I get it now. When we first moved here, I was excited to fish the world famous Kenai River. I wasn’t very successful. It is hard to walk and wade the Kenai. It is expensive to hire a guide every time I want to go out. The most logical thing was to buy our own raft. Now I get it. The Kenai is a magical place when you can access a lot of it whenever you want.
Hike 17/52. this time, we took off towards Matanuska Peak. I had never been on this trail and I tend to stay away from “The Valley” as I don’t like meth or replacing car windows. For Obi’s happiness, I decided to risk it.
It is a steep hike in the typical Alaska fashion and covers 5,670 feet of elevation gain in 4 miles. When you turn around, the views keep getting better though.Eventually, we could see Matanuska Peak.
I can never quite capture the beauty in a picture. Our hike was slowed by me turning around and “oohing” and “aahhhing” to the dogs every few minutes.
We saw one grouse on our return to the car. It flew far away very quickly. At least we saw one.
Obi seemed to have a good time and that is all that matters.
After the park, we returned to our house to host a party. We did it all in our backyard.Our party favors were dog treats. Our cakes are from Jerome Street Bakery.
We cannot recommend them enough. From their website:
“We specialize in fresh, seasonal, and organic sweets inspired by the abundance of beauty in Alaska- the dark snowy winters, the mountains, the wildness, and our lovely piece of earth we call home on Jerome Street (and the wildlife we share it with).
We are known for our gratitude cakes. All our sweets are a fusion of a love of baking and a love of the community. 100% of proceeds are donated to chosen monthly non-profit.
Every product is made with love and intention, therefore no one cake will ever look the same. Each order is unique and personal to the individual or event, and is based on seasonal availability.”
Our “guestbook” was a canvas painted like our backyard. We asked guests to paint themselves in.
Desserts were s’mores which included gluten free handmade graham crackers courtesy of the founder of Ben’s Muffins.Live music was provided by The Hot Club of Nunaka.The parents looking proud.
Beluga Point.Eklutna Lake.
Amanda and her mom at Eklutna Lake.Ben and I made it a few miles up power line trail. This is looking back towards town.One of the lakes a few miles up power line. He ran, I biked. I was tired. He didn’t seem to notice the fatigue at all.
As real Alaska residents we are allowed to put a net into the water and scoop out fish. We previously did this for Hooligan. Now it was time to do it for salmon.
ADF&G: This popular fishery takes place from late June through July in the marine waters of Cook Inlet just off the mouth of the Kenai River. Since 2003, Alaskans harvest between 130,000 and 540,000 sockeye salmon annually in this fishery.
The Kenai River is a large glacial system draining the central Kenai Peninsula. The river begins at Kenai Lake near the community of Cooper Landing and flows approximately 82 miles down to its mouth in Upper Cook Inlet, near the community of Kenai. The City of Kenai is approximately 160 highway miles south of Anchorage.
We loaded onto the boat on this rainy day and stuck our nets in the water.We held the nets in the water until feeling a thrashing fish. Then you quickly lift the net out of the water and into the boat. Your crew pounces on the fish (or multiple fish if you are lucky) and swiftly kills and bleeds them.
Occasionally, you get a monster!
When you get home, the real work begins.
The (borrowed) smoker was hard at work.
The (new) freezer is full now!
Hooligan (Thaleichthys pacificus), otherwise known as “eulachon” or “candlefish”, are a type of anadromous smelt that makes its way into a number of rivers in Alaska during the spring spawning run. They arrive in some river systems in the hundreds of thousands, and are an important forage species for eagles, gulls, bears and other species. The fish is found from the Pacific Northwest to Alaska, and the name “eulachon” is thought to derive from the Chinookan language. “Hooligan” is thought to be a derivative of the Chinookan name.
Hooligan are of interest to subsistence fishermen, who net them out of rivers in the spring. The fish are eaten dried, smoked, canned or pan-fried. In years past, they earned the name “candlefish”, because when dried, the oil content of the fish was sufficient to allow it to burn like a candle. Hooligan were formerly harvested and rendered for their oil, which can comprise 15% of their body weight during the spawning run.
Hooligan make their spawning run in May, with the males usually coming in first, followed by female fish a few days later. Males develop two fleshy ridges along their sides, and most hooligan die after spawning. They lay their eggs in sand or gravel, and the eggs hatch in roughly a month. The fry make their way to saltwater immediately, where they live for four to six years. They do not always return to the same stream where they were spawned, but they do return to the general area. They prefer slower rivers without a lot of current velocity, as they are fairly weak swimmers.
Hooligan average between eight and ten inches in size.
Hooligan are typically caught by dipnet, a long-handled net with a bag that has fine mesh in it. The fish school up in deeper pockets, and in these places hundreds of hooligan can be caught. At this writing, a dipnetting permit is not required, and anyone with a valid sport fishing license can catch hooligan. There is no bag limit on hooligan.