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Thread: Part 2 The Great Alaskan Adventure.

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    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default Part 2 The Great Alaskan Adventure.

    This is part 2 of the great Alaskan Adventure. If you haven’t had a chance to look at part 1, you can find it under the hunting section.
    6/12/10 – 6XLeech was nice enough to give Samantha and I a ride to Wasilla to pick up the 28’ camper that would be our home for the next 10 days. We got all of our gear moved in and it was back to the storage unit to trade out hunting gear for fishing gear and spend some time reorganizing. With that under our belts it was off to Sportsman’s to get some fishing tackle, we were going to be doing a lot of different kind of fishing and need several different things. Several members of the forum were going to be taking us fishing and I didn’t want to be a mooch, not having anything and having to borrow everything needed. Again, Sportsman’s got way too much of my money but I figured that we are moving here as soon as the wife finishes school so I would need everything eventually. We then headed back to Elmendorf AFB to secure a campground for the evening, get some laundry done and grocery shopping out of the way. Today is Samantha’s birthday so I took her to the Cattle Company Steak House for dinner, which was great by the way. We had made arrangement to meet Mark at our campground on base. Mark is a member of the forum who offered to take us out to Ship Creek and show us the ropes for dealing with the crowds and proper techniques.
    6/13/10 – Mark was right on time first thing in the morning, and we rode with him down to the creek. There were plenty of people already there, but we found a spot in short order and had lines in the water. Everyone hears about the Alaskan tides and I knew of them but this was the first time that I was actually able to see it firsthand. Mark spent plenty of time helping Sam out. Fishing wasn’t that great and we had no luck and only saw one king caught that morning. Mark had family coming in and we needed to get on the road to head to the Kenai so we packed up and got back to the campground about 1:30pm. Things we pretty well organized so we got on the road about 3:30 headed to the Kenai Riverside Campground. It took about 2 ½ hours to get there. Was a decent place with full hookups and close to the Russian River Ferry. After finding our campground and getting settled, I decided it would be worth the time to look around and locate the ferry and see how things work. The area as most already know is very beautiful and interesting. I got the call from Slimm that him and a couple of buddies who make the annual trip to the Russian were on the way and we would meet him at the ferry at 6 am the following morning.


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    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    6/14/10 – Slimm is another one of the generous members of the forum that had offered to help me out and boy was it a nice thing. He deserves the patience award for helping Samantha and I out. I was soon to learn why they call it combat fishing, which I had absolutely no experience with at all. Slimm spent plenty of time explaining things to us and showing us how to properly go about this new kind of fishing. I will say that we learned an awful lot in a short period of time. We fished for a few hours with no luck at all and only a few fish being caught. I did manage to hook one for about an 8 second rodeo but I got thrown. We decided to take a break and go check out the Russian River Campground to see if there was going to be any no shows, as I did not know that you need to make reservations a year out the day it open. No luck of course, but we had made plans to hike up to the falls and check them out. Sam didn’t realize that it was going to be a 2 ½ mile hike to get there. With no fish in the river, there were no bears to watch, adding slightly to the disappointment of not catching anything. Samantha was disappointed by the falls, having envisioned all year of something that was rather tall spilling a million gallons a minute. The area was still quite scenic as far as I was concerned. We continued down a path for an additional ¼ mile to get down to river itself and where the fishing is allowed to have some lunch and rest. I ended up almost shooting a dog! We were sitting there down at the water’s edge and there was a rise behind us with plenty of vegetation. All of a sudden this large black dog comes out of nowhere right behind us, Sam screams and I jumped up, spun with my hand on my 500 S&W but still in the holster. Then a guy and his girlfriend appear and ask is there is a problem. I said no problem; I just almost shot you dog…. What fun. Definitely got the heart pumping. The hike back was nice but Sam was a little wore out. I hear a whistle down the trail and come across a couple that are definitely foreigners, blowing the whistle, bells on their feet and spray in their hand. Samantha and I shared a laugh, having recently telling her the story of ringing the dinner bell and bears loving pepper on their dinner. We then went back to the Ferry where we grilled some steaks for dinner. We took the ferry back across and tired our luck at the reds again until the last ferry at 11:00 pm with no luck.


