Thursday, December 31, 2009

My craziest story of 2009…true story

Epilogue:

There was one fishing story that I wasn’t going to share for a number of reasons. But after telling a co-worker the tale recently I decided to toss it up on the blogilicious to help close out 2009. This was a rare occasion where I have had to call in the officials for violation(s). “Second Craziest” award goes to Mother of All Snapping Turtles.

Early Morning Jump…Ward Pond

Early morning “before work” run on Ward Pond there in Wheatridge off of I-70 and Ward Road. This was mid spring/prespawn conditions for largemouth bass and I was looking to bust a few lips before hitting the office. Prespawn is one of my favorite times for bass fishing so you might see me out there before work, lunch time, after work and just plain missing work altogether. Pulling in I see one vehicle.

“Not too shabby. “ I say with an optimistic grin.

The truck is parked and I grab two rods and the tackle bag. Then proceed to pass sign after sign stating the additional (AFLO/C&R) restrictions and that this is a State Wildlife Area primarily used for fishing. This is a place that metro bassers have tried to set apart from the bait and take public areas of Denver.

Walking down the well-worn wooden stairs grasping the metal railing I start working the southwest corner of the lake. Casting at some shallow cruising bass I plink one and get a decent picture. That is when I noticed the big red dome way over on the west side of the lake. At first it looked like it could be some debris or a really huge person with a red jacket. My eyes caught another bass and the red object moved to the back of my mind.


(Serious bass jones going on here. I am certifiably insane come prespawn.)

15 minutes had passed and time was running out. I had briefly scouted the north side resulting in disappointment. Turning the corner and ending up on the west side I finally see the red object in full view. It is a tent. Someone had actually pitched a tent and was camping on the peninsula. I am used to running into baiters and bass takers here but this was way out of bounds.


(This is the actual tent setup at the sight. Not some lame reenactment with “look-alike” tents. This here is bonafide.)

“You have to be #$%^& kidding me.” I scoff in disgust. “A Tent?” But this is where it really gets crazy.

I keep moving and avoid the peninsula. Just as I am getting to start scouting the rest of the southeast cove, a guy literally jumps out of the tree line with two rifles shouldered on his back. The straps made him look like one of those banditos you see in the old western movies. Too be quite honest I damn near pissed myself in that first moment where two people eyeball one another with bad and fearful intent. He gave me a probing look as scenes of deliverance flashed through my mind. One rifle looked to be a pellet gun and relatively harmless. The other looked as if it was a .22 but hard to tell by just the barrel. That was somewhat of a comforting thought as a higher-powered rifle eliminates the option of running.

I kept moving and did my best to play it cool while still trying to scout the shoreline. Hopefully I could casually make my way past this guy as this cove was super hot for me last year.

I moved around the cove quickly to where I had landed a huge bass last year. This year however the west side of the far cove was moss covered and void of any nests. It is kind of funny how even in the face of pellet or other gun shot wounds…my focus is still on catching fish. I even scan the northern shore a second time on the way back managing to pick up another cruising prespawn bucket. Sporadically I would hear little “pop” noises as the urban commando fired off shot after shot with the pellet gun.


(Not too shabby for an early weekday cast in spring.)

Put the gear away and get in the truck. By this time I am running very late and hanging on the edge of speeding my restrictions to reach work about 8:30AM. Anything after 9AM is “asschew late”. My cell phone of course is still charging (otherwise it would have been worth the time to call before driving to work). Once at the office I made a call first to the State Wildlife office. I figure they run the place, right? They went to the trouble to put up all those signs, right? I put in the call, tell the whole story and the first thing the guy asks me, “Did you call Operation Game Thief?” (I also mentioned the fact the guy had one pellet rifle and the other I wasn’t sure about. This may have lessened his concern greatly.)

“The guy is camping out there and shooting rifles…a threat to himself and society…who knows what he is shooting at out there. Whoever has jurisdiction in this case needs to get down there, ASAP.” Really I just wanted someone to kick him off the property. If he is shooting birds he is probably taking fish. Pretty much breaking every single rule posted on all of those signs they put up everywhere.

Work was kicking into full gear so there wasn’t a lot of time or need for that matter to be jawing it up with the officers. My goal was to notify them immediately and let them handle this matter officially. The guy did have guns after all. I simply told the guy what I knew and asked for a call back for closure. Maybe they would give me the end of the story, maybe not.

“Hopefully they stop him before someone gets hurt.” Was my last word on the subject or so I thought.

The phone rings about 10:45ish and the caller ID says “Operation Game Thief”. I pick it up and the official starts with a similar line of questioning as the first.

“This is officer so-N-so and just wanted to get your side of the story here. Now where was the guy at and what was he doing?”

“Thank you for calling, sir. My name is Matt and this morning I came across a guy camping out at Ward Pond. He was shooting a pellet gun at just about everything in sight. Was the tent and everything still setup when you got there?” Heck, I just started rattling off thinking they had already caught the guy and this was my call back for the statement or sheer courtesy.

“Well we haven’t sent an officer out yet. I was just filling out the report and getting ready to dispatch someone if necessary.”

“Huh?” I sputtered completely dumfounded. “You haven’t sent anyone out yet? The guy is pretty much shooting at anything out there with a pellet gun. At the very least he can’t be tenting it up out there by I-70.”

It was disheartening and the issue was causing more grief than it was worth. Trust you me that had this been I camping out at Ward Pond on a spring day shooting a pellet gun you can bet SWAT would have been called out as soon as the first tent pole went in.

“Oh well” I scoffed a bit disgusted and went off on a rant. “Gave it a shot. Did my part and all that. Let the place go to crap. See if I care. It could be one of the best damn fishing holes if folks would just give a $%& and read all those #$%^& signs they put up all over the #$%^&* place.”

More e-mails, more requests and the usual Lumberg’s roll in. Tackle, battle, get it out the door. Soon I am looking at grabbing some lunch. Maybe even scouting the apartment pond for 20 minutes with modest expectations and a fast retrieve. The phone rings. The caller ID says Wheatridge Police.

“Oh man…” My voice cracks wondering what this is all about. “This can’t be good.” My voice mutters as I answer the phone. It was yet a third rendition of the previous officer.

“This is officer yada-yada. Am I talking to the person who reported the man camping out at Ward Pond?…”

“Yes it is. So what’s the deal. Did you catch the guy? Was he still down there?”

“Well no. Not yet. I was just on my way down there and wanted to get some more information...”

“Wow.” I blurted out forgetting my composure for a moment. “I put this call in about 8:30. I am surprised you folks are just getting out there. This guy could really be causing some damage. Heck he is probably long gone by now.”

“It’s been a busy morning.” He replied with an obviously annoyed tone. ‘I’m about 15 minutes from there now.”

Not wanting to lose this guy from my side of the issue I refrained from the ‘I might have put “possible lunatic with guns” a bit higher on my priority list” comment and filled him on the whole situation. I also remembered to ask for the follow up call.

About 3PM I am wrapping up the daily grind and coast through the next two hours. The nice part about busting butt early in the day sometimes makes that possible. Then the phone rings. It’s the officer from Wheatridge with the follow up. Now I won’t bore you with the exact dialogue of this conversation but will have to summarize in hopes of easing the punishment of reading this 4-page dribble.

The officer searched the tent and found a substantial amount of “chemical drugs” was the term he used. There must have been some other stuff too as the officer ended up calling in backup as well as transport. This means the guy is in serious trouble when the city police turn someone over to the state police.

Honestly I didn’t know whether to feel good or bad at that point. On one hand the guy was removed from the premises and nobody was injured. On the other hand the guy is going to get a good deal more than a simple warning or citation. That part of the story was something I definitely did not intend or would wish on anyone. In hindsight I still don’t know if this was a good call or not. Had the guy not been strapped like Rambo I would have pointed out the regs in person…as I usually have to do out here many, many, many times. Hanging up the phone my heart was heavy.

