Sunday, December 10, 2017

What A Guide Can and Can Not Do For You.

Last week I addressed the question about our overall operation. This week I'm going to address what a fishing guide does. This blogpost should be filed under the category of "Managing Expectations."

In general, a fishing guide can:
  • Help you catch more fish. Guides are on the water everyday so you are more likely to catch fish with one than with out one. A guide keeps up with what the fish are doing and most likely can put you on the right spot at the right time
  • Help you learn the water. If you are new to a river/lake/ocean and have your own boat/gear, a guide can help you understand where to run your boat and where to fish.
  • Teach you how to catch fish. This includes different techniques or refining an existing one.
  • Introduce you to new equipment, baits, and lures. Guides are on the cutting edge of the industry and often you will get a chance to try something new before buying your own.
  • Be quick on a story or a joke when the the fishing is slow. Most "good" guides are part entertainer, educator, historian, psychologist, and hopefully a friend by the end of the trip. To quote my mentor, Jeff King, "guiding is what happens when you don't catch fish..."
A fishing guide can not:
  • Walk on water. No matter how adept a guide is they have no bearing on when or where fish will appear. Nature alone handles this little detail.
  • Control the weather. Some days it's going to be too cold, too hot, too wet, too dry or too windy. My grandmother always told me there's no such thing as bad weather. It's bad clothing. Plan accordingly (I don't cancel trips because of the weather).
This is what you can expect when you hire me as your fishing guide.
  • Coast Guard licensed, CPR, First Aid, insured, certified and permitted to fish the Kenai River.
  • Never late, always on time.
  • Intimate knowledge of all fishing regulations.
  • Top notch fishing gear (including rain gear) and bait provided.
  • Clean your fish at the end of the day.
  • I will not be fishing alongside of you. My whole day is about helping you catch fish and not you watching me catch fish. 
  • Guarantee the opportunity to catch fish, not the fish themselves. If you're looking for a sure thing, you can buy fish at the Fred Meyer grocery store.
  • You won't hear about my personal problems. Who'd want to pay for that?
  • Respect to everyone in my boat, and respect to the boats fishing around us. 
  • I'll never know it all. I'm constantly learning.
  • An occasional Ole and Sven joke, or maybe not.
  • No guarantee that I won't repeat a story (raise your hand if you heard this one before). 
  • Hey, it's your vacation, and this should be happy stuff. I'm going to keep things positive throughout the whole trip. Jane says that I'm not a "half full" kinda guy. She says I'm a "always full" kinda guy.

If you're still on the fence about whether or not you should hire a guide, here is one last thing to consider. It's relatively inexpensive compared to owning a boat, motor, trailer, buying gas, bait, and all the right fishing gear. Why not sit back, fish, relax, and let me worry about all that other stuff.

Next week, my topic will be about the things you can expect when you rent one of our cabins. Come back then to hear what Jane told me to say....ha!








Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Are We An Outfitter?


We're getting a fair amount of calls for the 2018 fishing season. A frequent question is, "Are you an outfitter?" The answer is yes and no. Yes, when you book a guided fishing trip all gear is provided for you. No, when your reservation is for a cabin only and not guided fishing, you provide your own gear. 

If you are looking for an all inclusive lodge on the Kenai, we will not be a good fit for you. Our number one recommendation for this experience are my friends Mark and Mike Tuhy of Tower Rock Lodge. Below is a sample of the packages they offer.


If you don't want to bring you own fishing gear, or buy it in Alaska, Alaska Boat Rental will rent it to you by the day or by the week. Below is their pricing schedule.


That being said, do we loan gear to our guests staying in the cabins?  Absolutely. Should you expect gear? Absolutely not. We have quite a few fishing rods, waders, coolers, etc on hand, but they're loaned out at no charge on a first come, first served basis. They're "as is" and when they're gone, they're gone.

Next week, my post topic will be about the things you can expect from a fishing guide. You know I'll try to make that post as entertaining as possible....





