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 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 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 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'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.

Monday, June 18, 2018

' Houston we have a problem '

UPDATE 6/19....the river is now closed to King Salmon fishing until July 1st when we reset with a new management plan. All of my June people have been contacted.  If you are a July booking please send good vibes that the July run will be bigger as it should be. We WILL be fishing again July 1st, no worries. If anything changes you will be contacted.

I'm a guy who's never been afraid of a fight. I've been swimming upstream and fighting the current my whole life and by and large that tenacity has made me what I am....but it's tiring...and this on going struggle to run the business and preserve our lifestyle in a time of what ADF+G euphemistically calls ' low abundance' has me emotionally on the ropes. I'm about done.

We're on catch and release only for King salmon again. Yesterday's sonar count was an almost impossible 18. We had thought the Kenai was on it's way to recovery after the terrible years of 2013 and 14 but as this is now all over the state it stands to reason it would also be on the Kenai. Believe it or not but the Kenai is doing better than any of the Cook Inlet King Salmon fisheries....they are all either  closed or emergency regulated in some way. One of the Blob's behind a desk at ADF+G blamed it on the Blob of warm water in the North Pacific...nice job boy's , what a great explanation.

So as for business if all my fishermen are reading this we are taking it one week at a time. And of course a new plan starts July 1st and we will be fishing and hope the July run does O.K....if it doesn't it will be like this June time frame where the early weeks will fish well and once a problem is identified and dealt with it's past the middle of the month when all my best friends are scheduled to fish....keep your fingers crossed.  A week is a lifetime on the Kenai so please trust you will be notified of anything that would effect your trip......jeeeeeez.... I'm tired of it and I was so hoping for a wonderful year. But.... we shall continue with dignity. The red line is us and for everyone scheduled this tuesday through about Friday here's the double whammy, you've seen this graph before and when the rain makes the level jump like that you know what it means,,,,muddy water. So for us that might trout fish if C+R Kings are slow the clarity is impossible for a few days. It ain't me, it's mother nature ya know.
Red 2018, purple 2014, green 2015, blue 2016, black 2017
You can see the water began to drastically rise on the 14th. These events happen and we should have clearing water soon...and then we fish.

Monday, June 11, 2018


Was the first thing I heard this morning, my heart is just now getting back to a normal pace. It's actually a good thing that this wacky lifestyle of ours has us getting up at 3:30 every morning because a few more hours and it could have flooded the entire house.
It's happened before but it's still weird to me how after being in one place for 50 years a pipe decides to give up and not just leak but full on spurt H2O everywhere. You'd think it would warn you with a little drip but things in my life don't work that way.  But you know me, lucky , lucky , lucky...the flood was contained and although we had a pile of Max and Sam's Nintendo stuff where that basement mess it is it was contained to just a box or two and we are drying it all for you best buddies if you are reading this....So we're off....another week at Mile 14.
That's my old cowboy buddy double J, John Japp fighting a large not even close to the slot salmon. This new rule is a funny thing. Some people are all about the catch and release....until it actually happens and then the boat goes through a bit of a quiet spell. But him and Penny had a great day and although the fish they caught they couldn't eat they both agreed the day was fun and it's better to catch them than not to no matter what. I will say this about's just plain weird that for nearly forty years I've rooted for a huge salmon when we get a hook up and now you don't say it but for some folks you're rooting for a 36 incher.

