Thursday, November 26, 2009

Holiday Bow and Thanksgiving Brown

I am truly thankful for every fish that I catch. Big or small, any fish that thumps on the end of my line gets my heart pounding. Today I left the house in search of bass. After spending most of the day in “No-Love Warmwater town” I decided to change up. Not just change lures but change up species altogether.

Upstream was snow covered and ice-locked in many places. It was tough finding open water to cast. A few pools like the one shown below existed where sun exposure was nearly constant. These spots offered a few cast able options but these options seemed far and few between as I made the drive up the canyon. Finding open water that has active fish can be tricky this time of year.

(Above: Water movement + sun = open water on a day when active open water seemed scarce.)

Desperation was setting in. The weather was gorgeous and that seemed to encourage me onward. With icy conditions upstream I turned around and headed back downstream looking for more open water. Without waders or waterproof boots I was pretty much stuck fishing the side of water that I was on.

“Going to be another tough day.” I muttered

Running the lure through a clear water pool I get a solid hit. Within a few moments I land a near 12-inch cutbow trout. It was a gorgeous fish even if it wasn’t the largest trout you have ever seen in Colorado.

The gold patterns seemed to get the most attention and I experimented with a few. All water is different but silver patterns seem to fair better early in the year with yellow and brown colors late summer and fall. Gold patterns do well late fall and in winter tail water sections like this. Remember that lure placement and presentation is more crucial than exact color pattern in my opinion.

(Above: One quick “in the water” shot before the release. Notice the orange markings on the bottom of the jaw.)

Poking around the last open section of water near the wood bridge my line gets a heavy thump. Honestly I thought my lure had caught bottom until the line started cutting upstream. It felt like a heavy fish and a bit larger than the norm. The large yellow flash made me hold my breath until it was landed. The absence of real estate gave the fish little area to run in and the battle was over in mere seconds. A gorgeous brown trout male was in my hands and gleaming for the photo op.

(Above: Step in shot with the fish dripping and golden brown. A great holiday moment.)

I stepped in the water to make handling the fish a bit easier. The frigid water soaked into my shoes and my feet started feeling the numbing sting. My hands didn’t seem to notice as much. After releasing the fish I continued to work the rest of the fishing hole before heading out. Once my feet were out of the water it wasn’t too uncomfortable. My time was up and the rest of the day would be spent on perfecting techniques of turkey carving and cranberry sauce.

My name is Matt and I am very thankful to be living in Colorado.

Photos From the field

(Above: Farm Implement- Fall in Colorado.)

What a gorgeous hunk of rusted metal this is! A shot taken from the historical sight in Golden with the wooden fencing feebly used to frame the shot. I bet you could hook an ox up to this thing and still hoe a row of potatoes…or bail hay…or whatever this thing actually does.

(Above: This should not be viewed as trash but rather homage or symbol to broken bike parts. At least it is focused in one area and kids could be doing a lot worse things than riding bikes and throwing broken bike parts in a tree.)

Some kids made a small bike park out in the middle of nowhere. They hang the broken bike parts up in this tree. Mostly tired but a few bike frames end up on the totem. Kids could be doing a lot worse these days so I give this a free pass in regards to my anti-littering code.

Tracked by squirrel…

One of the things I try not to embellish on is my feeble tracking skills but this made me ponder for a moment. I was double-backing on my trail and noticed that a squirrel had placed its paw directly in my previous footprint. Was this squirrel tracking me? I looked further down the trail. Yes, there were more squirrel prints in the ones I had made moments before.

Now just for the record and overall perspective, due to the size of the squirrel paw in relation to my footprint…size 27…This is the biggest damn squirrel you have ever seen in your life. Be afraid my fellow anglers…be very afraid.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Snowy run on Bear Creek

Small water is not the easiest to fish but places like Bear Creek offer a small trout fix a bit closer to home. I find that these areas receive sustained pressure during the summer months but much less so in the colder season. When weather conditions are at their worst an angler may find such water all to themselves.

