Friday, July 30, 2010

Power to the frog!

(Above: Frog eating bucket pulled out of some serious slop. When the water gets super thick like this, I say…Power to the Frog!)

It would be terrible to go through summer without releasing a post acknowledging the power of the frog. At certain times of the year one lure type can outshine the next. The frog is a lure that can prove to be invincible in summertime conditions where algae and moss take over. This water type resembles that of the southern and eastern regions of the United Stated and largemouth bass adapt very well. They adapt almost as well as various species of frogs and toads that dwell in these muck-ridden waters.

Most plastic frog lures are weedless and even float. The Pro Tournament style frogs hop right over the worst “gunk” and entice fish to leap right through to take a swipe. Topwater action is some of the most exciting in regards to bass fishing as you see the fish explode on the lure. You watch the bite happen and it adds a layer of thrill.

Below is the frog pattern that is one of my favorites. This is a Snag Proof-Pro Tournament Frog in Firetiger pattern which is my preference along with the green pattern second and then black or brown third depending on what forage source is primary. Typically they are found in 1/4oz or 1/2oz sizes. I use both depending on the situation but the 1/4oz frog tends to land more strikes for me. The 1/2oz is shown with a fish in the photo above.

The technique is what you would imagine from this froggy-type lure. Toss it out towards moss or plant structure and retrieve using short hopping or swimming motions until a fish strikes. Patience on the hookset is a primary factor as anglers want to hammer down the hookset when they first see the fish pop out of the water. The frog is one bait that you have to hold your breath for a good solid “One Mississippi” before setting the hook while the fish gets a good mouth-hold around the bait.

Drawbacks to the frog are missed strikes. The floating body hides the hook points causing the fish to slip off the hookset more often than any other lure type that I have come across. The skirted tails are so enticing that fish will often grab those and miss the hooks. I have experimented with trimming the tails a bit as well as trying to soften up the body with my fingers a bit before casting but with no added results. Once again, patience helps greatly.

When water gets super sloppy from filamentous algae the conditions set the table for one lure in particular…Power to the Frog!!!

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pontooner Update: “Tooner down!"

I knew it would happen one day and it really was only a matter of time. After all I have pretty much destroyed every inflatable craft that my reckless butt ever put on the water. My beloved pontoon boat would be no exception. Each trip that I put the tooner away in one piece it was the icing on the cake of another fabulous day fishing.

Then two weeks ago I pull the tooner off the water, get it ready to load out and notice one side looking a little squishy. One squeeze and the dread started sinking in. I checked for holes, thorns, glass and alligator bites but to no avail. Double-checked the valve as well. Not the problem. Having the tooner down and out could set my fall fishing plans back a bit.

“Must have been those #$%^^ mosquitoes!”

Locating the pinhole would be difficult at best and may take a while. Really I would be better off with a six-inch gash up the side as opposed to a pinhole. In the meantime I called Outcast and they sent me a brand spanking new inner-bladder free with my warranty (let me say how awesome these folks are). However things were not all trumpets and confetti just yet. The old bladder would have to be removed and the new bladder put inside the canvas covering via removing and replacing the Boston valve.

Outcast has made some modifications overall to the XL series, which may throw a few people off…it did me. Boston valves can be a real pain and the entire process was a weeklong battle minus the wait for shipping.

To help folks out that may be in a similar situation or just simply want to review some of these steps, I have posted a few Outcast tooner vids from their youtube website.

Outcast Videos (go to page and select video by title)

The good news is the ultra-fab, over-modified tooner is back in the game. Took it out on the water a few times and managed not to drown myself. The right pod still has some leakage even after cleaning the inside covering and re-doing the valves three times. The air holds for about two days so for now this will have to do. When blizzard season starts again I can afford the full break down and waste a few more weekends messing around with it.

Tooner Trailer – First run complete

The small one-wheel trailer for the tooner was a good option for the first few years. Now that the modifications are adding to the load these backwater tooner trips were starting to resemble torture and way more pain than needed. It was time to look at other options.

Wagon and trailer options had been mulled over many times but nothing seemed to fit just right. There was this problem or that problem with any particular model. Most trailers were too big and most wagons were too small. Eventually I found myself at various home supply shops looking at friggen lawn carts. Yes, lawn carts.

There was one that would work great but a bit larger than needed with a $300 price tag. The budget was set around 150. Eventually I sunk the cash into a plastic dump style trailer looking thing. Tore off the plastic top and replaced it with a flat wood deck. An added touch was the plastic milk crate for added clearance as well as being able to carry some of my stuff. Throw on a couple of bungee cords and the tooner trailer is a go.

