Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Blog Shout…long overdue.

One bloggy detail that has gone overlooked for so long is an official shout out to the three or four ultra fabulous readers of Coloradocastersblog@blogspot.com. I have been meaning to do this for a while. Now that I am getting things rolling this season, it would be best if I get this out now.

Mel: Mel really deserves special thanks and a huge shout out for the comments and most of the followers from blog formats of various sources that have stumbled over to my blogilicious. Blog Cabin Angler is as good as a blog gets with a mix of humor, news and of course fishing stories. Mel, you are the best. I wish you well and of course magnificent fish!

Biggerfish: This is a hard-core trout guy from Montrose that lives up to his blog title. He mixes a little bit of spin with masterful fly-fishing and the fish p0rn is downright fantastic. Give his blog a check, follow and a kind word now and again.

Fall Road Archer: Bill is a true outdoor sportsman and keeps a wet line when not out hiking, scouting or hunting the woods of Pennsylvania. Bill is an active poster with an eye for photography.

You can view any of these blogs by checking the folks on my follow list. Check these folks out and see the quality of effort they put forth.

Another blog worth mentioning

The Fisherbabe: Here is a gal that paints her own lures and then throws them at 6-foot long pike. Practically every fisherman’s dream but sorry guys she is already married. I follow her blog at a distance and even comment once in a while. Of course she won’t so much as give me the time of day but I daydream that one day she will comment on my page as well as add me to her blog roll. “Yeah right. Keep dreamin’ Mattsabasser.”


And as always, special thanks to Don, James and “Mountain Goat Keith” in which another fishing trip is long overdue. (Sigh, so little time to fish these days.) Shoot me an e-mail to set something up. Plan a few weeks ahead and put “Stole the keys to Denver Water” in the subject line. I may have left one or two folks out but know that every view, comment and rate does not go unnoticed. Thank you so much for stopping by.

More bla bla bla….

Epilogues and English Majors: a correction of sorts.

One of the long battles that has brewed to harsh words and near fisticuffs for me at times is the word and definition of “Epilogue”. For the longest time I have argued, debated, hashed out and verbally tangled with a fellow co-worker that just so happens to be an English Major over this word.

For over two years now I have used the partial definition “narrative by author” for the word “epilogue” at the beginning of my posts. Epilogue actually means narrative by author at the END of a story. Realize I am more stubborn than anything and just think epilogue sounds a lot better than “prolog”…Or maybeez I iz jusd eelitterit. The good news is that I finally capitulate and surrender my false use of the word. That is kind of a bummer for me as I don’t see myself writing an epilogue for any reason and will rarely see that word again. Man, I am really going to miss that word.

In closing, thanks to everyone for the views, comments rates and further support of the Coloradocasters blogilicious. If you have not gone through my previous posts, rants and fish pictures…by all means do so.

Good luck and keep on bloggin'.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Saving California Steelhead-Dammedif you do-Dammed if you don’t

MALIBU, Calif. – In hopes of luring the endangered steelhead trout into the Santa Monica Mountains, California's transportation agency is planning to spend $935,000 to pave over part of a popular beach with cement and boulders to build a freeway of sorts for fish.

The project is the latest, yet far from the most unusual, steelhead recovery attempt by government agencies that have spent millions of dollars on concrete fish ladders, cameras, fishways and other contraptions to allow seagoing trout to spawn in Southern California streams.

The problem, even some conservationists say, is that there is little evidence construction efforts since the 1980s have done anything except absorb taxpayer dollars. The work to save the species has led to about a dozen concrete fishways at a cost of more than $16.7 million.

A $1 million fish ladder — a structure designed to allow fish to migrate upstream over a barrier — may cost $7.5 million in stimulus funds to rebuild. Another fish ladder would require fish to leap 8 feet to reach it. Studies alone for replacing a third ladder have cost an estimated $3 million.


Matt’s Rant: Environmental issues get pretty heated on both sides these days and with good reason. Humans don’t tend to realize the impact they make until it is too late and then the method to repair the damage takes a lot of money with little impact at first glance. In many cases it will take decades to see if we have made the right moves or not.