Once again this is not easy water to fish and the snow will often hide holes or rocks that love to send an angler tumbling to their backside. Believe you me there were many times that I stumbled and nearly fell down. Small creeks such as this do not provide the best access. Fishing holes are small and spread across a lot of shallow water. Casting at the edges of trees and behind rocks along the way. I didn’t see anything in the way of fish action right away but that was typical. Further upstream I expected better results.

Reached one of the better holes meaning it had more depth and width and started casting. There was a small tug and I had hooked into something. A small brown trout leapt from the water spit the hook and vanished from sight. It happened so suddenly that I froze for second in anger.

“Dangit!” My voice cringed knowing that bites were hard to come by on Bear Creek.

Casting through the same section I get another tug. This time I try to land the fish quickly. This fish breaks the surface. It is a 10-inch brown with dark coloring, a prime example of the quality fish in this stretch of water. I reach down and the fish is gone.

“Sonofa!” I mutter again with taste of defeat twice in my mouth. “That was better than the first one.”

Cast, cast, change up, cast, cast, cast…nothing. I moved up to other areas and action was nil. Cast, cast, cast…nothing. Some areas took real work getting into. Cast, cast, cast, Nothing. Then I bushwack into a wider section of the stream and throw upstream at the base of a rock. The lure is run quickly downstream through the pool where I expected to get bites. Nothing. But an eel-shaped shadow is following the lure out of the pool. Over the small sandbar and through the riffle a 13 maybe 14-inch brown nudged at the lure and was gone. I had just got a good glimpse of the fish as it turned to strike and then jet away. My heart jumped in my chest as I frantically search cast for the fish. Nothing.

It may sound silly to get excited about a 14-inch brown but for Bear Creek a 14’er trout is like a 2 or 3-pounder on the South Platte…at least for me anyways. Regardless I had lost three opportunities and untested water was running thin. Moving back down I did my best to work every scrap of water that untouched on the way up. My mind had already started consoling myself about taking home the skunk with mantras like; “Not everyone catches fish every time they fish.”

Well past the best sections I was finishing up some of the shallow water sections in pure desperation. Picking apart every riffle, eddy and undercut bank I get a solid hit and land a beauty 10’er brown. Not the biggest brown trout you will ever see but downright respectable for Bear Creek.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic

Tracking of the “Muck Monster”

Have any of you been following this story out of Palm Beach? Apparently this “muck monster” has been sighted a number of times and now even videotaped.

Authorities are trying to pass this thing off as a manatee. I think it resembles an eel of some sort. Probably a Moray Eel or a ray maybe? This is only one of many sightings that occur in the southern coastal regions of the United States and with so many different species of varying size I am amazed there isn’t more of these sightings.

Hopefully this creature will be captured and found out to be an invasive species or just a wandering ray. Stuff like this amazes me and even when they do identify this as a wandering salt water eel or snake of some sorts, I will still tell my kids and grandkids grand tales of the elusive muck monster.

“…It was 40 feet long I tell you. It would prowl the shallows for little children, their pets and Pokemon toys…Fearless, with no legs but a hundred razor sharp teeth and two little black beady eyes…That is why we will never vacation in Palm Beach, children. This year we are going to the Gunnison…”

Here are a few links that I will toss out that give more background on this particular sighting.

I looked for more stories, sightings and video but was unable to dig up anything more than just re-hashes of the original story. Hopefully a capture of this creature makes the AP wire where I would get some closure. And that is the problem with these types of stories. They are quick to flood you with the hype but if the story fades in popularity they don’t bother with the follow up. If it turns out to be someone’s fish the blurb might only make it to the local news.

Here is a link below with a similar story. He has even gone so far as to set up cameras around a nearby canal where he has seen some type of large water creature described as “sea serpent”. The article mentions Russ Sittlow has captured some footage but nothing has been released to the public as of yet or at least that I could find.

