Thursday, October 28, 2010

Emergency order: Rusty Crawfish – No Transport!

ALAMOSA, Colo. - Colorado Division of Wildlife Director Tom Remington today signed an emergency order prohibiting the transport of live crayfish from Sanchez Reservoir State Wildlife Area in Costilla County following the discovery of invasive rusty crayfish at the popular southern Colorado reservoir.

DOW invasive species sampling technicians collected several specimens of rusty crayfish during routine shoreline surveys in late August and early September. Subsequent testing performed at the Aquatic Animal Health Lab in Brush in September identified the specimens as rusty crayfish. The Illinois State Museum confirmed the finding on Oct. 14.

"Rusty crayfish are a tenacious invasive species that have the potential to impact streams and lakes," said Greg Gerlich, the DOW's aquatic section manager. "We need the public's help to prevent this noxious pest from being moved to other places across the state."

The discovery of rusty crayfish at Sanchez Reservoir marks the third location where the species has been detected in Colorado. State wildlife officials first discovered the species in 2009 in the Yampa River near Steamboat Springs--prompting a basin-wide emergency prohibition on the take of live crayfish.

Link to full announcement on CDOW website.

This species, which is native to the Ohio River basin, can often be identified by two rust colored marks on its mid-back area, near the area where one would place a thumb and finger to pick the animal up.

Matt’s Rant: Every time you turn around there is another invasive species attacking our wildlife areas and natural habitats here in Colorado. These invasive species displace the native species and disturb the natural order. How they get here is usually through some sort of human introduction only to learn much later the ramifications.

Rusty crawfish seem to be a badass version of the original crawfish with larger claws and a serious attitude towards the native versions. Left unchecked, these crawfish eventually will overpopulate and completely eliminate the native versions. Will this be the end of all humankind and Earth as we know it? No. But it may take yet another bite out of the overall quality in the habitat thus hurting fishing overall.

Most fish that rely on crawfish for forage will adapt to rusty crawfish as they have in so many areas where these warmwater fish and rusty crawfish share habitat. However, many of the fish species have acclimated themselves to the native versions and may adapt slowly to the invasive crayfish. How fish react to the different bacteria as well as aquatic vegetation loss that rusty crawfish are associated with is yet another.

At the very least this will create extra restrictions, additional regulations, more red tape at additional cost to managing agencies that eventually get passed down somewhere. The impact is felt to everyone that frequents our watersheds. My biggest fear is that there will be another layer of scrutiny added to anglers and more waters will be closed to our access.

This is yet another good reason to stop taking aquatic organisms from one area and moving them to another particularly crawfish. If you fish with crawfish for bait, please take additional time to catch them from the same lake you are using them in.

Good luck and good fishing.

Links, references and acknowledgements:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall returns to the Creek

A taste of fall and another run on the creek. This time I checked out the section around Lawson and Dumont. This is a park and cast scene with a lot of rugged rock hopping along the way. Having fished a good deal of this 50-mile creek, this one small section for some reason was left untouched in regards to my creek excursions. Gear in tow I headed up looking for the right exits and a place to fish.

(Above: Quick little map shot. Red arrows mark the exits and the road turns to dirt from there. You can drive a short distance but most of this area is traveled by foot only.)

Traffic was relatively good on the way up. Ski season has not gotten underway so I-70 still looks like an interstate as opposed to a parking lot. Make the exit near Lawson and look for the dirt road leading to a small walk-in park sponsored by the Colorado Lottery funds.

(Above: The road\foot trail along the one of the newer walk-in sections of the creek. Foot access is easy with a handful of water pockets along the way.)

Walking down the road and looking at the creek two things stood out more than anything else. Fall colors were kicking in and the creek was low. Very low. One element would put things in my favor. The other would take all of that advantage away. Right away it was tough going just finding fish.

I managed to plink a few fish, nothing outrageous or spectacular but just enough reason to wet the hands and keep moving forward.

(Above: Little brown trout from the upper stretch going back into the wet stuff.)

The Dumont section offers a few secluded parking spots but you are fishing right next to the interstate. You would think that would be annoying but the sound of rushing water drowns most of it out. Once you start casting everything fades into the background.

Fall colors can be exceptional in Colorado but as the branches begin to shed, the leaf debris in the water becomes my nemesis and foe bringing challenge and frustration. A fair percentage of my casts would get fouled up with the deciduous fallout. When I would get positioned perfectly to cast into the spot, a gust of wind would hit dusting the entire area with leaves. Nothing to do but battle it out and then move on. There seemed to always be a spot worth casting into up ahead. This is the siren song of moving trout water.

(Above: Crystal clear pools of emerald and transparent. Some spots look so good you know they have to fish in them.)

Eventually I fell into the groove and found a pattern that the fish seemed to like. It wasn’t easy as the fish were so much more wary in the low and very clear water. Luckily I dialed something in before reaching the few less pressured spots with more promise. Cast, plink! Cast, Plink! Cast Plink and then move further upstream.

