Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Caribou 2011

Digging through my file of photos from 2011 I sure found an abundance of caribou shots. For me, 2010 was the year of the bear and this year it was the caribou. If you're interested in a more detailed perspective about caribou and the Kenai Peninsula click here.
This photo was taken on Sport Lake road which is just outside of Soldotna.
This is Elvis, the King, taken near Mud Island on the Kenai River. I wish it wasn't raining and overcast because it's not often you get a glimpse of Elvis.
The photos above and below were taken near the Pasture on the Kenai River. This is a high traffic area for viewing caribou on the river.
It will be interesting to see what 2012 will bring for big game viewing. If I were a betting man the easy money would be on moose.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas

Coho Ho!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

Jane and I would like too wish all our friends and family a joyous season.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sport Show Season 2012

Mark your calendars. Jane and I will be at the MN Sportsmen's Show, Rivercenter, St. Paul, Minnesota on January 12th to the 15th. We will also be at the St. Cloud Sportsmen's Show, St. Cloud, Minnesota from February 10th to the 12th. Details for each show can be found at www.cenaiko.com.

We have a limited number of tickets available each day so if you're interested in stopping by drop us an email. Tickets will be given out on a first come first served basis and when they're gone, they're gone. See you then!

Monday, November 28, 2011

How To Cure Salmon Eggs

There are a lot of excellent fisherman on the Kenai River and a big key to their success is their bait. I watch guys like Mack Padgett, Will Jahrig, and Greg Davis (The Beaver Creek All Stars) consistently catch fish when others don't and it's not hard to figure out that they have the "right stuff". Sure they're savvy and know the river well but without a doubt they know how to cure eggs and that sets them apart from other fisherman. In this post I will explain the egg curing process I use and hopefully, in turn, help increase your overall fishing success. I happen to be on the pro staff for Pro Cure and favor their products but there are quite a few commercially made egg cures on the market and they're all very good. Besides Pro Cure there's Pro Glo, Pautzke, Cure All, Nitro, and Nate's Bait, to name a few. How to use their products are easily explained on their labels but like most recipes there's a certain amount of "tweaking" that can be done. Before a cure is used, in my opinion the most important step of the egg curing process happens before the cure is used and that is TAKING CARE OF YOUR EGGS. What I mean by this is after you catch a female salmon you need to bleed it. This is as simple as cutting one of the gill rakers and this takes a short amount of time to do. If you don't do this blood will pool around the eggs and the potential for contamination increases. This is a significant, after all, salmon smell in parts per billion and a contaminated egg will not get bit. Notice how clean the eggs look in the photo above. They came from a properly bled salmon.
After the eggs are bled, the next important step is to remove the eggs as soon as possible and start the curing process. One of my very successful guide friends says he won't cure and egg that has been dead for more than 6 hours. Sometimes this is not possible but I do use this as a general rule. Anyway, I remove the eggs from the salmon using latex gloves and place them on a clean surface. Once again, this is all about contamination. In the photo above you can see I'm using a garbage bag on top of my fish cleaning table. Next, I'll use a scissors and cut the eggs, making sure that there is enough skein (skin) to keep the individual eggs attached. Depending on what salmon I'm targeting the size I cut the eggs will vary. For king salmon it's the size of a golf ball, and for silver salmon it's the size of a quarter. Some people cure the whole skein but I find that the cure works into the egg better when they're cut to size and, in addition, it saves me an extra step of not cutting bait when I'm out fishing.
Next, I place the eggs in a gallon zip lock bag filling it about a fourth of the way up. At this point I add about 3-4 ounces of egg cure. If you want to "tweak" your eggs with additional scent this is the time to do it. You could wait until after the eggs have cured but I have found that the adding scent at this point allows absorption into the egg much better than applying topically later. Secret scents that are added include anise, garlic, or Pro Cure products such as Monster Bite or Kenai Cocktail. After your eggs are combined with cure and scent in a zip lock bag seal the bag leaving plenty of air inside and shake gently. Make sure to get the cure spread throughout all the eggs. Write the date the eggs were cured and if you used any scent other than the cure make sure to write that down as well. Place the bag in a refrigerator. After the first day flip the bag upside down. On the next day flip it back upright and on the third day flip it back down. Flipping the bag allows better absorption of cure and scent into the egg. Eggs cured this way could be used after a day, but they'll be wet. I find that three days is the perfect amount of time for a drier egg. Make sure to use these eggs within 10 days or freeze them (to be used later). Through trial and error I have found that after 10 days mold will appear and that is a recipe for a no fish day. So, that's it. This is how I do it. There are plenty of other ways to cure eggs (jar method, air dry method) but I have found this process works well for me . It's fast and convenient. Whatever method you use or cure try not be set on just one scent or color. On different days, different conditions, different times of the season salmon will show a marked preference for different cures and colors. Bring several different cured eggs when fishing and let the fish tell you what they want. Another thing that will improve your odds: make sure to change your bait often. I find the more bait I use the more I get back!Let me finish this post with this thought. Years ago I was taught how to cure eggs from a long time guide and through time have found the method taught to me was not very good. Back then I would start out each trip fishing both eggs and sardine wrapped kwikfish and after getting bit a couple of times on kwikfish would conclude that the fish didn't want eggs that day. However, always a keen observer on the water, what I thought was a kwikfish bite would be dispelled by the fact that I would notice certain boats who fished nothing but eggs consistently catching fish. I'm not shy when it comes to asking questions about fishing and luckily a few of these guys shared with me their knowledge about curing eggs. Taking in all the information I could, I found my catch rate improved dramatically . During this learning curve I found it ironic that the more freely a fisherman shared information with me the more confident they were are about catching fish. In other words, a tight lipped fisherman seemed to be afraid if others found about "their secrets" they'd lose their edge and never be able to have the same success again. So, here's paying it forward and sharing some of my guiding secrets. I hope what I've learned will help you have a more successful day on the water.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Food, family, and football. Enjoy your Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kenai Rainbows