This one may be even bigger than the specimen in Palm Beach…or he may be trying to piggyback on the P.B. Muck Monster hype. Seeing is believing for me so hopefully Russ has more than just fuzzy pictures of waves or something.

For the record I won’t try to prove or disprove any existence of sea creatures that I haven’t personally caught. It may however put places like Palm Beach on my fishing “scout list”.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Beautiful fall river trip

This time of year trips are planned with one eye on the weather. Warm weather and clear skies make the longer distance journeys a bit easier to pull off. This week there was an open window in the forecast and we hit it with a vengeance. The meet time was set early and we geared up in the dark.

(Above: I try to take a shot of this stretch of river every trip. Sometimes this is the HOT section and sometimes it’s the NOT section.)

Vehicle reaches destination shrouded in wonder. The sun rose and light drifted slowly into the canyon. Large and twisted wood branches hung from thick old trees guard the trail. My feet try to step light amongst the rocks, roots and fallen branches. There is a bit of magic that can be seen at this time that humans often miss. Mist rolls off the water surface as dark shadows fade like escaping ghosts. A raven’s call is heard above the pine canopy. The lone bird seems to be heralding to all nighttime creatures that their shift has come to an end. Now was the time to shelter themselves into their brush-covered burrows and other dark places. In this landscape our careful footsteps seem like thunder drown in the commotion of fall mountain twilight.

Morning comes…

The air was cold and slightly damp. My nose was heavy with the smell of frost, rotting leaves and the mud of the exposed shoreline. Summer smells of pine and sagebrush were greatly subdued. This is the way of fall. The succulent shades of green fade to hardened hues of red and gold. This is the last warning Mother Earth gives you before covering everything in a blanket of snow and cold. For some, fall is a time of harvest and a time of thanks. For the brown trout this is simply “the time”. The time where males select the best areas to make nests and the females seek those nests out to lay eggs and lay ground for the next generation. Fish born now could be that trophy fish you catch ten years from now or even better your son or daughter releases after that once in a lifetime photo is taken. My focus was purely on getting about eight cups of coffee out of my body. Then get the gear and go.

A million things run through my mind as the water roars in the near distance. “Is this going to be a good day? What do the fish want today?” The only way to know is tie on and cast out. Not long into the day Don hooks and lands a quality brown.

(Above: Here is Don with a beauty brown. He is literally holding his breath in this shot with what is almost a “fingerless” hold. It almost looks like the fish is smiling. How the heck does he do that?”

The water was low. By far the lowest that I had ever seen it as I typically fish here a month or two earlier when the run off has settled. Lower water was a curse and a blessing. The deep and wider areas were easier to exploit. But some of the shoreline and undercut banks that had been consistent were now high and dry. In a lot of aspects it was like fishing a completely different body of water.

Crossing the river…

With the water down there was now a chance to cross the river and fish a section that I had never been able to before. Even with the river down it was two feet or more in some spots. Crossing rives can be treacherous. The water surges past your legs and at any moment it feels like you are going to loose footing and tumble down the river. Once across to the other side we could see that the drop in water level removed most of the of the sweet spots that I had dreamed about. The lack of pressure seemed to offer some larger fish.

(Above: Here is Don with another brutish looking brown trout. Gorgeous fins on this fish.)

Finding the pattern…

Fish tend to fall into a pattern and clues help unlock that puzzle. Each cast can be a piece of that puzzle if you look hard enough. After a while it was fairly easy to tell that a certain color and size would trigger bites if presented correctly in front of aggressive fish. One color seems to fair top better than the other on any given day and the color darn near varies by season.

By now I was getting numbers but nothing remarkable. Action gets steady for a moment with a number of fish all under 16-inches. I double back on a pool where I had missed a few bites previously my lure gets clobbered. A solid hit surges the rod over and the contest is on.

The fish runs upstream but the water shallows out quickly. The brute turns back and makes a run for the deep. I let it go for a distance and then lead him right back up again. With a reach down and lift…snap…hook removal…the fish is released and sent on its way.

