Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Wrap up

Never enough time to fish but 2010 was an amazing year of highs and lows. Some trips worked out beyond expectations as where some wound up dismally in shambles. Let’s take a walk down memory line and re-hash some of the high points of 2010. If nothing else it will allow me to shamelessly work in another blog post for this year.

Species hit list for 2010: 
Largemouth bass
Smallmouth bass
Green sunfish
Bluegill
Creek Chub
Rainbow trout
Cutthroat trout
Brown trout
Black Crappie
Channel catfish
Splake
Brook trout
Yellow Perch
Northern Pike

Probably one or two species that are being missed like that razor back chub looking thing a few months back or that really big stick I fought with for 2 or 3 minutes thinking it was a monster. Should have made at least one trip for walleye, kokanee and a mackinaw or two. Woulda coulda shoulda.

A few picture highlights


(Above: This is arguably one of my favorite catches of the year and one of the largest crappie that I have caught. That day was a slabilicious good time.)

(Above: My largest fish of 2010 and a serious work out to bring to the boat. Catfish are so much fun that I have convinced myself to make at least one or two trips a year for these whisker fish.)


(Above: One of my better ideas this year was to start taking these trash pick up pictures. One of the easiest ways to make things better at virtually any fishery is to start by picking up trash when and where you see it. I absolutely believe this practice has helped the quality of my fishing in so many ways. It can do the same for you.)

2010 Posts in review. Let’s take a look back at some of my popular postings. I am often perplexed why some posts receive more comments and views than others. Adding the “stats” feature was a real home run for the blogger format as we can now see the views and not just the comments. Thank you blogger. Here are some post highlights from the year…some of yours and some of mine.

Some of your favorite posts…

Myrtle the Turtle

Stalker Lake

Photos from the Field

Some of my favorite posts…

Red Five I’m Going In

The Greatest Fish Story I have ever told…thus far

Jurassic and the Land of Orcs

Considering that my follow list started 2010 with only 15 or so followers, most of you have likely not seen these. Feel free to pad the comment section if you so wish. My blog is fueled by your comments.

Note: For some reason a few of my older posts have “deteriorated” over time. This must be a blogger format issue and have seen others complain about similar problems. If you read previous posts of mine and see something jumbled up, please shoot me an e-mail so that I may go back and correct. It is not uncommon for posts to get scrambled towards the bottom it seems.

Promises I probably won’t keep for 2011…

As much as I like to consider myself up to speed with the times and technology, the truth is that I just don’t have time to be a part time IT technician for my blog. The format will always be a bit stale compared to other blogs that get updated to the new features regularly. In 2011 I hope to freshen up the format and layout to keep up with Joneses. I have even reached out for a little help beyond the few random co-workers and the graphics team that I always seem to complain about.

My focus will always be on the content over the format and I hope that viewers have enjoyed the content thus far. I fully intend to keep this crucial component of the blogilicious rolling on. If there are things that you really like about this blog and would like to see more of the same…toss me an e-mail or put something up in the comment section.

Good luck and good fishing.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Looking in on an old friend

Waterton Canyon opened up briefly for recreation December 18th and I decided to look in on what I consider to be an old friend. Waterton Canyon has been one of the few sections of the South Platte River that I can reach without a lengthy drive. At times it has provided me with some amazing catches and simply given my legs a workout at others.

The canyon itself is a 7-mile hike or bike from the parking lot to Strontia Springs Reservoir. The reservoir is being dredged to remove a heavy amount of ash sediment left over from the Haymen fire. The recent cold snap made me concerned. My plan of attack would be to drive up and see if there was open water. Going over the bridge fishing conditions looked “possible” but not perfect. Rather than risking the bike on an icy path I chose to use the shoe-leather express. This was a decision I smiled about at times and then cursed at others. All things considered the bike would have allowed me to cover more distance at a faster pace. Hiking in only allowed me to view the water better at a much slower pace. In truth this is the dilemma I face every trip through Waterton.

Finally reached the water’s edge. The water itself was clear but filled with some heavy ice chunk floating on the top. The air was cold, about 18-degrees making ice buildup on the rod a problem after only a few casts. As the sun rose so did the temps and fishing became more comfortable by the hour. It took several miles of walking and casts before the fish started warming up to me. It was as if these fish were waiting for the lunch bell to ring before they considered budging. From there on the action picked up.
 (Above: One-hander brown with 45-degree rotation. Normally I crop out the black but there is not enough room to do so on these shots.)

After being held from public access for so long I really expected to get into some fantastic quality. My thoughts were aimed at large, fat fish just lying in the trough. This was not the case. Fish were hanging closer to the white riffles and a bit more wary.

It is not that I wanted this to be a slam-dunk gimmee with big fish jumping in my bucket. But after busting my hump and nearly a few bones in my body for fish on other outings, I really wanted, dare say needed some big fin slappers for the year ending photo thread worthy of my Mattsabasser dreams. But I love fishing too much to scoff at these “average” catches.
(Above: Another average brownie with some ice in the background. It was as if someone was making these fish with a cookie cutter.)

