Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Catfish heard around the state. Guess I should start weighing these things.

So the rumble in the jungle or on the shorelines of Aurora Reservoir as it were contain rumors of a state record catfish being tossed around like Frisbees at the nearby college campus. I believe these rumors to be true. The CDOW seems to take it serious enough. Along with a few forum posts lately…we can consider this one “soon to be bonafide”.

Weight: 35.484lb

Length: 36.25in

My source of information is from the forums at and Pics from the angler and more details are listed there. I will not repost the pictures or the angler’s words without permission. Just seems fair. Heck of a catch and my hats off to the guy. When the official record is posted on an AP source I will post that information and hopefully make this more legit.

Some people went pretty ape#$%@ about this fish for some reason in a negative way. Many have said the fish should have been released or didn’t like the guy’s hat for some reason. You might be surprised at the level of competition, animosity and downright hatred when it comes to keeping record sized fish in Colorado. My thoughts toward this are simple; if everyone kept all of the big fish they caught there may not be any big fish left. But if you keep only one big fish in your life…make it a state record!

I personally know of three people (including myself) that have held possible state record fish and let them go with little fanfare other than some shameless bragging. This is a personal choice we all have to make ourselves as well as live with the choices that others make. The DNA Maximus theory may not be at play here as at this stage it is highly likely the fish is sterile depending on a lot of factors. These records (I believe) are kept at CSU so one of these days I should do some digging…maybe even more than just catfish.

Wait…didn’t we just do this?

It seems like the ink wasn’t even dry on the previous record before the new one is written in and I was bloggin’ about that fish. The 9News article is still up and running with the previous record breaker. What the heck are the cats eating in Aurora Res.?

Now I do catch a catfish or two myself even though I rarely target them for some reason. Last year I got into a few that make me wonder…”Why don’t I weigh more fish?” Not record breakers but pretty close. The video is a must see for new followers outside of the two or three regular readers that I constantly brag about.

At some point in my life I may or may not post a state record fish. It would disappoint me a little if I got a ton of backlash for it. I’ve come really close a few times and looked into the fish’s eyes and said “You gotta go back buddy. Tack on a few pounds and we will blow that record out of the water!…someday…maybe…who knows.”

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hot summer bite and cotton…take the good with the bad.

(Above: Here’s a shot early in the morning. At about 9AM the sun kicked in and it looked like it was snowing.)

Mother nature rarely hands out a freebie. As soon as weather gets warm she hands you high winds or something else to keep the level of challenge in play. Right now the cottonwood trees are laying a heavy layer of white fluff across the lakes and small ponds in Colorado. At first glance it doesn’t look to be a problem. Then your gear gets mucked up on the first cast. I spent half the day just pealing off cotton. Mosquitoes are rising up in squadron formation and the shoreline cast or gear up can be an assault just above the “no-see-um” level.

But the fishing is good. Take the good with the bad.

This was the Saturday of the Father’s Day weekend and everything was hot! The fishing, the weather and even my drinking water was toasty warm by 10AM. Once I got a decent pattern dialed in the fish just seemed to jump onto the pontoon boat. This pond is a ways down the trail from the parking lot so lugging all of this gear was a bit grueling. Once on the water though it was sweet-summertime-tasty.

(Above: Average size slot bass for the day and around 14 or 15-inches. Not huge fish but better than a sharp stick in the eye.)

The bass seemed to be schooling up a bit and I would catch them in clumps. These fish were on the hunt for forage fish. They were busting in the middle as well as the shallows. Moss and weed structure were hot spots that produced a handful of decent fish. Cast, nail one fish and then cast back out to get another. Cast one more time and then spend 5 or 10 minutes peeling cotton off the line.

(Above: For some reason I like these “bass half in the water” shots but have little explanation as to why I am throwing skirted jig combos in heavy weed-matte.)

As you can see above I still managed to pick up a few on the jig combo. However the weed matte starts to limit this lure greatly as the summer season develops. I throw the jig combo out of habit more than anything in the summer time when I should be relying far more on baitfish patterns. But the fish still love the combo when I can sling it properly.

(Above: Broke the camera holder on the tooner…again…tried this shot with the camera propped on the tackle bag. Risky!)

The bass seemed to be very active and willing to chase a lure down within reason. Quick lifts and drops as opposed to my early year sow-go presentations would trigger strikes more often. Nothing too erratic just the occasional fleeing motion as if the fish was darting away from a predator or lashing out at a small morsel in the water.

Some anglers might use the same presentation with a lure every time they throw. Adjusting the presentation until you find exactly what the fish are looking can make a lot of difference. I tend to adjust my lure speed with the water temperature and hot weather allows for faster speeds.

(Above: Check out this smallie with the broken tail. This guy still had a lot of fight for its size!)

Warmer weather may also lend to the use of bigger baits. I use larger baits this time of year to help fend of the greedy smaller fish but this is not absolute. In fact bigger baits only work a smaller percentage of fish or not at all. Sometimes the fish are eating size specific. Transitioning the size of your bait up and down on a second rod will help you find the most desired size, which is generally based on the most common sized forage slot.

(Above: The bluegill are not very large in this pond for some reason. Or it may be that I haven’t found the larger ones yet.)

(Above: Amazing sunfish with yellow and green hues. Awesome fin color!)

When I see the fin coloring and shape like this I will tend to identify them as green sunfish. However hybridization is so common that I often see color and characteristics from both in most of the sunfish that I catch. Here is a good web reference with pictures of actual fish rather than artwork for identification.

There are many species listed here and even though a few pictures are less than magnificent, it is always good for a quick look when I get stumped on something.

As I am picking off sunfish I look and see a thin fish with green hues and almost zebra looking stripes. It was not big but was in contrast with everything else that was swimming. Cast out with the micro presentation and wham! Nailed me a little yellow perch. This is another type of fish added to the list to make a total of five warmwater species on the day. That wasn’t really my plan but kind of a cool thing when it happens.

(Above: Yellow perch, this rounds out a 5 species day. Not the biggest fish I ever caught but counting it anyway.)