Some of the projects existing and proposed have many aspects that should be scrutinized, analyzed and discussed. I understand that the price tag of this species conservation can be staggering and bordering on the verge of ridiculous. To most people in the United States one silly little fish species may not be worth millions of dollars to save. But to steelhead anglers…no dollar should be spared for such an amazing trout species that is wildly unique. I tend to agree with them but my opinion as an angler may be biased.

In the case of California Steelhead, both arguments have flaws. The argument against the waterway projects does not offer a solution to the problem where as the “pro” side desperately needs to firm up their science and documentation on the subject. They need to be able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that efforts are working, even if to a small degree. This recovery is still in its infancy so major results right now should not be expected.

Another element to these projects that is being lost in the discussion is the fact that the ladders, fish bridges and diversions help return a lot of other natural elements to the river such as sedimentation. It also helps regain the original aspect of the river flowing from headwater to delta.

Potential for more trouble like easier invasive species introduction, less control in regards to flooding and of course spending a heck of a lot of money are concerns that must be addressed as well. Personally I think some of the California designs go a bit overboard in a few aspects, which is common for bureaucracies. Dealing with the existing landscape will be another massive obstacle.

In closing, the one thing you can count on regards to conservation and undoing the damage or harmful changes that we as humans have caused is that there will be plenty of argument, debate and discontent on both sides. There is a middle ground and hopefully both parties will reach that ground, shake hands and smile. Then cast out for monster steelhead.

Your thoughts?

Sweet bucket on a mixed-bag weather day

(Above: Sweet bucket on a “mixed-bag” weather spring day in Colorado. I do not control the weather and have to fish through whatever comes my way.)

Can you believe we are still getting snow in Colorado? I drive through a near whiteout and then fish for bass. Yes I know…its lunacy. My only hope was that water temps would carry over from the past few days when everything was so sunshine sparklingly and warm.

This is the snow I faced going up I-70 trying to fish Clear Creek up by Idaho Springs earlier in the day. Fish for an hour or so with no bites, flashes or follows. Back on I-70 and head back down to Denver.

Finally reach the pond and the shoreline is wet but not too muddy. I feel the water and it is warm. Work a few areas and nothing. Moments go by as I work every nook and cranny of water trying not to get discouraged. Fishing is as much of a mental game with yourself as it is test of knowledge, skill and fishing conditions.

One the way back I take a second cast structure that had been a no-go earlier before. I feel the bump on the line like a small tremor of electricity to my hand. My elbow springs back the hookset and my lips mutter that common phrase, “Come on baby. Hold on!”

The fish was landed and released quickly after a short photo op. A small hike out, back in the truck and then return to blizzard watch. Never a dull moment with the weather in Colorado this year.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chasing Pike through Morning Fog

7AM with a heavy fog rolling across the lake. Blustery winds delivered a cold mist of rain that stung the scars of this lingering winter. With waders and gear I set out in the fog after pike.

The access to this lake is limited so when the gates do open to anglers we tend to run, not walk to the shoreline. There is a slight crowd but tolerable. My plan is to move past the crowds and find an isolated spot to fish.

(Above: The prime real estate goes fast. I try to show up early and pick a few spots on the dam before heading down and picking spots as I go.)

I find a spot and start casting. First the spoon and then the jig. Within minutes I feel the heavy surge that is unmistakably a pike. The battle ensues with a mixture of heavy force, almost dead weight and then ripping flight through the water. A few moments later and a toothy fish is landed in the 24, maybe 26-inch range.

(Above: Started the day out with a number of these guys. A little on the skinny side but otherwise in decent shape. Jevan from Team JW gets credit for this shot. Thanks again, man. Good meeting you out there.)

Lure of choice is metal spoons anywhere in the 4 to 6” range. Some throw bigger or smaller for various reasons but I tend to start with a good 4” kastmaster and work my way up to krocodile spoons in copper or firetiger. I am throwing these lures for distance as much as anything else out here.

With very little water open on the front section of the lake I decided to venture out to the back section. The pike have hammered the forage base of this lake and crawdads have turned out to be somewhat of a staple in their diet. I throw large jig patterns in the back section and occasionally get strikes. On this day through the early morning fog I tossed out and WHAM! This guy put up a much better fight and made the drag sing loudly once or twice before submitting to the shameless photo op and release.

