Sunday, November 27, 2022

Celebrating Holy Massacre

 Gentle Readers:

On Friday, while we were still recovering from our Thanksgiving food stupor, Tommy, David, Isaac and your reporter joined Secret Skipper on a mission to see if we could extend our good luck with all  four of the Schmitt boys in action.  We had never had the full complement out for a night of hooping, but this year's fortune made the idea of filling five cards more than just a dream.  

Your narrator used up all of the turkey leftovers making sandwiches for this rare excursion about which Secret Skipper and I have fantasized for years as we have toiled away, mostly by ourselves, to throw back so many legal lobster these past few seasons, and most especially this one.

Isaac, who had been receiving our reports and invitations from the north, held the door open for  a chance to cash-in on the bold talk we engaged in during the invitational process that lured him away from  Haley's grandmother's house in LA to join his younger brothers on this often-planned-but-never-executed adventure.

Tommy and David, who only had swim practice for a couple of hours on Thanksgiving Day, had a 7 am 10 am pool workout and so were able to eat and then sleep on the way to Cabrillo Marina, where we would rendezvous with Skipper and Isaac.

We left Pedro at 1:30, with some fresh salmon carcasses and plans to load up on fresh sardines at the San Pedro Bait Barge, since we had used up our supply of frozen on the slaughter we have perpetrated on earlier trips so far this season.

We were disappointed to find the legendary Dreamer waiting for the seiner  Wolverine to deliver a fresh load of live bait (we only needed dead), as they scraped the boxes for the elusive fin bait that remained.

After about an hour of holding position in the wind, we watched as the Wolverine gradually tied up and helped Dreamer fill its tanks before allowing us to pull up and load our five gallon bucket with a scoop and a half of sardines for a hundred dollars.  We thanked them for their patience and decided to try a completely different island than the one that has produced limits without fail for the last 2 1/2 seasons.

We pointed into really calm seas and made the channel crossing at 30 miles an hour. David continued his nap on the velvety v-berth of backpacks and canvas to the lullaby of slapping ripples cleaved by our keel.

We had exactly enough bait to fill the bait cages, as Tommy and Isaac obeyed Skipper's instructions, which, in the tradition of old school chain of command, were delivered at knife-point.

We had a tiny slice of  a southern moon to work with, so we were optimistic that there would be sufficient darkness to cause our prey to walkabout in a parade of scavenging.  Skipper even broke out his secret bug spray, which we use to coat each stuffed bait cage with an odious slime further calculated to lure them into our little cafeterias of death from above.

We had our set completed at 4:30 pm, just as the Gale Force and Triton made their appearance at our location.  Neither of them were fishing our specific area and so once again we had the lee to ourselves.

Skipper of course wanted to start pulling hoops during daylight, as soon as the last float was away.  We kept trying to distract him long enough for night time to arrive, but we ended up "checking" on a few during what might generously be called dusk, with the orange yellow glow of the all-too-recent sunset still lighting up the island.  

We moved our 250, which was of course empty, to a more favorable looking spot and then molested a couple of the shallow drops to get them out a bit deeper.  We did note a few shorts in the shallows, which we decided to leave in so that others would see and join them, as these insects seem to love a crowd when feeding.

Isaac began to question our optimism and speculate that since we now had overstaffed our seagoing safari, that the animals might not come out to play in the way he was trying to suggest we had promised him with all of our enthusiasm for this reunion of wizards and apprentices.

We rolled out to the mid-rangers we had set in about 180 feet and started pulling about 45 minutes too early.

We had a big mountain to climb and so the tactic of a short soak the first time around was a bit of a gamble, as the first set is usually the best in terms of producing volume.  We once again debated the shop-worn topic of whether lobster leave a baited hoop once they get in (they definitely don't), as it is essential to support our impatient Skipper's My Pillow theory of premature ejection.   This nonsense is cover for the fact that Skipper simply cannot bear to leave lobster hoops on the bottom once he no longer has anything to do except pull them right back up again.

Despite all of this theory, the initial pull produced 6 legals and was the hoop of the night by a big margin.  Isaac became a believer.

We worked our way through a crawl that probably would have produced limits in two sets for all of us if we had any patience, but we kept yanking until we had 20 legal bugs on board after the first complete set.  Not bad by any standard.