(Above: Chubby brown and fall colors. Sometimes I work way too hard for smaller fish. Must fish.)

Browns ruled the day with the cutbows giving a rise then a scoff. More than a few fish would seem to chase or follow the presentations rather than commit on anything I threw. However it was nice to see a few fish take something. Sporting their fall colors is a nice touch as well.

Many of the male browns were staging for spawn and I pondered trying to capture some of this on film. But with the fish so wary it would be nearly impossible and decided to move on and keep fishing. With a foot or more depth it might have been worth a shot and not so intrusive.

(Above: Release shot of another brownie in shallow water. A few of these areas were mere inches in depth. An ominous sign this time of year.)

As the afternoon settled the smell of smoke started to mix with that of fallen leaves and pine. The sun became orange and hazy in the sky signaling that a forest fire may be burning on a mountain ridge not too far off (The Grand County fire to be exact).

“Better head out before the road down turns into a real mess.” I said hopping over rock after rock to reach the truck to leave.

Pulling off the exit I am met with a mass of automobiles. Jostling for position one person let’s me in and I give a thank you wave. Slowly crawling down the eastbound lane a large sign flashes “Fire Operations in Progress-Expect Delays”.

“Oh great.” I exclaimed. “This could take some time.”

However, as soon as everyone passed the sign, traffic picked up and speeds returned to the white knuckle, foot to the floor, mountain race that typically ensues on I-70. People were simply slowing down and bunching up just to read the sign.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mitchell-Mojo combo. Not a gear review, more of a gear ramble.

Rod: 7’-0” St. Croix (Mojo Bass), Medium\Fast [paid-99.00, Outdoor World (Basspro)]
Reel-Mitchell 300X [paid 39.99-Wal Mart]

Needed another M-FA rod for some of the faster baits that I like to run. St. Croix makes a good product and I’m glad they came down a little in the price range with the Mojo. Admittedly this is not as solid as their higher warranty stuff but a steal for 99 bucks. The split grip is pretty sweet even for an old school guy like myself. Already slingin’ it out there for bass and trout with beauty performance. For more on how rods are made and useful facts, feel free to refer to the links provided below.

Quite a few of my bass rods are 6’-6” and Medium-Heavy action. For some reason I like to dig pig bass out of heavy cover and heavy\stubby gets it done. Faster action rods however should be in the 7’-0” class in my opinion to take advantage of the extra play at the end.

After throwing heavy\stubby most of the year a 7’ wag-tail rod can really whip a spinnerbait or smaller swimbait out there and make the retrieve back seem to last forever. Puts a big smile on my face and I kinda feel like “Bob” the Enzyte guy.

(Above: Graphics team called in sick. I bet those @#$%^ are fishing!!! Probably going to get sued by the Enzyte folks for the pic rip. Thanks guys.)

Here’s a link to the St. Croix website below.

Matched up with a Mitchell 300X I hoped to balance things out with a modestly priced reel. I have gotten great mileage out of the Mitchell Avocet II S2000 in the past (this is a 20 dollar reel and I know the Pro-Am guys are really cringing right now) and wanted to test out the 300X. Not a believer in the 300X yet as I expect a lot for 40 bucks but its holding up well. Quick change spool feature and a few other cool things about this reel may get all bla bla bla’d about if I find the time.

Folks might be surprised in regards to the amount paid for my fishing equipment. It is far less than you might think. Gas, entrance fees, lures and line add up quickly. If I bought expensive rods and reels it would cripple both my budget and my game. My preference is to get quality gear in a price range that I can afford and then use the @#$%^ out of it. This is where many anglers disagree with me. Pro-am anglers or guys with a bit more money willing to lean on one or two rods the whole season will and should opt for the higher end stuff. My fishing style is more kamikaze and constantly wrought with misfortune, carelessness and even theft. I have never broken gear on a fish but have come close on a few catfish. Cliffs, catfish and buggars take more of my gear than anything else but I am always “good to go” with a backup. Wait to fish? That’s just crazy talk. Must fish!

Gear reviews? I don’t really do gear reviews. My gear posts are more “gear rambles”. It took me a long time to find my own style and means (or justification for that matter) to support my angling addiction. It works for me but not the best advice out there. Some good advice is this: Generally you will get what you pay for. Get the best value that you can find in a price range that you can afford. It also helps to take far better care of it than I do by avoiding cliffs, theft and catfish. Like it, love it, hate it…I must fish.

