Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Boy does that feel good

Ice out ! Well it happened a couple days sooner than the April 15th prediction I made so the ol river messed up the 3 years in a row record. We could see it working it's way downriver and on the 13th walla, she was open and good to go, kinda. You've seen this before but this is the still mushy ice soon to be running water as seen from the sand spit here at Mile 14.
I took that picture while it was still a little morningish after coming home from the gym. The sun came out and within a few hours this how the boat launch looked...
Being a river man I have to say that this year it's little quieter, a little weird. There's just not as many birds around yet and I just don't know what would account for that. Usually at ice out you hear seagulls immediately and of course the whoosh whoosh whoosh of Mergansers. But this year it's just not the same. Of course we have some Eagles looking for their favorite river perch and some Mergansers and huge Golden eyes but not in the numbers we're used to. And the Seagulls just haven't got the word yet I guess, maybe I oughta make a dump run and let them know. The more I think about it it seems me and MPeasy had a similar discussion in Mexico, we just didn't see the same amount of shorebirds there either. We noticed very few Oyster Catchers, Herons and Egrets and the different Piper's weren't as noticeable AND now that I think of it the Mexican equivalent of the Seagull the Peilcano seemed to be less numerous. mmmmmmm..... just wondering.....

I got to walk down to Fall-in-Hole on the warmest , nicest spring day ever I think. I called MP when I was half way down and told her that with the temp in low 50's and the sun reflecting off the ice it was the warmest I'd been since Mazatlan. The shore ice was frozen solid and about  4 foot deep on average. It dropped straight off to the river so getting down to look for goodies was kinda difficult. Here's the view from the tip of Stewart's Island looking into Fall-in-Hole, soon to be visited by yours truly in a 21 ft Alumaweld guideboat...It's hard to believe I'll have a boat in this same photo in 3 weeks, things happen fast here....pretty nice back yard eh ?
So with the sun out and life about as good as you can ask for we fired up the sauna. I guess I'm a little rusty on that deal as I took some really well seasoned birch down on the 4-wheeler and kinda over loaded the wood stove. I road up to get our water, beer and sauna partner and when we returned it was already hot at the perfect 180 degrees....Well , as good as we are at the sauna it was still getting hot and before you know it we were tipping 200 degrees so we took a couple outside breaks and tried to cool it off. Once again we got in the sauna and I heard a 'pop' just like a champagne cork makes...yikes it had melted the top off the shampoo and created some pressure to send the squirter flying....Here's sauna expert with the melted bottle, the temp was 207. Ya know I'm one of the few guys who has had a wood fired sauna for 20 years and haven't burned it down ...but we're getting closer.

Monday, April 9, 2018

When it's spring time in Alaska it's....

pretty crazy, we gain 7 minutesof daylight per day. The true mark of what we call break-up is when we get to that magic time when it doesn't freeze at night....and if it's raining then those are the perfect ingredients to hurry springtime along. Here at Mile 14 we have gone two years in a row now with ice out on April 15th and I'm predicting a 3-peat. The ice has broken upstream 5 miles or so and it's working it's way down to us. So here's a pic at Soldotna, huge and I mean huge ice bergs and formations.
One of the cool things about Alaska is that it's small enough that you run into people....like we did the Governor the other day at the Kenai River Brewery. Me and MPeasy were celebrating our homecoming with a nice IPA and a Ruben sandwich and low and behold minding his own business was Governor Walker having a beer and listening to some friends of ours....I kinda wanted to introduce myself and well....ya know how I am about fish politics but now in my mid 60's maturity took hold of me and whispered in my ear " this ain't the right time. So, as you can see I'm off to a good start on one of my 2018 goals and that's #1....relax, let things go....save your passion for the fun things in life....let somebody else do the dirt work....save your effort for changes that you CAN effect.

