Saturday, April 18, 2009

Win some lose some...a lesson from "Old School"

Pretty much everyone has heard the old adage “It’s not called ‘catching’ for a reason.” In fact for every angler fishing is a series of hits and misses or wins and losses. Most of the time you weigh this with reasoning and perspective. Just getting outdoors for a few casts should be considered a “win”…right?
Not so much for this guy. On my way out of a well-traveled fishing spot I see the broken fishing rod in the trashcan. This is a “loss” in everyone’s book except maybe the tackle store. My guess is that this angler got hooked up into a snag, pulled too hard and paid the price. A little ounce of patience would have avoided this. Maybe it wasn’t a snag. One careless step and SNAP! There goes the rod tip. A little more focus would have saved the day here.

The point I may be trying to make is that so much of what you need to learn and know about fishing comes from the tried and true old school methods of common sense. A lot of those painful “losses” and experiences come from simple carelessness. This is something I tell myself every day before walking out the door and guess what…I still make mistakes. But by doing your best to adopt some simple yet key traits like patience and mental focus, you may not change the “win” side of your game but you will drastically limit your losses.

Good Luck and Good Fishing.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Scouting some water looking for pre-spawn bass action at a few local watering holes, I scouted three public lakes looking for signs of life. The largemouth should be getting back into the groove now that we have seen some warm weather.

A few search casts were thrown here and there poking around structure as well as deep water. For a long time there was nothing. Then I run the skirted jig along the bank near some chunky rock structure close to shore. Reeling in the lure about twenty feet away and one of the rocks turns slowly 90 degrees and then shoots off into the water!

I had just hooked into the mother of all snapping turtles. Those of you that follow my fishing travels know that for some bizarre reason I run into these crazy thick shelled snapping beak of a reptile creatures way more often than I should.

(This is the first picture I snapped while battling the beast in the water. You can see the front leg struggling against the jig. With four-foot drive, this turtle would have snapped my line for sure.)

All that came to my mind was playing the beast “loose” and hoping it would spit the jig somehow. As I worked the snappy closer my worst fears were confirmed. The jig had somehow got itself lodged into the front leg. It couldn’t spit the lure out if it wanted to. This was a major dilemma. If the jig didn’t come out it would haunt me to a large degree. I had to at least try to get the lure out…somehow.

All of this played through my mind as I played the turtle. It was a bit of a battle reeling the turtle in only to have it swim back out. Finally the turtle was hauled back in and he turned to face me. Things got a bit dicey from there.

(Here is the second picture. Mr. Turtle was not happy. In the lower left you can see my pliers with a bit of skirting. I would like to thank the “elbow-rod tuck” with the “right hand camera grab” for this shot.)

I take my needle nose pliers and reach down from the left. The turtle lashes out with its beak of pain. My footing was slightly elevated and just out of striking distance. I reach down again and the turtle this time strikes at its own front leg where the jig is hooked.

“Oh man…I gotta get that out.”

With another lunge I reach down and grab the jig head with the pliers. The turtle lunges again and I feel the jig come loose. Two seconds later the turtle-beast was gone. There was a heart pounding, finger counting moment where I just leaned back on the shoreline and caught my breath.

(this is actually a pic I took during the battle but really makes a good “turtle escape” shot for the post.)

These turtles get pretty big and this is by far the largest one I have ever seen in Colorado. The shell was at least two feet in diameter…at least!!! But when you are standing right next to it with only a pair of looks as big as a Volkswagen!

Oh...I did catch fish. Two healthy chunk bass. Close. Very close. My guess is things will really start popping in the next few days with the temperatures coming up.

(crazy red eye bass. It seems that all the fish I catch this size have crazy red eyes and smaller mouths. What gives? Is this a strain of some sort? A lot of anglers try to tell me that this is a smallmouth bass but I still say it’s a largemouth.)

Some trips are better than others and some trips you are just happy to get back alive. My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Trashin' Paradise-Cleanup update 2009

Once upon a time and place I used to fish this little pond that was surprisingly good in numbers. The size was consistently 14 or 15 inches and offered tremendous action for largemouth bass. It was the one public place out of 100 that literally had so many fish that every cast had potential. It was the one place that I thought might actually have “too many” fish. The property had recently changed hands from a local farmer to the City of “Wexminzter”. There is a full bio and story about how the events happened but needless to say it was a dream come true for a water hound like myself. The fishing was great…for about two years (crica 2003-2005). Now the lake has seen some of the ill effects of drought and public use. Today I dare say there may not be a single quality fish left in there.

