Monday, December 16, 2013

2014 Red Salmon Forecast

It's a good one.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has made their prediction for the Upper Cook Inlet red salmon run.   Their estimate is 6.1 million which is above average.   For more details about the forecast click on the article that appears in the Peninsula Clarion.

I'll post the 2014 king salmon prediction as soon as ADFG releases it.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fish Art

Evelyn Matthies in her studio

My mother-in-law, Evelyn Matthies, is an artist.  As much as she likes to create art I think she loves to share and teach art even more.  She's a retired college art professor but she still finds time to mentor a handful of students.  You'd think at this point in her life she would slow down, she's earned it, but that's not in her DNA.   As they say, a rolling stone gathers no moss.....


Of all the art she has created I, of course, love her fish prints.    The technical term for this is called Gyotaku, (a Japanese word: gyo "fish"+taku "rubbing").  The process is simple.   First of all, I provide her the fish.   Second, she coats the entire side of the fish in ink and then presses (rubs) rice paper on the fish.   Finally, she uses her imagination and talent and adds color.   Evelyn is to fish as Andy Warhol is to Campbell soup cans.

The piece below was awarded "Best Gyotaku Work of Art" at a group exhibit in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul).   It also has been recognized at several other exhibits for it's originality and use of color.

Evelyn and Jane worked together on the piece below. It proudly hangs on a wall in our home.

So, the point of this post is to show off the work of my mother-in-law.    I know I'm her favorite son-in-law because I happen to be her only son-in-law, but if any of you would like to purchase any of her works I'm sure I could arrange that for you........    

Sunday, December 1, 2013

KRSA Save our Kenai Kings Educational Video

I received this video from the Kenai River Sportfishing Association with attached message.

Your voice in support of sportfishing is needed.

The Kenai River king salmon are in crisis.  Help bring them back.  Visit and let our Board of Fish members know immediate action is needed to return our iconic state symbol to a healthy population.   Thousands of Alaskans and hundreds of businesses depend on the commerce  this fishery generates.

Many readers of my blog are not Alaskan residents but that does not mean your voices won't be heard.   Click on the link above and send a message before the next Board of Fisheries meeting January 31st-February 14th.   It will only take a few minutes to do this.

Thank you for caring about this fishery the way that I do.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Long Live The Kings

There's a great trailer for a video that is scheduled to be released in January of 2014.  It's called Long Live The King.   Click here to watch it.   Great footage with a great message.....I can't wait to watch the whole video.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Battle Rages On....

The fish wars continue and this is going to be a major battle.   If you're familiar with the movie Spinal Tap, this is going to be an "11".

A group in Alaska has put together a proposal to ban commercial set netting in Upper Cook Inlet and other urban areas of Alaska.  Their purpose is to reduce overfishing and the by catch kill of king salmon.   If this is found to be legal, and if this group gets 30,000 registered voters to sign on, this initiative will be on the 2016 ballot.  

I have mixed emotions about this proposal; completely eliminating an industry.  But I am in favor of the residents of Alaska determining the best use of the resource.   After all, "the best use of the resource" is written into our State constitution.   Perhaps a selective ban of the most lethal set net sites allowing nearly 90% of the participants to continue with their livelihood would be a better compromise.   This alternative is no different than Fish and Game closing down certain sections (killing fields, spawning grounds) of the river to sport fishing while allowing fishing opportunities in others.  

All I can say is hang on, this is going to be an epic battle.  This will make the Pebble Mine debate seem like junior high.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

October Wrap Up

On my last trip of the year in the middle Kenai River, I snapped these photos of the various stages of decomposed red salmon.   They may not look pretty but decomposing carcasses contribute food for the entire ecosystem.
 Double yuck.
Triple yuck.

Not always the greatest thing to look at but if it weren't for over a million salmon dieing in the Kenai River there wouldn't be life.    From feeding trout, salmon smolt, birds and bears, to providing nitrogen/nitrates to the watershed, their role is pivotal in the ecosystem.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Halloween

Found lurking around Beaver Creek Cabins:  Mephistopheles, the Devil Moose.
Whatever you do never look in to his glowing eyes.  You'll forever be under his spell.

