Friday, May 29, 2009

Beauty Panfish Day at PX 5-24

Fourth day of my all out fishing onslaught and I saved one of my favorite places for last. PX provides great warm water action and I have modeled my pontooner exactly for these types of waters that allow hand propelled craft but may require some walking to reach. Setting up the boat takes a few extra minutes but worth the additional inflate time. Geared up with four rods and a tackle bag packed with tons of the creature plastics I hit the water.

The rock structure usually coughs up a fish or two. This is a great place to start and get that confidence boost or help develop an active lure pattern. I almost always put on a fish within a few casts here and that locks in a positive vibe for the rest of the day. Today was no different. Second or third cast off the rocks and BAM! A nice 15’er to get things going. A few more casts and I pick up my second fish. I factor in the two common factors of both catches. The senko was out and the grub was in. (Above: Here is a sample of some of the trouble I am having with the Kodak. Even with the flash covered with tape and the settings adjusted, the bad pictures still keep coming. Some of my best fish shots of 2009 have been destroyed because of this camera.)

One of the adaptations of my pontooner is the platform that allows me to stand up. This gives me a great vantage point to sight fish from the boat. Panfish will be attracted to the floating structure of my boat and I can pick of some of the better ones. Panfish are a serious compulsion of mine. When I get the chance at some better-sized ones I take it.

A lot of standard panfish presentations like baby minnow patterns and micro gubs are still too big to trick wary panfish here in Colorado. I prefer to use dry fly patterns or downsize my senkos to nail these pint-sized balls of fun.

After nailing a handful of these guys I can shift my focus back to bass. The shore guys were hovering over nesting fish like vultures. I watched one angler work the same nest for several hours until he finally landed that one fish. It was a decent male largemouth bass in the maybe 17’er range. Rather than try to trick the heavy pressured fish, I poked in and out of the deeper structure for less pressured, less finicky fish.

Wind was not a problem for most of the morning. But as the day wore on the wind would gust up and faced a steady breeze. I did my best to pick a line and drift while casting. Positioning the boat while standing can be tricky but I am getting better at it. Using the oars as rudders helps. Drifting with the wind will often provide a great trolling speed for creature bait presentations. Running the weightless grub and the jig-combo side by side it was hard to tell which lure was preferred in this bass taste test. It wasn’t constant action mind you but there was enough love to go around. Good numbers of bass but nothing in the OMG class.

Then I see the highlighted markings on a spread of fins that measured at least 10-inches. Once again my panfish addiction consumed me. The anchor was dropped and the two bass rigs were pulled in. The panfish setup was drawn and I jigged the bait like a mad-man. After a few missed strikes…BAM! This may be the fattest bluegill I have nailed in Colorado. Funny how I don’t take any stats whatsoever of fish these days unless its completely OMG. This gill is close.

(Above: Fatty Bluegill in full prespawn glory. Man I dig these fish!)

Late in the afternoon I roll off the back lake and onto the smaller lake closer to the parking area. This lake sports better population of smallmouth yet I don’t seem to get into them like I want too. The largemouth are also impressive if not finicky. After I have covered most of the lake or when pressure seems to crowd me on the back lake, it is worth the effort to port out and roll onto this spot.

It surprised me to get into a few largemouth right away as this lake can be a bit tough for me at times. Nothing in the 18’er class but it is good to see that my patterns are still getting hits. The weed-matte and moss are too heavy for the jigs. This is weedless presentation all the way. Even the spinnerbait was coming back choked with moss. But more often than not when I ran the simplest thing in my tackle bag…thunk, thunk, set the hook, Wham! Fish on. Another nice 16’er bass is landed and released. By this point I am casting more and taking no pictures unless it’s a damn good fish. I could feel myself getting frustrated with the 2-pounders and just plain disappointed when I landed a 3-pound fish.

Then I see a dark shadow approximately 20, maybe 24 inches cruising in some deeper water. Too slender to be a carp and a darker shade more typical of a bass than a carp, right? These are things my mind does out there to play tricks on me sometimes. Here I am thinking this is possibly a huge bass and casting first the grub, then the spinnerbait and then a few more casts with the grub as the dark object cruised around the cove. It turned into shallow water and I got a better look at it. One look at the forked tailfin and the large bubble-shaped head, my expectations sank.

“Catfish!?!” I muttered in the closing hours. “Man, I worked my ass off for nothing.”

The cove was pretty much worked by now. Chuckling from fatigue and sitting back down to row the pontoon boat my focus was on getting back to the southern shore and porting out. The riprap dam structure was getting some moderate pressure and time was running out. I could cover that area and maybe pull out one of those beauty elusive smallmouths…but was there enough gas in the tank or sunlight? The question was mute as three more guys piled onto the dam eliminating a substantial amount of open water for me to cover.