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    6/15/10 – We had been burning the candle at both ends and since the fishing wasn’t that great we decided to sleep in a little and got up at 7:30 am for a good breakfast of pancakes and bacon. It was then off to a couple of local shops to pick up some extra fishing tackle, I.E. more weights and flies. We headed back to the Ferry and decided to make the walk down past the crowd to the power lines. Well the crowd was just about as bad but Slimm was down there to lend a helping hand. Fish still hadn’t decided to show but a couple was being had here and there. The water was a little deeper and the current a little stronger, which made things more difficult for Sam. We worked our way back towards the ferry slowly trying different spot to see if it would make a difference for us, but as you can guess it didn’t. Sam went back to the camper to rest a little and put together the grill that required some assembly so that it would be ready to cook dinner. I stuck it out until about 6:30 pm still not having caught a single red to my name!! We grilled some pork chops that were accompanied by peas, rice and salad. While doing some research on the forum and other sources I learned that to catch a Kenai King, the average fishing time to land one was approx. 20 hours with a guide and 50 some hours without. Like most we here to fulfill the dream of catching one of those monsters so I had bit the bullet, whipped out the credit card and arranged to be guided by Don Johnson out of Soldotna. We had to be at the ramp at 5:45 am the next morning so I figured that it would be best to get on the road being as how we would have an hour dive to get there and it would be better to do it tonight instead of having to get up even earlier in the morning. We had no problem getting a spot at Centennial Camp ground and even got one on the river’s edge.
    6/16/10 – We were right on time as so was Don pulling up in a nice camo predator. We start hitting different spots on the lower Kenai and then at about 8:30 a reel announced it had something big on it. Samantha fought it for about 10 minutes solid before her arms started giving out. The guide tried to get up river of the fish and as we were coming about it spit the hook. What fun and disappointment at the same time. It had showed itself twice and looked huge to me, but as I’ve stated we were complete rookies at this. I can tell you it was bigger than 30 pounds and less than a 100. We spent the rest of the day without another nibble and called it quits at 6:00 pm per the regulations. I think that we saw a total of 2 fish landed on the river the whole day. The weather was decent, in the low to mid 50’s and rainy on and off for most of the day.


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    Default next day

    6/17/10 - We were ready for our second try at these monsters and determined to do whatever it took. Again we spent the night at Centennial and met Don at the ramp 50 yards from our camp spot at 5:45 am. We continued to work the lower river and at 6:30 am Sam’s pole doubled over and the fight was on!! Sam fought with everything she had and was bound and determined to not let this one get away. I had to help her at the end and after netting the beast we saw that it had slipped the hook from its mouth and was caught in the fin. Don informed Samantha that it was considered a fowl hook and it had to be turned loose. He estimated that it was between 45 and 50 pounds. I couldn’t close my hand round the tail! Sam handled the disappointment of letting her catch go like a true sportsman or maybe I should say sportswoman. We then spent the rest of the day working one hole after another with no other fish to be had and seeing one or two caught by others. Again we called it quits at the 6:00 pm deadline. With nothing thawed for dinner and wore out after two 12 hour days on the water we decided that a good dinner at the Bear’s Den was in order. I must admit that the food was rather good but a tad on the pricey side. The plan was to hit the Russian again in the morning so it was back on the road for an hour and we spent the night at the ferry parking.


