Sunday, December 28, 2014

Happy New Year!

Wishing all of you a prosperous 2015.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, Hanukkah and/or Festivus (for the rest of us).

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sockeye Salmon Forecast 2015

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has released the 2015 Upper Cook Inlet sockeye salmon forecast.   The total run is projected to be 5.8 million.  Of that run, the escapement goal is 2.1 million. That leaves an expected harvest for all user groups to be 3.7 million.  If this harvest is met it will equal the 20 year average.

This is good news for commercial, sport, and dip net user groups.   I'm waiting with bated breath for the 2015 king salmon forecast.  As soon as it's released I will report on it.  Fingers crossed...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Fun from 2014

Will Robertson is a riot.

Expert pink and silver salmon slayer, joke teller extraordinaire, master of the bar-b-cue, and all around great guy.  He is one of the many reasons why the even years on the Kenai River are the best for me.

Will took this selfie on the deck of the Sockeye cabin just before he departed. I'm sure this is the same face that his patients see every day (and the same angle?).   With a mischievous grin and a twinkle in his eyes, I can hear Will say, "alrighty then, what do we have here..."

So, do you think the fruit falls far from the tree?  Will took this photo of his son, Kelly.  Hook 'Em Horns, Alaska-style.

Thanks Will, for the use of your photos and for being a regular at Beaver Creek Cabins.  Jane and I look forward to seeing you again in 2016!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cyber Monday

I'm not exactly known for being cutting edge or "with the times".   No Facebook, no Twitter, just this antiquated blog to get my thoughts out.  So, with that in mind, I figure it's time to do what the cool and smart kids have been doing for nine years (Cyber Monday debuted in 2005).

Here's the deal.  For one week, starting on Cyber Monday (12/1/14), any new reservations for fishing or lodging will be discounted 15%.   As my dad would say, "that's a heck of a deal!"

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

photo courtesy of Francis Estalallia

It's Thanksgiving week which means the Holtan household is busy getting ready for the big day. Turkey to buy, pies to be made, trying to figure out who will and who won't make it are just a few of the preparations for Thursday.

Remember, whoever is or isn't at your table this year, be thankful.  I know I am.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Eagle Rock...Swift Water Boat Rescue Exercises

From September 17th until September 28th, Kenai hosted the 2014 Alaska Fire Conference.   250 firemen from across the state attended. The theme of the conference was "Physical Preparedness and Operational Readiness."   During the eleven days they spent one day training on the Kenai River and I just happened to be lucky enough to be on the water to observe it.
I watched the firemen cycle from the boat, to Eagle Rock, back to the boat, and to Eagle Rock again. This went on for several hours.
At the end of their exercises I definitely had the confidence that if I fell into the river there are firemen who trained for this emergency and are ready to rescue me.

On the ligher side. This day also added to my litany of Kenai River stories.   I'm oftened asked if I've ever seen an eagle on Eagle Rock.  I haven't, but next time, without hesitation, I can say, "no, but I've seen 10 firemen on it."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fuller Lakes Trail

Last Saturday, I needed an excuse to get out and recreate so I called up my buddy Todd Laflamme to see if he wanted to go on a hike with Jane and me.   He thought that was a great idea and said we should meet at the Fuller Lakes Trail at noon.

The Fuller Lakes Trail is located at milepost 57 of the Sterling Highway.  For those of you familiar with Kenai Peninsula, the trailhead is 2.5 miles west of the Russian River Ferry parking area.
Lower Fuller Lake
The round trip hike is 5.8 miles.  It's considered a strenuous hike that takes between 4-6 hours.  The elevation gain is 1,400 feet.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) information indicates that along the trail you can see brown bears, black bears, dall sheep, moose, and willow ptarmigan.
They also say that Lower Fuller Lake has grayling, while Upper Fuller Lake has dolly varden.

Biologists have taken core samples from hemlock trees near Upper Fuller Lake and have found that some of them date back to the 1500's.  I wonder if this was one of them?
Here we are taking a moment to rest on our way back down to the trail head.  Skilak Lake is visible in the background.

