Monday, September 28, 2009
An Urbandale man on a fishing trip with friends drowned in the Big Thompson River west of Loveland , Colo. , on Wednesday, according to the Loveland Reporter-Herald.
Phillip Dorff, 59, of Urbandale was fishing separately from his three friends, according to the Larimer County coroner's and sheriff's offices.
The friends, who had last seen him at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, began to worry when Dorff had not returned to Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch by 9 p.m., the deputy coroner told the newspaper. End article.
Coloradocasters was up here shortly before this happened. I wanted to wait for more details to come in on this before releasing anything on the bloginess. This is a tragic story and it seems that we lose a few anglers every year for one reason or the other. This accidental death brings one important note to my mind…Anglers need to be careful regardless of water size.
This reminds me of all close calls I have had on small water that I did not take as serious as if I was on the Platte River or other “big water”. This is a primary factor of why smaller water may actually be more dangerous at times. Let’s be careful out there.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Fall fishing can be sporadic and will often require patience. The fish won’t be as easy to locate as most of the fish are transitioning towards fall feeding grounds and near their winter territory. Hoping to catch a few quality fall bass Don and I headed over to a Front Range pond. As usual we hit things pretty early.
The water level was very low. The lake was at its lowest level that I had ever seen it before. What made things worse was the vegetation was becoming overgrown. A lot of areas were difficult to fish or completely out of the water. The weed bed did however provide visible structure. We targetted this structure as it makes excellent ambush territory for fall bass.
(Above: Just can’t help myself. Even in fall I have to hammer a few panfish when I see them.)
Baitfish are suspending les and less. Most of the forage can be located near deeper structure where they can hide from predators. Bluegill and sunfish could still be seen rising up and nipping bugs off the water’s surface. I managed to pick off a few larger sunfish like this guy. (see above) Seeing baitfish moving around is a good sign. Hopefully there would be plenty of big fish looking for them.
(above: Kingfisher on top of tree. I should have asked this guy for some tips right off the bat.)
Less than an hour into the day Don hooks up with a big bucket. He throws a large in-line spinner bait that tends to rock the big fish this time of year. This was his third fish on the day and a real beauty.
(Above: Solid bucket. This picture does not do this fish justice.)
I am throwing a few patterns that consistently work here spring to winter. But for some reason the fish were not hitting. I rolled with the senkos in three flavors before switching to other rigs on the backup rods. Finally I start getting a few bites and even better…fish.
(Above: This is my first “keeper” or quality sized fish of the day. ‘bout time!)
One fish was pulled off the rocks using the jig and grub combo. The weed-matte made this lure virtually unfishable in most of the water. With Don’s presentation doing so well it was safe to conclude that baitfish patterns were going to rule the day.
“Something a bit more flashy.” I thought to myself. Don even suggested black and white.
It worked. The crappie pattern was so delicious that even with my spurt of bad luck I managed to catch a few more respectable fish.
(Above: Finally putting some fish on the board. Love throwing the spinnerbait combos. I should throw this a lot more than I normally do.)
Casting our way through the morning and staring into the afternoon we had now covered most of the lake. Don is in his belly boat, I am on my pontooner. Don casts to the edge of a section of weeds. The lure plops into the water and Don’s fishing rod doubles over as if it wanted to break itself in half. It literally pulls Don toward the weeds. Cranking the reel and pulling the rod tip back he was able to keep the fish from getting back into the weed matte. This was a dark lunker for sure.
(Above: Beast of a fish! Look at the dark color and the glowing eyes. This fish is pure hawg. Must release!)
I believe in full disclosure and being as honest as possible in regards to my fishing blog. As much as I brag shamelessly about my fishing game, this Don guy comes up with a lot of big fish through out the year. On this day it was pretty much “The Don Show” The fish in the last picture was fantastic!
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
The parking lot for the trailhead to Waterton Canyon is located southwest of Chatfield State Park on Waterton Rd. Take the Wadsworth exit off C-470 and head south about 3 miles to Waterton Rd. Turn Right on Waterton Rd and the parking lot is the second parking area on your left (go past the Audubon entrance and turn left at the crosswalk signal).
In the previous post I forgot to mention the no dog regulation. Directions to the parking lot can be tricky for first time visitors so I added the map above.