After some experimentation the gold and red stood out over the minnow presentations or other spin patterns. Steady retrieve for the more aggressive fish and sometimes a quick drop would seduce the curious following fish. Normally I would say “Number two this and 1/8oz that.” But I did that once on this stretch only to pick up three or four empty packages of number two this and 1/8oz that two weeks later.

To make matters worse, when I caught and released one fish out of a decent spot…it would rush back into the pocket and warn all the other fish. This tattletale activity was corroborated by the fact I would get a small flurry of activity the first few casts but after the release the action would die instantly. At that point my only choice is to move on to the next spot. And that is one of the amazing parts about fishing small rivers and creeks nestled in deep canyons…there is always another fishing spot just up ahead.

(Above: One of the larger pools that call out to anglers on the road. Definitely one of those “Oh I gotta hit that” spots along the 7 mile canyon stretch.)

As I approached the water my hopes, dreams and expectations were as high as they had ever reached this day. If there were going to be a large fish pulled out on this trip, this would be the time. First cast in and wham! Nice beauty brown. Not the huge fish I am looking for but not too shabby for the first cast into a gorgeous fishing spot like this. Fix the line, take another cast, another cast and another. Nothing. Change up and cast. Nothing.

“Dang fish must have ratted me out. Sonofa…”
(Above: Tattletale fish pic from the one hole-one fish trip. Something tells me these fish may have formed a union of some sort.)

I made it as far as this gorgeous pool of water a half-mile past the Mill Gulch Bridge before heading back which is a 5.5-mile trek one way not including cliff dives and rock hops to and from the water. My legs felt every bit of the 11 mile round trip. With the bike I surely would have reached the top of the stretch and viewed the Waterton Canyon fish-stretch in its entirety. But I would have most likely missed the first active pool tucked away in the trees that I found on the way up. Second-guessing myself is a bit of a hobby for me. Without a crystal ball or psychic powers it is the only option that I have to ponder the big fish possibilities that I might have missed.
(Above: A trimmed up map shot taken from the sign at the trailhead.)

No bighorn sheep sightings. This was as much of a disappointment as the ho-hum fish size. Tracks and droppings were everywhere so they simply had moved to another area. The work being done by Denver Water most likely moved them off.

For more information on Waterton Canyon as well as other areas Denver Water manages with public access, please check out the recreation section of their website.


My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Rocky Mountain National Park included in federal grants

The Federal Transit Administration today announced $27 million in grants for public and alternative transportation in national parks, forests and wildlife refuges, including $775,000 for Rocky Mountain National Park.

Of the total grant to the Colorado park, $535,000 will be spent to develop alternative transportation solutions "to direct visitors to less crowded areas of the park and encourage use at non-peak times," FTA said.

Another $240,000 will be used on studies related to a plan to build a "multi-user, non-motorized" trail in the park, the agency added.

The FTA grants also included $400,000 for a study to examine transit options "inside the fence" of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, the former Army facility that ranges over 15,500 acres north of East 56th Avenue between Peña Boulevard and Quebec Street.

Link to full article from the Denver Post below:

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16921907?source=rss

Matt’s Rant: Studying alternative forms of transportation and varied trail use in our National Parks is a worthy goal but this apparently can only happen with the help of federal grants as well as thousands upon thousands of dollars. I guess it is better to take many expensive looks than make a single huge mistake that is difficult if not impossible to reverse. And finding more ways to get “greenhorns” further into the backcountry is a bad idea if not one of the worst ideas yet. Hopefully the poindexter study doesn’t pitch something crazy like paved trails all over the place.

The one thing it does tell me for sure is that I desperately need a grant writer. It would not be difficult for me to take some of that proposed money and ink in; “Light rail system and a few tour buses that run on propane…or even a rickshaw outfit.” How cool would it be to see the RMNP by rickshaw?

No need to get too worked up over a study. The findings of said study and the subsequent action are definitely something to look for in the future. If you have recommendations to make our national parks better, now is a good time to speak up. Your input may be the voice of reason in a room full of analysts.

Good luck and good fishing.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fish like its October…Pay the devil later.

A light dusting of snow flurries and then gone. This has been the story for things east of the continental divide. On the one hand I savor mornings in December where the roads are not covered with ice but in the back of my mind desperation for precipitation grows. The longer we go without a few heavy winter snows puts more pressure on the water situation.

I don’t control the weather. Good, bad or ugly I try to fish through whatever comes my way. Now things are sunny and mostly mild depending on the day making it look more like October than December. Weather like this presents an open window for small pond action. Without more snow later in the year these ponds will be hurting.

(Above: As evident from the look on my face, I was expecting the perch to be a few inches bigger.)

One such small pond has an abundance of perch. So many perch in fact that they may be overcrowding and stunting themselves. This stunting results in smaller fish year after year. Yellow perch are a species of fish that tolerate colder temps very well and are fairly active in December months. One or two casts and I wish that I had brought a bucket.

