Emergency Order. Increased Limits. WE MUST FISH!

To take a “personal day” on #AlaskasPlayground when the Alaska Department of Fish & Game releases two emergency orders that increase the bag & possession limits on Sockeye Salmon (Reds), is totally justifiable. After all, we don’t live on #TheKenai for the big malls and city lights. We live here for the FISHING! Okay, there are lots of other reasons that we LOVE living in *paradise*, but fishing definitely ranks at the top of the list. That said, it is not uncommon for the average Kenai Peninsula resident “Angling Addict” to reschedule their next mornings’ meetings when it is announced at 7:30pm on a Monday night that the Russian River Sanctuary the will be open the next morning (Tuesday) as a part of the Emergency Order. The fist part of the Emergency Order increased the bag & possession limits on salmon (other than King Salmon) from three per day, to six per day. With limits increased, you are still only allowed to have 12 in possession. This “12” number applies directly to those nutty fishermen/women who stay out past 12:00am and fish under the midnight sun into the next day. And by “nutty,” we mean “totally awesome and hardcore” fishermen/women. We love those kinds; they are a hoot! And their dedication is really pretty incredible.

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So here we are at 11:30pm on Monday night, scrambling to get all of our gear together to hit the road bright and early on Tuesday (the next morning). But as we always say… we can sleep in the winter! Summer is for PLAY! Bright and early Tuesday morning, we are ready to rumble and don’t waste any time hitting the road.

1With about a 45 minute drive from the Russian River Ferry, we figure that it is probably our best bet to get their an hour early, so that we are assured to get a good spot in the sanctuary. The drive appears to be filled with dark clouds, but then as we get nearer to Cooper Landing, we start to see a beautiful break in the clouds and some glorious morning sunlight and blue skies.  Today is off to a promising start already!

2The traffic, however (mixed with road construction)… it never a fun surprise to roll up on. Thankfully we had a good playlist and some hot coffee to keep us entertained and enthused!

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We’re here! And to our surprise, the line to pay the ($10.25) fee at the Russian River Ferry, we not long at all! Woo hoo! We’ll be on our way in no time!

4We always enjoy seeing the cute (and informative) signs that are found at campgrounds and day-parking pull-in’s on the Kenai Peninsula. It’s like a custom playground, with lots of little hidden treasures at every turn. A class act!

5After we rushed to put our waders on  and get ready to hop on the Ferry, we took a moment to snap some photos of the beautiful flora…

6  The crisp morning air (and un-crowded banks)…

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And of course, some of the informative signage (for our readers, we are hoping this is helpful to you, especially if you’ve never visited The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground).

10And another; Fish are Bear Essentials! Great advice for what to do if you encounter a bear. And trust us, there are LOTS in this area! The river eatin’ is G-O-O-D for a bear!

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And just this one last one! For informational purposes, remember! We swear it’s not just because we find the signs incredibly adorable. But I mean, some of them ARE shaped like bears. Aww 😉

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And off to the Ferry we go! Did you know that the world famous Russian River Ferry is located at the confluence of the Russian and Kenai River? This ferry services one of the most productive salmon sport-fishing areas in all of North America.

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And this is in our BACKYARD… *PINCH*!

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Loaded up, on the ferry, and ready to rock & roll! Only a couple minutes to get across the river, and then we will be on the banks for the OPENER!

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As we cross the river on the ferry, and begin to make our small trek down the trail to get a good “up and early” prime fishing spot, we quickly realize that… apparently 2 hours wasn’t early enough!

15Well, we said it… the Kenai Peninsula is filled with LOTS of crazy, hardcore, super-awesome “Angling Addicts!” This just proves us RIGHT once again.

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Keep in mind, this is how packed it was at 7:30am. Did these people camp here? I mean, c’mon! Whatever coffee is strong enough to get someone up and on the road before 6:00am, we would definitely like that recipe! This is nuts! And despite not finding a good spot in the sanctuary, we totally love the nuttiness! 😉

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But it still doesn’t help with our (lack-thereof) good fishing spots that we initially wanted to claim inside the sanctuary. We still decided to trek down the dock and see if we could squeeze in somewhere.

