Monday, December 20, 2010

Co Ho Ho!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Jane & Keith Holtan
Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bald Eagles on the Kenai Peninsula

If you are a fan of bald eagles the Kenai Peninsula is the place for you. From the rivers, ocean bluffs, and lakes the chances of seeing one is 100%. This was not always the case.

In the early 20th century bald eagle populations were declining and the main cause for this was man. From habitat destruction, hunting, and the use of pesticides numbers dwindled across North America. In Alaska, it was estimated that over 100,000 bald eagles were killed from 1917-1953. The main reason was because they were seen as a threat to the salmon populations. Through time public awareness increased about the decline of our nation's symbol and finally in 1967 the bald eagle became protected and was officially listed as an endangered species. This protection has allowed the bald eagle to thrive and in 1995 the status was changed from "endangered" to "threatened" and by 2007 completely removed from the list. Today the worldwide population is estimated at 110,000-115,000 with over half living in Alaska. The comeback of the bald eagle is truly an amazing success story.

The above photos were all taken within 5 minutes of the cabins. Photo number one is at the mouth of Beaver Creek and the the Kenai River. Photo number two is an immature bald eagle at the Crossover gravel bar on the Kenai River. And, photo number three was taken at the dock at Beaver Creek Cabins. The two eagles are perched above a nest near the top of a cottonwood tree.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bear Jokes

Okay, last post I told you I was going to tell a couple of old bear jokes. Raise your right hand if you've already heard these......Here goes.

Bear joke number one.

The Park Ranger at Denali park is advising hikers to be alert for bears and to take extra precautions to avoid an encounter. Park visitors are advised to wear little bells on their clothes to make noise when hiking. The bell noise allows the bears to hear the hiker coming from a distance and not be startled by a hiker accidently sneaking up on them. This might cause a bear to charge. Hikers should also carry pepper spray in case they encounter a bear. Spraying the pepper in the air will irritate a bear's sensitive nose and it will run away. It also a good idea to keep an eye out for fresh bear scat so you'll know if there are bears in the area. People should be able to tell the difference between black bear scat and grizzly/brown bear scat. Black bear scat is smaller and will be fibrous, with berry seeds and sometimes grass in it. Grizzly/brown bear scat will have bells in it and smell like pepper......

Bear joke number two. Honest, the first time I heard this Ronald Reagan told it (I wonder how old it was when he first heard it).

Two campers were hiking in the woods and they stumbled upon a brown bear. One camper reached into his backpack and quickly pulled out a pair of tennis shoes. "What are you doing" said the one camper, "you can't outrun that bear." The other camper replied, "I don't have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you!"

A few years ago I used this "tennis shoe" joke with a group of seven guys (all related). I was outfitting them with hip boots to fish the Russian River and when I got to the youngest guy in the group I told him he had to wear his tennis shoes. He said, "I thought we were wading in the water? Won't I get wet?" I told him he would but also told him there are lots of bears near the Russian River. I told him he didn't have to outrun the bear he just had to outrun his brother. We all had a good laugh with that one.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kenai Brown Bears

This past season we saw much more bear activity than we have in the past. It wasn't just Jane and I experiencing this but other home owners in the area said the same thing as well. It got to the point that the Alaska State Troopers went door to door informing people to be "bear wise" and not to leave a food source available to the bears. I'm proud to say that the troopers did not have to remind us to be "bear wise" because we always store our garbage in a shed and properly dispose of all fish remains. Yes, we do live in bear country and they will occasionally pass through our property (see dock photo above), but "encounters" are very rare. I always say the bears in our area are shy and they usually hear and see you before you will hear and see them. Most of the time the only way that you'll know a bear was nearby is finding their footprints (photo above).

That being said, this past year from July until the end of September, almost every evening at the Beaver Creek gravel bar anywhere from four to six bears would make their way to the river to feed on spawned out salmon (top two photos). The "Bear Show" was definitely an added bonus for many of our guests. One mid morning Gary Blinn and I were heading out to fish and for the longest time a bear was walking up and down the shoreline either looking to cross the river or trying to find a meal. That was a first for me on the Kenai. My bear sightings have always been during low light hours and I think this bear didn't get the memo that it was nap time.

