Friday, March 25, 2011

The one that got away…from the perfect photo op.

Most of the time it is difficult enough for me to get the fish to bite. Last week I go through all of the trouble to land a decent fish and the darn thing jumps right out of my hands at the count of 2 and ¾’s. Should have told the fish we were going for the shot on the 3-count. The camera goes click and I’m left holding air.

A lot of the pictures I take don’t seem to make their way into the blog posts. In this case I will endure a little humility to expose how difficult it can be at times to get that perfect photo op.

Good luck and good fishing.

Wednesday, March 23, 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.”

March in Colorado is one of those crazy months that could have everything from a sideways running blizzard to high temperatures of 70-degrees all in the same day. Warm water action is far from prime time but slowly getting underway. I should be chasing walleye but instead find myself chasing buckets and smallies. For what it is worth I am happy to have open water.

Must Fish

(Above: Don grabbed this shot while we were fishing morning fog. One of the common requests I get is to show more background in my fish pictures. For those people, this shot is for you.)

Stampede of Fog

(Above: Late morning start but I am still rolling to the fishing spot. Out of nowhere a stampede of ground-cloud rushes across the road covering the landscape. Visibility went from several miles to nothing as soon as I dropped into the drainage basin.)

Rock Worm

(Above: A mysterious sighting for me in Colorado is these peculiar holes made through solid rock. Could there be a large worm that eats its way through granite and quartz? Maybe they move and feed only at night, which is why I have never seen the worms during my outdoor adventures. Probably just a drill hole left over from dynamiting the rock for a roadway or something like that.)

Circle of Ice

(Above: Nature amazes me on a continuous basis. Here the current has shaped a near perfect circle of ice in the river. Even though wilderness follows its own order most of the time, nature’s geometry is flawless.)

Special Sauce

(Above: My fishing addiction keeps me from exploring a lot of different circles like the crazy world of BBQ spices and silly named rub mixes for example. After reading some of the labels created by the masters of this arena…this may be a world I could do without. Ha ha )

Thank you so much for your views, comments and rates. This blog is fueled by your support. 

Good luck and good fishing.

Friday, March 18, 2011

March Bucket

(Above: Clydish looking bucket willing to cough up a mid-day bite.)

Saturday obligations had me in lockdown mode and had to switch things up to a rare Sunday water launch. Early morning wake up to a cold heavy drizzle and I go right back to bed. After an hour of extra sleep and three extra cups of coffee the rain stops, clouds part and I roll out to the water.

“My bones are still trying to lose the chill from last week…and the week before that.”

This will be the first spin on my new ODC Sport LT tooner from Creek Company, more on that hopefully in a later post. Suffice to say I struggle with the transition right off the bat and had to pull over twice to readjust the straps. Barely made it to the lake with the new tooner still on the truck. With the late start my casting doesn’t begin until noon.

The bass seem to still be a bit sluggish but willing to make moves towards shallow water. I was able to pick two smaller bass out of the coves just a few feet from shore in about a foot of water. This lake has a bit of weed matte at the bottom so my presentations were focused on slow moving weedless and swimming baits. Salamanders, grubs and even deadstick plastics are good options for me this time of year as I can run them on the bottom without too much trouble whether it is shallow or deep. When search baits fail to get bites or when I need to work deep or shallow structure slowly, a weedless plastic type lure is going to get the toss.
There are some samples shown above of just a few plastic lure types that I like to throw. I recommend the bassing beginner start out with the fantastic plastics as opposed to crankbaits with extra hooks that can spell disaster. Retrieve speeds can vary for the time of year but right now I am running things slow. Real slow.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Desperate Plans to meet the water needs of the Front Range

Developers citing the need to deal with looming water shortages propose to build a massive reservoir in the foothills southwest of Denver.

But they don't have water to fill it.

On Tuesday, Penley Water Co. called the reservoir essential for weaning Front Range suburbs from wells, which produce less and less water as underground aquifers are depleted.