18We got our lines ready, but quickly realized that we were going to have to move back downstream to survive the morning without any hooks-to-the-eye.

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Friends; THIS is the definition of combat-fishing.

21One of the reasons that we always love coming to the Russian River confluence, is the GREAT groomed trails. If your wrists get tired or your feet get cold, there is a vast amount of spacious terrain for you to take a nature hike and enjoy some of the most stunning views on earth. Ahhh-mazing! 22

So we moved a bit downstream, and well… not a SINGLE regret! We got our limit(s) within 4 hours and were ready to eat lunch and relax by 1pm.

23Next it was time to take these babies to the cleaning table!

29Another “something special” that we love about this place, is the fun (and clever) signage along the trails. Cute, clever, but most importantly… gets the safety message across!

26a 26bAnd then there is this one…

27a 27bNow that we’ve made it to the cleaning table, it’s time to clean some fish!

30It’s always smart to be a plastic trash bag to put all of your fillets in, and some ice + a cooler (which can be left in your vehicle and not lugged around all day). This will assure that you are keeping your fillets in optimum condition. Which inventively means that they will taste the best if they are kept cold until packaging and freezing (or throwing on the grill).

31Be sure to throw your scraps way out into the river upon filleting. Leaving scraps near the filleting table will collect and begin to smell, which will further motivate and entice the bears to come to the banks and grub on your leftovers. This will also push you out of your fishing spot sometimes (because the bears run the river, and when they’re hungry… you don’t want to be around or in their way). If you see people leaving their scraps around the filleting tables (as opposed to throwing them out into the middle of the river) we recommend that you politely say something to them. A lot of people just don’t know (and/or they are from out of state/country and are visiting on vacation) and would actually greatly appreciate some helpful advice that will help them do the right thing for the rest of the angling addicts out there. We are a special community, we need to stick together and always remember to help out our riverbank neighbors. 32

After spending the rest of the afternoon fishing for trout without any luck, we decided to call it a day at about 4pm. At this time, the river was continuing to get hotter and hotter (with more and more people showing up). This last photo was taken on the ferry in the middle of the river. Until next time, friends… we wish you luck in all of your fishing endeavors! And remember, “it’s only an addiction if you admit to having a problem!” FISH ON, FRIENDS!

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Thank you to our dear friends at KSRM Radio Group for being our first source for news! Thank you for having a GREAT Facebook page that you keep updated so well. Big shout out to your AMAZING NEWS TEAM, KSRM!

Photos; All Rights Reserved to the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council and Loomis Sage Marketing

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Whitewater Rafting Six Mile Creek

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

In the beautifully quaint town of Hope, Alaska is where you will meet up with your whitewater rafting guide to start your adrenaline-packed excursion down Sixmile Creek. “Hope City” was a mining camp for Resurrection Creek (which is a waterway in the Kenai Peninsula), and was established in 1896. Formerly a mining town, this warm and welcoming place is now a popular year-round getaway for many residents in Anchorage and throughout Southcentral Alaska.

Shores on the road to Hope, Alaska

Shores on the road to Hope, Alaska

Along with Bear Creek and Glacier Creek, Sixmile Creek is a tributary Turnagain Arm. The stream’s watershed drains 161 square miles on the north side of the Kenai Peninsula, and the town of Hope, Alaska is located at the mouth of the creek’s. The Hope Road Turnoff passes alongside Resurrection Creek.

Photo Credit: Ron Neibrugge

Photo Credit: Ron Neibrugge

Six Mile Creek is often times said to be one of the most challenging class IV and V whitewater rafting trips in Alaska, according to our friends at NOVA Alaska. This trek is the premier whitewater rafting trip on Alaska’s Playground, and one of the best in North America according to lots of reviews. There are three canyons, each progressively more challenging with narrow routes, steep drops, beautiful pools, and adrenaline pumping rapids all in a gorgeous semi-rain forest.