There are two formats for my fishing videos: The MAD Fishing show and Still Fishing. Both formats have a similar style with great fishing footage. These video montages take a bit of work to make and have been less of a focus in 2009. I will try to do more of these in the future.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The language barrier can lead to all sorts of confusion and misunderstanding that undoubtedly leads to so many violations in regards to fishing and water regulations. This one simple addition will go a long ways to educate and eliminate the problem.
Cultural and racial differences are what make this country the fantastically diverse melting pot that it is today. The problems caused by the language barrier in regards to fishing are for the most part simply a lack of understanding. Please be understanding when you reach out to anyone on this matter.
Today I am printing these regulations out and keeping several copies in my truck. Instead of attempting to learn a second language (let’s face it…English is still kicking my butt) I will simply hand these out instead. I urge other anglers to do the same.
One more step towards better fishing in Colorado.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Originally my plans were to hit a local pond for some fall bass. However the weather forecast called for a huge drop in temperatures with a high around 68 degrees mixed with rain. This would hurt bass action in my opinion so at the last minute my plans were changed. Instead of a local warmwater run I switched things up for some local coldwater. Looking to fish some water that I have not been to in a while, Walker Ranch section of Boulder Creek was selected. The colder weather would help in regards to hike in and out.
(Above: This is a shot at the top of the trail. It is only bad on the way back out and definitely not a place for those that lack ambition.)
Boulder Creek – Walker Ranch section
Last week I was at Waterton Canyon for a bike and fish. This week I took another physical fishing challenge in the way of Boulder Creek – The Walker Ranch section. The walk in from the parking lot to the picnic section is 1.75 miles. It doesn’t look that bad going down but is more strenuous on the way out. This makes the Walker Ranch Section a great “Hike and Fish” fairly close to home.
(Above: This is a shot of the map sign at the parking area. I believe you can park at Flagstaff Road and walk down the other way…but where is the fun in that?)
The water level has fallen quite a bit recently. I was hoping for higher water flows that favor the spin gear. Alas my timing was off and had to settle for more seasonable conditions. I recommend the fly rod for that method is suited far better than the spin gear on such small water.
(Above: Classic fly guy shot near some larger pools. The best areas are often a bit more crowded.)
This is one of the few sections of water where I bring light spinners in the 1/8oz size as well as fly patterns. Throwing fly patterns on a spin rod is not ideal but can be done. Beaded nymph patterns are preferred as they carry some weight to them. Why don’t I just bring a fly rod too? With all the hiking and bushwacking involved I want to carry only one rod and the light tackle bag. Had I known the water levels were back down to normal…I might have reconsidered.
Similar to Waterton Canyon the fish are not going to be enormous. These trout are going to average on the small side with most of the fish being under 12-inches. However there are many fish in the 10-inch category as well as the shot at a few in the 14 or even 16’er range.
(Above: Stocky brown trout. These fish are a staple in Boulder Creek.)
The population of trout is surprisingly good in this stretch considering the size of the “creek” itself. Water levels fluctuate and this might be the last stream in the Front Range that has not been hit by an asphalt truck this year (knock on wood).
(Above: Gorgeous rainbow trout caught in a rugged rock section. The picture does not do this fish justice in regards to the amazing color.)
Bait and take pressure is “tolerated” here as normal state regulations apply. This could help or hurt the system overall. Without some removal in such a small stretch of water the trout could quickly overpopulate and the fish would suffer greatly. But the bait and take folks usually prey on the largest fish. This takes down the quality of the sport in my opinion and only slightly helps population out overall. Leaving the fewer large fish and removing the most common medium sized slot would be more appropriate.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
8/26/2009 A stretch of Colorado Highway 14 in Larimer County will be closed overnight as crews clean up asphalt that spilled into the Cache La Poudre River from a tanker rollover this morning.
The Peterbilt semi hauling 24 tons hot asphalt ran off the highway and rolled into the river at about 10:30 a.m., according to the Colorado State Patrol.
The driver, Kenneth Gale, 52, of Rawlins, Wyo., was taken to Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins for minor injuries. Charges are pending, according to the state patrol.