(Above: Getting some better pike in the cattails but nearly losing the camera in the process.)

I caught one more pike that was as long as the one shown above but just a little bit fatter. There was just no way to get quality footage without risking camera gear. Getting great photos and video wading deep into the cattails is real tough solo. Maybe some sort of pole tripod that stuck in the ground maybe. Hmmm. I will have to try that next time.

Pike can store an enormous amount of swimming strength in their body. Combined with their long sleek shape and streamline tale fins the pike can show explosive fighting power for the sport angler. Added with the fact that this fish has about 20,000 razor sharp teeth it makes the northern pike an amazing sport fish.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lake Cleanup – Adopt a Lake Program

The weather has put my cleanup on the backburner this year. Now that the blizzards have slowed down and the ground does not resemble muddy quicksand I plan to fulfill some of my cleanup promises. Here is an update on my lake cleanup progress.

One of the lakes that I fish in the southwest metro area tends to collect a lot of trash from wind and less than scrupulous visitors. The bait cans, bottles and other debris can really take fishing quality down a notch. It was unsightly enough that I added this fishing spot to my list of places that receives a cleanup once a year. After annual trips the trash seems to get less and less. The real payoff is not having to trip over all that trash throughout the rest of the fishing season.

(Above: Huge stiff-arm hold on a half full 33-gallon Hefty Bag. Less trash makes better fishing. For me, this is Catch of the Day!)

Organized annual cleanups are one thing. In other cases I do what I can without dropping everything and turning into a one-man sanitation crew. Take this next situation where originally my plan was to drive all this way and get some footage of crappie. The fish were not in spawn mode and the cold front was making conditions from shore a bit soggy. After scouting\casting a few sections I decided what this place really needs is some cleanup.

(Above: This is the before shot. The bag that I used is shown towards the upper right of this picture. I could not get the entire area in the photo but you get the idea.)

Disrespecting nature should not be tolerated and a lot of people complain about it including me. The real trick is actually doing something about it. Now that blizzard season is nearly over trash season is underway.

(Above: This is the area after a little cleanup. We are talking only a few minutes worth of effort here.)

The before and after shots really show what a difference a little effort can make. Cleaning the entire lake would have taken all day and filled a large dump truck. Cleaning two or three sections was something I could do without trash bags and a dumpster service.

I strongly urge folks to adopt the local lakes in their neighborhood or areas that have fished well. Less trash and more fish makes for better fishing so picking up trash along with catch and release are some of my favorite fishing philosophies. It is also a good way to ensure a quality experience for future generations to come.

Good luck and good fishing.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Don and the Windy Shelf Pig

I have said it before and will say it again: When Don is in the groove…watch out! Don predominantly throws big fish baits for big fish. This method doesn’t always come up money but when it does it is often in the OMG Class.

Out on the water and we have been search casting for an hour or so. Action is slow but we are still determined. Wind was choppy at times and practically nil at others. As the day rolled on we searched the areas that had produced fish before. This is a staple rule in the Mattsabasser book of fishing. But what do you do when those spots don’t produce? Answer: you turn the page and start with a blank sheet. Take in all the pieces of the puzzle and go from there. At this point we had fished half the water or more and merely set the hook on a few rocks and sticks. Then we move to the other side of the lake and some wind kicks up. Don takes two of the fish puzzle pieces and slams them together.

“Right there. That submerged shelf. The wind is blowing right across it now.” He didn’t even finish the sentence. Simply hit the electric motor and put the boat about twenty feet behind the shelf and facing the wind.

Dropped anchor and we began running gear across the shelf with the wind and current. Don casts out and WHAM! His rod bends over with a heavy fish on the end. The fish wanted to stay deep and lunged downward several times.

“This is a big fish.” Don replied through gritted teeth. “This is a big fish.” Realize that Don generally says two things when a fish is hooked. The other is “Dink…it’s just a dink.”

Then the water boils with a break of the green scaled, shiny finned brute. It was close enough to the boat that you could see both eyes looking right at you. The fish vanishes and tries to surge downward. Don turns the head of the fish and steers it back to boat. Then the reach, the grab and enjoy sweet success.

