Sunday, June 24, 2018

Fishing Report Week Ending 6/24/18

Not much of a Kenai River king fishing report for this week. Tuesday was the only day I could guide before the closure and, unfortunately, the river was in horrible shape. Not only low number of kings entering on this day (24 fish to be exact), but heavy rains compounded with the Snowy River glacier dam bursting caused the Kenai to become high and muddy. The highlight of the day was finding a derelict boat floating down the river. I'm not sure if it's abandoned or lost, but if this boat is yours, or you know who's it is, please get a hold of me.
So here is the brief fishing report for the week....I tried to cancel my trip on Tuesday, but David and Joshua still wanted the Kenai experience. They figured as long as the fishery was not closed, they wanted to be out there. I wish they had a fish story to tell, but helping me tow a boat back to the dock was the "high water mark" of this day. Thanks guys, for your attitudes and for giving it such a solid effort under difficult circumstances. I know I'll see you both again some time soon.
It's no secret, but I have a reputation for being a salvager. Half the fun of finding something is telling friends about my discoveries. I was telling Dan and Mary Meyer about the boat I acquired on Tuesday and Mary was quick to send me a photo of my best day ever for finding stuff. Several years ago, Dan and I were out fishing on a fall day and we came across this float plane drifting down the river. It turned out, the pilot ran out of gas and had to make an emergency landing. We towed the plane and the pilot back to the dock, and as much as I wanted to keep this find, I wasn't able to. Thanks, Mary, for sharing the photo of this unforgettable day. 
"Sorting my sock drawer."

That's my answer when people ask what I've been up to since the river closed on Wednesday. This nonsensical retort is a nod to my mother who would suggest this when I said I was bored and I had nothing to do. Well, my sock drawer really didn't need sorting this past week, but a huge mass of discarded fishing leaders did. For years they've been piling up and I finally got around to doing something about it. Surprisingly, the chore wasn't really as bad as I thought it would be.

This sock sorting thing will be over soon because the Kenai River will reopen to king salmon fishing on July 1st. Oh, heck yeah!!! Although not a day I'm allowed to guide, I plan on being out there. Come back to see how it goes. See you then...

p.s. The Russian River red fishing has been good. Always a nice alternative when you can't king fish.

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Monday, June 18, 2018

Emergency Order #2

Long live the kings!
Not the news I was hoping for, but due to lower returning numbers than expected, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has announced the Kenai River will be closed to king salmon fishing starting Wednesday, June 20th. The king fishery will reopen in the lower Kenai River on July 1st. Details of the order can be found here.

On the upside, not all Emergency Orders are negative. A strong run of red salmon at the Russian River has allowed the sanctuary to be opened to fishing on Tuesday, June 19th at 8:00am. Last week, ADFG announced the limit for Resurrection Bay red salmon has doubled. If you want to harvest a bunch of salmon, this is clearly where you'll want to be.

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Fishing Report Week Ending 6/17/18

That's the only fish caught this week and it wasn't caught by a client. I was fishing on my day off with my neighbor, former guide and captain of the Beaver Creek All Stars, Greg Davis, and this 48lb king salmon was fooled by an orange spin n' glo fishing lure. As fun as it was for me, I really wish I could have saved this bite for one of my clients because fishing was tough this past week.

