Kasilof RV Park 2018 Summer Blog
Welcome to a summary of our 11th Wonderful Summer at the Kasilof RV Park.
As in past years I have used some of our great animal summer visitors as speakers for the happenings at the Park and again this year I was going to use our ornery little Sammy Squirrel.
HOWEVER, he immediately got into trouble opening up a bag on the picnic table, then dumping the peanut jar from the bag off the table on to the floor, opening the lid and then ate the remaining peanuts in the jar.
Kim Brooks just loves to leave cookie crumbs along the deck railing for him! We love her cookies too so we don’t complain too much.
2017/2018 was a cold winter at the Park and we had a lot of frozen pipes when we got back. Fortunately, we only had one broken line on campsite 16. (Note that John Brooks did all the work while I supervised! It’s sure nice to have help!)
We didn’t get all the lines thawed until the 5th of June, but did manage to get them open before other campers started showing up. Although we put anti-freeze in all the campsite lines, we finally determined that our old compressor was just not putting out enough air to fully blow out most of the water. We finally bought a new Husky compressor with a 20 gallon air tank. Hopefully we will not have that problem this fall!
This was another very poor year for Sockeye (red) fishing in the Kenai River. In fact it was the worst salmon season on the Kenai in the 21 years that I have been fishing it. We barely caught a third of the reds we normally catch for the summer. Fish & Game managed to reach in their excuse bucket again and pick out the cause for the poor showing of reds. It seems that the ‘Brown Blob’ occurred in the Gulf of Alaska. A biologist for F&G suggested that the warming of the ocean in the Gulf of Alaska during 2014 might have killed much of the food that the young sockeye salmon need to survive and grow prior to coming back to the Cook Inlet in 2018. Thus there was a very poor showing of Red salmon this year in the Kenai. F&G reduced the daily limit of reds from 3 to 1 per person and then shut down red fishing in the Kenai on the 4th of August through the 24th of August. At that time, they stated that a big run of red salmon had entered the Kenai and that they had reached the minimum required number to assure future Kenai red salmon so they raised the daily limit of reds to 3 again. It was strange because all we could catch after August 24th were Pinks and Silvers!
Maybe they can’t tell the difference between Pinks and Reds?
AND it was a banner year for fishing in the Kasilof River. ???? John Brooks caught his first King of the season in the Kasilof in early June and the Sockeye (Red) fishing was the best the Kasilof has ever had.
IS SOMETHING FISHY IN F&G LAND?
Cody and Nelson came up in early June and Cody took a photo of Nelson and I fishing in for Reds in the Kasilof. Nelson caught his first Red that day.
It was the first Red of the season and large for Reds in June on the Kasilof.
Nelson and Cody continued to fish on the Kasilof and had good success. The Reds continued to be large for the first run on the Kasilof River.
Of course they had to share their success with a beer in the Kenai River Brewery in Soldotna.
We had more fun with Nelson while they were here such as eating crab with the help of pair of scissors.
“Come-on, Alaska crabs are not that tough!”
Jan and I also gave him a lunch bucket that he could use when he becomes a Math teacher. The lunch bucket from the Kenai River Brewery had three beers in it. We thought he might need those after teaching math to high school boys.
However, our family visitors never get away without doing something to help improve the Kasilof RV Park. We do that because eventually the Park is for their pleasure and future. Nelson and Cody helped us by trimming up some of the overgrowth of trees around the north end of the park. The trees had grown under the electric lines to the point where they could cause a problem so the boys topped off the trees and hauled the limbs down over the back of the hill.
4th of July Celebration
The 4th is always a celebration for us at the Park and for the past two years we have had a potluck dinner for all our visitors in the Park. Cody and Nelson stayed for the celebration and Cody cooked his special recipe for brats. Sister Sally and her husband Bob also came.
Most of the campers in the Park came plus our friends the Pierce’s who were former campers.
It was a fun afternoon and a nice 4th of July celebration.
MOOSE in the PARK
It’s always interesting to see moose in the park and the campers especially always enjoy seeing them, particularly the mothers and their babies. This year was no exception; however, for some reason the mothers were bringing them at dusk or after dark to eat the new tree leaves. We would find many large and small moose tracks in the mornings, but rarely see the moose during the day.
