after it had to be free'd from a prop....but you can't argue with success. Thanks for coming you guys and especially this...how cool, she and I had had friendly banter before I ever actually met her. At 5:30 a.m. I got a caring hug from a complete stranger.
As for this next week...well.....here's what I think. Our red run looks like this could be the year when the worm turns. Sonar numbers for sockeye are horrible as is fishing success. So we need numbers soon but the temporary halt to the commercial fishery should help us get our King counts going in the right direction again. This week I expect pretty good fishing , then we'll see what happens. I sure hope ADF+G doesn't get in a situation where they have to explain why they let so much commercial harvest happen in the early season and why nearly 2000 King got killed when they would have put us into the middle of our escapement range instead of the lower end that we're headed to now.

Norwegian boot dryer....Keith'l like this one. The best boot dryer I've ever owned and I've used a few because in my business dry feet is a must was made in Norway. They slip into your boots and are called The Konning made in Oslo Norway. So when I came across this guy (thanks for the assist MPeasy ) it was obvious he had a bit of the Nord in him....brilliant use the heat from you tail pipes.....
Starting now and for the rest of the King season with the exception of two singles all my trips are with friends....So we'll see you all soon. 😎🐟🎀🎸🎸🎡🎡
UPDATE...and a meer two hours after I published this edition of Mile 14.

So what do I know ? ADF+G just announced that we will have catch and release fishing only for King salmon either until we get fish or the season closes July 31st....It's true of course that we all want to protect the fish for the future...BUT...this is an absolute outrage. ADF+G before even assessing the strength of the Sockeye run allowed for ' emergency' orders letting the commercial guys fish extra time to the tune of 1800 and some REPORTED ( we all know there's more ) dead King salmon. Even half of these fish might have avoided our closure to keeping fish.....AND now we cannot retain Kings but the commercial guys still will be able to kill them....HOW is this conservation as they so stupidly throw that word around in the ADF+G emergency notice ???

With salmon runs failing all over the state we really need some help, some leadership, some fairness and some problem solving. We ain't getting none of that...if this continues, can you imagine Alaska without salmon ?

Monday, July 9, 2018

Please read this

Being a boat guy I just love the lines and the noble plan of a nice boat....but this time of year, the time where fish fever rules the day I notice ALL the boats and I get to thinking that this dip net fishery deal really needs a little safety chat. Ya know when I was on the Kenai Special Management Area River Board and the 21' size limit was proposed I mentioned that if we have a maximum size boat limit we should also have a minimum....ya know to avoid that deal where the guy at the gas station is holding court telling everybody how he damn near got swamped by a guide boat and you ask him what kind of boat HE has and he says " boat...hell it was a cattle trough until I put a motor on it. So....if you own this boat or one like it please read this.
You're top heavy with all that wonderful carpentry and the fact that you have your seats on the pedestal when this baby was designed for you to sit still on the bench seat and run the tiller handle...you can't build the Queen Mary out of the S.S. Minnow....Or if you own one of these little guys that Geno referred to as an I.B.R.B. ( itty bitty rubber boat)
I know if you own these kinda things you want your dip net experience to look like this....DON"T DO IT.
PLEASE, don't over load your boat. Where your life jackets. Have oars ready to deploy. Have a throw able cushion ready for your fishing partner. Avoid those blustery days at high tide....be careful, lets have a safe Dip Net season...and then go home !
And watch out for rocks....and PLEASE watch out for people sport fishing, like me.

O.K., end of tutorial....Bet ya want a fishing report or at least what I think of the future of this King fishery in July. Well you heard it here first, it's going to be just fine. The sonar numbers are trending pretty close to last year which was exceptional. The bad news is that we've had a week of strangely balmy weather and the snow melt has put the river off. But, it'll clear everyday a bit this week and we're all going to have a real reasonable chance to catch ol slimey.....ADF+G is in a difficult position but of course they're the ones that put themselves there . It was prudent to start us on no bait but now the question is fairness when the commercial guys are hard at it fishing 40 linear miles of net when they deprive us of a nice smelly sardine wrapped Kwikfish lure...Boy , we ask an awful lot of this July run of Kings and all in all it holds up. But we have snivelers and conspiracy believers but ol guide # 003 sees it this way--- The problem is NOT the fish that are returning to Cook Inlet, we're actually doing a pretty good job of spreading them around and protecting some for spawn... The problem IS, the fish that are NOT returning to Cook Inlet. The bulk of them intercepted or died off at sea. So please ADF+G, let's get busy solving this puzzle....remember, the first step in problem solving is to admit there is a problem.