The night just kept getting calmer as we watched Gale Force come over and start to pull on its set a mile or so away from us.

Isaac's doubt began to give way to cautious team spirit as he sampled the quality of our guests.  We moved through our first set with a pretty consistent harvest of mostly shorts with a few solid legals mixed in. 

 We proceeded to work through three sets, as the harvest slowed down to the point where we were pulling faster than they could cover the ground to get inside for the elevator ride up.  The shorts we were leaving inside to incite the crowd started to get in the way and fill us with false hope, so we started throwing back more of the shorts and leaving only a couple in each hoop to spread the good news.  We pulled a ratio that was probably 60/40 shorts to legals, with males constituting roughly one third of the keepers.  

At about 9:30 pm we had achieved the impossible dream of reaching   five full limits.  We averaged roughly one legal per pull.  Kipling once said "when it comes to slaughter, you will do your work on water," but I am not sure he was thinking of  the war on lobster.  
It sure makes me want to shout Gunga La Gunga. 
   We began to break down and stack the gear for Tommy's nest-of-canvas nap home at 30 mph on another silky ride to the green beacon of San Pedro light. 
                                                       
 We were at the dock by 11 pm, which is the latest we have arrived home in port during this ridiculous season of abundance.  We had a big crew for a fast clean up.  All of us shook hands in the parking lot to celebrate the first time we have all been together to both make the attempt and actually pull off the dream of full limits for five.

     Isaac took a sleeping Tommy home as he followed the hibernating David and I back down to San Juan, where we knew WendyJo would be anxious to throw down for another feast after hosting her family for Thanksgiving turkey 48 hours earlier.

The full crew of boys arranged themselves with our sad pets for the mandatory Lobster Life photo as the flags of a Grateful Nation and one of our pointing dogs gave witness.

Even Fred MacMurray would be jealous of me.

After the medieval wet work was done, we had a stack of candidates for  consumption.  
 
We were able to muster a group of losers who had no holiday plans to come over to help us consume another kill.

Our modest crowd of consumers politely waited their turn, just as we did at the bait barge, before getting down to the Om-nom-nomery that is our sound-track for celebrations of food, friends and family.


We hope that all of you are enjoying the last vestiges of family time and the aftermath of double-down gluttony from the safety of the NFL couch, or wherever this extended weekend may have taken you. 

May these times of good fortune remain with us as long  as the Deity sees fit, as we give thanks for our circumstances and never forget that
These are the Days.











Sunday, November 13, 2022

Fast Action on Big Bugs

 Saturday night Secret Skipper and I were able to persuade David to crew with us at Fantasy Island, which has just been so good to us in recent times.

We were coming off what we thought was the greatest crawl we had ever seen a couple of weeks ago and figured it would be hard to beat.

We knew we had a big moon, but it was not going to rise until 8. Darkness is getting serious these days by five thirty so we figured to have some time before any lunar grip started to influence the crawl.

We were on the heels of a hard rain, so the big ones might come out to march to the tune we were playing.

We left Pedro by 1:30 pm and had a very gentle ride over at 27 mph, with no real bumping.

We had an uneventful bait cutting and cage stuffing session and started to deploy gear by 4:30.  We found a nice set of stones in 175 feet and bracketed them on four sides in a tight square.

We spaced the 6 shallower hoops in ranges of 50 to 130 feet on some promising structure to wait for an hour of post sundown walk about. 

We noticed one of of our shallows was in too tight and went in to check it and re-set it.  When it came up, it had four shorts and a real nice legal.  We were on the board.

 While we were loitering, a really pretty Grady White 30 with a couple of knuckle-heads began maneuvering around our mid-rangers.  We were stunned when they dumped over a hoop right in the midst of our four buoys and then moved away.  It was an incredibly rude move.  We assumed that they thought we had a good spot that they just had to invade. Their hoop was lighter, their floats tinier and it just drifted around in our set.  We did not want to pull through their mess and decided to to let them pull first.  We watched them come over and try to figure out how to even get close.  They did a pretty good job of backing in among our buoys without chopping up our lines.  It was  an obvious party foul.  We asked them why they had come from a set that was close to 1,000 yards away to put one in the middle of our set.  Instead of just apologizing and getting out of there, they lamely tried to say that there were no buoys there when they made their set.  We just said that was bullshit, as we had watched them come over and set on top of our gear, which of course they knew was true, so they just got busy.  They ended up having to haul our buoy aboard and untangle their rope and light gear from our buoy before giving it back over the side.  They were scraping our other buoys as they carefully backed out and then just headed far away into the darkness, which we were certainly glad to see.  I got some pictures of them bumping our gear about, but I think that posting them would spoil our celebration of a pretty fun time.