Bonus footage of the tooner trailer in action. “Tooner Trailer” Patent pending! ha ha

The tooner trailer also allows me to jettison the rear wheel unit as well as the entire rear bar section. Less weight and got rid of that annoying anchor pulley that I never used. Improvements, refinements and additions are always popping into my head and being tossed up on the drawing board. If you have any input, ideas and even questions about my ultra-fabulous, overly modified tooner or inflatable craft in general…don’t hesitate to post a comment or shoot me an e-mail.

Good luck and good fishing.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tegan'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. For some silly reason 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.

(Tegan proudly holding her first trout caught out of Dillon Reservoir. Dad helped her cast out but she pretty much did the rest.)

Tegan is fast on her way of becoming an ultimate outdoors-person as her family hunts, fishes, camps and loves to take the 4-wheelers into designated areas. Tegan is at the front of the pack on all of this and participates in these activities often while wearing a princess dress according to her Dad.

Truth be told, Dillon Res. is being stocked to the MAX with trout after the locals complained about poor fishing. Tegan's family practices C&R 99% of the time but chose to cook this trout over their campfire later that evening. In my view this is the best way to eat a trout. (They were pleasantly surprised that the texture and flavor of the meat was better than expected-I had warned of some poor quality issues like white-mushy meat from stockers but this was not the case.)

Stocked trout are not quite the same quality on so many levels as native fish and harvesting stocked trout is somewhat of a tradition these days in Colorado. Yes, I moan and groan about C&R but understand that even I believe that there are times when eating a fish is not the end of the planet. Stocking rainbow trout in Colorado is not a perfect solution to improving sport fishing in Colorado but one of the DOW’s primary tools in a lot of reservoirs. Providing “first catch” opportunities for children like Tegan’s here makes me a little warmer on the subject.

Congrats to Tegan and her first catch! It is not just fisherMEN out there. Plenty of room for both boys and girls on the water.

Good luck and good fishing!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


(Above: There are big bass and then there are “mega-buckets” 21.5-inches in length and nearly 7lbs. Yes, it is rare that I measure or weigh a fish. This was one of those times.)

“Mega-bucket” ‘me-ga ‘bu-ket, noun. Definition: Very large cylinder with large opening or mouth. Also Colorado largemouth bass over 20-inches in length with an official weight over 5lbs.

There are a few terms coined for bass fishing that should not be used lightly. Hawg, pig and even monster bucket are terms that I have used to describe the fish that I have caught in Colorado. Mega-bucket is a term I use for those really amazing bass. These are the fish that make me spend hours of research, throw away too much money and force me to drive 200 miles or more for.

You would be surprised how many people try to pass a mere 3-pound bass off as a Colorado 5lber hawg. Even I throw out a lot of guesses in regards to a particular fish’ size. This was one of those rare moments where I actually measured the fish.
As much as I would like to say this fish hit my new custom jig combos that I have been throwing lately, admittedly this fish hit a plain-Jane 5” Senko in black and blue. Mr. Yamamato, this fish is for you. @#$%%^ love these baits!

A video montage is in the works of a MAD Show episode where Don and I tangled with a few of these mega-buckets over a two-day period with some extra material worked in.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Photos from the field

The heat of summer is setting in and it seems like spring was barely a whisper this year. We had a few blissful days in between the blizzard season and the 90-degree days of July. As the seasons change so does the landscape. So many of my photos don’t make it to my fishing posts. For that reason “Photos from the field” was created.

Bad Luck-Big Wheel Breakdown

Some of the places I fish are rural, secluded and otherwise out in the middle of nowhere. Driving to these locations can be half the adventure. One early morning I come across this sight. Looks like little Johnny broke down on the big wheel and had to shoe-leather express it the rest of the way to the bus stop (or it may have just been a piece of junk that fell off of someone’s truck.)

(Above: Broken down big wheel with the sign for the school bus stop in the background. This photo op reminded me of all the times I missed the school bus as a kid.)

Make a wish…make it big.

(Above: Yellow Salsify in seeding mode. This is like the dandelion you blew out as a kid except this one is nearly six inches in diameter. I guess this is for big wishes, right?)

So many shades of Nature…

There are so many shades to nature’s tapestry of colors and each one is just as surprising as the next. The transition from spring to summer this year on the tapestry scale has gone from white to an explosion of green.