Good luck and Good Fishing.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Postcards From the Campfire

Once upon a time I considered myself quite the outdoorsman doing my fair share of trekking, camping and exploring the great outdoors of Idaho, Montana and Colorado. My skills were not particularly impressive, as I could not start a fire without a lighter or half pound of magnesium shavings, flint and maybe even another lighter sometimes. What did make me legendary (more so in my own mind more than anything) was the fact I could run amuck over hill and dale for several days with little more than a pocketknife and a handful of lighters. The forest was never burnt down and I made it back mostly in one piece every time. That is the stuff of legends, right? Sort of? Pocketknife incident at Big Creek aside (I was seven years old), I still consider myself quite the outdoorsman.

My first excursions were as a youth and referred to as my “dangit” trips. They are named as such because most of the trip I would mutter or yell “Dangit!…forgot the sleeping bag” or the more common “Dangit!…forgot the can opener.” One fourth a can of chili or pork and beans opened with a rock tastes better than a full can opened with an electric can opener. I am sure of this. Mostly sure that is. But I learned quite a bit and was able to explore a good deal of territory before I was an adult and got sucked into this whole work\pay bills thing.

Now that work and fishing have completely taken over my time and outdoor interests, my camping said long reaching outdoor trips have suffered greatly. In truth I am lucky to sleep on raw dirt and jagged rock with a lovely mixture of pine needles poking me throughout the night about two or three times a year. I know that I make it sound glorious. Trust me, it’s even better than this when large thunderstorms and bears stop by in the night to say hello.

“Dangit!…forgot where I put the pepper spray!”


“Dangit!…found the pepper spray!”

(Sigh) I can’t wait to go camping again.

Here is a small mix of photos from one of the more glorious camping trips taken this year.

Original “Hot Plate”

Brewing some water for coffee. I redid the pitiful fire pit that was here before adding some wind protection and less likelihood of fire escaping. Campfires require vigilance and responsibility.

Coffee confessions: My pallet does not require fancy grinds or special brews when it comes to coffee. I can drink a Columbian roast or even Folger’s instant when needed. Maybe the real trick is letting me know what you prefer before we leave for the trip.

Storm rolling in

Drive many hours to reach the camping spot. This is a tiny slice of lake paradise near Florissant. I try to visit once or twice a year. Never fails that as soon as I reach the destination, get things set up and look to dinner and an evening with the firelight…a storm rolls in. Storms tend to circle here for some reason so the deluge may come in repeat performances. Evening entertainment consists of lightning, thunder and pounding rain.

One time while camping I dreamt that I had reached the doors of Asgard. When the mighty doors swung open Thor greeted me and he was pissed! He began wailing upon me with his mighty hammer. Then I opened my eyes and realized that it was only a dream.

“Oh, I am just camping again.” I mumbled and went back to sleep.

By morning most everything stored was still dry but a small lake had formed at the corner of my tent. The lake was eyeballed for rising fish while making coffee. Might have given it a cast or two if something big rolled on the topwater. Finished coffee, hit the lake. Nothing.

“Maybe the fish moved upstream to the tent.”

Bear tracks

Here are some bear tracks found in the mud only a few hundred feet away from camp. Bears can get a little nosey around campsites and tracks like this make me sleep with one eye open. There are actually two sizes most likely indicating mother and cub.

“Great…Momma bears are always so friendly with cubs around.” I said moving past the muddy cove inlet towards the other side to fish.

(Above: These were the prints that were most clear out of the many scattered along the muddy shoreline. )

Apologies for milking another “filler” post into the blogilicious material. I pride myself on fabulous fishing content and go to great lengths to keep pouring it on month after month. Going through the hard drive and moving stuff into the archives I came across some extra footage. Sort of like a Photos from the Field excerpt but from some camping done a while back. The lake itself was a no-go. Fish were laying low and probably suffering from summer heat. This place is much better in the spring.

“Didn’t get eaten by a bear at least…not too shabby.”

Good luck and Good Fishing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Scouting the “Hot Tip”

During the Foothills Project a few weeks back one of the members asked if I had fished “So-N-So” spot, a section of small river\creek. My confession espoused that this was on my scout list but closer to the bottom rather than the top. After a few words of encouragement the spot moved up a few notches. My earlier research had sifted a few flakes of gold but nothing very excitable. Small water, a few fish here and there if you were willing to hike a little. The recent conversation uncovered the stocking of splake, a hybrid trout (brook and lake trout). This sealed the deal for me. The scout trip was slated for the next available opportunity.

Gear loaded and I’m back up in the hills. Finding this spot is not easy as the web site will say the name of the road as one thing but Google Earth and every other source defines it as another. It’s all part of the magic and mystery of water hounding and scouting out fishing spots. After some driving I finally find the magical hidden turn off and heading up the dirt mountain road. Twist, turn, drive around another bend and see water. This is lower section of the stream and not part of the prime water that I am searching for but my casting elbow starts to twitch and the truck is pulled over. Must fish.

“Oh man. I‘m never going to reach the top if I stop at every sweet looking spot along the way. Just a few casts at this one little hole here and then we gotta get moving.” I said this six times before reaching the trailhead parking area.