The delay caused by their goonmanship probably helped us, because our mid-rangers had a bit more time to soak before we got busy.

We pulled on the first one and it felt heavy.  As it came up, there was a race-around of brown and an incredible haul came into view.  We had 14 bugs, 9 of which were real nice legals.  We now had ten bugs in two pulls.

We made our way through the rest of the gear and every hoop was holding big lobster, along with a lot of sub-legals, especially in the shallows.

The tank was filled with 2-3 pounders in record time. We had our limit in the seventh pull and started recovering gear before UCLA started the game they should not have lost. We took 18 pulls to complete all our activity, dump our bait and stack gear for a nice ride home. 

We threw back many legal lobster once again.  We were on the way home by 7:30 and tied up in Pedro an hour later, as the moon began to rise to the north.

Tommy and David paused for the Lobster Life photo before the cruel work of processing began.

It was as nice a grade of lobster as we ever get.


They gathered politely in the kitchen to await disassembly.


It was short, easy and stupidly fun.  We did not even get tired. I wish I could somehow bank what we returned to the sea, but life is not like that.

I have to get in one more shot of David on the best pull we have ever made in decades of doing this, because it is hard to see how it could get better. We just don't know how long this crawl we keep cashing in on is going to produce, but we do know that


These are the Days.




Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Lobtards

 Saturday night your narrator was once again invited by Secret Skipper to head out in search of the not-so-elusive California spiny lobster.

We were concerned that Saturday might produce a crowd, but we were buoyed by a weather forecast that called for brisk weather at our island destination.

Connor and Sarah begged out of another invite because they were throwing a Halloween party.  Tommy had been ill, needed to sleep and was forbidden by WendyJo from going on a boat (where he historically sleeps more than at any other venue). David had a big day planned into the afternoon at a pumpkin patch, so once again our potential crew was unavailable.  It would be just the two of us trying to find 14 bugs that were big enough to eat.

We skipped our usual load of live sardines and went with the frozen as we made our way to Pedro light and the gap in the breakwater.  

We were nearly intercepted by a pirate ship that was bearing down on us as we exited the Cabrillo Marina Channel.   The Captain got on a bullhorn and ordered us to hove to and surrender.

We turned down the radio and told him that if he expected us to stop, he would need to grow a pair - of outboards.  Then we saluted his vessel and gunned it to the west.

We hit a moderate amount of wind chop in the San Pedro Channel, so we were held to less than 20 mph on the way over.

Because of our relative success in the shallower sets over the last two-plus seasons, we decided to reduce the length of our two deepest 300 footers down to 100 feet by coiling and zip-tying 200 feet of it in a bundle on the counter-sunk side of the float.  It turned out the matted coil had so much buoyancy that we had to clip-in another hefty sinker get it to counter-sink so that the tag end would neither float nor drag down to the bottom.

We set three 200 footers at about 160-170 feet, one 250 footer at 189 and the 150 at about 120.

We put the other 5 at between 100 and 40 feet, so that we had a neat row of shallows and five more scattered on rocks in the mid-range.

The wind died down, but the current started flagging the countersinkers and eventually pegged the deep floats.  We got nervous about how they looked.  We tested one of the deeper hoops and found starfish in the mesh, so we were pretty sure our hoops were not lifting off the bottom.

We rolled into the shallows and started listening to college football on the radio, as we waited till dark like Audrey Hepburn. Nobody came out to join us and we had the island to ourselves.

We decided to start with one of 200 footers at around 7:15 with a crescent moon to the west, just above the silhouette of the island.  When we edged up to retrieve the float, we noted that the current was no longer roaring and the floats were not pegged.

Your narrator grabbed the buoy and fed the line through the Bagram as Skipper sampled the tension with his experienced grip.  "This one has got meat.  It feels really promising."  This was welcome news that I received cautiously, as the mid-rangers had been hitting pretty near the Mendoza line, just as the deepies had performed their way completely out of the lineup and into the shallows.