“#$%^!” The lamenting became twice fold in an instant. “I forgot to ask what caliber the other gun was.”

That makes a big difference in regards to this story. It just sounds better with a pellet rifle and an AR15 or something like that. Two BB guns? Well that sounds a lot less menacing. Still this has to be craziest story of 2009. Fishing past an armed bandito beats battling a turtle the size of a small car any day in my book.

Footnote: Homeless people occasionally set up shelters on the very thick wooded areas of Ward Pond. These wooded areas are a distance away from the lake and difficult to reach. I am not condoning the behavior but at least they are more wise and set up temporary camps deep in the bush away from sight. This is the kind of thing that by the letter of the law is a violation but you have to be pretty ruthless to report it. Pick your battles in this crazy world. Watch out for giant snapping turtles and armed banditos.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cheeseman Reservoir goes on Hold until May 2011


(Above: For sme reason I can't post a picture without having to provide alibis and witnesses reports the next three weeks for my boss who still swears this is me in the picture. If it were me, the rod would be bent over.)

It looks like Cheeseman Reservoir is getting a cool down and some valve work. It will re-open in May 1, 2011. Probably not a big deal to most folks but for anglers like me, well we still get a bit twitchy when recalling the Haymen Fire. This shut down the reservoir for a few years.

These temporary shut downs are good for fishing in my opinion as it gives the water and fish a much needed break after being in the spotlight of public pressure. Giving the folks a heads up now will allow them to take “Cheese” off of their 2010 fish list with a “MUST FISH” date set on May 1st 2011…trout, smallmouth and even pike will have let their guard down a bit.

For more on the story…

http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=129331&catid=188

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Evergreen Ice Fish-First run on hard water

So it is time to get serious about ice fishing, as the recent cold snap has locked up so much water. Saturday I took a journey up to Evergreen for my first ice run of the season.

Action was no-go. The combined effort of about 25-30 anglers achieved nothing. Everyone I talked to had gone throughout the day without so much as a bite. The Vexilar and other sonar units were picking up fish but they just didn’t want to eat anything. I tried several locations zigzagging from the northern shore to the middle of the lake.


(Above: The snow was frozen and compact which allowed me to make my own ice fishing shelter. This photo would be much better had I actually caught a fish to put in it. Yes, I actually made this.)

After several hours of drilling, dropping and waiting I concluded two things: The bite was not “on” and I did not have a magic key. The ice had a vast layer of crusted snow on top of it that was perfect for making igloos. Within a few hours I had mine ready to go hole drilled and all. Just in time too as the wind started picking up. It was cozier than expected but yet not quite comfortable enough. My Eskimo skills need some work for sure.

Rangers check Evergreen Lake and other popular ice-fishing destinations frequently. It does my heart good to see these folks out in force at any place and time. Better enforcement = better fishing. Park Rangers are 99.9% the best folks you ever want to meet in the wild. That remaining 0.1% is often a misunderstanding or folks just flat out breaking the rules (myself included in the fore mentioned item).

In closing this just may be my first “skunkaroo” post on the on the blogilicious (and one of the four or five goose egg trips in 2009). However I still managed to learn a lot on this trip. Putting the pieces of the puzzle together from recent trips I just may have managed to get most of the picture in focus. Next trip will be different…absolutely!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Always someone more Hard Core

Just when I think I am getting to a point where I am leading the pack, someone else shows me just how much further I need to go. Driving to work Tuesday morning during that ultra cold snap and I see this guy (picture below).


(Above: Another one of my “through the windshield” shots hence the slight haze. Even though it is not a fishing photo it does raise the bar for me in a lot of respects. If this guy can bike to work I can fish!)

It’s less than 5 degrees Fahrenheit outside. The wind is drifting snow at about 15mph making the temp 5 below zero when you add in the wind chill factor. Severe temps like this cut right through just one or two layers and freezes tears to the side of your face.

Here I am in an enclosed 4-wheel drive vehicle with the heater going. Looking at this guy you know this morning is just another morning trek for him.

“This guy makes me look a F%^&*#@ wuss!” I cough.

Mr. Arctic Two-Wheeler here should get a “hard core” award or something for biking to work in weather like this. If there were such an award maybe it would look similar to the one I have created below.

Fishing inspiration can be found virtually anywhere and this time of year I need inspiration most of all. Half of my rods are still geared up for bass and the ice gear was in storage. One the way home from work it was tossed in the truck and the sorting, re-lining and whatnot will begin. The year is not up. I still have weeks to fish. Must Fish!

My must fish name is must fish Matt and I’m a must fish must fish must fish fishaholic!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Let’s get to know…The Yellow Perch

How cool are fish? Each species is different and has biological differences that control so much about where they live and why. Knowing these facts will help dial in the location and patterns of the fish you seek to catch. Fish identification is just the start. Learning the biological aspects helps us catch and preserve this amazing natural creature. Please bear with me and my poindexter excerpts of “Let’s get to know…”.

Let’s get to know The Yellow Perch

Perch can be one of my favorite fish to catch as we roll into winter. Some of my warm water fisheries have a substantial population of perch and they will offer some decent action when the bass scene gets too cold.


(Above: One of my better Colorado perch pictures in digital format-historical/not recent photo. I almost broke out the flatbed scanner to show some more respectable perch pictures. I am not a big fan of recycling my fish pictures and will always state when a picture is pulled from my archive to make a post or article more worthy for the reader.)

Identification:

Perch are mainly identified by their black vertical stripes over a green body. Their dorsal fin is large and spiny. Pelvic, anal and pectoral fins are orange and brighter in males during the spawn cycle. The body is elongated and typically 6 to 8-inches is the standard size for Colorado. However they can reach upwards to 14-inches when conditions are prime.

The pectoral fin appears to be oversized for the fish’s body but it actually helps the fish defend itself from aggressive predators such as pike, muskie and many others.

Yellow Perch basics:

Perch are a member of the walleye family and just as tasty. The yellow perch is often overlooked as a table fish in Colorado compared to the walleye due to its relatively small size. Responsible harvest is needed to support health perch populations in Colorado waters. Removing a full limit of the most common size (even if only 6 to 8-inches) and releasing the larger sized perch is key to producing larger fish down the road.

My guess is that perch were introduced in Colorado roughly around the 1850-1890 range similar to other states in the west (I looked for the actual date reference but gave up after a few tries. I should be pretty close here).

Spawning:

Adult female perch (2-3 years olds) can produce anywhere from 4,000 to 50,000 eggs. Males reach adulthood at 1 to 3 years old.

Eggs are laid in long connected ribbons preferably over vegetation when water temperatures reach 45 to 55 degrees. (early/mid-Spring).

Depending on water temperatures, hatching occurs 10 to 20 days after fertilization.

Adults do little in regards to building nests, guarding or raising the young. Adult perch will actually eat the young if given the chance.

More about perch (Matt’s rant warning!)

Some waters do better than others with the species as it can have a tendency to overpopulate quickly. The yellow perch eats just about anything in the lower spectrum of the food chain from smaller fish to aquatic larvae. This can have a devastating impact on prime game fish habitat. Yellow perch are more of a nuisance in Colorado waters than an actual sport fish. So many natural factors play in this species’ favor that it only takes a few years for perch to seriously impact even a large reservoir if left unchecked.

