Thursday, August 27, 2009

Forbes names Glenwood Springs Top 10 fishing destination

Glenwood Springs is an area loaded with great fishing. The distance from Denver helps ensure that only the more appreciative sportsman that are willing to drive a bit to fish the best spots will be here. Locals often view this area as a slice of heaven and cherish their somewhat remote mountain liefstyle immensely.

"With all its beauty, and close proximity to some of the most popular trout rivers in the nation, and arguably the world, the rural western Colorado town made the top 10 trout fishing towns published by article lists the Roaring Fork, the Frying Pan, Colorado and Crystal Rivers as the reasons for Glenwood being among first-class trout fishing destinations such as Missoula, Mont. and Mountain Home, Ark.One reason given for consideration was that the fishing is open to the public and is easy to access."

Forbes may not be the "go to" source on fishing destinations but I always feel proud when the state gets some sort of accolade right up there with places like Montana and Washington. Hopefully the exposure (it could be massive) can bring in some extra tourism dollars without significant pressure. (Link to full article below)

Good luck and good fishing.

Mad Show Preview: “M”


The fishing spot is picked and gear inventory starts clicking through my head. Picking the spot is crucial these days. Just finding a spot that people haven’t stomped all over or crowded with a few hundred watercrafts can make all the difference on so many levels these days.

“So what is the meet time?” I ask over the cell phone…”6:00AM?”

“Naw man. We gotta get in there earlier than that. 4:30?” Don says trying to hold back the anxious energy that screams nothing but MUST FISH.

“Killing me.” My voice gargles exhausted from 60 hours of the daily grind. It’s Friday. My eyes burn and my back aches but I know he’s right. Early start is better. “Ok, but they have to open the gates. 5AM meet, roll in and be on the water as the sun is coming up?”


Don and I have some pretty strict rules when it comes to fishing.

1. You are only allowed a 15-minute window from the meet time without a phone call. When you call, you better be close to the meet spot or waiving off your end of the trip altogether. No call-no show results in loss of spot on future trips.

2. You bring your own crap and be ready to load up and roll in 5 minutes. 10 or 15 if it’s a two-day trip or more. If we hike, you carry your stuff.

3. Never S.O.L. This means a positive/focused attitude at all times.

The rules seem really simple but after a while you just stop trying. We have made exceptions and sometimes it works out but more often than not, if I am not fishing by myself it is with this “Don” guy. He has helped plan and film a lot of these fishing trips, especially the larger excursions. That is why Don is a crucial part of The MAD Fishing Show.

On with the post…

Forecast: High 86
Water temp: Mid 70’s
Weather forecast: Sunny with storms building in afternoon
Wind forecast: 5-25 mph building later afternoon

The morning starts dark and cold. Air temp drops sharply after nightfall and seem coldest around 3:30AM when I am starting the truck. Coffee in my hand adrenaline starts to surge. Sometimes I can’t even sleep before a big fishing trip. At least this time I got a few hours. It didn’t seem to matter. The only concern was speed limits on the way to the meet spot.

Now here is where I cheated a bit and got to the meet spot a good 15 minutes before Don (who generally shows up early) and started setting up the pontooner. Setting up the frame (pontoon bladders filled with air previously) is a bit of a process but worth it in my opinion. I only get a quarter way into it when the coffee forces me to take a nature break. On the way out of the latrine Don’s headlights illuminate the gravel road into the parking area.

“He’s really early this time.” I said quickly moving to finish the setup.

Don pulls out a fully inflated belly boat. All he has to do is attach some rods and go. I don’t want to be the goober holding up the show so luckily the frame was all put together and the wheel unit was in place. Just had to the fix stabilizing rope, load the rods, fix the oars, set the platform, load the anchor and gear bag. (this is after checking off water, camera, wallet, fishing license and keys).

“Oh and life vest!” I say at the last minute. “Don’t want to get flagged for that!” (Some rangers will kick you off the water if you don’t have one. They make me put it on and I can still fish. Others just say you have to carry it. But you have to have it or you run the risk of getting booted.)

We both were geared up and ready to roll well before the intended time. From there it’s a decent walk in. To reach the pond we want to fish we have lug all this crap well over a country mile. With the sun already turning the sky orange and blue we headed out. It didn’t take long for effort to sink in and sweat to build. In this case, the belly boat has the edge clearly over a pontoon setup even with some added help in regards to wheel units.

Finally the water greats us. The sun is just now coming over the eastern horizon. Still sheltered from the trees a large shadow is created with a layer of mist. The lake was flat with only a few top circles. Nothing too promising at first glance. It was far too early to do anything but soak everything in. we both got in as silent as we could. First the belly boat to the left and the pontooner to the right. We opened up on the first pond and began casting.

“You want fish this side and then go up on the other one?” Don asked for mere courtesy. We both pretty much had a plan cemented in our heads.

I nodded.

The weed growth and natural structure of this pond presents a lot of terrain where fish can hide, move and ambush prey. There is also a great deal of forage types of all kinds. We have covered this entire lake a number of times and now dialed it into a few hot spots and a few consistent lure patterns. Our plan is to hit the prime time areas on the first pond and then roll on to the other lake.