(Above: My best fish of the day and sporting a really cool band of big spots. The camera washed out some of the color. Catch and Release!)

Another amazing day fishing in Colorado. This is exactly what the doctor ordered to shake off those work stress blues.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Battle Catfish…the montage

The blog updates are much easier to put together than the video montages. Hence why you typically get updates when they happen and the video montage comes out later. The catfish battle was a great day and the footage was pretty amazing. It took me a while to edit and put it all together. Hopefully it was worth the wait.

One of the main factors in catching these brutes on this fall day in my opinion was water temperature. The lake was cooling and when I ran the fish finder it clearly indicated one side of the lake was warmer than the other. The warmer water was where I pulled the brutes.

My fish finder did not pick up a single fish by the way and the sensitivity was set at 9. It did however pick up “blobs” off of the bottom. As water temps drop, fish metabolisms slow. I would target these sonar anomalies as if they were “hibernating” fish. Nothing to lose really. This radar shot is very similar to where I pulled the first catfish. The catfish would sound off the fish alarm when it was running so I know the unit was working properly.

The other factor was the pork trailer and scent spray. You can use rotten chicken guts if you want too. Me? Well I was just going with some run of the mill pork trailer. For added measure I tossed on a dose of fish attractant spray. Far cleaner setup than a bag of whoknowswhat. The link below is not the exact product but close enough. Note: I do not use this on AFLO water as I believe it to be organic material and classified as “bait”. Even though some tournament anglers will disagree. It is just my nit-picky disclaimer of where I personally define the stuff. Use your own judgment. I can say it works for catfish sometimes.

Lastly, I fished slow. It was kinda grueling. I had to tell myself that this was a relaxing day on the pontooner and we wouldn’t catch anything. Work has been kicking my butt seriously and just getting out would be good. The whole reason for going for catfish in the first place was just to check it off my 2009 list of “Fishing things to do”.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Get your head in the game

One of the most important aspects being overlooked by a lot of anglers is “mentality”. Your mind can be your best friend or your worst enemy when it comes to fishing. It starts with something as basic as focus and the results can literally be night and day. It starts with how much focus you put into your gear before the trip. It may end with that one fatal mistake where you weren’t paying attention. If there was one thing that more anglers need out there is focus.

It sounds simple doesn’t it? But honestly, this is the one test that I still have to master completely as a human and angler. Constant focus is like a super special human power when it comes to fishing. Sometimes it just falls in your lap and you know right where to go and what to throw to nail big fish the size of a truck. Most days however you need focus just to get out alive or beat the skunk off a no fish day. Some trips vary. But for the sake of putting another post in the “rant” section I submit a few basic pointers on something so basic as Focus.

(Above: This is what my brain looks like on some days. If I approach the water carrying all of this mental baggage the results will most likely be dismal.)

The good news is that a lot of anglers fish to get away from the stress that our modern world can provide. The natural setting is peaceful and clears the mind. The serenity can often help break down the major issues or provide solutions where the cluttered mind found none. In these cases it may matter less in regards to catching fish. Getting out is more important. If this sounds like you then “getting out” is where you want to place most of your focus. The poindexter fish facts may just clutter your head.
Then there is another segment of anglers so focused on “catching” that it borders on sheer lunacy. The first thing they do when they reach the water is empty their brain out onto the shoreline. Even common sense is lost along with car keys and any game plan whatsoever. It takes several moments of fumbling with gear, stumbling to the shoreline and flailing a few casts before settling down into a rhythm. Sadly, this resembles my mentality more often than not. There are a few basic tips for both mentalities that are a good foundation to build a better mentality from. I have to remind myself of these tips now and again.

1. Come up with a game plan. It doesn’t have to be set in stone and can change with conditions but having a plan of action to start with will help keep you from going in circles. Walk through the game plan in your head once or twice just to make sure things add up before you waste time with the dry run.

