Sunday, November 17, 2019

Go With A Guide, Don't Book With A Crook

Almost always, when we’re fishing on the river and a restroom break is needed, we go back to the cabins. After all, the cabins are convenient and I know Jane keeps them clean. However, on a rare occasion this past September, we decided to stop at the Eagle Rock boat launch to take a break. Upgrades have been made to this site and one of the many new things I saw was a prominent sign sponsored by the Kenai River Professional Guide Association. It was hard not to notice the headline: Go With A Guide, Don’t Book With A Crook. That’s about as blunt as a baseball bat fish whacker...
There’s no doubt illegal guiding has been an issue and continues to be an issue on the Kenai River. It’s good to see the Kenai River Professional Guide Association take an active role in helping address this problem. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

United States Coast Guard Licensing Hang Up


bun-gle 
verb
to carry out (a task) clumsily or incompetently 

I’ll start the post with this: in no way did the United States Coast Guard (USCG) bungle the renewal of my Coast Guard captain's license. The bungle came from an independent clinic where I had taken a Coast Guard physical in October. The USCG did their job; they reviewed the information given to them. Unfortunately, the information collected was erroneous.  

A little background. In order to be a fishing guide for hire on navigable waters, a USCG captain's license is required. Every five years this license needs to be renewed. The three main parts of the renewal are documentation of at least 90 days spent on the water during the past three years, passing a drug test, and passing a physical. 

For the last 15 years I’ve had the same doctor at an independent clinic in Kenai administer a USCG physical. When I called the clinic in October to book an appointment, I was told the doctor I'd been seeing retired and they would schedule me with a new doctor. That would work, I thought. When I arrived for my appointment, I was told my new doctor recently quit and I couldn’t be examined that day. I was asked if it would be okay to reschedule for another time. Sure, why not?  This is now known to me as "red flag number one." 

When I showed up for my rescheduled appointment, a young nurse took my blood pressure (it took two attempts), measured and weighed me, and then administered a hearing and vision test. Everything seemed smooth except the field of vision (peripheral) test. A device was used that I'd never seen before. It was some type of paper halo that I wore like a visor. I had to stare straight ahead and let the nurse know when I could see an arrow in my peripheral vision. It was done three times and every time the arrow was in a different spot. How could it vary this much? This is now known to me as "red flag number two." The number the nurse eventually wrote down was 93. When the nurse was finished a physician assistant came in to complete the physical. When he told me I was the first Coast Guard physical he has ever done, it became known to me as "red flag number three." He told me everything was good and he signed off on the paper work.

Excited to have this out of the way, the following day I drove to the USCG regional exam office in Anchorage to have office personnel check that all my paperwork was in order. It was, and they shipped my renewal packet off to the examiners at the National Maritime Center in West Virginia. 

A week goes by and instead of getting a notification that my new credentials were being mailed, I get a notice that I've failed the field of vision test. My options are to accept the results, which would have me surrender my USCG captain's license, or I could be retested by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Panic was a mild word for what I felt when I read this. If I didn't pass the retest, I would be forced to retire from guiding prematurely.   

I immediately made an appointment with an optometrist and waited a grueling week to see him. The USCG informed me that I would need a minimum of 100 in the field of vision test. As stated earlier, the Kenai nurse found the number to be 93. When the real eye doctor finished the exam, he said I tested out at 135. Whew! Double whew! It was instant relief to know that I passed and can still be a Kenai River guide.  

What is the moral of the story? The moral of the story is I will not go to an independent clinic five years from now when my license needs to be renewed.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Season Recap Part 2: Silver Salmon


August started out strong with combination trips of red and silver salmon on any given day. By the middle of the month, with declining red numbers, our full attention was given to silver salmon.
Overall, August was a decent month for chasing salmon on the Kenai River. Some days we caught a boat limit quickly, other days we had to grind it out.
September proved to be more difficult than August, and quite frankly, much more difficult that I've been accustom to. An okay day would be followed by a tough day. It was anyone's guess what would happen day after day. There was one overriding factor to the inconsistency of the second run of silvers: there weren't many fish. Except for one glaring exception, we found fish everyday. The exception was the famous banana morning. For those of you who believe in the curse of the banana, your superstition was confirmed. I personally think we were fishless because we only had a couple of hours to find what few fish were in the river, and we ran out of time to track them down. Maybe it was a little of both, maybe...

Well, that's it. It took two posts to basically say we had another fine season of fishing with lots of great people. I look forward to sharing the Kenai experience next year with many longtime friends, and with new ones.

Next weeks blog topic: cabin wipe board thank you notes.






Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Season Recap Part 1: Kings and Reds

2019 was a challenging season. In a nutshell: reds great, kings not so great, and silvers were some where in the middle.

The early run of Kenai kings (May/June) was disappointing. A low return coupled with warm temperatures made for difficult fishing. The upside was the strong return of Russian River red salmon. It's one of the first times in my career that I pursued red salmon in the lower Kenai River in the month of June and limits were caught. I definitely will be doing more of this in the future.

The late run of Kenai kings (July) mirrored the early run. Low returns and poor water conditions made for difficult fishing. The blessing in July and early August was the strong return of red salmon. Those who chose to pursue these fish had excellent results.