At first the smallmouth and largemouth were tiny. We are throwing big stuff (short of musky gear) and these punky brewsters are going nuts! The smallmouth would trick you at first into thinking you had a “real” fish. But I think these fish are pretty cool anyway.

(Above: here’s my first dinky smallie. Even dink smallies have some scrap to them.)

(Above: Don with another dinker smallie. This was a fish caught early in the day and dubbed “skunkbeater smallie”.)

We saw a few scattered schools suspending baitfish here and there. Running a few baitfish patterns and nothing. The larger fish were more difficult to locate or reluctant to bite. We were knocking on doors and coming up empty. Then out of nowhere. BAM! I hook into a fish that dang near wants to pull me off the boat.

(Above: Some people call this fish a bronzeback. I call it pure gold.)

A few more casts along the edge and nothing. It looks like too good of a spot not to have a decent sized fish. I weed through a few dinkers and then get a super heavy tug. This fish was different from the previous one. Instead of sporadic bursts of energy the stress on the line was more in the form of lazy pauses and then heavy surges. Thankfully the fish stayed out of the weeds and landed fairly easily. It even posed real nice for me like a real trooper.

(Above: Sweet looking bucket. Very defined dark markings and a big ol face!)

From here we decided to roll off the first pond and try the back one. This pond has been hit and miss. My solo trips or trips with the MAD Show have been really great or really dismal. It is just one of those kind of ponds.

The day had pressed on and we were faced with the rising sun. This meant rising temperatures, wind and then a storm cycle of some sorts. Wind had already kicked up from almost zilch to sporadic gusts of 15 or even 25 mph. In this case, both boats have equal and opposite advantages. They both get you offshore but the belly boat will be much slower moving against the wind. But the pontoon boat is much harder to stabilize in windy conditions. Heavier anchors are needed for heavy wind. Just the kind I won’t carry all over hill and dale. There were times I struggled even if my boat could reach the spot first.

Don seemed to be able to control himself and cast right on target every time. Wham! Wham! Wham! He was pulling fish right and left. Sometimes it was a dink sometimes it was a stocky bass in the 2 pound class. Some were 16-inches and quite respectable. It was almost automatic. If there was a fish there, any fish…he was going to nail it.

(Above: Don with a fantastic gill attacking a big in line spinner. Out of the twenty or thirty fish he landed on this pond alone…I like this one the best. Panfish are @@#$%^ amazing!)

This is all just a small taste of a MAD Fishing montage coming soon. Just need some time to work on edits. Getting Don’s memory card would help a bit too (hint hint). There is a lot more footage worth seeing but will save that for the official MAD Fishing show release.

Good luck and good fishing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New gov't study shows mercury in fish widespread

WASHINGTON - No fish can escape mercury pollution. That's the take-home message from a federal study of mercury contamination released Wednesday that tested fish from nearly 300 streams across the country. The toxic substance was found in every fish sampled, a finding that underscores how widespread mercury pollution has become.

Some of the highest levels in fish were detected in the remote blackwater streams along the coasts of the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana, where bacteria in surrounding forests and wetlands help in the conversion. The second-highest concentration of mercury was detected in largemouth bass from the North Fork of the Edisto River near Fairview Crossroads, S.C.
Link to full article:

Matt's Rant: This is a problem that is going to get far worse than it is going to get better. The fact that every fish they sampled had some level of mercury means that most of the fish you catch in the United States will be tainted to some degree. (The more I grasp Biology at the microscopic level - the more frightened I become.)

Humans react differently to toxic poisoning and it doesn't make me feel any better when they stated; "Only about one quarter of the fish tested had mercury levels above what the EPA considers safe for human consumption." That means 1 in 4 fish could seriously mess you up if you ate it. And it would take a while for this to affect you. “Only a quarter of the fish…” Was that supposed to make me feel better or just dull my paranoia into an apathetic stupor?

What this test didn’t factor in is the pharmaceuticals. If you catch fish downstream from a sewer treatment plant, guess what? Those fish will be loaded with trace amounts of everything from Vitamin A to Viagra. That stuff could really mess you up too.

The point I am trying to make here is that the planet is changing from human impact. Global warming “aint got szchit” compared to the amount of pollution, parking lots and pure punishment we “people” dish out day after day. As the planet changes people will have to change too. One way or the other a course correction has to be made. At the very least you should be concerned about what you eat and where it comes from regardless of whether you bought it at the store or pulled it from the water.

They mention some of the most heavily affected areas as Georgia, Florida and Louisiana. Many will argue the method, timing and testing procedures done across the board (let’s face it, the detailed studies area is a bit "tiny"). Regardless of debate, every study comes back with more of the same: water is polluted – fish are tainted to some degree. My bet is that major Denver-area reservoirs are rated “above EPA regulations-but some traces have been found”. Hence the state warnings.

For more information check out the survey results at the link below. I wish someone had told me they were doing a survey. I could have caught them some fish!

Good luck and Good Fishing!

Fall Buckets

By this time of year I am focusing less on the shoreline and more into deep water for largemouth bass. Spawning action of smaller fish are fading into memory and as the bluegill and sunfish move into deeper water the largemouth follow.