Happy Tricks or Treats everybody.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

In Memoriam: Phil Dreyer

Fisherman's Prayer

God, grant that I may live
To fish until my dying day. 
 And when it comes to my last cast
I then most humbly pray

When in the Lord's safe landing net
And peacefully asleep
That in His mercy I be judged
As good enough to keep.

As I stated in an earlier post, on 8/23/13 I lost my good friend Phil Dreyer to pancreatic cancer.  I know that saying goodbye is part of life but it's never easy.

When I was told that Phil had pancreatic cancer I started to keep a list of "Philism's".    My only regret is that I didn't start this earlier because the man was full of one liners.    Here are just a few.

  • My grandma didn't like to go to church because she didn't like to be around all those sinners.
  • I say buy the best carpet money can buy and then make shoes out of it.
  • By the time he finishes changing diapers the kid will be able to change his diapers (in a conversation about an older guide now becoming a father late in life)
  • People are like sandwiches.  You don't like all of them.
  • The man was a refrigerator with legs (referring to a friend and his "stoutness").
  • I should move to faith based fishing (after I faced another season of king closures).
  • The first 400 pounds are pretty good but after that you get a little sick of it (in response to the question are salmon shark good to eat).
  • Use a .22 pistol for bear protection.  All you have to do is shoot your buddy in the leg.

Perhaps my favorite story with Phil happened several years ago when we were fishing for silvers on a cold September morning.   One of the guys that Phil brought with him was the president of a major international corporation.   The night before our trip, knowing that the morning would be cold, the president asked Phil how much clothing he should wear.   Phil told him to "just put on your rain gear, you'll be fine."   We headed out on the river at O'dark thirty and after a couple of chilly hours on the water we came back to the cabins for a quick pot of coffee.   I stayed in the boat while the group headed to their cabin for a short break.  Phil came back by himself and he was laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes.  He said, "You wouldn't believe it, but as the president took off his rain gear all he had underneath it were his boxer shorts and a t-shirt.  I told him you're suppose to wear your rain gear over your clothing, not just your underwear."    He said the president was shivering while fishing and said he didn't want to say anything  about how cold he was because he didn't want to seem weak.   All he could think  was "how tough you Alaskan sons-of-a-guns are fishing in 30 degree weather in your underwear."    Absolutely priceless.

There's been a couple of times in my life where I paid a tribute to those who have passed by personalizing a kwikfish lure with a sharpie pen. It's been for people who I've shared this great river with.   I've done it for my dad, Chris Simmonds, and now Phil Dreyer.  The day after Phil had passed Jane and I went out silver fishing.   I immediately caught a fish with the "RIP Phil 8/23/13" kwikfish.  In the past I honored this moment by releasing the fish and cutting the lure loose and letting it float down the river to the ocean.   A gesture of respect, if you will.   I was all set to do this when I realized that Phil would have thought this would have been a waste.  You see, in all the years I fished with Phil he never, ever, released a fish and this would have been an insult to him.   I thought about cutting the lure loose but I could hear his voice saying, "Are you crazy man, that lure just caught a fish."   I continued to fish this lure and caught another salmon to complete my daily limit. The lure is now retired and hangs on the wall of my rod shed.
Thanks, Phil for being a good friend.   And, for sharing with me your grandmother's recipe for the best dang meatloaf in the world.   My only advice to Phil's wife Debbie:  things will get better with time.

You're a keeper, Phil.  Tight lines, my friend, tight lines.....

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Dock Is Out

 The obligatory season ending photo of the dock being taken out.
I also winterized the boat the same day and when I finished wrapping it up a year old moose decided to hang out in the yard.   
The browse must be good this year because this is a very healthy year old.
After I took these photos and put away my camera Momma Moose decided to see where her baby scampered off to.   I wish I would have taken her photo but my camera was between her and the car.  Needless to say, that's a battle I'm not willing to take.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fishing Report Week Ending 10/7/13

Holy cow did this season end on beautiful weather.   No doubt, Jane and I picked a great day to end the season.
 How's this for fall colors on the Kenai?  
Jane and I fished for a couple of hours and this unsuspecting silver salmon made the mistake of grabbing my kwikfish.   Not a bad way to end the 2013 fishing season.....great weather and a fresh salmon for dinner.