2. Focus on why you are out there. If you are just there to relax…do it. If you are there to fish, fish with intent and knowledge. Learn the facts about the species for both you and the fish.

3. Keep your gear organized and in good condition to avoid a lot of unnecessary problems. Most of my worst moments when fishing are when I have to deal with a problem like old line snarling up or breaking off on fish. This is just one example.

4. Keep your cool. I have seen some fantastic meltdowns on the water. It is always amusing at first glance. But this behavior only leads to self-destruction and sets a poor example for the sport itself. If you lose a fish, get a tangle or something else goes awry understand that is just a part of fishing. Take a deep breath, count to 10, whatever you have to do to get back to casting.

(Above: This is what I wish my brain would look like 24/7. When it all comes together like this the fish practically jump right in the boat.)

Finding the successful pattern to fishing on any given day is really a lot like putting together a puzzle. The wind, cloud cover, air temperature, water temperature, humidity, moon phase, time of year and even time of day can provide pieces of the puzzle. This puzzle, once together will help you figure out everything you need to catch ALL of the fish in that particular lake and stream.

Fish My name fish is Mattsafishbasser fish must fish MUST FISH!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

November Bows on a change up bait

Gorgeous rainbow caught this weekend using a weightless grub setup and drift fishing. Not much to say but what a beautiful fish. This is the same location that was infested with leaches during the summer. Zero leaches on this fish lead me to believe that the past occurrence was merely a seasonal problem.

(Above: I am literally holding my breath for this shot praying the fish does not flip out of my hands. One photo and release.)

Plastics for trout have been an experiment of mine but for some reason all the tricks in the bag were coming up with nothing. I was getting a few bites here and there but nothing was triggering the hard strikes. Then I downsized to the grub and harder hits followed. No big deal right? Well this is a lake that I swore to have dialed in a sure-fire money pattern. But on this day the money pattern was a no-go. The whole day could have been a skunker if I would have stuck with the bigger bait.

(Above: Illustration of the weightless grub setup showing how the 1/0 hook sits in a 3 or maybe 4 inch grub. I usually tuck the point of the hook back into the body of the grub for a more sleek profile as well as being a bit more weedless.)

Casting range is minimal but the weightless grub can offer a finesse presentation where big and bulky just isn’t getting it done. Go ahead and rig one of these up and watch grub’s swirling tail action in the water. It is downright hypnotic.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The new MAD Show Intro

One of the things on my “to do list” this year was a re-vamp on the MAD Fishing Show. The original intro was pretty lame in regards to the half-assed picture with “Matt and Don”. The only thing I really liked was the lake shot that I ran the text over. But hey, no one pays me to crank out this crap so I guess I just got lazy.

When I did finally get around to redoing the material it came out with some mixed results in regards to my enormous focus group that ranges from two or three co-workers. What do you fawlkenz bloggers think? Remember, this is just the intro. More full-length movies will be in the works.

I did a little tweak on the logo and then reworked the image slides. It is basically the same material as before. The picture at the end and a few other elements may or may not work for the overall storyline but you get the idea. If you like or dislike the intro…select the proper rating box at the bottom of this post.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Let’s get to know…The Brook Trout

How cool are fish? Each species is different and has biological differences that control so much about where they live and why. Knowing these facts will help dial in the location and patterns of the fish you seek to catch. Fish identification is just the start. Learning the biological aspects helps us catch and preserve this amazing natural creature. Please bear with me and my poindexter excerpts of “Let’s get to know…”.

Let’s get to know the Brook Trout

One of the trout species I don’t target near enough and should get more acquainted with is the brook trout. The vibrant fin color alone is worth seeking them out a few times a year.

(Above: One of my better brook trout pictures. The male brook develops the hooked jaw and more vibrant color patterns especially during the spawn.)