The meshed hoop came into view in the lights as we saw a scurry of brown movement.  The first pull produced five legal lobster, two of which were really large specimens.

The 250 came up blank and we got four more nice legals in the next three pulls.  This brought us to nine with five pulls left in our set, rolling into the 5 shallows that have recently been the most productive depth.  We were not disappointed, as we easily made our limit in nine pulls and then turned back out to recover gear, dump bait and then strip and stack it all neatly for the ride home.

As we celebrated on our retrieval, we threw back at least 20 legals and probably three dozen shorts in the stupidest crawl to which I have borne witness in over twenty years of hoop lobstering.

We were tied up and cleaning the boat in Pedro by 10 pm and I was home in San Juan Capistrano before midnight, which is a first for me on any daylight savings time run.

I made the fishing averse twins fulfill the "lobster life" growth chart photo, despite their very limited connection to the enterprise.  It pains the old guys that the next generation continues to miss opportunities to earn and learn during these halcyon days of crustaceanal carnage.

We had mostly females, but a couple of nice males, as they good naturedly dogpiled for slaughter in the sink.

The overall size was really excellent.

They all ended up stacked in anticipation of their starring role in our big production.

We called up the Howards, the Devaneys and the rest of our dependable lobster eating crew for a Sunday feast that featured salmon, ribeye, and a pile of bugs your reporter dared our guests to try to consume.  


It remains nice enough to dine outside in shirt sleeve weather on Halloween weekend.  Even cousin Andrea, who just happened by for a quick visit on her way back home from San Diego, was pressed into the fight against leftovers.

These are days of abundance in our local marine cycle.  This is currently a very healthy fishery that is not getting stomped on for the moment.  

Gather them while you may and share what you can snatch like a grasshopper from Poseidon's open palm, cuz 

These are the Days




Sunday, October 16, 2022

Lobstering around the Dodgers

Gentle Readers:

    Your reporter and Secret Skipper avoided investing any more time  watching the distraction of the greatest baseball team ever to get their asses handed to them by the San Diego Padres in major league baseball history.

We opted to take advantage of the rain to sneak over to Catalina for our first trip of this 2022 season.  Connor Devaney was supposed to come with us for his first foray into this fishery, but he expressed concern about the possibility of rain.  We assured him that it would not be that bad and that we would not think of him as being a sissy if he didn't come with us, even though he knew that we totally would.

As it turns out, he ended up in the hospital with something that could have made the trip a bad idea, so we let him off the hook, although we did stop by his hospital room to egg his window early in the morning after we got back.

It had been raining and the forecast, in combination with gas prices and the Dodger game, made for uncrowded prospects at the island of Romance.  We liked our chances.

We got a scoop of fabulously active sardines from Mike at San Pedro Bait Company around 1 pm.  We stopped on several paddies on the way over but got no love from the pelagics in 65 degree water.

In the lee of the island, we were treated with a spectacular assault on shoals of pinhead anchovy by voracious mackerel that we quickly tired of catching and releasing as we waited for darkness to ripen.

The rain had moved through the island and the wind was down.  The tide was falling as we prepped our gear and made ready to start dropping at 5:30 for a crawl that would not be starting until after a 6:30 sunset.  Daylight savings time lobster season is always a late start, but sometimes gives you shirt-sleeve weather, as it did on this becalmed evening.

We had a great combination of fresh sardines, frozen sardines and fresh salmon carcasses.  There was very little current and the counter weights hung vertically.

We made three deep sets in water over 200 feet deep, but these proved unproductive when we started to pull gear at 7:15.  It was as easy as it gets, with no wind or chop to make the buoys anything other than stationary targets. We got to park and pull instead of the sometimes aggressive motor jockeying that can be required to maintain position during gear hauling.

The three midrange pulls earned their keep with 4 legals to get us pocket money as we started rolling toward the 4 shallow sets.  We were very optimistic because these have been our most consistent performers and the recent rain was likely to get them walking from the run-off so close to their domain.

We were not disappointed. 75 feet was the depth for  the evening walk.  One of the shorts had 10 lobster, 5 of which were legals.  

Another had 10 with 3 legals.  None of them were particularly large, but we were already throwing back keeper lobster after 9 pulls.