Hot and grueling day weather-wise and the cotton were painstakingly annoying. But the bite was so hot that I had to keep going. Most of the fish were “average” and not worth an endless photo stream. Hopefully my smattering of the most impressive or more select species will pacify the fish p0rn junkie for the moment.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Friday, June 25, 2010

How Fab is the Bait and Wait? A satirical look at a common fishing method.

Disclaimer: This excerpt is meant to be satirical and humorous writing exercise. Once the idea was given to me my brain exploded with possibilities. The minimal requirement I believe was set at 500 words…I may have gone over that a bit. Please do not take this too seriously. If you fish with live bait and may be a bit sensitive about the issue, please stop reading now.

Moes Salmon Eggs…

(Above: This spoof ad was released on a MAD Fishing Show episode a few years back. This writing exercise was to include something about salmon eggs. A picture is worth 1,000 words, eh? Intro with some humor-not too shabby.)

One Sunny Day…

So one sunny Saturday I am out there beating my brains out for fish. Ducking under branches, climbing over stumps and battling tree lines just to toss some hunk of plastic into that tasty secluded spot. Wham! A huge old fish hammers the hand poured lure and the battle is on. This is a big fish holding in a tough spot that few dare cast due to heavy cover. One mistake would spell disaster…I make three.

First mistake was swinging back on the hookset with too much force bringing the rod tip into the branchwork overhead. Second mistake was not taking the tackle bag off of my shoulder before casting and attempting to do that now with the big fish on the end of the line (I managed to get the tackle bag off but clearly the wrong time for this). Third mistake was stepping forward not realizing that a muskrat had managed to build himself a miniature version of the New York subway system under the very bank I was standing on. Stepping forward I set off a small avalanche as the seven feet of dirt shelf crumbles beneath my feet.

Woooooossssshhhh! I am falling almost in slow motion into the lake. My feet at first feel really light and then really wet along with my entire leg up to my knee on the left side. My right side managed somehow to fall deeper soaking up to the mid-thigh. The only saving grace was that my tackle bag still rested on the shoreline. Without even thinking I reached for the dangling shoulder strap to pull myself back on dry land. Slipped about a foot or so on the bottom lake surface just enough to pull my tackle bag into the drink with me.

“Sweet!” I laugh in absolute delirium. “Might as well just sink the whole #$%^ ship and leave her at the bottom now.”

Stumbling and fumbling I somehow manage to land the fish. It is a beaute! 18-inches and FAT! For a moment the entire universe is washed away and my mind is content holding this amazing credit to it’s species and then letting it go once again. No picture, no video, just a moment of bliss tucked into my treasure trove of fish-catch memories. Then an air bubble leaks from my shoe and goes up my pant leg reminding me that not all aquatic creatures are nearly as glorious as this bass. In fact they can be quite the opposite.

Scrambling out of the water and back to my feet I exclaim with every fiber of my being, “Why does this have to be so difficult?”

After hours of hardship and many big fish with many blissful moments I have covered the “back-nine” on one of my favorite local metro ponds and was heading back for the truck. Reaching the parking lot without some level of interrogation is difficult. Typically on the weekends there will be a small cadre of anglers lounging on the shoreline or just gearing up and ready to test the water. At least one or two of them will want to ask a few questions. I know what is coming and prepare myself for the verbal probing. If not so much for the few tiny rounds of splashes they saw in the distance but maybe more so for the real big splash where they might have actually seen me go in the water.

“Catch any fish?” The probe starts first from the second guy on the shoreline. He was a decent enough fellow but still a complete stranger to me. If I start getting all Loose Lips Larry with the info everyone on the shoreline will practically sprint to the back nine trampling the grass and thirty-foot cottonwood trees to dust.

“Ahhhh!” I try to say disappointed. “A few little ones.” (Which is a true statement if the fish were compared to say a ’69 Buick).

“Bass?” He slipped in a follow up question, which is often permitted in shoreline interrogation protocol after the first question.

“Yep…that’s what I’m going for.” Note the redirect on the follow up comment with my reply. Most of these guys are slinging for stocked trout and I think that tripped him up a little bit as he turned around and dismissed me from further questioning.

“Wut yoo yoozin’ ?” shoreline angler number five resumed the inquisition with much more fervor than the first and showing signs of mental instability sporting the heavy drool stained t-shirt with ‘Beer is Food’ hand written on the front.

“These things.” Now I am going completely Forrest Gump on ol Mongo here. I could tell by the look on his face that I needed more explanation to satisfy the question so I tossed out… “Jigs…J I G Z!” (Guess you had to be there.)

“Did you get wet?” From shoreline angler number eight. Now that was really a stupid question as my pants were still soaked and sloshing.

“Yes!” I say bluntly and a bit angered trying to fend off any more questioning. “How about you?” I say in defense looking at angler number eight hoping to shut him up right then and there.

He holds up half a stringer of stocked trout and with a large grin on his face he says, “An I am jest gettin’ started!”

“What the heck are you using?” I ask looking directly at his bait bucket and open glass jar spilled across the shoreline.

“Werms. Werms and samin eggz.” He says still grinning from ear to ear.

What could I say? The guy had been sitting there in his folding lawn chair for only a few hours and caught fish. Sure they were not bucket-sized largemouth bass and only about 12-inches or so but in his defense…he was pretty chill there with the beverage cooler and chair. I looked around and they all were pretty much setup, decked out or otherwise shorebanging the lake in laidback mode. These folks were relaxed! Here I am all stressed out looking for big fabulous fish. It made me ponder the aspect more and wonder…have I really looked at this from all the angles? Wouldn’t we all be so much better off just simply piling up on the shoreline by the parking lot and fishing with bait?