Weighted curly tail jigs in the 1/16oz size run slowly on the bottom received constant hits. Color choice didn’t seem to matter as they hit green, black and white variations as I tried to dial in some of the larger perch. Nothing fancy just let it drop to the bottom. Slow troll the jig and the hits just keep coming.
(Above: Me and the tooner rolling off a pond that is typically frozen over this time of year. Toonin’ in December? )

All in all it wasn’t a bad day. Any day on the pontooner is a worthwhile adventure especially in December. But it was not the “big perch splash” that I sought out to find. These perch have stunted and there was plenty that I could have done about it over the years. Anglers are often quick to point fingers at management when something isn’t perfect rather than improve the things they as anglers control. In retrospect I have no one to blame but myself.

“I should be taking these perch out by the bucket load!” My voice grumbled while rolling the tooner out. “Without some moisture…I might lose these ponds altogether.”

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Photos from the field

Through my adventures photos are taken that never seem to make it into specific fish posts. So much of my fishing goes unseen or heard. Even though these pictures may not be ready for prime time fishing posts, I have found a way to fit them in an excerpt called “Photos from the field.”

Roof over your head

(Above: Sometimes all you need is a roof over your head. The lawn is a bit overgrown and not sure the place is up to code…but it would do for me in a pinch.)

Grab that shot quick!

This is my year for mule deer it seems. Colorado has a lot of deer but generally the big bucks get taken out on sight…season or no season according to some. It’s a shame but a battle far beyond my will to win. But I really like deer and even venison at times. Even after a gazillion deer sightings my eyes scan the landscape for wildlife and will shout out every time I spot one.

“Look…deer…over there…wow…that’s a nice one.”
(Above: I can’t believe I got this shot. This is no zoom through the passenger side window glass. Took two pictures and then went to lower the window…glad I took the two pictures.)

Take a stick, leave a stick…

There are many trails in Colorado that vary in range of difficulty. In some cases a stick would come in really handy on the more difficult trails that may have snakes and angry branches. You know, those branches that swing back and smack you in the face making a person mutter, “What did I do?” Before you head out on the trail, take a look around for discarded walking sticks that you can take on your trek.
(Above: Fence at the trailhead for the “take a stick-leave a stick” program. I dare say this fence is fully stocked for this trail.)

When you get back, feel free to return this stick to the same spot that you found it for the next hiker to use. The “take a stick, leave a stick” program is intended to save folks from bashing, crashing and tearing up the forest to make new walking sticks. Just like the penny tray situation it is only as good as the people who use it.

A few shots from Aurora

Some trips never make it into the posts and one of my trips to Aurora was one of them. A few pictures however still stand out in my mind that were far better than the results of the fishing that day.


(Above: “Morning Gear Up”. This is a shot looking east as the sun is just peaking over the horizon. Final sip of coffee and face the water.)

2010 has been another amazing year for fantastic photographs. It always amazes me at the end of the year just how many pictures I take. This year I managed to create 80 different folders of various fishing trips and collected over 3,600 pictures and video. Most of this material made its way into various fishing posts and it is always a challenge to keep up.

Hopefully 2011 offers more fishing opportunity to all of you! Good luck and good fishing. 
(Above: “Moon over Beach House”. This is a shot of the beach house as the sun comes up late in the season.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cold revenge…

Back to Kermitt’s Walkabout looking for revenge. These fish nearly stumped me on the last run and knowing that better fish are here I made another attempt. This time I parked at the Idaho Springs exit and worked the other direction after a small snowstorm. Right off the bat I land a beauty brown on the minnow pattern. A little more time on the photo op would have been spent if I had known this was to be the only fish of the day.
The area had received a dose of snow the day before and one of the few smatterings of frozen precipitation that we have gotten. Generally this will work in my favor as I anticipated a melt to occur as we reached noontime. This melt could generate a lot of trout activity with slightly warmer conditions and many feeding opportunities. Unfortunately the cold temps held and now melt took place. Eyeing the deeper stretches I could see no fish setting up in the trough and my casts went in vain. Not a flash nor follow was to be had.

 
Worked the sweet spot of the stretch and headed back to the truck. The rest of the creek was low and guarded by a thin shelf of ice. Looking back over the quick trip on this section I was thankful for the early success. I hadn’t expected anything out of the shallow water spot and was simply trying to get into an early groove. Just proves that just about every cast can produce…make the most of it. I may have to start calling this “The Kermitt ‘one fish’ Stretch”.

Post note: This post technically should have been place in the November section but fell out of the loop for some reason. It is really tough for me to keep up sometimes.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Outdoorsman-Adventure blogger presumed dead from crocodile attack in the heart of Congo

JOHANNESBURG – An acclaimed outdoorsman who wrote movingly about testing himself against nature is presumed dead after a crocodile snatched him from his kayak while he led an American expedition from the source of the White Nile into the heart of Congo.