“Maybe I can hit a few spots by the tree cover.” I consoled myself.

Rowing the pontoon boat is something that is therapeutic to me for some reason. It sounds crazy but I could row this silly inflatable boat all day if there weren’t fish to catch and bills to pay. The distance between the west cove and the south shore was covered in mere minutes. Before porting out I decide to scout the tree cover on the south side. Right away I see two bass cruising. There wasn’t a nest in site but they were patrolling around a section of submerged trees structure. The structure has a group of congregating baitfish so I figure this is their feeding area. I run the grub near the structure hoping to mimic a nearby snack floating too far away from the cover. The bass move in closer to investigate. Then…out of nowhere…a saucer like flash appears out of the tree structure and charges the grub. No bump, no bite from the fish but it exposed itself.

“Holy @#%^ that’s a crappie.”

In an instant the grub rod was put back in the rod holder and the panfish rig was retrieved. First cast…WHAM! It was a slab o crappie. I absolutely dig panfish and think crappie are some of the coolest around. How crazy cool looking is this species of fish?

A smallmouth bass cruised in and out of the tree structure as well. Nailing one of these would have made it a 5 species day. I threw a few casts of standard garb but after a few minutes the fish vanished and I was eager to pack things in. Daylight was fading as was my energy. Another 10, maybe 12-hour day of fishing with no food or rest. Just some bottled water and a few packages of plastic baits. Putting the gear back into the truck was just about all I had left in the tank.

Note: A lot of the bass pictures were whitewashed out. Apparently my taping over the flash was not the solution that I had hoped. Still shopping around.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why they will never make a perfect tackle bag.

By Mattsabasser

A lot of my fishing is done from shore and every shore banger worth half a mile of the walk and cast will tell you…

“I gotta get a better @#$%^&* tackle bag!”

The reason they will never make a perfect tackle bag is a simple thing called quantum physics. Without proof of the Higgs boson theory or developing black holes that will magically conceal all the tackle in the world inside a featherweight pouch that floats right there beside you…guess what? 90% of the angling consumer community will complain. The real solution is obvious. You need to simplify.

Clearly this is a matter of “eyes bigger than stomach” mentality when it comes to fish planning. I am as guilty of this just as much as other anglers are at times. Anglers want to be prepared for every possible scenario yet there are so many scenarios and tackle choices that play on different circumstances. How do you bring every possible lure for every possible situation? Answer: You don’t. You develop and modify more patterns for the lures you already have. Anything from jig-combo creature baits to a Lindy spoon can be rigged and run in many different ways. A handful of basic examples…

1. “Flutter-drop” and rise and fall presentation: This works for spinnerbaits and spoons really well. The main concept of this retrieve is to cover as much of the vertical plane as possible by lifting and dropping the rod as you retrieve. This will make your lure move from the deeper water to the more shallow water with a frequency and range that you control. No matter where the fish are in regards to depth…you will find them with this tactic.

2. Swim the jig or plastic: Creature patterns are usually run very slow and at times when slow patterns are best. What if the fish don’t want slow? Speed up the retrieve and you will hit fish that like a more active presentation. I often swim a jig combo through heavy structure or walk the dog with a senko to get fish in very, very tough cover dubbed “snag city”.

3. Slow roll the fast bait: Giving the lure just enough pull to bounce the lure along the bottom and avoid getting snagged up is called “slow rolling”. This tactic can be dynamo for fast action lures like in-line spinners, spinnerbaits…pretty much anything with a blade that spins. A large number of anglers don’t even know this retrieve exists.

4. Combo trailers man! What are you waiting for? Running the plain ol skirted jig or spinnerbait just seems naked these days without the plastic trailer. Fantastic plastics add another dimension to the spinnerbait as a baitfish presentation and you can really dial in the exact baitfish pattern by adding the right combination of plastic trailer with your skirt and blade. And think about the added action!!!! The fish will tell you…Mattsabasser sent you.

5. Pack for the day, the season…not the entire year. There are anglers that have one box for everything (the majority by the way) and some of us that have extensive “inventories” of tackle. We couldn’t possibly take all of this stuff out in one day even if we wanted to yet we quite feasibly use almost every item at least once in any given year. What I suggest above all and anything else is: Pack only what you need and pack it well. I repack gear constantly. I am thinking about gear I should be packing right now.