(Above: Stuffed to the gills and in prespawn glory this fish is PLUMP! Notice the break or ridge before the tail section. Sure sign of bloating and overall Pig-iness. Great Colorado bass specimen!)

Shameless fish bragging aside, the wind and the shelf was the key. I have gone a little overboard here to illustrate and explain why the wind and shelf was such a productive formula for fish. We may have a few more weeks of windy conditions here in Colorado to fish through. Wind is not necessarily a bad thing if you can use it to your advantage.

Wind can create a lake current similar to that of a slow moving river. Fish have to fight against this current to stay where they are or move to areas that will save them from expending the extra energy. When wind levels increase, the fish will look for areas of shelter. A similar concept would be humans standing in a heavy breeze. They have to use energy to maintain balance and physical comfort becomes an issue. Unless there is a definite reason for the person to stay out there (work or uncompleted task for example) the person will move indoors or seek shelter from the blasting winds.

In the case of our fishing, the wind was gusting at times across the lake pushing baitfish and other creatures from the shallow water across the shelf and into a deeper pool. The larger fish congregated off the edge of the incline to help avoid the moving current. Here they could wait using minimal energy and feed on anything that came over the shelf.

(Above: Simplistic illustration of baitfish being pushed out of the shallow water and into the deeper pool. Originally I had more lines showing the circling current flow behind the shelf incline but that made the illustration a bit too busy overall.)

Don would cast out and then bring the lure over the shelf and into the deeper water. If the fish were there he would get a strike. The bites were timid or from the side where the hook doesn’t get a chance to hold the fish. All you can do is throw for what you are worth and be ready to set the hook. On this day it seemed that you had to nail the hookset on the first strike. There were no second or third strikes on the lure and with the fish only allowing one pass through the area it was slow and tough going. They might as well have hung a “No Free Lunch” sign at the boat ramp.

Something else worth mentioning was maximizing the lure within the vertical water column. This was done with a raise and drop presentation shown below. The fish are still a bit sluggish and not willing to chase anything down more than a few inches or so. Keeping the retrieve as slow as possible while maintaining proper action of the lure will increase the strikes compared to the “cast out-rip back” method.

(Above: Yet another illustration showing the desired lure path over the shelf. In hindsight I should have spent a little more time on the lure. Consider this lure the “Scruffy Shad” highlighted many posts ago.)

In closing, it is sometimes good to set aside my own selfish fish bragging to highlight that of a friend. Truth be told my fishing results were two shades south of dismal. I missed one hookset early in the day and then lost a big fish at the end of the day. The difference between losing a fish and missing a hookset is huge in my book. Having a fish on the line for a count of say two-Mississippi and then having it come off generally leans toward a mistake being made during the battle itself. Rod position, reel drag and everything else comes into question.

“Next time my green scaled-shiny finned friends…next time.” My lips mutter as we were forced to roll off the lake due to time, increasing winds and low battery juice.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Small Ponds on the Shorebang

For the last few days the wind has been gusty and formidable. The forecasts were predicted at a mere 10-15mph that felt more like hurricane “Hugo” when exposed out on the open water. The next day was foretold to be even worse. Rather than battle the whitecaps and the wind onslaught on prime water by boat, I decided to give my arms a rest from rowing and go for some bass in shorebang mode.

My water of choice was a large grouping of small ponds in Boulder. Small metro ponds can offer some big fish opportunity from shore. This area has several ponds that vary greatly in water clarity, shape and overall size. Generally the bigger ponds all have fish in a mixture of bluegill, bass and carp. My goal is to get in early and cover as much water as I could before the winds picked up.

“The last few days of wind may have already congregated fish.” I thought to myself. “Just have to check it out.”

I get to the ponds and the water is like glass. Not so much as a blade of grass is twitching. This was by far the least wind that I had faced for the previous three days. Now that I had the pontoon boat safely stowed away the winds were content to take the day off it seemed. Another thing I did not fully take into account was the fact panfish such as bluegill would be active so early in the year. I was able to pick off a handful or so of these finned-forage morsels just about every cove or tasty pool that I went to. A few had brilliant coloring and fin quality. Panfish are a bit of a compulsion of mine to put it mildly.