Two Americans being guided by 35-year-old South African Hendrik Coetzee on the grueling trip could only watch in horror. They paddled unharmed to safety after the Tuesday morning attack on the Lukuga River in Congo .

The International Rescue Committee, which runs development projects in the Central African nation, helped evacuate the Americans to a nearby town, Ciaran Donnelly, the organization's regional director in Congo , said Thursday.

Coetzee's body has not been recovered. The stretch of river where the trio was traveling is notoriously dangerous because of its whitewater, and the high density of crocodiles and hippos.

In a blog called The Great White Explorer that chronicled the trip sponsored by the Eddie Bauer clothing and outdoor equipment company, Coetzee wrote about the thrill of taking to uncharted waters, including stretches that might soon disappear due to planned dams. He also described sometimes facing suspicion from military and other officials. One day ended in a storm:

"As hard, warm drops trashed at our little selves and a pair of goats, we stood precariously on an unknown slope deep in the heart of Africa, for once my mind and heart agreed, I would never live a better day," wrote Coetzee, who was known as Hendri.

A friend, Celliers Kruger, who owns a South African kayaking company, called Coetzee a legend.

"He was the bravest guy I've ever known," Kruger said. "But he wasn't crazy. He was very calculated and set the bar high for future exploration in Africa ."

Coetzee wasn't just interested in the adrenaline rush, said Hugh du Preez, a friend who kayaked with him.

"He also had a fantastic social conscience," he said, explaining that Coetzee ran kayak trips for underprivileged kids in Sudan . "He was one of those people that would look after others not only in a physical sense but also nurture them spiritually and mentally."

Eddie Bauer said the trip was a first-of-its-kind kayaking expedition from the White Nile and Congo rivers into Congo . The three men, all experienced kayakers, were documenting unexplored whitewater and development projects in the region.
The two Americans — Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic — are currently in Congo but expect to return home to the U.S. shortly. Korbulic is from Rogue River , Ore. , and Stookesberry is from Mount Shasta, Calif. Coetzee had been living in Uganda at the time of the expedition.

One of the Americans recounted on his blog how Coetzee has warned them about the dangers of the trip, including "three-ton hippos that will bite you in half."
"Stay off the banks because the crocs are having a bake and might fancy you for lunch. Basically, stay close behind me and follow my lead. Any questions?" the blog quoted Coetzee as saying.

Deadly hippo and crocodile attacks on humans are not uncommon in Africa , though figures are hard to pin down. Johnny Rodrigues, a wildlife expert in Zimbabwe , said parks authorities there are reluctant to give out numbers for fear of scaring away tourists.

"They are the predators of the water," Rodrigues said of the crocodiles.
In his blog, Coetzee discussed the importance of trusting instincts and the group's only rule — "nobody panic."

In Coetzee's most recent entry dated Nov. 26, he wrote: "As I licked my dry lips and carefully checked that my spray deck was on properly, I had the feeling I might be doing something I should not. I pushed through the doubt and when I finally shot out the bottom of the rapid I was happy I did. It was just paranoia after all."

"Dwarfed by lush green mountains rising up to 3,000 feet above us, we were drawn in ever deeper with a constant eye on the banks for trouble," he wrote.
___

Matt’s Note: To live a life jam packed with exciting and delicious moments is worth more than gold to some of us. Hendrik lived such a life and will be sorely missed by many that who like me are only just now becoming aware of his amazing existence. Pouring over the pages of greatwhiteexplorer I find myself humbled, inspired and in great admiration of the life of a great outdoor adventurer.

Credit goes to the AP Wire for digging this one up for me. Link to full article below.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rock Crawl on the BC

As typical with most creatures: success and reward will result in repeated behavior. The Payday trip went so well…or should I say that fish were caught and I didn’t break an ankle, leg or get eaten by the mountain lion that haunts me in my dreams sometimes, hence another trip was set and I launched myself back into the B.C. This time however my attack came from a different route. There is a an old goat trail or what some still call a “road” that winds its way through a heavy rock canyon east of where I had fished before. Some of these rocks shoot straight up and garnish such names as Windtower or Rotwand. People actually climb these features with ropes on the vertical edges even in foul weather. Someone falls to his or her doom every year it seems. The stream runs at the base of these rocks or most of it does. Not being able to watch the stream and cast while looking for falling climbers I simply took my chances and kept eyes on the water.

“That’d just be my luck too.” I thought hopping from rock to rock moving upstream. “Get taken out by one of these rock climbin’ hippies and not even see it coming.”

First fish was a little stocked cutty and then another. Maybe they are just small cutthroat. A few pockets of water seemed to be brimming with little eager fish. Only the larger ones were willing to take on the spin gear.
Ice was a problem on the edges of the stream in some areas but free and clear in others. Deep rock canyons such as E.C. receive very little direct sunlight allowing ice to build up and dwell for long periods of time. Luckily most of the fishable areas were quite castable. This is almost unheard of this time of year but I will fish what I can get!