What would help the perch situation in Colorado greatly is a better understanding of the species and more focus to be placed on them in every body of water where they exist. Some lakes should be managed with perch success in mind and some lakes would benefit from substantial harvesting of perch. Complete removal of perch is extremely difficult. However the system becomes healthier when perch are removed as that aggressive pressure is removed. The Colorado Division of Wildlife has done this very thing in a few reservoirs but overall the yellow perch is a low priority. Anglers could really make a difference here. Anglers that appreciate and respect a responsible harvest might focus on perch a few days of the year and suffer with a lot of small perch at first as that is what will be in multitude. The biggest perch need to go back for best possible DNA in the first few years. Each year the fish will get bigger and bigger until the norm reaches a 10-15 fish harvest in the 10 to 12-inch range. This is some of the tastiest fish in Colorado. Why are people taking out the bass? The reason you are catching 4 to 6 inch fish in multitudes and not a single 8 or even 10 is because the large fish are only being taken out and the entire population is overcrowded. This causes stunting and I see this more often than not.

Where to find yellow perch:

Yellow perch are all over Colorado lakes. If there are bass and sunfish placed in your local waters there is a good chance that yellow perch are placed there as well. A few places noted for Colorado perch are Blue Mesa, Harvey Gap and Rifle Gap. But other local haunts such as Loveland Lake, Chatfield Ponds, and Aurora Reservoir are great perch opportunities in open and even hard water. Check with your local managing agency for more perch locations as well as specific regulations.

Good Luck and Good Fishing.

Informational resource and other useful links listed below:

http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/fishfacts/yellowperch.asp

http://www.fondriest.com/species/yellow_perch.htm

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fish/walleye/biology.html

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Moving into the “Cold Three”


(Above: This is one of my favorite winter fishing shots. Cold weather can do a number on camera equipment. Keep as much gear in an insulated case as possible. If you can wear this inside your gear-not against your bare skin due to sweat is ideal. Batteries lose energy when cold. Warm them up and they should return too normal…sometimes that is.)

The hardest months for me as an angler in Colorado are what I call “The Cold Three”. The reasons are mostly obvious. The roads get piled with snow, the lakes freeze up and fish just so happen to be cold-blooded meaning that cold temperatures slow their metabolism. The colder the water temp the less active most fish become. Some warmwater species virtually shut down completely. An angler has to not only put the lure in the face of the largemouth bass but also practically open the jaws and put the lure in. Ice fishing enthusiasts aside, December, January and even early February can be the toughest for me and other anglers to catch fish consistently. But we do catch fish.

Being a year round angler means that an angler will fish at least once a month and try to catch fish with some level of quality. Let’s be honest here. If you only fish a few times June through September…you can’t truly wear the badge “Year Round Angler”.


Here are some things that get me through the winter season.

1. Moving water is open water. Tailwater river fishing spots are prime in the worst weather conditions. Low traffic at premiere trout fishing spots is simply a dream to most summer fly fisherfolks. The same location in winter will be far less crowded. If that river or stream has large rollover dams, spillways and natural elements that keep the ice free even below freezing you can fish that spot year round. The fish may actually congregate their in search of surface bugs or other food. Oxygen levels are also higher in these areas and vital to fish in winter.

2. Ice fishing is more fun than you think. This hard water fishing is whole new world. Even if it is my least favorite there are still a ton of opportunities here. Look for the lakes that allow ice fishing but not boating, like Evergreen for example. Pulling up the DOW website and searching for popular ice fishing destinations is a good step if you haven’t already.

3. Curb the fishing jones with research, gear tweaks and those fishing things you have meant to do for some time. Maybe knock off a few honeydo’s and use them for bargaining chips to get more fishing time later in the year. If things get real bad, go buy some new fishing stuff and keep focused on next season. It will be here before you know it.

4. Fish slowly. Fish are going to be far less active in winter than in warmer conditions especially for warm water species. Lakes may suffer from oxygen loss, which can be another factor on the action. During the winter months I try to fish spinnerbaits, plastics, jigs and anything else as slow as possible. Fish do not move very far to reach a lure so search casting and getting close to deep structure increases your chances of winter hook-ups. The more successful you are the more you will enjoy fishing the cold season.

5. Set a goal to fish at least once a month in the cold three if you don’t already have a similar goal. Some people really enjoy fishing in winter once they actually do so.

A few other things to mention are: check the conditions constantly, use caution and be prepared. Safety is always the first priority as winter weather can be pretty harsh in Colorado. Good luck and be cautious this season fishing the “Cold Three”.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Plan B perch

Now my second plan for the day was to go after some perch. When warmwater bassin’ spots turn frigid there is one species that remains active. That species is the yellow perch. In a number of ponds across the Front Range these fish will be eager to take a lure. Yellow perch are not in their primetime form as of yet but will be in another month or two. Scouting things out know may help at that time.

For perch I like to use two different setups. A Carolina rig with a small dropshot hook (A small hook I carry with my bass gear.) and the other is a 1/32oz jig with a matching curly tail grub. Bright colors that can be easily seen work well for a fish that has a smaller mouth than bass. Both started getting bites right away.

(Above: Yellow Perch caught on Carolina rig.)

The jig was getting the bigger fish. When an active area was approached the jig would pick up scrappers that were a bit hardier in size and weight if only by a few ounces. The tactic was simple, cast out and let it drop. Once the lure hit the bottom the bites would either happen or not. The hook was set with a small snap and I would pull up another perch.


(Above: The jig was getting perch slightly bigger and slightly thicker.)

The largest perch were in the 8-inch range. The goal was to locate the larger fish in the 12-inch range if possible. I covered most of the lake catching a few dozen fish but the larger ones eluded me.

The rigs are nothing fancy but seriously downsized and not typical of my bass or even trout gear. The jig is small and just enough weight to cast. If fishing by shore you will need the 1/8oz. When the perch are too small for the 1/8oz (which was the case today) I size down to the 1/32oz.




The grubs are a mister twister “Lil-bit” grubs and the 1” works great for the 1/32 and the 2” will go with the larger sizes.

The Carolina rig is nothing more than an extremely downsized version of the bass rig. The drop shot hook is a smaller hook that I have on hand and the same grub for the jig works in this application. I like this rig for a matted bottom or when I need the bait to bounce a bit. The drop shot application is employed if I have a mossy bottom. In truth there are many different tactics for perch. In-Fisherman is an excellent source for perch tactics and a must read for perch aficionados.

Good luck and good fishing.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Late November Bass

A few of my late fall bass trips have come up empty. But that is to be expected when you fish a species so far out of its optimum conditions. A hardore basser does not shirk away from a challenge so when I saw the forecast calling for near 70 degree temps…the pontooner was loaded up and hauled out to a Front Range Pond.

The one thing I brought today in multitude was patience. Slowly I began picking, prodding and searching for buckets. The sky was clear and the sun started beating down early. It felt like more like a summer day than a late Fall morning in November.

Just by looking at the lake and the angle of the sun it was easy to see what areas were basking in the warm sun and what areas were shaded and still sporting patches of snow. You had the Alaska Tundra or the Bahamas it seems with the contrast in ground temperature. Bass prefer the Bahamas so any island structure facing south was first on the list. After an hour of the slow-n-go my diligence was rewarded.


(Above: Stocky looking November bass. Even though the post is in December. There is a huge difference in my eyes between bass caught in December and January as opposed to those caught in November and even February. Late November bass are still pretty sweet.)

Sluggish bite, sluggish fight. No surface breaks or screaming drag. It was like pulling in a twitching log in the 2.5-pound range. It was a good way to set the pace for the rest of the day.

A long day. I will summarize as to spare you the laborious details. Covered the entire lake. Saw three more bass and spooked one of the three. Most of the time I would fish ahead of me and drift in a slow line under a breeze that you could barely feel. Sometimes the tooner would drift right over the structure and the fish would be right below me. Cast, sink, drop…wait…wait…bump…wait…bump…wait. Lift, reel, cast and repeat.

The lure selection was the same stuff I usually throw just fished a lot slower.

Fishing location makes a huge difference when chasing bass in late fall/early winter. Ponds and lakes with a healthy population of bass will put the odds and numbers in your favor. Cold water bassin’ is not the easiest thing to do so I tend to focus on my best producing lakes or ponds during the cold season. These are also places that I know fairly well meaning that I have a good idea where the best structure points are and have some seasonal/historic reference. Most fish tend to transition location throughout the year so knowing those transition patterns will help you fish the wintering grounds.