Now I know what you are thinking. “Matt, I am not going to give up my AFLO (artificial\fly or lure only) shorebang mode or even my belly boat with the heavy fins and waders to sit there with the snoring shore-lounging crowd.” But man I have seen this method produce fish, even big fish once in a while. All caught by a simple little worm or salmon egg on a hook tossed out for some fish to grab. These guys don’t factor in wind speed, water temperature, moon phase or even time of day. They can be lucky, random or simply in the right place at the right time and sitting in fish city. Looking back at the parking lot crowd it made my efforts seem a bit futile.

“Here I am busting my a## because I love to catch big fish.” I laugh stowing the gear into the truck and heading off to the next lake. “I must be an idiot! Now let’s go bushwack some more buckets.”

Now it begins…

So now it begins. My research into this whole “bait and wait” fishing situation and ask…am I just killing myself for nothing? I accumulated all of my observations of this technique and it brought me back to one of my first childhood angling experiences.

1974, some lake, summer. I’m about four or five and the family is camped out on a gorgeous scrap of sandy shoreline that is surrounded by houses now (as I was raised by wolves and drunken gypsies). A rod is cast out for us kids. The adults help out with casting and landing fish as necessary. This was how hippies and the less scrupulous “free-fish” back in the day. (Real fishing was something I had to teach myself later in life but we always picked up our trash.) Wham! A heavy hit comes on the rod designated for me. My uncle hands me the fishing rod launching me off my feet and straight into the drink. Reaching down he pulls me out from under two feet of water fishing rod still in my hands. He helps me land the fish and says; “I think the kid has a knack for this.” Turns out the fish was a carp, 30-inches long. Not my first fish but my first real big catch and I will remember it forever…and it was all done with worms. To this day I still think live bait holds a place when it comes to introducing people (especially little ones) into the sport of fishing.

Five minutes of research or a lifetime…you be the judge.

Historical flashbacks of kids fishing aside, here are a few things that I have also learned in my observations of many anglers partaking in the bait and wait scene of fishing. These are not required or even recommended mind you but seem to be somewhat common from my experience and go beyond the nuances of method (glob on, cast out and wait).

1. Fish close to the parking lot if you have a fishing license.
2. Fish far away from the parking lot if you do not have a fishing license.
3. Leave your bait containers on the shoreline when done. I don’t know why this practice is far too common but the bait containers on the shoreline generally support my case.
4. Beverages, food containers and other items look pretty cool going in but after that they become someone else’s problem.
5. Keeping a full limit is customary and legal in most areas. Going over the limit is only a problem if a ranger shows up.

That last paragraph may have been a bit harsh. These stereotypes are formed as a result of poor behavior from the smaller percentage. However the damage from that smaller percentage is enough to create a need for additional management to prevent live bait use at some locations (Gold medal waters for trout and one or two AFLO warmwater fisheries are examples where live bait use is prohibited). After fishing both for many years I dare say the extra management maintains better quality fishing overall. At least in my opinion it does. I like fishing with artificial lures for the challenge so this extra layer of management works for me.

AFLO-C&R is not for everyone.

AFLO and C&R management may work for me but might not work as well for others. It would be presumptuous and wrong for me to state that is how everyone should fish period. Admittedly my AFLO and C&R rants get misconstrued as some crazy basser trying to take over the world. When in reality I am merely trying to save the few tiny scraps of good metro water that are somewhat unmolested by the masses. Bait and take management is not an issue for so many lakes in Colorado that are large, difficult to fish well and have viable populations of fish. 11-Mile, Cherry Creek, Blue Mesa are just a few lakes where anglers only make a dent in most fish species’ populations overall. Smaller ponds and streams similar take pressure could be devastating. If it were up to me more lakes would be regulated as AFLO\C&R for the sheer sport of catching big fish. Not all of them mind you or even the majority of them…just more.

Bad news\Good News: Making these rules is not up to me and 110% of my e-mails get rejected in regards to getting more of the metro waters converted. The number of AFLO\C&R spots are much smaller in number than the bait and take. Add in surface acres of water…wow. The amount is so tiny. So I guess that is good or bad depending on your point of view.

CDOW: A balance of revenue and public opinion

When CDOW runs the numbers they know the majority of license holders are primarily bait and take anglers. So whom do they cater to for the most part? What would you do? Would the majority of your customer base be happy or would they call for your head on a post? (I might last three days as head of CDOW with my trophy pike and mack philosophies) The “greater good” for fishing has to accommodate bait and take to some degree. Where we make the call should be done water-by-water, town-by-town and done with the consent of the community, which is sort of how they do things now…sort of. Maybe part of the problem is that they haven’t heard your voice yet. Give it a shot. They do listen and even put up with my e-mails and phone calls to this agency or that parks and recreation office. Be courteous, to the point and tell them thanks once in a while. Without these folks I would have to run spinnerbaits in swimming pools and down at the aquarium as every scrap of real open water would be locked up by ditch companies or City Water supply.

“Oooooo…maybe run a big ol buzzbait across the tank at Basspro!”

Chronological dating of the worm containers: Another Mattsabasser fishing conspiracy of sorts.

Have you noticed that the color of the major western worm retailer has changed colors and style of the worm container? They did this for a number of reasons primarily because the blue color was fairly dark and attracted heat. The newer version is better ventilated as well keeping your Canadian style night crawlers and panfish style of worms fresher longer.

The way I see it is that they have chronologically dated the bait containers. Now I can tell the freshly deposited white containers from the blue ones that have probably been lying around for a few years. This may not seem like a big deal to most anglers but to me it says a lot. Approaching the water this is how I interpret the signs that can be seen.

1. Lots of blue and white containers mean that little cleanup has taken place. A bad sign for any fishing area. A good cleanup is recommended.
2. Only white containers mean that routine cleanup is likely taking place but current bait pressure exits. A bad sign for any fishing area. A good cleanup is recommended.
3. Only blue containers could mean that old bait pressure exists and a small cleanup would be prudent. Keep this spot secret or look for dead water signs.
4. No white or blue containers typically signify gold medal water or private property. Must fish *.
* All anglers must get appropriate permissions and property access before fishing. Do not fish private property for fear of arrest and gunshot wounds. Coloradocasters is barely responsible for my own angling. Please use caution.