Up ahead is one of the larger pools with a sizeable waterfall rolling into deep water. The siren song of the creek is alluring enough but something about those deep, dark pools that you can’t see the bottom of captivates my focus immensely.

“A beast of a fish lives in this pool…I just know it!”

First cast into the waterfall, a slow drop and then start cranking on the reel handle to give the lure just a little rising action…bump, tap, WHAM! I set the hook on a sweet beauty brown. Maybe not the “beast of the pool” but those big dots put a smile on my face.
Rocky terrain is the most obvious and formidable opponent in this stretch of the B.C. Cliff dives are required to reach the water in some spots and rock hopping is required to move up and downstream. Some of the rocks are jagged and sharp as where some of them have been made smooth by centuries of flowing water. Slip on one to get gouged or scraped by the other. Just when you think you have a good foothold the rock may up and roll over on you trying to take out an ankle or two.

This is the first time for me fishing this 1.5-mile stretch and found it to be hit or miss on several accounts. The crowds and mixed recreational use definitely take away from the solitude. Timing the trip to less frequented times such as a weekday might have sweetened the deal a bit. All in all not a bad trout fix with a small parking fee.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mattsabasser action figure…just in time for Christmas!

Mattsabasser action figure…just in time for Christmas!



Of course this is a shameless spoof commercial at best and the current quantity of said action figure is currently…one. Honestly it was so much time putting together the action figure, the hoodie, making the rod and reel (yes, I really made that from scratch) and then shooting all of the various segments that I hope folks appreciate the pure creativity more than a 100% polished final product.

My name is Matt and I now have my own action figure.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Payday on the Kayak Section

Eastern slope has gotten one or two snows before going back to high and dry. Decided to take a look at the kayak section of the South B.C before everything starts to freeze up. The B.C. is yet another creek that flows from the Front Range Mountains into the eastern valley and beyond. This can be a sweet slice of water not too far from the homestead but yet not quite far enough from the metro. Meaning that I can get to it within 30-minutes or so of driving…but then again so can everyone else.

(Above: The trail work that has been done here is fairly impressive. Stone stairways lead you down to the water along the vertical incline stretch. Most of the area is exposed to the sun and void of snow. Very little ice and the flows better than I have seen in a while.)

I expected some angling traffic but the morning fog (thick as pea soup) must have held the masses at bay so to speak. The hills were void of fog and the trailhead parking lot was empty when the truck rolled in.

Reach the water and quickly work to formulate a pattern. The pressured fish have another plan and simply taunt me for the next hundred feet or so through the most pressured water. The fish are holding in plain sight. Some will even allow a cast in their presence without bolting but refused to even shrug. It wasn’t until much further down the canyon until I found fish that would take me seriously.
(Above: Pretty little brown trout to beat off the skunk and get the day rolling. Most of the time one fish can tell me a lot.)

The higher or more consistent water levels are better than I am used to seeing and a welcome sight this time of year. It allowed me to work some of my favorite presentations without having to be too meticulous. On the downside I was without my favorite minnow pattern due to inventory issues. This means I didn’t re-order and was completely out.

“Didn’t I just order those…back in April? Oh brother, not the best time of year to be low on the trout patterns.” (I am my own worst enemy at times)

The late fall\early winter season has been mostly dry for the Front Range. Wind has been my only nemesis aside from low water flows. Inside a heavily wooded canyon an angler tuck out of the wind and cast while the mist flows off his or her breath. The sun tries to reach into the canyon but held back by the tops of trees and large rock outcroppings. Water moves through the canyon forming pools, flats and water of all types.
(Above: Wide, flat sections like this are more prevalent as you move downstream but heavy boulder sections can ambush you at any time.)

A few hours pass and my feet have done most of the work. My casting elbow has only seen action in a few pools I think others have not beaten to a pulp. Frankly I just can’t take the torture of throwing at fish with a Master’s degree in angling pressure. Casting behind the smaller rocks and less attractive spots cough up better action for the Mattsabasser. Relying more on my strengths I know additional effort and determination is my best chance for better fish. It wasn’t set in stone how far I would travel but I planned to push my luck and legs as far as they both would go. Before discouragement could set in…wham! Another fish would step up to the plate and hammer the presentation. Just enough fight and beauty in these fish to make the hike in worth it as well as give me momentum to keep moving on.
(Above: Quick shot of the fish with a video of the release below.)

(Above: This picture is taken from one of the better sections of the trail. At least here you can see the path even if slightly narrow and you need to watch your head in a few spots.)

Most of the trail is clearly visible and the travel is easy for the first mile. Beyond this point the trail tends to fade the further downstream you go. I refer to this as the bushwack section and it holds a few delicious casting spots if water levels are sustained. Getting through this section is another issue altogether. The brush is thick and overgrown near the water’s edge making some areas a tangled mess. Large rock outcroppings can also cut off pathways with treacherous vertical slopes denying passage unless you wish to backtrack on deer trails or possibly swim across.