I'm really looking forward to my 2018 season. I hate to say it will be my retirement year for sure as life is full of those curves, twists and gullies eh ? But if I do continue to guide it will be easier as I'll schedule days off, I'll get a boat with a top for silvers and just kinda wind it all down. In any case I'm looking at 2018 as a year to remember and I'm going into it full tilt. I'm going to try and reach out to some of the people I've seen for 40 years but just know their boats. I'm going to try and work harder than ever with the bait, with the prep, with the intuition and mechanics of the job...I hope people will remember that. I'm going to try and talk to some of the young guys and hopefully encourage them to step up, maybe tell them about the lack of progress we've made in my 37 years of guiding, what I've seen. How I'd hoped that the guide industry would become part of the business fabric of Soldotna. And how we've seen so little change in Salmon allocation to reflect the importance of our work and create some fairness for the people of our state who aren't commercial fishermen....yup, I'll be busy.
And of course the biggest thing of the upcoming 2018 season for me will be the easiest, have fun. I've often told people that this crazy sitting in the rain / waiting on a bite / theorizing lifestyle of ours is one of the few things that you can mix business with pleasure and have it work better than if you didn't...So I hope you don't give up on Mile 14, come on back. My friend Dan Sterchi used to say that soon ' the fish are runnin and livin's easy'...we'll just see about that eh ?
mmmmm...guess I got a little writers block here so.....how's about a song ?...see you guys next week when I'll report on ice out April 15th, my first scavenger trip and...????

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Gotta go, Mile 14

Something about the traveling gene that us humans seem to have...no matter how cool a new place is you're always happy to get there and then happy to leave. I guess we just gotta move on. It's Semana Santa in Mazatlan which is kinda weird in itself, on one hand it's the holiest of all weeks and on the other hand the biggest party as well. Guess I just don't get that part but when we left two days ago the beaches were full of young people and beer. MP and I came across this on the our last bike ride and trying to make sense of it we came up with this...It was displayed this way to be a graphic example to be careful and not drink and drive during Semana Santa, or at anytime I guess.
It really was time for us to go. The morning we left Monsanto was really busy with the cloud seeding. Mmmm, maybe genetically altered party behavior for Semana Santa , I don't know but the sky was full of this stuff...or maybe it was just a bunch of Happy people like us headed home, who knows ?

I was hoping for another nice Robalo as a going away gift but I'd bet you can guess that the fishing has been real slow from my lack of pics/bragging/self promotion...But the other day I hustled up the beach following some birds and this Roosterfish said good bye Jethro. He's a bit on the petite side but I got all the faith in the world that he'll grow into a noble Guyo of 25 pounds. Cute,  ain't he ?
Our arduous trip goes like this....MZT-LAX-SEA-ANC- Puffin Inn - ENA...and all of that is good except LAX which I think they should rip down and start over, but that's just me. At customs they have a new system with facial recognition that looks like this. MP wasn't real fond of her pic and the lady from Anchor Point behind was appalled but that pic below matched up with who I'm supposed to be and I breezed right through customs with just a big ol smile and not a single question.
And then it was onto Virgin America Airline's Airbus, our first experience with Alaska's newest airline. They only have 8 first class seats and we had two of them courtesy Fejes's and Associates travel outreach program. Holy Moly, the leather seats recline and have lumbar support as well as a massage feature. They offer you a cocktail as soon as you enter the jet so you're having a nice nerve pill while the rest of the passengers are boarding....wow...I did a selfie and MP ain't to proud of this pic but she was reading the in-flight menu.....mmmm.....I guess we'll have the Angus Steak Salad with avacado and pepper sauce. Oh, those deals in the middle are reading lights that you can direct so that the other passengers have darkness if they'd  like.
Then it's home to the Kenai River a larger house and a King sized bed...In MZT we sleep on a double and we coined the phrase ' synchronized sleeping ' to describe rolling over at night. I love her to pieces ya know but a little extra room is kinda nice. And, it's soooo quiet here. In MZT even if the the drunks upstairs aren't partying there's still some noise like the guards walking or the surf rolling or the Gecko's chirping....but here at Mile 14, it's still, quiet, wonderful. The air....cool , crisp and clean and....well its just nice to be home. Here's a pick from our slider, the mountains in the background and the river still frozen.
And boy oh boy, as much as I enjoy doing this blog it's been a real struggle with the super slow Telemex internet at our building. So this I'm liking and I'll get back on track with a better schedule for Mile 14... hope you keep reading. And you can't tell by looking outside but we'll have fish pics in 6 weeks I figure.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Alaska / Mexico