So, here's a few facts about bears. Brown Bears typically live along the coastal areas of the State where they have access to spawning salmon. Grizzly bears are smaller than brown bears and live in the interior or northern parts of the State. The biggest reason for the size difference is food; more food near the coast, less food in the north and interior. On the Kenai Peninsula brown bears are considered "threatened" because of the development in the region. In 1999 the population of brown bears was estimated at 250-300 (sorry, that's the most recent estimate I could find). Hard to say what it is today but my guess is there are a lot more.

When guests ask me about bears in the area it always opens up the door for me to tell a couple of bear jokes. The jokes are older than dirt but they still get a laugh. In my next post I'll share them with you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

More Caribou Photos

Here are a couple of more photos of caribou that I found on Jane's camera.

This week we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving. Try to remember that it's not all about having a great meal and watching a football game or two but rather a time to reflect and to be thankful for family and friends. Be safe and enjoy the day.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kenai Lowland Herd of Caribou


I always seem to talk about moose that I see on the Kenai so it's about time that I give caribou the respect that they deserve.

Caribou are the most abundant big game animal found in Alaska. Although the Kenai Lowland herd is estimated at 80-100, statewide the estimate is 950,000. Because of the small size of the Kenai herd hunting is not allowed.

From spring until fall the best places to view and photograph caribou in our area are the Kenai Flats (Bridge Access Road), Marathon Road, Kalifornski Beach Road, and the Sport Lake field on the Kenai Spur Highway. Of course, you also have a pretty good chance of seeing a caribou while fishing on the Kenai.

An interesting fact about caribou is that both male and females have antlers. The females have much smaller antlers than the males. If you look at the photos above the top photo is a male while the photo on the bottom are females.

A final fact, and probably less interesting, are caribou (and moose) are part of the deer family

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why Do People Fish?

There are a number of reasons why people fish. Some do it for recreation, others do it to put food on the table. Some do it to be with friends or family and others do it to relieve stress. The guy above does it for all these reasons.

I couldn't resist taking this photo of Grant during a king trip this summer. He's probably not too happy that his son Jake and I conspired to take this photo but I thought Grant captured the ultimate pose in relaxation (and napping!).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sunrise On The Kenai

Okay, it's only fair if I post a sunset I should also post a sunrise on the Kenai.

This photo was taken in the middle of August. I can remember the morning because it was one of the first mornings after the record of 30 plus days of rain that the sun actually came out. As I was snapping the picture the people in my boat all grabbed their cameras and starting taking pictures as well. Sam said, "well shoot, if the guide is taking pictures of the sunrise than it must be special."

This past summer it was.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sunset on the Kenai

One thing I really like about silver fishing in the fall is that almost every evening I get to go out and fish. Some times I'm by myself, most of the time with Jane, but often I'll invite along people that are in the cabins for one extra try at catching a silver salmon.

This photo was taken in September around 9:30pm. Anybody care to guess who's in this picture? A brand new Kwikfish or Vibrax spinner to the winner.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The High One

I took this photo yesterday in Trapper Creek. Mt. McKinley, or as the Athabaskans called it Denali (The High One), has an elevation of 20,320. It has a larger bulk and rise then Mt. Everest. Because it is so large it creates it's own weather and nearly 75% of the time the mountain is not visible. The reason I'm posting this picture is because it is more uncommon than common to see Mt. McKinley and I happened to be at the right spot at the right time. Kind of reminds me of king fishing on the Kenai.....

Monday, October 11, 2010

That's A Wrap....2010 Season Officially Over

On October 6th our dock came in so the season is now officially over. It was only fitting that during this last act of the year a moose decided to see what all the fuss was about.

2010 was a challenging year for us on and off the water. Not only did we have our own cabin broken into and a fire in the Chinook cabin, we had to endure a closure of king fishery in early June. That aside, it was great to see many returning guests, family, old classmates, and to meet so many new people. The good certainly outweighed the bad and 2010 was definitely successful.
from Jane and I, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

I will continue to post on a weekly basis so please keep checking in. Have a great fall.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fishing Report Week Ending 10/3/10

The Jane show.

No clients this past week so Jane and I went fishing as often as we could. We would hit the prime time of the day and we caught fish every time we were out. Not limits but we did have good action. If you notice in the background of the photos above not a single boat fishing around us. This is what makes the fall magical to me. A good bite, decent weather, and spending quality time with Jane. I'm amazed that it use to be me that would ask to go fishing but now she's the one doing the asking. I've created a monster......poor me.