This is the end of current fishing reports at Beaver Creek Cabins and Guide Service but that does not mean the posts will end.  Make sure to check back next week to see what else is going on other than fishing.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fishing Report Week Ending 9/30/13

This past week we endured our third flood since mid August.   The rising water made fishing difficult and the few times I did get out the fishing was not that great.   Tuesday evening Dan and I got out and put one silver in the box.  My neighbor Mack and I went out Saturday morning and managed a single bite but no fish.   The best bite of the week happened yesterday.   Some friends of mine from Anchorage came down to fish with Carolyn and Franz.  These two are from Germany and they're attending the University of Alaska Anchorage on Track and Field scholarships.   They were very enthusiastic to be on their first salmon fishing trip of their lives.   We missed at least six fish but managed to land these two.  When Carolyn caught her fish she said, "I've been in Alaska for a year and a half and this is the best day EVER!"  It was her first fish, her biggest fish, and the most fish she has ever caught....a Kenai trifecta.
Franz told me if he caught a fish he wanted to take a bite out of it like a bear.   Here he is prepping the fish.
And here is Franz taking a bite out of the fish.  He said it was good and I'll take him at his word.  Needless to say I'll never forget this.

Thought I'd include this graph from the US Geological Service.  You can see the spike in the water levels this week and also how high the water levels are compared to the 48 year median average.

The boat is still on the dock and I have a half dozen sardines I need to use.  I plan on getting out a few more times before the boat is winterized for the season.  I'd like to see if the dropping water levels will help the fishing or if they 2013 silver salmon run is done and in the records books.  I'll have five more days to see.

See you next week.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fishing Report Week Ending 9/23/13

 Kenai double!

That's a wrap.   Unless I get a call before I take the dock out on October 6th, the 2013 guiding season has ended for me.   I'll keep on fishing until the dock is out but that's it for clients.   Too bad, because the fishing has been steady and the temperatures have been reasonable.

At the start of the week I had the pleasure of spending the day with Anderson, Steve, and Shihab.   These guys flew in from Texas at 1:00am, drove down from Anchorage, and met me on the dock before the sun came up.   Quite a commitment from three guys who had never been to Alaska before.   As soon as we got out on the water there was a hot bite but before too long it shut down.  I suggested they take a long break (i.e. hot lunch and a nap) and come back out in the afternoon.
We set a time and here's what they caught after they had their break.

Next on my guiding schedule was my annual fishing adventure with Team ABC Seamless of Southcentral Alaska.   The "B Team", consisting of James, Nick, Wally, and Jeff, fished on Friday and had quite a few opportunities to limit out.   What they are holding are the fish that found the net.   Not a bad day at all.

On Saturday the "A Team" showed up and put a few more fish in the box than the "B Team".   That's Brian, Jeff, Karel (Deuce), and Coop on the dock.   I'd like to say thanks guys for coming down and spending a couple of days with me.    It's always great to share stories from trips of the past and to eat a half dozen monster cookies.

My last guided trip of the year was set for Sunday with Lloyd and Kim.  Since they arrived early on Saturday I asked if they wanted to go out that evening.  With a firm, "hell ya" we headed out on the dinner cruise.   I'm glad we did because we had pretty good action in a short amount of time.
On Sunday, our scheduled day, the action was not as good but we managed to finish the day with a respectable haul.   Thanks Lloyd and Kim for ending my season on a positive note.
Finally, thought I'd show you a photo of fish that, according to ADF&G, doesn't exist in the Kenai River.   On Tuesday, Shihab thought he caught his last silver salmon of the day but it turned out to be a 29" steelhead.   How do I know it was a steelhead and not a rainbow trout?   If you look real close, in the middle of the fish there is a sea lice attached to the skin.   Steelhead migrate from freshwater to saltwater and back and can carry the sea lice parasite.  Rainbow trout are in freshwater and will never have sea lice.  Kinda cool.

