Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Arapaho Bend (Ft. Collins)-Another slice of fishing paradise in the North Front Range

West of I-25 on Harmony Rd is a natural area called Arapaho Bend. There are four ponds total with public access and every one of them has fish. With a bit of walking you can guarantee yourself a wide-open spot on any given day.

This is another area that I have never seen and knew almost nothing about. Instead of taking the pontooner or belly boat, I decided to shorebang it and cover as much ground as possible. And with this much ground to cover, Stick and Move would be my allies out here today. Sure the place looks fairly easy to handle when you Google Earth it but software technology gives little appreciation to dense summer grass, swarms of mosquitoes and Russian olive thorns. To find the fish, an angler is going to do some walking out here.

(Above: Top view map with locations where the best fish were pulled. The yellow X is for the one sunfish that I pulled out of that pond. The other two ponds were larger and would require more time to locate fish.)

Note: Hand propelled craft are allowed on all of these ponds. The trail is wide enough for vehicles but the gated fences are very narrow. Distance can be far depending on the lake and where you park. Belly boats and small kayak style craft are probably best suited fro this area. Shorebangers will do well on some of the smaller ponds.

The first pond is substantial in size and has some pretty cool island structure. Hitting this lake with some belly boats may come up on the calendar at some point. But the water has that stained color that always puts me off for some reason. I scouted the edge and then moved on to the back. On a lake such as this I would have to search cast a lot of water to find the productive areas. If the water was clear, I might have a chance to sight fish or look for baitfish activity. Instead I would have to do a lot of work. Figuring this lake out would be very time consuming.

By the time I reached the second lake things were looking pretty grim. I had done a lot of walking already and scratched the largest body of water off of my list. Hopefully the back ponds would fair a lot better. The second pond shimmered in the distance through some trees. There were three other anglers fishing this lake. That was a good and a bad sign. Angling pressure is not my friend but at least it provided clues that this water was viable. I walked past the first two anglers and tucked into a small hole between the trees.

(Above: This is called “Snapper Pond” and one of the better ones for bass fishing in my opinion)

The water quality on the second pond is better than the first and almost clear. Cotton is building up on the water and requires constant patience and maintenance of the line. I was pulling wads of white material from lure about every five casts or so.

The baitfish were numerous and adorably snack-sized. Then I saw two bass take surging strikes into the shallows attacking the swarm of bluegill. One cast and WHAM! The biggest of the two hammered the 5” black and blue senko. Technically this had been my second cast but to the guys just a few hundred feet down it looked like my first. Fish was landed and then a quick photo-op.

(Above: Post spawn bass looking to put the gut back on. If anyone asks…I caught this fish on the FIRST cast. Ha ha)

The lake has a lot of structure both in and out of the water. The trees provide a lot of shoreline cover and limb structure dots the shallows. I would cast along one edge and then the other. If nothing hit I would start sectioning the water with search casts. Sometimes I would throw the senko, sometimes I would throw a spinnerbait. I lugged three rods out here and was working all of them in rotation. The jig was impossible to throw out here so I switched that to the grub. One shot out into the cattails and WHAM! Bass number two. This guy wasn’t as hearty as the first but helps keep the numbers adding up.
(Above: I nailed two fish right here in this same spot.)

Baitfish are everywhere in large numbers. Nothing size from what I could see but hundreds upon hundreds of snack-sized morsels. With so much ground to cover and time slipping away, there was no time to play with these guys. My panfish addiction would have to be appeased some other time. The other problem was that I could not cover all of the structure on this pond and scout the rest of the area.

“Stick and move. Stick and move…” the voice in my head echoed.

The wind was picking up now and I took a moment to look over the pond. There were a few prime structure points with good wind cover. Rather than poking every nook and cranny, I decided to hit one or two spots and move on. The other side of the lake had one spot that seemed very well protected from wind, sun and pressure. Tucking through the brush on what looked like more of a rabbit trail, I found myself in a wooded cove of sorts. Baitfish were practically infesting the shallows and even though I couldn’t see bass cruising in the distance…I just felt like they would be there. Two casts with the yellow and green spinnerbait and I knew for sure.

(Above: Now I am starting to add some numbers on the board.)

The next pond is called Cormorant Pond. I know…it seems like a common name in Colorado and I dare say we may have a hundred ponds in Colorado named this, Regardless, this pond has some quality issues on many levels. The structure is weird wild fabulous though. Maybe early spring or fall would have some better water quality, less moss and provide some quality opportunity for a belly boat to assault some mondo bucket bass.
(Above: Island structure on lake #3 Comorant Pond.)

The lake does contain a substantial number of green sunfish. They seem abnormally small which leads me to believe that the lake has some issues in the natural balance somewhere.

(Above: Here is one of the little panfish. I hit a few of these hoping some larger ones would show themselves or some larger predator fish would investigate. Unfortunately I think this pond may be void of bass altogether.)

The last lake looks like two separate lakes on Google Earth but is actually one body of water with a small channel that flows between the two parts. By this time I had pretty much run out of steam. My mind was losing its sharpness my rations of water had run out. Then I made a wrong turn on the trail that led me to a dead end rather than circle all the way around the lake. This error pretty much took the wind out of my sails and I decided to take the trail leading back to the parking lot as opposed to backtracking and completed the full scout. There were some fly guys ripping bluegill out of the back pond about every cast. Nothing of size but it looked pretty constant.

(Above: The long trail out. The area is covered with dense foliage. The grass is very thick and thistles are a problem. The parking lot is off in the distance to the left.)

By the time I reached the truck my legs were exhausted and tingled a bit when I sat down. After a moment of swiping sweat off my face, the truck was started and rolled back to Denver. Will I make this trip again someday? The answer is maybe. Arapaho Bend is a decent place to fish and I recommend it for locals. But there are a lot better places to fish if I am going to invest the 1-hour drive in my opinion.

Being able to chalk both Prospect and Arapaho Bend off of my scout list goes a long way towards filling out some holes in my overall northern territory experience. My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

1 comment:

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