Monday, April 22, 2019


I guess the rub comes when you finally realize that...Being a 100 % guy I've always been a mind over body kind of guy and as the years go on I've  kinda been in denial about what I  can physically do and what I can't or shouldn' least as much of. I spent 4- 3 hour shifts this last week shoveling off the unusual amount of silt build up on the boat launch surface. Then it was up and down on my knees while I installed our habitat approved aluminum grated walkway entire body ached for days. My knees were painfully throbbing, couldn't bend them hardly...I told Chris that I never should have taken that first shovel load and got a Bobcat or a loader down there. But you know me, frugal and bullet proof I felt committed after that first shovel end the parable, the day comes when your shoveling career is over, embrace it Jeff, you've done ENOUGH of that *&#@.
In a fish bum's life you can collect a lot of cool stuff. I generally like new stuff but some of the past is kinda connects you to it all again.  Going  through my stuff as I get ready to break camp I'm finding stuff I had long ago forgotten. The coolest of all is this Ronco presents kind of fishing slide rule I guess you'd a call it. You look at the top and slide it to the fish you hope to catch and it tells you what kind of lures, line and locations etc. What kinda fish bum wouldn't need one of  these...mmmm....well it sat in archives for 45 years.
Someday I'll have a  guy cave with all my mementos . I know collectors like the product in it's original packaging so here's a small sample of the plugs and goodies that were never used...the pile of used ones is pretty impressive as well. Notice the cool packaged Kwikfish, the lure that turned the throttle up on salmon harvest on the world famous. I love the name of the ' Witch Doctor' and the hand carved Martin plugs are soooo cool.
Maybe we oughta get Team X northern division to do a 'retro ' fishing trip, We got all the lures we need so we'll just throw some monofilament on these guys and off we go. We'll go fish the ol Stump hole where I caught my first Kenai Salmon in 1971 and have a few Black Laber beers... we can even pull a spark plug wire off the motor so it runs like the old 18 horse we had. We'll use Borax cured eggs.
On the retro trip I'll get into my Beer can collection and we'll salt the  garbage so it looks like it's in real time. My collection are mostly pre aluminum cans from my youth and earlier. Do you guys remember those first generation pop top cans that could almost rip your thumb off trying to open  ?
My favorite beer can is this Oly  that was found in my Aunt Mary Jane's roof framing when her house was remodeled 30 years ago in Oroville California. Although I have much older cans this guy is speaks. It's a pre pop top welded can that has been opened by what I assume was a framing ax and then discarded into the rafters. I can see's Friday afternoon, the weeks over, it's quiting time and you've been framing in 90 degree weather for 8 hours. You buddy tosses you a cold one as you wind up your hoses and you take your ax and give er a couple perfectly placed whacks and is good.
The big news here at Mile 14 is that this coming Weds. morning my running partner is finally going to get her knee fixed, a total replacement. MP has been all over this deal and tolerated so much pain and adaption for her active lifestyle that it's time. She's has arthroscopic surgery, she's tried shoe orthotics, cortisone shots and even a guy in Mexico who wanted to do blood platelet treatment. So I'll update you all on her progress, it's a big deal but she'll do just fine , she's strong.
So I'll be helping her recovery while I work through springtime in Alaska. I'm like every fish bum in the area, we're waiting for fish to arrive, something'd gotta come floating by REAL soon. Hope you come back to Mile 14 to see what it is and when...