This week I plan on winterizing one of my boats and a cabin or two.  I also plan on fishing as much as I can.  Come back next week for a current report on everything Kenai.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fishing Report Week Ending 9/16/13

I promised you a photo of the pink parka and by golly I got one.  Here's Judy Kingsbury holding the first silver of the day.    As one of Judy's friends so accurately described her, "she's tougher than an eight year old squirrel."   I agree.   I really have to take my hat off to Judy, Bob, and Ken.   They were here during some nasty conditions with not a lot of fishing being caught (they also crossed paths with a hungry seal and a 45lb king).   They did, however, catch enough silvers to fill up a fish box but they put in a lot of time to do it.   When they left they said, "see you next year".  Jane and I look forward to it. 

This past week I had the privilege of being invited to guide participants in Senator Lisa Murkowski's Women's Classic.   This is a two, half-day fishing event for women.  

Here's a river networking session.  Think they're having fun?   This photo reminds me of a sign that Will Jahrig has in his shop.  It says, "Fishing is the Least Important Part of Fishing."  

One thing that was fun for me during this event was watching Melanie catch her first fish ever.  She fished in the event last year but said she didn't catch a thing.   Not only did she reel this fish in like she's done it her whole life, but she also bonked the fish and bleed it as well.   She said she wanted the whole experience and she got it.  Job well done, Mel.

I'll have to say the overall fishing for the two day event was reasonable considering the Kenai River was at flood stage (once again!).    Most participants caught at least one fish with a few lucky anglers catching their limit.

After my morning trips at the Women's Classic, I got to take out Dan and Mary Meyer for a couple of hours.  I'm glad we did because the bite was pretty good.

Here's Mary proudly holding her 15lb silver on Friday.   Dan conceded that Mary bested him for the biggest silver caught during their stay.

Here's their catch on Saturday just before they had to get on their flight back to Peoria.   Look at the size of these fish!   As Dan said with his tongue firmly planted in cheek, "the second run mosquitos are much bigger than the first run."    Jane and I hate to see you guys go but it won't be too long before we'll see each other at a sport show this winter.

Finally, one of the great reasons why I like fall with Jane.   My Sunday trip cancelled which meant Jane and I could go out and enjoy the fishing and the weather.   It's a win-win for me.

This next week should be a good week for fishing.   The river has started to drop which means the water clarity is improving.   Clearer water means better fishing.   I look forward to finding more of these second run giants.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Fishing Report Week Ending 9/9/13

We're definitely between the runs.    Individuals limited out on silvers this past week but the boat didn't.   Even though the numbers weren't there the average size of the salmon being caught continues to impress me.
One of the few days with sunshine which made for a poor photo of the fish Dan, Mary, April and Duane caught.

Here's Dan with his largest Kenai silver salmon ever.   This whistle pig weighed in at 14.13.   I think Dan had his eyes closed because he couldn't believe he caught a fish this big.
An old hockey friend of mine got a hold of me and said he was coming up with his family for a couple of days.  I didn't have any openings for a day of fishing but I told him we could give it a try in the evening.   Here's Team Dobber with their catch of the day.   From left to right is Trevor, Camden, Jevin, and Rob.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to take a photo of two important parts of Team Dobber: Kim and Sophia.  Next time guys, next time..... 
If any of my readers watch the television show Alaska State Troopers you may recognize the guy that's on the left of Dan and Duane.   That's Trooper Dan.   He's a long time friend of Beaver Creek Cabins and I was happy to be on the water spending time with him again.
Here's Kenny and Bob with their fish.  My only disappointment is I didn't get Judy in this photo.  They've got a couple of days booked with me this week so I'll make sure to get a photo of Judy and her pink parka.
Here's Dan, Mary, Annie and Jim with their day's catch.   Dan and Mary played the good hosts and made sure that Jim and Annie had the hot seats for the day.   If you can't tell in the photo, Mary and Annie are sisters and I can't begin to describe the positive energy that these two bring to the boat.   Oh, Dan and Jim have the right attitudes, but there's something about sisters getting together....

Here's the A-Team with their fish on Sunday.   Not as much action but the conversations were just as lively.

That's it for the fishing report.   I will end this post on a serious note.   Many of my readers know Phil Dreyer and I regret to inform you that he lost his battle with cancer on 8/23/13.  I don't have the time to do it now but in the near future I will post a memoriam that he deserves.   You will be sadly missed my friend....