9/3/2009 The Larimer County Sheriff's Department said the tanker crashed about 9:37 a.m. Thursday, on Colorado 14 northwest of Fort Collins, dumping 5,000 gallons of asphalt about 3 miles downstream from the earlier incident.
10/10/2009 IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The driver of an asphalt truck was killed when it rolled at the bottom of Floyd Hill, exiting Interstate 70 Thursday morning.
As a result of the crash, the ramp from westbound I-70 to U.S. 6 and Colo. 119 was closed for more than an hour.
The truck landed in Clear Creek, spilling an unknown amount of asphalt in the creek. Both saddle tanks on the truck also ruptured, spilling 100 gallons of diesel into the creek
Hopefully there is some serious increase in concern and focus on the safety for all large vehicles that travel on Colorado’s mountainous roads that are treacherous and require additional caution. These roads also for the most part follow waterways such as rivers, streams and seasonal drainage. These waterways are crucial for so many reasons. Even after cleanup is done, it will take years if not decades for these areas to recover.
What you can do to help:
Do not dispose of household materials in your sewer and storm drains. In most cases, these drains lead to Colorado waters. You will just be making the problem worse. Dispose of these chemicals properly.
Disinfect, don’t just inspect your boots, waders, flies and other fishing materials as you transfer from one body of water to the other. Just assume you are carrying invasive species and you probably will be correct half of the time.
Don’t leave trash or debris in natural areas as well as pick up any that you do find. A little bit goes a long ways to making things better or at the very least not making them worse.
You may not be able to stop an asphalt truck but you can make things better. Personally I think we all owe a huge responsibility as sportsman to conserve and protect the areas we use for recreation. Conservation, preservation and making fishing better in Colorado is a large part of why ColoradoCasters was formed. I don’t ask for money or sponsored support. What I do ask is that you respect our natural areas. Please don’t assault them with trash, pillage and even asphalt trucks. Fishing in Colorado is good…but could be so much better.
Good luck and Good Fishing.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Having said that I submit to you a photo of “bait dunkers” fishing right next to the no fishing sign off the first big spillway up Waterton Canyon.
A great rule in life is “Pick your battles wisely”. When confronting violators the same rule applies as not everyone is going to be agreeable to you pointing out the regulations. These guys could have easily pummeled me if I got too pushy. So what does a person do in this situation? I could not just walk away. Instead I employed a little subtlety.
I pulled the bike over and went right up to the sign and started taking pictures. When the two made eye contact with me, I pointed at the sign. The two “anglers” (and I use the term loosely) turned away quickly as if they were oblivious. At that point I pulled out my cell phone to notify authorities. All of this was done at a safe distance from the perpetrators but they could see what I was doing. Unfortunately the canyon has high rock walls and my cell phone couldn’t get service.
So I played up the call as if there was someone on the other end. The perpetrators got the idea and started moving up into the areas that were actually legal for them to fish. 9 out of 10 times there is a safe and polite way to point out abuse or violations. Calling the authorities is the recommended approach. Sometimes the response is quick and sometimes it is not. For state parks, national forests and other state run areas, the number below is your best bet.
1-877-COLO-OGT, Verizon cell phone users can dial #OGT
Good luck and good fishing.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
However half of the footage was better than nothing and we were still able to put together a quality montage. The MAD Fishing Show officially submits…”Ponds M”
There are a few more video montages in the works for both The MAD Fishing Show and Still Fishing episodes. Stay tuned for more and don’t forget to rate and comment the videos posted on youtube for both pages.
Good Luck and Good Fishing!
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
(Above: Shot of the river just before the bridge. The road is a fairly smooth ride with gradual inclines.)
This section of river provides a decent trout fix. The numbers of fish are fair to good by most standards but generally average 10 or 12-inches. There is the chance of catching bigger trout in the 16 and even 18-inch range. Anglers that frequent Waterton Canyon don’t come here in search of huge trout. They come for the natural beauty of the canyon with decent fishing action closer to home.
Right now the river is suffering from a “milky” substance that looks to be an algae die off. The water clarity gets worse as you go up. The poor water quality really seemed to cut the action down a lot. The first handful of spots that I tried came up empty. No flashes, no follows and zero bites. Good thing the natural beauty of Waterton can often make up for the poor fishing…well almost.
