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...????