Yellow sweet clover has taken over sections of the Front Range this year blending bright yellow patches with the darker green grasses that are now starting to seed. This is a huge color contrast to the same area that was filled with wild sunflower last year. Nature is sort of my own personal reality TV Show that rarely offers reruns.

(Above: Nearly a full blanket of yellow skirting a body of water that does not allow any fishing whatsoever. A pretty sight mixed with a bit of forbidden desire. Many of my water-scouting missions end this way.)

(Above: Close up shot of sweet color with yellow blossoms. This stuff can create a sea of yellow, white and even purple –more the alfalfa clover variety. Nutritious forage for livestock and wild game as well as a strong source of nectar for honey bees.)

(Above: Now this may seem a bit gratuitous on the yellow sweet clover pictures but I just can’t help myself. Last year this exact same field was populated with wild sunflower. The year before that it was something else. Nature has a way of rotating her own crops. #$$%^&* amazing!)

Terrain may vary

There are many types of terrain that must be traversed in life and some more formidable than others. There is this place called “The City” and it is a jungle of steel, glass and concrete. This place has many wonders and can have the same awe-inspiring affect to some people as if they were taking their first step into the Amazon. The city can be a wonderful place but I still consider it “formidable terrain” for many reasons.

(Above: Downtown Denver heading south looking at a shimmering tower of steel and glass. This jungle is not without it’s magic but there is very little fishing.)

The one that got away…

Late afternoon and I had face hours of blazing hot sun one minute and then heavy rain the next. Me and the tooner even took some light hail. I was soaked, sweating and all around miserable by the time I reached the truck. The wet clothes were stripped off and I was driving home in my boxer shorts. That’s right. Too #$%% lazy to put on the extra pair of clothes that were sitting in the pack next to me. Too busy thinking about beer.

Realize that whenever my focus slips or I take shortcuts a price is usually paid for that short sightedness at some point. This would be no exception. The rural farm road was soaked and bore little traffic. On the side of the road I pass by what seems to be a large hat. Out of the corner of my eye I see that it is a large painted turtle trying to cross the road.

“That thing is huge!” I exclaim racing the truck to a spot where I could turn around. “I gotta get a picture! And then help it cross the road.”

Realizing that I am less than properly dressed and not wanting to shock\frighten\completely gross out my two or three readers with shots of me holding the painting turtle in my boxers…I chose to take an extra 5 minutes and put some clothes on. That 5 minutes cost me the shot. Some do-gooder bicyclist stops and ushers the turtle back into the tall grasses where it came.

No Picture-FAIL!

“Sonofa!” I exclaim putting my arm through the last sleeve. “That would have been the biggest painted turtle I have ever caught.”

The guy didn’t realize that the turtle was most likely trying to get across the street to the private farm pond on the other side. There she could lay her eggs in relative piece and not deal with the high level of angling traffic that lies across the road. Nothing left to do but turn back around and head home.

Thanks for putting up with these additional excerpts now and then. Just trying to mix things up in between my shameless bragging.

Good luck and good fishing.

Lil Brookie Fix

(Above: Don with a nice brook on the fly. Look at the effortless cradle on this fish as it lies there in his wet hands.)

Finally getting on top of the workload at the J.O.B. after my FISHmas vacation and the second wave hits. Taking extra time off has been on the clamp down. This puts a damper on my longer trips and slowing down some of my high country planning. Not being able to sink my teeth into a nice 3-Day mountain romp, I settled for a quick little brookie bash with a one-hour drive one-way.

It may sound silly but I start to miss certain types of fish after a while and brookies are one of those species mainly for the bright orange fins with that highly defined white stripe. The spattering of colorful dots and wavy lines on the top of the fish make it visually spectacular. Landing a few decent brooks allows me to check another fabulous fish species off of my list for 2010.

(Above: Almost too close close up. The fish hold is not as eloquent as Don’s but I try.)

Now for the rest of the story…

There are two types of brookies in my view; big and small. 90% of what is available in a handful of spots are brook trout in the 6-8” range. 12’s are sweet and anything over that is pretty fantastic. That top 10% of brookies can range from 13 to 18” and difficult to catch unless your timing is spot on. My watch was set to warmwater fishing so I missed the prime time here in lieu of other catches. We all have to live with the choices we make.

Another choice I made this day was to focus exclusively with the spin gear in hopes for the largest fish. Don brought both and as soon as we looked at the water I heard myself telling Don, “Dude, you are going to light them up.”