Overall, this was a fun hike.  But, you'll need to be in reasonable shape to do it.  All three of us definitely had a few aches and pains the following day.  As far as fishing is concerned, I'm not so sure this is destination fishing spot.   Both lakes are small which leads me to believe the overall population will be too. I guess that means I'll have to check it out again when the lakes are ice free.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hunting Report: Admiralty Island, Day 3

Sunday morning came and the boat was right were it should be.  How about the deer, were they where they should be too?

We made it over to Admiralty Island with no hitches.  Our plan was to hunt a series of muskegs just south of where we hunted on Friday. We had less wind, and rain, which meant our hunting conditions were much better.

Todd, hunted Buffalo Springfield style.  "It's time we stop.  Hey, what's that sound?  Everybody look what's going down."

Me, on the other hand, pretended I knew what I was doing. I may dress like a hunter, but I'm that guy that had to borrow a rifle to go on a hunt (thanks, Todd).

Since this was his backyard, Mark definitely knows what he's doing. Here he is surveying the muskeg after making a series of deer calls. You could tell Mark is good because he's wearing a Stormy Kromer hat (right, Dave?).

Todd didn't always hunt Buffalo Springfield style.  Here he is patiently waiting for a deer to come into view.

Unfortunately, on this day, no deer would show itself (sorry if I let down any of my readers).  Oh, it was encouraging that we saw more signs than we did on Friday, but the deer definitely won.  Ah, but next time......

Since I've been back to Kenai I've had time to reflect on my adventure with Todd and Mark. I knew in advance that this time of year was not the best time to hunt deer.  However, this happened to be the only time that all three of us could get together to do this. I would say this trip is perhaps summed up best by paraphrasing a sign that Will Jahrig keeps in his shop. "The least important part of hunting is hunting."

100% success for me.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hunting Report: Admiralty Island, Day 2

It ain't easy being me.  So says Mark Stopha.

On day 2 we were going to get an early start.  After breakfast we loaded up our packs and headed down the trail to the beach where the boat was tied up.   Mark and Todd lead the way.  As the trail transitioned from coastal rain forest to beach grass, the ocean came into view.  Mark and Todd slowly came to a stop.  By the time I caught up to them I could hear, ".....where did it go?"  Oh, oh, no boat.   After looking out across the ocean in search of a drifting boat it was Mark who took a look up the shoreline and found it. Turns out we had a mechanical breakdown with how the boat was tied up.  We were very, very lucky that the wind blew into the island and not away from it.  Did I mention we were lucky?

Whew, what a relief.   I knew we weren't far from civilization but not having a boat kinda worried me.  I wondered how long would it take for someone to realize that we were stuck on an island.  I mean, for three seasons the castaways were on Gilligan's Island and they were never found.  It wasn't until they made a movie that Gilligan, Skipper, the Professor, the Howell's, Ginger, and Mary Ann finally made it off. Anyway, I digress....

Mark said the next high tide would be at 3:30 p.m.  He said if we still wanted to go hunting today we could take his kicker motor off the boat, put it on a small skiff he kept on the beach, and head across to Admiralty Island. Todd said, "we're going back to the cabin and we'll wait until the tide comes up. No hunting today"   Good move because the tides were getting smaller every day and we weren't sure it would be high enough to float the boat.  If we were a just little bit late coming back from Admiralty Island we may never get the boat in the water.  Luckily, the tide was high enough.  And you know, this time we made sure to use a different setup to secure the boat.

Was I disappointed in not hunting on Saturday?  Heck no!  It rained all day (year to date rain total for Juneau is over 56").  The cabin was warm, dry, and we were able to listen to Mississippi State beat Auburn on SiriusXM radio.  Considering Mark got his masters at Mississippi State, I think he too was happy that we didn't go hunting. Go 'Dogs!