The proposed $105 million reservoir would inundate about 306 acres west of Sedalia and hold up to 22,500 acre-feet of water. That's slightly larger than Denver Water's Marston reservoir.

It would be the second major new reservoir in the Denver area for which little or no water has been acquired. Parker Water & Sanitation District is building the $230 million Rueter-Hess reservoir to store up to 72,000 acre-feet of water. Douglas County commissioners are reviewing engineering documents and a staff recommendation that they approve the project — with or without water to fill it.

"It's up to the developer if they want to take the expense of moving the earth before they have the water lined up," planning supervisor Curt Weitkunat said.

Across the Front Range, water woes are intensifying because developers in the past built subdivisions on semi-arid land and counted on wells, some drilled as deep as 2,700 feet into Denver Basin aquifers, which a Colorado Foundation for Water Education study shows are dropping by an inch a day in some areas.

About 60 percent of residents in 15 suburbs depend on groundwater wells, said Rod Kuharich, director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. The authority, however, remained neutral on the Penley project.

"It's an engineering question," Kuharich said. "You'd have to find out if there's water to put into it."

Link to full article below:

Matt’s Rant: The situation is beyond desperate in my view and we continue to burn this candle at both ends. More people moving in, more houses being built and more water being used. Real water conservation is a tough sell to homeowners with yards that need to stay green, pools that need to be filled and hot showers that take almost an hour to complete. Irrigation needs are maxed out and even drinking supplies are getting smaller and smaller. The problem is getting worse and the population models burst around 2020.

Without some significant moisture at near record levels the Front Range will continue to feel the strain of increased population, lower moisture levels and a continued choking of our water supply. This situation is getting worse and we continue to reach for bandaid solutions such as digging holes for water we may or may not find.

These days I have my showers limited to 3 of 4 paper cups of water and eating dry instant coffee mix in the morning. It may seem crazy but I am just doing my part for water conservation. Unfortunately I feel like the only one and my efforts won’t stop the reservoirs from being drained when the water is needed. Colorado is planning on draining a few reservoirs this year while others are being planned. This will merely buy a few lawns a little more time.

Good luck and good fishing.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Check out could be your free FTP

In an effort to help a few archaic and not the most tech savvy bloggers like myself out there with some news they can use, I would like to introduce a program called Dropbox. This is a free program that acts similar to a File Transfer Protocol that multiple users can access once you share the folders with them.

I set up a Dropbox folder for The MAD Fishing Show and then sent an e-mail to Don a few weeks ago and so far it has worked out great. A calendar will be added for planning and we toss web maps and other info there for review. Much easier than a file attachment and doesn’t set off my eight layer firewall on the shoebox and three wires I use for a PC. Here is a quick screen shot of what we have going so far.

If you are currently collaborating with other PC users and don’t already have an existing FTP setup, give Dropbox a look. This system is also upgradeable to meet large file demands at a reasonable price (you can share folders and earn more free space). I have used other FTP systems both fee and free but think Dropbox is easier to work with.

Not having to clean out the e-mail box of attachments is a nice bonus. Hope this helps.

Good luck and good fishing.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Two-hander bow

(Above: Big bow cow caught and released. This fish looked to have some previous scarring on the side of its face. My guess is that this fish may have used its strength to escape from another angler.)

Out on the lake and I am throwing heavy metal in long distance search cast mode. This is one of my favorite methods when faced with a lot of water both horizontal and vertical. Keeping the retrieve just fast enough for the lure to stay afloat a heavy tug hits the line. The rod doubles over as if I had hooked the back end of a runaway truck and the drag sings out that sweet melody of a fish run.

Truth be told I often lose that one big fish of the day to simple mistakes. One inch of slack or a weak hookset results in horror and dismay. Bringing the fish closer to the boat I expect tragedy at any moment. Mere inches away from my hand the fish runs back to the bottom spinning my reel spool once again. The surge of energy pulled nearly a hundred feet of line and all I could do was hang on while being patient.

