Sunday, February 18, 2018

A Well Loved Lure

In the winter, I spend time (too much sometimes) cleaning and maintaining my fishing gear for the up coming season. I'm a little obsessive about this. The underlying factor for my all consuming attention to detail is rooted in the core belief that I can't control what the fish will do, but I can control my equipment. If my gear fails, then I've failed you as a guide. I am not a fan of failure.

So, as I'm soaking and scrubbing off the sticky, sardine residue off of lures, I sort out the "swimmers" from the "non swimmers".

Huh? What the heck does that mean?

Well, within the fishing community that I belong to, a "swimmer" is a lure that catches fish. A "non swimmer" does not. It's pretty easy to tell the difference.

Here's a "swimmer."  Notice all the scratch marks on the tail end. This is from the teeth of countless salmon that couldn't resist the action of the lure.
Definitely a "non swimmer." This lure was fished on multiple trips and it looks like it's brand new. Since I don't want this lure in my 2018 line up, it was separated from the "swimmers" and put in box of gear which will be sold at a garage sale to be held at a later date (some day, Jane, I promise). Here's a bit of advice for you, reader of the blog: don't be tempted to buy slightly used fishing lures at a garage sale or Ebay. Most likely it's someone trying to get rid of unproductive lures. Just sayin', wink, wink....
A final bit of advice I'll leave with you about lures. If you're on a guided fishing trip and you get to choose, always grab the lure that has the most teeth marks and the most paint missing. Not to say a lure that is being fished for the first time won't be effective, but why not start with one that has a proven track record. A well loved lure is hard to beat

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Ice Fishing: Elephant Lake

About a fifteen minute drive from Beaver Creek lies Elephant Lake. If you want to know how the name was chosen, it's pretty easy to figure this out when you look at the outline of the lake on a map. If Rorshach tests aren't your thing, I'll give you a hint: the elephant trunk is the south end of the lake.

This beautiful, little lake is 340 acres and is stocked by ADFG with rainbow trout, arctic char, coho (kokanee), and steelhead. I've fished this lake in the summer many times, but I've never ice fished there. That changed last week.
My original plan was to fish it alone, but after talking with a couple of buddies of mine, we put together a nice little crew. With kids, dogs, and snowmobiles in tow, this would be a great day, fish or no fish.
How was it? Well, we did catch and release a couple of fish. Here's Boo with his son Oliver and a nice Elephant Lake rainbow trout. An 18" arctic char was also caught, but it was released before I could capture the moment on my iPhone.

Was I disappointed with the fishing? No, not at all. It's been better for me by boat, but getting outside with friends made it a worthwhile day.   
Elephant Lake wasn't the only place I ice fished last week. I decided to go to an old favorite, Sport Lake. I met up with my neighbors, Rusty, Evelyn, and everyone's favorite beagle, Lilly, and it was an afternoon of non stop rainbow trout/kokanee action. As Evelyn says, "I like to catch, not fish" and Sport Lake is perfect for that.
Here's Lilly letting me know that there's fish down this hole.
The portable ice fishing house was set up on this day just in case it got too cold. With temperatures in the mid 20's, it was barely used.
My guide/coach Lilly letting me know I was jigging all wrong....

All in all, in a couple of hours we probably released 60 rainbow trout and kokanee. Nothing larger than 12", but still, not a bad way to spend a winter day.

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Celestial Happenings

photo credit:
I was excited this past week when the local news report said that on January 31st, Alaska would be one of the best places to see the lunar event known as the Super Blue Blood Moon. This happens when the moon is at it's closest point to earth (super moon), along with two full moons in the same month (blue moon), which is then coupled with a lunar eclipse (blood moon). The reason why Alaska is one of the better viewing areas, is because we are dark during the whole event. My favorite local television meteorologist, Jackie Purcell, said to be awake from 2:30am until 6:00am to see the entire eclipse. The best viewing would be at 4:30am. Her forecast called for clear skies throughout South Central Alaska. Right then and there I decided that would be the time I would get up.

I was eager to see this. Last fall I felt like I was robbed when most of the lower 48 got to see an incredible solar eclipse. This Super Blue Blood Moon would be the event I could tell all my friends I got to see and it would be awesome. And, if they didn't believe me I could show them all the cool photos I took on my iPhone.

The alarm went off and I immediately went to the windows on the west side of the house with iPhone in hand. I could see moon shadows and the outline of trees in our backyard. Oh yeah! I looked straight west. No moon. I looked overhead for stars. No stars. Crap. Clouds. Robbed again. So much for the clear sky forecast for Kenai, Jackie. Thanks for nothing.

Sure, I was disappointed but there is a bright side to this. The previous Super Blue Blood Moon occurred 152 years ago. Thankfully, I only have to wait 10 years before I'll have the chance to see the next one.

Okay Copernicus, this little story is all fine and dandy, but are you going to write about fishing anymore?

Yes. I promise next week I will. In fact, it will be about ice fishing at a local lake.

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Thursday, January 25, 2018


At 12:32 a.m. on 1/23/18 my sleep was interrupted by the familiar movement of an earthquake. After the huge temblor I experienced two years ago, any little shifting of the earth makes me think it could easily morph into something much, much bigger. In other words, I was not comfortable when the house slowly started to shake.

Fortunately, the duration of this earthquake was short-lived. My relief did not last long when an emergency alert chimed on my phone warning of an impending tsunami. As instructed, I listened to local news and noted the tsunami forecasts for coastal Alaska and British Columbia. After several landfalls came and went with no appreciable change in wave heights (the most was less than 6” in Kodiak) the tsunami alert was cancelled. Whew. That was lucky. 