So, keeping with my normal format, photo one, two, and three are of Jane. The only thing to point out is the size of the silver in photo one (and also the new hat that Jane knitted). It had to be the largest silver caught in my boat over the past ten years. I didn't have a scale but I would estimate it at 18-19lbs. I did have a tape measure in the boat and it came in at 32 inches.

The dock comes out this week and so does my boat. Hopefully in between winterizing the cabins I'll be able to slip out to fish a couple of more times. It's a long time until May so I'm trying to get in all the time I can get on the river. If I don't get out and have a final fishing report I will provide a recap of the season. Let's just say it's been an interesting one on and off the water.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fishing Report Week Ending 9/26/10

The thermometer read 27 degrees this morning. We are definitely in our late fall/winter pattern.

This past week I only had a couple of trips on the river and I'm glad to report that the fishing has been good. The top photo is Team Finland which consisted of Ollie and Aarno. I wish my grandmother could have been in the boat that day to serve as an interpreter. Ollie actually had a very good command of english so the day wasn't full of hand gestures and exaggerated facial expressions. Photo two is a late posting of Cliff and Val with a couple of fish that they kept (sorry for the delay). They had a very good morning and let go close to a dozen fish before calling it a day. The final photo is Sue. Wow, what can I say about this photo. Sue's smile absolutely captures the moment.

My guiding season officially ended this past week with Team Finland. This doesn't mean that I'm through fishing the Kenai for the year. The dock and my boat will be in until October 6th so look for updated reports of Jane and I trying to catch a couple of fresh fish for dinner.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fishing Report Week Ending 9/19/10

Well, the weatherman was partially right this week. Clear skies in the afternoon and evening but thick fog every morning. It made things a bit tough getting out to my favorite spots. No complaints from anyone about the slow boat ride or about the lack of sunshine because the fishing was very good once again.

The top photo is Carl and his lovely bride Mary with a stack of fish. When they jumped in the boat they told me that they aren't fisherman. Could have fooled me. Photo two is Team LaFlamme (Kim, Todd, and Alec). Let's just say there is never a dull moment when they're around. Photo three is Team Northern California (Tim, Steve, Todd, and Brian). These guys are fly guys but managed to work in a day on the lower river for silvers. They weren't disappointed. The final photo is Dan and Mark. They too are fly guys who worked in a day of silvers.

It looks to me like the weather and the fishing should hold out for awhile longer. We are nearing the end of our season and do have openings so if you're still interested in coming you should make plans as soon as you can.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fishing Report Week Ending 9/12/10

Wow, what incredible weather we're having. The forecast for the next five days is sunny with temperatures in the mid to upper 60's. By far the best stretch of weather the entire season. If there is a downside to the bright skies is that silver salmon are extremely sensitive to light. What this means is if we don't catch all of our fish by mid morning the bite drops way off. We still manage to catch fish as the day wears on but not as many as during the low light hours. Overall this past week fishing has remained steady and I'm hoping it continues until the end of the month.

The top photo is Dan and Mary Meyer. Jane and I always feel like our season is about over when these two leave. Great fishing and great company during their stay. Now if I could only stop eating Kit Kat bars.....Photo two is Mira with a gorgeous 14lb silver. Photo three is her husband Zach with a couple of beauties. The final photo is Team UN. Arlene (Trinidad) and Thor (Norway) were a blast to have in the boat. After visiting with Thor I can definitely tell I'm of Norwegian descent.

If you're coming to fish this week make sure to bring plenty of warm clothes for the morning and your sunscreen for the afternoon.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fishing Report Week Ending 9/5/10

On September 1st the limit for silvers on the Kenai increased from two to three. We limited out nearly every day and when we didn't it was because it was decided that we had more than enough for the fish boxes heading home. Overall, the fishing hasn't been red hot but it has been very steady. This makes for a wonderful day on the water.

If you have followed the blog over the past couple of years you will probably notice that a few of these faces look familiar. Photo one is my favorite fishing buddy, John Ohlin, with the all too familiar Lars, his son. If you notice, Lars has grown a lot through the years but one thing that hasn't changed is his hair. Mickey Dolenz would be proud. Photo two is Carrol, Sue, Mary, and Dan with a nice haul of silvers. Photo three is Robyn, Aaron, and Al with a limit. Photo four is Al "The Polish Hammer" in another photo with a couple of dandy fish. Just a side note, Al is from Minnesota and we both went to college together at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. I haven't seen him in over 27 years so it was nice to get together and get caught up. We definitely plan on not waiting another 27 years to see each other again. The final photo is Team Tautges and Team Crow posing proudly with their limit of fish.