However I still get some quality fish near the shoreline in areas where pressure is minimal or where structure lures bigger fish. Cattails are great ambush areas for big bass. Frogs, baitfish patterns or even creature presentations will tempt a few fish.

The area was shallow for the most part so I moved a little deeper. The transition between the lighter colored shallow water and the darker deep water was very defined. I ran the jig into the transition and BANG! Another solid fish.

The recruit fish are really stepping up and attacking lures. Upsizing the lure can help but you will still get the occasional dinker. You just never know where the hits will really come from. You have to knock on as many doors as you can.

Today I had three rods on the ponttoner. Typically I have three or four and transition through them periodically. It saves from having to tie and retie all the time. The jig was thrown at times, the plastics were thrown at other times and the spinnerbait was thrown in between. They all seemed to work just as well as the other (unless there was heavy structure). Accurate casting was the key when fishing close to shore. Being patient and search casting the water methodically with a variety of lures was the key to the deeper fish.

Sunlight was intense. I moved over to a section loaded with large cottonwood trees and cattails. The area seemed a bit cooler than the rest and enormous dragonflies were buzzing around. One toss of the baby bass fluke and WHAM! An enormous bass hammers the bait.

Another fantastic day. This lake has been a tough one for me to get into this year for some reason. Maybe I am getting spoiled by a few of the public places that I fish or maybe I am just getting lazy. Regardless of the excuses, it was good to finally fish this place again. All were released in great shape.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A run on Big T

One of the things I look forward to this time of year is fall trout fishing. The mountain lakes and rivers provide a world that is vastly different than the bass ponds of summer. Cattails and lily pads give way to pine trees and rugged rock formations. After months of bucket slammin’ on flat water, the high country action is a nice change of pace.

(Above: This is a beautiful shot of the stretch just past the spillway and around the bend. Expect company when you fish this area on the weekends.)

This trip was intended as a warm up to start transitioning my game into the trout scene. The Big T is a great place for this. The river itself is bigger than the creeks that are closer to me and offers a decent number of fish. Some fish are finicky and some are more eager. That makes this strip of “river” a good spot to work out some of the kinks.

The fish were not cooperating at first and I struggled to find that super hot pattern of the day. Angling pressure from Saturday could have also set the fish back a bit. Sure I could make a bunch of excuses here but honestly it was all about transitioning my fishing style into the mode of lighter tackle, smaller water and salmonoids.

(Above: First fish of the day on an early start. Even the fish looked sleepy.)

The sun rose higher in the sky and finally crested over the mountains. Sunlight gently warmed the canyon and action seemed to pick up. Being able to see the water more clearly helped a lot. The additional daylight let a person see through the water to the bottom vividly in the shallows and confessed to where the deeper water was. After a few more moments and light you could actually see the fish. They would jet in and out of the current or stage motionless in the shallows. Sometimes I would run my gear to see if they would hit and then just sit back and watch them.

(Above: Brown trout, trout in the big T aren’t generally huge but some of these fish can be very spectacular looking.)

Trout physically can’t tolerate my shameless photo ops like warm water species. So on this trip (as with most of my trout excursions) the trout photos were minimal. Some fish would get one shot and some fish would get none at all. Quick release and not beating up the fish was more important than getting a lot of trout pictures.

(Above: Another fantastic brown pulled out of swift current. Gold blade patterns on the spin action seemed to fair best.)

The brown trout were a bit easier to trick with the spin gear compared to the rainbows. I could see them setting up in the current but they were very selective compared to some of the browns. The worst part is the taunting. Fish would rise up and look at the lure. Then they would drift back to where they were and you just knew they were silently chuckling. The next cast and the fish would not even budge. Not so much as a scoff. Then I watched a few fly guys come in.

“They will teach these fish!” I mutter smirking for revenge. But after watching for a few moments I realized it was not to be.

Fly anglers would cast, drift and the fish would raise its nose then settle back down again. Cast, drift, rise and back down. At least the flies were getting closer looks and more of them but no bites. One guy hooks into a nice fish but it spits the hook shortly after.

Finally I was working a stretch of water that was flat and fairly calm. A nice cast was thrown followed up with a steady retrieve making the spinner look like a large bug or even small fish struggling in the current. I feel the bite and shimmer in the water. A quick land and very brief photo op before the release.

(Above: Beautiful cutbow and the only one that I landed. The rainbow trout here are wary and wise. Watching them swim away quickly and in good health is very satisfying for me.)

This river is AFLO/C&R most of the way down from Estes. The additional regulations seem to make this place better and better every year. Bait containers and spent fishing line are nonexistent and a thing of the past. The natural beauty and rugged canyon of the Big T can be breathtaking as well. These are the moments that I live for. Fishing in Colorado is a blessing, a privilege and just all around #$%^*& awesome!

(Above: Beautiful brown trout with very intense yellow coloring. Compared to bass fishing this is a whole different world.)

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

RESPECT Mother Nature

(Above: I came across this picture while fishing Clear Creek in the southwestern part of Golden. The name “Jessica” was written next to it. Thank you Jessica, I could not have asked for a better picture for this blog posting.)