I went to bed Saturday night knowing that Sunday would be our final day of hunting.  Would we get anything?  Even more important, would the boat be there in the morning? You'll have to read the next post to find out...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hunting Report: Admiralty Island, Day 1

While dipnetting this past July with my college buddies Todd Laflamme and Mark Stopha, it was decided that this fall we were going to get together and hunt Sitka black tail deer where Mark lives.   Now, I'll admit right off the bat that hunting is not exactly in "my wheelhouse", but it was hard to pass up an opportunity to spend some time with friends and explore new parts of the state.

Todd and I flew to Juneau on Thursday night.  Mark picked us up at the airport and took us to his home on Douglas Island.    Not knowing any details of what we were going to do other than hunt I asked Mark what the game plan was.  He said we would leave Douglas Island mid morning on Friday and go to Admiralty Island to hunt. We would return on Monday.

After a good nights sleep and a hearty breakfast we loaded up and headed to the boat launch.
We weren't a 100 yards away from the boat launch and Mark asked if we wanted any dungeness crabs to eat. Heck ya! We pulled up a pot that would have impressed Sig and the boys on the Northwestern.
We were going to be out for three days so we only took what we needed.  This was a heck of way to start a hunt.
After a short boat ride we anchored up on Admiralty Island. Mark said we were going to hike up to a couple of muskegs (bogs) and hunt there.   After a 6.2 mile hike and not seeing any deer, we headed back to the boat to go to Mark's cabin on Horse Island.
What a great cabin.  Warm, dry, and comfortable.  What more could you ask for?  If you are interested in where we were take a look at the map at the the top of the page.  We were just west of Tongass National Forest where you'll see two small islands. The north island is Colt, the south island is Horse.  West of Horse Island is Admiralty Island (our hunting grounds).   The beauty of Mark's retreat is that it's only a 20 minute boat ride from his house.
Here I am getting ready to go out.  It was kind of weird having a gun over my shoulder and not a fishing rod in my hand.
The fittest of them all, Todd, looking fresh after a long hike.

Fearless leader and host, Mark, making his way through a muskeg.

Well, that was it for Day 1.   Crab, a boat ride, and a little bit of hunting.  Little did I know what kind of adventure would lie ahead on Day 2.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fishing Report Week Ending 10/5/14

This is the last silver salmon caught in my boat on the lower river for 2014.  This is because during the week ahead I'll be busy winterizing my gear and getting the dock in.  
Fishing was definitely slow out there. But, this last fish is not a bad way to end the season.
One word that described last week: cold. Not only the morning temperatures but the bite as well.
 Definitely a hard frost.
And how's this for water temperatures?

I fished almost everyday this past week and had one fish to show for it.   Some days I fished alone, some days with Jane. All I know is I enjoyed the solitude on the water which allowed me a lot of time to reflect on this past season (I will blog a recap in the near future).

In the meantime, next week my post will be a couple of days later than normal. Instead of a fishing report I will be giving a hunting report from Southeast Alaska. Should be fun and I'm looking forward to getting together with a couple of old friends.  Until then....

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fishing Report Week Ending 9/28/14

The silver fishing is still good on the Kenai River.   Here's Jane with her limit of silvers.
 And here she is with the largest silver of the season, a 17lber.
On this day Jane let me catch a couple of fish to go along with her limit.
On Tuesday, my friend Boo called me and asked if I wanted to fish the middle river with him.  Glad I went along because the fishing was outstanding.  This is a rare photo of the guy who usually is the one taking the photos.
 Here's a box full of middle river silver salmon all caught on jigs.
On Wednesday, Scott and Steve spent the day on the water with me. Great weather and conversation easily made up for the lack of biters.   Wish we could have found more fish but that's just the way it goes some times.
On Saturday, my good friends Gary and Nicky came down for an afternoon of fishing.   It wasn't red hot but we caught a few and lost a few.   No complaints.
Hard to beat fresh salmon fillets late in September.

Unless my phone starts ringing, I am now officially done guiding. This does not mean I am done fishing.  I plan on fishing most of this week and well into October.  I'll keep you posted on what's going on out there....good, bad, indifferent.