In Closing…

I want to state once and for all that fishing with live bait is not nearly as bad of a practice as some may vilify in Colorado nor should it be my place to tell others how to fish. Really, this would not be such an issue if baiters would simply pick up the bait containers.

Good luck and good fishing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Slinging in the rain

Backdated report 6-12-2010- nearly caught up folks.

(Above: Rainy day bucket. Not too shabby. Maybe one of my bigger fish of the year? I $%^& love fishing!)

We finally get a few days of summer-like weather and then the high-pressure system drops out. Clouds move in and temperatures fall twenty almost thirty degrees. Friday is met with hail and rain. Saturday is a cold constant drizzle. Early morning gear up was less than comfortable in the 5AM\48-degree weather and I was worried if the fishing action would be knocked down as well.

The water was still holding around 65 degrees and warm compared to air around me. The hands started to chill and flashbacks of February and early in the year ran through my mind. The rule of thumb is that cold weather snaps like this can seriously shut the action down. Today that was not the case. The buckets seemed more than willing to hammer the gear. Transitioning through several rods I was able to pick up a few quality buckets in the +18-inch slot and a number of fish just below that. Deeper structure points, bases of the steep incline and coves with adequate depth seemed to be key areas.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Let’s get to know…”The Crappie”

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 Crappie”

The crappie is one of my favorite warm water species due to its color pattern and magnificent fin shape. It looks like something you would find in a tropical fish tank as opposed to your local pond. This fish is also very tasty making it a “most wanted” species in Colorado and ranked third in the nation as most popular table fish. Colorado may not be as famous for crappie as other states but some specimens in the 16’er range and beyond are caught every year.

The crappie is part of the sunfish family and introduced into Colorado around 1882. Crappies are more abundant in eastern Colorado waters but still exist in healthy numbers along the Front Range and beyond the Western Slope. This species may be one of the more popular introduced species but not always successful. A balance between predator species such as walleye and bass is key to crappie success along with quality habitat. This species prefers clear water environments with submerged tree and rock structure. Their diet consists mostly of insects, small vertebrates, and minnows.

There are two variations of the crappie; white crappie and black crappie. Both are similar in shape and size but vary slightly in color patterns. Black crappies have a denser clustering of black dots compared to the white crappie. White crappies generally have a higher growth rate but black crappies generally tend to have more robust body construction. Hybridization with bluegill and sunfish species can also cause color variations but I tend to see this more in the white crappie as opposed to the black. (It is also said that the diet varies slightly and black crappie will eat a wide range of prey including insects, crayfish and others as where white crappie prefers small fish such as minnows and shad. However this is something I can’t confirm and think is subject to the food source available.)

(Above: White crappie, not my best in size but definitely one of my better white crappie in regards to coloring.)

Spawning habits are similar between black and white crappie variations. Spawning occurs in spring when water temps reach 55-60 degrees. Males create nesting sights and several crappies may form colonies. During a single spawn females may produce well over 100,000 eggs. Fry hatch 3 to 5 days but are still attached to the substrate. They eventually free themselves by swimming a few days later. Eventually the minnows will congregate in schools towards the middle of the lake or around deeper structure.

(Above: Black Crappie, the coloring pattern is far more dense compared to the white crappie. The Black Crappie may be a bit stockier as well but I find that can vary depending on the management and ecology of the lake.)

Crappies are prolific meaning that they reproduce more than once in a year. Overcrowding of this species can become a problem causing stunting and other ecological issues. In many Colorado lakes the crappie species benefits from responsible harvesting. Selective Harvest of crappie should be done in a manner that suits both the crappie and the angler. Going out and nailing a full limit of crappie every day until they are all gone should not be the main goal. This practice is literally wiping out crappie populations in some Colorado lakes where several handfuls of anglers have dialed in the hot spots, camped out on the schools and drained the populations completely. This is often done during the prespawn and spawn cycle disrupting the breeding cycle.

To compound the problem the keepers end up being the biggest fish of the day. [Insert DNA Maximus argument…am I really starting to sound like a broken record here?] Responsible harvest of crappie in the most common sized slot in modest amounts once or twice a year is more ideal. The result is a healthier system that will provide a steady supply of fat crappie for a number of anglers that would be willing to share them wisely as opposed to knocking the population dead until they just quit knocking.

Once upon a time I started a “Save the Crappie” campaign but people kept showing up with beer batter and tartar sauce. (I love that joke so much I used it twice.)

Hopefully you have enjoyed this excerpt of “let’s get to know”.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Summertime smallies 6-19

(Above: Bronzeback with a side of salad. A few of these fish were sporting some plump bellies.)

Smallmouth are an amazing fish species. A lot of fight is packed into these finned beasts with bronze coloring and today I decided to step out of my bucket-bashing mode to try for some bronzeback glory. Chasing after these fish is not always successful for me and I have to brave the skunk sometimes and just go for it. Love it when the effort pays off in bronze!

(Above: Another smallie a bit on the lean side compared to the others. Even some of the dink smallmouth had big ol guts making this one look anorexic.)

Senkos and swimbaits seemed to do the trick. The bite was fairly steady throughout the day. Typically I do well for smallmouth at certain times of the year or certain times of the day. It is rare that I get a day like today where the bronze seemed to bite all day in the summer like this. Baits were sized in the 3” slot with brown\chartreuse colors paying off in the first few casts. I experimented a little with darker colors before going back to the brown\chartreuse.

I love the way smallmouth can put the bend on a fishing pole. These fish are kind of like the Popeye’s in the water world to me as they don’t seem all that tough at first glance. Then one hammers the bait and you have to hold on for dear life. Land the fish and you may exclaim…”I swear this 14’er smallie was going to be a 5lb largemouth.”

Smallmouth are not the most common fish species in Colorado so lakes and ponds that contain them are far less than say largemouth bass and stocked trout. In fact, I could probably tell you more walleye and possible muskie fishing spots than I could viable smallmouth fisheries. So we cherish the ones we have.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic

Friday, June 18, 2010

Underwater test - take two…Meet Mr. Bass

(Above: Video embed from my youtube page. There are nearly 50 videos uploaded here. Please feel free to browse when you get bored. Comments, rates appreciated.)