After about an hour or less of plinking through the fly box…that is exactly what happened. Don fell into a groove and he was hitting fish right and left. His fish hit count went out the window while I was plinking off fish here and there. I tend to be brutally honest on my blogilicious and not ashamed at all to say Don made the numbers game look damn good as opposed to my “big fish only” setup. In the process I picked up another hot pattern in an area that can be finicky at times. My only regret is not taking more scenic shots for this post as well as not hooking into one of those 18’er brookie brutes.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mattsabasser Scout Report: Stalker Lake

(Above: Lake shot from south shoreline looking north. This is indeed water with a lot of possibilities. This picture was taken 5\14\2010)

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.

(Above: The “sign shot” is always a nice touch when doing these location feature articles. To reach Stalker Lake from Denver take I-76 70 mile to Ft. Morgan. Exit on Hwy 34 and head east about another 80 miles to Wray Colorado. Turn north on County Rd. FF and it’s about half a mile to the sign and gravel road to the lake.)

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.

(Above: How cool are sunfish? They come in so many varieties. The red ear is fairly common in eastern or southern states but not so much in Colorado. These guys don’t traditionally get as big as bluegill or green sunfish even in peak conditions in Colorado but are still pretty fantastic in my book.)

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.

(Above: Early morning gear up and hit the water. We waited until sunrise and then launched. Sometimes Don is the guy that kicks Mr. Sun in the butt to get a move on.)

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.

(Above: Overhead map. The boat ramp is at the lower right along with parking and rest rooms. Trails around the lake are easy to travel for the most part but keep an eye out for rattlesnakes and the occasional loose strand of barbed wire.)

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.
(Above: Don getting things going with a nice skunk beater chunk. Look at that flat water with minimal chop! It was not to last.)

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.

(Above: Now we are talking. Don dialing in some fatty bass. This is a near 5lb fish sporting a fat gut. When Don is in the groove…Look out!)

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.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

“Red Five, I’m going in!”

The title of this post was a statement made by Luke Skywalker just before he plunged his X-wing fighter into the steel canyon of laser turrets to blow up the Death Star. I use this same phrase as a mantra of sorts when I know things are going to get a little dicey.

At first this sounded like an easy day. Hit the back pond early, catch a few bass and sunfish, then high tail it out before the storms roll in. Weather had been playing havoc on the landscape all week but was sporadic and mostly confined to the afternoon hours. It seemed like an easy enough plan where every possible problem was factored in. Looking back I wonder why my sport obsession didn’t land on an easier indoor sport like “curling spectator” or line judge at a sleeping tournament.

So it begins…

5:10 AM I pull up to the tiny scrap of dirt we use for a parking lot. Seeing that I have beaten Don to the meet up spot for the first time in a long time makes me smile. I have a lot of gear to get together on this trip so an early start is prudent. Everything is looking great and ahead of schedule. I open the door and step out to get the gear ready.

“Zzzzzzzzzzz!” The sound of a nano-sized chainsaw rips by my left ear. Another and then another sound comes along less than a second after. “Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” More coming in on my right.

Before I can blink my head is being completely swarmed by mosquitoes. Hundreds upon hundreds of fuzzy little vampires dove this way and that as if organized like fighter squadrons of the tiniest sort. As I turned and swatted my hat at one formation another would great me head on from the opposite side. My face and hands took a few stings despite my vigorous display of turning, swatting, dodging this way and that trying to get the tooner off the truck. It was quite the spectacle to be sure.

“I’m under atta-ACK!” My voice cried out before choking on at least four of five mini-winged terrors. Thoughts of West Nile virus and malaria began to seep into my mind. Taking it all into account my lips muttered “Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.”

The cloud covered sky in the early dawn morning along with the heavy rains from last night created very humid conditions, which is a bit rare for Colorado but perfect for mosquitoes. On a typical June\July morning an angler should prepare for modest mosquito squadrons of maybe six or seven at a time. What I faced now was a billowing cloud of hell. It was all I could do to get the tooner down, the gear out of the truck and strapped on to my new wagon\trailer prototype. Then I hopped back into the truck, slammed the door and waited for the swelling to kick in.

“#$%^ me! I said reaching into the glove box for the DEET repellant. I know its not there. Just giving it that one hopeful check. Opened the door. Shut the door. “That’s right. I used it all up on that last trip in September.” Pause for a moment. “And those weren’t even real mosquitoes. Humph. Those were $%^T mosquitoes compared to this.”

