Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Foothills Fish and Game Club-Your chance at a slice of solitude

(Image of the lake borrowed from their website as it exceeds the few pictures of I have taken of this beautiful lake.)

Last year I attended a cleanup outside of Longmont at Foothills Fish and Game Club. These folks manage a near 200 surface acre lake for fishing and recreation that offers solitude far beyond the public venues. They have a few openings left for new members while they are still in the rebuilding stages of their sport fishery. This may be one of the few times membership is available without having to cycle through their waiting list.

What it takes to get in may be a bit pricey for some but well worth it for the outdoor enthusiast willing to invest a little for additional privacy. A 1200 dollar setup fee is required for the first year with annual dues of 800 bucks after the first year. This membership offers year round access with fishing, hunting, camping and an outdoor opportunity limited to less than 100 people overall. 85 is the limit of members and you might see 10 or 20 of these folks during the peak summer season at one time. Compared to St. Vrain State park and others that get extremely crowded in the summer time, Foothills Fish and Game offers a greater experience in my opinion simply because of the solitude.

The fishing is in the second year of a rebuilding effort that covers both warm and coldwater species. Bass, trout, crappie, walleye, catfish and more will really start taking hold in the next year or two. Stocking occurs mostly in the spring and the action can be explosive. Hunting opportunities vary by the season and range from fair to good depending on the year. If this sounds like something you would be interested or would like more information, please visit the website link below.

You can also shoot me an e-mail at Put “Foothills Club” in the subject line to help me sort through the tons of spam e-mails I get for no good reason. If you sign up via the website go ahead and tell them Coloradocasters sent you…maybe it will earn me some bonus points with Tim and get me a day pass once in a while. At the very least you will have a slice of solitude in the outdoor experience that is getting more and more crowded in Colorado.

Well its almost ice fishing…

What is it about ice fishing that has me clinging to smaller slips of water with pools barely open to cast? Last year’s outings were beyond dismal. Some trips were downright painful. Twice now I have loaded up the ice auger, the short rods and the sled only to ditch plans and hit anything else. I had planned to ice fish. Really. But somehow the truck veers in another direction and my usual gear manages to hop in at the last minute. Then I find myself driving to fishing destinations that are barely open in some spots and mostly frozen over in others.
On the way up I know things won’t be easy and that is open water is available at all. When I arrive there is a moment of jubilation and dread all at the same time. The water is open but only in one or two areas.

Test a few patterns and scare a few fish. Downsize and pick up a few follows. Downsize even more and I get more interest. This is where having fish in front of you can really help. I toss out one color and then another until something seems to light them up. In this case there is no “light” but one decent brown trout coming over to take part in my taste test.

“Yes!” I exclaim as if this were as big as any fish that has nipped my rookie presentations.

Doing my best to wet my hands with the snow nearby I then go for the photo op. Photo ops in February are tough to come by for me. Not for the lack of trying. There are times when a small brown trout like this appeases the annoying twitch of my casting elbow.

Working the few open water pools with the smallest gear in the bag I manage to come up with a few small cutts and a few small browns. Conditions seemed difficult but not impossible. Around 10:30 some angry wind arrived and began blasting its way through the canyon. I say this was angry wind as it tried to beat me up more than regular gusts. At times it would cease just long enough for me to position for a cast. Then it would wallop me again in all directions. Digging sand and snow from my eyes I cast the best as possible. Funny how the distance needed is only a few feet and the wind made even the short casts tough. Finally I get one cast to go into the riffle and where the fish are. Plink! Another brown trout comes to the hand.

This was not a day of hard water and big fish. Most likely larger fish would have been caught had I stuck to the original plan. It may be safe to say that I have developed a fear and loathing of ice fishing. That is the case for this season at least. A few small pockets of water will hopefully hold me through to March.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Photos from the field

Through my adventures photos are taken that never seem to make it into specific fish posts. So much of my fishing goes unseen or heard. Even though these pictures may not be ready for prime time fishing posts, I have found a way to fit them in an excerpt called “Photos from the field.”