Ever wanted to hang out underwater and see what ol Mr. Bass is up to? This video I shot recently captures a few moments of the fish hanging out in its living room more or less. Not sure how I will work this into a video montage so why not post it on the blogilicious instead of letting it fall on the cutting room floor?

Underwater digital cameras under $250 are getting better and better. The batteries last more than a few minutes and even I have managed to run a few tests without destroying my Fuji WP. Filming in U.W. mode is not the easiest thing in the world but the footage is kind of cool when all is said and done.

Music Credit: “Killing Time” Kevin MacLeod ( – This is a new (to me at least) freesource site that I am sampling music from. Let me know what you think via e-mail or comments section.

Good luck and good fishing!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Vaughn’s First Catch

In many circles I am known as “that guy who fishes a lot” and friends, co-workers and even neighbors will take the time to share photos of their catches with me. It brings me great joy to see others enjoy and appreciate the sport of fishing. It is even better when these fish catches come from children, as they are the future of the sport.

(Above: Vaughn sporting his first catch, trophy bluegill, with pride and was insistent on releasing the fish himself. Soon he will be rigging spinnerbaits for big ol bass. This kid has got the stuff!)

This picture was sent to me by a co-worker in Missouri. His nephew caught and released his first fish over the weekend and is still smiling ear to ear. Every time Vaughn sees Uncle Mike he asks, “When are we going fishing?”

Way to go Vaughn. I wish you many fish catches in your future.

This is a good solid brick in the foundation of Vaughn’s life in many positive ways. Eventually the reigns of water recreation and management will be handed down to future generations. Fishing is just one healthy activity for youngsters away from the video games and other elements that may be less desired or even unhealthy for that matter. Got a nephew, niece or youngster in your life? Take them fishing this summer…oh and don’t forget to take pictures.

Good luck and good fishing!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Grassy shoreline buckets

(Above: Check out the rear dorsal fin. It looks like it has some crazy bullet hole through it.)

When it comes to tossing gear from the grassy shoreline, fantastic plastics are my number one go-to bait. Weedless plastic rigs run through the shoreline muck almost effortlessly and can match just about any forage type. The fish above was caught on a 5” Senko, green watermelon seed (green with black dots). First cast out to the structure and Wham!

The weedbed and moss-line is starting to emerge and this creates natural areas of structure that fish of all sizes are attracted too. I cast at these natural areas trying to reach the edges on the side and front of the moss. The weedbed can be run through if not too dense. The speed can vary quite a bit as long as you don’t run too slow to get the gear all mucked up or run too fast for the fish to react. I like a quick lift and slow drop if that helps.

(Above: Grass bucket number two hanging between two trees and trying to pick off the smaller panfish hugging the shoreline.)

Sight-fishing is where the real action is for the shorebanger in my opinion. This is where a basser stalks the shoreline casting at shallow structure points or fish patrolling in the shallows. This fish (see above) was cruising between two olive trees and nabbing a small bluegill here and there with ambush-like surges. I cast once, twice, three times…nothing. The fish seems to be preoccupied with the small gills. Cast one more time and wham!…

“Oh man!” I exclaim in confused frustration seeing a smaller fish on the end of my line and the big cruiser near by. “That little @#$%^ came out of nowhere!”

The smaller fish came out of the cattails actually and was being nosed by the larger fish. I played the smaller fish for a second or two and then lifted it out as soon as it approached the raised shelf supporting the grassy trail. A soft belly hold release into the shallow water nearby and then repositioned for another cast. My eyes scan for the fish. Nothing. Wait for a few minutes and then move down to the other side of the tree.

“There he is!” I hold my breath and toss out the pumpkin. Another Wham-Happy ending.

It feels good to almost get this bassin’ jones out of my system. The nasty twitch in my elbow that started in January is finally starting to subside. Feels good indeed.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Photos from the field

The summer season has been met with the same severe weather that seemed to be present this winter. If wind was not at hurricane force levels the hail and tornado warnings would arrive instead. There were one or two days of sunshine but I remember setting my 10lb anchor and still drifting at about 5 knots on the tooner. In retrospect, I am very happy for the fish I have caught this far in 2010.

There are always shots that don’t make it into my fishing posts that are not ready for prime time. I submit those to you now in this excerpt of Photos from the Field.

(Above: A cormorant had infiltrated a flock of pelicans. It looks like one of them wasn’t too happy about it.)

Walking the trail one day I see what looks like a large brown leaf with two black dots. Upon closer inspection it turns out to be a polymephus moth emerging from it’s cocoon. My guess is the moth was recovering from emerging and needed some time before it could fly. I moved the moth from the center of the trail by cradling its body with two dried stalks of grass to a nearby clearing

First and foremost I keep my eyes open for the dangerous things in the great wild such as rattlesnakes, mountain lions and of course rabid left handed squirrels. Keeping my eyes open also helps me spot the amazingly interesting things in the great wild as well. Take this fungus flower for example (see below). Never have I spotted fungus in this area let alone a fungus flower. After exhausting a whole 5 minutes trying to figure out what type of fungus this is I decided to move on with my life and re-line pole #3.

(Above: This is a fungus flower with a 12-inch radius. It is rare that I see these in this area at all let alone one of this size.)

All “hail” broke loose…

Dodging blizzards was bad enough but now the snow has solidified and an be downright painful. The eastern part of the state has seen tennis ball sized hail. That would knock an angler down if even if him\her were fishing with a hard hat. The Front Range is getting hailstorms in marble size.

is one day that I was glad not to be on the water.)

A few of these hailstorms have had some serious volume and literally leaving drifts of ice. Ripping through trees and windows there was a bit of cleanup after a storm like this.

(Above: This was a storm where we battened down the hatches and prayed they would hold. Nature can be fearfully awesome at times. Note to self: Get thicker hatches.)