Beaver Creek Cabins and Guide Service

Sunday, November 26, 2017

2018 UCI Sockeye Salmon Forecast

Just before Thanksgiving, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) released its 2018 forecast for the sockeye salmon return to Upper Cook Inlet (UCI). Although the projection of 4.6 million sockeye is slightly better than last year, it is still below the recent 20 year average. Details of the forecast can be found here.

Based on the ADFG forecast, my advice to anyone coming to Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service to pursue sockeye salmon is to be patient. There will be times that the fishing will be outstanding, but most likely you'll have to put your time in to catch your limit. I've seen this pattern over the last few years when the projection has been below average. Small schools of reds will enter the river from mid July until mid August on a daily basis, and with some tides there are more fish, and on others, not so much. Timing and location will be the key to fishing success. As a comparison, how this is different from an above average run is on those years there will be a steady stream of fish all day long for several days in a row.

The next forecast for UCI that I'll be patiently waiting for will be for the early and late king salmon run. The way the trend has been going, my guess is we will have a good run. I'll post that information when it becomes available.




Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

Family, food, and football. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

p.s. Go Vikes!




Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Duck, Duck, Grey Duck!


I know what you're thinking. The title of this post should be Duck, Duck, Goose! Well, I may have spent most of my adult life in Alaska, but my formative years were in Minnesota and there we played Duck, Duck, Grey Duck! That is the name of the game. End of story.
The national debate was recently revived during a touchdown celebration when the Minnesota Vikings played the Chicago Bears in a football game. Once again, it's duck, not goose.

The other 49 states clearly have this wrong.

Just like they did when Walter Mondale ran against some guy named Ronald Reagan in the 1984 presidential election.

Heck, this national debate of duck vs. goose is easier to resolve than the whole hot dish vs. casserole kerfuffle. The only lingering question that remains is, is it grey or gray, dontcha ya know? Discuss amongst yourselves....

So, what's the point of this blog post? Well, I wanted to share photos of one of my new best friends. This guy would often wait for me to come in from a day on the water.

Always nice to have a smiling face waiting for you.

In honor of you, my friend, the game is, and always will be, Duck, Duck, Grey Duck (no Goose)!





Beaver Creek Cabins and Guide Service

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Kids of 2017


Take A Kid Fishing. 

I've heard that phrase my whole life. Putting together this post, I wondered when it was first used and who started it. A quick internet search was not terribly successful except for linking this movement to the founder of  Bass Angler Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.), Ray Scott. This was in 1967. Unless someone can tell me differently, I'll go with that.  

I figure what a perfect way to honor the 50th anniversary of Take A Kid Fishing than to highlight a few of the kids I had the pleasure of fishing with this past year. Who's the real kid in the photo above? If you guessed me, than you would be right...









I always enjoy my days on the water with kids. I think it's because it reminds me why I got addicted to fishing. That being said, thanks dad for taking me fishing and creating a life long passion of piscatorial pursuits.
Me and my dad, Oahe Reservoir, circa 1969






Sunday, November 5, 2017

Changes for 2018


Some of you may have noticed this past summer I made a change on the website about how I run my guiding business. I'd been struggling with this decision for several years, but now is the time in my career to make the move. I now have joined the ranks of Kenai River guides that only offer full day king salmon fishing trips. A full day trip on the Kenai River is between eight and ten hours.

The reasons behind this decision are:
  • Higher percentage of catching (and/or releasing) a king salmon of a lifetime.
  • Easier on the resource. Instead of potentially eight kings retained a day in my boat, only four could be.
  • Less frantic, more leisurely day on the water. Time for bathroom, coffee, or lunch breaks at the cabins. Fishing is suppose to be fun, right?
  • Less pressure to keep the first king caught. Encourages more catch and release fishing.
  • Will be able to fish two tide cycles per trip. Tide changes are key component of fishing success.
  • Groups that have booked the whole boat will have the possibility of fishing for red salmon while on a king trip. This opportunity will only come into play from mid July to the end of July.
  • Easier on me. I'm getting older and the 13-16 hour days are taking a toll. A rested guide is a happy guide!