Needless to say, I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep Tuesday. One thing I thought about was the ice conditions on Beaver Creek. Did the quake affect it? As soon as the sun came out I walked down the dock to check it out. No change upstream. 

No change down stream. If you are wondering about the large chunks of ice, that is normal. That’s just how a tidal river/creek freezes. 

If there is a silver lining to this event it’s that our federal and state government have put in place an effective, coordinated emergency alert system. My fingers are crossed that the post tsunami plan is just as effective as the pre tsunami plan. I hope I never have to find out. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Smoking Salmon, A Twist On An Old Recipe

The big smoker. It can handle 10 salmon at a time.
I've been smoking salmon for decades, and quite frankly, I don't appreciate it like I use to. Sure, it's hard to beat when it's hot out of the smoker, but after that I really don't eat much of it. Maybe it's a case of too much of a good thing.

The little "Big Chief" smoker. 
That all changed last October when I experimented with the brine I've been using for over thirty years.

Perfect size to smoke 1-2 salmon at a time.

My basic brine recipe can be found here. The new twist happens in the last hour of smoking and all you do is add two simple ingredients: honey and cracked black pepper. With an hour to go, take your fillets out of the smoker and liberally brush honey over them. Next, use fresh, cracked black pepper and sprinkle on a healthy dose. Put the fish back in the smoker and in an hour they will be done. Deeleesh.
I, once again, have become a fan of smoked salmon.

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Sunday, January 14, 2018

.....Looking Forward To 2018

This is my goal for 2018.

I know it doesn't carry the same weight as giving away a car, but for me this means everything. It doesn't always happen this way, but that is my goal every single fishing trip: you get a salmon, and you get a salmon, and you get a salmon....

So, what's the realistic expectation for 2018?

I think the king salmon run will continue the trend of going up, but still below the historic peak. I'm expecting ADFG to confirm my hunch in the not so distant future.

How about the red run? I reported earlier ADFG's projection for 2018. I think it will be average/to below average at best. Timing will be everything.

What about the silver run? Usually, on an even year, the silver run is stronger than on an odd year. Of course, the operative word is "usually". 2017 was a very good year so I expect 2018 to be even better.

Finally, the prediction that all of you've all been waiting for: the humpy (pink) forecast. The last run on the Kenai was down, but what returned was huge. How huge? Well, the state record humpy was broken twice in the same day. You read that right, twice in the same day! I will step out on a limb and predict that the record will not be broken again in 2018. What I do expect is the normal 3-4 week "hump fest" and my back and arms will be working in over drive. Get ready to turn the volume up to 11.

Well, that's it. That is my forecast on a cold winter day. Clearly, Oprah and I like what we see for the Kenai River in 2018.

Edit: This article was written before the Golden Globes. There are no political endorsements, expressed or implied.

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Looking Back on 2017.....

January is the beginning of the awards season and, we, here at Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service Command Central, are no different in honoring the participants of the 2017 fishing season. Sure, I'll be using photos of fish that made their way to the grill or freezer, but I also want to highlight the many anglers who chose to release fish. I wish I had more photos, but when I know we're going to release one, I waste little time in getting the fish out of the net and back into the river. Snapping a photo with my phone is an afterthought (I appreciate the people who shared their catch and release photos with me). So, to you, catch and release anglers, I tip my hat and give to you the High Five award for Stewardship. In the immortal words of Bobby Boucher, aka The Waterboy, "slap hands, slap hands, slap hands..."
The first award of the 2017 season is for the Biggest King Salmon. Congratulations Glenda Kunde for being the winner. Sorry, Coon Dog, your wife, (and this fish), is the Big Dog in your house. When I look back on this day of fishing I really think it was meant to be. You see, Glenda and I went to high school together so I think the combination of a shared history, a positive attitude, skill, and the "Warrior Way" put this fish in the box. I don't think Craig will completely agree with this assessment but he's not the guy writing this blog and giving out the awards....Anyway, this was the first trip to Alaska for the Kunde's and their friends the Marlatt's. Do you think it will be their last? Me neither.

The next honor is the Big Silver Salmon award. This years winner is Jason Olson. Jason and I have fished together many times over the years and have experienced great fishing and not so great fishing. We've also experienced all the weather that Alaska can dish out. This day was memorable for two reasons. The first, it was cold, wet and miserable. The second, the fishing was awful up until the last hour of the day. Jason's can-do attitude paid off with this jumbo silver salmon (I'd be neglect if I didn't say that on this day Bill, Brian, and Bob had the same can-do attitude as well). I guess a kid from Fargo knows a thing or two about not letting weather get you down...

The person who wins the award for the Most Experienced Angler is Gene Miller. Gene, Gene the Fishing Machine is 85 years young (now 86) and brings a Zen like quality of positiveness to the boat every time he's out. He's already booked his seat for the 2018 fishing season and my money is on him to repeat this honor once again. Can't wait to see you in July, Gene.

Winner of the Youngest Angler of the Year award goes to JD Webb. This young man was 7 years old when he hopped into my boat this past August. A crummy weather day soon became a very memorable fishing day. The final score: JD 1, the seals 0.

Usually with awards presentations there are Memoriams. It's always sad to see which actor, writer, athlete, quasi celebrity, etc., left us during the year. For me, my very creative, funny, loving, mother-
in-law passed away on December 19th. If you click here you can read a couple of blogpost I wrote about her. A more detailed description about her life accomplishments can be read here. You will be missed, dear Evelyn! I also said good bye to my cousin Renee who bravely lost her battle with cancer. You too will be missed by all that loved you.

Evelyn Matthies at her studio
So, that's it for the 2017 awards; short, sweet, and on point. Next week my blog topic will be about my expectations/predictions for 2018. Come back and see if I have anything important to say.

The music is starting to play me off.

My time is done here. Later.

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service