Saturday, October 29, 2011

Homer 10/28/11 No fish! But crazy as always!

So I leave the house at 5:30am.  It's definitely getting colder!

But the roads are dry so no problem...I thought!  After I cross the twenty mile river bridge, my car starts wobbling.  At first I thought it was the wind.  But no, its different.  Do I have a flat?  No...then what the heck could it be?  Then i see a thick bank of fog.  OH DEAR's BLACK ICE!  If you know the Whittier turn off, you know the lanes are divided there.  I hit the brakes knowing I have my trusty anti lock brakes and...NOTHING!  The car didn't slow down one little bit.  After about 100 yards I would guess, I have it down to 35 mph.  I am IMPRESSED with the Civic Si's traction control.  Well too impressed, that's what let me drive so fast on black ice in the first place!

As the lanes divide, there is NO WAY I am going to make the corner.  So do I slam into the poles and signs in the divider and risk impaling myself on a post?  I don't rally care about the car at this point.  I have time so I look ahead and nothing is coming, I turn the wheel slightly to the left and I take the corner in the wrong lane!  I'm driving south....One life down...eight left...

NOT good.  But I make it.  I pull over check the road and it is a skating rink.  After regaining my composure, I head back down the road going abot 25mph.  I don't make it more than 400 yards when i come across a truck in the ditch with headlights on and still running.

I jump out holler a few times and then dial 911.  The operator said they were talking to the driver who had been picked up a few minutes earlier.  I did see vehicles parked at a parking pull off earlier.  I hope he is alright.

As soon we get off turnagain arm, the roads are fine.  Well the roads are fine but once I hit Ninilchik, a cow moose jumps in front of me.  By the time I hit my brakes, the moose was behind me.  2 lives down, 7 left.

Oh yeah, this is a fishing log.  Well that's simple, I started at 11:00am finished at 5;30pm and caught NOTHING...well two pollock but that doesn't count.

I had one good take down but it didn't stick the fish.  I thought the consolation was that I spoke with 6 boats and only one boat had one fish.  Okay, it's slow for everyone.  Then I get in my car and check my email.  Klondike Kid from Alaska Outdoor Journal emails me and says, I guess you didn't go today.  My buddy Shane hammered two nice ones at the quart of gas hole (where I was fishing).  WHAT?!?!?!?!  No way!  Well he had the pics to prove it. I did see a boat out there by itself after I left that area and was headed in.

So the video for today is merely a boring video of the conditions.  The wide angle gopro lens does not do the wave size justice.  As an example here is a pic I took with the iphone.  The point being is that I consider this fairly flat.  Flat enough to take my beloved iphone out of its water proof bag.

Here' the vid.  Once again there isn't much to see.  But i know there are folks who are intrested in the type of conditions a yak can handle.  While fun, I wasn't at all concerned.  This was fairly normal water when we were fishing Deep Creek area in the spring.

While I didn't get any salmon, I did manage three snowshoe hares.  Unfortunately it was with my car... there sure are a lot fo them this year!  Sorry bunnies.....

So today was a day to bank the hours.  It just means the next fish will come that much faster.  Got to keep at it!  I'll be back!!!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Homer Feeder Kings - Day2!

So I set my alarm planning to hit the middle Kenai River. Because of that, I had my outback with me.  Good thing!  As I started rolling down the road, slowly but surely I convinced myself that I would drive the extra hours and hit the Kings in Homer.  How could I not after yesterday's limit!

I get down late and start around 11am.  A few boats are hooking up but both fish and bait are a lot sparser than yesterday.  I lose one fish in the first two hours and then nothing for the next three hours except Pollock until I hook the fish I eventually land.  The guys in the inflatable I mentioned yesterday were HAMMERING fish.  It was an impressive show of fish catching for sure.  I think the guy even said he was working on his proxy fish.

Toward the end of the day, I screw up and somehow my line wraps around the spectra downrigger line.  I pull it up and its all frayed up.  No problem, I always carry a spare.  Except my spare is a stiff fast action jigging rod loaded with braided line.  Absolutely terrible for down rigging applications.  As I was switching gear out, I drifted towards shore and into 40 feet of water.  All of the sudden my sonar starts beeping (fish alarm) and my screen goes black.  Whaaa? I even turn it off once.  Same deal.  Then as I clear the bait ball, I see fish everywhere.  I even switch over to non fish ID and I see a bunch of classic arches.  MOTHERLOAD!  So I finally rig up and make passes over the spot with my jigging rod and braided line.  three or four times the line pops out of the release and NOTHING.  Hmmm...last pass the line just starts screaming out.  Okay, this is a fish!!!!!  As I reel in my downrigger, something is wrong.  I first thought the downrigger drag was loose, but somehow I lost my ball.  Dang clips, I know not to trust them.  That's okay, I have decided 6 pounds is too light so I am going to start using my 8 pound weights.