This rant is not stating by any means that “harvest” is bad. Mankind owes its existence to harvesting the precious natural resources of the land and making the best use of these materials. The Native Americans were masters of this. The first and foremost philosophy they held dear was RESPECT! They took their coexistence with nature very seriously and even incorporated this into their religion. Every creature and plant to them had magical secrets that were unique and just as beautiful.

So many so-called recreationalists poorly assume that their permits, entrée fees and licenses entitle them to do pretty much anything they want in the outdoors. Legal limits, littering and even the law seem to be skirted aside with excuses or tales of inconvenience. Fisheries, trails and other outdoor areas show far too much evidence of this ill behavior. Colorado is seeing more human pressure as a result of the substantial influx of people during the 90’s. Habitat and open space is shrinking due to development. We as individuals are hard pressed to stop this. But there are many things we can do. Here are five things right off the top of my head that would go a long ways to make things better.

1. Pick up trash when you see it. Every scrap helps. Do not leave trash. Litter is an insult to the natural beauty of Colorado and should not be tolerated in any form.

2. Selective harvest means you take the most common size and species, not every single fish or the biggest fish you catch. Abide by slot limits that are opposed. Conservation and harvest can go hand in hand if done responsibly. The fisheries and the harvest will get better every year as a result.

3. Keep in mind that you are not the only one that is or will be fishing this spot. This means that when you decide to take a full limit of fish, there may be 100 other guys thinking the same thing. Legal limits are designed to limit pillage while allowing some harvest. Legal limits should not be considered the goal of the day for all anglers every trip they take.

4. Minimize your impact at all times. Nature can only absorb so much punishment. Minimizing human impact is the key to keeping the outdoors naturally pristine for centuries to come.

5. If you plan to release the fish, minimize your impact on that fish as much as possible. Take a picture or two and let it go. Who knows maybe you will catch the same fish next year and it will be even bigger.

The good news is that the quality and ethical sportsman that carry respect in their heart far outweigh the bad. There are more people picking up trash in some spots than ever before. It just doesn’t look that way sometimes. We need more good people out there respecting all forms of wildlife, even the frogs, turtles, squirrels and fish.

More good news is that Colorado fishing is still fair to good for the most part. This fluctuates greatly depending on the location. But we all know it could be better if more people hopped on the “good fishing” bus. Stepping over worm containers and spent fishing line should never be part of the outdoor experience.

Sorry for the rant and apologize for sounding like an after school special or a sermon for some environmental group. Reinforcing the need for good behavior, conservation and respect for Mother Nature is something I am passionate about.

I want to give a shout of respect out to the Division of Wildlife, (even if I disagree with them at times) Parks and Recreation folks and all of the ethical sportsman out there. Your management and fees keep things going. (PETA doesn't do ##$%^& for habitat. Bunch of worthless whiners) sportsman and recreationalists fund habitat management.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

BE Buckets


This post has taken a bit longer to put together and has fallen out of sync in the chronological order of things. Working a lot and fishing as much as I possibly can has caused a bit of a backlog in regards to material. Forgive me when I throw in random or late posts. Just trying to keep up with everything.

Date: Late June
Time: 8:00AM to a little after noonish
Air temp: 76-85 degrees
Water Temp: OMG for the LMB

The story begins…

The expectations were set really low. This place sees more traffic in the summer than the tollbooths off of C-470 at times. When I rolled up I saw the RV units stacked side by side but the lakes didn’t seem all that crowded. If you have ever been here to fish you know about the bait and dunk ponds to the north. You might or might not know about the pond to the south with the initials B.E. regulated as C&R/AFLO.

The truck is parked and the pontooner is loaded out of the truck for assembly at the water’s edge. Before I can even get my pontooner in the water I see the bluegill crowding in the shallows to spawn. My addiction to panfish started to build. It took a lot of concentration and focus to continue with the pontooner unload and setup (The toons were filled with air but the frame itself was not assembled.). Once the boat and gear was set up my interest could move towards the panfish. But when I reached for the panfish rod I saw a bass lurching in towards the bluegill. My reach moved four inches over and grabbed the rod with a jig combo instead. One flip cast, slow sink and WHAM! The lure didn’t have a chance to touch the bottom.

For once I did everything right and was able to keep the head of the fish from turning away from me. The fish tried to turn a few times and I was able to horse him back in my direction before he could position his body to make a full surge back into the deep. The distance between us was minimal and the battle itself was a quick one. Take a second for the photo op and release.

(Above: First cast fish. I haven't even got my boat in the water yet. If only every fishing trip started like this.)

Then I took the liberty to hammer a few dink panfish. The countless number of bluegill spawning in the shallows was too much temptation for me. It makes me smile to see so many of these snack sized morsels virtually forming an enormous buffet for larger fish. I caught and released a handful of these guys and always kept an eye out for some larger ones. Some of them had more brilliant color patterns than others.

(Above: This was one of the more brilliant colored panfish. I actually caught this fish later in the day and this a gratuitous photo placement.)

Ok so now I am in the pontooner looking around and trying to gauge the wind or lake current. Wind is often my primary factor when fishing the pontoon. It was mild and easy to keep boat direction and control. With wind out of the equation I start looking for clues. A lake this size may be referred to more of as a pond. You can see clearly from one side to the other. After one good look my options were many.