After several moments of self-chastising and wiping out a few skeeters that had followed me into the truck, Don rolls up to the parking spot still feeling the hangover from a number of beers the night before. He steps out and is instantly greeted by the swarms.

“Holy #$%^!” Don yells out and picks up the pace on his early morning gear up. He gets stung a few times right off the bat. “We gotta get moving man. These skeeters are death! Did you bring any bug spray? No? Me neither. ‘K’ and me burned ours out on that last trip near Durango. Man, that was nothing like this.”

Seconds later Don with his back-strapped tuber along with me and the tooner in tow; we abandoned the safety of the vehicles to reach the trailhead. The grass is tall and crowding the walkway on both sides. The foliage seemed to arch outward further blocking the sun while providing the perfect domain to launch wave after wave of mosquito squadrons. As Don and I looked down the trail once more we swear that the sound of mosquitoes was actually overpowering the loud chirping of June bugs. We knew there was no turning back. After taking one last moment to swat at a few stings, I lowered my head and grabbed the tooner-trailer.

“Red Five, I’m going in!”

The next ten or fifteen minutes were painful. It felt like being shot by tiny blow darts on the hands and face. The Mattsabasser garb is worn for protection but even this is not perfect. On a day like this an angler could show up in a beekeeper outfit and all of us would have asked, “Where can I get one of those?” Protocol between Don and me is mostly “help a brother out when needed”. This was the one time were we just moved forward and didn’t look back.

By the time we reached the shoreline I was itching like crazy but probably only down about half a pint of the red stuff. Don faired better as most of the mosquitoes would get drunk and pass out shortly after they bit in. One or two would tell their friends and come back for more in full force. A few got him real good.

But this was time to scratch our wounds. The shoreline of the pond was met with a wall of mosquitoes. We had to get on the water and away from the bugs as quickly as possible. It took everything a mind and body had to get the boats set up with gear and launched. Once a few feet out it was sweet bliss. The fish were coming up in good numbers and we seemed to be hooking up at steady intervals.

(Above: Caught a number of these chunker buckets but didn’t find the big fatties. This one was downright gorgeous and didn’t have a scratch on him.)

A few hours later Mountain Goat Keith showed up with his belly boat and ported in. Within minutes he was hooking up. Some of these fish were putting some serious bend on the long rod. More of an extreme high country angler, it was nice to see Keith slammin’ fish in the low land as well.

(Above: Mountain Goat Keith with a smallie on the fly. The fly pattern was covered with cotton so I will have to follow up on the exact pattern later if needed.)

The cloud cover stayed with us most of the day. At noon we found ourselves encircled by dark and ominous storm clouds. Colorado weather is merciless at best some times and not to be taken lightly. But not wanting to end the day or brave the vicious swarm of mosquitoes, we chose to ride things out while looking out for lightning.

“If we get lightning, I have to pull off.” I said to Don and he greeted this with a nod. “This coming rain shouldn’t be too bad.”

Oh why did I say that? No sooner had the words left my lips before the sky let out a thunderous boom that shook the very air around us. Then the clouds parked on top of us and a deluge of rain ensued. Sheet after sheet of water came down and we were soaked to the bone in minutes. It was everything I could do to simply keep the camera gear dry.

“This is probably the worst of it!” I yelled to Don condemning my fate a second time. The raindrops seemed to separate and get larger. They were hitting the water with big splashes. This is nature’s subtle warning that you need to put a hard hat on. “Oh no…Get ready for hail!”

Tap! Tap! Tap! Pea-sized balls of ice began raking across the tooner. I had just enough warning to grab the lifejacket and place it over my head. Don and Keith were not so lucky. They were forced to pull their arms over their heads and ride it out the best they could. Thankfully this was only a minor test of hail and things turned back to rain.

We continued to fish our way around the last quarter of the lake and ported out. The rain helped ground the squadrons of the billowing plague we braved through on the way in. Porting out, checking gear and prepping for the haul out was a bit of a wet mess but tolerable. A few light formations buzzed us under a large tree while I fashioned the tooner back on my groovy little tooner trailer unit. (One tooner pod was a bit squishy…I’ll have to detail that and the trailer on a later post maybe.)

Just as we are ready to take that last minute breather\mental psyche up for the long haul out, the rain slows to a drizzle and then a mere few drops here and there. As the air turns back to hot and humid the sound of a gazillion mosquito squadrons warming up and launching could be heard all around us. Don, Keith and I looked at each other as if the sun was setting and we were in a land of vampires.