If you’re wondering about the king photo above, that’s Noel Estalilla. In 45 years of fishing the Kenai, Noel set a personal best with the release of this gorgeous 52” king. A thank you goes to his brother Francis for letting me use the photo.
For the 2020 May/July season, I believe flexibility will be the key. If the kings are in, we fish for kings. If the reds are in, we fish for reds. 
See you next week for a recap of the fall silver salmon fishery. 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Now It's Really Over...


Speaking of tradition, another blog staple lives on: the biannual posting of dock photos. In the spring, the dock goes in, the fall it comes out. It’s always a bit sad when the season is really over.
I’m always asked how high the tide gets at river mile 10. When I respond that the wood dock will be partially underwater there’s always a look of astonishment. Our area boasts the second highest tides in the world and it’s reach will affect the first 14 miles of the Kenai River. It never fails to impress me.  
In hibernation mode until spring....

See you next week for a recap of the fishing season.





Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service




Sunday, October 6, 2019

Halibut Time


It's becoming a tradition. The late night phone call from Boo Kandas asking if we want to fish and help him take his boat out of the Homer harbor for the season. With a perfect weather forecast, Jane and I were quick to lend a hand.
It was a pleasant break from our end of the season chores. As Jane said on the boat ride out to the fishing grounds, "it's nice to be able to spend the day with you." And, of course, my response is "yup".  Which I know she knows means that I feel the same and I'm really a lucky guy to have her in my life because being married to a fisherman means long days and not a lot of quality time spent together in the summer.  But I digress....
We first tried to catch a few king salmon. No luck. We switched over to halibut and had consistent action. Here’s Jane with her first fish of the day.
Look close. That's the face of a halibut fisherman realizing how deep 260 feet can be when a 45lb halibut is attached to the other end of the line.
Pay dirt!
By late afternoon we had all the fish we needed. Here's Boo lining up the day's haul for a photo.
Here's the crew (less Boo). From left to right are Brad, Alice, myself, and Jane.

Mission accomplished. The boat is now in storage and our freezers have halibut fillets in them. It was a wonderful day, with wonderful people, and a perfect exclamation point to the end of another season. 







Sunday, September 29, 2019

Fishing Report Week Ending 9/29/19


Instead of the usual fish photos starting out the blogpost, I thought I'd share a few images of the marvelous things we saw while fishing on the Kenai River this past week. As my friend Debbie would say, "catching fish is just icing on the cake..."
On to the final fishing report for 2019.
It was another week of slow fishing. Tuesday evening I took Paul, Jim, Tim, Mike, and Paul out for a couple of hours.
Jim and his lucky hat found the only willing biter.
For the next three days it was Tim, Jim, and Mike fishing with me. Jim continued where he left off the night before and caught the first two silver salmon.
Mike caught the third fish of the day.
On Thursday, Tim found the only fish. It was much deserved. 
The banana curse was alive and well on Friday. It was a very cold 27 degree morning and when I walked down to the boat I found a banana on every seat. Oh, oh, I wonder who did that says the guy in the photo who wouldn't look at me. Tim, Jim, and Mike had a couple of hours to fish before they had to catch a flight home and that wasn't enough time to overcome the banana jinx. Yup, we went fishless. I'm usually not a believer in bananas being bad luck, but this was the only fishless day all silver season. It was a nice streak while it lasted.
Being shut out was not how I wanted to end my season, so I was thankful Team Alpha Roofing and Construction fished with me on Saturday. We righted the wrong of having bananas in the boat and caught three quality silver salmon. Not a lot of action for the day, but the way the September run has been, we were thankful to catch what we did.

Next week, I'll be blogging once again, but it won't be a fishing report with clients. Time permitting, I hope to be fishing myself, but most likely it will be about winterizing our operation.

See you then.





Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Fishing Report Week Ending 9/22/19


And the beat goes on, and the beat goes on. La de da de de, la de da de da....

Thought I'd continue the music theme from last week's fishing report (ala Lawrence Welk). The beat definitely stayed the same this week. The fishing was never hot, but we managed to catch at least two fish every trip. As my dad would often say, "it could be worse".

Above is Gary with the first fish of the week.

And that's his son Jake ending the day with a fine Kenai silver salmon.

On Wednesday, Gary had the hot rod and caught these two.

The next day I guided was on Friday, and the action picked up for us. That's Jake and Gary in the front, and in the back is Lloyd and his daughter Kim. I think having four rods spread out helped find the seam that the fishing were running on.

On Saturday, it was just Lloyd and Kim in my boat. It was a long day, but we are able to fool these three fish into biting. See you guys again!

We went from a warm, wet day on Saturday, to the coldest temperatures of the year on Sunday morning. That's not frost on my boat seat covers, that's ice. Needless to say, it was a very chilly boat ride to start the day.
Even though the air temperature was cold, the fishing was decent. You may recognize the lady on the left. That's my wife Jane. On the right, is perennial Beaver Creek Cabins and Guide Service All-Star, Grant. He's been staying at the cabins since the Jahrig's built them, and fishing with me for nearly 20 years. Always great to spend time with you, and I can't wait to do it all over again.

It's hard to believe, but I'm getting close to the end of my guiding season. I'll be fishing nearly every day next week, and possibly into October. All I can say is I hope the run can hang on a little bit longer...

See you next week with a new fishing report.



Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service