Why was it a tough week? It was a combination of three things: low king numbers, muddy water, and lots of debris fouling up fishing gear. When faced with these conditions I'll cancel fishing trips and direct people to other fisheries where they'll have a better opportunity to catch a fish (Russian River, fly out, saltwater, etc.) Well, I had two different groups scheduled to fish two days each, and I tried cancelling the trips on them. Both groups said they were here, the river wasn't closed to fishing, and they wanted to fish at least one time on the fabled Kenai River. So, that's what we did. Each group spent one day on the river.
When you don't catch fish, you post group photos. From left to right is Myron, Doug, Darlene, Klay, and Nicole. Beautiful weather and conversaton would be the hallmark of this day. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't enjoyable to get caught up with old friends, and to meet a new one (that would be you, Doug). Thanks guys for opting in to fish even though conditions were not favorable.
This is what you do when the weather is nice and the fishing is not so nice. You find a kid and take a boat ride. This is Alec, Myron and Cindy's grandson. For a seven year old he is a pretty good captain. Next time, we'll work on his netting and filleting skills.
I was hoping to take the two youngest kids at our cabins out for a boat ride with Alec too. Klay and Nicole thought it would be best for their children, Hadley and Jack, to not know that water is nearby. After Jack's adventure on the beaches of Kenai, that was a pretty good choice Mom and Dad. Wish I had a photo of Hadley playing in the yard, but she was on the shy side and wouldn't let me take a picture. Jack, on the other hand, had no problems posin' and ridin' the salmon. Moooo! Thanks again Myron, Cindy, Ron, Darlene, Doug, Nicole, Klay, Darlene, Alec, Hadley, and Jack for making Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service your home base for your week in Alaska. Jane and I really appreciate your business, and more importantly your friendship.
The other trip this week was with Ron and Erica and with improving water conditions I had high hopes for this day. Nada, zip, goose egg, El Skunkarino. Not only did we not get a bite, we never saw anyone else get one either. At least the wildlife viewing didn't disappoint. Besides this momma moose with her calves, harbor seals, and bald eagles were in abundance. Thanks guys, for an enjoyable day and it was great talking all things Minnesota. I hope to see you both in the future under different circumstances....
I snapped another great sunrise on Beaver Creek this week. If you aren't a morning person, it's probably because you haven't experienced a sunrise like this before.

In just a few days it will be the summer solstice, the lightest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. In Kenai, the sun will rise at 4:30am and it will set at 11:40pm. The few hours the sun does set it will never truly get dark. I know that summers can be difficult for our visitors who would like to sleep "through the night". But, if sleep is what you are after, come to Alaska in December. Sunrise will be at 10:30am and it will set before 4:00pm. At high noon the sun will not clear the trees. Uffda. I'm not quite sure why I brought this topic up and I should probably just delete the previous paragraph. We have an entire summer and fall to fish yet and I start to talk about winter....

Make sure to come back to the blog next week. It will be about fishing, and I'm sure a few other random thoughts. See you then. Oh, by the way, Happy Father's Day everyone!

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Monday, June 11, 2018

Emergency Order

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has issued an emergency order (EO) for the Kenai River. Effective 12:01am Wednesday, June 13th. The Kenai River will be catch and release only until June 30th. The details can be found here.

The bottom line is the biologists feel the minimum escapement goal will not be met. Although disappointing to people who would like a meal or two of king salmon, measures like this are warranted to sustain a healthy future.

Jane and I have contacted nearly all of our June guests about the changes. The good news for us is most still want to recreate on the Kenai River. They feel catching and releasing king salmon on a quiet river will be a lot of fun.

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Fishing Report Week Ending 6/10/18

Super Tuesday.....and it was! During the king season, Tuesday's are referred to as "Super Tuesday". Because there is no guided angling allowed on Sunday or Monday, many believe it's the best day to be on the river due to a two day break. I personally think everyday is the best day to be on the river, but I digress...

So this past Tuesday I had North Carolinians, Marty and Erica in my boat. Erica started the day off with the first fish and the first adventure. It went something like this: a fish bites her lure, she takes the rod out of the rod holder, she sets the hook, and then the fish heads downstream. Less than five seconds later the release lever on the baitcasting reel is inadvertently tripped. Oh, oh. Rats nest, birds nest, whatever you want to call a backlashed reel, when the line is buried deep, the reel is inoperable (see photo above).
The only thing I can do when this happens is find my gloves and hand line the fish to the boat. My previous experience has been that this usually does not go well with a large fish. I was wrong. With Marty manning the net, this 40lb hen made it in for a boat side photo. That wasn't exactly the plan Erica, but at least you got to fight the fish for a little while. More importantly on this day, you caught a fish in Alaska before your husband did.
A few trolls later, Marty had a text book Kenai king experience. Fish bites lure, Marty sets the hook, Marty fights the fish, fish is landed, it's measured and falls a 1/2 inch under the protected slot, fish is retained, and we all take photos of Marty. Text book.