By 8:20 pm we had matriculated into recovery mode, first hauling in and breaking down the expensive but labor intensive deep sets that performed like the Dodgers in producing nothing, despite their vaunted depth.

We were treated to periodic flashes of lightning above the mainland as we worked our way through dumping bait and stacking gear in the stern.  We had the area completely to ourselves during the very short time we needed to haul 19 pulls.  We listened to the mighty Trojans let Utah get the last touchdown and go for two.  Our radio reception made it hard to discern any defensive plays being transmitted during the broadcast.

When we got to the shallow sets, it was the same thing all over.  We had one with 13 in it, 5 of which were legals.  We threw one legal after another into the sea as we listened to the Dodgers blow a 3-0 lead.  I was so glad we were doing better than they were.

We arrived in Pedro at the tail end of a tiny little squall that made us put our rain gear back on as we cleaned up.

The tide was out, so the ramp was steep, but that is about the only thing I can conjure up for complaining.  We listed to the radio account of the Dodgers laying down their bats in the final inning like they were trying to inherit the Earth as we buttoned up the boat.  Their team and ours finished up about the same time.  Even with the money and youthful stardom pulsing at me from the Dodger airwaves, I was glad I was part of this crew and not theirs.

Your narrator was home by 1 am, which is as good as it gets for lobstering during daylight savings time.  The trip was stupid, easy and an enchanting alternative to so many other lamer things that I could have, and probably should have done.

We got the mandatory Lobster Life photo in before the boys went off to another lightning infested swim meet.

I guess it's time to root for the Padres, give thanks to Poseidon for delivering up to us again and keep in mind that

These are the days.



Sunday, October 2, 2022

Flossing the Kenai

 Gentle Readers:

I have repeatedly interrupted my longer than necessary historical interpretation of our Alaskan Adventure with Nike's Rangers in August because I keep going out to chase local fish.  My neighbors count on my disclosure of Dana Point fishing failure because they need to know where not to go in local waters on more of an emergency basis than my readers need another load of Alaskan fantasy.

Well too bad for all of you, as I am now resuming my look back at the freshwater experience we had with Zack Lloyd of Glacier Run Outfitters on the Kenai.  I will have to rely on my memory and overriding feelings about what should have happened on those watery adventures to spin this yarn.

We have discussed our ocean experiences with OFish'ial Charters out of Homer in earlier reports.  On some of the alternating days, we headed back up the highway to Soldatna to join Zack for the unique fishing experience of flossing for sockeye on the Kenai River.

This kind of fishing, explained in a prior post entitled "It's a Wild Northland," involves standing in waders in the unwarm water of the Kenai river with heavy fly gear while backhanding a weighted bare hook about ten feet upstream and relentlessly sweeping it back toward shore with the rod tip just above the surface once it gets about 30 degrees downstream.  If the line is drawn properly and an open-mouth salmon swims into the path of your line, the fish is hooked on the outside of its jaw, often at the extreme end of the rod sweep as the angler is awkwardly twisted back into a full downstream rotation.

The angler's all stand in relatively close proximity to one another in the coveted locations where the fish aggregate in the current before heading further upstream.  Each person is standing slightly over two rod lengths from the most adjacent angler at locations most impacted by the pressure of a consistent run.

This post will once again scramble the multiple mornings we spent, both in separate groups and all together, during several days of utilizing this technique to harvest sockeye salmon, which are the lifeblood of the Alaskan ecology.

Nike's fierce enthusiasm for this kind of fishing is reflected in the guide and time table she chose for us.  On the first day, after Ajax, Dionysus and Paris opted to sleep in, Nike, Penny, Isaac, Archimedes and your reporter took the early shift with our guide Zack at a marina slough a very short distance from the prized location where we would start our nocturnal wading.

After a night of  beverage-informed enthusiasm, the late start guys seemingly had the advantage of potentially getting a fair night's sleep. The volunteers for Nike's forced march piled into the van just after midnight to drive back up to Soldatna to make sure we could put on our headlamps and gear in Zack's river sled at 3:30 am.  We had to be the first ones to wade out into the current, taking cautious steps in the slippery darkness to stake our claim for a good spot, like bears.  Your reporter did not chance many photos in the dark, but did get a few in the emerging dawn.