In closing I want to once again thank the two or three avid readers of my blog. Hopefully you find this material interesting, entertaining and creative. The backlog of articles, items and photos is continuing to be a problem and I find myself having to trim down a few pieces to get them in as well as abandoning some projects altogether for 2010. I will do my best to date fishing reports that fall outside of a week or two when posting on my blogilicious.

Good luck and good fishing.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Der Monster Slab

(Above: By far one of my better crappie specimens. This year I have vowed to target crappie more…just expected them earlier in the year.)

Colorado has a bounty of fishing in a wide range of species. Big crappies are not something that I come across often but will go to some lengths to get them these days. There are a few lakes that have all of the right factors to make big crappies possible. It was only a year or two ago that I started seeking these places out.

This particular fish was caught using a drop shot rig and a 1/16oz white Mister Twister grub. The hook was tied off at two feet. Drop through the edge of the wood structure and bounce lightly off the bottom. The water was about 8 to 10 feet deep.

The real trick for dialing in crappie is the depth and finding the hot areas. Electronics, spending the time searching and even clear water helps me a great deal. I still consider myself a crappie novice but working my way up the ranks in regards to size and quality of these fish. Crappies are really cool looking fish in my view. One of the main reasons I started focusing on them more. @#$%^ dig the way these fish look!

M name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

More solo cleanup

(Above: I am willing to do anything to make picking up trash more popular…even fish with a fly rod.)

This year I am making a vow to clean up every spot that I fish. Maybe it is just a little bit of cleanup on one day or a lot of cleanup on another. I have made excuses in the past while stepping over this piece of litter or that hunk of junk. No more. My tackle bag will be loaded with at least a few of those plastic shopping bags for small trash pickups and a few 33gallon Hefties are put in the truck for full scale cleanup emergencies.

(Above: I share a lake with some duck hunters and they really shoot up the place when the season is in full swing. The rules say to pick up the shells but I still manage to wrangle up a pile about this size every year. The green scrap of plastic could have come from two counties away and brought by wind.)

Another issue with my cleanup this year has been the fact that blizzard season was extended a bit longer. When we were facing that five-year drought cycle I had gotten spoiled by those sixty-degree days in February. Being able to clean areas even in late January when snakes and bugs are completely dormant made the late winter\early spring season fly right by. With constant blizzards and falling snow I was barely able to get cleanup projects going until late April and even early May. Now I am looking at early summer and just getting started.

Turning the tide is about changing the mentality of a small few. Maybe if folks started glamorizing pictures of trash haul outs and the crazy things they find\disposed of out there on the water it will help. The majority understands the importance of clean nature areas and they are just as disgusted by litter. But that small percentage still doesn’t seem to care. They can pack the beer and snacks in but don’t seem to have the energy or thought to haul it out. Maybe there should be a bounty or severe penalty for this.

There is actually.

(Above: There is a $1000 fine for littering in Colorado but the enforcement part is a little subject and difficult to prove or prosecute without concrete evidence. This complicates matters immensely.)

Fight the battles you can win…fishing is low priority in regards to some waters and in those instances your help means so much.

Adopting the waters that treat you well can make a lot of difference. Don’t wait for some organized, promotionalized and socialized cleanup event to happen at your fishing spots before picking up the trash. Get out there and do what you can now. Let’s face it, big, organized cleanups are nice but they only cover a few places once a year. This barely makes a dent in the situation. There are thousands of anglers in Colorado visiting all sorts of waters on a routine basis. Engaging the masses to “clean what you can” is an even better if not the ultimate solution. This is not stating you shouldn’t attend the cleanup festivals. These are great too. Anything that focuses on trash pick up is great. What are you doing in the meantime? Are you waiting for someone to organize a cleanup project at your fishing hole? Don’t wait…just do it!

The best place to start is at your fishing spot in small amounts. Haul out what you can in small amounts every trip. Trust me it will make a dent and you will see a difference long term. If you don’t make a dent, maybe what you need is a more thorough “scrub” once a year. Not a lot of folks are willing to do this solo. This may be a good candidate for the cleanup party.

(Above: This may be a bit more gritty than some want to deal with. I want to caution all that tread in the heavy cover cleanup. I do a full scrub here every year and it aint ever pretty. Note the small children fishing only a few yards away from this mess in the upper right of the photo.)

Take this swampy cove here. The wind and lake current will focus the trash into this swampy cove. This one spot could be a 15-minute chore all by itself. Next time I am packing some dishwashing gloves. You know…the kind that go up to your elbow?

(Above: Nature adapts to a lot of abuse humans throw at it constantly. If we all can lay down our personal agendas for a moment and give the planet a hand, the nature areas will be even more amazing.)

After 10 years of emails, phone calls and roundtables…this is the only battle I seem to make any ground on whatsoever. So if you are like me and a little pissed off at the way people treat Colorado’s super-awesome-totally-amazing-natural-ultra-wild-and completely fantastic open space and fishing places? Pick up that trash instead of stepping over it. Swearing is the first step but picking that @#$%^& up is really the way to drive things home.

Yes, it is lame to pick up after people and apparently there are rules that say we cannot shoot litterbugs. Even firing a warning shot is illegal in most Colorado counties. Confrontation will only lead to trouble. Simply picking up the trash is the ultimate resolution and helps your personal backyard fishery out in so many ways. Maybe if folks glorified the “trash haul out” more and the “fish take out” less, we could reach optimum fishing in Colorado.

Good Luck and good fishing.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rolling into post spawn (The hangover of my annual FISHmas)

(Above: I love it when the fish behaves and I can curl my fingertips underneath allowing almost 100% of the fish in view. #$%^ love fishing!)

Most of the Front Range waters that I fish are now showing signs of post spawn. The fish weigh a bit less and not quite as glorious as their prespawn form. Only the desperate males still cling to un-pollinated nests while bigger bass try to fend off the urge of busting through the schools of fry. Post spawn to me resembles a hangover on New Years Day. A few big waters are still sporting spawn action, “The Q” for example. But I will shy away from those waters now as those fish are taking some serious punishment.

