Daily Archives: June 22, 2011

Anglers waiting with baited breath, not hooks, for better Kenai king fishing

Editor’s note: For more information on king salmon sonar estimates, see next week’s paper.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Kenai River sportfishermen hoping to use bait to lure better results in the slow-going early run king salmon fishery will have to keep on waiting.

“The question, kind of the carrot that’s been hanging out there for this run, is, ‘Are we going to go to bait? Or, when are we going to go to bait?’ And the answer to that is we don’t anticipate doing that at this time,” said Robert Begich, upper Kenai Peninsula area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Sportfish Division.

It’s going to remain business as usual with anglers restricted to using just a single hook with no bait on the lower Kenai River until king salmon fish passage estimates pick up.

Or, rather, more like business as unusual, since this run is shaping up to be off the average.

“It’s looking like it’s going to come in OK, but it’s not a strong run,” Begich said. Continue reading

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Netting success — Kasilof fishery hauls in results

By Joseph Robertia

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. A feisty sockeye struggles in a personal-use set gillnet at the mouth of the Kasilof River last week. Several fishermen have been pulling in sockeye, king salmon and a few other odd species.

Redoubt Reporter

Alan Dyekman, of Kenai, was excited to pull in his set gillnet. Camped just south of the Kasilof River to take part in the personal-use fishery last week, he had eagerly been watching the floating cork line of his net sag, a sure sign that, below the water’s surface, numerous marine creatures were being caught.

He had hoped for sockeye salmon, but as he began to pull in his first catch of the year last Wednesday, he was disappointed to see that the long, wiggling bodies bound up in the mesh were not his targeted species.

“I pulled in a net full of sharks,” he said. “It was pretty disappointing. I’ve

Alan Dyekman, of Kenai, holds up a less-than-prized catch — a spiny dogfish.

been doing this for seven years now and never caught a single one ’til now.”

And it was more than one of the toothy, net-tangling creatures that he hauled to shore. Dyekman had 15 of the sharks, technically known as spiny dogfish.

“No one else on either side of me got one, so it must have been a school of them,” he said. Continue reading

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Beach home away from home — Kasilof River set-netters put personal touch on fish camps

By Joseph Robertia

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Fred Ashcraft, of Anchorage, watches his set gillnet at the mouth of the Kasilof River in style. Ashcraft’s son, Ted, of Cohoe, builds the structure so that their family and friends taking part in the Kasilof River personal-use fishery can be warm and comfortable.

Redoubt Reporter

From the comfort of his surroundings, Fred Ashcraft sips a hot cup of coffee, while staring out the front window from his chair. Behind him a wood stove crackles, not only heating the room, but also warming a pot of stew. Shelves around him are stocked with groceries, and there’s a bar with several bottles of top-shelf liquor. If Ashcraft gets tired, he can also climb into one of the bunk beds behind him.

There’s little time to sleep, though. Ashcraft isn’t lounging around his home in Anchorage. He’s actively fishing in the personal-use set gillnet fishery at the mouth of the Kasilof River. His abode for the duration — while only needing to provide shelter for roughly nine days — is one of the largest and most elaborate on the beach.

“This is no pup tent,” Ashcraft said. Continue reading

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On a march to strike up a band — Conductor hoping to make summer parades noteworthy

By Jenny Neyman

Photo courtesy of Jeff Moore. A community marching band performs in the Soldotna Progress Days Parade last summer. Conductor Jeff Moore is hoping to expand the group’s numbers and number of performances this year.

Redoubt Reporter

Admittedly, the bar for participation is somewhat low. But that doesn’t mean the activity isn’t challenging, or fun, or well appreciated.

Do you have a basic level of aptitude at playing an instrument — say, a year of band class, whether that was last school year or 20 years ago? Can you walk and chew gum at the same time?

No? Well, Jeff Moore will probably take you anyway. He’s trying to strike up a marching band to play at the Fourth of July parade in Kenai and Progress Days parade in Soldotna this summer.

“It’s something the community needs. Having lived down in the states for several years and you go to parades and there’s always marching bands from the local college or whatever, and it’s just so apple-pie America. That was something we were missing up here,” Moore said.

It’s open to everyone. And he means everyone.

