Alaska 2008 would mark our 25th Wedding Anniversary.
We shared the first week with our friends April & Dave, and with our son Jeff and his friend Jessica.
Our trip began with a ridiculous first few hours.
After landing at 11:00PM, we realized that our halibut charter was scheduled for 5:00AM the next morning, a mere 6 hours from touch down. However, before we arrived at the boat we needed to catch a cab to the house, fix a flat tire which was on the truck when we arrived, find a place open to get fishing licenses, go grocery shopping, put together the fishing gear, pack a lunch and then drive an hour to get to Ninilchik to get on the boat.
Wasn't great planning!
But we made it.
Fishing was brisk and brief with about 20 fish on board in the first hour and a half of fishing.
Once the limits were filled, everyone was happy to head back to shore...
We would have some fun taking photos of a 35 pounder so it would look like a 200 pounder...
I am not sure, but I think ours might be a little bigger...We would all get a good laugh emailing the picture to all of our guests that were showing up during the second week.
The poor guys were chomping at the bit waiting to catch the big ones!
On the way home from Ninilchik, Jessica would officially join Dave and Jeff's - "I don't do halibut anymore Club"... before heading out to grab a little lunch at Jersey Subs and then everyone was up for well over due nap.
It was now time to fish salmon and the salmon fishing was tough!
All arm chair salmon fisherman knows that when the salmon fishing gets tough it is due 15% to having lousy equipment...due 10% to improper technique...and 75% due to the fish not being in the river.
With good equipment and sound technique it had to be the fish.
We would discover the salmon runs were several weeks late as Alaska was hit by a record rainfall and the coldest summer since 1917.
So when fishing is lousy...you have a few choices: you can take time to eat, catch up on your sleep, complain about the fishing, have a few beers, search for the fish, or go out and get some exercise.
Carlee and April decided to participate in a 10 mile run for charity, while Dave & Jeff had a beer and complained.
The run went from Kenai to Soldotna along the Kenai Spur Highway.
The girls had a blast.
The morning newspaper would recognize April's 4th overall finish, yep she beat all but a couple of the men. They would also honor Carlee's finish, a mere 10 seconds behind April. The paper would report how Carlee too beat most of the male competitors. The newspaper would forget to mention that Carlee was following April on her bicycle for fun!
One of the highlights of our Alaska trips are the dinners. Everyone take turns making dinner on one night of the stay.
This was Jeff & Jessica's night..
We would fish salmon hard for the next six days. Our typical day could be 10 or 12 hours of fishing, 2 or 3 hours of eating, 4 or 5 hours Fred Meyers, Soldotna Hardware, looking at fish counts, and if time permitted we'd get a couple hours of sleep.
We would try the Kasilof for sockeye...but had to be wary of a grumpy three legged bear sow with cubs...
We'd spend countless hours on the Kenai...
...battle rush hour traffic...
...all in the effort to catch the elusive Kenai River King Salmon.
We even resorted to floating the river on the day you can't run motor boats.
After a couple of missed strikes, Carlee would be the first to catch a King...
...when she landed this beautiful 30# female.
The fresh salmon would be celebrated with the traditional Soldotna sushi night.
Jessica would pioneer more new ground eating both fish for the first time, moreover, eating raw fish. She was a good sport!
A day later, Jeff would hook a nice fish and Dave would assume the role of boat pilot.
The fish managed to tangle itself in at least four other angler's lines as we brought it along side of the boat to measure.
After a short 20 minute fight, full of laughs, we would land this 50# King male as well as half of the tackle of everyone else fishing the river.
Had the fish been 1/4 inch longer we would have been required to let it go.
During the week we would hit old favorites...
The wood carving park...
...check out the goofy hats at Farmer's Market...
...celebrate Jessica's birthday at Suzie's....
...and head over to the Harley dealership for T-shirts.
On the way to the Harley dealership, Dave would finally get a fish.
Unfortunately, it was only a Swedish gummy fish!
To get skunked in Alaska is tough...
it's even tougher that as we would say good bye to Dave and April and drop them at the airport, 68,000 sockeye would swim up the river about an hour after they left.
It was the highest single day Sockeye count in history of the river.
We hit them hard!
Any good salmon fisherman knows that successful salmon fishing is the 100% result of having a dedicated and proficient guide...
and suddenly this guide was on a hot streak and knew what he was doing!
Jessica would break even more new ground, catching her first fish all by herself.
Once the sockeye was on the shore, it was time for Jessica to knock it on the head...so it would not suffer.
More new ground?
well, sort of!
She would close her eyes and swang randomly for the fish...
...it reminded us all of the awkward kid swinging for candy at a piņata party. It was hilarious.
Jessica's would scream as her fish finally meet its demise, when Jeff whacked it!
We all had a good laugh and then slapped high fives.
Jessica had proven she could hold her own on the river.
After that day of exceptional fishing, it was time to say good bye to Jeff and Jessica (the raw salmon eating "fish killer").
While we packed the truck and put together a snack for their flight, Jeff would slip down to the dock and nail one last sockeye in his traveling duds!
"Hey dad...would you clean this fish?"
Family week was officially over and soon Billy Bland would arrive...which meant boy's week was on.
As Carlee would take off...
Rob would fly in from Minnesota...
...followed by Bob and Scott.
The sockeye fishing would be a mixed bag.
Any good salmon fisherman knows that if three guys are nailing the heck out of fish while they stand next to you on the dock and you are not catching anything...
it's gotta be 100% due to the lack of proficiency of your guide... or so Bob and Scott would tell you...
In July, the Kenai sun sets around 1:00 AM and rises about an hour later. It provides ample opportunity to catch fish or to not catch fish and just stand there frustrated while you are trying.
After several days of sun up to sun up fishing, Scott would finally catch a nice sockeye, but Bob would remain shut out.
Ever determined, Bob would finally hook one only to watch it swim away when Scott fell into the river trying to net it for him.
Finally, Bob would hit his first sockeye, followed by several more.
They finally had the monkey off their back.
Fishing during boys week would be quite productive as we sent 6 boxes of fish home with the boys, and 13 total boxes of fish would go home with our guests.
Bob would leave his laptop behind, so we over-nighted it to his office. Because we're such good guys and could not find any of those styrofoam peanuts to pack his box, Bill would substitute dirty magazines and underpants which Bob really appreciated.
As the week drew to an end, Bill and I would close up the house...
...pack up the gear and then head back home.
Toss me back to the fishing page