The water was a lot lower than I expected and nearly a foot lower than just weeks if not days ago. This all but completely shuts down the spin game. I can work a few options but not many. When things drizzle down to a trickle I am hard pressed and 90% of my trout game goes to the fly rod. The water was so low in fact that I nearly stopped, turned and chose another venue as I drove up. But after staring into the small, flat pool of crystal clear water and seeing fish, my hands went for the gear.

“Oh you guys are going to get it!”

(Above: First cast, bow on the fly. This was practically a fish in the barrel scenario and they were willing to take #18 all day long.)

(Above: Chubby little cutbow with great color. I was amazed to pull a handful of fish out of a hole not much bigger than your average living room rug.)

Plink a few fish and move on. Stop and plink one or two more and move on. There seemed to be at least one or two bug munchers in every fishy looking spot. These weren’t the largest fish but there was just enough room to work and pull out a bow or brownie in the 8-10 inch class.

(Above: Button up brownie in a “slipping out of the hand” shot. Male brown trout pump up the volume in regards to their color pattern in fall. This one had some spectacular red dots.)

Finally quit goofing around and make it up to the trailhead and officially get things going. Most of the time I can stay focused on the agenda but for some reason I couldn’t help grabbing a bite or two from the tasty spots on the way up. Now things were going to get serious. Over an hour was already burnt. I was hiking in and less than confident about how far up and what to expect. My references said 2-miles one way on a service road that followed the stream. Once you reached the outlet it was no trespassing. Did the gear load, key check-lock down thing and headed out. Hopefully this would be more than just a hike with some fishing poles.

(Above: Slip of water-Kiss of Fall. Visions of water and deep descents before winter.)

The area has quite a bit of vertical rock and heavily wooded pine forest. Deciduous trees are found in sparse pockets along the stream or in small mountain valleys. The grasses and a few of the bushes are turning into fall mode but the aspen trees are still a week or two off here when I took this picture. The raspberry bushes have been picked clean by birds and beast as the wind brings in the crisp air. This all makes the moment perfect as I approach a pool slight larger than most that I have seen today.

(Above: Same area as above but a closer perspective. There weren’t many fishing holes this size offering a spin cast.)

And then it happens. First cast with the spin setup and WHAM! Heavy hit clobbers the baby-rap and acts like its not going to give it back.

“Whoa…what have we here?” I say as the flash hits the surface silver body and black on top. “Beauty bow perhaps?” It gets closer and my heart really starts to race. “Splake!…and he’s going nuts!?”

Now I don’t claim to have vast knowledge about trout and especially hybrid species like splake. But let me say that this is by far the most antisocial fish that Mattsabasser has come across. It’s true that fish fight so much because being caught is a humiliating experience for them. They have to admit that they made a mistake and may possibly be eaten as a result. However, the splake take this way too far. As soon as they get within reaching distance, these fish go ape-#$% and are nearly impossible to photograph or at least photograph well without serious damage to the fish. In this case I did a quick “pic-N-Go” to get the shot and then the fish back in the water.

(Above: Splake sporting a baby-rap. Every once in a while I like to post a picture with a fish holding some spin gear to see how many people will give me crap about it.)

From here the service road rises and the stream gets further and further away. Every tasty section requires a bit of a cliff dive and you have to rock hop from there. Moving to the top of the fishing section the fish numbers seem to drop off but offer more in the way of size. I started seeing less and less of the 8’s and 10’s with more of the 12’s, and 13’s. The occasional 14’er would pop out from behind a rock or rise up from the trough to look at whatever was passing by. A rise, a bump, a nip and even sometimes an actual hit would follow.

(Above: Quite a few of the tastier looking sections have seen a bit of pressure from other anglers and the trail up and down to the water is somewhat worn. Still worth a cast.)

Missed a few good fish. I never seem to have a trip where every bump, flash or hit ends up in my hand. The torment comes when the really big flashes, hits or bumps end in a miss. I could catch a hundred fish and still worry about the one that got away if I think it had a chance of being that one spectacular fish of the trip.

Another spot, another cast and pulled out another fish. This time it’s a dark colored brown trout in a very small pool. I think the fish has nowhere to go until he manages to go into a submerged rock crevice and stay there.

“Don’t make me bust you off, buddy.” Losing a bite is one thing but busting a fish off would devastate me at this point.

The line was relaxed and the fish was expected to stay locked up or come off the hook. Instead the fish managed to swim out of the crevice and into my hand after only a few short moments of play. Tough terrain for photo ops so this fish got a one-hand shot, then release.

(Above: Brown trout with heavy tan. Nearly broke this guy off in the underwater rock structure. One pic and back you go.)