Early in the season I picked up the new AZ4 tackle bag series from Flambeau Outdoors. The wider zipper and teeth is effortless compared to my Plano bag. More pouches and storage space compared to the Plano model in its class. It holds a bunch of my crap (I packed it to the rafters), has a few extra zipper pockets that come in handy and barely keeps me from wanting the bigger models that hold half a tackle store. But who wants to lug a two-ton beast-bag around?

The drawbacks to the new bag are the side wide side pockets. I see what they were trying to accomplish with a quick flip-grab-n-go design but the flap covers don’t match up and they just look awkward. Moderately functional. The Velcro attachments are not affective enough. The magnetic ones work super great. Replace the Velcro with the magnetic one but more rectangular style for more coverage. Then I wouldn’t lose tackle when I do the half-roll stumble/fall down the trail on my face move to impress the ladies.

Extra bonus features to the AZ4 are the cargo straps on top. Who the heck puts cargo straps on a tackle bag? I guess with a name like “Flambeau” You fukin’ go all out with the extra features. Even put in the bitchin’ padded shoulder strap. They could have named it “Slam-bo” or something a bit more…I dunno…less “Flamo”? Still a damn good tackle bag for 25 bucks.

(Above: The AZ4 tackle bag in action but with the new logo concept that I am thinking about pitching to the executives at Flambeau Outdoors folks. It may be hard to convince them as they have all the stationary, envelopes and letterheads with the acronym; F.O. on them.)

As soon as those guys with that Haldron Collider thingamajig produce a 4th dimensional tackle bag…Oh baby, I am getting one of those!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fishing Buddy hits Big Bass

There is one guy that has managed to survive quite a few fishing trips and a major component of The MAD Fishing Show. Don likes to throw big baitfish patterns and doesn’t come up with fish every trip. But when he does hit fish they are usually the biggest of the day. This fish turned his prespawn season from ho-hum to OH-BABY!!!

(Above: “This is what its all about…urban fishing on the MADshow.”)

Pictures only tell half the story. To get the full quality of this fish you need to see the video. Way to go Don. Good to see you back in “Hawg Town”.

Note: You might have to copy/paste the link into your web browser.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Stocker Bow Saturday 5-23

(Above: “Everything is coming up rainbows!” typical bow for the day. With a better camera perhaps the color quality would have been better.)

Scouting some new fishing waters up in the Woodland Park area and got into some decent stocker bows. Rainbow trout can be very beautiful fish and fun to catch. They taste pretty good as well so the Division of Wildlife stocks them in abundance. This location has only rainbow trout, which is a bit of a buzzkill. A few other places also have a decent population of brown trout that get very aggressive as well as fairly large. This addition adds another element of diversity and action in my opinion.

The main goal was to find the place and figure out the entrance. Scouting the lake was important for later trips where ColoradoCasters may try to put on a MADshow episode with pontoons or even a camping expedition. It was also good to take a break from the warm water bass scene that had been tormenting so much and get a taste of some high country trout action. Either way it was a nice change of pace.

Good Luck and Good Fishing.

Quest for the OMG-LMB 5-22

This trip was an all out pond hoppin’ bass search in the metro. This area requires a lot of walking if you are to hit all of the lakes. The key factor for this place is timing. It is crucial to fish this place before Memorial Day, as nearly every foot of shoreline will be occupied. The water will be whipped to a froth and it is a miracle that any fish make it through the 3-day holiday still alive. So the weekend before I wrangled a Friday off and hit it for all I was worth. The tackle bag was loaded and three rods were in tow. Three is the most I can carry comfortably and generally what I take on long walking trips.

First pond is a good place to start with a visual scout and a few search casts. 4-inch senko smoke with purple flake is what the smallies seem to like. Search, search, cast, cast, no bites…move on.

“Frog Pond” looks too small to contain fish but there are actually some decent bass in here. Once again it is all about timing. On a good day you can nail three or four bass anywhere from 6-inches to four pounds. The water is small so you can cover this one in short measure to see whether the fish are active or not. Search, cast…move on.

Pond three has more water and gets more focus. The river runs into this pond and creates a crazy situation for all manner of species. I believe this is how everything from trout, smallmouth, carp and even saugeye have entered pond three. I scout the east and west shoreline before moving on.

Pond Two is the largest of all the lakes on the property and stocked with trout. One of these days I am going to throw kastmasters all day long and get into some of these guys. For now it is all warm water with no time to dilly-dally for stocker trout. Big bass is our main focus. Still…somehow…panfish will attract my interest. Like this little guy. But after a few of those guys it is time to move on.

Pond four is our last chance for big fish. Hopefully it wasn’t too late and others had not beaten up the fish too much. I expected dome pressure but hoped for at least one or two nice fish. I had scoured at least twenty ponds in the last four days and caught well over a hundred fish. But none of them were in the +18-inch category let alone the 20-inch OMG fish. Time was running out and in just a few days most if not all the lakes would be in hatch/bass fry mode or as most bassers have dubbed the post spawn.