Making my move towards the south cove I start throwing search casts. First cast is shallow with a quick retrieve that slows as the water depth increases. As the lure vanished into the darkness of the deep water…WHAM! Another solid fish. My rod was doubled over and my hand loosened the drag another skosh. This one was pretty beefy and gave one, two good surges on the drag. But the fish had nowhere to go in the open water. Finally the fish had to concede to the land and grab. Perfect hook placement in the jaw that came out leaving a fine pinhole.

(Above: “Holy cow. I am just getting started here. Hope this action holds through the day or even the next few hours.)

The noon hour heat started pouring on. The heat really seemed to kick up the wind quite a bit. It would be slightly breezy or perfectly calm one minute and then get gusty and blustery. The pontoon is very susceptible to wind. It blows me around like a circus balloon at times. What made things worse was that the wind direction did not allow for a decent line to drift fish. I spent a lot of time readjusting for a cast and moving over a few prime spots in poor position. Wasted a lot of time dropping anchor, pulling up anchor. I spooked a few fish.

“Should have dropped anchor four feet over there instead of right here.”

My boat is turned 90 degrees with a crank of my left oar and I start heading for another spot. I throw out a cast and let the lure trail behind me as my arms and shoulders crank on the oars through the wind. The rod holder keeps the fishing rod in place. My eyes watch the tip of the rod as my pontoons rock with the waves.

Thunk! The rod tip twitches forward and then bounces back. My arms stop rowing and I reach for the rod. Thunk! Thunk! Wham! The rod was loaded before the fish came back for the second bite. Right at third bite I powered down. The fish was about thirty or forty feet out. It felt like a sturdy fish. The fight continued in open water and the fish chose to stay deep rather than breach. It tried to take refuge under the pontoon boat but that was a mistake. The fish ended up running right to me in the last 10 or 15 feet. Lip and release!

(Above: Lift up, get the shot, lower and release. Bad angle on this shot with the sun. This fish hit the bait of nowhere. Shallow fish, deep fish, it just didn’t seem to matter on this day.)

Visibility was great due to amazingly clear water. It made sight fishing a sheer pleasure. Several yards away I see a dark shadow cruising off the shoreline. The senko was slung out as that was what seemed to be getting most of the action. The lure splashed and started dropping. The fish turned and raced right at it. I felt the hit like a jolt. It was the most glorious moment of fishing when you trick a magnificent specimen into fiercely striking a lure. Then the fish leapt out of the water and came down with a splash.

“That’s a decent fish!” My teeth grit down as my heart starts pounding. Every single fish gets my heart pounding.

The fish tried to run deep and I managed to turn the head towards me. This is where I should have rolled my wrists and turned the fish to my left where I had better boat position. Instead it burst out of the water a second time and I struggled to keep slack maintained. The fish could easily toss the lure right here. The aeronautical display is amazing to watch but often comes with devastating results.

I held my breath cranking desperately on the reel handle. The fish went right into the muck. Instead of giving out some slack and hoping the fish reverses himself, I tighten up the line before cranking the oars twice to move forward. The boat went over the top of the fish and pulled it out the reverse direction like it was rehearsed or something. So easy. Often I lose fish when they dig down like that. But the fish was a real fighter and struggled for every inch to the boat. Even the lip grab was tough.

“Phew…son!” I did my best Bill Dance imitation as I landed the fish.
Luckily the park ranger was just coming around the corner as I landed the fish and willing to give me a hand with the photo op. Great shot!

(Above: beauty BE bucket even if a little bit on the skinny/post spawn side. Thanks to the Park Ranger for taking this shot.)

As the day wore on the bite seemed to fade. The heat and wind were taking a toll so I decided to head back to shore and call it a day. Cranking the pontooner one of the rubber oar fittings comes undone. This causes the oar to flip flop like crazy. I had to limp my way in like a lame duck and against some serious gale to boot. Just as I start building up momentum I see a large boil on the water about 10 feet from shore.

“Hello, Betty!” I bark letting the good oar drop and then placing the bad oar on the left pontoon.

My right hand grabs the rod with a simple 4” grub and fires a decent cast considering I am getting blown backwards about 15mph. The lure hits just past the boil. The rod tip is lifted quickly making the lure hop on the water rather than sinking. But the wind is creating a lot of turbulence and pulling the bait down. Instead of looking like a minnow or creature on top of the water it resembles something drowning or at the very least struggling in the current. This was one of those times were I feel like the presentation is 100% right or 100% wrong all at the same time. My hand stopped reeling and I just let the lure sink. WHAM! The line was tight as I felt the fish hit. Setting the hook was a synch. Landing the fish would be a different story.

The wind started to die down for a second and then came right back up again. I hadn’t had time to grab the oars since positioning the boat for the cast. The wind was pushing me across the lake. The adjacent shoreline was a distance but closing in. My head turned briefly to gauge the distance but then returned back to the fish.

“C’mon now. Make this easy and no one will get hurt.” I don’t know why I talk to these fish. They don’t listen to me at all.