That was the last thing I heard as we forgot all about rest and second gulps of water. We were arms and elbows out of there battling through the air superiority of tiny little bugs of pain. I took two more bites to the face, one on my eyebrow just above the shades and ten or twenty bites on my hands. Pulling the tooner does not allow me to fight back so I have to use as much speed as possible while taking hits from some of the faster skeets. Reaching the vehicles our gear load was done in record time. Goodbyes were brief as the deluge of rain had circled around and was beginning to pour down again. Once again I hop into the truck and wait for the swelling to kick in.

Driving off I mutter, “The summer bite can work both ways I guess.”

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Supa’ Pans!

My fishing addiction gets so bad at times that many friends, co-workers and associates have suggested therapy. This apparent compulsion I have towards panfish (sunfish, crappie or other slab-shaped fish that fit nicely in a small skillet) borders on some form of mental disorder. As soon as I see a decent school of these little fish be it bluegill, green sunfish or even crappie, my brain goes nuts and the focus shifts immediately to nailing a few hundred of them. This is but one of the reasons why I don’t fish bass tournaments. I could be top 10 on day one only to come across a few schools of panfish and blow the whole contest going after these slabs. It’s a problem.

My panfish compulsion wouldn’t be so bad if these fish weren’t so cool looking. I find myself mystified, hypnotized and completely amazed by these fish.

The rigs for these fish can vary as greedy panfish won’t be too selective in the summer. In this case I am running an 1/8oz weightless grub across the weedbed and the pans nail it. Green chartreuse with black dots and some extra sparkle seemed to whack ‘em but as stated before…they’ll hit just about anything this time of year.

(Above: A sample of two panfish plastics that get clobbered by gills and sunfish. Crappie can be a little more finicky requiring different baits such as marabou jigs. The top-left is a baby shad in pearl color and the other is the yellow and green grub made by Mister Twister I belive.)

A few of these “super pans” were beefy enough to get a quick measurement. Even though I am not a big fan of “fish on the ground” shots, this one was subjected to a little green carpet on one side.

“Sorry ‘bout that lil fish buddy.” I said getting in a quick photo with the tape and release. “Just want to show these folks how ##$%^ awesome you are!”

A few pans were over 8-inches and some were nearly topping the 9’s. 10’s and above are very impressive but this pond tends to set the limit at 10-inches. This may be due to smaller lake size (it is a pond really). Population numbers are kept in check by the predator base ie largemouth bass. Catfish and even carp also keep these finned works of art stabilized in an area that is difficult to reach thus keeping down the take pressure. All of this combined creates an amazing opportunity for super sized panfish. These are the brood fish and a key part of the ecosystem as they provide a steady food supply for bass and other species. Taking out the common size slot and releasing the super pans is more ideal.

I have more photos and some video footage that I hope to roll up into a video montage for later posting. How awesome are these fish!?!

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The MaD Fishing Show – Highlights 2010

The MaD Fishing Show – Highlights 2010

Fishing exploits of The MaD Fishing Show have been great and hopefully worth the wait. Some of this material has been put together in a video montage of sorts and submitted for you viewing. Give it a look and leave a few rates and comments when you get bored.

The video footage takes me a while to put together so clips taken back in February and April are just now making it into the montages. This time I went with an unofficial sponsor as opposed to the spoof sponsor for a more professional intro. I like the product title and love the salsa.

(Above: Here’s a shot of the logo from the bottle of salsa that I bought at a farmer’s market. Look for this stuff at your local Whole Foods store as well as checking out their website at

There are two video formats that I use for these montages. Still Fishing is meant to capture my solo exploits as where The MAD Fishing Show spotlights the adventures taken with Don. The word “MAD” comes from Matt and Don…not because we look angry most of the time or absolutely insane when it comes to fishing. Ha ha.

Honestly it helps Don share in my shameless bragging and bribe him to take time away from the wife. Then him and I take his GMC to hell and back. This montage took a while to make so comments and rates are greatly appreciated.

Good luck and good fishing.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Independence Day Weekend-Warm up on the Creek

(Above: Creek shot looking downstream. This is a nice place for the “fish and stroll”. It also offers a nice change from the warm water bass action.)

When the runoff is steady but clear conditions get perfect for the spin game on a few nearby “creeks”. The water really only has two speeds; steady and ripping. Cast into the steady water with a light retrieve and wait for little thumps. Pools behind the large rocks, edges where slack water builds up, I hit them all with a cast and eventually I will hook up with some quality small creek fish.