On the highway, we encountered a  truck stopped in our lane with its engine compartment on fire.  The driver, who appeared to be a grown man, was on the phone with his mother, offering to take full responsibility for whatever had just happened to bring him to this unhappy situation.  It was one of the few times during our trip when it was not raining, which was bad luck for our motorist.  He had used up whatever liquid he had and the fire had swarmed back up in his opened engine compartment.  We used the entirety of our day's water and beer supply to douse the flames, while our nervous motorist scampered a short distance several times into the woods to complete undisclosed chores.

We got the fire out by the time we turned the scene over to the state trooper who fortunately responded rather quickly to this middle of nowhere spot.  We assured the officer that the empty beverage cans did not represent anything that the driver had consumed, although we privately discussed the strong possibility that he was influenced by the mysterious forces of chemistry before we came along.

Our  good deed for the day accomplished at an early stage of that day's activities, we proceeded to our rally point at a trailer-boat marina on the Kenai.  It was a very short boat ride to our spot on a bar where we stumbled out of the boat and cautiously edged out into our positions along the river while wearing headlamps and rain gear.


Setting out at 3 am on day two of the Kenai, Archy and Dionysus manage broader grins than your reporter at the momentary lack of rainfall.

We fished in the darkness for several hours, mostly to stake out the prime spot.  Other groups of anglers came along once it got closer to daylight.  The fish are even closer to shore in the dark and we were handcuffed by a few takers that were swimming right next to our boots.  

This year's sockeye run had been stupendous, so the  daily limit was raised to 6 fish. The last time we fished the Kenai, the limit was three and they did not taste as good as this year's run. An angler can also take silver salmon, for which the limit is two.  Many of the fish we actually hooked were pink salmon, which are generally considered less than prime and are released after a spirited  fight. 

The fish were in various states of their spawning changes, including this beautifully humped specimen (a pink) caught by your narrator and displayed by Zack before being released to pursue its suicidal mission to soldier upstream and ejaculate.

Getting photographs in the rainy rushing waters was a challenge, as a wet phone is easily lost in the slippery darkness. Dionysus discovered this early into our trip, resulting in his being deprived of his cell phone for the duration of our adventure.  This was a handicap he did manage to overcome, but it was certainly a lesson for all of us.  It tempers one's enthusiasm for fighting through rain gear to snap an action photo while trying to maintain balance, hold your fly rod in your mouth, find the button and get a shot of someone else catching a fish while trying not to step on a salmon carcass or trip over a snag.  Several anglers, including Nike, ended up falling into the river just trying to move around while fighting fish. 

Your narrator nearly went down at least a dozen times while slipping on carcasses washing downstream, backing into snags while fighting fish, or just trying to get into a good stance to brace against the current.  

Penny caught several fish, but periodically climbed back into the boat to give her numbed feet a chance to warm up so she could avoid falling in the cold waters. 


One never knows what is striking the hook until it is brought to bay.
In the photo above, Penny gives a smile from behind a monster salmon Isaac was there to photograph.  You can plainly see that this youthfully optimistic fish is as long as her arm, but Isaac released it anyway.

Penny did not fall, but Nike counted among the fallen because of her take no prisoners attitude in running about in the shallows to chase fish that try so hard to make the most of the short life they have left.

On the first day, we all did great in the morning and were rewarded for our early start and good samaritan highway work. Later in the morning, we grew thirsty as a result of our fire-fighting efforts, crying like British soldiers for Gunga Din.  One dared not sip from the waters we fished, as they were well seasoned with decaying salmon carcasses. The afternoon crew did not fare so well, causing Paris to question the value of standing in the rain for hours while catching nothing. He limited his remaining fishing activities to one ocean boat ride before fleeing for home midway into our trip when he found out we were going flossing again. He threw a rock through the front window with a note tied to it that read "Salmon flossing is bullshit" before hitch-hiking on the moose-meat wagon that makes its daily run to the Homer airport.

Paris and Penny in happier times on the ocean before he went AWOL

The morning fishing was fantastic, especially after the first few hours of standing in the dark and trying not to fall gave way to daylight.  Zack was kept busy running through the rapids with his net to harvest or release whatever the members of our group brought in. The species was not always ascertainable until the fish was in the net.  The fish often ran back behind the line of fisher folk, jumping and zig zagging along the line.