This fish was “horsed” in a bit due to the shoreline closing in. My hand cupped the drag and I put far more force on the line than normal. The goal was to land the fish quickly, maybe take one shot or two and then release before I collided with the shore. The last part didn’t go as planned. The boat was directed with one oar into a “soft” spot on the shoreline as opposed to the Russian olive trees. I did land the fish but it could have cost me a pontoon or two.

(Above: Literally a last cast fish. Kind of a tricky shot with the flubbed up oar.)

The fish was released and I flapped the boat back to the other shoreline. The gear was broken down very slowly and put back into the pathfinder. Drank the last of the water and headed out. Honestly, I am nearly as tired from typing all this up and posting it, as I was that day when I drove out of there.

Once again, sorry for the late post. Good luck and good fishing.

What’s the deal with Spinnerbaits? A basic breakdown

The spinnerbait is one of the lures I love to fish with but is not the number one fish catcher in my tackle box. One of the most complex lures to fish with has to be the spinnerbait. There are a lot of technical aspects that blur the waters for this lure in regards to precise rods, line weights and even reel types. Let’s brush all of that confusion aside and just focus on throwing the spinnerbait with what you are fishing with right now.

Below is a link to a video on my youtube page. Big fish love spinnerbaits. Yes sir!

Adjust speed for various presentations

The spinnerbait is the ultimate search bait in my opinion as you can test both speed and depth to it’s fullest depending on the retrieve. The spinnerbait has both weight and buoyancy allowing for long casts and shallow water coverage simply by adding a quicker reel pace. By the same token, the wire body and blade will sink down to virtually any depth as you slow the retrieve. And that is the key to the spinnerbaits versatility.

Most folks have one preferred speed for this lure and that is “ripping” fast. High-speed action is best when the fish are very aggressive. At other times the fish just won’t waste the energy chasing anything down. You practically have to nail them in the mouth while using the warp 5 retrieve. Mix things up a little especially when bites are slow or hanging in the No-Go section.

For example, the lift and drop method allows the lure to cover various depths by lifting the rod tip up and then lowering it. Slack is reeled in on the drop and then the lure is lifted again. The depth and speed is something the angler has complete control over as where other lures are designed to operate at specific depths.

(Above: This illustration is my attempt to show the rise and fall action that is created from the lift and drop method. Remember the amount of depth is something you can control.)

Another great spinnerbait presentation is called the slow roll. This method utilizes a very slow retrieve and is great for catching reluctant fish. The key is to give the lure just enough motion to keep the blade fluttering and the lure bouncing off of cover. This method requires a lot of patience.

(Above: The subtle movement of the slow roll presentation is shown above. Bouncing the lure off the structure will often trigger strikes.)

Blades, skirts, wires-All can be adjusted for optimum results.

The fluttering blade action is hypnotic. That flash of sparkly goodness attracts, delights and confuses fish to no end. The blade comes in many sizes and arrangements. Personally I use the “tandem” style most of the time. This type of spinnerbait has the Colorado blade and then an additional round blade below that.

The skirting material is crucial in regards to adding motion and color. Try to get skirting (as well as overall color patterns) to match the forage base as close as possible. Orange, yellow and green are some common panfish/baby bass colors that work well in most situations. White with a mix or black or blue can resemble crappie, shad or even trout patterns. Don’t be afraid to add or change skirting as needed to the “off the shelf” spinnerbaits that you use.

The formed wire that connects the blade and the body is pure genius. It could only be more perfect if it was completely invisible. But what many anglers may not know is that you can bend that wire in to create a smaller profile look. The factory will set the bend on this wire at a perfect 90 degrees when 60 degrees is more ideal in my opinion.

Trailers and spinnerbait combos

Lastly I want to cover an additional step in regards to pimping out the spinnerbait. Sure the spinnerbait works well out of the box but adding a pork or plastic trailer can add that extra element that kicks your catch ratio into high gear. Matching the color or even adding a two-tone look with a plastic grub, pork frog or other plastic bait can also add buoyancy and a bulkier look to the lure. This is a subject that I hope to go into more depth in another post. This post is getting too long already and most of the readers have lost interest by now.

Drawbacks to the illustriously amazing spinnerbait

The spinnerbait is an “obvious” lure to some fish and will not pass the snuff test under certain conditions. Ultra clear water with no wind and very wary fish spells trouble for wirebait, Confucius say.

Even though the spinnerbait is far more weedless than most anglers give it credit for, it still hangs up in moss, heavy weedbed and lumber where other lures may be more affective.

The blade and wire design comes with a minor flaw in the fact that the fish will sometimes strike the blade and thus miss the hook altogether. A trailer hook will minimize some missed strikes.

In conclusion, this was a lot of #$^&* work to put together. There is so much more to cover in regards to the preferred rods, reels and even preferred line types for the spinnerbait. Just throw the spinnerbait with what you got and hold on!

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Half Day Fish Fest (Part One)


The week rolled through and priorities stacked up. It seems like every time I think there is a free weekend coming up my hopes and dreams for the “all out two day fishing rampage” falls apart. Friday rolls around and I’m left with half of Saturday to fish. Scrap the previous plans and come up with a short range Plan B.

(Above: Sunrise shot after entering the water and flipping around for an hour or so in the tuber.)

