Monthly Archives: July 2011

Working through the fish process — Huge sockeye catch floods processors with sea of salmon

By Jenny Neyman

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Zach Oakley, left, and Coy Kirby fillet sockeye salmon at Custom Seafood Processors in Soldotna on Friday. Fish processors report record-setting amounts of sockeye flooding into their plants.

Redoubt Reporter

After a couple 16-hour days in a row trying to keep up with the sea of sockeye salmon pouring into Custom Seafood Processors, in Soldotna, brought by dip-netters and sportfishermen hauling them from the massive runs surging into the Kenai and Kasilof rivers, Coy Kirby said he could fillet fish with his eyes closed.

In a way, he has been.

“You work 16-hour days, then you go to sleep and you dream about filleting fish. You wake up and you’re filleting your girlfriend’s pillow,” said Kirby, 23, of Soldotna.

Next to him on the line Friday, deftly slicking his knife along each side of a salmon spine, peeling red flesh from white bone and silver carcass, was Zach Oakley, 20, of Soldotna. He’s also been feeling the effects of the recent swell of salmon.

“You have some weird dreams,” he said. “I had a dream last night that I was putting all my stuff in bags — my wallet and socks and all my random things — and vacuum sealing it,” Oakley said.

The sea has bestowed an unexpected bounty upon Cook Inlet — a bumper sockeye run to the Kenai and Kasilof rivers — surprising in both the amount of fish and their early arrival. Usually, the Kenai sockeye run hits its peak the last week of July. This year, however, the sockeye counter in the Kenai River clocked a record-breaking 230,643 on July 17, followed by another whopping 177,000-plus on July 18.

That wave of sockeyes has drawn a rising tide of fishing effort, especially as the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has liberalized opportunities — extra openings for commercial drift- and set-netters, 24-hour personal-use dip-netting, and increased bag limits for sport anglers. Continue reading

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Anglers protest losing bait — Kenai sportfishermen bristle at restrictions while commercial fishery is liberalized

By Jenny Neyman

Submitted photo. Sportfishermen and guides clog the parking lot of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Kalifornsky Beach Road on Monday to protest restrictions on the Kenai River king fishing, while commercial fishermen are seeing liberalized openings for sockeyes.

Redoubt Reporter

Mondays being drift-boat-only days on the Kenai River, with no power boats allowed, they are typically the only day a week off fishing guides with power boats get all week. This Monday guides still hitched their boats to their trucks and went angling. But instead of heading to the river to help their clients catch king salmon, as they would any other day of the week, it was to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office on Kalifornsky Beach Road to angle for king-friendly support from fishery managers.

About 100 guides, as well as fishing clients and private sportfishermen, plugged the Fish and Game parking lot with trucks, boats and trailers and staged a protest outside the office at about 7 a.m. Monday.

The purpose was to demonstrate their displeasure with measures to restrict king fishing in the Kenai while at the same time liberalizing commercial fishing in Cook Inlet.

“We were there just to show, ‘Hey, we take this seriously and we hope that they do too,’” said Dave Goggia, president of the Kenai River Professional Guides Association. Continue reading

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Filed under commercial fishing, Cook Inlet, fishing, Kenai River, salmon

Going Dutch — Cooking competition joins old technology with new cuisine

By Jenny Neyman

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Hungry onlookers feast their eyes on the desserts made by participants in the youth division of the Last Frontier Dutch Oven Society’s cooking contest, held during Progress Days in Soldotna on Saturday.

Redoubt Reporter

Johnathon Kreider and Kaleb Henderson knew they had a strong recipe to prepare for their main dish in the youth division of the second annual Last Frontier Dutch Oven Society’s cooking contest, held during Progress Days in Soldotna on Saturday — a pork loin cooked with apples and cranberries. But in an effort to give it a little extra oomph, they employed a culinary tactic well known to chefs twice to three times their age:

“We wrapped it in bacon,” Kreider said. “And we added some seasoning. We looked up online what would go good with it. We tried it and it was awesome, so we decided to keep it.” Continue reading

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Kenai Joe’s clears the air — Old Town bar holds smoke-free nights to draw new crowd

By Jenny Neyman

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Robb Justice, right, and members of 907 perform at Kenai Joe’s, with a glowing cigarette machine in the background. The bar is holding smoke-free music nights to appeal to a new crowd.