One good fish makes those earlier misses fade into the background. It even helps the fatigue in the legs go away for a brief moment. Another cast or two in the same spot and then climb back up the rocky incline to the road. Not the worst inclines mind you with wannabe-cliffs in the 15-20 foot class but taxing in quantity. You seem to glide down the first few but after two miles or more I found myself almost crawling up and down the last hundred yards or so. There were very few trails following the river so you pretty much had to battle the incline all day.

It was all worth it. Scouting out the new section and doing well exceeded my expectations. With a foot or two of additional water?…who knows. Adding splake to the species hit list is pretty @#$% cool too. Not a common species in Colorado and not even on my radar. Now it’s just a matter of the long walk on the service road out.

(Above: Shot of the service road. I have had far worse trails to travel but like them much closer to the water. I don’t make the roads or the water…just fish what you got.)

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

* Note: This post took a while to put together and fell out of the time\date rotation. Actual date of trip 9-24-2010.


tags: Colorado, fishing, brown trout, splake, just found the tags feature, Mattsabasser, fishaholic.

CDOW, fixin up some “Dead Water”

Here’s an update on a lake that I ice fished on last year and fell through. It was but one of the trips that could have been my last. It was also one of the times that a phone call to the local managing agency sent me astray.

“No one really fishes the big lake to the north.” The lady at the booth said when I called. “It has to be loaded with fish. I’ve seen some pretty big ones in there.”

Her statements were only partly true and had she ever actually discussed this with the wildlife officials, they would have stated the fact this water was nearly dead pool and the big fish that she was seeing was common carp. The water quality was so poor that I believe a pocket of gas had formed under the ice in limited areas. The gas weakened the ice and I fell right through up to my neck. Out of all the fishing that I undertake, ice fishing has to me the most dangerous. Below is a link to the previous article with a map of the lake being discussed.

Chemical treatment is my least favorite way of repairing a lake and I would prefer this lake be drained, restructured and then filled. I will spare you another four pages of biological rant but there may be a reason why this lake is dead pool and even once balanced, this lake runs the risk of dead pooling in another five years or so. To truly fix this problem the bottom of the lake needs to be completely redone.

However there are several other ponds close by and seepage may not allow this. Cost is a huge issue right now so the more expensive route would most likely not make it through the decision process. Nonetheless this less expensive and less natural method will work and there may be a chance that oxygen and PH levels balance themselves out. I’ll take a 50\50 shot over nothing at all. If this attempt fails maybe the CDOW will put ideas and money on the table to drain with the ultimate fix. A Mattsabasser can dream.

Here is the full insider e-mail from the CDOW


DENVER, Colo. — The Colorado Division of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks will use funds from a Fishing is Fun grant to improve the quality of sport fishing at Pelican Lake in St. Vrain State Park, beginning this week.

Pelican Lake, the largest pond at the park, previously offered anglers quality fishing for catchable trout, bass, sunfish, and other warm water fish (2002 DOW surveys). However intolerable oxygen and pH levels have prevented the DOW from stocking the lake with sport fish in recent years. The poor water quality conditions resulted in a large fish kill in 2006, killing virtually all sport fish with only a small number of catfish and common carp surviving. Net and electro fishing surveys performed in 2008 and 2010 have yielded 95% common carp.

In order to solve the water quality issues, an aeration system will be installed in May of 2011 which will substantially increase dissolved oxygen necessary to support a thriving fish community. The aeration system was primarily funded by a DOW Fishing is Fun Grant totaling $27,832.00. A cost-match totaling $7,000.00 was provided by St. Vrain State Park. Fishing Is Fun program funds come from federal excise taxes collected on the purchase of fishing equipment, boats, and motor boat fuels.

“St. Vrain State Park is an accessible and attractive destination for front range anglers,” said Larry Rogstad, Area Wildlife Manager, Boulder County. “This contribution from Fishing is Fun and state parks will improve the aquatic habitat and help create a quality fishery with public access for everyone to enjoy.”

To achieve the greatest benefit from the grant, a reclamation project took place early this week. This project used rotenone to kill off all fish currently present in the lake thereby allowing DOW biologists to start re-building the fishery from scratch once the aeration system is installed. Fish species scheduled to be stocked in spring of 2011 include channel catfish, largemouth bass, black crappie, and a small number of 10 inch rainbow trout.

Rotenone works by inhibiting a biochemical process in the fish cells, resulting in an inability of fish to use oxygen in the release of energy during normal body processes. Although rotenone detoxifies within a few weeks of the application, restocking of sport fish will not occur until the aeration system is installed.  Rotenone is non-toxic to birds, terrestrial species, and humans.

To learn more about Fishing is Fun, visit on the web at:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

DNA Maximus Theory

Whoa! That is a big rabbit. How did this guy get a rabbit so #^& big? Well for starters rabbit breeders selected a species of rabbit that was fairly larger than the rest to begin with and then consistently bred the largest of each litter until finally reaching what I consider to be the “DNA Maximus Rabbit”. Now a handful of rabbit breeders, breed and sell these monstrous rabbits that can get up to 22 pounds.