Once the surge slows I cup the reel softly with my left hand and do my best to turn the fish’s head back towards me. The fish turns and then runs straight at me. The fish is fast and I can barely keep up with it. Slack starts to form in the line. The old familiar feeling of dread starts to circle me like a flock of vultures waiting for a beast to die.

“Smart fish.” I mutter through clenched teeth reeling frantically.

Lift the rod and the fish is pointed right at me less than a foot under the surface and three feet away from the boat. At this point I think I have the fish on the ropes. One good crank and tug and this fish will be landed. Wrong. All the smaller trout caught this year had lulled me into a false sense of confidence. I had completely misjudged the power of this hefty trout. It turned again and surged downward out of sight. The drag sang out another chorus and the curses rolled under my breath. Back and forth this battle went on. By this time I was convinced that the fish would spit the hook and haunt me in my sleep for years to come.

About the sixth or seventh time the fish zigged when it should have zagged and turned right into my hand. Don was there to grab some great footage. Release the fish and I had to sit there for a few moments trembling in pure jubilation. Just like sun shines on a dog’s butt every so often, this Mattsabasser does catch a big fish once in a while. I never claim to be the best or even a good source for information most of the time. Truth be told I simply love to fish and beastie fin slappers like this are one of life’s sweetest rewards…for me at least.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A note on Fishing File Management

Sharing information on the Internet for most is a casual affair. They log on and post with a few taps of the keyboard and leave it at that. They could care less about organizing the files along the way or even using spell check at times. One of the aspects of my blog material is the endless file management. I have to process and filter a lot of pictures, research info and keep all of this manageable to some degree.

It all starts with a download from my digital camera after a trip. A folder is created with the date (yyyymmdd so they sort nicely) and all the pictures from that trip are placed there. It also helps if I do the picture editing in this folder as well but it doesn’t always happen that way and I end up doing the cleanup later. Then at the end of the year I can migrate all of that to an external hard drive for safekeeping.

A huge glob of files in one single folder would be much more difficult to analyze. This method enables me to review the material by location and date allowing me to factor in the success at certain times of year folder by folder. I still end up with a few straggling pictures to the right but you get the idea.

My blog posts are also managed but this organization is streamlined into categories rather than specific folders. This is done so that I can review the posts, articles and whatnot in a glance for a specific subject or titled post. This comes in handy when I think that a subject might have already been covered or I may wish to re-submit on another venue for some reason. When first starting out I was in complete chaos with my fishing file management. Even my current fishing forum submittals would be lost in the shuffle. Now that a little forethought and discipline has been employed it makes the whole situation easier to work with. This is probably something most are already doing in some fashion. Hopefully there are one or two bloggers out there that are possibly drowning in the file chaos and looking for the answer. With an added external file storage system and a little self-discipline you can at the very least find stuff easier.

Good luck and good fishing

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March Slab

Roll out the pontooner to a small lake with more of a multispecies crowd compared to the bass pond that was tried last week. An angler has more of a chance at getting into something in Colorado around March if there are more types of fish than just bucketmouths. This particular lake has largemouth bass but also rumored to have smallmouth, a few decent crappie and stocked trout that can get fairly decent sized. These are the times when I bring both the kitchen sink and the bathtub as well. Translated this means both the trout bag that has seen a lot action in the last few months and the bass bag, which is still being dusted off from last November.

Wind was about 5 to 10mph blowing out of the west. This had forced the fish to hold up against the western edge of the lake that was sheltered from the wind forced lake current. Most experts in this situation will say to focus on the east side of the lake as the fish and forage will be pushed that direction by the wind. I have found the opposite to be true on smaller ponds or where there is water sheltered from the gusts.