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Rising over 500 feet in places, these towering canyon walls are draped in a lush carpet of old growth rain-forest with cascading waterfalls pouring in from the sides. Crystal clear water with healthy salmon runs make this a river runner’s dream. Safely running Six Mile’s narrowly constricted passageways takes a coordinated team effort with technical and precise paddling. Working closely with your guide, you’ll be paddling while (s)he handles the oars. This oar paddling combination gives you power when you need it, as well as precise maneuvering capability, according to Chugach Outdoor Center. For those who want the most excitement we offer paddle rafting, everyone paddles with the guide sitting in the back giving paddle commands. Six Mile has such an abundance of whitewater that one rapid will quickly fade from memory as you anxiously look downriver preparing for the next. Precipitous drops, thundering hydraulics and powerful waves follow one after the other in quick succession. With each succeeding canyon, we’ll encounter whitewater of increasing difficulty. With rapids known as “Staircase,” “Suckhole,” “Merry-Go-Round” and “Jaws,” the third and most difficult canyon has six rapids rated at Class IV+ and Class V.

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

For those up to the challenge, Six Mile Creek is truly the ride of a lifetime! All passengers must be physically capable of passing a paddler’s practice swim due to the very versatile terrain that mill be covered.

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Multiple experienced guides will closely monitor your “practice swim” to assure that you have proper form and a concise understanding of all water-safety concepts needed for ultimate safety.

Photo Credit: NOVA River Runners

Photo Credit: NOVA River Runners

And with the terrain you will be covering, pictures of these remind us of exactly why the outfitters require that you pass a “paddler’s practice swim” before embarking on a float… HOLY SMOKES!

Photo Credit: Shane McManis‎

Photo Credit: Shane McManis‎

And at the end of the intense, heart-pounding trip… you realize that you develop a very special bond with your raft team almost immediately. Trooping the whitewater of Six Mile Creek is no joke! It is the real deal, indeed!

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

It wasn’t until the early 80’s, when NOVA pioneered the Six Mile Whitewater Rafting excursions when they convinced the Forest Service to allow them to run commercial trips. Back in those days it was done with non-self bailing rafts (bucket boats). There are few companies in the world who can say they were around and used them and especially on class IV and V whitewater.

Photo: NOVA River Runner's

Photo: NOVA River Runner’s

It is really cool and really quite special that we have this great group of fun-loving professionals at Nova Alaska as well as many other excellent outfitters including Chugach Outdoor Center, in our very own backyard on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground! If you decide to take a journey of your own down Six Mile Creek, or if you’ve already done so and have some really great memories to share, we would love to hear all about your experiences in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Eclectic Eateries on Alaska’s Playground

The Kenai Peninsula is infamous for a lot of different reasons; Mountains, Glaciers, Wildlife, World Renowned Fishing… the list goes on & on. But lately, we’ve taken a real fixation to the growing number of decadent bistros from town to town. Many are offering a wide variety of healthy, organic, Alaska-grown (& caught) options. And others are just plain chalked full of scrumptious-ness from appetizer to dessert. Below, we will explain our obsession a little bit further with a few recommendations. Just one per town (which was extremely hard to do) but we will dive into more selections per town in upcoming blog posts… so stay tuned!

Kenai, Alaska

Veronika’s Coffee House – “Coffee is ALWAYS a good idea… Life is Simpler with a Cup of Coffee!”

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Seward, Alaska

Ranting Raven Bakery & Gifts – “Fresh Baked Pastries that will make your mouth water for hours… and leave you wanting more & more! Delicious Lattes and a Warm & Cozy Atmosphere tucked behind a Quaint Gift Shop!”

Ranting-Raven

Homer, Alaska

The Sourdough Express Bakery & Cafe – “Proudly Serving healthy, hearty Alaskan Cuisine. Focused on local & organic ingredients since 1982.”

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Soldotna, Alaska 

The Moose is Loose – “Some of the best donuts, pastries & baked goods in Alaska! Ask anyone you know! This place is a MUST if you are driving through Soldotna. ”

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Seldovia, Alaska

Tidepool Cafe & Bookstore – “Creative menu items, local fare, and an artsy atmosphere. It’s hard to beat the fresh options and friendly hospitality that is found at this charming cafe!”

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Halibut Cove, Alaska

The Saltry Restaurant – “Art, Food and Coastal Living in Halibut Cove, Alaska. Not to mention, a pretty cool setting and a killer view!”

saltry