The first look at the water on the south end was green and mossy. The water almost looked too thick to fish with heavy green slime. Moved on to the western side and saw a few bluegill and a few nesting fish. Popped one right off the bat.

(Above: In the summer I will take these 16’ers all day long. But this time of year I go BIG and this just doesn’t make the cut.)

Signs of life were starting to present themselves. This fish wasn’t the monster hawgs that I was looking for but gave me signs of hope. At least there were active bass and the chances for big fish would hopefully swing in my favor. Scouting, casting and getting a few smaller fish here and there continued for another hour.

“C’mon, Betty. “ I muttered. “Where are you?”

Then I came across a nest that was nestled by some wood structure and cattails. The male was guarding the area chasing little bluegills. A good fish by most standards and could easily be caught. But this was still not the big fish. My eyes searched the edge of the weed-matte and beyond. My heart skipped a beat as I saw the dark shadow cruising twenty feet out. It made one pass and I tossed the grub. Nothing. It made another pass and I tossed the jig combo. Nothing. One more cast and this time with a baby bass fluke rigged Texas-style. I call this my “slop-rig” because it’s the sloppiest looking setup that I throw. For some reason this rig gets clobbered once in a blue moon by that one fish that doesn’t seem to want anything else. I throw the fluke and the shadow moves quickly towards it. The fish looking plastic doves into the weed matte and the fish stops within inches of where it went in. I lift the rod tip and the fluke looks as if it is fleeing the dense matte of vegetation. BAM! The fish inhales the bait with an enormous gulp of its jaws. The rod was already loaded for the hookset and nailed it perfectly. This almost never happens for me unless I can see the fish strike. It was a great moment. A perfect moment. Now I just had to land the fish.

A large log stretched across the water in front of the shoreline about two feet in front of me. It was easy enough to hop the lure over it during the retrieve but there was a good chance that this fish would run right into the branches or find a way to wrap around the log and break off. I didn’t even waste time thinking about it and jumped in. This rod was spooled up with a heavier line. An 8lb copolymer that is as tough as nails. I was able to pull the fish’s head towards me eliminating the chance for escape. One leap into the air with a magnificent splash of green and white before being pulled closer. My right arm rose the rod as my left hand gripped the fish right at the log. It was a pure genius move jumping in the water as opposed to battling the fish through the structure.

(Above: Betty in prespawn glory. The wood structure is just out of the picture to the right.)

The reason I measure my fish in inches rather than pounds is because there is a huge difference between a 14-inch fish and a 20-inch especially when you are taking photographs. Weights of fish are often disappointing and take extra precious time away from fishing. In fact, these days I rarely even measure the fish. Just catch, get the pic and get them back. This fish was a good 18’er and probably around 4lbs. The picture always helps to tell the real story.

A few more casts at a few more spots before heading out. Leave no water untouched. This was one of those trips where I was nearly crawling back to the truck. There was still a few areas that I didn’t get to check as well as not being able to cover the river. My 10 hours of fishing for the day was at its end.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Dink City and Yokal Locals...a true fish story.

Right now bass fishing is at its peak. I fish before work, after work and even at lunch sometimes in hopes of leaving no water untouched before Memorial Day. Yesterday I went to this lake down the road from work. There were a few younger guys “fishing” (I use the term loosely) as one guy was tossing basketball sized rocks in the water. I walked up to them and asked...

"How’s the fishing?"

"Sucks...only small fish and we can't figure out what they are biting...almost got one but he was only about 12-inches." the guy said.

"Does throwing the rocks help?" I asked sarcastically.

The guy looked at me and smiled and said, "yes, actually we had a big bass come in right after we threw a couple."

"I can honestly say that I have never tried that." I said and moved on.

This is only my third trip out here and the two previous trips were far too early in the year and there were no active fish. Now my timing was better but not in regards to water flow. The lake has lost several vertical feet over the last few months. I needed to cast over a lot of shallow water in order to reach the dark blue stuff. Honestly I was doing a lot more walking rather than casting.

Then I saw a school of small bass (around 12 or 13-inches) clinging to some rock structure near shore. Tossed out a small grub pattern and WHAM! Reeled in a 13" bass and took some pics while the yokal locals looked on.

(Above: The first fish that started a near hundred fish run on the day.)

"That Fuker caught a fish...did you see that?...that was #$%^* luck!" the other guy muttered loud enough for me to hear him.