Once I find the shelter point and anchor down Don says he has spotted a school of crappie. He tosses at them for a while with the gear he has and then goes back to searching for buckets. I dig into my bag and tie one up and start throwing for crappie. Just a plain white jig with a plastic grub trailer, 1/8oz weight on the jig head and 2” length on the grub. This is not a secret tactic for crappie by any means but having something in the micro-size on hand just might be the ticket. The idea is to swim the jig through the water like a lost minnow or crazy water bug. Crappie tend to like deep structure so I try to cast around areas that have something these fish could hunker around.

Throw a few casts and two crappie slabs come out from the deep structure to investigate. One of them slams the jig right in front of me and the panfish battle is on. The fish didn’t give up a huge battle mind you but did provide a sturdy panfish scrap, which is something I have not had for a while. Land the fish and take a few pictures that turned out horrible and a quick video that I stole the screen shot above from.

No big buckets yet but the season is young. Getting my hands on a March slab is just as fantastic!

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

This could change everything…CDOW\State Parks merger proposed.

(Above: The image above was for an article that was so scathing I chose not to publish it. Most of my wildlife rants sound more like armchair quarterbacking and have little real value to the reader. Somehow I managed to work it in to a completely different wildlife rant\update.)

 The state agencies that deal with parks and wildlife may soon be merged into a single division in an effort to save money, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Tuesday.

Hickenlooper and Mike King, director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said that should their plan get legislative approval, no one will lose their jobs — but positions will be eliminated as employees retire or resign. The initial estimate is that consolidation would mean about 25 fewer state jobs.

Because of the merger, Hickenlooper's proposal to repurpose state parks that were going to be closed in the current budget crisis is on hold.

King said there is a "tremendous amount of overlap" between the Division of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks.

"They provide recreational opportunity. They protect our lands, our habitat, our hunting and fishing opportunities," he said, adding that consolidation "should have been done a long time ago."

The full article can be read below:

Matt’s Rant: Like most proposals and mergers it will take some time to see how this all plays out. When I do the math it is clear to me that the management of Colorado State Parks was failing financially. They even went so far as to put parks up for sale in regards to mineral and gas exploration.

The DOW (technically I should be calling it CDOW-Colorado Division of Wildlife) is funded by sportsman and even though I don’t agree with some of their management plans for certain species or areas, you have to admit that the DOW manages more and does it better at least according to the books. Without subsidies the State Park system went into the red and started betraying the very purpose they were intended for.

State Parks have spent a lot of money on their facilities making it easier for the urban crowd to enjoy the outdoor setting in relative comfort. This was a great idea but the constant renovation and upgrades were unfounded. They charge more than National Parks and even pay fee State Wildlife Areas managed by the DOW...3 times as much in fact with annual passes, boating and camping fees. With record numbers of attendance at popular parks such as St. Vrain and Cherry Creek, they still failed to meet their budget needs. Now is a great time to shake things up and let someone else give it a go. Without some type of intervention this agency would have to close and sell off half (the less popular ones of course-and a few of my favorite by the way) their properties to break even at this point.

Both DOW and State Parks have tried to rely on user access fees and the DOW may have an advantage with the fish and game licenses. The burden for the DOW will be to restructure parks more in line with the user funding they receive. Removing the redundancy and overlapping layers of management may save a few places from being prostituted more than they already have been. The DOW manages wildlife issues within the State Parks already so this merger makes a lot of sense financially. Money drives habitat management making this a crucial component for the short and long term. For every wildlife project, managing area and even proposals money is the primary factor for success and failure.

Right now this is just a proposal. Hopefully the details are worked out on the table with the least amount of impact to employees. Most of all I want State Parks to become more efficient and end the financial issues that would eventually doom all State Park managed lands. 

Good luck and good fishing.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Back to Buckets…well almost

(Above: This would be a better shot if I weren’t really looking forward to blue skies and a high temp of

As soon as the ice lid comes off the metro ponds I start thinking about bass fishing. It makes no sense as the water can barely be above 45 degrees and here I am loading up the tooner to search for some largemouth bass in a state that may or may not want them sometimes.