The view up Waterton Canyon is framed with breathtaking rock cliffs and outcroppings. Bighorn sheep and other wildlife are active in the canyon and can often be seen close to the road. Rattlesnakes are also something to look out for in this area and just like the bighorns the rattlers can be found on or near the gravel road.
(Above: Three rams from a total of five. This picture was taken with some zoom as to not disturb. Please respect these amazing creatures by allowing them their privacy as you view them.)
(Above: Baby Bighorn…how @#$%^ cute is that? Everyone was real polite and gave this little critter all the room needed to munch some easy grass pickens right along the roadside.)
I started picking apart the larger holes first working at the headwater and then sectioning off other areas cast after cast. The more popular holes seemed void of any action whatsoever. Not even smaller hits. Honeyhole #1, 2 and 3 were pretty much no-go. Most of the fish that I found were tucked behind less obvious rocks and river structure as opposed to the big pools. More often than not the action would come from an aggressive brown trout.
(Above: This is a small brown trout caught in a safe place to put the camera and get a picture.)
A 4-mile section above the parking lot off of Waterton canyon Rd. is guided by general Colorado State fishing regulations but the area above that has an imposed Artificial Fly lure only rule with a two fish limit. Most anglers prefer catch and release in this section to maximize the fish activity.
(Above: Hybrid “cutbow” trout are stocked in Waterton canyon to supplement the sport with a species of trout that is whirling disease resistant.)
Gold blade patterns ruled the day but I only saw bites later in the afternoon. Action was best when the sun was shining. As cloud cover moved in the action went right back to nil. I have never seen conditions like this in Waterton. It was a noodle-scratcher for sure dealing with the fish this day. But you can always enjoy the easy ride down.
Waterton is a great opportunity for both the angler and exercise enthusiast to bike and fish! Good luck and good fishing!
(Above: River shot early in the morning. The air was a crisp 48 degrees at the gear up. Things would get a grueling 75 later in the day.)
Conditions are coming into primetime for fall brown trout fishing. Wanting to get a jump on things I hit a few sections of the Colorado River on the Western Slope. This area offers better fishing when the recreation traffic starts to die down. Lower temperatures and the fact school starts up again can weaken angling pressure and rafting quite a bit.
Fishing action was not as “explosive” as I have seen it at other trips when my timing is spot on. Not dialing in the exact presentation could have been another major factor. Still managed to find a few quality fish and soak up some of that Colorado mountain beauty. Honestly it is just good to get back up here in the hills with the sticks, the bugs and the bears.
(Above: Some solo video work on the river’s edge. It only works out if the fish cooperates. This one didn’t seem to mind so much.)
When fishing river and creek sections it is crucial to read the water. Not only are you looking for the best spots that hold fish but also the secondary spots that people may have overlooked. When fishing pressure is a factor, the secondary spots may prove to be better than the best looking spots that everyone is hammering.
Case in point: I had been struggling all day to get anything but smaller fish out of the best eddies and pools that traditionally hold the best fishing action. However I was picking up fish on the edges or even “ugly” spots other anglers pass up. So when I came to the large flat section my focus was directed to the lesser areas first. First cast in and wham! Beauty brown.
(Above: This was one of my better fish of the day and it wanted to pose beautifully for me. This almost never happens by the way. Male brown trout have a meaner looking face with a more prominent lower jaw. The colors may often be more spectacular in regards to the amount of yellow on the head and belly. The image was taken from the brief video clip to minimize handling time.)
I never stop learning and this trip reinforced my belief that water changes constantly and new plans and presentations need to follow suit. Being able to start with a good plan keeps an angler focused and on track. But knowing when to abandon that plan and quickly move to something else could save you crucial time. When Don hooked up with a fish right away on silver patterns, I abandoned my brown trout colors and went to silver. All of my fish were caught on silver patterns where brown trout patterns have always proven to do really well. Experimenting throughout the day was done attempting to dial in an even hotter color. It was not to be. Silver ruled the day. My point is this: don’t wait until the 4th quarter to change things up particularly if the scoreboard is still zero in your favor.