After the spawn, bass will tend to rest a day or two and then go on feeding binges. These feeding binges vary by weather and forage patterns for the most part. The rest of this behavior is harder to predict. Rather than trying to dial in the best time to go for that big bite, I say, “Get out there now and be ready when the big fish does bite.”

This fish (shown above) was caught on the jig combo. I expected minnow and baitfish presentations to get the big fish but it still may be a bit too early. The water was heavy stain from rain and wash out so my lure choice was limited to darker colors or something with some halogen power. Going through the tackle bag I threw a variety of spinnerbaits, plastics and jigs. Jigs seemed to get the bigger fish for some reason. The only puzzle pieces I could come up with was: “fish hanging on the bottom” and “dark color + sound is a winning combo”. Bumping the jig along the bottom created more sound than the other rigs and may have been the key in this heavy stained water. The size and catch ratio for the jig pattern was beating the vibration of the spinnerbait in a virtual rock-paper-scissors dunking contest. Soon…the baitfish pattern will be money.

Note 1: As much as I like crankbaits, the double treble setup is my least favorite pattern on the inflatable pontooner style boat. This isn’t so much a result of fear but more the fact I am tired of patching @#$%^. The whole time out there I was thinking the Rat-L trap would be worth a toss or two…from the shoreline maybe.

Note 2: I better start mixing things up before my two or three readers get really tired of seeing all these big bass pictures. Really, I do go after more species than bass but I @#$% love fishing for big bass!

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

Monday, June 7, 2010

What sign? – A minor rant

Very few of the lakes in the Front Range and Metro area come with additional regulations meant to help anglers and the fishing in general. One of these places has a “boating while fishing only” regulation on the signs posted all over the place. The local management spends a decent chunk of change on the installation and repair of these signs so it is a bit frustrating when I see people’s absolute disregard for them.

(This is the only established port in area and where "Barry" came in and out of. That is my gear at the base. Just had to grab a shot while the moment was ripe.)

Take Barry Boater here…just got himself a shiny new red pontooner and taking lil Jr. for a paddle. They went all over the lake. First to the east side and then to west side, hugging the shoreline at times and floating out in the middle at others. Little Jr. was having a ball getting sun burnt hanging out on the mini-platform designed for the electric motor.

“I don’t think they have caught a single fish.” I mutter watching them from a distance.

A few hours later I just so happened to be at the port-in\port out area just put in the volunteers and local management while Barry Boater comes paddling in. Right away I see the reason for their poor fishing success…they didn’t have any poles.

“How did you guys do out there?” I ask with a little tongue in cheek sarcasm. “Catch any fish?”

“Naw. We weren’t fishing.” He says nonchalantly. “Just got the new boat here and wanted to try it out.

“No poles, huh?” I start to chuckle a bit losing my poker face. “Did you check out this sign on the way in? Says here you should probably try to fish a lil while boating.”

Barry looks at me completely perturbed, the audacity of anyone pointing out rules and signs even with a non-ranger, non-badge-carrying smile on their face. Really this was a minor infraction and lil Jr. was having a ball out there. Out of all the things in the world that I could complain about this was so far at the bottom of the stack my anger and frustration was too lazy to reach that far down to make this a major issue. This guy is going to get off with some mild hazing.

“Just got the boat and wanted to try it out.” He repeats a bit more forcefully.

“Yep.” I acknowledge with a nod. “It’s a nice pontooner. Got one myself and don’t blame you a bit. If a ranger sees you he may give you a bit of grief. Just slap a fishing pole on the side next time and they won’t give you a second look.” This is news he can use.

He just looks at me with a bold frown and packs up. I’m probably coming off as a complete tool. I am often misunderstood and wipe the instance from my mind and continue fishing. Just then a ranger on a mountain bike speeds across the trail and practically ambushes me for a fishing license check. If you have not seen Ninja-style park rangers on mountain bikes…you do not fish in Longmont. This guy meant business and I presented the proper credentials instantly thanking him for his efforts. For an added anecdote I mentioned “Barry” and the fact I was giving the guy the “business” for not fishing.

“I don’t think that is a regulation.” The ranger exclaimed handing me my license.

“It’s right there on the @#$%^ signs all over the #$%^ place!!!” I was a bit unnerved as the conversation went on and might have come across a bit belligerent. When the ranger unclipped the holster strap to his side arm it reminded me that some people might not be as concerned about certain specific boating regulations.

“Pick your battles.” I remind myself. “This is so not worth a bullet to the leg. A bullet to the leg if I am lucky.”

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hello Summer Pattern!

Wow, where did this heat come from? One day we were are foggy, wind and drizzle. Next thing you know I am fishing in 80-degree temps. Colorado weather usually keeps me on my toes but this year it has me darn near schizophrenic. Some days I don’t know whether to bring an extra jacket or a dog sled.

The warm weather over the weekend however shifted things beautifully into more of a summertime pattern that was explosive. High temperatures leapt from high 60’s and low 70’s to mid 80’s catapulting activity across the spectrum. Bugs are going crazy and so are the fish. I could see fish suspending on the surface looking for that airborne snack. My mouth salivates in the early summer bliss.

(Above: Spectacular panfish! In the lower right of the picture you may or may not see the thick yellow fly line. No biggie.)

Reaching for the long rod first, the fly is technically a shrimp pattern that I am trying to pass off as a minnow. There is only one of these in my box of four or five flies. Second roll cast and I pull out the panfish shown above. I believe this to be a sunfish\bluegill hybrid…open to debate)

(Above: White crappie on the fly. The white crappies are not impressive in this pond for some reason and one of the many things that I ponder in my Zen-like state. White crappie can be extremely brilliant fish in the 14’er range. This guy is barely 8-inches nose to fin.)

(Above: Chunky bass on the fly. He was mixed up with the panfish, this may be a case of identity crisis or just another wannabe bucket hanging with the forage until it is large enough to eat them.)

