Sunday, May 20, 2018

Dock is in

It almost didn't happen.

On May 16th we had a 23 foot high tide. Normally, that's enough water to float the dock out and attach it to the the walkway/gangplank. This year was not normal. At 5am Jane and I were confronted with what you see in the photo above: not all of the land was underwater. It was obvious it would take more than the two of us to somehow get the dock over the ridge and into place for the season. We had one shot to do this the following morning or it couldn't be done until the next high, high tide on June 15th. Not a good thing when our business motto is "Out of Bed and Into The Boat". This snafu, if not rectified, would force me to travel to a boat launch every day with my customers.

I'm simultaneously blessed and cursed with Scandanavian self sufficiency (stubbornness) and it's not always easy to ask for help. In this case, I had no choice. I called and texted some friends and asked if they could bring their waders and meet Jane and I at the dock at 6am. Every single person I contacted came. I am floored by the turnout. If that's not the definition of true and genuine friendship, I don't what is. 

It was kind of like an old fashioned barn raising when the community comes together to lend a hand. Sure, there were more people than needed, but I didn't know what challenges we would face if we had trouble. The bench was deep I was grateful for the support.

I don't always list first and last names in my posts but the guys who came deserve recognition for what they did for us. A huge thanks goes to Jeff King, Greg Davis, Will Jahrig, Dan Meyer, Boo Kandas, Ron Rogalsky, Ken Gates, Brad Adams, Charlie Bogard, Mike Wheat, and Rusty Huf. Some of you guys took time off of work to help, and some of you came before you went to work. All of you are stand up guys, and I hope one day I'm able to repay the favor.

It was only fitting that after we finished the dock we were sitting around eating Moose is Loose donuts, drinking coffee, and these two decided to swim across the creek and walk through the yard.

Random thoughts, not about docks, from this past week:
  • 5/17 was the anniversary of Les Anderson's world record 97lb 4oz Kenai king salmon caught in 1985.
  • 5/19/85, two days after Les landed the world record, my dad and I first fished the Kenai River. This is when I first met Jeff King.
  • Copper River commercial fishing season opened on 5/18. The first pricing for king salmon fillets was an amazing $74.99 a pound.
  • End of an era. Blockbuster Video closed it's doors this week in Soldotna. There are only three stores left in the entire country (one in Anchorage, one in Fairbanks, and one in Oregon).
  • Went king salmon fishing on Les Anderson Day with Jeff King. Zero king salmon, 5 hooligan.

Sunday, May 13, 2018


The early bird gets the worm. And, the second mouse gets the cheese. I got 'em both this year.

For new readers to the blog, this probably doesn't make much sense. For long time readers, you know exactly what I'm talking about. For the uninitiated, not long after the ice goes out I'll take my cataraft and float the river in search of treasures lost. Those are my words. My spouse calls it junk. Anyway, the 2018 Salvage Run was good for both.

The photo above is the very first item I found. It's a genuine Beckman King Salmon landing net. A brand new one will retail around $200.
How about this discovery? It's the first phone that I've found. I feel very comfortable stating that hundreds of phones have been lost in this river. And, yes, that number includes the one I lost over ten years ago. Boy, I sure do miss that flip phone...
A perfectly good Leatherman Wave multi tool. By far the best tool that I've ever found.
The Holy Grail of Kenai River salvage runs: an RL anchor.
Not sure what to call it when you find the Holy Grail twice, but this put me one away from my record of finding three anchors on a single run. The interesting thing about the two anchors is neither one had a chain attached to it. Nor did they have a frayed, broken rope hitched to the front eye. Once again, my conclusion is I'm the benefactor of a couple of people not knowing how to tie a knot to an anchor.
A final photo before ending the trip. Hard to see all the treasures stored aboard, but I did find a dozen or so fishing lures and a nice Ugly Stik fishing rod. Overall, it was the least amount of fishing lures that I've found, but I'm not complaining. I clearly made up for it with other gear.

On my float, I did see one boat fishing. I asked if they had any luck and their response was a resounding "no". It still might be a bit early to actually catch a king salmon, but I won't know for sure unless I actually go do it. That is my plan this week, try to find a window and then go do it. Make sure to come back next week to see if I'll have my first official fishing report.

Addendum to the post: a reliable source told me at least one king was caught this past week. And so it begins...

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Fish Photos by Francis

This is just cruel.

It's early May, freshwater king fishing is just around the corner, and my friend Francis Estalilla sends me a copy of the latest issue of Fish Alaska magazine. On the cover is a photo that Francis had taken of his friend Shawn releasing a bruiser of a Kenai king. I'm trying to be patient about the upcoming fishing season, but photos like this are killing me. Soon, very soon. Repeat. Soon, very soon. Breath through the nose. Soon, very soon...

This is not Francis' first photo to grace the cover of a fishing magazine, nor will this be his last. I guess when his chosen profession is being an eye surgeon it would only seem natural he would have a keen eye for capturing the perfect fish photo. Truly a man of many talents.
Here's Francis doing what he's famous for in these parts: catching Kenai kings, and then releasing them. If you wonder why I'm such a fan of his photos it's because of the regulation on the Kenai River that prohibits the removal from the water a salmon that is going to be released. Most photos are alongside the boat, which usually leads to a bad camera angle and not really getting a sense of the size of the fish. Francis, as you can see, wears his waders and swims with the fishes for a quick pose/photo before releasing.
This is one of my better photos of a king release alongside the boat. It's good, but it doesn't compare to what Francis is able to do.