Our group was large, so the fearsome duo of Ajax and Dionysus were set up on our most upstream point of our picket line to scare away interlopers. Their  rods were both on fire, catching many fish at a point where the river took a bend above a fallen tree.

Because of the distance, Zack soon gave them one of his nets so that they could capture each other's fish, as he was worn down by having to run upcurrent so many times to snare their countless hookups. 

I was posted next to them and so got several pictures of their frothy hijinks after I cautiously retrieved my phone out of the flapped pocket of a fancy new Aftco rain jacket that proved to be less waterproof than I anticipated, as the constant rain eventually soaked through. Below, armed with the net Zack left for them, Ajax thunders through the extended shallows toward another of Jerry's victims.

Allow me to continue my bitter review of my outerwear, which I finally broke down and bought to replace a twenty-five year old faithful servant that was no longer keeping me dry.  The new jacket, misleadingly named the Hydronaut (Hydro Not?) fits great and has really cool pockets, but is more water-indifferent than water-proof.  I could not return it because I learned their policy is that all returns must come back unworn and with tags still attached. I did not see a lot of other guys wearing jackets with tags on the Kenai, so bad on me.  I intend to buy some waterproofing spray to enhance its ability to repel water, which is roughly on par with a former reality TV host's ability to leave top secret documents where they belong.

Penny brought a nice sockeye to Zack's waiting net before getting back into the boat to regain circulation in her feetNike and I both caught this moment in a crossfire of camera work.

While Penny was in the boat restoring circulation, she took this quality photo of Isaac with a nice silver, which I think are the best fighters.

Nike and Zack took a break after Zack's splashy charge through the shallows to capture another sockeye.

Zack displays another quality specimen. 

Isaac demonstrated the proper technique of backing toward the shoreline, arcing the rod toward land and leading his feisty victim upstream to Zack's waiting mesh.

Jerry tugged on one of the many fish that tried to take him under the horizontal tree that was his nemesis at that spot.  Ajax managed to dig it out to add to their pile.


Zack had to ferry Ajax and Dionysus back separately during daylight hours because their size exceeded his boat's capacity, which is not something anyone notices at night.

We all got back to the dock at the end of each morning to hang out and get some poses in with our  painstakingly arranged daily body count.

Isaac crouched next to our more careless pile from Day One.  Several of these fish bore large bite wounds from the gauntlet of seals at the mouth of the river.  Some of these did not seem survivable, but they made it as far as our spot on the river. Thus, their brave perseverance was ultimately futile.

Nike and Penny got in the mandatory girl-and-guide photo


Your reporter and Isaac snuck in a similar shot when Zack had his back turned at the cutting table.

Isaac and Nike cooled off in the misty rain while Zack continued to perform the wet work with the speed and precision of a samurai.

We felt like we had put in a long day when we left, but the truth was that we were done at 8:30 in the morning.  This afforded us the opportunity to have breakfast at Ginger's, which turned out to be one of my favorite places to eat on this trip.

The food was really good and the Rock-n-Roll decor was fabulous.  It is located in a deserted mall in Soldatna that is a throwback to another era.


The mall features dreamy artwork depicting the spirit and elements of the Alaskan ecology.


We usually stay away from eating what we catch on a fishing trip, preferring to eat land animals, such as the pig that used to own these ribs expertly prepared by Archimedes.  Many people do not realize that pigs can grow a new set of ribs faster than a lizard grows a new tail.
Nevertheless, Ajax did prepare a fabulously delicious meal for all of us from a silver that Penny caught and donated to the cause.
We enjoyed a few fun nights out, although on this occasion the table your reporter shared with Penny was invaded by a Kilroy-like intruder.


We made the most of our early morning finishes to walk about the town and check out all it has to offer

When the sun came out to start baking us, I even got the chance to buy my little boy an ice cream cone at the crude, yet appropriately  named Spit Licks creamery.
I still owe another Alaskan report about the Kasilof, as well as the tragic day of salmon trolling that occurred when Isaac and I were abandoned to the exploitation of flim-flam farmers from Minnesota, but I will leave this patient readership with the image of Nike and Penny demonstrating for social media how to consume alcohol and provoke a charge from a mother moose guarding its calf.  As even stupid animals know,

These are the Days