Another Day on the Water" (Half Day Fish Fest (Part One)

Pre-Morning start:

I had not been to this lake yet in 2009. It was my number one spot once upon a time but now fallen completely off my top ten due to pressure. That is how quickly urban fisheries can drop in fishing quality once the word gets out. Just the way it goes. Due to past pressure and exploitation we decided to hit the water so early that it infringed on the legalities in regards to the sunrise/sunset regulation. We arrived at 4:30 AM, geared up and technically were on the property under the cover of darkness. We reach the lake and port in just as daylight peaked its head over the eastern horizon.

The water was heavily stained. I could barely see my fins underneath me when I flipped myself around the lake. Carp were launching like crazy. It felt like trying to fish in the middle of a bombing run. Sploosh! Another 5 to 10 pound carp would splash onto the surface after a tremendous leap from the water. A few of these bomb droppers would hit very close. I was nearly hit with the splash a few times.

“If one of these hits me…I could get knocked out cold!” I laughed and threw the lure over the cattails.

Wham! My rod doubled over with a big fish that had virtually set the hook on itself. The battle was on. I couldn’t see the structure through the stained water but knew this lake was loaded with submerged trees. The rod tip was raised and I did my best to lift the fish over anything that could possibly be there. Once I got the fish in deeper water it was much easier to let my drag take some of the pressure off the line. A few bursts of energy and then the grab.

(Above: This is my "Good Morning" bucket. Action was slow slow slow...good thing this guy didn't decide to sleep in.)

The lure was a 6” black senko with blue flake. (The 6” is harder to find sometimes and I usually have to order them in the colors I want just to save the hassle). When the water is stained like this I try to throw my darkest lures. With so much wood structure that I could not see, the senko was a perfect choice. I threw a variety of lures switching through three rods throughout the morning. This was the only thing that got bites.

Stained water is not my favorite water to fish. I am at a huge disadvantage when I cannot see the structure under the water’s surface or even have a chance to locate the baitfish. Carp bombing the water every 5 minutes wasn’t helping either. If a bass did roll on the surface exposing its location, I would have merely brushed it off as another carp. After a few hours of stained water torture…the decision to port out and roll onto other water was sound. Maybe this place will bounce back some day.

To be continued on Part Two

Half Day Fish Fest (Part Two)


I think it’s easier for folks to read the short blog post as opposed to my four page endless rants. In situations where it makes sense to break a long post into segments, I will go through the extra work to make two or more quality posts rather than one long drawn out one. This day was a half-day fish fest with several lakes involved. What it really boiled down to was a story of two water types; stained and clear.

Rolling off Plan A

Desperation was clinging on my shoulder like a silent taunting buzzard. The early morning hours had been wasted on a lake with stained water. One quality fish wasn’t going to satisfy me. The only thing to do was to pull out and go to another lake. The advantage a belly boat has over other craft is that you can be mobile in mere minutes as opposed to trailering up or breaking stuff down.

Off we went to a nearby lake. This lake was smaller, more secluded and would hopefully have some clear water to fish. I had also hoped to see panfish. Instead we saw weed choked water and zero fish at all. They were neither spawning nor suspending. One look and you knew it would be tough going at this location.

“Find the clear water and you will find the best fishing”

With that in mind we didn’t even bother getting the gear out. We were on Plan C and driving out at 8:30. The 45-minute drive was grueling but at least the traffic was light. The 6-dollar charge was another slight setback. But at least the water was clear. One look at crystal blue water and being able to see the bottom was pure bliss compared to fishing the “soup”. Don has the tuner ready to go and gets in. I decided to go with the pontoon for Plan C. (Yep…I just so happen to be carrying around a one-man pontoon boat with oars in case something like this came up.)

Port in and start working around the island. Don gets into a nice fish right away. The fish was close to the edge hiding up against some flooded trees. The fish fought extremely tough in the open water. The beast breached the water surface once and then twice before trying to dig itself deep into the weed matte. Don hoisted the fish up before its head could reach the matte. He lands it and brings it up for a quick shot.

(Above: This is the first and only shot I was able to get. Don doesn’t care much for pictures, master angler awards or even other anglers most of the time.)

Time goes by and I start to get discouraged. Two dink fish wasn’t going to make the drive worthwhile. Cast, cast, cast some more. Working the shoreline structure, the shelf and anything else that looked like there might be a bass. The wind was pushing me all over the place. Then I look at how the wind is sheltering the south side of the lake. The flat water made a tempting target. My focus moved over to that area and the fish started hitting.

(Above: Watch out for these wannabe bruisers. They will hit lures half their size and mob your bait if traveling in “packs”. This fish hit the plastics. It seemed like the plastics were only getting fish from tiny town.)

A lot of experts tell anglers to focus on the side of the lake where wind is pushing everything to one side. I believe the opposite to be true most of the time and more fish tend to congregate where the water is sheltered from the wind. This isn’t absolute and there are other advantages to fishing in wind but when things get blustery out there I prefer to hang in coves or the side with flat water and less turbulence. Most of the time the fish do to.