Then I began to work the shoreline pulling a fish out about every other cast. Sometimes it would be a bass and other times it was bluegill. But the action was constant. After the fourth or fifth fish I heard one of the guys yelling…actually yelling.

"You gotta be fuking kidding me?" and they started to unravel from there. The older guy started yelling at the other kid to stop throwing rocks and they really focused on getting fish. If you play poker and are familiar with a few of the terms, this would be considered pushing a player into “Full Tilt”. At least they stopped throwing the damn rocks.

(Above: Larger green sunfish like this are aggressive, colorful and just plain awesome! I have a huge addiction and a lot of respect for quality panfish.)

Plink, plink, plink...I kept moving down and kept nailing fish. The funniest part is that I wasn't even trying to catch these fish. I was searching for big bass deeper out but everytime the lure would reach the shallow water it would get clobbered. Plink, plink, plink...move down.

(Above: Illustration of water levels and casting distance. As you can see I was only able to reach the edge of the big fish water. A lot of smaller fish were in water around a foot deep.)

Then I hear a chorus of celebration. "Whoooohoooo! Yeah!!! Woooooooo! Hey Mother F@##$%....I caught a fish!!!!! How about that shit?! I didn't skunk mother #$%^&*...I aint no faggot!!!"

The spectacles I see out there on the water sometimes when people catch a fish is pretty hilarious. This is a clear sign that they rarely catch fish. Had I been whooping and hollering every time I caught a fish on this day...I would be hoarse and lost my voice half way around the lake. I didn't acknowledge his catch. Just kept walking...plink, plink, plink...move down.

The celebration picks up again…”yeah!!! Wooooohoooooo! I caught another fish. I am catching up BITCH!!!! Fuk Yeah! Right on…That is how you #%$^&* do it! I am stoked now.”

I could hear this clamor across the lake. It was pretty much a ridiculous display and it is these moments that help me realize how far I have come as an angler. Yes…I still consider myself a rookie but leagues ahead of those guys. There is a measurable difference between three guys catching two fish versus me catching 50 to a hundred. You know it’s a good numbers day when you have no idea how many fish you really caught.

For what its worth I did manage to dig up some bigger fish on the very next trip. Not the fabulous hawgy beasts in the +20inch range but close enough to make the scouting trips worthwhile.

(Above: Would you believe I caught this fish a day later at the very spot the guys were throwing rocks? Even managed to catch this fish while wearing my best work shirt.)

In conclusion there are people that fish and people that are just out there slapping water. Good fishing is more about focus than a magic lure. Better focus = better fishing results.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Morning Cast 5-14

The first few weeks of May are some of the best for bass fishing in Colorado. To take full advantage of this time of year, I try to work in as much fishing as possible. With my full time gig that pays the bills (cuz no one pays me to write this stuff) and other priorities, the Morning Run fits nicely.

The place of choice this morning is a C&R pond next to a very busy road. Catch and release as well as artificial fly and lure only is imposed but not enforced nearly enough. The fish are in nesting mode and starting to become more aggressive. I find that is one of the few times that this place can provide consistent action with the chance for a big fish.

Fishing pressure is frequent and it looks like a few guys got in here before I did. Most of the larger fish were ultra finicky. Managed to find a few fish that were willing to hit the jig. No love for the senko or the lizard patterns that I typically swear by here.

This fish was setup next to a log and when I threw the jig, the fish nipped at it and when I went to set the hook the jig was buried into the log.

“Sonofa!” I muttered setting the snagged rod down and quickly slinging out the second rod with the grub. WHAM! The fish hit the grub and I was able to land the fish. After the photo and release, the jig was sacrificed. I had covered the entire shoreline in just under an hour.

Tips for the morning fish:

1. Clock punchers will have no choice but to get back into work on time. Some of us are fortunate enough to work in a setting that allows some discretion. Being late sometimes means that you beat the boss into work. Time the morning office rush to the last second for best results.

2. Prepare a good excuse and brace for the reprimand is my plan B approach to the morning fish. 5 minutes doesn’t make a big difference in most work environments but if fishing is good, an hour goes by fast. There are times when I really push my luck as far as morning fishing goes so the “flat tire” excuse and withstanding some badgering from the boss will bridge that gap.

The morning fish isn’t for everyone and takes some extra discipline for the non-early risers. But the morning cast can get you onto the water during the mid-week when fish are less pressured. All it takes for the morning run is an earlier start and one or two less cups of coffee.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pond Hopping 5-9-2009 (Early Morning Belly Boat Action)

Epilogue: The gameplan for Saturday was to throw all of the gear into the truck and fish until I dropped. The weather forecast once again went to crap on me. The entire week could be bliss weather-wise but the weekend is always going to be wrecked with cold fronts and even blizzards.