“Great, Matt.” Angling-mind readers might be saying as they read this. “But what the heck has this to do with fishing?”

The answer is in the DNA. The theory’s premise is that by removing the largest fish in our water systems we could be removing important DNA from the overall chain of reproduction. This removal could be limiting larger fish from being produced more often. If this statement is true then the reverse is also true and releasing larger fish helps ensure quality genetics being passed down year after year. Even larger fish in greater quantities is highly likely to be the result. I know this sounds like a simplistic theory and a lot of odds and factors are involved but I believe this theory to be true and an important piece to the foundation of my fishing mentality.

“Why is this important to my fishing?

Fishing in Colorado is good but could be so much better. Catch rates are mostly above average compared to other states depending on the species, location and about a million other things. But trust me, this is not optimum fishing and a fraction of what things could be in Colorado. If we all worked together on common goals such as “littering should not be tolerated” and “throw a few big fish back” it will certainly make things a lot better than the “take all you can get” or the “I’m only in it for me” crowd. Poachers are taking a serious toll (a few get popped every year and they are made complete spectacles of in the Denver Post and on fishing forums) but limit after limit of the largest fish are hurting many of our local fishing areas in ways we may not fully understand.

(Above: Quick illustration to help support my lunatic ranting on this subject. This could reflect any species in any given body of water with prime habitat and adequate populations with viable DNA to start with. Supporting this dynamic with angler’s help can be the key to optimum fishing.)

Taking fish out is not bad. In some ways it can help.

What we should be removing is the most common sized slot of various species when that species is most common in that particular system when prudent. A lot of fish species breed very well in Colorado and in many cases anglers may or may not be keeping up in regards to harvest. In many cases it helps to remove fish to keep the system healthy and avoid overcrowding.

Yellow perch are a great example. In many Colorado reservoirs we see hundreds if not thousands upon thousands of tiny perch. The bodies are slightly deformed showing signs of stunting. This is a result of overcrowding and hurts the quality of a system greatly. This makes little sense to me, as yellow perch are some of the tastiest fish by most standards, just a pain to clean if you are feeding a small army. Balance the population and you will start seeing larger perch worth cleaning. Crappie, bluegill and sunfish can suffer the same problem. Sadly, with the panfish I see the best specimens removed and DNA Maximus goes with them. They leave all of the smaller fish to overcrowd and stunt. Too many small fish takes down the sport and the overall fishing quality so those same anglers tend to move on. “Too many small fish…not worth it, bro.”

So in essence, we could be leaving the smaller fish to choke the system while taking out the largest fish that regulate the smaller fish. I know this sounds all doom and gloom. Please realize the majority of Colorado anglers practice good ethics and never take more than they need. A full limit or more is not the main goal and the take is from the common sized slot. In this scenario everyone wins and tomorrow will most likely hold better fishing for all.

It really boils down to personal opinion and choice.

For example: I fish quite a bit, approximately 100 times a year give or take. Weekends, vacations and even the occasional evening or early morning bite before work. On the average I catch, well…a lot of fish. If I fished only a couple of local lakes and kept every fish that I caught, you can imagine the fishing action would suffer depending on what was routinely stocked or originally there. Managing my behavior for the better makes less of a harmful impact overall and conditions shall improve as a result. If I chose to remove fish, it should be done in a way that helps rather than hurts the DNA Maximus theory.

Selective harvest gets tossed around in a lot of fishing circles. This term generally means selectively taking fish while ensuring future fishing opportunities. However what we see too much of from the so-called selective harvest crowd is limit after limit of the biggest fish they catch. In some cases they are literally draining the lakes of a precious resource. Yes, it is perfectly legal and many will defend what is sanctioned legal for many reasons.

Drawing these lines angers emotions and creates a lot of dissention amongst the angling brethren. This weakens us as a group making it easier to be picked apart by real estate developers and crazy animal rights agencies like PETA. To achieve optimum fishing we should try to achieve one goal…more big fish for sport and table. Supporting the DNA Maximus theory goes a long way to make that happen.

Selective harvest checklist for DNA Maximus

1. Take a few, leave a few…prudence today will mean better fish tomorrow for sport and table.

2. Target the common size slot to better balance the population overall. Check local regulations and legal keep limits first.

3. The biggest fish should go back. In most cases the larger\older fish may taste the worst as well as have the highest mercury count. The smaller fish (average 2 years old in most cases) are actually the better tasting and healthier overall depending on species and a lot of environmental factors.

If we could simply manage our fish catches more in line with what the water needs as opposed to what the angler wants, the water will act in turn. Hopefully this article sways the opinion and personal choice of anglers more to the true selective harvest mentality as well as practice more C&R. Working with nature helps provide more beauty, bounty and sport for today as well as tomorrow.