Bet you thought this post was going to be about rainbow trout. See, I'm not always about fish, I do have a soft side too, but you won't see me posting pictures of unicorns and ponies.
Both of these photos were taken in September. Photo one is near Eagle Rock and photo two is taken from our dock. If you're an admirer of rainbows there's no doubt that September is the best month.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Alaska Marine Highway System: Part 4, Prince Rupert, B.C.

The Inside Passage is a protected waterway which is perfect for a person like me who is prone to seasickness. This is why I guide on a nice calm river.....However, there is one stretch between Ketchikan and Prince Rupert that is not protected by islands. As we passed through this area the ship definitely experienced a little bit of "rock and roll." It wasn't enough for my to feel queasy or to reach for the Dramamine. It was just enough for me to realize that how wonderful and smooth 95% of the trip was.
So, our final port of call was to Prince Rupert, British Columbia. It is known as the "Gateway to Alaska." I'm sure Canadians prefer to think of it as northern British Columbia's land, air and sea hub. It's definitely a bustling town with many fine restaurants and hotels. For some reason I thought Prince Rupert would be a dirty industrial, pulp mill kind of town, like so many towns in western Canada, so I was impressed with what I saw. It sure seems that I could spend several days here. This is probably in part due to the fact that that the Skeena River is here. The Skeena is a world class river known for its king salmon and steelhead run. My timing was off to fish this time, but next time......So, that's it. The end of our 34 hour Alaska Marine Highway excursion through southeast Alaska and northern Canada. I feel pretty comfortable that at our next sport show I can present this part of the state in an intelligent way (more than just book smart). It was definitely worth it for Jane and I to take this trip and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Alaska Marine Highway System: Part 3, Ketchikan

After we left Juneau, the M/V Taku made stops in Petersburg (Little Norway), and Wrangell. Considering the stops were made in the middle of the night I chose to sleep in my comfortable two berth cabin. We arrived in Ketchikan mid morning to load and unload passengers and vehicles. We only had an hour off of the ship so Jane and I decided to take a short walk around the harbor area. Definitely another beautiful Alaska coastal town.
Here's a view of Ketchikan as we came into port. What I noticed the most was the whirlwind of boats and floatplanes. Unlike Haines, Ketchikan is definitely not a a sleepy little town. People seemed to be in a hurry to get to somewhere and fast. Maybe there was a "hot bite" going on. Not an unreasonable conclusion considering Ketchikan has the title of "Salmon Capital of the World".
So after our brief stop in Ketchikan the last leg of our ferry trip took us out of Alaska and down to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada. My final post will be about this gorgeous town.