Chapter One: Early Morning Belly Boat action 5/9

4AM wake up and roll out. Drive to the meet spot, unpack the BB’s and hit the water. While unpacking the belly boats I notice the apron and cross bar had not made it into the truck. “Sonofa!!” I exclaimed with my mind scrambling for a solution. “I’ll make it work.” Basically I took a stick and propped it in the support holes. Then took my buddies bungee cord and tied the seat strap with that. “Done!” Fished the early morning with no problems.

(I wanted to do my “most mean muggin” shot ever on this one. Finally getting into some better fish. Notice the stick? Never S.O.L.)

The water is a bit mossy and the action was far slower than I expected. I rotated through three rods, all with different setups. The jig combo was what got the love. Best fish of the day.

This post brought to you by…”Stick!!!”

Action wasn’t enough to keep us there. Better water to be had elsewhere. We rolled off to the next spot and saw too many cars. If you can’t park…it’s time to fish somewhere else! “Scratch this place for the day.” We both said rolling onto another place.

To be continued:

Pond Hopping 5-9-2009 (Afternoon Shorebang)

Chapter Two: (Afternoon Shorebang)

Ditched the belly boat and waders and drove 15 minutes for some shorebang action. I really liked the post for the first part so much that I wanted to run it separate from the rest of the day. In reality there is two different worlds of fishing between belly boat and shorebang. Some places you can belly boat and others you can’t. The next place was “shore action only” so the belly boat and waders had to go.

It was 8:15 by the time we made it to the smattering of ponds. This area is fairly large and requires a bit of walking. Suffering from drought, these ponds have changed quite a bit in recent years. The bigger ponds have a mix of bluegill and bass where smaller ones have pretty much dried up and only good for frogs. The larger ponds are mostly clear but guarded by heavy weed matte. One rod is rigged with my bluegill setup, the second has the senko and the last rod was left with a jig combo from earlier in the day.

“Something is gonna get these guys.”

(Custom skirted jig with tube trailer. I can’t stop throwing this thing. This is “creature-sweet” presentation)

A few ponds had the gill action but nothing big. Lotsa’ little guys that like to hammer small setups are starting to school up. Hopefully I can locate some bigger specimens but until then…I still dig these fish for the amazing color. The presentation can be anything from dry flies to light bass gear.

(Little bluegills pacify my panfish jones. This one looked really cool so it got some photo op time.)

Some ponds were very shallow or had heavy weed structure. This water pretty much eliminates the effectiveness of the jig. In these instances I run anything else. In some cases out here you just need to be able to run something through the slop that doesn’t get hung up. Simplest of presentations sometimes beat big and flashy.

(Here’s a scrapper bass caught in less than a foot of open water. Catch and Release!)

By now the sun was in the middle of the sky and blaring. Not the 58 degree and rainy day they predicted. Weather guy got it wrong again…go figure. I was losing energy and reaching that point where water and re-hydration weren’t cutting it anymore.

Chapter Three: “Spent! Just back alive!”

By now the legs and back were aching. After 8 to 10 hours of this stuff with no breaks whatsoever, the body was starting to give out. I thought maybe if I sat down for a second I could catch my 7th or 9th wind. My butt hit the ground sending tingling sensations through legs. My eyelids started closing as dreams of cold beer and food rushed into my head.

“Whoa…bad idea.” I said feeling myself drift to sleep. “Gotta get up and keep moving.”

I scouted the water on the way back hoping to catch a big cruiser or see some larger sized gills. But it was a halfhearted effort to say the least. It took a lot of my focus just keeping my feet moving and my body straight. Back at the truck it was a comfort to pull off the tackle back from my shoulder and get the rest of the gear in the truck. Shed the hoodie, grab a cold water (yes it was really water) from the cooler. Caught my thoughts for a moment and then drove back. The whole time the voice in my head was saying, “It’s not too late to hit this or that other spot. What about that other spot? It’s still not too late.”

With more water and a couple of aspirin, who knows. Pulling into the driveway the sight of the homestead was vaguely familiar.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Note: Blog entries part 1 and 2 were posted in reverse order so that they could be read in sequence. Apologies for any confusion.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tome Mabe stops fishing trespassers-must see

Saving our fisheries is a never ending battle against drought, litterbugs and illegal trespassers. Anyone can complain about it but what we need now more than ever is creative solutions. Comedian Tom Mabe has come up with thee most hilarious prank aimed at thwarting trespassers that sneak onto his fishing hole.

Go to the website and check out Video clip #1: “Fishing Prank-Must See”.