The new pricing is as follows:
  • Up until June 10th, a full day king trip is $175. 
  • From June 11th until July 31st, a full day king trip is $275 (a decrease of $20).

I've been fishing more and more full day trips over the years and I've often asked why a full day was booked and not a half day. The full day client would say, "I've come all this way to Alaska, why would I fish for only five hours?"  It makes sense, especially to a fisherman. I know a few of my annual clients prefer half day trips and it's because they want to do other things during the day. To you, I apologize. Well, I guess it doesn't mean you won't be able to fish a half day on the Kenai. It just means you won't be able to fish a half day with me at the half day rate. 

Remember, these changes only affect May thru July. My guiding schedule and rates for August-October have not changed. 


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Guess Who Won?


Back in July, I had an incredibly memorable afternoon of fishing with my old buddy Gary Crawford. Gary and I go way back and I really enjoy our time on the water. A companionship of a like minded friend if you will. Anyway, Gary is unique guy too and what I mean by unique is that he is the only person that I fish that brings his own rod. It's not just any old rod mind you, this is a mooching rod. and it's caught a ton of of fish on the Kenai River. If you don't believe me, all you have to do is look at the wear and tear on the cork handle in the photo above.

So, back to the memorable day in July. When Gary gets in the boat the rod he brought was rigged for using a kwikfish lure. I told him the bite all week has been on eggs and I'd gladly rerig his rod for him. He said he's always done well with a kwikfish lure and wanted to fish that way. Fine. I'm always big on hunches and if that's what he wanted to fish I'm okay with that. We must have been on our second troll of our trip and Gary has a nice take down. The fish gets off. Rats. A couple of trolls later Gary gets another bite. He takes the rod out of the rod holder and sets the hook hard. He set so hard that the rod exploded into four pieces. Al Witte was sitting directly behind him and had to take cover because of the flying bits and pieces. Even after all the fireworks I thought we still had a chance to catch this fish. Nope. This fish won and in the process broke a cherished piece of equipment.

I couldn't help but laugh, and laugh a little too loud when this happened. Several guide boats around me thought I was crazy. Why would I be laughing when a client lost a fish? I told one of my guide friends  I would normally be very upset if my gear failed, but in this case Gary brought his own rod and it's all on him. My guide buddy started to laugh too.

Gary, sadly, had to use one of my rods to finish the trip. He did catch a smaller king salmon but chose to release it. I think the fact that his wife Nikki kept a nice fish led to this decision.


That's Gary in the back row on the left. Not quite sure if he was smiling or crying in this photo...

Gary has another mooching rod that I'm sure he'll be bringing along in 2018. It'll be fun to start another run of memories with Mooching Rod #2. I can't wait for that to happen.




Sunday, October 15, 2017

Thanks


chalkboard outside the office door
Thought I'd share a few of the many thank you's that Jane and I received this season. The truth is we both need to thank all of you for making 2017 an enjoyable and successful year. We both feel very fortunate that we are able to make a living doing something we enjoy so much.

The wipe board on the front of the cabin was a popular place to leave a note.

I know Jane always appreciates seeing a note like this when people check out. So do I.
Hand written notes were popular this year too. 

We received a nice package in the mail recently (Beaver Nuggets!) and these notes were in it. This was from mom and dad.
Oldest son.

























And, the youngest son.

Thanks again everyone for a fantastic season. We can't wait for the spring of 2018 to arrive.






Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Fishing Report Week Ending 10/8/17


This will not be my last blog post, I plan to continue posting weekly, but it will be my last Kenai River fishing report for 2017.  As they say, "all good things must come to and end."

How was it out there? Well, on three consecutive days I fished the lower Kenai River for a couple of hours. I had one bite. That's a pretty good indicator that the bulk of the silver salmon run has definitely passed our part of the river. My fishing fortunes were reversed when I got a call from Boo Kandas asking me to join him on a trip Thursday to the middle Kenai River. Fishing the middle Kenai River with Boo has become an annual tradition in the fall and one I really look forward to. Along with Boo, old friends Brad, Clyde, and Kevin joined us. We hit the river mid-morning and only fished until the early afternoon. The final tally was nine silver salmon. Not a bad way to end my year on the river.
Thought I'd include a series of photos of the various stages of the tide influence on Beaver Creek. On Friday, the tide was 23.3 feet which is plenty of water to take out our dock. Beaver Creek Cabins is located 9.5 miles from the ocean and a tide this size will affect the river up to river mile 14. Here's a photo at 4:00pm, just before the tide change.
5:00pm. Tide is coming in.
6:00pm. High tide.