Alaska Marine Highway System: Part 2, Juneau

After a beautiful four hour boat ride we arrived in Juneau. We spent the night and spent part of the next day traveling around the 45 miles of highway in and around our capital (population 30,500). Juneau is definitely different than I imagined and I mean that in a good way. The highlight of the stop was having breakfast with an old college roommate of mine from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Mark Stopha. We've kept up with each other off and on by email but the last time I actually saw Mark was just before he left on a Peace Corp mission to Sierra Leone in 1986. Naturally, 25 years later neither one of us has aged a bit. Ha!
In the afternoon we boarded the M/V Taku. This vessel can handle 370 passengers, 69 vehicles, and has 44 two to four berth cabins. It's was much larger than the M/V Taku and I'm sure it has to do with the fact that it's a 30 hour trip from Juneau to Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Before leaving port we asked a man from Chile if he would take our picture. Not the best lighting but it's from the 7th deck (solarium) of the ship.
As we left Juneau I took a picture of the only glacier that we saw on the whole trip. This is the Mendenhall Glacier and it is known as Juneau's "drive up attraction." I guess I was expecting to see more glaciers on our ferry trip but the Alaska Marine Highway System is all about efficiency and how to get from one port to another as quickly as possible. What I didn't realize is if you want to see glaciers you need to travel to side bays and arms along the way. This is what cruise ships like Princess and Holland America specialize in. Nonetheless, this is not a "deal breaker" and by no mean was I disappointed with the scenery along the ferry route.
One last photo from Juneau before I move on to the next port of call. This is facade of the State Capital building in downtown Juneau. Much, much smaller than what I'm use to seeing on Channel 2 news.

Alaska Marine Highway System: Part 1 Haines

As many of you know, Jane and I spend part of our winter working at sport shows promoting our business. The reality of working the sport show circuit is that we talk about all of Alaska and not just what we do. So, after years of "acting like experts" about Southeast Alaska and the Inside Passage we thought it was high time that we actually visited this area of the state. There are two ways to visit this part of Alaska: by plane or by boat. We decided to drive our vehicle to Haines, Alaska and get on a ferry and travel the Alaska Marine Highway System. The Alaska Marine Highway System has 11 vessels that travel over 3500 nautical miles. On an annual basis the ferry's accomodate over 300,000 passengers and 100,000 vehicles. Pictured above is the is M/V LeConte which we boarded for a 4 hour ride to Juneau. The vessel can accomodate 300 passengers and 34 vehicles.
We purposely arrived in Haines several hours before departure so we could explore. All I can say is what a great little town. We aren't the only one's who think that way. The writers of Outside magazine ranks Haines among the ten most desirable small towns in America.
I thought the Kenai Peninsula had quite a few bald eagles but the Chilkat Valley (Haines) has the largest congregation of bald eagles in the world. I don't know who counts the eagles but the population is estimated to be 3,500.
We stopped at the Haines Visitor Center to find out what else we should see while we were in town and we were told if we wanted to see brown bears we needed to drive down to the end of the road to Chilkoot Lake/River. I'm sure glad we did.
There were three brown bears working on the last few remaining chum salmon entering the river. It could easily be their last meal before a long winter of hibernation.
Just to give you an idea of how close we could view these bears, that's Jane's elbow in the upper left corner of the photo. This is the closest that either one of us has been to a brown bear and I'm not sure I'd want to be any closer.
After our bear viewing we boarded the M/V LeConte for a short 4 hour trip to Juneau. In my next post I will tell you about our time in Juneau.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Dock is In

People often ask how we take our dock out. It's pretty simple. Wait for a really large tide, disconnect the floating section from the permanant wood section and then float it up to higher ground and let it sit there until spring. It takes all of five minutes to do this.
This is what the wood dock looks like when there's a 25 foot tide. As you can see, half of it is underwater.
And, this is what the front yard looks like when we experience a 25 foot tide. Simply amazing.