This is the kind of forward, backward and even sideways thinking that it is going to take. Signs and public service announcements are not cutting it. We need vigilance and some creative ideas like Tom’s here. You can bet these guys won’t trespass again.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Westminster Lunch Bang

Wind 5-15mph sporadic gusts
Water Clarity: light/medium stain from wind
Air temp: weather guy said 68 high…felt like 72 around 1PM
Water temp: OMG for LMB

Now is the time to really work in the Lunch Bang for warm water. A lot of workaday folks in the metro area have a local watering hole that is only worth hitting right now. Scout it, fish it, you might be surprised.

This fish would have hit anything. Dark or flashy colors to compensate for water stain were obvious choices as soon as you saw the chop on the water and erosion. I dig the jig and with the clay bottom I was all about throwing the jig combos. Throw what you love with confidence and you will catch fish.

Two of my favorite lunch bang spots have pretty much gone belly up. If things don’t bounce back mark my words I am going to quit this place and get a job where the fishing is better.

Maybe somewhere closer to Boulder or DTC...for a good lunch bang you need a great watering hole within a 5 to 15 minute drive. That way you can get at least 15 to 30 minutes worth of casting in. I would work as a janitor in a gigantic crap factory if the fishing was good close by!

RMA Tuesday 5/5

Artificial Fly and Lure Only
Catch and Release Fishing
Barb less Hooks Only
3 Dollar Entry fee
National Refuge/ID Check at the Gate
No Dogs.
Litterbugs will be shot by Security Personnel. (At least that is what I think the fine print states.)

Hit the RMA on a rare Tuesday off. I was supposed to get this day off weeks ago. Instead I had to settle for sloppy seconds at the Arsenal. Late morning start due to a last minute run into the office. Wind and temps were mild with partly cloudy skies. Water temp has to be bouncing in the 55-60 degree range. PRIME!!!! Paid the 3 bucks, filled out the slip and headed for Ladora.

Picked a few spots off the dam and started throwing spoons. With a better start this would have definitely got some fish. Moved to the south side and switched to jigs. Then I started getting bites. No real secret spot or anything. Just fishing the spots that didn’t have people in them. There is just something really fantastic about these fish…even if they aren’t in the best of condition.

Check out some video action of me playing an average sized pike for Ladora these days. There are bigger ones than this but the 40”+ fish are rare. This was my second biggest pike of the day and I guesstimate it around 28-30” maybe? There is some torn flesh around the face. My jig my guess is someone hooked into this fish earlier in the day. This is the one fish I got video of and the other pike pics looked pretty sad to tell you the truth. This video footage is decent in my opinion and brings some of the action of pike fishing to the viewer.


The big OMG bass game didn’t happen for me on this day. “Day late, dollar short.” I told myself. Maybe I will pick one up on a subsequent trip. Who knows for sure but I won’t hold my breath. About 2PM I decided to bat some cleanup over at Lake Mary.

(This is my feeble tribute to some of the other great bass posted from this place)

Creature baits were not as popular as I expected. Being too darn lazy to switch up so late in the day, I just sped up the retrieve. Heavily pressured fish require precise patterns that fall into exactly what they want. Or you do the opposite and throw something so weird and crazy that the fish attack it purely from curiosity…well that is what I did. The skirt and jig were one color and the grub trailer was another. It looked silly to tell you the truth. First cast and WHAM! It got nailed.

Why argue with what’s hitting? I nailed three or four more fish.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Green Gold

Saturday afternoon...cold and drizzly. I snuck out and did an hour walk at a nearby lake. I HAD to see the water. Scouted north side of one pond. Saw some false nests. Walked the other lake and saw the two fatty bass. These must be the two biggest fish in the system. "Maude and Earl" is what I am going to dub these two fish from here on out. I see them early in the season and that is it...never catch them. Get to the north side and there they are. Both of them rolling over each in full spawn mode.

Cast cast cast...nothing. I went home dejected but that was all the time I had. My oldest daughter gets upset when I fish on weekends that we plan to spend time together and some weekends I have burnt altogether. This one was my last chance and it came at the worst possible time. All the way home and all night long my mind wouldn't let me rest. Before turning in I told everyone that I would be up and out early but right back.

"Um...then you are taking all of us with you." The jury was unanimous.

So that is what I did. I took everyone with me to the lake early in foggy morning and they both were still there. The female was so hawgy and I missed her by a nibble. The male took the bait in order to save the female and I landed him. Seriously. the female was an inch from hitting the bait and he hit in order to save her. There is no doubt in my mind nor anyone that witnessed the strike in shallow water.

My oldest did the photo work....not too shabby!