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    Default next couple of days

    6/18/10 – I was up at 5:00 am to get ready and catch the first ferry at 6:00 am. I got in line at 5:45 to get my ticket and learned a valuable lesson. If you are by yourself, buy your ticket ahead of time because people will get in front of you by either getting their ticket early or have one person get in line for tickets and the other getting line for getting on the ferry. I ended up having to wait for the 3rd ferry even though I was about 10th in line to get my ticket. The other thing that I noticed it was Friday and there were quite a few more people. God grated me a gift at about 8:30 am and I hook and landed my first red. Man, what fun. Still not many fish being caught, but it did seem like a few more were to be had. I was still trying to figure out the difference between the weight bouncing along the bottom and a possible strike. Catching my first red gave me the inspiration and strength to continue flipping for another couple of hours but to no avail. I had my one and only red after 2 ½ days of trying. I got back to the camper and Sam took a bunch of pictures of my newest conquest. It was time to get some breakfast and we both were in need of showers. We had to get to our original camp ground to get the showers and then we need to move to Bings Landing and get a spot for the evening. We got there a little too early so it was off to Soldotna to get some extra lunch fixings and I had also decided that I wanted to get a fly rod and see if I could get the hang of it having only tried one once in my life. Seeing the success that the fly guys were having on the reds at the Russian got me to thinking. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but even though the fish weren’t in yet, the guys with the fly rod seemed to be doing a bit better than the rest of the folks. Could have been that they were just getting out a bit farther, or their rods were more sensitive or maybe they were better fishermen, I’m not sure, but they looked like they were having more fun. BlueMoose was kind enough to put me in touch with a friend of his that was going to be fishing the middle Kenai on Saturday and he was nice enough to allow Samantha and I to tag along. Mike met us at the campground with his son and another friend at about 8:00 pm. We had grilled up some chicken and all got acquainted over dinner. We spent the rest of the evening talking and getting gear ready for the morning and hit the rack at 11:00 pm.
    6/19/10 - Mike wanted to get an early start on things so it was up at 4:00 am. We drove up to Skilak Lake and put in at the ramp there. I’m sure most here know that it’s about a mile and half to the entrance of river so thank goodness that he had a motor. There was plenty of overcast and a slight drizzle. As we got to the entrance of the river we spotted a moose, man I love this country. Fishing was not too bad and I caught 2 rainbows and Sam caught a couple as well drifting with fly rods that Mike had brought. It had warmed up to the mid 50’s and we took a break on a bank to stretch our legs and see if we could spot any reds running through. This was my first chance to try my new fly rod and after 20 minutes of trying, FISH ON!! I landed my second red of the season on a fly rod and now I knew why people fly fish. Everyone caught fish but we worked hard for them. We got back to Bings Landing and had to say goodbye to our new friends. We stayed a second night at Bings in order to meet up with Fishook.


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    Default couple of extra pics



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    6/20/10 – Fishook, a well known member of the forum offered to help complete Samantha’s and my Alaskan adventure. We met him first thing in the morning and then it was back to Skilak to drift the middle section of the Kenai for trout in his drift boat. The drift boat was well thought out and nicely set up. Fishook’s family was out of town so it was him and us for father’s day, and what a way to spend the day! The weather started off overcastted and cool but as the day progressed the sun burned off the clouds and it warmed up to the 60 degree mark. We saw lots of loons and eagles for the day to include one moose peering at us off an island. We had our best day fishing with Sam getting all the attention and landing 6 rainbows the smallest starting at 18”. Fishook spent great effort in ensuring that Samantha had the best time of her life from start to finish. He did risk both our lives, allowing Sam to captain his little vessel by handling that massive 5hp kicker, then working the oars for a while. We drifted back trolling plugs with great accuracy and hit the holes perfectly never going any extended period of time without something hitting the lines. I did manage to land a couple of rainbows myself but it couldn’t have been a better father’s day than watch Samantha’s smile as she landed a 19”,20”,21”,21 ¾”, and a 22” rainbow. I know these measurements due to the fact that as Sam would put it, “I want a fishy”. It’s truly a terrible day when all of the fish you catch, you can’t keep because they are too big. Fishook spent the time showing both of us how to handle and release these truly beautiful wonders back to water unharmed and no worse the wear. He is a true sportsman and steward of the land!! We ended up back at the take out at about 5:45 pm to find out that I had left the lights on and the battery dead! Mad at myself for the stupidity…. and after 30 minutes of trying to charge the lifeless beast, we found a good Samaritan willing to jump us and all things were right in the universe. With the day behind us, it was back to Centennial Park in Soldotna to grill steaks at the very same camp spot right on the river.