Thank you for taking time and reading this. Hopefully this does not come off as too

Good luck and good fishing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Late Season Crappie

The disappointment over the mosquito fish debacle a few posts back in September was immense. My heart seemed to long for these shiny slabilicious crappie for some reason. So I decided to see if I couldn’t dig up a lil crappie action at some Front Range water. This is not an easy task for me in fall as the fish are more tight-lipped and selective compared to spring. Expectations were set on low. Determination factor was set on high. I would need a lot of this determination as the electronics were left home. No temp readings, no depth chart and no fancy blips telling me where the fish are. Putting things off is a problem for me sometimes and for some reason the fish finder is still on the fritz, untouched or better yet replaced. (It works for a while and then goes out after 15 minutes regardless of battery power. Guess I gotta stop using these things for a push pole ha ha.)

Crappie this time of year generally cling to structure points and feed on fry of other species that are prevalent this time of year. Locate the structure with schools of fry and you will generally find crappie mixed in with the other predators such as bass and brooder bluegill. Wood structure such as large stumps and trees is ideal. Once I find these fish, a small grub or minnow setup is going to get the toss.

The first few crappie were not very “slab-tastic”. This time of year (and time of day for that matter) I am happy to see crappie at all so there are no complaints. I spent a bit of time going over the same areas with various sized baits looking for the hot ticket for the larger slabs. Eventually I settled on the weightless 1\16oz grub rigged in black placed on a small hook. This was what seemed to get the most crappie hits, flashes and mostly misses.

Timid fish will tend to bump the bait once or twice before actually grabbing it fully with their mouth. Sometimes they will grab the lure with their lips, get a quick taste and vacate in an instant. Live minnows would work like a charm but I prefer to do things the hard way and AFLO those buggars out if at all possible. Less mess, less fuss and you can say that you really tricked the fish. Just the look of humiliation on the fish is worth it for me. Sometimes if I listen real close I can almost hear the fish say,

“Ok, you got me. Now let me go and I will give you three wishes.” Almost hear them say this that is.

Couple more casts and a few more slabs, mini slabs more like it and I move out of the cove. A fishing slump moves over my head like windless doldrums off the southern point of Africa. I couldn’t locate the structure and I couldn’t locate the fish. Minnow/fry activity was null. The pontoon was rowed forward as cast after cast came up empty.

A fallen tree, mostly submerged saved for the ten inch base lay perpendicular from the shoreline with the tip vanishing into the dark green water. It was one of those spots where you just know a fish is there. As mentioned before, crappie love wood structure if it is available and this was the only lumber for miles (or maybe just a few hundred feet).

Grub gets a toss out and sinks slowly to what looks like a light shadow just under the tree in about four or five feet of water. A bright flash chases the lure but no bite. The flash was sizeable. Larger than the others so I dismissed it as a fish of the “slabby” variety.

“That’s a bass.” I scoffed switching up to the medium\heavy action rod with the jig combo. Give it a toss and get a light bump. “Hmmm…maybe it is a crappie.”

One more grub toss and wham! Nailed it. This was a decent slabber and lived up to it’s name as a flat-bodied fighter. Pound for pound, not too shabby but when the fish weighs less than a pound it won’t drag you off the boat or anything. I’ll post a link to the video below that show a bit of the dried grass and fall colors moving in. Same fish as pictured above)

Falling a bit behind and was supposed to post this a week or two ago. Going to test out the blogger upload option as opposed to my Youtube page as a test.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Hello 100!

Hello #100 follower on the fishing blogilicious. How @#$%^ cool is this person to round off the list at one hundred super amazing, totally fantastic and really awesome followers. I am so jazzed that I had the graphics team come in over the weekend to put something together in an effort to commemorate the special occasion.

Congratulations and a huge thank you goes out to #100 and all you for following my fishing blogilicious. I promise to keep staying focused on delivering the best fishing content possible. Think of this post as a small celebration for you all and thank you for being so amazing!!!

Originally my fishing blogilicious was created as a place to share my fishing exploits with a few friends met on fishing forums as well as giving my family (which I am rarely in contact with) a way of keeping tabs on me and my fishing adventures. My younger sister knows that when the posts stop she needs to call authorities to start looking for my body in the hills somewhere. True story. The blog is also a good way for me to chronicle my fishing exploits and shameless bragging. I spend a good deal of effort gathering content, writing articles and posting them on blogger\blogspot. The feedback and support has been amazing and I truly hope that viewers enjoy the material being produced.

You folks have no idea how much it means to me that you follow my site. The views, comments, rates and occasional e-mail are very encouraging to say the least. Reaching the 100th follower milestone makes all the time and effort of posting my fishing adventures worthwhile.

Congratulations and a huge thank you goes out to #100 and all you for following my fishing blogilicious. I promise to keep staying focused on delivering the best fishing content possible. Think of this post as a small celebration for you all and thank you for being so amazing!!!