Being on final approach for re entry to our vibrant lifestyle along the shores of the world famous Kenai River I kinda get a little thoughtful, kinda introspective on our life style. The differences in location are like so different you can't compare , somethings I miss from both, somethings I love about both....But fireworks in Alaska pales to Mazatlan. Here if you get married, fireworks, New people at the resort, fireworks. Holiday, fireworks.....here's a short clip of Saturday night's ' Festival of Light ' which were the display that usually goes with the Pacifico Marathon but the pyro technics were delayed while work was being done on the Malecon. The best display I've ever seen. They had 5to 7 stations set up so the fireworks came from all locations and scrolled up and down the Malecon. Bill and Diana sat on the concrete wall and watched and hour with us....it was fabulous except for the standing back up part that kinda reminded us all of our age.

So some of the things I miss at Mile 14... A television menu (  although we watch little TV here when we do it would be nice to know whats on but it's all pirated so no tv guide ).  I miss the health club, and those friends. My guitars. Running into people that Really know me. Even though I'm good at dodging work I miss sometimes feeling productive. I miss licorice and buttermilk. Reading an actual printed newspaper. Clean air. And i know this sounds weird but I miss being alone...which I'm good at.

Some of the things I'll miss from mile 5014...Mexicans, I love these people, yesterday as we shopped downtown I chatted, laughed, cajoled with the locals, they like me and I like them. Avocado's . A value, our first shopping trip to the Fred Meyer store will be a heart stopper. I'll miss 85 % of the residents of our building. Fishing the surf. Ernie. Mariana at Athina Spa, the guru of deep tissue massage. Spending money vrs making money. ...anyway, you get the idea, it's time to fly.

Things like this just jump out at me....when was the last time you saw an early 70's Ford Maverick ? Or signs at the clothing store that are ....ahhh..... brutally honest in a fun way.
Team X has a recruitment scheme that is pure genius....just show up. But if any of you aspiring Team X ers have leadership ambitions you need to keep an eye on Ernie. When we first met him years ago his value to the team was immediately apparent , he ain't no scraredy chicken. We were all impressed with the way he would handle the mid flight snagged Pelicano that every surf caster will eventually have to deal with. He'd just reel them in and grab it by the beak and surgically remove his lure and then they'd fly off, usually ....so I wasn't surprised to see the other day that ol Ern is also one hell of a snake charmer. We ran into several of these guys and Ern just lovingly returned them to where they had come from....what a guy.....me, I hate snakes....
So me and MPeasy jump the jet one week from like right now. I'm working hard to catch one last Robalo but the conditions are a challenge, we'll see. Combine that with the start of Mazatlan's biggest week, bigger than Carnaval, Semana Santa ( holy week ) starts this weekend. We've never been here for it but people say the beaches are so crowded with Mexican vacationers that fishing is impossible....it should be fun to witness and be a part of. I'm playing music on Saturday and I'll try and get a video on the blog so I hope you stay in tune. Then we're back at Mile 14 and onto Kenai Salmon Volume 37....

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

There's nothing you can't do too much of....

A wise friend told me that once about all the coolness he / I have in our lives. It's been cold here ( I know, I know, don't complain ) and the fishing is super slow.  The building had it's yearly meeting and other than the fact it hurt worst than the dentist I was left with this take away... this condo building has wonderful people who are overwhelmed by a small group of the meanest, manipulative and most vile bunch of liars a drunks you'll ever meet. In short, it's horrible the lack of plane and simple courtesy that is routine here at Mile 5014.....so it's a about time to get back to the friendly flow of our small town and the Kenai river.