Thanks Marty and Erica for starting out my week this way. Great fishing, and even better conversations truly made this a Super Tuesday. I look forward to your next visit to Alaska.
The next couple of days Kid Chan and his crew of twenty were scheduled to stay and fish with us. Outside of Gary Blinn, this is the largest group that Jane and I have had to accommodate. With that added pressure, it was important to use some of the best people I know to guide them. The combined guiding experience exceeded 100 years on this river, and it included a former president of the Kenai River Professional Guide Association, along with the current president. Thanks Mike, Ray, Boo, Kyle, and Jeff for making this all happen.
How did it go? Well, we fished in the afternoon on the first day and every boat had action. Above is a nice king that Nick caught. Even though this fish was under the protected slot limit, Nick wanted to release this king so he could continue to fish. Who could blame him? 
The very next troll this fish was caught and released.
And this one too was let go. It's amazing how there will be long periods of inactivity, and then in a short span a lot of action. 
We finished the afternoon with the release of this gorgeous 20" rainbow trout.

The next morning told a different tale. Based on the action of the previous day, and with an incoming morning tide, I thought the results would be much different. It was a struggle to find fish. The only two fish that were caught were in Jeff and Kyle's boat. I guess I shouldn't be surprised because the early run of Kenai kings can be inconsistent day to day.  Thanks, Kid, for bringing such a great group to our cabins. And thanks again guides (if you're reading this) for your professionalism. Guiding is much more than putting fish in the box, and you all represent what is best about our industry, and this river.

Next week I'm scheduled to fish nearly every day. My fingers are crossed that the run will continue to build, and the water conditions remain the same or improve. Good, bad, indifferent, you'll get the fishing report right here.

BTW, the red salmon below was caught by Dan Meyer on the lower Kenai. Soon, the Russian River experience will be happening.....

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Fishing Report Week Ending 6/3/18

I'm a lucky guy.

This is what I get to see when I walk through my office door at 5am. No caffeine is needed to kick-start my day.

So, let's get going with the first official fishing report of 2018.
This past week I had the pleasure of spending time with Jarrod and Chuck. Both are accomplished fisherman from Minnesota (Detroit Lakes and Brainerd, respectively). Knowing how to handle gear, knowing that fishing is about opportunites, and knowing how to tell a story or two, made my job very easy. I couldn't ask for a couple of better guys to start out the year.

Patience and understanding were not in short supply on our first day. We trolled, and trolled, and trolled, and managed two take downs, but no fish. Since Jarrod and Chuck did not have the greatest experience on the saltwater the day before, I told them it would be okay if they didn't want to go out a second time. I should have known better. Fisherman fish, and they wanted to go again. 
Thankfully, day two was a different story. On the first troll of the morning Jarrod caught and released this beautiful 39" Kenai king salmon. Up until this point, the largest fish that Jarrod had caught was an 18lb Lake Michigan king salmon. He just about doubled his personal best with this fish. 
Only a couple of trolls later, Chuck expertly guided this gorgeous 42" Kenai king salmon into the net. Like Jarrod, this too was the largest fish that he has caught. That's something I never get tired of, that is, hearing someone say the fish they just caught is their personal best.
Here's Chuck releasing his fish to continue it's journey to the spawning grounds.

I want to say, thanks again guys, for starting my guiding season off on the right foot. Your enthusiasm and approach to fishing tells me that this will not be your last trip to Alaska.

Next week I'm scheduled to guide a family of twenty. Since I can only take four, some of the best guides I know are helping with this group. Come back to the blog next week to see how it goes. See you then!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial Weekend

It's Memorial Day weekend, and we honor those who served and died in service to our country. Take a moment while grilling to think about the sacrifices that many made so we can enjoy our freedoms.....

Our first guests of the year arrived in the cabins and Jane had everything in tip top shape. The spring cleanup is definitely worth it when a note like this is left behind.
Even though I've been busy this week with quite a few maintenance issues, I did find time to get out on the river on three different occasions.
Wish I had a great report but the catching has been a bit slow. I've heard of a few fish being caught, but the closest I've come to taking a picture was a jack king salmon that Dan Meyer LDRed (long distance released). For those not familiar with this term, it means we didn't land it.