But these fish were small. After two or three dinks I moved further away from shore and started working the bottom of the shelf. It was roughly 15 to 20 feet deep in spots. I couldn’t see the fish but I knew they were down there. My casts became long and deep. At times I was hammering the bottom of the lake with spinnerbait and other rigs. WHAM! The lure stopped and I thought my lure had found a stump or rock. Then the line started to pull and drag started to sing.

I love fighting fish in deep open water. There is no better opportunity to really test a fish’s strength. In fresh or salt water a fish with no cover or heavy current has only its own wits and stamina to rely on. I can take my time rather than horsing the fish in. It is almost a dance of sorts to bring the fish in carefully in open water as opposed to the rough and tumble battle of fighting a fish in heavy cover. Just glide the fish in for the land, grab and shameless photo op.

(Above: Clear water bucket. Check out the dark color pattern. These fish are #$%^^&* amazing! Don’t eat these fabulous sport fish. Catch and Release.)

As the sun rose to the middle of the sky I knew my time was fading. One big fish and a handful of dinks would have to suffice. Don had a few more keepers so his total catch would easily beat mine by a pound or two. With more time who knows what we would have caught. Truth be told this place holds some pretty nice fish.
Pattern of the day could not be determined. One fish does make the pattern and smaller fish tend to be so aggressive that they will hit anything the see. This fish hit a similar spinnerbait combo that you see in the previous blog post “Here comes August”.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Record catfish caught recently at Aurora

Most of the hard core forum cruisers have already heard the buzz about the state record catfish caught out of Aurora a few weeks back. 9News and other sources are now following this catch up with some pictures, facts and the inside story. It isn’t often that I take time to share the exploits of other anglers but if you break the state record for something in this state…you probably will get an unauthorized mention on my bloginess. For the handful of anglers that might not have heard of this killer cat catch…I will submit a blurb and link to the whole story.

Link to full article with photo:

Catfish are a species I rarely target and pick them up more by accident than anything else. But some anglers in Colorado prize this species for its enormous size and meat that has quite a different texture than most Colorado table fish. Catfish can get up to 60 pounds or more in Colorado according to some biologists. Bigger catfish have been caught in Colorado but those fish have not been properly certified. Kudos to Mr. Stone.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Here comes August…

As we roll into August I am transitioning into Fall season patterns for both warmwater and coldwater. Even though August is still a summer month, I always try to trend ahead of the pattern or at least be looking in that direction. Thinking ahead will often put you at the front of the pack in regards to catches.

We may actually see some real summer for a change with temperatures in the 90’s without daily storm barrages. But we are already past the summer equinox and the fish know it. The sun is the only real clock they have and even if it doesn’t feel like summer, the fish know what time it is.

Here is what is happening now. Bluegill and sunfish spawning is coming to a close. The once crowded shallows are becoming void of breeding activity and only occupied by fish looking for a snack. Most of these shoreline cruisers will be small. Most of the fish will or already are moving towards winter grounds in deeper water. Deep-water areas with structure and congregating baitfish nearby are prime targets for larger bass. On bigger waters like Pueblo, deep-water structure areas may require electronics to locate. Smaller waters like PX or Prospect Lakes in Fort Collins the structure is more visible. Focus on these areas and you have a higher percentage of finding fish. Fish that cling closer to the shoreline may be looking for anything that comes their way. Shore congregators are often willing to take a hodgepodge of lure types. I only focus on structure near the shoreline with deep water near by. This time of year those areas will hold fish as where shallow areas used for spawning will not.

Fall warmwater fishing for me is essentially a hunt for the biggest fish in the lake. This is the toughest hunt for me. By now the fish are “ultra-wise” or gone. Chances are they have seen every lure once or twice at least at places like Aurora Reservoir for example. The ultra-wise fish will have dialed in on the major food source and you need to present something very similar possibly with a very precise method. If the lake has a shad population, the angler should try and match that pattern. Seeing schools of “busting” fish is your key indicator where big fish are probably feeding.

(Above: Spinnerbait combos are something I have had off and on again success with as a late summer/fall pattern. Changing skirt colors as well as plastic trailers add more effect and help match forage patterns more precisely. This is my baby bass/green sunfish pattern.)

Size matters? Yes and no. Naturally by summer you want to transition to larger baits. Otherwise you are just beating off the recruit fish and as you have read in my blog…I’m throwing the largest flukes and senkos that I have and the dinks are still coming out of the woodwork. The same thing may only work for the bigger fish at certain times. Big fish get big by eating a lot and lounging around a lot. The big fish will binge feed, rest and then binge feed again. When I find fish that are reluctant to larger baits either through sight fishing or on the fish finder, I consider these fish to be resting or reluctant. Downsizing the bait or a slower presentation may be the ticket to make that fish say, “Ok, just one more bite.”

What really counts?

Being out there when the bite happens is so important. You can’t predict when the biggest fish will take a lure. Moon phases, spawning habits and other details only give you small clues. To fully grasp the entire puzzle you need to be out there fishing. The more you fish the more you will learn on your own. You may come across things that may actually disprove or go against what pro anglers and experts have been telling you. Fish follow patterns determined by nature. They do not follow rules written by anglers on blogs or fishing forums. The best tip any angler can give you for fall fishing is this: Don’t put your gear up yet. Some of the best fishing is just around the corner.

Good Luck and Good Fishing.