(Above: This illustration crudely represents how temperature range may look for any given body of water. Typically you assume the south side will be warmer. But trees and natural elements shade those areas and make them far cooler than the north that may receive a daily dose of direct sunlight. The red section is intended to be relatively shallow and not a vertical drop or ledge.)

Finding the most active areas for winter bass during a warm spell is simply a matter of knowing what to look for. Areas of water will vary in temperature if even only a few degrees depending on where you are. This difference in temperature will have a huge impact on the aggressiveness of warmwater fish like largemouth bass.

The shallow areas will heat up quickly and generate activity even in winter months. This area is generally on the north side that receives the most direct sunlight. The deeper water close this area is a prime target area for lurking bass. Vertical drop off areas on the north side can be pure gold. All lakes are different but these are general rules that help me find tough winter fish. Note: Some fish are stubborn and will hold to certain areas unless driven off by some force. Hence why you still may find one or two fish in shallow water as well as the colder areas.

Primary target areas are areas in the warmer water that have structure. The structure will congregate fish of all sizes. These may be the same areas that I pull fish from in the summer months. However the fish will be tucked much tighter to that structure and moving much slower.

Secondary target areas are areas that may be outside of the prime zone but still worth hitting. Some areas are so good that fish will winter in them regardless of the subtle drop in temps. More patience and more persistence may be needed to get these frigid jaws unlocked. And really therein lies the real frustration with winter bass fishing. You can locate the fish and even see them on the sonar. You practically hit the fish in the mouth with live bait and it still doesn’t bite. The fish just lumbers off a few feet like some magic floating rock. Cast. Cast…move on.

There is a ton of stuff that I am leaving out. The real keys are patience, fishing slow and hitting warm trends. Mattsabasser’s huge ass disclaimer: The best I can do is lay out general trends and guidelines that have worked for me overall. There are many exceptions to these rules in regards to winter bass fishing.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic

Proposed Gross Reservoir expansion-triple current size

(Below: This is what Gross looks like now. The image is taken from Google earth. If I come across the proposal plans indicating what the projected growth would look like, I will be sure to post that as well.)


In five years, population growth in Denver will begin to outstrip water supplies, and by 2030, the city will be short about 11 billion gallons of water, according to Denver Water.

That's one of the reasons why the agency is proposing an expansion of Gross Reservoir in southwest Boulder County that would almost triple its capacity. The draft environmental impact statement for the project, which would fill the newly enlarged reservoir with more water from tributaries of the Colorado River near Granby, was released this month.

A public hearing will be held Tuesday in Boulder to collect comments on the environmental impact statement.

Link to full article:

http://www.dailycamera.com/boulder-county-news/ci_13885451?source=rss

Matt's Rant: Gross will change significantly if this proposal is accepted (and I doubt this proposal will meet much resistance). The good news is that the reservoirs dramatic vertical drop will hold most of this increased water. The inlet area will be moved further back and harder to reach. The inlet is more or less the hot spot of Gross so more walking may reduce some of the crowds there.

Water resources are under increasing pressure. Just meeting the needs for drinking and sanitation is an enormous strain on reservoirs. Irrigation needs and simple dehydration take away the remainder. As more and more water managing agencies crunch the numbers they all point to one conclusion..."We don't have enough water."

Conservation efforts are not anywhere near where they need to be and only a small part of the equation. Look for increased water useage fees across the board as well as increased reservoir size.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Holiday Bow and Thanksgiving Brown

I am truly thankful for every fish that I catch. Big or small, any fish that thumps on the end of my line gets my heart pounding. Today I left the house in search of bass. After spending most of the day in “No-Love Warmwater town” I decided to change up. Not just change lures but change up species altogether.

Upstream was snow covered and ice-locked in many places. It was tough finding open water to cast. A few pools like the one shown below existed where sun exposure was nearly constant. These spots offered a few cast able options but these options seemed far and few between as I made the drive up the canyon. Finding open water that has active fish can be tricky this time of year.


(Above: Water movement + sun = open water on a day when active open water seemed scarce.)

Desperation was setting in. The weather was gorgeous and that seemed to encourage me onward. With icy conditions upstream I turned around and headed back downstream looking for more open water. Without waders or waterproof boots I was pretty much stuck fishing the side of water that I was on.

“Going to be another tough day.” I muttered

Running the lure through a clear water pool I get a solid hit. Within a few moments I land a near 12-inch cutbow trout. It was a gorgeous fish even if it wasn’t the largest trout you have ever seen in Colorado.

The gold patterns seemed to get the most attention and I experimented with a few. All water is different but silver patterns seem to fair better early in the year with yellow and brown colors late summer and fall. Gold patterns do well late fall and in winter tail water sections like this. Remember that lure placement and presentation is more crucial than exact color pattern in my opinion.


(Above: One quick “in the water” shot before the release. Notice the orange markings on the bottom of the jaw.)

Poking around the last open section of water near the wood bridge my line gets a heavy thump. Honestly I thought my lure had caught bottom until the line started cutting upstream. It felt like a heavy fish and a bit larger than the norm. The large yellow flash made me hold my breath until it was landed. The absence of real estate gave the fish little area to run in and the battle was over in mere seconds. A gorgeous brown trout male was in my hands and gleaming for the photo op.


(Above: Step in shot with the fish dripping and golden brown. A great holiday moment.)

I stepped in the water to make handling the fish a bit easier. The frigid water soaked into my shoes and my feet started feeling the numbing sting. My hands didn’t seem to notice as much. After releasing the fish I continued to work the rest of the fishing hole before heading out. Once my feet were out of the water it wasn’t too uncomfortable. My time was up and the rest of the day would be spent on perfecting techniques of turkey carving and cranberry sauce.

My name is Matt and I am very thankful to be living in Colorado.

Photos From the field


(Above: Farm Implement- Fall in Colorado.)

What a gorgeous hunk of rusted metal this is! A shot taken from the historical sight in Golden with the wooden fencing feebly used to frame the shot. I bet you could hook an ox up to this thing and still hoe a row of potatoes…or bail hay…or whatever this thing actually does.


(Above: This should not be viewed as trash but rather homage or symbol to broken bike parts. At least it is focused in one area and kids could be doing a lot worse things than riding bikes and throwing broken bike parts in a tree.)

Some kids made a small bike park out in the middle of nowhere. They hang the broken bike parts up in this tree. Mostly tired but a few bike frames end up on the totem. Kids could be doing a lot worse these days so I give this a free pass in regards to my anti-littering code.

Tracked by squirrel…

One of the things I try not to embellish on is my feeble tracking skills but this made me ponder for a moment. I was double-backing on my trail and noticed that a squirrel had placed its paw directly in my previous footprint. Was this squirrel tracking me? I looked further down the trail. Yes, there were more squirrel prints in the ones I had made moments before.


Now just for the record and overall perspective, due to the size of the squirrel paw in relation to my footprint…size 27…This is the biggest damn squirrel you have ever seen in your life. Be afraid my fellow anglers…be very afraid.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Snowy run on Bear Creek

Small water is not the easiest to fish but places like Bear Creek offer a small trout fix a bit closer to home. I find that these areas receive sustained pressure during the summer months but much less so in the colder season. When weather conditions are at their worst an angler may find such water all to themselves.

Once again this is not easy water to fish and the snow will often hide holes or rocks that love to send an angler tumbling to their backside. Believe you me there were many times that I stumbled and nearly fell down. Small creeks such as this do not provide the best access. Fishing holes are small and spread across a lot of shallow water. Casting at the edges of trees and behind rocks along the way. I didn’t see anything in the way of fish action right away but that was typical. Further upstream I expected better results.