I think there are a couple of reasons why the fishing has been slow: debris in the water, and low fish counts. The sonar counter went in on May 16th, and the total number of king salmon greater than 34" that have been registered is 186. I really hope our cool spring has kept the salmon from coming into the river and not the alternative, which is a weak run. Only time will tell what it will be.
In the meantime, if I'm not catching salmon I might as well be smoking what is left from 2017. After 24 hours of prep and smoking time, this is the fruits of my labor.

Thought I'd share this last photo with you. Memorial Weekend is the unofficial start to the summer tourist season. The Fred Meyer gas station is a great place to witness this transformation

Come back next week for my first official fishing report of 2018. It's official because my first guided trips will be happening this week. Fingers crossed for cleaner water, and more salmon....

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Dock is in

It almost didn't happen.

On May 16th we had a 23 foot high tide. Normally, that's enough water to float the dock out and attach it to the the walkway/gangplank. This year was not normal. At 5am Jane and I were confronted with what you see in the photo above: not all of the land was underwater. It was obvious it would take more than the two of us to somehow get the dock over the ridge and into place for the season. We had one shot to do this the following morning or it couldn't be done until the next high, high tide on June 15th. Not a good thing when our business motto is "Out of Bed and Into The Boat". This snafu, if not rectified, would force me to travel to a boat launch every day with my customers.

I'm simultaneously blessed and cursed with Scandanavian self sufficiency (stubbornness) and it's not always easy to ask for help. In this case, I had no choice. I called and texted some friends and asked if they could bring their waders and meet Jane and I at the dock at 6am. Every single person I contacted came. I am floored by the turnout. If that's not the definition of true and genuine friendship, I don't what is. 

It was kind of like an old fashioned barn raising when the community comes together to lend a hand. Sure, there were more people than needed, but I didn't know what challenges we would face if we had trouble. The bench was deep I was grateful for the support.

I don't always list first and last names in my posts but the guys who came deserve recognition for what they did for us. A huge thanks goes to Jeff King, Greg Davis, Will Jahrig, Dan Meyer, Boo Kandas, Ron Rogalsky, Ken Gates, Brad Adams, Charlie Bogard, Mike Wheat, and Rusty Huf. Some of you guys took time off of work to help, and some of you came before you went to work. All of you are stand up guys, and I hope one day I'm able to repay the favor.

It was only fitting that after we finished the dock we were sitting around eating Moose is Loose donuts, drinking coffee, and these two decided to swim across the creek and walk through the yard.

Random thoughts, not about docks, from this past week:
  • 5/17 was the anniversary of Les Anderson's world record 97lb 4oz Kenai king salmon caught in 1985.
  • 5/19/85, two days after Les landed the world record, my dad and I first fished the Kenai River. This is when I first met Jeff King.
  • Copper River commercial fishing season opened on 5/18. The first pricing for king salmon fillets was an amazing $74.99 a pound.
  • End of an era. Blockbuster Video closed it's doors this week in Soldotna. There are only three stores left in the entire country (one in Anchorage, one in Fairbanks, and one in Oregon).
  • Went king salmon fishing on Les Anderson Day with Jeff King. Zero king salmon, 5 hooligan.

Sunday, May 13, 2018


The early bird gets the worm. And, the second mouse gets the cheese. I got 'em both this year.

For new readers to the blog, this probably doesn't make much sense. For long time readers, you know exactly what I'm talking about. For the uninitiated, not long after the ice goes out I'll take my cataraft and float the river in search of treasures lost. Those are my words. My spouse calls it junk. Anyway, the 2018 Salvage Run was good for both.

The photo above is the very first item I found. It's a genuine Beckman King Salmon landing net. A brand new one will retail around $200.
How about this discovery? It's the first phone that I've found. I feel very comfortable stating that hundreds of phones have been lost in this river. And, yes, that number includes the one I lost over ten years ago. Boy, I sure do miss that flip phone...
A perfectly good Leatherman Wave multi tool. By far the best tool that I've ever found.
The Holy Grail of Kenai River salvage runs: an RL anchor.
Not sure what to call it when you find the Holy Grail twice, but this put me one away from my record of finding three anchors on a single run. The interesting thing about the two anchors is neither one had a chain attached to it. Nor did they have a frayed, broken rope hitched to the front eye. Once again, my conclusion is I'm the benefactor of a couple of people not knowing how to tie a knot to an anchor.
A final photo before ending the trip. Hard to see all the treasures stored aboard, but I did find a dozen or so fishing lures and a nice Ugly Stik fishing rod. Overall, it was the least amount of fishing lures that I've found, but I'm not complaining. I clearly made up for it with other gear.