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

What kinda guy

climbs over around and through glare ice for 1/2 mile just to find a pair of pliers ? mmmmm, well, it's the earliest spring salvage season the Pro's from Dover here at Mile 14 have ever seen. I actually only fell down twice which was incredible as the last thing I heard when I left the house was " are you taking your ice grippers ? "
Normally I do the salvage by sea but as it's still so icy I'm shore bound. The boat has it's advantages both with no walking and the ever present need to be Bear aware, when they come out of hibernation they're kinda dumb and kinda hungry...But it was 50 degrees and I gotta go, that river is my life ya know....and walla, even though very little bank is exposed right there in front of me gleaming away like a huge golden oak was that unmistakable shine of stainless first ten bucks of the 2019 season.
Seeings as I'm the guy who invented the sport it's just right that I should draw first blood. Now some of the new salvage operations might find better stuff later on depending on their feel for the river's rhythms but...this minnie pile is the first I'd guess... It looks like I'll be able to launch and go ' feet wet' in just a few days which is astounding as in all my years I've only ran the river once in April and that was at the very end of it.
It's been  just gorgeous since we've been home and the most orderly ' break up ' I've ever seen. We finally are doing all our hikes that are snow free.... here's the river from the bridge when we hikes the Centennial loop Sunday morning.
The only drawback  is.... as pristine and clean as Alaska is, in our town right now the air quality is horrible. There must be a better way. They use soooo much salt and sand on the roads that the street sweepers work night and day. They even use the ones that don't catch the material and are only brushes that just move it from one place to another. Everywhere you look is sand and dirt, I'm especially fond of seeing these black snow mounds everywhere, it's uniquely Alaska me thinks.
I wear a micro fiber neck gator and routinely pull it up over my face this time of year. If I'm going to get my 10,000 steps a day and lose those 10 pounds of Pacifico/tamale tummy I picked up I gotta go, go, go. Here's part of  a new mural we came across on the side of my old Alma mater , the Maverick Club, I picked out the fish part don't ya know. ....Ultra cool you guys , thanks for helping Slowdotna have some character.
I always had a feeling that being a Pro Guide was easier to get into than get out a lot of ways that's soooo true. I anguished over our decision to retire but feeling better now. The mechanics of letting go works you through the process, closing your web page, getting rid of guide gear...and then the most obvious part of my old identity, guide numbers 003 have gotta go. As my readers at Mile 14 know I'm often critical of the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game. Well, I found something they're really good at....stickers, yup those green and yellow ADF+G football stickers are tuff. So call this Pro Guide Tip # 17 - That bottle you see in the top of this photo is the ultimate solvent called  De-solv-it much better than the Goo Gone everyone has.
It's slow tedious work and there's no way to keep from scratching the ol Minnow 4 a bit. But with a about 7 hours of patience and a few beers as well as two re charges on your blue tooth speaker it's walla....your once again a normal citizen of the planet.
Of course I could have kept my name, maybe even my number for nostalgia sake but you know me, I'm a 100 % guy. When all is said and done my reputation is important to me and I don't want to look like the guy who will go right back to being a revenuer when the King fishery recovers. I'm gonna try to fit in, be anonymous and try to not look like those illegal guides that I've despised for years...we'll see how it goes, should be a story or two in it.
Just like that...done....😢

Monday, April 1, 2019

And now it's just Stuff

My friend Dave Anderson says that one of his big fears is that if he dies his wife will sell  the fishing tackle for what he told her it all cost. So just this morning I was telling my friend Cody at the gym about the piles of 'stuff' I'm dealing with. Part of professional fishing is being prepared and redundancy is important, if something breaks you need another just like it eh ? So I guess it just happens, you move along and the years go by and you see the stuff accumulate but it's all work stuff, just like a carpenters tools and then : you ain't a carpenter no more and it's stuff, some useless. I was curious so I did something that I'd never done, I counted. This is what 62 reels, 60 rods and 23 landing nets look like,,,,,,,jeez....I love that stuff, but it's gotta go.
Here's something a fisherman will get a kick out of. Below is a close up of the ' DeVito Special' which was the must have lure in the 1970's King salmon fishery . Ol Spence just repackaged the Wardens Spin / Glo product after he put them on a wire spinner twist and added a big ol hootchie skirt and a lethal 7/0 siwash hook. If you didn't have these, you weren't fishing. There were so many fish in that era and it was before the high tech bait cures that we fished these without bait  to great success.  By 78 or so I was using thread to tie Borax cured eggs that were stained red with cherry jello onto the DeVito Special...
And naturally I had to have more than one...So if any of you want to take a trip down memory lane and go retro-fishing just swing by Mile 14 and I'll set you up with the hottest lure from 40 years ago. And oh...these babies sold for 5 bucks a piece back then.
A guy doesn't have to look very hard to know when It's time to move on...ya know, when you finish the book, close the cover. I got one boat that has grass growing in it and the ' fun' boat that Pauly left here has a tree growing through the fluted gunwale. Yikes...
Of course as I work my way around this change in my life I get a little nostalgic. I knew it would end someday I just didn't know it would happen so fast. So this summer will be special, we'll go back to playing the music just for us and fishing just for us...when we want, how we want, it'll be a nice change, the rewards of hard work they tell me.
Having made some serious $ at this and having a ton of fun it's always been my fondest hope that the young guys who come behind us would have the same opportunity to have such a wonderful guiding life. I carried the water, I served on Boards, I testified to Boards and Legislatures. I've donated money and been an outspoken advocate for sport fishing, guided sport fishing. I know the guiding thing is hard for some community people to appreciate, we take up a bit of their space, we have fun doing it, it's hard to look at it for what it is...a clean, renewable committed industry in a small town that could help send Soldotna onto a wonderful future...Wouldn't it be better to support and nurture this existing business model than accepting all the new, the change, just for money...there's just something wrong about these Chamber of Commerce types that think this is all fine...there's simply just something wrong here.

One thing will never change, it's absolutely beautiful here.  Rumor control had it that Beluga Whales are in the river already so MP and I went on photo safari. Didn't find the whales on that day but hey, with views like this who can complain...