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    Default last days

    6/21/10 – Today was the final day of our fishing excursion and our last chance to catch one of the mighty Kenai kings that we had come 4700 mile to do. Fishook met us about 7:00 am to start the day and we were going to work the lower river. The weather was cooperating and it turned out to be a beautiful day warming up to the low 60’s. We knew that the water was a little off from all of the previous rains and with the lower number of fish; we had our work cut out for us. Fishook had great confidence, it was after all “Drift Boat Monday”, and that’s what he lived for, smaller crowds, and no roar from the dozens of guide boats and their Yamaha 50 hp’s running up and down the river. We got out to the first hole and had to anchor up to and get things set. The first pole set was a spin-n-glow on my side of the boat. Samantha’s weapon of choice was a green and silver K-16 for that monster king. While getting his rod set, mine took a bend for the water’s surface and it was “Fish On”. The fight was on, but we could tell that it was small. As I got it closers to the boat our eyes grew exponentially as we realized that it was a monster rainbow and not a king. After netting it and getting the hook out, plans were already streaming in my head about a reproduction of this world class fish! Samantha was already getting the camera and tape, when disaster struck!!! Fishook had his king net today, which had seen many a fish in its grasp. Within its structure was a previous repair that had a hole that was relatively small is size and no danger for the loss of a Kenai King, but however, a 10 lbs rainbow proved to be another story, and slick as you please the trophy slipped away in the blink of an eye. We stood there it total dismay stunned by what just transpired and so the proverbial “The Fish that got away story”, had one more victim. Sorry Fishook, after all the praises I spouted I had to tell the world the truth, you do have one flaw, you own a HOLLY net!!! LOL LOL LOL……..Now, I will defend my lost fish story with the comment that the estimation of this fish comes from years of experience Fishook holds chasing rainbow on the Kenai, I would have said 25 lbs and 48” but I’ll have to defer to the expert. I will also state in his defense that he couldn’t apologize enough and genuinely felt great remorse for his lack netting abilities. Fishook, I…………I………………I………………………………………………………………forgive you. After all that excitement and getting things reset, another pole tip heads for the water and Samantha is giving it her all but as luck would have it another fish spits the hook and slips away providing a short measure of excitement. Things are looking very promising for the day. We continued working our way down river from one hole to another, when finally my rod takes 3 whacks and with lightning speed, reflexes of an old pro, I set the hook for all I was worth! “Fish On” and so is the fight! The fish is fighting with great Herculean efforts to include making a run at us and me reeling for all I was worth and all the while swearing, not again! The fight lasted 10 minutes or so and I finally had my first Alaskan Kenai King!! I thanked God and Fishook for the success and after 100’s of pictures and the stink off the boat, it was time to catch Sam’s “Fishy”. We work the rest of the day with only one other take down and Samantha adding an additional small rainbow to her collection of trophies when we ran out of time and river. With our fishing portion of the adventure at its end and our entire trip concluding, emotions were high and tremendous. We said our goodbyes to our new friend Fishook, and it was time to hit the road and get back to Anchorage. I will say that Sam was slightly disappointed and vowed to return to the Kenai to get her giant “Fishy”. We got back to the campground on Elmendorf about 11:30 pm to get one of the last spots available. I decided that it would be best to get some laundry done now while there was no one waiting and take a long well deserved and need shower.
    6/22/10 – We had a lot to do before our 7:30 pm flight back to reality. First, it was back to the storage unit to leave all possible gear behind. With my storage unit now overflowing with additional gear, we had to make the drive to Indian Valley Meats to pick up our Halibut and bear. While there, I carefully weighed each cooler to capacity of 49.5 lbs. We had 4 coolers at max weight and then it was back to Eagle River to drop off some bear to Dwight and pick up our bear skulls. We then spent a couple of hours cleaning the camper before returning it, then caught a shuttle back to the airport which we arrived to at 5:45pm, didn’t think about rush hour. We checked the 4 coolers and did the paperwork for the fish and weapons before making to the security point. Heavy with our carry-ons and starting to feel the draining of excitement, emotions, and endorphins of the adventure, my heart stopped when I was informed that security wanted to inspect my pack. You see, in rushing to try to get everything accomplished I had allowed Samantha to pack my day pack for the trip back. All I could envision was them pulling out a knife or a few misplaced rounds of ammo. Three times the security agent looked through my stuffed pack, only to take it back and x-ray it, and have the other agent say he still couldn’t find what they were looking for. Sweat is starting to fill my brow as I envision my being hauled off in cuffs, us missing our flight, and trying to explain to a couple of suits that I wasn’t a terrorist and that it was all a giant misunderstanding, when in the very bottom of the pack the agent pulls out the several large rocks that my daughter had found on the river’s edge insisting that they were fossils and I had told her to leave………He smiled and we made our flight.
    The help from this forum that Samantha and I received is immeasurable and appreciated beyond what words can express, I would like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart. A very special thanks goes to Spike, Mark, Slimm, 6XLeech, BlueMoose, Mike, and Fishook for help make this father and daughter dream come true adventure so successful. I hope that I haven’t left anyone out and if so please forgive me.
    Semper Fi and God Bless to all.