(Above: Two-point deduction for not cleaning the muck off this fish before taking the picture. Dirt, sand, and even moss debris can take a lot away from fish shots in my opinion. Instead of noticing the amazing color of the fish, viewers will be drawn to the negative aspects even if it is just a few specs on the tail.)

The water temps are still clinging to the 50-55 degree range on most ponds but my guess is a few of these smaller ponds are climbing towards 57-58 during a warm spell. Maybe these smaller gills are moving in to feed and even spawn. Bass were tough to come by while scouting most of the water thus far so I would pick off a few of these guys here and there.

(Above: Bluegill with fins on full display. I may have to start calling these fish “potato chips” as I can’t ever seem to stop at just one.)

Shaking off the panfish addiction I went back to my pursuit for bass. “These winds will kick up in no time. Then I will have to adjust accordingly.”

Being able to adjust is key as Colorado is always changing. Wind is not necessarily a bad thing for anglers. In fact wind can be a good thing if you use it to your advantage. However the irony of having absolutely no wind on the one day wind mattered the very least did not go unnoticed.

“Guess I should be happy it’s not @##%^& snowing!”

Fishing by shore presents advantages and disadvantages. One of the major disadvantages is that you are greatly subject to the terrain. Fish love rough terrain and heavy cover where available. Fishing this heavy cover can be much more difficult from shore than by boat. Often I am met with the quandary of “to cast or not to cast”. Some places require finesse as where areas like this spot are absolutely treacherous.

(Above: Sight-fishing opportunity in Rough Cover. Do I jump down and spook the fish or try to cast through the cover?)

Casting would be folly. Instead I retreat taking the sloping trail at the bottom of the picture. Slide down and nearly break my @##. Perfect cast, drop…nothing. On the slope I could see the fish but the lower angle reflected light directly into my polarized lenses. I was blind of sorts. I halt the retrieve and give the bait a few pops of subtle movement. Nothing. Cast. Cast. Switch rods, cast and cast again. Nothing. I go back up to the top of the slope. The fish had moved off. Sight-fishing in spring. Not always easy.

Then I move to the wooded spot and see a dark shadow cruising slowly. It was as if he was trying to sneak up on a school of bluegill nearby in the shallows. I cast ahead of the fish and run the lure in the shallows near the fleeing baitfish. The shadow lurches forward.

Now I see it more clearly, a decent sized bass. It leans forward and opens it’s mouth. As soon as the jaw shuts I set the hook. Here is where it gets a bit dicey. You see, I hadn’t actually moved down to the shoreline from the top of the hill before casting. There was a good ten or fifteen drop to the water’s edge. Two things were going to happen for sure…one; I would lose the fish and two; I would fall right into the water. Instead my feet miraculously stayed underneath me and my reel maintained the slack. With one good tug the fish was steered towards shore and my hand reached for the lip. As I grabbed the fish the lure literally fell out of the fish’s mouth. Had I offered any slack whatsoever surely the fish would have been lost.

(Above: Ugly Mug Bass that could actually pass as part “frog” in my book. Man, how @##%^ old is this fish?!?”)

The wind did not show up until later in the afternoon. By the time my truck pulled into the house; dogs, cats and garbage cans were whipping through the neighborhood at about 40mph. Some anglers can plan fishing trips and the fishing gods will have the turbulent weather lay down right in front of them like a good dog. They will experience perfect weather and conditions the whole time. That is not usually my case. I could pencil in a trip with clear blue skies and then the weather will turn south faster than bad cafeteria food. What makes this day a bit bizarre is that the weather defied all the worrisome forecasts and was rather pleasant…on the one day I planned for it to be terrible. That is just fishing. All of the fish in this shameless fish bragging post were released.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

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 still add them on occasion to shamelessly pump up the post count on my blogilicious. And with that I submit to you…Photos from the field.

Hidden Driveway

Winter this year has been a real mudder ducker. The snow levels have been above average and even though it’s a real pain in the axle to drive in…the watersheds around here need this extra moisture. Times like these it often helps to look on the bright side. At least you don’t have to shovel this guy’s driveway. (see picture below)

These are all pictures that I have taken myself using my new Canon Powershot A2000 IS. So far this thing is doing real well with the pics and ok for the video. Video quality is still better than my POS Koda-smack that was rendered useless after a few minor tumbles. Check back with me in a few months and see if the Cannon is still keeping up.