(Above: Cutbow on the spin. Some folks frown, even scoff at the spin scene when it comes to trout. The barbs are crimped and with one reach of the pliers “plink” the fish is gone. More than one person asked me…why did you let that fish go?)

This was meant to be a warm up and the start of my transition into the summer\fall trout game. The gear is lighter requiring a more finesses touch as well as a smoother rhythm compared to my bread and butter bassin’ game. Trout require delicate handling so my photo ops are more difficult. These fish are not wall hanger size by any means so going overboard with the camera work seems a bit exhausting. I would rather fish.
(Above: Wetting the hands helps greatly when handling trout but any amount of handling removes the protective slime layer. The fish has to go through a healing process as a result. Fungus and other conditions may occur after rough handling so most of the trout I catch go un-photographed.)

It seemed that every fishing spot would produce at least one bump, hit or flash. Gold patterns got more attention than the others and what I ended up using throughout most of the day. Yellow and white seemed to get a few bumps and one fish that I chose not to photo op. Most of these guys were under ten inches and not worth the fuss. Just get them back and hope they tack on an inch or two next time.

Then off in the distance I hear music and see tents. It seemed like some magical gathering had occurred close to the creek that I was fishing. My nose began to pick up the aroma of BBQ and pancakes (they were actually crepes. Crepes…it’s like a very thin pancake. You need to get out more.) My stomach grumbled and I became quit curious. I plinked a few more very small trout and then investigated further.

(Above: Most of the time I can’t see the forest through the trees. But when I see tents?!? Well that is worth investigating.)

It appears they were having a rendezvous of sorts. Other clues like “Farmer’s Market” led to me to believe that there would be food, drink and edible goods that a Mattsabasser could haggle upon or otherwise purchase.
(Above: No invitation required and this magical market caravan had a little bit of everything. My thoughts went in search of food and beverage.)

“Oh what luck!” I said to myself feeling like some wandering traveler that had just stumbled across an oasis or graciously hospitable encampment. Not wanting to waste time with going back to the vehicle and shedding the Mattsabasser garb, I simply strolled forward knowing that I might get a few odd looks here and there.

(Above: This is a classic “you have a face for radio” picture and I even manage to cover up the banner link in my wannabe promo shot. The photo does not do this BBQ pork sandwich justice. Ha Ha.)

On the way out I tipped a few musicians that weren’t too shabby. Couple a bucks here and there to support the local flavor. Every bit helps.

Lastly, I wish everyone a safe and happy Independence Day! Independence, freedom, democracy…Heck Yeah! On this day a Great Nation was born. I know this world seems to get crazier by the day and so does this country at times. But I wouldn’t live anywhere else. All of my stuff is here. As I fish “the creek” I look at the magical sights of wonder and beauty and say to myself…”We gotta be doing something right.”

(Above: “Beauty and the Creek”. I couldn’t resist this shot as it defines beauty on so many levels.)

My name is Matt and…um…what was I saying?

The greatest fish story I have ever told…thus far.

There are a handful of stories that I have kept shelved in my mind for fear of ridicule and distain. As I grow older it is clear to me that ridicule and distain are irrelevant when it comes to a good fish story.

On a brisk summer morning I rolled up to the scrap of dirt used as a parking lot of sorts by Don and myself. Don was already there and nearly done with his gearing up. For fishaholics the gear up routine is a true test of patience and self-reserve. Don is the least tolerant angler I know in many aspects and offers no mercy or quarter for late comers and those unprepared to tackle the water. It is rare that I show up earlier to the water than Don, even if I leave the house two days early.

Patience is becoming an endangered species within the realms of my own mind so the next few minutes were a flurry of gear grabbing and mutters of “what am I forgetting?” Just as I am stuffing pliers into my pocket and grabbing the rods, a yellow Honda civic pulls into the school parking lot across the street. Don’s GMC goes “beep-beep” signaling the electronic vehicle lockdown and his heading to the water. My brain fumbles through a last minute checklist as a woman gets out of the Honda Civic and approaches us with the most feared question an innocent bystander can speak during the early morning gear up ritual.

“Where are you guys fishing?” she asks inquisitively. “I didn’t think there was any fishing around here? Me and my husband love to fish.”

