Sunday, January 27, 2019

Kenai Profiles: George French

Since I started this blog, I've periodically profiled people who've made a lasting impression on me. This post is devoted to my friend, George French.

I first met George in 2005. It was an introduction I'll never forget. It went something like this:

George: "I'm from LA."
Keith: "You have a southern accent...LA?"
George: "Yes. LA. Well, lower Alabama."
Keith: "Lower Alabama?"
George: "Well, Florida. Chipley Florida to be exact."

Thus began my relationship with George French.
The year of the "raise your right hand" stickers
There are too many stories/observations to tell about George, so I'll boil it down to just a few. Afterall, this is a blog and not a biography....

There are a few rules that need to be followed in my boat; most are mandated by the Coast Guard, but there's only one rule I've adopted that came from a client. If you guess it came from George, you would be correct. Fisherman tend to tell stories, and if you tell enough of them you start to repeat yourself. The Rule of George is this: if the story being told is a repeat, you raise your right hand. If the majority of the people in the boat raise their hand, you have to stop telling the story. The Rule of George is politely effective, and mildly amusing for other boats on the river who see hands being raised all day long.
I always laugh a little when people tell me their trip to Alaska is a trip of lifetime. It usually isn't. Since his first "trip of a lifetime" in 2005, George has been back to Alaska in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, and twice in 2018 (one trip he accompanied me on the AlCan Hwy, the other to fish). Each time he has brought colleagues, friends, or family to share the Alaska experience.
In 2008, George came to Alaska with his son-in-law, his son-in-law's father, and his grandson Riley, who is in the photo above with George. The fishing was good and memorable, but what cemented my relationship with George is he happened to be in my boat when I received the news that my father had passed away. His kindness and understanding have not been forgotten. I'm sure these same qualities served him well as coach, teacher, counselor, and principal in Chipley.
I had to include this photo from 2016 for two reasons. One, that's a big fish, and 2) Riley has grown a lot since his previous visit in 2008. 

When you live in a northern climate, it's always good to know people from the south. I think George feels sorry for us because the last few winters he's sent us freshly picked lemons (and bay leaves) from his backyard in LA.  Not sure if he's just rubbing it in (probably), but we sure do appreciate the gift. One of these days we'll have to come pick our own...

I'll end this post by saying this, George is much more than a client of ours. He's a good friend. He always finds time to give us a call to talk about the weather, fishing, or how Phil Mickelson is doing in a tournament. If you stay on schedule, Jane and I look forward to seeing you on your next "trip of a lifetime" in 2020. See you then.

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Sunday, January 20, 2019

When’s The Best Time To Come To Alaska?

Certainly, this is one of the questions Jane and I are asked the most. Our simple answer to the question, when is the best time to visit Alaska, is....wait for it....anytime you can get here!
However, answers to the following questions will help determine your best fit.
Is your vacation about catching fish? What kind of salmon are you after? Do you like crowds?
Is your trip about filling up a cooler with fillets to bring home? Is it about catching a trophy? Is it about an experience on the water?
Are you okay with cold temperatures? What about rain?
Do you want to sight see? Do you want to hike?
How long are you visiting? Are you traveling solo, with the guys, the girls, your parents, your wife, husband, or children?
It's a fact that there is no perfect time to visit Alaska. Any given time period will have something that is good, bad, and ugly. Knowing that in advance is key to your preparation.
Give us a call, or an email, anytime and we'd be happy to sort through options to find your best possible experience in Alaska.

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Saturday, January 12, 2019

2019 UCI Sockeye Forecast

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) has released the 2019 Upper Cook Inlet (UCI)  sockeye (red) salmon forecast. Details can be found here.  To summarize, ADFG believes 6 million sockeye will return to UCI, with 3.8 million returning to the Kenai. This is considerably more than last year's Kenai forecast and 200,000 fish greater than the 20 year average.
This is good news for the sockeye fishery, but expecations should be tempered based on the fact that this is a forecast. Time will tell how accurate this estimate will be. In the meantime, it's okay to be patching any leaks you may have in your waders, and sharpening your hooks...

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Saturday, January 5, 2019


After a little break from blogging, I’m ready to get after it in 2019. The first topic of the year has to do with a Christmas gift my Uncle Mark gave me, All Fishermen Are Liars by John Gierach.

books of Christmas past
As far back as my freshman year in college, Uncle Mark has given me mostly philosophical books that examine fly fishing and life (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was the exception). They've all been good reads and I’ve enjoyed them all. 

This year’s book title piqued my curiosity and introspection, All Fishermen Are Liars.

Are we?

The answer is yes and no. Maybe, maybe is the better answer.

Perhaps Jane's observation years ago best described fisherman. She was new to the world of fishing and really hadn't been around fisherman until she met me. It didn't take her long to observe that most fisherman do not outright lie, but rather they/we "lie by omission.”

Want an example? Here’s a couple of conversations between fisherman who don’t understand this and those that do. I’ll  set the scene: it’s mid August on the Kenai River and even though there’s a run of pink salmon happening, anglers are targeting the more desired fish, silver salmon. 

Naive Fisherman. "How’s fishing?"
Fisherman. "Pretty good."
Naive Fisherman. "How many did you catch." 
Fisherman.  "Ten." 
Naive Fisherman. "Wow. That is good." 

Here’s the same conversation with someone who understands another fisherman. 

Wily Fisherman. "How’s fishing?"
Fisherman. "Pretty good." 
Wily Fisherman. "How many did you catch?"
Fisherman.  "Ten."
Wily Fisherman.  "Wow.  That is good. What kind were they?"
Fisherman. "Umm, pink salmon." 
Wily Fisherman.  "Did you catch any silver salmon?"
Fisherman.  "Nope. We had a couple on." 

See the difference?  The first example the questioner assumes ten silver salmon were caught and let the conversation end there. In the second example the questioner assumes that fisherman lie by omission and a couple of follow up questions led to the real truth about fishing. Smart/wily fisherman use this knowledge to their advantage. 

Let me just end this post by saying this: I try really hard to be brutally honest when I’m reporting on fishing. Not everyday is the "best day ever" and managing expectations is my goal. It’s a cliche, but honesty is still the best policy.  But, it wouldn’t hurt to ask a few follow up questions when asking me how the fishing was...just sayin’.