“I’d like to see all ages, from retired people to moms and dads with kids that marched in their high school or just played in band in school. They can drag out their old dusty instruments, brush the cobwebs off and play for a couple days. The music’s really easy so anybody who’s gone through a year of band can do it, even if they haven’t played for 20 years. I want to gear it to everybody and make it easy so it’s fun,” he said. Continue reading

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Almanac: Solitary Secora — Miner, guide carved out secluded life on Tustumena

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part story about Tustumena miner and trapper Joe Secora, who lived a mostly solitary life on the lake for several decades. Part one reveals the type of man Secora was and the way he lived. Next week, part two will discuss his origins and his abrupt demise.

By Clark Fair

Redoubt Reporter

Joe Secora was not known as a letter writer. Although he was an avid reader,

Photo courtesy of George Pollard. A group of Joe Secora’s clients in the late 1950s share a laugh as they display the trophies of their sheep hunt in the mountains. Secora is standing at the far right.

he never filled the pages of a journal with words of his own. Taciturn without the dour demeanor, he seldom initiated communication but was genial enough once engaged in conversation.

As a result of these traits, Secora, when he died suddenly nearly 40 years ago, left little record except in the memories of those who knew him. Consequently, his voice comes filtered through the recollections of others and through his Tustumena handiwork, of which there was plenty.

In the years after arriving at Tustumena Lake in 1938, just before his 30th birthday, Secora built three cabins and mined for gold in the turbulent waters of Indian Creek. He hand-dug trenches and canals; he built mining tools and fashioned sluice boxes; he moved heavy earth in search for ore.

As the years passed, Secora walked the upper lakeshore and the mountains at its periphery, learned their convolutions and best passages, and found their hidden, magical places, such as an ancient, giant cottonwood grove near the glacier flats.

He also learned the ways of the animals that trod these hills and valleys, and

Photo courtesy of George Pollard. Joe Secora dumps a load of creek gravel from his handmade wheelbarrow into his handmade sluice box on the banks of Indian Creek near Tustumena Lake in the late 1950s.

when young George Pollard became an area big-game guide in 1958 and asked Secora to work for him, he said yes and he excelled.

“He was the best, if you could keep up with him,” Pollard said. “He wasn’t so fast, but he was steady, up and down the mountains. He just never quit.” Continue reading

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Old Duck Hunter: Go farther afield to avoid crowds on the Kenai

By Steve Meyer, for the Redoubt Reporter

There is life beyond the Kenai Peninsula.

Having just hit my 40th anniversary of living on the Kenai, I have to admit to being like area residents and spending much of my time outdoors right here on the Kenai. Oh, I’ve been to some of the spots commonly talked about in the outdoor magazines — the Alaska Peninsula, the Brooks Range, the Chugach and Alaska ranges. But predominantly I’ve spent my hunting and fishing time close to home and have not been disappointed.

The past couple of years, though, my hunting partner and I have been venturing beyond the peninsula and have found some great hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities right on the road system.

Summer is not a time for hunting, but it certainly is a great time to scout and see some of Alaska, and the Parks, Denali, Glenn and Richardson highways all offer spectacular scenery and access to some of the wildest country this state has to offer. There are numerous streams on the Parks Highway heading north toward Fairbanks that offer summer fishing for grayling, trout and in-season salmon. Continue reading

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Nettles pack power as ‘people’s medicine’

By Naomi Klouda

By Naomi Klouda, Homer Tribune. Janice Schofield, an expert on Alaska wild plants, was in Homer last week for a workshop on edible plants.

Homer Tribune

The backyard, blessed with dandelions, horsetails, devil’s club and nettles, may seem more problem than gift. But each of those plants has a use that is power-packed for health.

Consider that in Japan, devil’s club was literally loved to death. Today, the plant needs to be imported because widespread use as a healing herb has nearly wiped them out, said Janice Schofield, an expert on Alaska’s wild plants with a new book on the subject.

Nettles are shy plants often found shaded by large, wild shrubs. Hikers know the sting and burning itch of bare-skin contact. Horsetails, that ancient plant that shows up in fossil records from the dinosaur era, can be used to immediately counteract the sting by scrubbing it across the irritated area.

Nettles offer a powerhouse for remedies to keep a prostate healthy, cure a urinary tract infection and inhibit bleeding, said Schofield, author of “Discovering Wild Plants” and “Alaska’s Wild Plants.” Her first acquaintance with the weeds began in Kachemak Bay in the early 1980s. She spent a year studying nettles.

“I realized I was only at the tip of the iceberg — there is such a long relationship between humans and nettles,” she said. Continue reading

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