Reached one of the better holes meaning it had more depth and width and started casting. There was a small tug and I had hooked into something. A small brown trout leapt from the water spit the hook and vanished from sight. It happened so suddenly that I froze for second in anger.

“Dangit!” My voice cringed knowing that bites were hard to come by on Bear Creek.

Casting through the same section I get another tug. This time I try to land the fish quickly. This fish breaks the surface. It is a 10-inch brown with dark coloring, a prime example of the quality fish in this stretch of water. I reach down and the fish is gone.

“Sonofa!” I mutter again with taste of defeat twice in my mouth. “That was better than the first one.”

Cast, cast, change up, cast, cast, cast…nothing. I moved up to other areas and action was nil. Cast, cast, cast…nothing. Some areas took real work getting into. Cast, cast, cast, Nothing. Then I bushwack into a wider section of the stream and throw upstream at the base of a rock. The lure is run quickly downstream through the pool where I expected to get bites. Nothing. But an eel-shaped shadow is following the lure out of the pool. Over the small sandbar and through the riffle a 13 maybe 14-inch brown nudged at the lure and was gone. I had just got a good glimpse of the fish as it turned to strike and then jet away. My heart jumped in my chest as I frantically search cast for the fish. Nothing.

It may sound silly to get excited about a 14-inch brown but for Bear Creek a 14’er trout is like a 2 or 3-pounder on the South Platte…at least for me anyways. Regardless I had lost three opportunities and untested water was running thin. Moving back down I did my best to work every scrap of water that untouched on the way up. My mind had already started consoling myself about taking home the skunk with mantras like; “Not everyone catches fish every time they fish.”

Well past the best sections I was finishing up some of the shallow water sections in pure desperation. Picking apart every riffle, eddy and undercut bank I get a solid hit and land a beauty 10’er brown. Not the biggest brown trout you will ever see but downright respectable for Bear Creek.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic

Tracking of the “Muck Monster”

Have any of you been following this story out of Palm Beach? Apparently this “muck monster” has been sighted a number of times and now even videotaped.




Authorities are trying to pass this thing off as a manatee. I think it resembles an eel of some sort. Probably a Moray Eel or a ray maybe? This is only one of many sightings that occur in the southern coastal regions of the United States and with so many different species of varying size I am amazed there isn’t more of these sightings.

Hopefully this creature will be captured and found out to be an invasive species or just a wandering ray. Stuff like this amazes me and even when they do identify this as a wandering salt water eel or snake of some sorts, I will still tell my kids and grandkids grand tales of the elusive muck monster.

“…It was 40 feet long I tell you. It would prowl the shallows for little children, their pets and Pokemon toys…Fearless, with no legs but a hundred razor sharp teeth and two little black beady eyes…That is why we will never vacation in Palm Beach, children. This year we are going to the Gunnison…”

Here are a few links that I will toss out that give more background on this particular sighting.

http://www.wptv.com/content/news/centralpbc/westpalmbeach/story/muck-monster-strange-sea-creature-florida-water-tu/ukOqHoMA_kqFqfGeVWt77Q.cspx

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2099179/florida_muck_monster_fails_to_enthuse.html?cat=8

I looked for more stories, sightings and video but was unable to dig up anything more than just re-hashes of the original story. Hopefully a capture of this creature makes the AP wire where I would get some closure. And that is the problem with these types of stories. They are quick to flood you with the hype but if the story fades in popularity they don’t bother with the follow up. If it turns out to be someone’s fish the blurb might only make it to the local news.

Here is a link below with a similar story. He has even gone so far as to set up cameras around a nearby canal where he has seen some type of large water creature described as “sea serpent”. The article mentions Russ Sittlow has captured some footage but nothing has been released to the public as of yet or at least that I could find.

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/nov/16/man-says-30-foot-monster-lurking-canals-madeira-be/news-metro/

This one may be even bigger than the specimen in Palm Beach…or he may be trying to piggyback on the P.B. Muck Monster hype. Seeing is believing for me so hopefully Russ has more than just fuzzy pictures of waves or something.

For the record I won’t try to prove or disprove any existence of sea creatures that I haven’t personally caught. It may however put places like Palm Beach on my fishing “scout list”.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Beautiful fall river trip

This time of year trips are planned with one eye on the weather. Warm weather and clear skies make the longer distance journeys a bit easier to pull off. This week there was an open window in the forecast and we hit it with a vengeance. The meet time was set early and we geared up in the dark.


(Above: I try to take a shot of this stretch of river every trip. Sometimes this is the HOT section and sometimes it’s the NOT section.)

Vehicle reaches destination shrouded in wonder. The sun rose and light drifted slowly into the canyon. Large and twisted wood branches hung from thick old trees guard the trail. My feet try to step light amongst the rocks, roots and fallen branches. There is a bit of magic that can be seen at this time that humans often miss. Mist rolls off the water surface as dark shadows fade like escaping ghosts. A raven’s call is heard above the pine canopy. The lone bird seems to be heralding to all nighttime creatures that their shift has come to an end. Now was the time to shelter themselves into their brush-covered burrows and other dark places. In this landscape our careful footsteps seem like thunder drown in the commotion of fall mountain twilight.

Morning comes…

The air was cold and slightly damp. My nose was heavy with the smell of frost, rotting leaves and the mud of the exposed shoreline. Summer smells of pine and sagebrush were greatly subdued. This is the way of fall. The succulent shades of green fade to hardened hues of red and gold. This is the last warning Mother Earth gives you before covering everything in a blanket of snow and cold. For some, fall is a time of harvest and a time of thanks. For the brown trout this is simply “the time”. The time where males select the best areas to make nests and the females seek those nests out to lay eggs and lay ground for the next generation. Fish born now could be that trophy fish you catch ten years from now or even better your son or daughter releases after that once in a lifetime photo is taken. My focus was purely on getting about eight cups of coffee out of my body. Then get the gear and go.

A million things run through my mind as the water roars in the near distance. “Is this going to be a good day? What do the fish want today?” The only way to know is tie on and cast out. Not long into the day Don hooks and lands a quality brown.


(Above: Here is Don with a beauty brown. He is literally holding his breath in this shot with what is almost a “fingerless” hold. It almost looks like the fish is smiling. How the heck does he do that?”

The water was low. By far the lowest that I had ever seen it as I typically fish here a month or two earlier when the run off has settled. Lower water was a curse and a blessing. The deep and wider areas were easier to exploit. But some of the shoreline and undercut banks that had been consistent were now high and dry. In a lot of aspects it was like fishing a completely different body of water.

Crossing the river…

With the water down there was now a chance to cross the river and fish a section that I had never been able to before. Even with the river down it was two feet or more in some spots. Crossing rives can be treacherous. The water surges past your legs and at any moment it feels like you are going to loose footing and tumble down the river. Once across to the other side we could see that the drop in water level removed most of the of the sweet spots that I had dreamed about. The lack of pressure seemed to offer some larger fish.


(Above: Here is Don with another brutish looking brown trout. Gorgeous fins on this fish.)


Finding the pattern…

Fish tend to fall into a pattern and clues help unlock that puzzle. Each cast can be a piece of that puzzle if you look hard enough. After a while it was fairly easy to tell that a certain color and size would trigger bites if presented correctly in front of aggressive fish. One color seems to fair top better than the other on any given day and the color darn near varies by season.

By now I was getting numbers but nothing remarkable. Action gets steady for a moment with a number of fish all under 16-inches. I double back on a pool where I had missed a few bites previously my lure gets clobbered. A solid hit surges the rod over and the contest is on.

The fish runs upstream but the water shallows out quickly. The brute turns back and makes a run for the deep. I let it go for a distance and then lead him right back up again. With a reach down and lift…snap…hook removal…the fish is released and sent on its way.


(Above: My best fish of the day and sporting a really cool band of big spots. The camera washed out some of the color. Catch and Release!)