On my float, I did see one boat fishing. I asked if they had any luck and their response was a resounding "no". It still might be a bit early to actually catch a king salmon, but I won't know for sure unless I actually go do it. That is my plan this week, try to find a window and then go do it. Make sure to come back next week to see if I'll have my first official fishing report.

Addendum to the post: a reliable source told me at least one king was caught this past week. And so it begins...

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Fish Photos by Francis

This is just cruel.

It's early May, freshwater king fishing is just around the corner, and my friend Francis Estalilla sends me a copy of the latest issue of Fish Alaska magazine. On the cover is a photo that Francis had taken of his friend Shawn releasing a bruiser of a Kenai king. I'm trying to be patient about the upcoming fishing season, but photos like this are killing me. Soon, very soon. Repeat. Soon, very soon. Breath through the nose. Soon, very soon...

This is not Francis' first photo to grace the cover of a fishing magazine, nor will this be his last. I guess when his chosen profession is being an eye surgeon it would only seem natural he would have a keen eye for capturing the perfect fish photo. Truly a man of many talents.
Here's Francis doing what he's famous for in these parts: catching Kenai kings, and then releasing them. If you wonder why I'm such a fan of his photos it's because of the regulation on the Kenai River that prohibits the removal from the water a salmon that is going to be released. Most photos are alongside the boat, which usually leads to a bad camera angle and not really getting a sense of the size of the fish. Francis, as you can see, wears his waders and swims with the fishes for a quick pose/photo before releasing.
This is one of my better photos of a king release alongside the boat. It's good, but it doesn't compare to what Francis is able to do.

One way or another I'll be on the river this week. Salvage run, or perhaps fishing, it's time to get familiar with the water again. Maybe this will be the year I'll beat my record for the earliest king. For those keeping score, that date is May 11th.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Getting Closer

There's a buzz in town.

Increasing daylight, warmer weather, no snow on the ground, a river free of ice, have all created a good mood on the peninsula. Soon, the tourists will be here. How do I know? The Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center placed their annual call and asked for more of our brochures for their information kiosk.

We've always been a member of this organization and recognize their value to our industry, and our community.  That being said, we've told many visitors to stop by and check things out because of the museum like quality of the displays and to learn about other things to do while on the peninsula. It's sound advice, but up until this past week, I had never taken my own recommendation and actually walked through the "visitor and cultural" part of their building. I guess that's human nature. When something is in your backyard you tend to overlook it. I still often wonder why my parents, who bought a home in Las Vegas, never took a tour of the Hoover Dam....sorry, I digress.

It's not a large building , but it's appropriate in size. There are many things on display, but what immediately caught my eye was the snag that my neighbors at Hi-Lo Charters pulled out of the Kenai River in 1987. This behemoth weighs over 600 pounds and it's estimated over 2500 spin-n-glo lures are wrapped into it. Every spring, on my river salvage runs, I keep hoping to find something like this. One day, maybe, one day.....

In college, I enjoyed taking Alaska history and anthropology courses, so it stands to reason that this display of Kenaitze Indian artifacts caught my eye. There is also a section devoted to the history of oil exploration on the peninsula. For all you trivia buffs, the first oil produced in Alaska came from the Swanson River field on the Kenai Peninsula in 1957 (not Prudhoe Bay).
Here's my friend George, purchasing an area map of the peninsula. I will give him all the credit for the building tour. He came with me when I dropped off the brochures and was interested in looking around. A retired educator never stops learning....see you again in July, George!
So, when you're on the peninsula next time, if you're not fishing 24/7, stop in at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center. It's well worth your time (and if it's on the weekend, don't forget to go to the Saturday Market held on the front lawn).

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service