Redoubt Reporter

After 9 p.m. Saturday night, Smokin’ Joe Camel was the only one in Kenai Joe’s bar with a cigarette in his mouth.

It’s not because the bar was empty; quite the contrary. Even with it being a fair-weathered, still-light-outside Memorial Day weekend evening, the traditional Alaska kickoff to camping, fishing, barbecuing and all-things-outdoors season, there still was a respectable crowd in the dimly lit bar. Patrons came to shoot pool, have a few drinks and listen to 907, Kenai’s “rootsy Alaskan” band.

On any other night, the glow from the neon beer signs and the plastic display window on the cigarette machine in the corner would be augmented by occasional quick flares of a lighter, followed by the glowing cherry signaling a drag of oxygen through a cigarette.

But not this particular Saturday. For the duration of the band’s performance, Kenai Joe’s was a smoke-free establishment. Continue reading

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Piece of history — Gun show brings out rare, historic firearms

By Joseph Robertia

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Clinton Coligan, of Soldotna, sits behind some of the Winchester rifles he has collected for more than 60 years. He was one of 27 vendors selling a few dozen of his firearms during the Sterling Senior Center’s gun show July 16.

Redoubt Reporter

Silver-haired, breathing through a tube that runs from his nose to an oxygen tank nearby, and a face showing the wrinkles of experience, Clinton Coligan, of Soldotna, is not the man he once was. Gone are the days of breathlessly scaling mountains to hunt sheep, but his memories of pursuing the fleet-hoofed animals and other big game species around the state and the world are as crisp and clean as the rifle he used to bring them down —a pre-1964 Winchester Model 70 Featherweight in caliber 30.06.

“It was one I favored to shoot for a lot of years. I’ve hunted with it in Africa, New Zealand, all across Montana and Wyoming, and of course here in Alaska. It was a very special gun,” he said.

Yet, on Saturday, Coligan parted ways with the firearm he held in such high regard. It was a bittersweet moment. He was happy to see the rifle go to a new owner who paid a decent price and knew exactly what he was a getting — a rifle that, for many years, was called “the world’s most perfect repeating gun.” Continue reading

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Old Duck Hunter: Catching the bug of fly-fishing

By Steve Meyer, for the Redoubt Reporter

Brad Pitt taught me to fly-fish.

Photos courtesy of Steve Meyer. The results of a morning of lake fly-fishing.

Well, not really, but I did see “A River Runs Through It.” The truth is, I have seen fly-fishing in magazines and books, mostly from the past when I was a kid and had some thoughts of someday being a part of that honorable outdoor tradition. But then we moved to Alaska and I quickly was swallowed up in the hardware and bait fishing that most everyone else does. Never being as much of a fisherman as a hunter, I just never seemed to have time to pursue this grand outdoor tradition.

July 1, 2010, changed that. My fishing partner and I, in an annual tradition, headed up to our favorite mountain lake for the opening of grayling season. We have a spot that we fish and have had no difficulty catching all the grayling we wanted using hardware — Mepps and Vibrex spinners, Rooster Tails, small Syclops and Pixies were all we ever needed. But last year the fish were being stubborn and wanted nothing to do with what we were offering. Continue reading


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Green Beet: Rhubarb: Bitter stalks make sweet treats

By Jen Ransom, for the Redoubt Reporter

Rhubarb is a favorite of mine. I have one permanent bed that gets so much rain

Photos courtesy of Jen Ransom

runoff that it drowns most plants I’ve tried to plant there. But rhubarb favors wet soil, albeit well-draining soil is best, and has found a home in the first bed we ever created at our first home. Before we realized the drainage problem, of course.

Used in cooking, rhubarb also doubles as a decorative plant. The key to using it as both is to cut the flower stalks before they really take off. If the plant is allowed to flower, much of the nutrients go into creating seed, leaving little for stalk production. Only the stalk of the plant is eaten, as the leaves are toxic, though the “Alaska Gardening Guide” by Ann Roberts says it is safe to throw the leaves in the compost pile. I haven’t died yet eating yields dressed with my compost, so I guess Roberts is correct. Continue reading

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