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Still can’t kick the swimbait habit

Few baits say fall bass loving like a plastic swimbait. After a less than “fab” run with the shad imitation last time, I decided to go with a different flavor on this trip. The lake sports a few schools of bluegill and sunfish (as well as shad) so this time a Storm Live Sunfish was tied on.

The eyes on this swimbait model do not protrude like the ones on the Swim Shad model that gave me trouble before. The colors on the sunfish are also more vibrant than the shad. Removing the bottom treble is a must for me on this lure and as you see below, the ring is not visible.

(Above: Here’s a quick shot of the bait in action. It looks pretty cool and even catches fish. The yellow line you see under my hand is my anchor rope.)

First cast into the sweet spot and the line takes off. Barely had time to set the hook and to be honest, the fish pretty much set the hook on itself by clobbering the lure. That part was easy. The fish battle was far more difficult as the fish kept trying to wrap itself around my anchor rope. The first time I was able to steer the head back the other way. The second time I had to change directions of the rod and pull the fish back behind the rope from the direction it came. One more turn around this rope and my 6lb line turns to tinsel. Luckily the fish came back around and was into my hand. One look into the fish’s mouth and I knew he liked the Live Sunfish Swimbait.

(Above: Swimbait swallowing bucketmouth posing with the lure in its mouth.)

The problem with catching one fish right away is that it could trick an angler into thinking that they were on a hot pattern when in fact they just got into one dumb fish. Sometimes this may having nothing to do with the lure so much as the presentation. After a few long moments of no bites in a hot area, I decided to switch things up in regards to the retrieve speed. Instead of a “Swim-drop” retrieve I opted for more of a slow roll. Sometimes slowing things down will make a difference so I typically drop the pace a bit before digging into the tackle box for something else. The last fish seemed to take the swimbait close to the bottom of the water, which helped provide some possible clues to where the fish were holding up.

(Above: Simple illustration of the “swim-drop” presentation. The intent is to cover as much of the water spectrum as possible. Typically I start with this and adjust the speed down if needed.)

(Above: Simple illustration of the slow roll presentation. You can see that I am right on the bottom and the lift is minimal. I have to admit that the graphics department did a poor job on this illustration series. They work for beer and it is clear that I need to stop paying them in advance for these projects.)

Slow roll was the ticket. Maybe the hot weather was keeping the fish closer to the bottom. Maybe the poor water visibility made the fish feel more comfortable identifying with the bottom structure rather than suspending in the murky water. I ponder this question for a few moments in a Zen like state until my hands feel another heavy thump on the delicious swimbait.

(Above: Another deep take on the swimbait. I dare say that this would be a real #$%^& to get out with that bottom treble. )

Then I get to this cove that is guarded by a few fallen trees. Some of these are large cottonwood trees that serve as barricades of sorts on sections of this cove. The fish can swim under the logs but retrieving your lure is a bit difficult and landing fish can be heartbreaking at times. So many anglers have lost fish here the cove has earned the title; “Lessons Learned”. I am a little over 50\50 in this cove and have landed some beauties. Fearing not the heartbreak and humiliation I give the swimbait a held-breath cast into the heavy junk.

Wham! The line trembles and a heavy thump rolls down to my fingers. I am not sure whether to be happy or not at this point as losing this fish could taint this otherwise spectacular fall fishing day. In fact I am a bit upset with myself for casting in here at all. (Realize that I say this every time)

First the fish tries to go under what used to be a small wood dock. Lift the rod an inch or two, turn the angle of direction and cup the drag (top of the reel). The fish turns and comes straight at me.

“He’s going under the log.” I say turning the reel handle like a madman to pull in the slack.

Another rod lift and cup of the drag. This lifts the fish up just enough to bump his nose on the log instead of it going completely under. Quickly the fish turns and heads for the back of the cove. The reel starts to sing as line goes out.

“Oh no you don’t.” I say not realizing that the fish can’t hear me.

Turn the fish one more time and bring it back to the log barricade. The fish runs along the side for two inches and then leaps into the air. I pull the fish towards me and the fish looks as if it was literally dancing across the top of the log.

Sploosh! It lands into the water on my side of the log and the battle continues for a few moments more. At least on this side I have room to operate the drag and let the fish run a bit without stretching the line or worrying about trouble in every direction. Soon the fish is landed and as I grab the fish by the lip, the lure drops out of its mouth. It was one of those moments that I really wish had been captured on film. Too lucky.

(Above: Another swimbait bucket too eager to spit the bait before the photo op. You can see one of th sugmerged logs in the background. The little lip piercing there will heal in 2-3 days.)

“Have you ever had to dance a bass over a log in the mid-day light?” My lips mutter recalling the recent events and Jack Nicholson dialogue from the old Batman movie for some strange reason. “Oh man…the heat must be getting to me. I’m outa here.”

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.