By Kenai Riverside Fishing Guide Dave Maternowski
Many thoughts run through my mind when I go to sleep on June 10th, the eve of opening day. Are the first vanguard reds in the Upper Kenai? Is the sled prepped with reigns ready? What spot am I gunning for before first light even arrives?
With the last clench knot improved, drag set and my alarm set for 2:45 am, I go to sleep knowing full well that 2:00 am will see me chomping at the bit, making coffee and filling the cooler with ice.
While the various rigors of guiding can be a whirlwind at times, I must always remember what I consider the two most fundamental aspects: patience and observation. Fishing without these two things in mind is like throwing a dart with your eyes closed.
While being on the water nearly every day provides valuable insight into what bite is on and where the fish are, it surely will and does change every single day. Sometimes the slightest current break or unknown trough can bring great success to those who pay attention.
What’s more, being patient and observant with guests is critical if I want to teach effectively. It may seem a daunting task to teach what some spend years learning to do in just an afternoon, but that is exactly what I came here to do.
There isn’t much that is more satisfying than pulling up to a favorite gravel bar and handing someone a rod, watching them seek out good fishy water and find the exact drift I would fish before I even tell them. Seeing people develop skills and understand why they are doing what they’re doing is a win every time.
So after the last trip when the boats are broken down and the waders hung to dry, I think about what I’ve observed in the season. Surely certain fish, hot spots, bead colors and sunny days are recalled. But more than any hog rainbow or nickel bright silver, I remember the people I’ve fished with and the experiences I’ve had.
I hope to see you out here on the Kenai; in the meantime I’ll be counting the days.