“Lose an ankle or leg back in here…” I groan as another rock rolls under my foot. “…Might be a while before anyone finds you.”
The landscape looks raw with little sign of human presence. Deer and raccoon prints litter the thin walkways as opposed to boots or mountain bike tracks. The siren song of the creek starts to seep in as I lose all sense of time and reality.

Cast and retrieve with a flash or bump nearly every sling out. A toss to the edge and running through a section of large boulders…Bam! Crazy bite and tug from a small fish water pool. At first it throws me a bit off guard but then land the fish. Turns out to be a beauty cutt probably stocked last year. Sure this could possibly be a hybrid or tainted DNA for whatever reason but I am still chalking it up as a pure cutthroat. Quick one pic and release. 
More hiking, more rock hopping and a few more casts into the bushwack section. Right about now I am expecting a mountain lion to attack or maybe a deer to stumble out from the thicket and ask for directions. The scratch under my right eye stings slightly (a swift reminder that some trees have thorns) and light is starting to fade on the upper pine canopy. Darkness comes early in the canyon. Cast, cast…move down.
 Deep into the bushwack and I’m afraid to look at the clock. 3PM is a good winter cut off time for me at this point. My guess would be the real time is closer to 3:30 or 4PM. But the next bend looks so inviting. The next pool of water looks even better. Cast, cast, Bam! Beauty brown grabs hold and acts like the biggest bully fish in the whole darn creek. Finally had to talk him into a small shallow pool for a quick hook removal, photo-op and then back it went to bully fish in small pools once again.
Stayed way too long and barely made it out of the canyon before darkness set in. Legs still burn a little from the hike out. They call this the kayak run but I have yet to see one here. If someone hauled their dagger kayak down here to hang out I one in of the larger pools while two or three fly anglers watched and waited…I dare say there might be some violence.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New kids on the block…Young Gun Bait Co


It is never too early to dive into your passions and make them your career. These youngsters in Loveland Colorado offer great inspiration for those trying to do the same. Austin (16) and Bailey (14) started out as two friends that loved to fish.  Grandpa buys them a bait kit and they go to town producing a handful of bass standards with a few subtle twists.


The business is a little over a year old and these two have done a few trade shows, set up a website and rolling out the product line. Their expectations are very realistic meaning they don’t expect huge return right away. Grandpa sums it up best with the quote:

“The boys haven’t turned a profit yet but that wasn’t really the point. It’s a good experience for them,” he said. “I gave them a specific amount to start with, and they haven’t been back for more, so they’re doing well.”

These two have some stiff competition in the industry but their Jr. Bassmaster performances continue to put them in the local spotlight. Even if they do not become the next Strike King or Megaconglomo tackle store, these two young gents are getting an early taste of living the dream, the dream of turning something you love into a living.

Die-hard anglers think of little else outside of fishing and many of us are constantly looking to be full time fishing bums in one way or another. This is something even I ponder at times and have secretly wanted to unleash my own brand of bass fishing gear more suited to Colorado.

“Eh…and I would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids.” Edgar Crab-bottom


(Above: Oh brother if I get any grief from this picture rip the graphics team is so fired!!! What is it you guys do around here anyway?)

For more on this story please visit the article posted on The Tribune (link below)


Good luck and good fishing

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cold T and My First Blast of Winter

Lately we have had a lot of cold but not much snow along the Front Range. Heavy snow has pounded the high altitudes near the continental divide but the lowlands have remained relatively clear and void of the cold white stuff. As we reach what I call “The Cold Three” my trips are planned with one eye on the weather reports. High Country was still getting hammered, I-70 was shut down at the tunnel…all things considered I took a roll of the dice and decided to get a taste of Cold T and the first blast of winter. Things looked great when I rolled into the parking area but thick gray clouds foretold signs that conditions would be changing.

The wind started out gusty and brutally cold. The kind of wind that tears up the eyes and freezes them to the side of your cheeks. Rather than waste time wiping them clear I simply blink a lot in between cautious steps and blurred vision. First couple of casts and all of the misery goes away with the feel of a heavy tug. Spastic fight with very quick pulls on the line telling me this is probably a rainbow trout. Closer to the edge I see the gray body and pink stripe.

“Hello, Bobo!” I say landing the chunky trout looking for orange marks under the gills. None were present so I am marking this one as a true bobo and not a cutbow hybrid.

Release the fish and the flurries start their sideways dance in the heavy wind. Rough weather is actually a welcome sign for me on this stretch as it keeps the masses indoors. As I tested the various flats and pools a car or truck would pull in. Some would wait while the engine revved before pulling back out. One or two would step out for the gear up, cast a few times and then make a hasty retreat. Shamelessly I would pretend to blow on my hands and even do the “move to keep warm dance” for some of the lookie-loos’ pondering a cast or two.