Final Fish Report--Week Ending 10/2/11

Well, the 2011 fishing season is officially over for me. I had a single trip this past week and the fishing was definitely on the slow side. Pictured above are Matt, Pat, Mike and Jake. Even though the weather and the fishing were marginal, their attitudes were definitely the highlight of the day for me. Thanks guys for ending my guiding season on such a positive note.
I did get a chance to go out and fish several times on my own this past week. Here's Jane posing proudly with a 15lb silver. On this particular day the weather was a bit cool but not raining. Jane asked if we could go out and see if there were any fish around. There were, we caught our limit, and the best part of the afternoon was the fact we were the only boat out on the lower river. It's times like these that make the Kenai River magical. I'm sad to see it end.....
Well, that's a wrap. You won't see a current Kenai River fishing report until May of 2012. Make sure to check the blog often because I plan to post on a weekly basis. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fishing Report Week Ending 9/25/11

Part two of the Joe and Ron show. The beginning of the week the fishing remained hot but by Thursday the boat limit streak ended. I don't think that Joe and Ron seemed to mind having an off day and a half on the water. It's kind of hard to be upset with the fishing when the total silver catch for the both of them was 37. Joe summed it up well: you take what the river gives you. Indeed.....the Kenai was very generous to these two.
So, after struggling on Thursday I was a bit nervous about fishing Team ABC Seamless on Friday. It was me afterall that cancelled their trip a couple of weeks ago due to poor conditions and told them to come back down when the fishing improved. Talk about putting my neck on the line. Anyway, there's no doubt the old saying that "everyday is a new day" definitely held true for us. It was great morning of fishing as you can see on the faces of Tanner, Wally, Nate and Jeff.
The next day Wally opted out and perhaps that extra rod would have made a difference in getting the boat limit (I know Wally thinks that). We sure had plenty of opportunities to get all our fish but wound up being a couple short. I think 19 silvers boated for Team ABC Seamless over two days is pretty good fishing. Since Jeff limited out first both days I know he sure thinks so.
This last photo is for Tanner's mom and dad, Steve and Sherri Collette. It's hard having your son being so far away but after spending a couple of days in the boat with him I'm glad to report he's doing just fine. My guess is you'll have to come up to see him because I don't think he wants to leave any time soon.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fishing Report Week Ending 9/18/11

Usually the first photo on the blog is a fish picture but it wasn't too hard for me to decide to use this one. This photo was taken Thursday at 7:00am and it's a silhouette of a golden eagle with the moon in the background. This is another great example of never knowing what you'll see on the Kenai.
So on to the important stuff. The silver salmon fishing this past week has been the most consistent of the whole season. There wasn't a day that the boat didn't limit out and usually it was in time for a hot breakfast. The photo above is Joe Schnitzler and Ron Perez with their limit.
Here's another photo of Joe and Ron with their fish. I could post more photos of these guys because they fished four days with me but I figure two is enough. Next week you'll see more photos from Team Joe & Ron because they have three trips booked next week.
A great morning with Team Polycom/ACS (the group photo was taken after I filleted two fish). This is the second year these guys have worked in a fishing trip on the Kenai and although it wasn't a pink year I think they had just as much fun if not more. They certainly liked the fact that they could keep three salmon apiece.
Finally, here are Matt and Phil with their catch. It was a cold morning but the fishing sure made us forget about the temperature. Ending the trip on a double didn't hurt either.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fishing Report Week Ending 9/11/11

The beginning of the week the fishing was fantastic. However, by mid day on Wednesday the river took a turn for the worse. Rising water levels and reduced visibility forced me to make a decision and I chose to cancel my trips scheduled on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Luckily I was able to reschedule most people for later in the month, this is good, and the group that I couldn't I sent them to a friend who guides on the Kasilof River. The rain has not affected the Kasilof nearly as bad as the Kenai and it makes for a great second choice. On to the report.The top photo is Gwen's husband Billie. If you recall from a previous post the banana mojo seemed to keep the fish off of Billie's line. Well, it was a bit different this time. Billie and Gwen were on their way back from Kodiak and decided to fish another day on the Kenai, sans the bananas. It was a good choice. The photo above is Billie, Gwen, April and Duane.
Here are the last two fish caught this past week. Duane had a bite and set the hook. April grabbed her rod and as she was reeling in she said that she had one on too. Good thing I brought two landing nets because we needed them both. It sure was a great way to end the day (see you guys soon!).
If you're a regular follower of this blog you're probably getting sick of seeing these two posing with fish. They can't help it if they like to fish. As always, great fun in the boat with Dan and Mary Meyer. It's sad to see them go and next year can't come soon enough.
The week ahead should be better than the previous week. As I write the water levels are dropping and visibility is improving. I hope our biggest obstacle is keeping the seals away from our fish!