Another amazing day fishing in Colorado. This is exactly what the doctor ordered to shake off those work stress blues.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Battle Catfish…the montage

The blog updates are much easier to put together than the video montages. Hence why you typically get updates when they happen and the video montage comes out later. The catfish battle was a great day and the footage was pretty amazing. It took me a while to edit and put it all together. Hopefully it was worth the wait.



One of the main factors in catching these brutes on this fall day in my opinion was water temperature. The lake was cooling and when I ran the fish finder it clearly indicated one side of the lake was warmer than the other. The warmer water was where I pulled the brutes.

My fish finder did not pick up a single fish by the way and the sensitivity was set at 9. It did however pick up “blobs” off of the bottom. As water temps drop, fish metabolisms slow. I would target these sonar anomalies as if they were “hibernating” fish. Nothing to lose really. This radar shot is very similar to where I pulled the first catfish. The catfish would sound off the fish alarm when it was running so I know the unit was working properly.





The other factor was the pork trailer and scent spray. You can use rotten chicken guts if you want too. Me? Well I was just going with some run of the mill pork trailer. For added measure I tossed on a dose of fish attractant spray. Far cleaner setup than a bag of whoknowswhat. The link below is not the exact product but close enough. Note: I do not use this on AFLO water as I believe it to be organic material and classified as “bait”. Even though some tournament anglers will disagree. It is just my nit-picky disclaimer of where I personally define the stuff. Use your own judgment. I can say it works for catfish sometimes.

http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10151_-1_10001_15479____SearchResults

Lastly, I fished slow. It was kinda grueling. I had to tell myself that this was a relaxing day on the pontooner and we wouldn’t catch anything. Work has been kicking my butt seriously and just getting out would be good. The whole reason for going for catfish in the first place was just to check it off my 2009 list of “Fishing things to do”.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Get your head in the game

One of the most important aspects being overlooked by a lot of anglers is “mentality”. Your mind can be your best friend or your worst enemy when it comes to fishing. It starts with something as basic as focus and the results can literally be night and day. It starts with how much focus you put into your gear before the trip. It may end with that one fatal mistake where you weren’t paying attention. If there was one thing that more anglers need out there today...it is focus.

It sounds simple doesn’t it? But honestly, this is the one test that I still have to master completely as a human and angler. Constant focus is like a super special human power when it comes to fishing. Sometimes it just falls in your lap and you know right where to go and what to throw to nail big fish the size of a truck. Most days however you need focus just to get out alive or beat the skunk off a no fish day. Some trips vary. But for the sake of putting another post in the “rant” section I submit a few basic pointers on something so basic as Focus.


(Above: This is what my brain looks like on some days. If I approach the water carrying all of this mental baggage the results will most likely be dismal.)

The good news is that a lot of anglers fish to get away from the stress that our modern world can provide. The natural setting is peaceful and clears the mind. The serenity can often help break down the major issues or provide solutions where the cluttered mind found none. In these cases it may matter less in regards to catching fish. Getting out is more important. If this sounds like you then “getting out” is where you want to place most of your focus. The poindexter fish facts may just clutter your head.
Then there is another segment of anglers so focused on “catching” that it borders on sheer lunacy. The first thing they do when they reach the water is empty their brain out onto the shoreline. Even common sense is lost along with car keys and any game plan whatsoever. It takes several moments of fumbling with gear, stumbling to the shoreline and flailing a few casts before settling down into a rhythm. Sadly, this resembles my mentality more often than not. There are a few basic tips for both mentalities that are a good foundation to build a better mentality from. I have to remind myself of these tips now and again.

1. Come up with a game plan. It doesn’t have to be set in stone and can change with conditions but having a plan of action to start with will help keep you from going in circles. Walk through the game plan in your head once or twice just to make sure things add up before you waste time with the dry run.

2. Focus on why you are out there. If you are just there to relax…do it. If you are there to fish, fish with intent and knowledge. Learn the facts about the species for both you and the fish.

3. Keep your gear organized and in good condition to avoid a lot of unnecessary problems. Most of my worst moments when fishing are when I have to deal with a problem like old line snarling up or breaking off on fish. This is just one example.

4. Keep your cool. I have seen some fantastic meltdowns on the water. It is always amusing at first glance. But this behavior only leads to self-destruction and sets a poor example for the sport itself. If you lose a fish, get a tangle or something else goes awry understand that is just a part of fishing. Take a deep breath, count to 10, whatever you have to do to get back to casting.



(Above: This is what I wish my brain would look like 24/7. When it all comes together like this the fish practically jump right in the boat.)

Finding the successful pattern to fishing on any given day is really a lot like putting together a puzzle. The wind, cloud cover, air temperature, water temperature, humidity, moon phase, time of year and even time of day can provide pieces of the puzzle. This puzzle, once together will help you figure out everything you need to catch ALL of the fish in that particular lake and stream.

Fish My name fish is Mattsafishbasser fish must fish MUST FISH!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

November Bows on a change up bait

Gorgeous rainbow caught this weekend using a weightless grub setup and drift fishing. Not much to say but what a beautiful fish. This is the same location that was infested with leaches during the summer. Zero leaches on this fish lead me to believe that the past occurrence was merely a seasonal problem.


(Above: I am literally holding my breath for this shot praying the fish does not flip out of my hands. One photo and release.)

Plastics for trout have been an experiment of mine but for some reason all the tricks in the bag were coming up with nothing. I was getting a few bites here and there but nothing was triggering the hard strikes. Then I downsized to the grub and harder hits followed. No big deal right? Well this is a lake that I swore to have dialed in a sure-fire money pattern. But on this day the money pattern was a no-go. The whole day could have been a skunker if I would have stuck with the bigger bait.

(Above: Illustration of the weightless grub setup showing how the 1/0 hook sits in a 3 or maybe 4 inch grub. I usually tuck the point of the hook back into the body of the grub for a more sleek profile as well as being a bit more weedless.)

Casting range is minimal but the weightless grub can offer a finesse presentation where big and bulky just isn’t getting it done. Go ahead and rig one of these up and watch grub’s swirling tail action in the water. It is downright hypnotic.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The new MAD Show Intro

One of the things on my “to do list” this year was a re-vamp on the MAD Fishing Show. The original intro was pretty lame in regards to the half-assed picture with “Matt and Don”. The only thing I really liked was the lake shot that I ran the text over. But hey, no one pays me to crank out this crap so I guess I just got lazy.

When I did finally get around to redoing the material it came out with some mixed results in regards to my enormous focus group that ranges from two or three co-workers. What do you fawlkenz bloggers think? Remember, this is just the intro. More full-length movies will be in the works.



I did a little tweak on the logo and then reworked the image slides. It is basically the same material as before. The picture at the end and a few other elements may or may not work for the overall storyline but you get the idea. If you like or dislike the intro…select the proper rating box at the bottom of this post.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Let’s get to know…The Brook Trout

How cool are fish? Each species is different and has biological differences that control so much about where they live and why. Knowing these facts will help dial in the location and patterns of the fish you seek to catch. Fish identification is just the start. Learning the biological aspects helps us catch and preserve this amazing natural creature. Please bear with me and my poindexter excerpts of “Let’s get to know…”.

Let’s get to know the Brook Trout

One of the trout species I don’t target near enough and should get more acquainted with is the brook trout. The vibrant fin color alone is worth seeking them out a few times a year.


(Above: One of my better brook trout pictures. The male brook develops the hooked jaw and more vibrant color patterns especially during the spawn.)


Brook trout basics:

The CDOW information below:

An entry to Colorado in the late 1800s, the brook trout feeds on aquatic and terrestrial insects and will rise to a large range of small lures, baits and flies. Brook trout have white spots (worm-shaped on top) on a dark background with tri-colored outlined fins (orange, black and white). This prolific fish often becomes overpopulated and can out-compete other trout. They are typically found in higher elevation lakes, beaver dams and streams.