“F^%$ that!” I would occasionally read off their lips before they wheeled out of MY stretch.

“I’m good til I see the snow sticking heavy on the roads.” I laugh to myself.

No sooner than those words leave my lips the tiny flurries mutate into enormous flakes. The wind slows down quite a bit and the lines of falling snow turn a bit more vertical. A feeling of great panic and urgency overwhelms me as conditions change. The window of fishing time has been shortened and I have possibly an hour to fish before the roads get ugly. This is bittersweet as now the wind is not an issue. My casts are more accurate and my presentation is not flawed by the wind billowing my line.
Now I need to cast for all I am worth and try to cover as much water as possible in a shortened amount of time. I move down the river and plink a few fish. These are all brown trout in the 14’er range. Not being one to scoff at any fish I am happy to see the action but really want some of the better fish in this slice of water. Reaching “The Bend” I get a few follows. They sniff the lure and one comes right to the edge of the shore before turning back to the trough.

“Dangit! That was a good fish.” I choke under my frozen breath and cast out again.

Eventually I finish the small section and move back to the spillway for a second run before I head out. These are casts thrown in that danger zone between “probably should have left already” and “I might not get out of here in one piece”.

Cast out again, again and again getting a few small bumps and then a heavy tug. The pulls are longer and a bit more sturdy than the previous rainbow. Land the fish and it is a beauty brown trout almost pushing the 16’er mark. Big dots are something I really dig on brown trout as it typically signifies a large male but in my imagination it means that this fish has the potential to be big…really big. Handle with care and release.

Now is the time I should really get rolling. The snow is sticking heavy on the ground and now the roads are starting to slush up. What do I do? Sling a few casts in hopes that a monster trout grabs hold in the five-pounder range. A few more casts and more snow falls before the gear is stowed.

“Not my best day by any means but definitely not my worst.” I mutter starting up the truck and turning towards the main road. “Better get out of here before I need a dog sled.”
The roads weren’t bad at all. A few stretches were slush but nothing I couldn’t have pushed through. This was a comfort at first but the more I drove my heart kept nagging me with the thought of just a few more casts.

“A few more casts who knows?” I ponder along the windy mountain road. “Might have made the difference between that one really big fish and driving home in a real mess.”

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic

Thursday, November 25, 2010

NEW CO STATE RECORD SMALLMOUTH

DENVER, Colo. - Conner Peitsmeyer, 11, of Aurora probably won't remember the chill of the 35-degree air on the morning of Nov. 12. What he will remember for a long time is catching the new Colorado state record smallmouth bass.

Conner was fishing at Aurora Reservoir with his dad, Michael Peitsmeyer, in the family's fishing boat that Friday morning. A few days before, Conner had landed his first 'big fish' in the same area, a smallmouth that was more than five pounds. But nothing prepared Conner for the 20¾ inch, 6-pound, 8-ounce monster he would pull from the water that morning.

"We had caught quite a few big bass that week, so we knew they were in there," said Michael. "When he caught that first big one, Conner told me he was shaking, but he wasn't sure if it was from the cold or from the excitement."

Conner's catch eclipses the previous state record smallmouth, a 21-inch, 5-pound, 12-ounce bass caught by Carl Dewey at Navajo Reservoir in 1993.


Link to photos below.

http://dnr.state.co.us/ImageDBImages/26076.JPG

http://dnr.state.co.us/ImageDBImages/26075.JPG


Matt's Rant: Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another brookie blast

Still tinkering with a few patterns for these brook trout and managing to get a few quality fish in the process. But I often wonder if I am on the right pattern or if another presentation wouldn’t work better. In fact, no matter how good the fishing is at any given location or day…I am always looking to improve.

Morning started off slow with a heavy chill. The late fall\early winter mornings are now met with frost, frozen puddles and temperatures below freezing. The recent snow had melted for the most part but a few shadowed areas were still frozen. A first few casts, a fish and then battle ice up on the rod tip. As time wore on and the sun rose, the temperature turned the corner on +40 degrees and fishing was more comfortable. The fish kept on coming, which made me worry about the cold less, and less. Funny how lots of fish can lull you into frostbite without a second thought where as no fish will magnify sour conditions to feel downright unbearable.

Halfway through the stretch and I am doing great on both numbers and size…for this water at least. Most of the fish are top of the class and about 12-ish in length. I am working a creature-spin presentation that I use for bass but downsized to 1/16oz. Not something completely off the wall but definitely not what folks or even the fish apparently are used to seeing. Nearly every cast got a bump, flash, follow and a number of go-getting’ bite hard brookies.

By midday the sun was shining through an almost cloudless sky. Wind was only my contention and even that wasn’t too formidable. I caught a few more brooks and tried to make the most out of the photo op. There are very few fish that I would consider ugly and many that are beheld to be very beautiful. Brook trout can be absolutely spectacular when it comes to color pattern and the fins are breathtaking to me at times.