Help out the trout-better fish handling and release message:
1. Crimping barbs on hooks minimizes the damage to the fish and makes the releasing of these beautiful fish much easier.
2. Wetting your hands before touching helps a lot too in regards to minimizing damage to the protective slime layer most salmonoids have. (Keep the fish in the water as much as possible).
3. Needle nose pliers or higher quality hook removers can come in real handy when getting the hook out. In most cases you don’t even have to touch the fish in order to get a nice easy hook removal and release.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.
Friday, September 4, 2009
This is a camping trip up near Woodland Park and the Florissant area. I don’t travel this way near enough so this was my chance to spend a full weekend. Packing went smoother than ever. Running things through my head a few times and making a quality checklist really seemed to help. But here’s a key to packing the rig when cargo looks really tight: Set everything outside or in the garage next to the vehicle before putting it in the truck. I know it sounds like a lot of extra work carrying, setting down and then packing into the rig but being able to see everything first helps sort out the load order. Think of it as a twisted version of Tetris or something.
With all of this extra gear the pontoon boat had to be strapped to the top. There was just enough room to see out the back. Loaded up and headed out late Friday. An hour to Colorado Springs then another 45 minutes up Hwy 24. The light was fading quickly behind the mountains while traffic controlled the rate of travel.
“Looks like I will be setting up the tent in the dark.” I mumbled. “Should have left at least an hour sooner.”
Just as the sun faded almost completely behind the mountain a magical thing happened. I turned the bend in the road and found myself on the other side of the continental divide. The sun hung in the skyline like a shimmering gold beacon of love. By crossing the mountain ridge I had gained another hour of light. It was as if I had actually gone back in time.
“Hallelujah!” My voice cried out jubilantly. “I just might make it there with some light.”
My foot pressed harder on the gas peddle as traffic picked up the pace on the downhill. Took the turn in Florissant and there was a large camper ahead of me. The driver wasn’t driving too slow or anything like that. But as we passed more and more of the side roads I started to worry that this guy was going to be camping at the same secluded semi-private camping spot as me? I know it sounds selfish but how would my truck and tent look against a 25-foot ultra deluxe camping trailer equipped with toilet, shower and satellite dish? Seriously…this was more than just a recreational RV. This was a mobile home. I would have to walk around it just to see the lake.
A few more miles and turn offs passed and we both stayed the course. I was sure he was camping there. He would be ahead of me and work the gate first. Taking the prime camping spot means the world to me in regards to view and walking distance to the water. This one single factor would change my weekend from spectacular to just mediocre. As the last turn came up I closed one eye and muttered my best plea. The turn came and he went left and I went right.
“Oh thank jeebus!” I laugh once again thanking all that is good in this world for what was nothing short of two miracles. “Two minutes out.”
Roll in and work the combo gate. The place is empty. It was a dream come true. The lake shimmered under a light breeze while birds sang a chorus of welcome. The sun had hidden itself behind the mountain that sat in front of the. There was still at least 30 minutes of indirect sunlight illuminating the surroundings. In a few minutes the tent was setup and shortly after that a fire was going. With the dim light of sun leftovers and the fire the truck was unloaded. There wasn’t enough light or energy for that matter to setup the pontooner. I simply untied it and stored the rest of the gear in the tent.
Another thing I wasn’t sure on was how cold the temps would get late at night. So rather than setting up the bedroll in the tent, the back of the pathfinder would have to do. It worked out well enough. The tent wasn’t slashed apart by bear claws by morning so it would have done just as well I guess.
Morning came and I was shore casting. There was the occasional roll of a big trout but all I could come up with was stocker bows in the 18-inch range. This lake holds a number of fish much bigger than this. Patterning these fish on this trip would be my quest. However after an hour of casting for average fish my thoughts turned to coffee.
Returning to camp a few scraps of wood were gathered and a sturdy morning fire was made. Wood that I had cut during the night while watching the fire would get me through the morning but not much further than that. Not knowing what the day held in store for me, the time was taken for breakfast. Now saying that I made delicious pancakes with syrup and butter may be some shameless bragging but I can assure you this no stretch. Eggs and bacon would have better. Maybe next time.
(Here’s me having my third cup of coffee thinking that I may never go back to civilization.)