That isn’t a lot of info is it? I scanned a few other websites to accumulate more on the subject. This will fill in some of the gaps.

Description: The average length is 10-12 inches but Brook Trout can be caught measuring up to 21 inches and weighing 4-6 pounds. Breeding males develop a hook at the front of the lower jaw. Typical coloring is olive-green to dark brown on the back with silvery sides and pale spotting. All colors intensify at spawning time.

Brook and brown trout look very similar, especially the females. One of the easiest ways to distinguish between the two is by the color of the dots on the body as well as the dorsal fin markings. Brown trout have black dots where as brook trout have only red and yellow. Dorsal fin of a brook trout will tend to have a striped pattern where as the brown trout dorsal fin will be dotted. You would be surprised how many anglers do not know the difference.


(Above: Brown trout, see how similar these two fish species can look? Black and red dots are a giveaway for brown trout identification.)

Biology: Brook trout prefer water temperatures of 52 to 56 degrees with clear water. This species spawns in late summer or autumn in gravel beds in the shallows of headwaters of streams in water temperatures of 40 to 49 degrees (n average). The female digs the redd where she lays 100-5000 eggs depending on her size. Some brook trout females will dig several redds depositing eggs in each. Adults do not expend any energy protecting the next once eggs are laid.

They hatch 50-100 days later. The life expectancy is an average of five years. The brook trout is carnivorous and feed upon a wide range of organisms. They have been known to eat their own eggs at spawning time and even their own young.

Ok, so there is the poindexter 411. At first glance it all comes across as a bunch of bookworm mumbo jumbo to a lot of folks. If that is the case, give the section above one more read and look for clues that break down where the fish would live best and what could be its most active period. Hopefully you gather a few key aspects.

Clear, cold water is prime habitat for the brook trout. Clear flowing streams fed from springs or other clear water sources are good places to start looking for these fish. The higher the altitude, the colder the water so low valley rivers that reach 65, 75 degrees or higher are unlikely waters for brook trout. That is a good start right there.

The next important fact would be the spawn period. I like to target species before the spawn. Most anglers refer to this as “pre-spawn” and the behavior is much similar to the rut of elk or other mating periods. Both the male and female of the species will be at its peak of physical prowess. So according to the verbage above…late summer is a good time to focus on these fish if you want to catch it in the peak color period before the actual spawning period.

The last aspect comes from the general size of the fish. Most sources note that this species averages 10-12 inches most of the time. This means their forage base and your lure should be on the smaller side. Small fly patterns and lures in the 1/32oz range are preferred.

Harvest note: Sometimes brook trout overpopulate themselves in smaller streams. Harvesting this species responsibly helps the ecosystem overall if done responsibly and where prudent. Check with managing officials for more information in regards to current brook trout limits or waiver of harvest limits at the precise location that you intend to fish.

Sources:

http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/SpeciesID/

http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/pubs/notebook/fish/b%5Etrout.php

http://www.fishweb.com/recreation/fishing/fishfacts/fish/brooktrout/brooktrout.html

Snow bass

The elusive snow bass can be tough to track and even more difficult to catch. For some silly reason I love to fish in tough conditions. This was another one of those days were you get blizzard conditions and the water temp is still flirting near 60 degrees. Prime weather for snow bass.


(Above: Snow bass – Note: my fingers are not in the gills but rather tucked underneath. But exposing the gills to cold air is poor form.)

Poor handling note: Fingers in the gills to fish are like poking a hole in your lungs. Even when the fish swims away it could suffer some serious affects of the damage. Freezing air on the gills of fish can do just as much damage.

Fish handling is something I try to improve on as much as fishing skill and want to stress highly that the open gills shows “poor form” for snow bass. Only grabbed one shot and then a release. Next time I will do a much better job on the hold. I tend to be a critic of fish handling at times especially my own. Hopefully this poor example will serve to educate others.

Good Luck and Good Fishing

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

High Country Brooks…signs of winter

This is a somewhat late and quick update as the fish and pictures aren’t enough to milk into a long drawn out post. But there is enough quality information to make a short blurb useful. So many of my trips go un-posted.

The fishing trips are starting to require more fortitude as we roll into colder weather. Even after we did the homework and picked a “good” weather day, we still faced colder temps and harsher conditions than forecasted.


(Most of the fish were tiny. This was my largest on the day. Just to get my money’s worth from the POS Kodak…I drug it along on this trip and darn near $%^&* up every shot with it. 2010 will require some equipment upgrades.)

Another mentionable note is the snow encountered. During the previous drought cycle snow was not a concern until we reach late November. This year we seem to be falling back into the traditional weather cycle and the high country is getting more snow and it’s sticking pretty well in spots. Instead of looking at the forecasted high temperatures anglers need to be more concerned with the forecasted low temps on the day you are fishing and dress for that especially if you are hitting the spot early in the morning.



(Above: Here is a trail section covered with snow. Puddles are forming ice and it won’t be long before ice fishing starts. One side was snow covered and about 30 degrees in air temperature. A stark contrast to the other side.)

Fishing all year round in Colorado requires the ability to transition through seasons and weather conditions. Fishing in the cold season requires a lot of fortitude. I do not control the weather so rather than loathe and complain about the cold season…I simply find ways to fish through it.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monster Shark bites shark…still roams Australia waters


(This is nearly a 10-foot shark with a huge chunk taken out of it by a much larger shark. This “Monster Shark” is estimated at possibly 16 feet long and still prowling the waters near Queensland Australia. How @#$%^ amazing is this!?!)

A "MONSTER" great white shark up to 6m long is prowling a popular Queensland beach after biting another great white almost in half.

Swimmers were warned to stay out of the water off Stradbroke Island after the shark mauled another smaller great white which had been hooked on a baited drum line.

The 3m great white was almost bitten in half.

The fictional shark at the centre of the Steven Spielberg blockbuster Jaws was estimated to be more than 1.5m longer.

"It certainly opened up my eyes. I mean the shark that was caught is a substantial shark in itself," says Jeff Krause of Queensland Fisheries.

Link to full article:

http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,21498,26265642-948,00.html?from=public_rss

Are you Fawlkinz Bloggin’ Me?

The blog format seems to be working out pretty well. Easier than the website and I don’t pay a nickel for hosting. It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of a hosted site but the simple format makes it great for quick updates. Yep, the blog format is pretty cool but I often wonder if viewers feel the same way as well as how many other fishing blogs are out there.

If you have a fishing blog, feel free to add me to your “follow” list. It will make it easier to keep track of your bloggy friends without having to save shortcuts in your windows browser. Every time you log in they are there. It also makes it easier for me to know you exist out there in blogland. I will add you to my list as well. (Check out MKG’s blog while you are at it. Excellent high country angler blog.)



If you like my blog (or even hate it for that matter) and view regularly it would be super cool if you showed some love by adding a rate or comment once in a while. Otherwise I have to add a super cheesy looking web hit counter or the meticulous blog hit counter with statistical research that quite frankly is a lot of work to dial in. Market research is better left to the other sites. I just want to fish and share tidbits along the way.


If you want to start a fishing blog or have general bloggy questions, feel free to shoot those over via the e-mail address at Coloradocasters@yahoo.com I may or may not be able to help. I am not a super tech savvy guy to be quite honest. Heck, you should be impressed that I was even able to hotwire this thing up at all.

Fishing is not a pastime for some of us. It is an obsession. The results are sometimes so amazing that the shameless bragging is somewhat justified. A blog is a great way to do that and more. Until I get more response I will always wonder… Are you Fawlkinz Bloggin’ Me?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Battling with the Big Meows

I have been telling myself for some time: “One of these days I am going to focus on catching catfish.” I have caught quite a few catfish by complete surprise and wondered for a while now how well I would do if the focus were placed purely on big catfish.