The one exception this year was the momma, I call ‘Bear Scar’. I call her that because she has a scar on her left side along her ribs that ‘may’ have been made by a bear. We have another photo of her taken in 2010 that is hanging in our camper. She has been coming into the park for eight years showing off her babies to us.
This year was no exception although she hadn’t had her baby yet. However, she did come into the park this year followed by last year’s young male (he has horn nubs). She was pregnant with another calf and wanted him to quit following her around before the baby was born. She chased him through the Park and along the front, clear to the south end. He finally he left.
Kim Brooks saw her walk through the Park later with a calf. Then we saw her and the calf tracks several times later.
The hill behind the lodge where we have the DJS Folly pole was becoming over grown with bushes and weeds. It was a favorite spot for the moose to eat the young leaves and branches off the scrub bushes. During the summer, we cut down the bushes and weeds because it was becoming an eyesore. We wanted toplant grass on the hill.
A couple of weeks later ‘Bear Scar’ momma was standing on the cleaned hill looking at us on the porch like she was asking ‘what happened to all my food?’
Nephew Ryan Pyle arrived on the 8th of July and brought his daughter, Ainsley and his step daughter, Ella (she wouldn’t let us take a photo of her) for a visit with him. He took them to all the fun places on the Peninsula, Homer and Seward. They had a great time and then flew back home to Kansas before fishing season started.
Each year Ryan treats us with a Pad Thai dinner. Sally and Bob came out for the feast. Bob just loves Ryan’s Pad Thai so it is a yearly feast for us.
Cary had arrived the day before as a surprise because we hadn’t expected him to come up this year.
Debbie had just arrived with her cousin, Scott Farber so they got to enjoy the feast also.
Kim Brooks and Jan had gone to the local wood shop to learn how to carve wooden bowls from Burch tree wood blocks in June.
They had so much fun and the bowls turned out so well that Jan took Debbie to learn how to turn a bowl also.
Kim and Jan had also made dishes out of grey clay with fiber. They made them in the shape of Rhubarb Leaves. Jan had made one for Debbie also. When Debbie came to fish, the three of them finished the dishes painting them to look like Rhubarb leaves with flowers laying on them.
SOCKEYE (Reds) FISHING TIME
The Reds had started coming into the river in the third week of July and Ryan, Cary and I had gone to the Kenai to see if they were coming up the river yet. We each did catch two and then on Friday the group including Debbie and Scott went to the river and caught 11. Todd arrived on the 21st and we caught 10 Reds that day.
On Sunday, the weather was warm and the river was high and running fast. It had been a warm, wet spring and the grass along the river was shoulder high as is shown by Debbie fishing in the rocks beyond the grass.
Scott had already caught his limit showing 3 fingers in the air as he worked his way back to the cleaning area with his fish where Debbie and Ryan were cleaning their limits.
Todd, Cary and I were also fishing on the Kenai and managed to catch 7 more Reds. On Monday, the 23rd John and Cary each caught three on the Kenai. Debbie, Scott, Todd, Ryan, Jan and I flew over across the inlet to Crescent Lake on a Talon Air Tour and caught 3 Reds each. That was the best day of Red fishing with a total of 24 Reds caught.
TALON AIR TOUR TO CRESCENT LAKE & WOLVERINE CREEK
Debbie, Skip and Scott had taken the tour in 2016 and were so excited and happy about it that Jan, Todd and I took it again in 2017. We were also enthused about it so we wanted to go again this year. We added Ryan to the group and drove out to Mackey Lake for our flight over to Crescent Lake at the base of Mount Redoubt. The only problem with the trip was the weather. IT RAINED ALL DAY! Other than the rain, it was a great trip with lots of bears, plenty of fish and lots of fun.
The trip over to the lake was in Talon’s 12 passenger and two dogs pontoon airplane. The dogs were the owners (the pilot’s) Brittany Spaniels that loved to fly and run on the lake bogs. Of course Scott made up with them as soon as they entered the airplane and then they went to sleep.
They flew us across the Cook Inlet toward Mt. Redoubt, then up the river on the north side until we approached Crescent Lake. We landed on the water and taxied up to a bog where the boats were stored. The bogs around the lake are large patches of water plants and bushes that have grown so thick that they float on the surface of the water. People can walk on them without falling through and the dogs had a ball running around on them.