Rounding out the trip I land another solid brute brook that I might have been able to squeeze a 14’er inch mark out of if needed. Not too shabby for this water and one of my better small water brooks. This fish was downright angry and difficult to photo-op. Seeing that it had woke up on the wrong side of the structure this morning I chose to give it a quick picture grab with the one hand hold and a quick release.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

CDOW Fishing Reg. Update: Citizen Petition approved for section of Arkansas River

YUMA, Colo. - The Colorado Wildlife Commission gave final approval to new fishing regulations and approved license numbers and seasons for the 2011 spring and fall turkey seasons at the group's meeting in Yuma on Friday, Nov. 12.

In addressing the meeting's major agenda item, commissioners finalized the five-year update of DOW fishing regulations and approved two major changes to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species across the state. The regulations also make localized changes at more than 30 bodies of water around the state to adjust fishery management by setting new size limits or altering acceptable tackle.

Commissioners also responded to a citizen petition requesting new regulations for a popular two-mile tail water fishery on the Arkansas River below Pueblo Reservoir. The new regulation restricts tackle to artificial flies and lures from the reach beginning at the bridge near Valco Ponds downstream to Pueblo Boulevard. In addition, all trout 16 inches or larger caught in this section must be immediately returned to the water. The portion of the river near the Pueblo Nature Center is exempted from these new restrictions.

Link to full article below:

http://wildlife.state.co.us/NewsMedia/PressReleases/Press.asp?PressId=6741

Matt’s Rant: Hurray for the citizen petition! This is a huge victory for a lot of people that fish this area at various times of the year and frustrated with the constant bait\pillage that has occurred too often. The additional regulations may upset a few locals but the majority of sportsman in the state (and even beyond) have been requesting this stretch become AFLO for quite some time. As these new regulations take hold, the fishing quality will improve year after year.

See, folks? You can make a difference and things like an organized petition with thousands of valid signatures is tough to ignore. CDOW still believes that the majority of anglers\license holders in this state are primarily bait and take…it is up to the AFLO\C&R crowd to make our voice heard.

If you fish in Colorado and are a bit bored, feel free to send an e-mail to the CDOW expressing your thanks for their hard efforts as well as letting them know how they could improve things in your view. I truly believe that fishing is good in Colorado but could be so much better. If anglers and the Colorado Division of Wildlife worked together it would be quickly achieved.

http://wildlife.state.co.us/About/askdow/

Good luck and good fishing.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kermitt’s Walkabout

Wandering along I-70 below Idaho Springs is a 1.5 mile somewhat fishable section of the creek. Action can vary by the day depending on water levels and angling pressure. This is a section of the creek I have dabbled a bit on but never have come up with anything big. “Big” for this stretch would be a solid +16’er brown or bow that would possibly weigh a pound or two at most. Two pounds may be an exaggeration or even a wild boast for most fish on the creek but larger brutes do exist. Hard work, timing and sometimes just plain luck will put that magical fish in your hands.

My plan is to simply get out there as much as possible and hope for at least one good fish and a mix of scenery. Finding water with solitude is also a bonus, which points me towards Kermitt’s Walkabout. Having to park and walk the stretch makes a bit of difference in regards to pressure. So much of the creek sees at least one or two casts on a daily basis. Being able to pick apart the areas that are less worked makes me feel a bit closer to the divide and helps me forget that I am only 20 minutes from Denver.

Right off the bat I expect to struggle. Water is low and from previous trips I know the fish are scared. The ant pattern has faded in success and only the minnow pattern is getting noticed on the spin side. This reduces me to a few small nymph patterns and only one or two spin presentations. Not the best conditions for me but better than say a blizzard or forest fire. (I’m fully prepared for both at this point) Walking, casting only to get a timid flash or a curious follow here and there. First the spin, then the fly…maybe a switch up or fresh tie on before moving up the stream. Sometimes you get the love and sometimes you don’t. When you do it is like magic.

Hopping over rocks and moving upstream the struggle continues. By now I have hooked only one or two small browns in the 10-inch class. I’m starting to think this trip might get tossed in the “not worth posting” pile. I had covered the entire stretch and was now headed back with my brain already scrambling to plan the next trip. Then I notice a small section of rocks that had been passed on the way up.

One fish can make all the difference. Even though this isn’t a two-pounder brown that I could shamelessly boast about but it is a quality fish for this stretch. It also helps me salvage this post with some respectability. Quick photo-op and release.

Kermitt’s Walkabout…name explained. So I may come up with a few names for stretches of the creek. My hope is to break the 50-mile mile long strip of water into sections and name those sections using landmarks of some sort. At the base of this run is a bar\restaurant called “Kermitt’s”. They serve hot coffee, cold beer and even do live music on the weekends. The fact you have to park and walk the 1.5 mile stretch makes it a “walkabout” as opposed to the drive, park and cast sections that dominate most of the creek. Mark my words…I shall pull a two-pounder out of Kermitt’s Walkabout and yes, the bragging will be shameless.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.