The recent burst of warm weather was a welcome sign for warmwater fishing. The rise in temperature opens a window of opportunity. So Saturday I left the house targeting big catfish. Had I known the full extent of what would unfold…I surely would have packed a lunch. The day turned into a battle of the big meows.


(Above: Beastly looking catfish. This guy was a work out to land. I’m using an old Shakespeare setup and 8lb line.)

The first one battled me for what seemed like hours. Just the sheer weight of these beasts makes them difficult to land. Forgot to weigh or tape the big ol cat and regretted that for several moments afterwards.

Then I got a second bite and another battle. Man, these fish can wear a guy out. Every time I thought the fish was beat, it would manage to turn its head and surge back out. Then it is a matter of grabbing and landing the huge fish. I thought the first one was tough. The second was almost impossible.


(Above: First pic of second fish-Just look at this fish! By far my largest catfish and rivals some of the pike I have caught in Colorado.)

If people knew what really was swimming in Colorado waters…they would not let their dogs and children play in them. =D


(Above: Second pic of second fish-What an amazing experience to battle such a physically powerful fish. The second fish was absolutely huge.)

The second fish weighed in at 12lbs on my lame spring scale that is half rusted. This may be a way off and not very reliable. The tape said 32-inches and I am more confident that is correct (the best I could do solo on the pontooner).



All fish were released, as big monster catfish like this deserve a lot more respect than they get these days.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hitting the jigs and jig combos.


These gear articles are not really my forte’. There are so many experts, pros and more experienced anglers that cover the gear so much better than myself. It is only on the rare occasion that I feel compelled to write a “gear piece” in order to fill the gaps that may have been missed. Honestly, I am here just to fish and post some pictures once in a while.

Jigs are something I fish with a lot. Jigs are loosely defined as creature baits as they look like a critter as opposed to a fish. Creature baits are perfect for a wide range of Colorado fishing conditions and species. There are several aspects that make the jig work. The first and foremost of these aspects would be its versatility. You can get various weights, shapes and styles that suit anything you are trying to do. Before I write a novel and try to cover everything about jigs, let me cover some of the basics and a few of my favorites…beyond that you are on your own.

Essence of jig: A jig really is nothing more than a hook with the weight attached just below the eye depending on the style. The weight and shape are critical to the type of structure you are trying to fish. Too heavy and too rocky of terrain and you are just going to lose a small fortune in jigs. Too light and too open of water and you won’t be able to cover the water effectively enough to find cruising fish. To match the common types of forage I pretty much confine myself to the smaller weights and then compliment it with some sort of plastic trailer. See my combo section for detail on this.

Gear setup basics: Heavier line in the 10lb range, braided for heavier cover and a medium to heavy action rod is preferred for jig fishing. Pulling the jig from rocks and heavy structure as well as being able to drive in a good hookset, the heavier action rod is key. If you don’t have

Where the jig works best: Fish love the jig where it most resembles the forage base at the lake or spot you are fishing. Crayfish are probably the most common and can thrive in almost any situation. However crawdads prefer muddy bottoms or gravel type structure. Riprap is good too for crawdads but the spectrum for good jig fishing starts to fade the closer you get to areas that snag easily. I find tremendous success fishing the jig at the edge where heavy structure meets the flat. Large rocks or “patches” of structure is another great place to work to the jig.

Mud/clay/sand: Fish as slow as possible with a jerk/stop motion. I will often pull the rod tip back with a quick snap motion that gives the jig a “pop” action. This literally calls the fish to it.

Gravel/rock/riprap: Bumping the cover with your lure makes most bass go crazy and hit the lure hard. Speeding up the retrieve will also help keep avoid the snag ups. In the next paragraph we get a little more in depth.

Jigs are not to be considered a snag free or weedless lure. The jig works best in areas where the bait won’t constantly snag up on heavy weed cover. Other structure types such as submerged tree cover and rocks are more complicated. The quandary is the difficulty to fish the jig in heavy structure but there are fish there. The key is fishing heavy structure with caution and confidence. You have to face the fact that losing a few jigs in heavy cover is going to happen but the fish are worth it. A few tips that will help you lose less jigs in heavy cover are listed below.

1. Speed up the retrieve. The jig will bounce off of the structure as opposed to getting stuck in the crevices or cracks.

2. Skirts and plastic trailers allow more buoyancy and bounce. There is that mentioning of trailer combos again.

3. Fish lighter weight or “finesse” style jigs as they are not as snaggy as say a ¾ oz big-craw like they throw in Texas. Finesse jigs take longer to fall and typically don’t provide rattles. This rule has some give and take.

Action element-Add the trailer: The versatility of the jig is very much reliant upon the trailer or skirt that you add to the weighted hook. Most styles of plastic trailers look very lifelike and active with even a little bit of movement placed on the lure. A steady “pop-pop-pop” motion is often all it takes to get a strike. The fact you can select and change the color and size nearly every cast is supreme for dialing in just the right pattern for that day or even hour.

Grubs and crawdads are probably the most common jig trailers used for all sorts of species. I didn’t run a bonafide survey or anything to find this out either. The grub is so popular as a jig combo that they sell a number of colors and sizes all boxed up together ready to tie on and throw. Crawdad plastics are my number two combo trailer for the jig. End of survey. Crawdads are like little lobsters and fish (bass, trout and more) will be hard pressed to pass them up.



More plastic combos (Tubes, minnows, worms and bait-so many options):

Tube jigs are another great minnow or creature pattern. Anytime I think the water has a good crawdad base, tube jigs are going to get some game time. The jig-n-tube can even tackle heavy rock structure without substantial torment. Sure you are going to lose a few. Don’t let that hold you back. Fish are holding in those rocks. Maybe the best fish is holding in those rocks. You don’t know til you throw so losing a few jigs is worth it. Colors for the tube jig should match the forage you are trying to copy. I use a brown and black pepper 3” tube and try to keep the lure bouncing off the rocks and as close as I can get without snagging. And I still snag up…part of the terrain.

Plastic minnows make a good trailer as well. My preference with plastics is usually weightless but when I need a fast drop or raise-drop motion, the jig-n-minnow works great. I also pick up fish with a “dying minnow” presentation on the jig-n-minnow. I use the same 1/4oz or even 3/16oz jig with your favorite minnow plastic. Cast out and let the bait drop. After two or three minutes I twitch the bait and make it look as if it is convulsing off and on. After a while I lift the rod tip and raise the bait a few feet and then drop it back down again to repeat the convulsing. You will lose a few jigs here as well but I love this for a fall and winter bass pattern. Patience is another primary tool for this bait.

Plastic worms are rarely worked on the jig simply because a Carolina or Texas rig setup is going to give you the best action for this lure type. But when I am fishing a hot spot for a while and the action on the tube or grub dies, I will change the bait to a worm style presentation on the same jig. This will offer a different pattern to suspecting fish without having to re-tie. One or two casts and you know if that was a good move. It’s 50/50 but that 50 is better than nada.

Skirted jigs are my favorite and hopefully everyone has stopped reading this article by now. The multi-colored strands that make up the skirting provide action, buoyancy and even help prevent snagging up. Instead of the usual lead-head why not dress it up a little?

(Above: This is my go-to jig-n-grub combo that does really well in certain areas. This rig doesn’t resemble a lot of forage types but the color and action gets bites in quantity.)

As mentioned before I am not the best source for gear information. Hopefully my feeble attempts at explaining gear, lures and tactics is somewhat useful to the one or two readers of my bloginess.


(Above: This is my go-to jig-n-grub combo that does really well in certain areas. This rig doesn’t resemble a lot of forage types but the color and action gets bites in quantity.)

As mentioned before I am not the best source for gear information. Hopefully my feeble attempts at explaining gear, lures and tactics is somewhat useful to the one or two readers of my bloginess.

Good luck and Good Fishing.