Canon City Weekend-epilogue

Scouting new water is a good way to spice up the fishing trip as well as add or eliminate spots to your regular fishing list. Canon city has been on my list for a few years with BH, the Ark and the Pueblo region containing numbers of fish. After much planning some dates were set and reservations made. One of those blizzards wrecked the first reservation and then we committed to the second regardless of the weather.

Just so happens that the weather report looked good a week prior. Then we watched the weather deteriorate rapidly from 80 degrees to 58 as the high. Low temperatures were just as dismal. The weather is always the nemesis or ally when it comes to fishing trips. There are rarely any conditions that I won’t fish through. What really helps is having a Plan B.

Canon City has two options in the lake fish versus the river so you have some options. The plan was to focus on the lake Saturday. If the weather fell through we would pull off, roll out and head up the canyon to fish for trout on the ark. With pontoon boats in tow it isn’t a fraction as easy as it sounds. But you can multiply your odds of catching fish regardless of what the weather throws at you. If the weather is foul we fish the river. If the weather is fair we can fish the lake.

The next few posts tell the story. In an effort to keep the reader's focus, I broke this one up into several parts. Please note that this post is a week old. No one pays me to post my fishing stuff so readers just have to deal with some tardy posts once in a while. Now...on with the post.

Canon City Weekend-BH and the ARK

(Above: Early morning gear up. Notice there is no motor or battery. Yep. I can row 24/7 Hoorah!)

Rolling onto the lake in the morning at 6AM we faced the cold front head on. The winds were gusting off and on. That is better than pure gusting! We fished for about three hours. Hit a few areas and tried to spot or scan fish. It was pretty dismal. Couldn’t get into a rhythm with anything that was tied on and struggled to find “just the thing” in my tackle box when I needed it. I planned on throwing spoons the whole time yet my box-o-spoons never made it with me to the lake.

Rain flirted with us the whole time. Not the heavy downpour type but rather off and on drizzle with heavier clouds moving in closer. By 8:30 we were pulling out and switching over to the river. It was a transition that I did not want to make. But after 3 hours of nothing but cold…there was nothing to debate with. The lake scene was over as we knew we would catch fish on the river.

And that is exactly what we did. Starting a few miles past town, we started picking holes and leapfrogging other anglers. I hate people that crowd so we refused to take part in anything that remotely looked like crowding. With such a long stretch to fish…we didn’t have too.

(Above: Decent Ark brown trout. Didn’t find any bows)

Gold and red was the pattern of the day. I brought the fly rod but the weather was so rough that I wasn’t going to battle the nymph and drift all day. Spinning for trout is a super active way to fish. It’s one of my favorite ways to fish right there with bassin’ on a buzzbait. Action was somewhat steady…not hot and the angling pressure was there in force so you had drive by a lot of water. But there was enough action to salvage the day. Catching beats skunking in my book.

My tips for hitting this area are few and simple. The first rule is to prepare for weather of some sort. If you add in the plan B or mix the trip up with a little of both worlds it can add a lot more to the trip. My next tip is the Holiday Inn Express right off of Hwy 50 as you roll into town. This place has a ton of hotels and many of them will be very “rustic”. This place is a good deal for the price and location.

Plan V

Plan B’s are always good but on this trip I had planned on some Sunday pond fishing as a "Plan V". These ponds are about 20 or 30 minutes back towards the interstate. This place is a three-pond oasis of warm water fishing. Even with a somewhat late start, I found some decent crappie and a few decent bass.

(Above: crappie with amazing color. This one had a really cool green tint to the body)

These ponds are “fair” for bass and have some viable crappie. But what this place lacks from the public that visit here is respect. The majority of anglers were very respectful. They picked their spot and fished with whatever they had however they wanted and then left. They didn’t leave trash, they didn’t leave fishing line or bait cans or beer bottles on the shoreline. But man o man are there tons of this beer bottles, fishing line and what not all over this place. And they just cleaned it!!! (DOW, and countless other anglers. There was a guy I saw just walking and picking up trash.)

The other ponds will get more attention with more time. The crappie kind of consumed my focus. I wasn’t geared precisely for crappie. I had to modify my bass presentations and it was hit or miss. With just some smaller grubs I could have rocked the place. Rather than waste the half day fishing for crappie, some bass scouting was in order. There were two solid hits and two bass in the 14’er range. One of the fish looked like he could have wrestled with a pelican or cormorant.

(Above: Really bad pic of the rough and tough bass. The lens shutter didn’t open all the way for some reason. How many times have I said that I was going to junk this thing?)

With all trips out of my normal 20 or 30-mile radius, the main goal is to get there and back in one piece. I caught some fish and that is