Now this may sound a bit selfish and slightly deranged but good fishing spots are more sacred to me than any religious artifact known to man. This spot in particular is not listed in most fishing resources and contains bass in the +18-inch range. I would just as soon cut a finger off than tell this lady (and apparently her husband) where this place was. But her interest was peaked as she started following us from the vehicle to the trail that ran along the ditch a mile or so past the small pond. Without skipping a beat I came up with what may be my most brilliant load of B.S. yet.

“We are fishing for carp in this ditch here.” My brain on only three cups of coffee replied. (Normally a story like this would require 5 cups of coffee and more than a mere four hours of sleep).

“What?” She scoffed in disbelief yet with curious intent. “Are you serious?” She can tell simply by the three or four rods and tackle bags that we mean business. She probably thought we were actually lost.

“I know it sounds crazy.” I said reaching deep down for my best poker face and biting down on my cheek. “Most people don’t give a @#$$%^ about carp.”

“What? This ditch right here?” She still contemplated and questioned with interrogation skills that could only be a result of the constant barrage of CSI episodes on TV. “Do you eat them?”

“Naw…just for sport.” I reply casually. “Sometimes it’s fun just hooking into something big. Did you know that carp are the second most popular freshwater sport fish in the world?”

As she follows us over the bridge that spans the ditch (that now sports only an inch or two of water) I realize my story could quickly fall apart depending how far she follows us along the trail. If she realizes my deception, she will become even more intent on ferreting the truth for her and her husband’s future fishing adventures. Visions of bass after bass being strung up for freezer storage assaulted my sanity. I have lost so many good fishing spots already. Not this one. Not now and not to this no-name dame and her husband. She was still following us down the trail as I talked.

“So what brings you down this way?” I asked starting to gauge her original reason she was there for. This one item could be crucial to the next stage of my story.

“Oh me and a girlfriend are going up to Central City. We are taking her car and meeting here.” Her words were music to my ears. Don and I stopped walking and puzzle pieces of subsequent chapters of my story fell together in my mind.

“Ok, I am going to tell you a secret but please don’t share this with anyone else.” I spoke looking one way and then the other like some stolen watch salesman. “You see every year they flood this canal with irrigation water and carp get pooled up at this large hole a few miles down the trail.” This is actually a true occurrence but not why we were there. Yet I was fully prepared to lead her to a pool of water and feign interest as we cast for no reason other than supporting our ruse.

“You catch them with that?” the woman said pointing to Don’s tied on Mepps and my 6” senko rig.

“Oh this is just what I have tied on right now. But what Don has on here is pure money!” I nonchalantly wiped away more of her inquisition. “Really it is like shooting fish in a barrel but some of these fish can get up to 5 and 10-pounds.” (The art of the ruse is not to oversell it with 15 and 20-pound fish…they may explore the area for carp if they are truly monstrous or at least that was my fear.)

“Wow. I have never heard of anyone fishing here. That is crazy.” Her curiosity pacified she reached for one least question. “Is that all you guys get in there? Any trout? My husband and I fish 11-Mile for trout…good eating.”

“Oh no…and I would not eat anything out of here. You know with all the cow poop, fertilizer and all…it would make anyone sick as a dog.” This was my piece of de resistance. The line of questioning ended. If she could not table the fish, there was no point whatsoever to all of the effort.

“Oh…(short pause while the images of eating carp soaked in cow poop soaked in)…well good luck to you both.” And she turned back to her vehicle of waiting.

Don and I looked at each other breathing a huge sigh of relief.
“Dude…” Don muttered in the few words he spoke on rare moments when fishing. “That was amazing.”

“How the @#$%%^ did I pull that story off?” I exclaimed in disbelief myself. “When she started following us…I thought this pond was done for.”

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic. Coloradocasters 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

Young Angler Catches State Record Carp-one of Colorado's bigger fish

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. -- A 14-year-old Golden resident became the newest member of Colorado's angling elite after landing a 51-pound grass carp while fishing at Prospect Park Lake on June 4. The mammoth carp, caught by Cody Moreland, set a new species state record and ranks as the heaviest fish ever caught in Colorado.

Smallmouth on the shorebang

There are a number of lakes and even rivers in Colorado that have quality smallmouth bass. My success with smallmouth is hit or miss depending on the body of water I am on and even then it is still mostly miss.

Normally I will work in both a text\picture post and then come in with the video montage later. But in an effort to get caught up in regards to the material backlog I am simply releasing the video montage on this one. If you like these video montages and want to see more, please leave a rate or comment.

Good luck and good fishing.