Thanks.... I feel better already. With cabin fever setting in a bunch of us road tripped to Dimas to see the 4000 year old petroglyths, They charge 60 peso to view them and another 45 if you take pictures and of course the fishing is for 'locals' only...good thing I'm one of them. My friend Jake took the most wonderful picture for me.
So that's pretty cool.  Fishing from antiquity, of course this is Mexico and there's a chance they turned a guy loose with a Hilti tool... Here's one up close. The funny thing that jumped out at us that there seemed to be no fish, maybe it was before the ocean got here ? I don't know but this must have been a successful bunch of people with time to communicate through art.
The little town of Pixtala has the most wonderful restaurant perched on a hill over looking paradise. Life is awful slow here. we ate a great shrimp lunch and climbed the lighthouse like kids...we're feeling good.
MP's on going knee problem kept her off the stairs so I took a pic of her from the top.
It's wonderful thing when you get to the point with your passion that you truly enjoy seeing other people catching fish as much as you do yourself, or more. My friend Willy was on his last day in Mazatlan before the drive north. Alejandro and I were talking about our friend who has passed away recently and up from the beach walks Willy with the most gorgeous snapper I've seen in a long time. It's the magic of fishing really and  I think there's some design to it.
For all my fishing buddies in Alaska who deal with the busiest Marina in Alaska for the care of there boats I took this picture. We were on Stone Island when I noticed the local repair shop. They keep the stuff running as good as any place in the world and they get to work outside with the music blaring...For some reason here in Mazatlan we still see lots of new 2-strokes which in Alaska you just don't see anymore, maybe easier, maybe cheaper, I don't know,
There's no doubt that the ' water closets ' in Mexico are different. But when I saw this sign and the camera to go with it in one of the nicest restaurants in our city was kind of amazed. I mean, what do they think you're going to steal ? mmmmm.....see you next week, I'll try and find a something chuckly to report ...

Saturday, March 3, 2018


Kinda of a milestone....40 years ago March 4th we got married. We used to celebrate it on the 5th because like a lot of things for me and MP we were confused a bit. Our old friend Bill Hunt was a Workman's compensation Judge and he said Jeffrey Shannon King do you take this woman to be your wife and etc, etc, etc....and I said....ahhhhhhh,,,yeyeyeye, yes, of course. It was really pretty simple, if I didn't get married she was leaving and back there in the deep recess's of my 24 year old melon I knew I could make a success out of my / our life and Mary Patricia Brown who is the smartest, prettiest, most interesting and talented woman I ever met. No brainer...AND, she liked me and even loved me. I told her I would never hurt her and I meant it.
Now how couldn't ya love somebody that cute....And this picture below illustrates her hard at work doing her job. On the fridge here at Mile 5014 she has a sticker that says ' Marriage lets you annoy that one special person for the rest of your life'.
Imagine being good enough to pull off both of these tricks in the same fishing trip...she really is quite remarkable.
A wise friend of mine told me one time that the definition of love is when you always think you got the best part of the deal....Now here's the confession and evidence that she's the secret to our success, People seem to think that because I'm kind of a type A take charge person that I'm the leader on this expedition....Wrong.

We had our first son the wonderful Maxwell Stephen without me even knowing that we were ' trying'.

She bought our first house  without me even looking at it.

She bought a house in Montana all by herself and she surprised me with the gift of a condo in Mexico without me knowing...She has a way.

When the lights finally went on for me and I realized we needed to make some $$$ as hard as I worked, she worked harder.

Look at our boys,,, two successful men with good healthy  lives .
Here's a close up of part of the guitar that she built me for my 60th birthday...man oh man, by far the coolest thing I own...So here's the deal MPeasy ( I now you read this )  let's retire, lets get really old and let's have new adventures while we do it...Thank you, I love you, I couldn't be without you and yes.... I'll continue to work on some of those things you point out from time to time, I promise.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Salty feet - Pata Salada