6:10pm. Dock is disconnected, in place, and waiting for the tide to go out.

Done. Sad.

Come back to the blog next week for a few observations about the 2017 season. Hope to see you then.




Sunday, October 1, 2017

Fishing Report Week Ending 10/1/17



My last scheduled guided trip for the year was set for Wednesday. I was excited for this day up until the river started to rise and turn chalky. Would the last trip of this year be a bust? Tim McFerron called on Monday and said he and his crew would be down to the cabins at 5pm on Tuesday. I asked if he wanted to go out that evening to see if the river was fishable. If it wasn't, I had another guide lined up to take them to the middle river on Wednesday. Of course, he said they'd love to go out. So, Tim One, Tim Two, Greg, and I left the dock just after 5. I was definitely relieved when the first silver salmon bit within the first 10 minutes. Would that be it? Nope. We caught four more in the next hour and half of fishing and even had a double.
I couldn't wait for Wednesday morning to come and the Kenai River did not disappoint. Hey guys, it was a heckuva way to end a really good 2017 season.
I got home that afternoon and didn't have long to reflect on a fortuitous season before my buddy, Boo Kandas of Tall Tale Charters called me. He had wrapped up his season in Homer and wanted to know if Jane and I would help him take his boat out. Before that could be done, he said we needed to catch enough halibut to get us all through the winter.
What a great day. Boo, Jeff M, Jane and I boated 8 halibut between 35-60 pounds. It was one of the best fishing days I have had on the ocean in a long time.
The next day, Jane and I hooked up our travel trailer and headed north to camp and unwind from the season. We decided to go to an area were we've spent a lot of time: Trapper Creek.
There are spectacular views of Denali in Trapper Creek, and as you can see, we were so fortunate to have clear skies (they say Denali is shrouded in clouds 3/4's of the year).
What an incredible three day run. Limits of silver salmon for my clients, a freezer full of halibut, and breath taking views of Denali. I'm one lucky guy.

What's next. Well, the not so fun part of our season will be happening this week. Besides taking the dock and boat out, it's time to winterize the cabins. It won't be all work for me. I do plan on getting out to fish a few more times. A few more silvers for our freezer would be nice.

See you next week.







Sunday, September 24, 2017

Fishing Report Week Ending 9/24/17

It was another fun week of fishing on the Kenai. Plenty of fish, decent enough weather, and time spent with friends made it so.
Neighbor Mary still has the touch when it comes to silver fishing.
And the same with Neighbor Nancy.
How do the fish stand a chance when there's three ladies in the boat?

The Xtratuf Girls
The weather was great the next day so it wasn't hard to convince Jane, Nancy, and Mary (Dan too) that we should go out again. My goal was to get Nancy enough fish to get her through until next spring. In a couple of hours that goal was met.

Lars and Abe's Excellent Adventure
On Wednesday, I received a text from my former "employee" and long time friend Lars. He said he flew from Minnesota to Seattle to meet up with another friend and they drove a conversion van up the AlCan Highway to Alaska. I asked if they had any plans and he said no. Perfect, come on down. I told them they should stay in a cabin and that we should go fishing. There was no argument.
That's Lars on the left, and Abe on the right. It turns out that Jane and I went to high school with Abe's dad. Small world. Anyway, back to the photo above. What a heck of a way to start our fishing trip: two silvers in four minutes of fishing.
And the next couple of hours weren't too bad either. Hey guys, it was nice to spend a couple of days with you. You make me feel like our future is in good hands......

Next week could be it for my guiding season. I'm down to one last group. Although "work" might be over, you know I'll be fishing well into October.