Eagle Eyes

Below: I was blessed with a great shot of a bald eagle perched a few hundred feet away from me while fishing on the tooner. This is just a basic zoom shot against a cloudy background. I am still amazed that this shot turned out so well.

This raptor was eyeballing me pretty hard. After a while I figured this bird was thinking one of three things:

1. “I wish this guy would hurry up and kill a fish. An easy breakfast would really turn this cold morning around.”

2. “Hmmm…wonder if he has any live bait in that tackle bag? Everyone else brings a minnow bucket. I could go for a bucket of minnows right about now.”

3. “One talon swipe and that red pontoon boat is scrap rubber.”

Elk and Bison…Hooves on the Landscape

The Front Range is an amazing place with all sorts of wildlife opportunities. It is almost as if the deer and elk sightings are daily commonplace. Unless it is hunting season of course. Below is a gratuitous elk shot snapped from a “local herd” a few days ago. Made it through another cold season.

Deer, elk, coyote and other sightings occur enough that they blend into the common landscape. Something becoming more common (at least for me in my travels) are sightings of bison. A few ranchers raise sizeable herds of these “Buffalo” for profit and it really gives Colorado that old western feel. Bison “on the farm” here in Colorado comes with some controversy. In this case shown below, only a small fraction of this herd is culled for profit every year. The majority of the herd is kept intact (as recommended for the social benefit it provides to the herd overall) and the numbers have grown over the years. Bison are kept far away from cattle (to spare transfer of certain disease and bacteria) on a large expanse of land maintained by the owner.

In my view this is an example of where profit and conservation of a large midwestern animal (that was once nearly extinct) can go hand in hand. Not a perfect example to be sure but better than protests on both sides that solve nothing and confine these creatures to only Yellowstone National Park.

In closing I want to say thank you all for your comments, rates and patronage on my blogilicious. This will be my second year on the blogspot scene and I truly hope that my viewers, readers and even the occasional passer-by take a moment to soak in the humor, sarcasm, shameless bragging and of course the sense of adventure that I try to pour into every other post or so.

My name Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Early Prespawn Buckets- An “Easter Bass” Special

Air Temp: 50-60 degrees
Wind Speed: Gusty winds 10-25mph.
Water Temp: 54 degrees
Water Clarity: Clear
Fished from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM

The stick bait is cast out and left to sink deep down through the clear blue water. It is early in the day battling winds of up to 20mph off and on. I reposition the boat with the left oar as my line gets a heavy tug. My hand quickly lets go of the oar and helped the right hand set the hook.

“Hold on, baby!” I mutter after losing one good fish today already.

In moments the fish was landed and it was forced to succumb to one my shameless photo-ops. Because this experience is taxing enough on the fish, I tend to forego the measurements and weighing. Easily a +18-inch fish in the 3.5lb range.

(Above: Every once in a while I catch what is dubbed a “beauty fish”. The new camera captures the fantastic color of this Colorado prespawn bucket.)

The early prespawn can be as rewarding as it is challenging. The fish are fairly stubborn for the most part but make up for that stubbornness in bulk. I tend to find some of my heftiest fish this time of year. The fish are still deep and waiting for things to heat up before they get very active. The bite is a bit sluggish as well and it seemed like I had to be ready to nail a sturdy hookset right off the bat or lose the fish.

(Above: A couple solid chunks like this made fighting the wind all day a bit more bearable.)

The stick bait was the only lure that got any attention for me. I worked two rods and alternated a few jigs and swim baits to no avail. The rigs had to be worked slow and fish would hit with one thump, maybe two. There was a layer of moss an inch or two think on the bottom. Next time I will have to run a drop shot and see how things go.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic

Saturday, April 3, 2010

“Hey! You kids have permission to fish there?”

During my early season bass scouting I stumbled across some misguided youth that had fallen off the path of right and wrong. These two youngsters had in fact strode so far as to cross two fences leaving their tracks in the snow to fish a pond on private property. They were tucked into the northeast corner out of sight from the large farmhouse located closer to the road on the east side of the lake. I watched them fish like spooked pheasants for a few minutes before yelling, “Hey! You kids have permission to fish there?”