Talon guides had pulled their boats up onto the edge of the bogs and store their boats until the airplane lands. Then they walk across to the boats and bring them over to the pontoons on the plane so they can load the passengers. The boats are owned by Talon and provided to the guides to give touring and fishing assistance to each of the people onboard. Each guide provides his own fishing gear for 4 guests and equipment and receives a part of the tour payment from Talon for each person.
In our case since there were six of us, they put Scott, Debbie, Todd and Ryan with a guide in one boat and Jan and I and two other young men with a guide in the other boat. We were then taken across the lake to Wolverine Creek, a falls (very steep rapids) from Wolverine Lake which is fed by a glacier on the side of Mt. Redoubt. The lake is on the next level of land several hundred feet above Crescent Lake.
The Red salmon come out of Cook Inlet, swim up the river to Crescent Lake then rest at the base of Wolverine Creek before swimming up the falls to the lake to spawn. There are usually several schools of Red salmon swimming around in the water resting before making the climb up to the next lake. The abundance of salmon in the shallow water draw a lot of bears and a lot of people wanting to watch and photograph the bears as well to catch the salmon, us included.
There are generally a lot of boats in the small area at the base of the falls wanting to view the bears. The guides have come up with a plan to help with the problem. Each of the boats are in a line pointing at the falls for fishing and watching. Each boat is allowed 30 minutes to catch their limits of Red salmon and watch the bears. Then it is required to move off to other areas or to get in the back of the line to start again. There were two other boats in front of us and we were in the lead boat of the two from Talon Air. The fishing had been slow as we approached and there had been no sign of bears. Then as the boats in front of us started catching fish, the black bears started coming down to the falls.
As we moved forward toward the falls, we began hooking Red salmon. Then as the fishing really got busy with lots of splashing and fish being caught, a huge brown bear came out of the trees and crossed the rapids making its presence known. The black bears quickly moved out and other brown bears began to come down to the falls. In the mean time, we were all catching Reds and had several in the boat.
Every one in our boat had caught their limit of Red salmon except me. The guide told me to hit a special spot in the water with my hook. I did and hooked the final fish in our boat. The guide noticed it was a nice large one and told us that we would use it as our lunch.
We rotated out of line and let our second boat come to the front. Ryan immediately hooked another large Red and fought it to the boat.
The brown bears were really getting excited and were out in the water looking for fish.
Scott caught the last fish for their boat and
as they moved out of the line another brown momma and her baby moved down to the big rock from up the hill.
along the shore with the young one (notice him peeking out by the tree) as we went along the shore in the boat to a bog where the guide could cook lunch.
The guide was really set up to cook for his guests. He started by filleting the salmon leaving the skin on one side. Then he set up his small grill with a pan for the two fillets. He oiled the meat first and then used a little sea salt and sprinkled seasoning over the fillets. He even had an umbrella to cover the grill while the fish was cooking. It was really raining. When the salmon had cooked for about 10 minutes and was still very moist, he cut the fillets in bite sized pieces and gave a bite to each of us in the boat, then cut up the other fillet and gave the bites to each of our group in the boat parked beside us.
Of course they had to show off all the Red salmon that they had caught on their boat. We had caught the same number of fish so we had to show our fish to them.
When lunch was done, our guide took us on a scenic boat tour of the area including another beautiful falls flowing down from the level above. This falls did not have a lake above it so there were no Red salmon climbing it to spawn.
By then it was time to head back to the airplane for the trip back to Mackey Lake. On the trip back, the pilot flew over the very interesting Redoubt glacier. Although it was still raining with heavy cloud cover we could still see all the deep ice crevices and huge area of ice and snow.
Although the airplane trip is expensive, the combination of watching the bears and fishing for salmon plus the flight across the Cook Inlet was worth it and we will probably do it again.
The Red salmon fishing was pretty much done after our trip across the Inlet. Although the group still tried to fish on the Kenai, most of the Red salmon had already swam up river to spawn in Skilak and Kenai lakes. We were only catching one or two Reds a day. (Jan, Debbie and Scott on Pierce’s dock)
Fish & Game reduced the limit to one per person per day due to the small number of Reds in the river. Then on the 4th of August they closed the Red fishing on the Kenai completely because they only had three quarters of the minimum number of Reds in the river to spawn for the future.
The first run of Coho (Silvers) salmon also started coming up the Kenai in large numbers in late August. In even years (such as 2018), huge numbers of Pink salmon also enter the Kenai. This year a huge number of salmon entered the Kenai the third week of August.