So, all of you fishing this week and next. We'll see you in that black boat at 5:30 a.m. .. bring a smile. There's a rumor that we might get bait turned on so we'll just see. Either way, we're fishing.😎

One of my neighbors found a use for our new signs...I like it. I don't think he's going to comply.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Fasten your seat belt, take your meds and breath through your nose....It's July

I soooo wanted to have a great time this year, a smiley swan song ya know. And of course when things go awry it effects our morale and the bottom line. So this scene is over for now and we're moving onto the most dynamic month of every year here at Mile 14.
So with June turning into totally closed for Kings and with our only real option being trout most everyone jumped ship.....except...my friends Marty and Bill Enkhausen who know the joy is in the pursuit. Instead of the the ol 6:00 a.m. LeMan's start we waited until a civilized 8:00 and then went and tried for sockeyes first. Darndest thing, on about Bill's 3rd flip he had a salmon on. Yahtzee,,,,,
I'll bet some of you recognize ol slimey there, yup, that'd be a King salmon, a jack. So it swam away. And those scabs on Bill's hands will tell you not to try and lift a halibut by the mouth. We fished reds for an hour and never roled one so it was off to Soldotna where we ALWAYS catch trout.......mmmm.... Well we get to drifting and trying different beads and flesh flys and although we had several bites and fish on we never got one to the boat. It kinda dawned on me that although the river was pretty clear it was still raging pretty well so maybe the faster than usual current was the problem. We finally got out my new light levelwind set ups and went to trolling the cutest little Hot Shot and Wiggle Warts you've ever seen and Walla...fish on...We had one huge, and I mean huge spit the hook and before the day was done we'd caught plenty of nice trout. Here's Marty with one pic we got and one of a rainbow jumping right before it spit the hook on that blue Hot Shot you can kinda see.

That Friday of fishing and fellowship was huge for me. Thanks Bill and Marty for making me feel normal. Sure was a nice quiet day on the river eh ?
So tomorrow  I start with a pretty darn full July calendar. All the folks who are with me the first 2 weeks of July have been notified that the only change for now is that we will be fishing with no bait. Everyone understands that with the closure in June ADF+G is going conservative for the July run so as to make for as much escapement as possible if the run is smaller than average. All my fishing friends just want to fish....except for one guy. The one guy that you'll always run into that has no trust, no empathy and thinks he's guaranteed fish and oh, I almost forgot rude as well as the second time he called me with the ole " I'm hearing rumor's "  B.S. it was 8;30 at night. So, he got the hook and gets the pleasure of fishing with Brand X if he can find somebody who will take him.

This week is going to be balmy warm and we'll scratch some King salmon out of the ol river. I'll then update the blog for you all that might be fishing late July if there are any changes or I expect any. You know I'll let you know as soon as I know. I have all my old and best friends coming to fish in late July so I expect it will be as much fun as I'd hope for no matter what. If we have to fish reds we will....no matter what don't buy them at the store because that's exactly what the jerks running this place want you to do....although that is a pretty good price at our local WalMart.
I wish I could control everything about this crazy life at Mile 14 but I can't.  But I do know the serenity prayer. I also know that what ever we're doing we do it 100 % and have fun doing it. So all of you that are fishing 2018, we'll see you soon....


Monday, June 25, 2018

The Plan

Fish and Game is being cautious. And so they should be based on our early run here on the Kenai and especially based on all the salmon shortages statewide some of which are absolute failures. The beautiful and always productive Anchor River has only 640 Kings in it and on the Little Susitna they can count them with hands and toes....so the Kenai Early run will come in at about 3000 which isn't good but isn't a car wreck either...but certainly makes us all a little hinky for the late run starting July 1st.

So ADF+G has been pro active and announced that to stretch the harvest and escapement they will start the season with emergency orders. No bait for the sporty's and only 48 hours at the most every week for the commercial guys. So, the bait less fishing is a bit frustrating for me as it puts a lot of luck into it and takes away one of the arrows in my quiver....we just work harder with the bait and out fish those that don't. But it should put more Kings swimming under our boat as the netter's won't get increased time unless the sonar counts are good and we're returned to bait. Right now the river is returning to it's nice green color and I expect that by the time we light the fire on July 1st conditions will be excellent...and we got a few tricks up this experienced arm. So lets keep a good vibe and root for this ol river to deliver.
I'll tell you this for sure, with two weeks of no fishing I have spent my time with prep work and I'm about as ready as anybody can get. All new line, leaders, broke out the ' saved' Kwikfish, replace all hooks....I'm feeling like these birds, waiting , waiting and more waiting. It'll happen.
I've really tried to stay upbeat but honestly it sadens me to not be doing my thing and seeing the folks who hoped for a June Kenai experience disappointed. So it was pretty cool that the forces of life would send an old friend to cheer me up...it worked. Bob Gerstlauer and I met in 1977 on my first construction project at what is now Spenard Building Supply in Soldotna. We've stayed in touch and been friends ever since. He e-mailed this pic he came across of our crew waiting for cement when we were pouring the slabs. All wonderful friends, Mark, Bruce and Craig Passe, our forman Mert Gertin and Jack McHone and Robert...I'm the guy with the hair and the white hat. August 1977.
So Robert who is always upbeat shows up at Mile 14 and things get better. Like me his life has had up's , down's smiles and tears...so to he reminded of the need for perspective. We're healthy, doing alright with our future planning and still having a ton of fun...Thanks for coming by Bob and Dana. I know we're going to be seeing you guys as we adventure the next 20 years.
I had one of these selfie pics where all 4 of us were smiling and couldn't get it to load....oh well...

So for all of you that might be scheduled with me in July or might be looking for one of the few days I have open.....here's the deal. Everyone knows I'm a 100% guy. No matter what the rules or numbers are we'll work and fish has hard as we can and have fun doing it. If by late July the King Fishery were to be even more regulated we have many options and will track down some reds, some trout, C+R Kings...we'll make some magic....and the very worst thing is you'll still have fun and have 'emeritus status' in THE.... and be invited to all future reunions.