(Above: It doesn’t take a forensic expert to diagnose the crime scene here. But for just for fun I went ahead and did my own CSI markup.)

Kid One just kinda looked at me and then his friend to the right. I had to ask the question twice before he called over to his buddy “Rick”.

“My friend said we could fish here.” Kid Two replied.

“What is your friend’s name?” I continued to drill these kids really just for the fun of it.

Long pause. No answer.

“Ok, I’m gonna give Mr. Baker a call here and see what he thinks.” I said pulling out my cell phone and walking to the public access ponds just a few hundred feet down the trail. The kids waited for me to get further down the trail before hopping back over the fences and retreating to where Mom was parked off the side of the road.

This was not something I wanted to get Operation Game Thief or even the local authorities involved in. One good scare should do the trick and maybe next time they will do the right thing and ask permission. At the very least they will think twice before jumping this private lake again. The landowner (whose name is not “Baker”) has donated the land and ponds to the west of here for public use. Fishing the two ponds he still keeps private is a bit of an insult to all of us who enjoy the newly added ponds. To return the favor we should all help keep an eye on the private ponds for trespassers as well as keep the newly added public ponds free of trash.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Adjusting gears-Comments, rates and tweaks going forward

(Above: This picture is a metaphor of sorts in regards to the complexity of the Internet and all things technological. (Sigh) Actually I wish those things were half as easy as this picture.)

Early in my blogging I was so glad to get any feedback at all. Even the spamming Asian p0rn ads made me happy to get attention outside the handful of family and co-workers that have shortcut my blog or the local fishing forum community that occasionally drop by. These spamo-comments of course were deleted as soon as possible, meaning whenever I got around to it. Recently my blogilicious was hit by a virus in the comments section that made me cascade a few windows but relatively harmless. Still it was enough to make me face the facts and realities that dwell in virtual blogilicious land. So approving comments is a new tweak for 2010.

Please understand that ALL your comments mean so much to me and your feedback is the only endorsement that I receive. The negative comments are just as important as the positive ones if not more so as long as they have substance. Comment approval just seems to be the best or more importantly the easiest way in regards to policing the spam.

Just for the record…

I have no qualms myself with casting dispersion amongst “so called” anglers in Colorado (and sometimes beyond). Few deserve more angst and ridicule than me just for the simple fact I pursue trout with spin gear and not a fly rod in Colorado. Positive comments are absolutely encouraged but know that I will approve anything but spam (within reason of course).

This blog was originally created for family and the few friends I have left in this world to follow my outdoor adventures. It is merely my attempt to mildly entertain and let them know that I am still alive. All I want to do is fish. Everything else is just a temporary solution or a means to an end so that I can get one more cast, one more trip or see one more water’s edge. More and more I have to remind myself that is what this blog is really about.

My must fish name is must fish and I’m a must fish fishaholic!!!

Chasing bass in the transition

Right now the bass are starting to move but not quite in prespawn mode yet. In larger lakes the fish may still be shaking off the lethargic affects of winter and barely budging at all. Fish in smaller ponds that warm up more quickly may have more activity and seem to be bringing me more action. Fish are cold blooded so their metabolisms are set by temperature. Water temps this weekend were toying with the 50-degree mark, which tends to bring the fish out of a winter slumber, and they start transition from winter and into prespawn mode.

(Above: Just getting started. One fish can provide many clues that help catch more fish. Depth and speed of presentation can be very crucial information to remember when that first fish strikes.)

Why is this important? Finding fish is the first real step towards catching fish. A lot of bassaholics like myself tend to jump the gun and look for feeding prespawn and even spawning bass as soon as the ice comes off. Other anglers may still be targeting fish in their winter homes with the same ultra slow presentation they used in February. Anglers still in winter bass mode are close but if they adjusted for the transition their catch ratio would double.

To fully understand the transition we must look at both primary seasons on either side. These seasons are winter and spawn and have two distinct behavior patterns. Winter = slow activity and Spawn = aggressive behavior. Prespawn is technically anytime prior to spawn but more specifically refers to a staging period of two or three weeks before the fish move into nesting mode. The transition is a 5 to 10 degree window between winter and prespawn. Not quite winter, not quite prespawn.