Painted caboose

(Above: Turn your back for one minute and your caboose may be painted up, vandalized or otherwise outright bamboozled. This one has been sitting a while and heavily tagged. Watch your caboose!)

Faux Canis

(Above: One of the experiments adopted by some crafty farmers, park managers, and even home owners are wooden silhouettes shaped like a small coyote, large black fox or even your feral domesticus dogicus. This silhouette has managed to keep away the frequenting flocks of geese that once plagued this neighborhood park. You wouldn’t think geese would be such a terror until you factor in all of the year round feces, bacteria and other ills that come along with a species that is just supposed to stop by for a few months a year. Like a bad in-law they have out stayed their welcome. Mr. Faux Canis here gives them the gentle brush off.)

Pixies in Twilight

(Above: Every second of your life can be magic but some moments are always going to be more so than others. The real trick is putting yourself in the best place possible and having eyes wide open to see those moments when they happen. I tend to stumble on these moments more than control them. Even mere snowflakes can come to life at certain times. All they need is a little flash and some twilight.)

Riffles of ice

(Above: As soon as I think nature has shown me everything she slaps my face with something else completely amazing. How the @#$% does this even happen? It is as if the riffles are caught in flight as they cascade over rock.)

Build it…they will come

(Above: Youth is forever determined and if you focus this energy towards the positive they will veer further and further from the negative. In this case some crafty individuals have carved out a freestyle bike park with nothing more than a little dirt, a few shovels and a sliver of hidden space. This is quite the little hot spot on a summer Saturday. Build it and they will come.)

February usually slows my fishing down with frequent snowstorms that cancel high country trips and warm spurts that soften the hard ice of my Front Range venues. Sorting through the gear, watching weather reports and planning my attack for spring is what helps me get through the last month of what I call “The Cold Three”. Still managing to get a few casts here and there but nothing to brag about. Thank you so much for your views, comments and rates. This blog is fueled by your support. 

Good luck and good fishing.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fish the snow!

Friday night I am sorting through the ice fishing gear and loading up for the next morning. Morning comes and landscape is getting pounded with a heavy snowstorm. This snow would make travel difficult and my planned destination was a bit of a haul, one-hour drive time with good roads. Bad roads? It could take me two days.

“I should just stay in and drink coffee.” I muttered to myself hoping to melt the falling flakes with the frustration brewing in my mind.

Looking out the window I see that this weather pattern is not as cold as it was just a day or two ago. In fact I could see the snow melting and water building up in the gutters. The conditions were similar to a month ago. As soon as the truck started up my thoughts of ice fishing were abandoned.

“Fish the river. Fish the snow!”

Bad weather can mean better fishing in the metro area. The extra precipitation and the melting snow stir things up. This will typically create a rise in feeding activity. What I didn’t expect was the water to be open in a few spots that were frozen over just a week or two ago. One cast and I hook into a beauty cutbow. Not as large as the one I caught here last time but enough to make the detour in planning pay off. No pics on this one…just video.

Once again the solid gold pattern paid off. Maybe it is simply the location and time of year that has these fish attacking anything with a hint of gold or brass.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Top 10 reasons NOT to fish with Mattsabasser

There is a bit of hubbub over at OBN about the get together supposedly coming to Denver in the summer. A writing prompt has been initiated asking which fellow bloggers they would most likely meet or even hang out with. I am going to admit that my name will be overlooked, possibly even shunned from the “fishing wish list” and with good reason.

The folks that actually read my blog have come to realize that I am a bit cantankerous and possibly even antisocial towards some humans. My fishing excursions may also look a bit sadistic at times with cliff dives, long hikes and even that one porcupine that I stumbled across on the early morning trail in 2010. There are so many reasons that people choose not to fish with me but for the sake of this post I will try to narrow it down to some sort of Top 10.

1. Fishing is more than a pastime for me. It is an obsession. I don’t think fishing should be relaxing or even fun. We are there to catch fish.

2. Beer and other alcoholic beverages are not to be consumed when fishing. We are there to fish, not to get drunk. I am not entirely against getting drunk afterwards.

3. Most of my fishing places do not allow the use of live bait and all rules, regulations will be respected. I have also been known to blindfold people before the trip to ensure the fishing location cannot be found later.