I still do an annual cleanup as I do with so many other spots at this time of year. Once the snow starts melting off there is very little left in the way of vegetation and bugs. You can really get in there and do a good scrub. Cans, bottles and anything else you need to get out of your favorite fishing holes is a lot easier to get out now as opposed to June when mosquitoes and foliage are in high gear. The cleanup on this trip was a series of small piles rather than the many 33-gallon hefty bag trips.

But that’s how you have to look at it. “One spot at a time”.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Every once in a while I find someone who makes my fishing and outdoors addiction seem less “all-consuming”. Check this guy out. He’s got the van loaded with gear and a boat all right there ready to go. This guy is good to go anywhere, anytime. Nothing flashy or expensive…just the exact tools for the job. One look at this vehicle and you know this guy means business!

(My guess is this guy is a duck hunter but even as an angler...I take notice and salute.)

Let’s do a run down of just the stuff you see in this picture…

1. Van (duh you need to get there)
2. Boat with tie downs
3. Gas can for extra fuel (probably has loaded water jugs out the wazoo inside)
4. Tire jack
5. Towing ball/hitch
6. Long distance CB radio antennae
7. And lastly Christopher Walker/SNL fans will take heed of the cowbell.

Now that is just the stuff you see on the outside. Can you imagine the stuff inside and on the other side of the vehicle? I am thinking he has fishing gear, hunting gear, spare tires, spare tie-downs, full kitchen with bone removal kit, propane heaters, signal flares, ninja deflectors, hand generator, sleeping bag and a pillow filled with sixteen penny nails.

Some people may point and laugh. His own children may be afraid to be seen on the street with Dad and his “Green Machine”. The neighbors might think he is crazy and even police could do a double take when he drives by. But Sportspeople know. They know that this guy is right on track, leading the pack and showing outdoor enthusiasts like me just how far we really are from the pinnacle of our own personal best.

In a day and age where heroes tend to let us down, you can still search and find humans with decent souls and people that attack life. Wherever this guy is going…adventure awaits. Now if you will excuse me…I have to go paint my truck and pontooner camo-green.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More Blizzard Fishing

Work didn’t shut down this time so I had to wait for the whistle to blow. Clocked out and literally ran to the truck. The roads were not as bad as last time, thank goodness. Its like people forget how to drive in snow.

On the way I pondered three factors: time of day, current water temps and redundancy. Sure I could try for bass again but the timing was off. Late in the day and lower water temps could prove for some non-bass action. Besides, who wants to see that again? Been there, done that. This time I am going for trout! Another scrap of water on my way home is Clear Creek. It just so happens that this water seems to fish better under the worst of weather conditions. Once again my mind started rolling through the factors; no kayaks, close to home…go for it!

It took me a while to find the fish and pattern. A lot of cold casting with no bites. Then I ran the 1/8oz spinner through a patch of shallow water behind a big rock and finally started to build some positive results. A nice little cutbow.

Now don’t get excited about these fish as they are not the biggest trout you will see. I just love to be out there. Blizzard conditions + small water + downtown setting adds some extra challenge. The pictures didn’t turn out very well as somehow I switched the image size setting. Right after I caught the first fish I took a quick shot of myself as the snow was letting up. (I got tired of taking my gloves off and then putting them back on…after a while I just said @#$% it and let my hands freeze a bit.)

I keep working upstream with a measly total of 3 fish (2 browns and 1 cutbow-all around 9 or 10"). I got a few hits and bumps but even with the blizzard the fish were tapping light on the spinner. This is the point where I am thinking enough is enough and its time to get out. I started wondering if my fishing addiction was getting the best of me and this trip would be more ho-hum than spectacular. I decided to push myself a little ways further.

"Just hit this spot up ahead and then bail." I said to console myself. "You gave it a good shot."

The first cast into the spot went wide left. Ice had built up pretty bad. I readjusted and cast again…WHAM! Beauty fish! My second cutbow of the day and about 14 inches.

I was stoked but really would have liked a better picture but this fish didn’t want to hang on the hook very long. One flash of the head and it was gone. I guess I should just be happy I got any shot at all. I was still messing with my camera when a jogger came by. "Want me to take your picture?"

"Naw..." I replied waving him off. In my head I was thinking, "Where were you two minutes ago?"

But that's fishing. My name is Matt and I'm a fishaholic.