I get it to the boat in short order, I look down and the hook pulls out and the line goes slack...for an instant!  HEART ATTACK!  The trailing hook lines the fish perfectly and I am back battling it again.  LUCKY BREAK #1!  Finally to net, the fish is over the net but somehow screams out.  I can't believe the hooks didn't catch the net! LUCKY BREAK #2.  I land it and its 34 inches so probably around 25 pounds!  And to add to another was a white king!  My first one ever!

Of course as always, things are not always as easy as they seem.  I got lucky yesterday going two for two.  If it was that easy, I am sure there would be an armada of boats just scooping the kings up out of the Bay.  It would be selling all of the charter captain's and people who have put in their time here short if I could just waltz in and think I could just keep hammering limits.  So what are the lessons I learned today?

1) Perseverance pays off more often than not!  If you read my logs, you know I say it over and over again.  I'm not necessarily a good fisherman..I'm just stubborn and persistent!  The fish I landed came as I was typing an email to someone that one more hour and I am done...and I was already an hour past when I really wanted to get off the water but just couldn't do it.

2) Braided line does not work to well with downriggers.  First the thin line doesn't stay put.  Homer Dave gave me a great tip and said break a toothpick and put it in front of the line.  But the other bad thing is with no stretch, you don't get the cushioning action when the line releases.  So from here on out, its mono for all downrigging applications!

3) I've heard Steve the shrimp pot guy say it a lot but those longline clips don't hold all the time.  I lost my downrigger ball somehow.  Going to make it more permanent of an attachement.

4) 6lbs weight isn't enough.  Too much blowback with big flashers and trolling 2knts plus.

5) A disadvantage of the kayak in this application is that I am trolling slower than others so I catch more pollock and cod than the power boats.  Not sure what to do about this.  Get in better shape or just suck it up and be happy I am catching something.

6) I definitely need to get new gear that is better suited for downrigging.  Softer action, longer rod so i can take up slack better.  I may use my flyrods but that means I need to get a different rod holder.  Need to think about this a bit.

7) I have to figure out a lens cleaning system.  I wear only wool or polypro on the water so I have nothing that can clean off water from my lens!

Met Homer Dave and Muttley Crew from the forums.  It was nice meeting yo guys!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Homer Feeder Kings 10/22/2011

For the first time EVER, I try feeder kings out of Homer.  I had gotten intel from various sources that tell me the Kings are close to the spit.  Sources say troll from Land's End Hotel out to the Green Buoy.

So is it winter yet?  I guess not.  I think even here in Alaska they consider October as late autumn.  When is winter?  Officially its Dec 21.  But this is Alaska.  I think November is considered winter here.  So I can't claim to have caught a winter king yet.  But this year I have caught a Spring King (May), Summer king (July), now a fall King in October!  Only one more season to go!

But with the recent weather, I dress for winter fearing the worst.  Check the forecast and its only calling for one footers.  Really?  This time of year?  I had been SUPER excited about trying Kings in the winter time.  My imagination probably got the better part of me and I was thinking it might be my version of the Deadliest Catch but with a kayak and Kings instead of crab.

So I arrive in Homer and I stare across the water in disbelief.  Maybe I missed the ocean somehow because this looks a LOT more like a lake.  I have to say it was probably the first time EVER that I was just a little disappointed that the conditions were so good.  I had psyched myself up for a rodeo in 3 to 5 foot swells with snow falling around me.  Instead I got perfectly flat, calm, and sunny.  I definitely had too many layers of clothes on!  Oh well, they say you should dress for immersion in the water and not the air temperature.  That's good advice for anyone thinking about kayak fishing.

I pass a 14 or so foot inflatable and chat with the folks.  They had landed two nice kings early.  They took a picture of me and my kayak as proof to the people who had said they were crazy for trying this in their inflatable that there were other people who had fish fever worse!  lol.

So I start fishing in 65 to 120 feet of water trying to stay in the bottom 25% of the water column.  Don't see much bait so I peddled out toward the birds.  How do the birds know there is bait 100 feet down?  Amazing.  As soon as I see bait on the sonar I am hooked up!  OH YEAH!  First fish ever on my new downrigger set up.  It's's not's a cod.  Well at least I caught something.

About an hour later I start marking some bait.  I immediately get hit!  FISH ON!!!!'s not very big...but it's's a KING! A tiny one...maybe 5 or 6 pounds max.  Well the feeder kings I caught this spring were awesome so I decided to keep it.  Besides, I might not catch anything else and I drove 8 hours!  Had to bring something back...or so the thought process went.