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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Adventure for the Archives

    Wow, can't help but think that time and investment is going to live on for a long time,
    "That time I went to Alaska with my Dad......"

    Good one, thanks for the whole story,
    also for your service to the country, the Semper Fi deal...

    glad to hear you got blessed back like that in Alaska.
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Member DRIFTER_016's Avatar
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    Awesome report!!!! Thanks for taking the time to put it together!!!

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    TB, great story (both fishing & hunting) and I am glad you and your daughter had a fantastic trip. I know I don't need to tell you this, but cherish every moment you spend together (and we can tell you do). They grow up so fast and you wonder where the time went.

    Take care,
    Moose44

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    Good stuff. Paragraphs are your friend, and make your article easier to read.
    brad g.
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    http://www.ysr-racer.com

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    It was an honor to meet Tom and share father’s day out on the water, he lives and breaths red, white & blue.. I would like to thank all the armed service personal that have served this nation so I & my family can live here freely & do what we love to do (thank you so ever much) as for me it wasn’t just a fishing trip it was more like winning by default pure and simple our military works hard to put a smile on are faces like the one Sam has in this picture and that’s just what kind of day it was. Thank you Tom as it was more fun for me then you'll ever no. Tell Sam to keep her tip up & we will fish again next go around!!!!!
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Major karma points yer rackin' up there fishook.... MAJOR!
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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    The KeenEye MD

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    Great Read, thanks for sharing!

    Fish On!
    You know your not catching any fish when you start talking about the weather...


    http://www.alaskansalmonslayers.com/

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    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default video

    I finally got some of the video downloaded so I thought that I would share this small postion that was thanks to Mike who took us fishing with a friend and his son.

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    Nice report, great pics and you found one of the best kept secrets in Alaska...........here they may gripe from time to time about the tourists, but if you put your hand out, sombody will grab it and help you along the way......congrats on a great father/daughter trip.

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    Default Fever...

    Alaska does that to many first timers, and all of us recognized yours by posting this interesting thread. Your tales brought me back some twenty years, and I enjoyed reading about your passion.

    May you have more trips, and even better fisheries, in your days ahead...

    Rosenberg/Florida
    "Two decades researching and defining fishing opportunities in the Last Frontier!"


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