4. 99% of the time we will be releasing the fish. (Yellow perch and some fish may be harvested as needed but generally as a rule the fish are going back with as minimal harm as possible.) The local grocer will have a seafood section we can hit on the way back if you absolutely need to eat fish.

5. There is a good chance that I will pollute your mentality with my conspiracy theories, conservation rants and even voodoo curses about fishing.

6. We probably won’t be going for trout. By summer my panfish addiction may be in overdrive as well as a good bass fix will be in order. With enough daylight and fuel, an angler can do both in Colorado within a single day.

7. I will bring a spin rod. (I will have a fly rod as well but will mostly use the spin gear depending on what the fish want.) This is a huge source of discontent for a lot of anglers in Colorado for some reason. “If you didn’t catch that fish with a fly rod…you cheated”.

8. I will ask you take pictures of me with my fish. It will start to wear on you after a while if I am the only one doing any of the catching. Oh and I curse a little bit too if the fish doesn’t cooperate with the photo op.

9. I don’t bring extra water or supplies. Sometimes I barely bring enough for myself. It’s a real problem for me actually. But if you carry extra supplies in I will gladly help you utilize them.

10. You will have to get up very early, stay out very late and do a lot of walking, rowing or other extraneous activity to reach the fish. I do not guarantee you will catch fish. A lot of people take one fishing trip with me and take one trip only for this reason more than the others.

For these reasons and many more it will be no stretch of the imagination that my name will rise to the top of the other list. The list of people they most likely don’t want to meet or fish with at the OBN Rendezvous or ever for that matter. This is not done to exclude me per say but does support or otherwise highlight the vast intelligence of the awesomely fantastic OBN Community.

People do occasionally ask me for fishing trips and have made the mistake of actually showing up at the appropriate time (there is a 15-minute window before the truck leaves). They assume I have a big fancy boat and the fish will just jump right in their laps. After an hour they realize this is going to be a lot of work and start remembering crucial appointments or even medical excuses.

(Above: I don’t guide for many reasons. But if I did run a fishing guide service the promotional material would look similar to this. (Sigh) My disclaimer could use some work.)

The bloggers I would like most to meet would be Joe and Rebecca. Being able to thank them for creating OBN in person would be pretty amazing. Searching and finding outdoor blogs is fairly difficult for me for some reason. After becoming a member of OBN the list of blogs I follow has doubled and my follow list has grown as well. Blogger highlights, the forum, gear reviews…the list goes on and on. Once again, Joe and Rebecca, thank you.

Lastly, there are a few bloggers and readers who have reached out to me and I hope to connect with them in some fashion for 2011. Nothing has been written in stone as of yet and I may need an e-mail reminder here and there to keep the dates on target.

With most appreciation,


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Breaking Bad Mojo on Mr. T

Admittedly my superstitions that revolve around fishing may point towards some level of mental instability. Family, friends and even coworkers have pointed this out to me on more than one occasion. Not being able to fish and not catching fish are two things that can play havoc on my mentality sending my brain on paranoid tangents.

So when The MAD Fishing Show fell into a serious slump for a few weeks it not only cut into the shameless fish bragging but it started to make me more concerned with each trip. It was almost as if the magic was gone. Don and I were cursed.

(Above: Early morning jump shot. Sometimes getting there is a battle. Then there are the moments that make a person feel truly blessed…fish or no fish.)

The wind was howling like an angry banshee making the gear up a watery-eyed and cold experience. The heavy gusts reached as high as 50mph and continued to beat up on us throughout the morning. This force of nature can be relentlessly taxing to anglers causing muffed casts, red skin and frozen tears on the side of the face. Undeterred we hit the water looking for some team effort fish. If this trip didn’t pay off we would have to rename the Matt and Don excursions to something like “Guess it was good to get out at least” or “Yea, we don’t know what we are doing”.

Don steps to the water and pulls out a fish within a few casts. We were prepared to work hard for fish but coming up with a brook trout right off the bat seemed to lift the curse instantly.

(Above: Don with a beauty brook and first fish of the day. Brook trout are about as rare as a hen’s tooth on this slip of water. Way to go Don.)