One way or another I'll be on the river this week. Salvage run, or perhaps fishing, it's time to get familiar with the water again. Maybe this will be the year I'll beat my record for the earliest king. For those keeping score, that date is May 11th.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Getting Closer

There's a buzz in town.

Increasing daylight, warmer weather, no snow on the ground, a river free of ice, have all created a good mood on the peninsula. Soon, the tourists will be here. How do I know? The Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center placed their annual call and asked for more of our brochures for their information kiosk.

We've always been a member of this organization and recognize their value to our industry, and our community.  That being said, we've told many visitors to stop by and check things out because of the museum like quality of the displays and to learn about other things to do while on the peninsula. It's sound advice, but up until this past week, I had never taken my own recommendation and actually walked through the "visitor and cultural" part of their building. I guess that's human nature. When something is in your backyard you tend to overlook it. I still often wonder why my parents, who bought a home in Las Vegas, never took a tour of the Hoover Dam....sorry, I digress.

It's not a large building , but it's appropriate in size. There are many things on display, but what immediately caught my eye was the snag that my neighbors at Hi-Lo Charters pulled out of the Kenai River in 1987. This behemoth weighs over 600 pounds and it's estimated over 2500 spin-n-glo lures are wrapped into it. Every spring, on my river salvage runs, I keep hoping to find something like this. One day, maybe, one day.....

In college, I enjoyed taking Alaska history and anthropology courses, so it stands to reason that this display of Kenaitze Indian artifacts caught my eye. There is also a section devoted to the history of oil exploration on the peninsula. For all you trivia buffs, the first oil produced in Alaska came from the Swanson River field on the Kenai Peninsula in 1957 (not Prudhoe Bay).
Here's my friend George, purchasing an area map of the peninsula. I will give him all the credit for the building tour. He came with me when I dropped off the brochures and was interested in looking around. A retired educator never stops learning....see you again in July, George!
So, when you're on the peninsula next time, if you're not fishing 24/7, stop in at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center. It's well worth your time (and if it's on the weekend, don't forget to go to the Saturday Market held on the front lawn).

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Living the Dream in 2018

I'm not sure I'm living the dream in 2018 right now. It's more like I'm dreaming about living the dream in 2018. Hey, it's been a long winter....
The good news is that within a month I'll be out on the Kenai River. Maybe this will be the year that I catch the very first king salmon. I know it's going to happen one of these years, (so says the little voice in my head).

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Established 1988

Steelhead Cabin
It was 30 years ago that Will and Becky Jahrig had the vision of constructing affordable cabins for rent while offering access to arguably the most famous salmon river in the world....the Kenai.
The Jahrig's
After fifteen years of building their business, it was time for the Jahrig's to move on and do something different. Their timing was great because at the same time Jane and I were looking to do something different as well. We made an offer, it was accepted, and we became the new owners of Beaver Creek Cabins.
momma moose and her two children
About the only thing that we changed was the name. What was Beaver Creek Cabins now became Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service. Not a lot of change, but just enough to let people know that we are also a guide service.
sunrise on the Creek
Will and Becky came up with the motto, "Out of the Bed, and into the Boat." At first I thought this saying was a bit too obvious, bordering on cliche. However, it didn't take me long to realize that the Jahrig's were spot on.
twilight on the Kenai
I mean, how incredibly convenient is it to walk a hundred feet from the cabin to the dock, and be out fishing within five minutes?
sunset on the Kenai
We've had a great fifteen years and still have the same passion that we did the first year. My friend Steve Morris often asks me how long am I going to be doing this.
moonset on the Kenai
My standard response has always been, "when I'm sick of people, that's when I'm done. So far, so good, but don't push it....ha!"

view from the Chinook cabin
Steve is just one of the many people we've met through the years that are more than a customer to us. We are so fortunate to have so many lasting friendships.
Chinook Cabin
Jane and I are really looking forward to the 2018 season. We have a nice mix of brand new people coming, along with a lot of old friends. It's going to be fun one....

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Enjoy your retirement, Gary.

Jane and I have been invited to what appears to be the most awesome retirement party event ever. I've been to a few of these and it usually involved a happy hour on a Friday afternoon. A few gag gifts, a few toasts, a few tears, and everyone leaves after a couple of hours. Not a bad way to wish someone good luck on the next chapter of their life's journey.

With that as my benchmark for a retirement party, imagine my reaction when my friend Gary Roeder invited us to a four day retirement extravaganza in honor of his career as a pilot for FedEx. The event includes, and is not limited to, the following:
  • Thursday, April 12th, "Golf Day"
  • Friday, April 13th, "Bike Day"
  • Saturday, April 14th, "Wine Day"
  • Sunday, April 15th, "Dinner Day"
Unfortunately, the Party of the Century is in Gary's recently adoptive home of Boise, Idaho. Due to distance, and Jane's dad recent hospitalization, we will not be able to make it.
Gary and Jackie, we really wish we could be there. We feel fortunate to know you and the many friends and family that you've introduced to us. Say hi to all and we can't wait to hear the stories of what we missed.

p.s. make sure you turn it up to "11" for me.....

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service