Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Holtan's Resort, Part 2

If you want to know why the first Holtan's Resort brochure was yellow it's because my dad was in the yellow page business.  He was first a yellow page salesman and through hard work and time he eventually owned a telephone directory publishing company. Yellow made sense to him. The second brochure was done in baby blue and that made sense too. My parents chose this because it was the trim color of the cabins (chocolate brown cabins with blue trim).

When I found this brochure it was nice to see photos of people other than me. My mom, my sister Heidi, my brother Tim, Duane Boss, and the Cullota family were pictured as well.  Based on my hairstyle, I think this brochure was put together in 1979-80.  I do know for sure that this was the last brochure used to promote our business.

In 1982, after six years, my parents decided it was time to close Holtan's Resort. The reasons were twofold.  One, I left the state to go to college at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Two, the time commitment my parents needed to grow their telephone directory publishing company became greater and the day-to-day operations of running a resort were too much.  These two factors made it an easy decision to shut it down. I can say this about the six year run; other than the friendships we made, none of us were sad to see it end.   The reality of a resort business was this: after the "romantic idea" of owning one wore off, it was a lot of hard, hard work.

Going to college in Alaska opened my eyes to the opportunities that lie in the Last Frontier.  Quite a few years after the family resort was shut down, yada, yada ,yada, fish, fish, fish, blah, blah, blah, I found myself guiding on the Kenai River.  All I can can say is thank you Jeff King for the opportunity and for showing me that guiding can actually be a career.  I couldn't have asked for a better mentor in the fishing business.

You ask, "when did Beaver Creek Cabins enter the picture?"  Well, it was three years after I started guiding on the Kenai that the opportunity came about. The previous owners, Will and Becky Jahrig, like my mom and dad, had had enough of the business and decided it was time to sell.  I first thought, "been there, done that", and thought I learned my lesson about resort life a long time ago. But, it just made sense. Owning cabins would compliment my guiding. Although not nearly the salesman that my father was, I must have been just good enough to talk Jane into this lifestyle.  We bought Beaver Creek Cabins in 2003, and, to this day, I couldn't be happier that Jane is on this journey with me.

So, that's it.  That is my brief history of Holtan's Resort and how I ended up doing basically the same thing in Alaska.  I guess I could have named Beaver Creek Cabins Holtan's Resort but out of respect to my parents I wanted to make sure there was only one Holtan's Resort.

As always, make sure to come back next week to the blog.  I have some exciting news about our future....

Monday, March 16, 2015

Holtan's Resort, Part 1

I don't remember when I first learned to walk.  I do, however, remember when I caught my first fish and put on my first pair of hockey skates.  It's amazing that these two passions have become life long pursuits of mine. Most of you realize the fishing thing in my life, but not so much the hockey thing.  I often joke that growing up in Minnesota we had nine months of winter and three months of poor skating. I digress.  This blog is about fishing and I thought I'd share how I "got in the business."

In 1977, my family was living in southern Minnesota and for some reason my dad had a desire to buy a small resort in Brainerd, Minnesota.  When he told me this I couldn't have been more excited. My golden ticket was punched.  In April, Clark's Resort was purchased and the name was officially changed to Holtan's Resort.

At the ripe old age of 13, I became a bait and tackle dealer at our family resort. My dad converted a small building into what would become my first legitimate place of business (a Kool-Aid stand doesn't count).  He painted a sign that said "Keith's Tackle Shack" and put it above the front door.  It was open 24 hours a day, whether I wanted it to be or not.

I would trap shiner minnows and pick five gallon buckets full of night crawlers to sell.  What bait I couldn't get on my own I would buy from Marv Koep at Nisswa Bait.   I loved going into Marv's store because some of the most famous fishing guides in the state of Minnesota worked there.   I'd see Al Lindner, Ron Lindner, Babe Winkelman, Gary Roach, (all are in the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame).   I would also see the young guns as well: Mark Lee, Steve, Tim and Bobby Collette, Glen Belgum, Hank Ebert, Tom Briggs, and Kevin Koep.   I was in awe of these guys and what they did every day.

During my first summer at the resort, not only did I sell bait and tackle, but I also ran my very first paid, guided fishing trip.   There was a group staying in our cabins from New Mexico and after asking me the usual, "what are they biting on, where are they at" questions, they asked if I would guide them for the day.  "Oh, heck yeah", but I had to check with my mom and dad first!  We loaded up my 14ft Lund boat powered with a 15hp Johnson motor and spent the day catching northern pike, bass, and sunfish. At the age of 13, I was hooked on showing people how to fish.

The first summer of the resort was a dream for me. I was either fishing or talking about fishing every single day.  If you ask my mother about owning a resort she would say it was a nightmare. The second year of owning Holtan's Resort (1978) was when my parents decided they needed a brochure. Other than the one picture of my cousin Danny, that is me in every fish picture.  Didn't anybody else in the family fish?  And, how about those rates?   How could you not want to spend your vacation at Holtan's Resort?

Well, that's it for for Part 1 of this story. If this really grabbed your attention stay tuned.  Part 2 of the Holtan's Resort saga will be concluded next week.  See you then.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Waterproof boots...Tennessee style

Kenny French
It's been said that necessity is the mother of invention.   It's also been said difficult situations inspire ingenious solutions.   Not sure that either one applies to what I witnessed this past summer.  I'll let you be the judge.
Kenny French came to our place with his famous brothers' George and Jerry.   As we were fishing for king salmon, I noticed something sticking out of Kenny's boots. I said, "Kenny, something's sticking out of your boots."

He said, "I know.  It's a grocery bag.  My brothers told me I needed to bring waterproof boots if I came to Alaska.  I figured wrapping my feet in a grocery bag would keep 'em dry."

Let's just say I'm pretty confident I won't ever see that again (unless Kenny comes back).

Speaking of ingenious solutions, a couple of summers ago my good friend Cary Dawson broke his rod tip while red fishing.  He didn't want to stop fishing so he did a field repair. He liked his fix so much he fished the rest of the week this way. So, ingenious solution?  Or, Oregonian Redneck....

Cary "Col. Chuck Yeager" Dawson

I kid. Cary's a resourceful guy and has helped us out at the cabins many, many times. Hey Cary, Jane and I miss seeing you. We hope this is the year you find your way back to Alaska. And, if you can make it, don't worry about bringing duct tape because we have plenty of it.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Early Kenai King Run Closed

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game recently announced the early run Kenai king fishery has been closed until June 30, 2015.  It will reopen July 1st, 2015.   If there is a silver lining in this closure it is the preseason run forecast of 5200 king salmon.  That is 100 fish below the optimal escapement goal of 5300.  Last year the preseason forecast was 2200 king salmon for the early run.  It eventually surpassed the minimum goal and I'm cautiously optimistic that will happen again in 2015. As data is collected during the season there is a possibility that the closure will be lifted.  But until then, the only guided angling that I can offer in May and June are trout trips.

If you would like more details for all the king salmon emergency orders for Cook Inlet, click here.

Long live the kings!