The first fish builds confidence. In this case it was a huge spirit builder that seemed to swing the momentum in our favor. A great trip can begin with one fish. Regardless of the size this brook trout reminded us that we can still catch fish…even ones that people might swear don’t exist here.

Working the top of the stretch I am running through a few patterns to see what might be the flavor of the day. If the fish are in an aggressive mood they will follow and hit just about anything. After a few casts I find one or two fish willing to take a nip at a slow roll and bump presentation. Sometimes the trick here is just finding the one thing they haven’t seen in a while and running it slow.

(Above: Then the rookie lands a nice brown. Handle with care and release.)

The ground is frozen and my wet boots stick to the sand or rock as I leave the water. Casting from the shore most of the time I needed only to step in to unhook\release the fish.

Water levels are low forcing fish into the deeper pockets. This makes them easier to locate but you can almost see the nervousness in their eyes. Most of them hang low in the trough and simply ignore me after the first pass. Finally I get another brown trout to give the slow roll bump a go. This time it is a dark brute with a mean mouth and a steady fight. Most fish amaze me with their color patterns but this brown trout looks just plain angry!

(Above: Check out the teeth on this guy! Male brown trout tend to have darker colors and a more protruding lower jaw.)

The action increased with the rising of the sun. Then a hot bite showed up between 9 and 11AM. This was fairly obvious and seemed to be timed with both the warmest time of the day and a slight parting of the clouds. Fish and spots that seemed sluggish before became more active. One of the fish that I had thrown at earlier said hello on a repeat visit later in the day.

(Above: My fish pictures can really be terrible when the hot bite is on. This was completely a quick click-n-go shot.)

Don took over from there and landed a few quality brown trout as well. Typically one of us will dial in the fish on any given day. But after such a bad mojo funk it was really nice to see both of us do well. The mojo funk seemed to dissipate with every fish that made it to the hand.

(Above: I rarely muff up the pictures for Don. Sorry about this one, man. That was a beauty fish and this photo does not do it justice.)

A few seconds and almost the next cast he hooks into another one. This time I manage to stick the landing on the photo op and the fish is sent back on its way.

(Above: Here is where I slightly redeem myself. Too bad this fish was not near as impressive as the other one.)

By 1PM you are looking at a full parking lot and shoreline space is limited. Things can get a bit testy when anglers have to fish in a crowd. Some spots you have to take a number and wait your turn. The pressure seems to increase more and more. Being one of the few open water sections in the area may have something to do with that.

(Above: Frigid shot looking west at high noon. Spot number seven looks open. Get your gear from the car and RUN!!! Ha ha. Sorry, inside joke. You kinda had to be there. Should have had the video on for that one.)

One of the reasons this stretch still has a few of these beauty brown trout is due to the fact it is managed as AFLO\C&R water. Small rivers such as this are premium fisheries in Colorado that can be susceptible to over-harvesting. 

Note: This trip was taken just before the recent cold snap and subsequent snow. Conditions may have changed. Check river and road conditions before you go. I get a little disappointed with myself when a post takes too long to produce.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Friday, February 4, 2011

At least I can still look at fish

Last Saturday I was slinging in 60-degree temperatures. Today I am sitting on my butt with a –16 (minus sixteen) degree arctic freeze. Schools are closed and the roads are super slick. Reaching some river tailwater would be a difficult task. Grabbing a spot on some hard water would be uncomfortable to say the least.

In an effort to salvage this day I decided to put together some Basspro footage from Sunday into a video montage of sorts. If I can’t fish at least I can look at fish. Looking at fish through a wall of glass is sort of like methadone for fishaholics.

The audio was added with Youtube’s AudioSwap feature. Not a big fan of the suggested playlists as I rarely find something that goes with the footage. Aalborg Fantasy Soundtracks - Deep Sea Orchestra was used for this clip. I would have been happier with a Pink Floyd track from their earlier days.

The good news is that I did manage to nail some fish on the last outing. Hopefully I will get the pictures edited and the text laid out in a manner that flows nearly as good as the trip itself.

Must Fish