10 minutes later my line pops out of the downrigger and its FISH ON!  This one is better.  You can tell right away.  It's not a halibut.  Zipping around too much and no headshakes.  Hmm..seems pretty heavy!  YEEHAW!  I got a REAL king!  Maybe 20 pounds.  So I limit out.  AMAZING.

When I opened up the fish, they had fish that I had never seen before.  They looked like some type of smelt.  Maybe it was a capelin which I have seen before. Smaller than red label herring. Two or three time fatter than a sand lance.  Interesting.

Well what a great day.  You know it's a great day or I am just psycho when the only complaint was the weather was TOO NICE. I WILL be back.  The Homer winter king derby is MINE! ...if they are  I can't wait till next years Anchor Point Salmon derby.  I think I will have it dialed n by then.  This downrigger thing is going to not only hammer the kings, but it is going to SLAY the halibut in the waters off Deep Creek to Anchor Point.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Upper Kenai River 10/16/11

Hit the upper from Sportsmans to Jim's. Started at 9am and had to be off the water by 1pm to catch a flight.

Today was a day of "should have" beens. Right away lost a couple smaller rainbows on my new 6wt echo. Love the rod but it's twice as heavy as my 4wt. Sure bangs out the larger flesh flies well. So as soon as I stop being a wimp it will be sweet.

Switched to my 4wt and 6mm mottled pink bead and landed a feisty fat 16 inch rainbow. So having the skunk off, I really wanted to see the new echo flex so I decided to toss some big leech patterns and ESLs.

No love from the cohos so to give my arm a break, switched back to the 4wt with the 6mm bead and 6lbs tippet. Second cast my line screams up river even before I had a chance to set the hook and a huge coho comes out of the water. Looked to be in pretty decent shape. Line breaks without even tightening up on it. Must have had a nick.

All I lost was the hook so retie and two casts later another silver explodes on top of the water. This one screams around for 10 seconds and I break it off again. Argh. I'm better than that with light line.

Not sure if I lined them or what, but I can't see why they would ignore larger flies and seem like hammer 6mm beads.

Still have not seen a dolly in 4 trips. Rainbows, whitefish, and now cohos. But no char...hmmmm.

I have short video ready for the one bow I landed for those who might be interested in water level and color. Water was low and very green. Not dirty but visibility seemed down. Would the spike in the snow river levels do this?

Well I suppose you have to document the bad and mediocre days with the good to gete a good history down!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Upper Kenai River...again!

Well I had a half day so I hit the Upper Kenai again.  Only fished three hours but the weather was nice and I caught some quality fish!

Started with an 8mm mottled pink bead and landed a whitefish and lost a small rainbow.

Frustrated that I couldn't hook anything on flesh flies, I decided to stick with a flesh fly until I caught something.  Well what do you know!  They work!!!  Landed two nice rainbows with the biggest going 25+ inches.

A little longer than my normal videos...apologies in advance!

Upper Kenai 10/7/2011

Second time ever on the Upper Kenai River.  Last time I got skunked.  This time I managed to hook 7 fish and landed 2.  Nice chunky rainbows.  The largest was probably around 20 inches.  Took me over 6 minutes to land it on my 4wt.  Most likely due to the fact that I rarely use a flyrod.

I threw everything I had and I got hits on a light pink 6mm bead and a mottled pink 8mm bead.  I couldn't buy a hit on flesh flies.  I still have not caught anything on them.

It's enjoyable, and on a 4wt, the rainbows definitely battle.  I'm still not convinced that this is better than fishing Kings!  But cosnidering it's mid October, this is a nice float with potential for decent fish.  It certainly is a great fishery for when the Ocean is too rough for feeder kings.

Going to hit it again tomorrow for a half day then i got to run back and put on a tux for the Mayor's Ball...waders and drysuits are so much more comfortable.....

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Upper Kenai. Oct 2, 2011

It's a terrible video but it commemorates my first trip EVER on the Upper Kenai and also my first real "Hello!" to winter.

No fish.  I had no clue as to what to do.  But no matter.  The takeout at Jim's Landing came MUCH sooner than I wanted it to.  I'll take my time next time. It just rained rained and rained!

Hard to believe it's my first time ever since I grew up in Kenai (1971)  and have been an avid fisherman since I was 5 years old!  I have passed that section of river a thousand times...literally.  But I had never fished it.  I know ever rock and hole from Pillars down to the Kenai City Dock, but I had NEVER fished above Swiftwater Park on the Kenai except at the bridge in Cooper Landing.

It's the first time EVER on a boat above the Soldotna bridge!

It's a good thing the takeout came MUCh earlier than I expected.  I ran into a BLIZZARD on the way back.

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