All in all, Jane and I really had a great time this past week visiting with some old friends and making a couple of new ones as well.

p.s. The leaves are starting to change. I hate to say it but fall is well under way.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fishing Report Week Ending 8/29/10

The sun came out this past week and the silver fishing continues to be very good. A couple of changes I've noticed is that pink run is over and the amount of seals chasing fish has increased tenfold. Most fish caught at the end of the week had seal scratch marks on them. I'm hoping there are plenty of fish for all of us in September.

Jane and I were sad to see Gary Blinn and Team Blinn 3 leave. I'm pressed for time to wax eloquently about their time here so stay tuned for a future post about the "Blinn Experience" and what exactly happens over a three week period.

Photo one, two, and three are from Team Blinn 3. Photo four is Phil and the gang back at the dock in time for a hot breakfast.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fishing Report Week Ending 8/22/10

Another very good week of fishing except for one day with Team ABC on Saturday. Granted, we caught all the pink salmon we wanted on that day but the silvers were a bit elusive.

The top photo is Steve Morris posing with the days catch. Photo two is Team Sinclair. Photo three is Will and Brian. The final photo is Jeff of Team ABC holding up one of three nice fish for the day.

Jane and I went out fishing today and the bite continues to be strong. Hope it continues for the week ahead. This last bit of information is for Dan. Area rivers are just starting to pick up so your timing should be spot on.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Silver Fishing Is On Fire!!!!


A full report will follow in a few days but the fishing was on fire on 8/18. Mac, Ken, and Sam were out with me in the morning and we ran into a pretty good school of fish. We catch our last one at 9:30 and decided to head back to the cabins. About 50 feet from the dock I get a phone call from Jane and she frantically yells "the hot water heater is on fire, I got to call 911". I didn't know if she meant our own cabin or the Beaver Creek Cabins. I gun the boat to the dock and all four of us start to sprint towards the cabins. We see smoke bellowing out of the Chinook cabin and Jane is running into the cabin with a fire extinguisher. I grab the closest extinguisher I can find and Mac, Ken, and Sam head into the cabin with Jane. I wasn't far behind but the last to enter. When I get into the cabin we are all in the kitchen/utility room area using all the available extinguishers. Mac, thinking quickly shuts off the gas line leading into the hot water heater. Just as we get the flames out the Kenai Fire Department showed up and made sure that there were no flare ups. Ulitmately we came to the conclusion that the thermostat was stuck and would not shut off. It burned a hole through the floor of the cabin but did not burn anything else. I called our plumber friend who came and installed a new hot water heater within hours and Mac, Ken, Sam, Reese, and Joey all stayed in the cabin that night. It still smelled a little smokey but they said it added to the Alaskan adventure.

How lucky can you get. If Jane wouldn't have been in the cabin cleaning and if we didn't get our limit in short order, the Chinook cabin and the office/freezer room would have been up in smoke.

Sooo, after everything settles down we go back to the dock to snap a few photos of the fish. I can't say enough and can't thank these guys enough for being in the right place at the right time and not hesitating in a crisis situation. From left to right is Mac, Ken, and Sam. Thanks again guys, definitely heroes in our book.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fishing Report Week Ending 8/15/10

Another great week of fishing with the Blinn Group #1 providing all the action and entertainment. The pink salmon fishing was constant and the silver fishing was up and down but consistent throughout the day.

Photo number one is Team Haskins which consists of Rebecca, Lily, and Joe. After a week of Alaska fishing Lily became quite skilled and accomplished at reeling in salmon and halibut. Photo number two is John who put in a lot of time to catch a silver. Photo number three is Team Blinn #2 which consists of John, Vernon, Ryan, Jim, Al, Orville, and Randy. Missing is Steve Morris and I'll make sure to get a photo of him during the week ahead. The final photo is Elizabeth with one of her many silver salmon that she caught this past week. I saved Elizabeth's photo for last because on the final day she caught a huge humpy and when it came to the boat she said. "that's not a hump, that's a mountain!"

Stay tuned for a report from the Blinn #2 group at the end of this week.