Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Mattsabasser Scout Report: Stalker Lake
There are a number of lakes in Colorado that I have chased rumors about and listened to whispers for years if not nearly a decade. One of these places is Stalker Lake. After many failed attempts this year for earth shattering-off the wall fishing success I decided to finally pull the trigger on one of my top 10 “Must Scout” places. Fishing places are sacred to me and it is rare that I share fishing notes on this level. This is not meant to be the end all article of this place but merely the info I am willing to share from my first dry run of the place.
The CDOW warm water stocking and sampling reports are impressive and report a few quality bass in the +5lb range. Located in Wray Colorado, Stalker offers some isolated warmwater fishing with big fish opportunity. The lake is roughly 30 surface acres and as the sign says Stalker Lake contains a wide mix of warmwater species such as catfish, largemouth bass, and stocked trout are common catches for anglers here. Tiger muskie were also stocked or so the legends go. Stalker also contains a healthy population of red ear sunfish, which is only available in a few locations in Colorado.
Large trips take a bit of planning in regards to family and work. Don tends to plan trips around his wife’s busy hospital schedule as where I mostly fish around work, fire drills at work and whenever things get piles up at work. Moon phase is also factored in and more of a distraction at times. All things considered we picked the weekend of 5/15 around the new moon phase. Leaving Thursday we would fish Friday and look at other options for Saturday if necessary. To pull these trips off we need to lock in work release forms and many layers of acceptance before proceeding. Weather patterns can change quickly and within a week conditions went from ultra-fab on Monday to “Dude, gear up for heavy wind, rain and possible hail.” “Hail!?”
That covers the preliminary introductions and research. Now the trip begins.
Thursday was good. Stiff breeze. Nothing you couldn’t play through. Friday started out well, flat water topping close to 59\60 degrees. Air temp was going to range from around 50 degrees early to 65 degrees later in the day. Wind would build later. That was a given. Gear up went smooth and The MAD Fishing Show launched as the sun broke over the tree line.
The lake has a mix of mud\gravel bottom and the weedbed can get heavy in some spots during the summer. Early in the season this water is wide-open and easy casting. The shoreline offers some tree and stump structure but most of the fish cling to the shelf structure at various depths. Anglers can reach 99% of the shoreline, which adds to the reasoning why fish hold in the deeper water areas.
As far as gear goes we brought the kitchen sink and then some. I started with a prime Rat-L Trap, spinnerbaits, plastics and started working through the rotation. Don started getting hits on his jig-n-craw combo so my game changed to follow suit. The morning was starting to shape up with a few hits here and there.
Don releases the first fish and within a few minutes hooks into a second. The rod doubles over and he quickly repositions the boat with one twist of electric motor throttle. The fish surfaces once, twice and then is landed. Thinking this was just the beginning of a beauty bucket day we didn’t bother with a tape and weigh. Guesstimate 18-inches and very close to 5lb, as this fish was very dense.
Shortly after this fish the winds kicked up and everything seemed to slant about 35-degrees to one side. Wind was racing across the lake at 30-50mph gusts. This was blowing the tooner boats across the lake whether we were anchored or not. Positioning the boat was more difficult and casting was near impossible at times.
I was getting bites and landing fish but stuck in “dink town”. Working areas for several moments would produce two or three smaller chunks. To be honest, most of the day was spent weeding through smaller fish for both of us. The sunfish imitations I brought didn’t pan out on the first run. 95% of the tackle bag seemed to get no love whatsoever. The next trip I hope to get more than a few hours to fish before the heavy gusts kick in.
One of the lures that I brought along was the Bill Lewis “Hi-Def” Rat-L-Trap in the sunfish pattern. This thing is a dead ringer for the red ear sunfish, right? Even though I am not crazy about the trebles the color pattern was exactly what I was looking for. No bites on this seven-dollar lure. Maybe next time. I won’t give up on this sunfish pattern completely as it such a close match.
The cold front didn’t help things either. Water temps were on the edge of prime time but now falling back towards the mid 50’s. Once the heavy winds set in conditions turned brutal. My arms were spent from rowing and Don had burnt his trolling motor battery down in half the time it normally takes. By the end of the day were windblown and eager to get back to the boat launch.
If you fish Stalker Lake, please respect it. Release the larger bass to help maintain the quality of the sport. Stalker Lake is a good bass fishing lake but has a lot of potential to be a super lunker lake if everyone works together. The locals can still harvest fish per their long cherished tradition in the form of the plentiful catfish, stocked trout and even the occasional 15’er bass.
We met a lot of really cool people there in Wray and I may be a few weeks behind on the e-mail thank you’s. Lodging and dining can be a real adventure when visiting the eastern rural areas of this amazing state. Research and phone calls paid off big time and we really got lucky and avoided any possible major problems and even got into some of the local flavor.
If you would like to taste some of the local flavor in Wray Colorado, I highly suggest 4th and Main “Upstairs Downtown”. This place is a diamond in the rough and offers good food and atmosphere in what most would consider a very small rural town in eastern Colorado. The place is always hopping and the service is quick-hold the B.S. Cold beer, big screen TV’s, even a salad bar…something for everyone. Just so happens to be located at 4th and Main. Check ‘em out at their website.
Eastern Colorado is a huge contrast to the rugged mountains of the Front Range. The amazing diversity of this state astounds me constantly and I wish that I could taste it all. The plains are the grain-belt\bread basket of this country (and parts of the world for that matter) and equally amazing as the majestic mountains most associate with the state. The mountains are pretty amazing but Colorado also holds a western piece of that great plain and I think that is @##%^ awesome!
Good luck and good fishing.
Posted by Coloradocasters