At this point I am working a combination of rods and gear from the pontoon boat. I purchase an additional rod stamp every year so that I can legally transition two rods in the water at the same time whether it is trolling or even letting one rod bounce the bottom for a while as I rig something else up. After a handful of fish on the fly the bites stop coming. Switch back to the jig combo and get a spastic bite. Turns out to be a slab of a black crappie.

(Above: Fantastic black crappie slab that hit the spin gear. I don’t come across crappie like this very often. Amazing looking fish. Did I mention that I drove 100 miles for these guys earlier in the year and completely blanked!?!)

What is nice about the multi-rod transition is being able to bounce from one scenario or setup to another on the next cast. When the panfish bite is a no go I fall back to bass or vice-versa. I may find success on one pattern or another or I can work the area pulling two different types of action out of the same spot. Being versatile is something I try to improve on every year. Hopefully my fish pictures over the years reinforce the fact that improvement is always possible.

Sure I caught a few bass along the way. The jig combo seemed to pick up bites from anywhere. These are some custom jigs that I have been tinkering with after some of my favorite commercial brands have been eliminated from the market. Close but not perfect.

(Above: Casting for bass is not just a sideline sport for me. It is pure addiction.)

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Decent pike rounding out my Two for Tuesday

(Above: Another photo lead in. Colorado offers a fantastic diversity of fishing and the majority of my fishing is done right here in the metro area.)

This is the second part of the day where I caught the big fatty bucket on the previous post. After I had typed so much about the bass there wasn’t much room to cover anything about the rest of the day. I will go ahead and tack on a second part here for more closure.

The action started out dismal and bites were extremely hard to come by. No one else was catching fish either on the calm, flat water, which was starting to rattle my conscious more and more. After picking a few spots and search casting methodically with no love I decided to switch up to some run and gun tactics. Most of the good sections and casting spots were locked up by 7AM so I had to poke here and there on whatever water was available. Throwing my consistent baits for this place over and over with no results.

By afternoon the wind was picking up and I had scoured nearly ¾ of the lake. On my way back I picked up the bass. Now I had walked back to the dam and noticed an empty spot in the large sandy beach area dotted with heavy stump structure. Give a cast out and Wham! I feel he heavy bite on the jig combo. Then the surging force kicks in sending the drag on my reel screaming.

“Oh that is sweet!”

Land the fish and get in the shameless photo op.

Video of the Tuesday Pike

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Big bass on the downsize

(Above: Big bass with the photo lead in on this article. This bass is downright glorious in my opinion and one of my bigger fish of the year.)

Big bass are getting harder to come by these days. Every time that I think I have things figured out, Mother Nature throws me another curve ball or some other gear slinger gets in there ahead of me. Some places are getting more difficult and I find myself really having to dig deep for big fish. One or two bass fishing places in Colorado have additional management such as catch and release or AFLO (artificial fly and lure only) management that can make all the difference in the world in regards to size and quality of fish. The only element to factor in is the fishing pressure.

One of the things that I do for pressured fish is downsize. I know the rule of thumb is that big fish like big baits but heavily pressured fish are wary of the usual garb. After you run your average sized bait (or even over-sized bait) by a fish you have sighted and it simply shrugs, downsize the lure to something in the 4 or even 3-inch size and give it another pass. You might be surprised how many fish I catch on the smaller stuff.

This fish was caught on a 4” mini-lizard Texas-rigged with a 1/8oz bullet weight. Zoom mini-lizard in watermelon seed to be more precise but I was ready to go to black or blue on the second pass. This is not a bait that I use very often but definitely one of my better pinch hitter presentations when fish get timid from heavy pressure.

Now for the crazy part…

Fish battles rarely go as planned and I knew that things could get a bit dicey with the heavy cover involved. The fish was pointing towards the cattails giving an open alley for me to land the fish. The cast was right on target with minimal splash. The retrieve was slow and as soon as it reached the strike zone…wham!
I close the gap by reeling as fast as I can and moving forward. For a second I have the fish stunned and things are going my way. The fish pulls away but I mange to turn the head in a bit of quick maneuvering. The fish turns sideways as if giving up. Pulling the fish towards me I reach down quickly to make the grab.

Grabbed half a second too late. The fish simply winked at me before turning its heavy body and then running straight through the wood structure to me left. As if to taunt me the fish the fish exploded out of the water a few yards past the wood structure.

My head floods with panic as I see the fish splashing in the distance. Heart racing I can only think of two solutions: bring the fish back through the sticks or run the pole through the cover instead. Not wanting to risk damage to the fish I quickly start threading the rod through the two branches.

“You are going to lose this fish!” The panic consumes my brain. “Just don’t break the line. Hopefully the fish spits the bait.”

As I nearly have the pole woven through the debris on my left an enormous splash erupts from the water near the second wood structure. It was the same fish and somehow managed to wrap itself through the second wood structure.

The whole scene made me feel like one of those crazy villains chasing Scooby-Do around in some cartoon. Now it was struggling to break free and only a few feet away from me once again. Instinct took over and nothing else mattered but landing that fish right now.

Reaching down quickly once again this time my hands feel the lips of the big fatty bass. Jubilation, relief and even laughter consumed me while I did the photo op and release. This is one fish that I wish there would have been more time to tape and weigh. Fishing and fish handling damages fish whether anglers want to admit that or not. In most cases anglers keep the contact minimal and the fish recover quickly. My shameless photo ops of a few pictures, quick video and release concern me enough that I tend to forgo the statistics.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Still Fishing – Early Season Highlights 2010

This has been a tough year. How I have managed to catch any fish at all in 2010 is surprising. But in between blizzards there were a few decent moments captured on either picture or video format. These moments have been compiled into a video montage of sorts and submitted for your viewing.

The highlight montages are easier for me to put together compared to the day\location specific episodes. With more time (more money wouldn’t hurt either) I could really crank this stuff out. Hope you enjoy the material that is posted on my blog and youtube page.

Good luck and good fishing.