Keith invited me to do a day with a large family from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Not only was the day great and the company fantastic but I had the chance in the morning to catch up with some of my old guide friends that I don't see much. My old friend Ray Debardalaben who introduced me to Kevin Fowler music at his wedding has a kinda different approach than's pic of his tackle tray with everything, and I mean everything within easy reach. Listerine, a space bilge pump, Sea Foam, you name it, he's got it. I guess it's like the guy you might work with that has the desk that looks like that.
Mike, Lee, Clarrisa and Matt were just wonderful. This is my serious face's what I love about the job. Meeting people from exotic area's and so different but also the same as you. AND, I always learn something. So Chrisco this is the deal about the Viet Namese noodle soup that we all love. It's not pronounced Foo or Fa, in Viet Nam it's an order of Fur. Honest, I think ol Lee there might be an expert.
When we came up Beaver Creek the craziest thing happened. Duh....well it ain't called Beaver Creek for nothing I guess. This guy swam in formation with us up the entire creek. It's as close as I've ever been to a Beaver except maybe for the ones I executed while trapping. I did have that one I had to go mano-on-mano with few years ago before finally dispatching him with the 410 snake charmer...some day ask me to tell you that story, it's a dandy.
It was so cool to fish with Rob Simpson and his wife Melisa and her dad Mac. Rob has fished the Kenai with one of the guides who used run from Mile 14 so he new who I was . When I asked him why he called me when he knows so many other guides he just said ' he's watched ' me. It was a great trip and me and  Mac kinda bonded, old guy stuff ya know....
We went to the River Festival of course. Blue sunny sky's and music, that you can't beat. Our town is getting to be a nice place to live for sure. But of all things I noticed at the Festival this gal who owns the Artsy Junction did the Salmon Sisters Extratuff boots a one up. MP has a cute pair of Extratuff's but these....walla...The official footwear of the Kenai River never looked better.

Monday, June 4, 2018

They're just like Veal

Is what MP said when I told her that we were having fresh salmon finally for supper. As I waited for my fishing friends on Saturday I put my planer board out to fish and before I could even snap on the board I felt something bite and's salmon , just a bit on the petite side.
If you've ever wondered what makes salmon the ultimate sport fish well that picture supplies the answer. Ya gotta be aggressive to bite off a project that's almost as big as you are or incredibly stupid....if you were a human that is.  But that guy is a salmon for sure and about the smallest Jack I've ever seen, did I ever tell you about winning a new DeWalt worm drive framing saw for catching a 17 incher in a tournament one time ? So this is how our barbecue looked Saturday night, oh baby was that salmon good.
mmmmm.....maybe you notice that salmon steak doesn't seem to match the previous photo. Well it's one of the wonders of life here at Mile 14, we just make things happen....with a little help from our friends of course. Thanks Jacqi and John for the protein, what a wonderful day of fishing. Here's John with a perfect slot fish.
It was his second fish of the day. The first hit just minutes into the day and that fish ran off line and fought like a sport fish should....then it jumped entirely out of the water making us know for sure that it was way over the slot and then he conveniently released himself....Which brings me to my first tutorial of the year for all you fishing guides that I hope read this. I've been seeing a bunch of my so called 'peers'  get the over slot fish in the net, then power the boat to shore, then get out of the boat and get their ' guide shot' photo releasing the fish with the boat in the background and the fisherman with a big ol smile... Well don't do that boneheads  ! Our goal as a group of Pro's who rely on the resource should be 0 % catch and release mortality.  I realize it's hard to get a good photo of the fish to be released from inside the boat as they have to stay in the water but that go to shore deal takes waaaaay to much time and puts tremendous stress on ol slimey. Just let the darn fish go as fast as possible. Ya know we're kinda lucky to be fishing right now and this new plan we're under can really save the business aspects of our fishery so how's about acting like you work the river for a living and are a real professional. Thank you, the end. Here's a pic of John O fighting one of his two fish.
The fishing has really been quite good . For the lack of boats I see and the difficult conditions with a lot of organic material in the water fouling the line we're all doing really pretty well. Just since they've moved the sonar I've told people that fish counts actually mirror what I'm seeing and on Saturday in the sunshine I figured the counts would be around 200 to 250. Well, they were announced at 117......mmmm....Everybody seemed to be catching some.

Watching the family in the white boat catch a keeper was really fun....So our sonar counts are about 1/2 what they were last year when we had the bait restriction was lifted and the slot size increased. It's hard to say what ADF+G will do but ol guide # 003 here thinks the late spring has the run a bit late which we've seen in other places as well and in the graph below you'll see we're really not doing all that bad compared to the last few years. And the run is behaving normally making the ' bell shaped curve' that we like to see. Also consider that the previous years the sonar counts were ALL of the fish and now they are only the ' large' fish.... So if I'm in charge of the world I say let's keep fishing under the current plan of retention of fish like the one above and release of the best spawners. In the graph 2018 is red.
I too this pic at Kasilof yesterday. The essence of sport fishing, it's beautiful. You're alone with your thoughts. You have the hope of a  fisherman but know the joy is in the pursuit. The water gurgles by and it's so quiet you even think slowly and're part of it. It's you.