On the 24th of August, Fish and Game declared that a huge number of Reds had entered the Kenai River, which allowed them to reach the minimum limit to replenish the Red salmon for the future (??). Do to the (so called) large number of Reds in the river, F&G increased the Red limit for fishermen in the Kenai back up to the normal three per day. Unfortunately, there weren’t many Reds in the river. It’s funny, but we caught only one Red after they increased the limit back to 3, but we caught a LOT of Pinks and some Silvers.
Although the Red fishing was poor this year, we still had a great time and lots of fun fishing and working together.
Pink salmon are fun to catch! They will hit almost anything, even a bright silver bare hook and are really feisty fun to catch. Unfortunately, their meat tends to be rather soft and has less flavor than the Reds, so we much prefer to catch the Reds for food.
Coho (Silver) salmon are larger than Pinks and Reds and their meat is slightly more oily than Reds. Many people prefer Silvers to the Reds for food.
Sliver fishing is more like catfish fishing in a pond or river. You bait your hook with salmon eggs or a lure, throw your line with a sinker and bait into the river and sit there waiting for a fish to hit the bait.
A Visit from the Luthi Girls
My first wife, Lindy was very close to her mother’s family, the Luthi’s from Lamont, Kansas. We would often go down to Lamont for Holidays, especially Thanksgiving and often Christmas while I was still in college. We kept up the visits whenever we could, even after we moved to California, Ohio and the East Coast. Beside Elva, Lindy’s mother, there were three Luthi sons with grandkids totaling 8 girls and three boys. The entire family was very close. And they continued to be close to me after Lindy’s passing.
Soon after Jan and I married and purchased the RV Park in Alaska some of the Luthi girls wanted to come to Alaska for a vacation. This summer they got their chance and we had a great time with them. (left to right from the top) Jill and Janette Luthi, sisters; (botom) Laurie Wilson and Allison Luthi.
Unfortunately, we were in a rainy spell in Alaska and they never did get to see the beautiful mountains across the Cook Inlet. However, we took them Homer for the day and a fun time on the Spit.The rain had stopped and the sky had cleared over Kachemak Bay and the Spit, the mountains and
glaciers were visible from the hill above Homer.
After a great seafood lunch at Captain Mike’s the girls had to visit all the stores on the Spit including a rest stop along the way and a few curiosities.
We all eventually gathered at the Salty Dog Saloon for a photo opt and a beer before heading back to the Park for the night.
Back at the Park we relaxed for the evening, had dinner and then played a game of Mexican Train.
The nest day was a trip to Seward where we spent most of the afternoon at the Sea Life Center. Again it was a really rainy day, which is not unusual for Seward.
But we toured the beautiful seaside town in the Van and stopped at the Seward Falls to take a photo of the girls holding the Madison Kansas newspaper (near where the Luthi family lives) that they found at the Seward Sea Life Center (small world)!
On the final day of their visit, we toured our local area with a trip to Soldotna. We had a waffle breakfast at Whistle Stop Hill in the Alaska Train Caboose (fun!, fun!) and then toured the Kenai River area before driving on down to Kenai and the Visitor’s Center there.
It is always great fun to have family and friends visit us in Alaska. Alaska is so beautiful even when it is rainy. The summers are cool, but not cold. The flowers and trees are spectacular in their color, growth and quantity. And the scenery is spectacular! We just love to show it off!
END OF SUMMER
As August was coming to a close, we had our last group come in to celebrate their parents Wedding Anniversary. Arlene and Galen Gordon (at the top of the photo) have been celebrating their anniversary at the park every year for the past six years. They live in Homer and love to fish for trout. So each year they have been spending their anniversary at the Park and fishing for trout at Johnson Lake. This year, their entire family came with them to celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary.
And as every year, the end of the fishing season means canning time. Kim and Jan were filling the cans with salmon and heating them prior to putting on the lids.
John and I were in the back room sealing the cans with lids prior to cooking them in the pressure cooker. There were only 83 cans this year, less than half of our normal year.
Kim Brooks at the Kenai airport (AP).
Sally, Bob, Jan (w/camera) & I at AP.
And, as always the end of the summer arrives and we have to wish all our great Alaska friends goodbye for another year. It was a rainy year and the fishing wasn’t great, but we had a lot of fun and
WE WILL BE BACK AGAIN NEXT YEAR!
Hope you come too!