My main focus on this trip is to fish. But scouting the area was also a primary reason for spending the weekend. Before I could do any of that however some additional wood needed to be gathered. Only enough wood was brought for one day and was just spare firewood from the old place. I do this purposely so that I have to scrounge for more wood when I get up there. Within minutes I spotted a good source of dry wood and built a pile that would easily get me through another day. (This dead, dry timber was bunched up at the corner of the property next to the road and potentially a fire hazard. I am amazed someone had not removed this stuff already.)
“Now its time to get the pontooner out there.” My voice chomped.
The boat was supposed to give me a huge leg up in regards to the fishing. I actually did worse with the boat. When I went out deeper in the lake the fish didn’t seem to want anything in my trout or bass bag (that is right folks…bass gear). The senkos that worked so well on the other lake didn’t garner any action whatsoever here. The further out I went the worse the fishing got. When I did get hits, a smaller fish would be on the end. The wind started to pick up and rather than fight gusts all day I returned to shore fishing. I picked up a few more fish but all were still in the same size slot. Numbers of fish were decent and you would get a fish just when you started to think the bite was dying down.
With some lakes you just have to put in your time and experiment. Better timing would help also in regards to getting more aggressive/less reluctant trout. These are only excuses until I figure out the right big trout pattern. (I threw a lot of stuff. Even dry fly).
With time running out the fishing was put on hold for a while.
“Now its time to explore.”
I took the truck into the hills around the area. Coming out of the wooded hills and into the grassy prairie three bucks graze and slowly walk along the roadside. Not wanting to cause too much disturbance I grab this shot out of the window. These are some magnificent antlers still in the felt stage before they polish them up for fall.
Just seeing deer run like that makes me hungry. My stomach starts growling and I pull off into this side road kinda place with a sign called “Mountain Burger”. As soon as I saw the oversized 10” buns…I knew I had to have one of those. They make their own beef patties and slap it together with all the fixings. Maybe it was just after eating bugs and sticks for two days but man that burger was awesome. Toasted the buns and everything. If you are ever in Florissant, roll into that gas station on the north side of Hwy 24 at Circle Drive (east of the main town).
2636 W Hwy 24
More driving, more exploring and soaking in the sights like road construction. For some reason they decided to tear up the whole road and put in another one.
“What? Road construction!?!” My face was stunned with disbelief. “Out here?”
What can you do but wait? There is no need getting hot headed and all blown out of shape. I wanted to lay on the horn and throw a big ragin’ fit right there in front of the flag guy just to see what he would do. Most people don’t understand my humor so I just sat there.
Eventually I made it back through the gate and to the campsite. The wind had been off and on all day depending on where you were at the time. For the most part skies had been clear. As soon as I got to the camp site and got the gear ready to fish, wind gusts started hammering the shoreline. Dark clouds moved in and had to wait through a mild downpour. Once that subsided some of my gear was shook dry and I went back to shore banging. A boat would be miserable at best-suicide at worst in these conditions. Landed and released two more fish quickly. Same size slot as the others. It was like someone had a Playdoh fish factory down there and was cranking out 18’er rainbows all day long.
Storm clouds had circled instead of clearing. Lightning flashes drew closer and more frequent. In moments that same wall of darkness and high voltage would be too close for comfort. It was around 5 or 6PM. One trout had committed hara-kiri on my lure so I decided to clean, cook and eat the first trout that I had eaten in maybe 10 years or so. My plan was to lightly season the trout and grill to get the maximum flavor of the fish out. But with raindrops already starting to fall and the spices packed in the tent, I simply cooked it one side, cooked on the other and served. The meat peeled off the bones and tasted superb. With just a little butter, salt and pepper with lemon juice would have really made it over the top. By the last bite the coals were dying down and the storm was right on top of me. It was definitely time to batten down the hatches and seek refuge. To completely enjoy the light show in safety, I repositioned the truck and got a front row seat via my windshield.
The final day was spent once again fishing the early morning. Conditions were a bit soggy but otherwise beautiful.
“Just gotta get in a few casts before packing up and heading out.”
Now this post is not in the typical format that I usually write in nor does it have a lot to do with fishing. What I want readers to take most from this blog is post is this: Life is to be lived. Not watched on TV…get out there and live!