The trip started early with a heavy fog laying down on everything like a fat lazy cat as big as half the county. Being a cold water species more accustomed to water temps above 70-degrees is not going to make the largemouth bass a prime-time bait smacker in February. This cold fog wasn’t going to help. The “thick” held back the sun’s rays allowing the night’s frost to linger. Temperatures dropped instead of rose as I chattered my teeth in a spring-like two layer garb.

A slow go bottom-bouncing jig dressed up with a black skirt and curly tail grub that got a knock on the door. Only had to soak half my tackle box before going back to the one thing I could thump on the bottom to find fish at the pace of someone driving Miss Daisy.
(Above: A bad picture of what I hope does not become a string of bad photos like last year. What is it about some of my shots that are less than well…good. Oh and also check out the overly aggressive forward hold on a 13-inch bass.)

Around 9AM the fog began to break with hints of blue in the distance. Then the blue would fade. By 10AM we had clearing skies and hints of wind. My body began to thaw out and search casting was the norm. If I weren’t slow rolling a spinnerbait up and down through the water column I was slow jigging what looked to be the hot structure spots. The bite was nil throughout the day.
(Above: A nice chunk on the quick grab. It really helps your summer fishing to go easy on these bass early in the season. By June most of these fish will be hammered!)

Probably would have been a better day for anything but bucketmouth bass. But for some reason my mind always has thoughts of fish looming in the background. Even if that is the last thing I should be throwing for.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How to access private water…legally.

 At least once a year I read a post about golf courses or folks who are interested in accessing private water. With so much water storage kept away from the open water casts it can be absolute torture to hardcore anglers. Less scrupulous folks may hop a fence or otherwise make a private water jump on the non-kosher scene. The “Ask First” policy goes right out the window with some people and this taints the image of fishing overall. There is a much better way to go about this. Let’s take a look at a few steps I employ in an attempt to gain access private water.

Write an introduction letter

The private property owner won’t know the difference between you versus all those people they run off on a semi-regular basis. It really helps your case if you put together a polite but brief introduction letter. Express your love for fishing and the style of fishing you wish to partake in while on this person’s property. Make sure to put your full name and contact info as well.

Waiver of Liability

Liability is a major issue when it comes to accessing private property. In many cases the property owner faces litigation and can lose everything if someone with a good lawyer gets hurt. Offering a signed waiver of liability can ease the fears of a respective landowner as well as show them you have their concerns in mind.

I have uploaded a “waiver light” form that is both brief and covers the basic liability. This is the version I offer first but may have to provide more disclaimers or fill out additional forms that they provide. This is not a bulletproof waiver and many examples exist on various free legal forms websites. Download link below. (I probably could have picked a better hosting platform.)

Consider what is in it for them?

It may seem selfish to keep all of that water for irrigation or farming and not let anyone fish. But there may be several good reasons as well as previous instances that have closed the public access fishing door at many locations. Then again it may just be as simple as making it worth the while of the property owner. I have offered everything from beer, my labor services and possibly even the promise of my next unborn child. Showing genuine intent to repay the favor in some way for this immense privilege is key to making this a beneficial situation for both parties. This conversation can take place at any time but I will try to slip something into the introduction letter that will sweeten the deal for the landowner or managing agency.

Send the letter (you never know until you try-prepare yourself for rejection)

All you have to do now is send the letter off in the mail or hand-deliver if more prudent in that particular case. Use your best judgment as to what method will work best for you. Prepare yourself to be turned down, ignored or otherwise flat out rejected most of the time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but you have very little to lose and everything to gain by asking first. If you trespass it could cost you at the very least a fine. Worst case you lose your fishing privilege.

“Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” Berretta theme song and a darn good philosophy overall.

Good luck and good fishing.