Below is an illustration of bass movement when water temps are at 45 degrees and below. Typically the largemouth will find deep structure points and limit their activity greatly. It is not impossible to catch these “winter buckets” but it is extremely difficult. During winter months I try to pinpoint my casts as close to the fish or winter structure as possible and the retrieve is more stop than go. Slow, slow, slow and I practically have to hit the fish in the face to create any type of strike at all. Challenging yes but absolutely grueling at times. Now things are warming up and everything is changing.

As water temps climb to a preferred spawning temperature of 60 and 65 degrees, the largemouth move into shallow water. But when water temps are not quite there yet and around 50 degrees, we need to look for bass in the transition phase. What this means for an angler is that they do not need to go as slow as before in regards to the retrieve especially if it costs you water coverage. You still want to start at the deep winter structure but cover more area around that structure rather than try to drop and bump there exclusively. Retrieves can speed up as well allowing the angler to cover twice the amount of water as before if not more so.

(Above: Quality transition bass in flawless shape. One of the things I like about catching bass early is that you see them in pristine condition. Please handle your early bass with care and release all the fish you catch so that they may have a chance to spawn\reproduce. This reproduction is critical to the food chain and system overall.)

Below is an illustration that shows much more area of movement but not quite spawn or prespawn I tend to call this transition “pre-prespawn” but most simply refer to it as early prespawn. The main point trying to be made here is that the fish are transitioning between modes. The fish will be more aggressive than winter but not as eager in spawn in prespawn modes.
What to use: You can bring the same gear you used for winter. These are generally lures we can fish slow, slow, slow. I prefer the weedless baits like soft plastics and creature type baits. Finesse jigs are some of my favorite right now but the slow action and heavy cover requires them to be as light as possible to avoid a lot of snags or lost gear. But fast action lures such as the spinnerbait can be slowed down to match the fish reaction time for amazing results. White and black spinnerbaits are a great color choice this time of year. Crawdad colors are good for jigs meaning browns\reds or blacks and blues will serve you well. Honestly…just throw what you are confident in. Once you find the fish your go to bait with confidence should get that fish!

Below is yet another graphic trying to define that 5 or 10-degree window that only exists this time of year. This graph is not perfect by any means and will vary greatly per body of water and fish. Sometimes flashy graphics are what help sell a post, article or drive that point home a little better than a lot of words. Really I am just trying to be more like those In-Fisherman guys. Their graphics are pretty sweet.

(Above: You can always tell when I get time to actually do the image work to help visualize the point I am trying to make. Results will vary greatly depending on the lake and even the individual fish.)

More on catching bass in the transition:

Cast twice for full potential! The fish may not strike the lure on the first pass. This may be due to the sluggish affects of winter still upon them. The fish may also not be in range to strike on the first pass. That second cast is what will produce the hits for me this time of year. Third or fourth casts are good too but my point here is that anglers should not put a lot of hope or disappointment in the first cast early in the season like they do in summer. Come July the bass will generally explode on the lure first pass faster than a juckyard dog on a couple of teenagers trying to steal hubcaps. Transition bass may take a swing or two before they step up to the plate.

Be ready for anything! Early spring bass bites are not numerous. You may only see a handful of bites, nudges and tugs all day. It is crucial to be alert and be ready to make the most out of those bites when the time comes. Also be ready for other species to join the party this time of year such as trout, perch, walleye and especially crappie (just because I really like crappie and they are looking at prespawn\spawn mode right now).

(Above: Rainbow trout nailing the 4” senko. Trout and a few other species tend to get more active than the sluggish transition bass trying to shake off that winter hangover. I just roll with whatever hits. All fish of the day released with minimal harm. This is a 2/0 hook by the way…crazy. I was very pleased to see this fish power off with only a pierced lip.)

Hopefully this post will help focus that early season bass jones towards the transition and help you get more fish. I also hope that more people release those big ol bucket bass this year rather than keeping them. Keeping bass this time of year can have a tremendous impact on the quality of future sport fishing and the forage base overall for that year. Fishing in Colorado is “good” but could be so much better.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.