Guess I fit that , old salt. so where should I start ? The parade or the snook harvest ? I know....how's about MP's finger....Yikes, it was ugly Howard.
It was frightening and this pic taken the next day doesn't really tell the story of how dramatic the situation was. She snagged it on rivet or something coming down the stairs of the bus. It's a hard jerk and the finger begins to swell immediately. But we're 5 minutes from home so we hustle to get soapy water or oil on it and it won't come off. She hustles to Adrieanna's house and luckily the retired nurse is home.  I go looking for good cutters and return to find the string trick being done which is essentially a tourniquet that compresses the swelling to try and get the ring off....the finger by now is the size of two and looks like a sausage, entirely dark purple. Adrianna and I decide  almost at the same time it's gotta go and it's gotta go NOW. It was so swelled that without the string compression I couldn't have gotten the side cutters safely on it.... It's hard and I can't cut it...MP is tough and Adrianna says hurry. My adrenalin kicks in and snap, it's cut but I have to find another pair of pliers to open it up which we finally do and instantly the finger changes color and MP says she has feeling on the tip. Onto the ice and then it's gone from purple to white. The circulation was cut off for about 15 minutes I'd guess. I think the trip to a hospital would have been to slow and who knows....So then it was ice on 15 minutes , ice off for 15 minutes for 7 hours and magnum doses of Arnica. We could tell it was going to be alright but she still has a little tingling. Mucho Gracias Adrianna, you're an angel. One thing I know about life is this....you can't worry about what didn't happen. Jeff was relieved, very happy.
For surf fisherman here in Mazatlan besides catching the Guyo the Robalo is about as good as it gets. I've had a remarkable run of luck with those guys, this week I caught one every morning for three mornings in a row. Wow....hitting the trifecta.  Tom Welle and his crew arrived so we have at least 8 people on the beach with me and Ern, nadda no pescado. I have people to the left and right of me when just as I finish my retrieve I actually see the Snook take my Mirro Lure. Then the very next wave pushed it past me and leaves it high and dry up the beach with the hook having fallen out. It was so quick the first thing I heard is " where'd that come from"...Mucho suerte.

The very next morning Ern gives me the ole ' get here fast ' signal. I hustle down the beach and stab my rod into the sand and get ready with my gaff hook. Luckily Ern has this fish on his bigger set up and although it took 10 minutes we finally get a look at him....it's not the 20 pound Robalo we were hoping for but what a dandy Toro....And Ernie, congratulations, you've finally passed the fish pose portion of the guide exam. Perfect form, proper display, include the gear, smile...and yes, as you can tell from the background Team X is ALWAYS the first on the beach every morning.
This Toro I caught yesterday was kind of fun. I was all alone and wanted a picture. I kept him on the line until a gal walking up the beach got close so then I grabbed him and asked her to take a picture. She was talking on the cell phone and she just smiled grabbed the camera and snapped the pic continuing to walk and talk... I hope she heard the thank you. MP calls that my ' Oh' face.
I love this pic, a close up of old slimey.  He's got a green bucktail in his mouth and is seconds from getting on with his life. I was so inspired by the creativity of this shot that I posed a sun up shot with my favorite lure... I think I'm kinda into the flow of this beach deal.
Fat Tuesday found us where we've been every Fat Tuesday for the last 10 years. This year with the theme and the new widening of the Malecon it was the best and most comfortable parade of all. Today my internet is cooperating so I'm going to cut the chatter and just show you the scene. I hope you pick up on the vibe. And of course there's a lot of fish and  Pacifico always leads the parade. What's better than a Pacifico fish eh ?
 These gals were pretty far up in the air, no worries.
 This guy found the saltiest feet he could.
And of course the Pacifico girls were smiling.
My favorite floats. They had the illuminated versions at the end of the parade and they were spectacular. Some of them had huge generators in tow. I have a pic of the street scene on this 4-pack to give you a feel for the crowd and all. And I have to say....there was not one single bit of politics or political statements here at all, none....just fun.

I've got 1976 Gibson Paul in my collection. It's one of my favorites because it has this ' honest wear ' that is unbelievable. I bought it from a working musician in the Valley named Wes Hamrick and he being a friend of Hobo Jim's like I am he wanted me to have it. When I play this guitar it's like magic, I wonder about where it's been, who's it sung with and who's it been sung with too. Wes had it for 10 years so a large portion of it's life is a mystery that seems to open up when I play it. this Gibson has been refretted , has new a bridge and tuners as well as pots and well it's just got personality.
So that's what I was thinking as I shared the parade route with this musician and his stand up bass. The instrument was personalized with Mexican colors and his name. He carried the bass just like it was part of his body and I bet he plays it the same. I got to wondering just how many weddings and who they might have been and...well, it's just part of the magic of music. Music that's thriving in Mazatlan Sinaloa Mexico.