Brook trout basics:

The CDOW information below:

An entry to Colorado in the late 1800s, the brook trout feeds on aquatic and terrestrial insects and will rise to a large range of small lures, baits and flies. Brook trout have white spots (worm-shaped on top) on a dark background with tri-colored outlined fins (orange, black and white). This prolific fish often becomes overpopulated and can out-compete other trout. They are typically found in higher elevation lakes, beaver dams and streams.

That isn’t a lot of info is it? I scanned a few other websites to accumulate more on the subject. This will fill in some of the gaps.

Description: The average length is 10-12 inches but Brook Trout can be caught measuring up to 21 inches and weighing 4-6 pounds. Breeding males develop a hook at the front of the lower jaw. Typical coloring is olive-green to dark brown on the back with silvery sides and pale spotting. All colors intensify at spawning time.

Brook and brown trout look very similar, especially the females. One of the easiest ways to distinguish between the two is by the color of the dots on the body as well as the dorsal fin markings. Brown trout have black dots where as brook trout have only red and yellow. Dorsal fin of a brook trout will tend to have a striped pattern where as the brown trout dorsal fin will be dotted. You would be surprised how many anglers do not know the difference.

(Above: Brown trout, see how similar these two fish species can look? Black and red dots are a giveaway for brown trout identification.)

Biology: Brook trout prefer water temperatures of 52 to 56 degrees with clear water. This species spawns in late summer or autumn in gravel beds in the shallows of headwaters of streams in water temperatures of 40 to 49 degrees (n average). The female digs the redd where she lays 100-5000 eggs depending on her size. Some brook trout females will dig several redds depositing eggs in each. Adults do not expend any energy protecting the next once eggs are laid.

They hatch 50-100 days later. The life expectancy is an average of five years. The brook trout is carnivorous and feed upon a wide range of organisms. They have been known to eat their own eggs at spawning time and even their own young.

Ok, so there is the poindexter 411. At first glance it all comes across as a bunch of bookworm mumbo jumbo to a lot of folks. If that is the case, give the section above one more read and look for clues that break down where the fish would live best and what could be its most active period. Hopefully you gather a few key aspects.

Clear, cold water is prime habitat for the brook trout. Clear flowing streams fed from springs or other clear water sources are good places to start looking for these fish. The higher the altitude, the colder the water so low valley rivers that reach 65, 75 degrees or higher are unlikely waters for brook trout. That is a good start right there.

The next important fact would be the spawn period. I like to target species before the spawn. Most anglers refer to this as “pre-spawn” and the behavior is much similar to the rut of elk or other mating periods. Both the male and female of the species will be at its peak of physical prowess. So according to the verbage above…late summer is a good time to focus on these fish if you want to catch it in the peak color period before the actual spawning period.

The last aspect comes from the general size of the fish. Most sources note that this species averages 10-12 inches most of the time. This means their forage base and your lure should be on the smaller side. Small fly patterns and lures in the 1/32oz range are preferred.

Harvest note: Sometimes brook trout overpopulate themselves in smaller streams. Harvesting this species responsibly helps the ecosystem overall if done responsibly and where prudent. Check with managing officials for more information in regards to current brook trout limits or waiver of harvest limits at the precise location that you intend to fish.


Snow bass

The elusive snow bass can be tough to track and even more difficult to catch. For some silly reason I love to fish in tough conditions. This was another one of those days were you get blizzard conditions and the water temp is still flirting near 60 degrees. Prime weather for snow bass.

(Above: Snow bass – Note: my fingers are not in the gills but rather tucked underneath. But exposing the gills to cold air is poor form.)

Poor handling note: Fingers in the gills to fish are like poking a hole in your lungs. Even when the fish swims away it could suffer some serious affects of the damage. Freezing air on the gills of fish can do just as much damage.

Fish handling is something I try to improve on as much as fishing skill and want to stress highly that the open gills shows “poor form” for snow bass. Only grabbed one shot and then a release. Next time I will do a much better job on the hold. I tend to be a critic of fish handling at times especially my own. Hopefully this poor example will serve to educate others.

Good Luck and Good Fishing