Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tough go morning

Ever have one of those mornings where virtually everything goes wrong? Pain and some level of masochistic torture follows me on nearly every trip but this one was remarkably difficult for some reason. Some days it seems that I can run through the jungle with scissors in both hands emerging on the other aside without a scratch. Other days I can’t leave the house without coming home looking like something the cat dragged in and then spat out.

Get up early, start the coffee, jump-start my brain and stumble out the door with two rods, tackle bag and fishing shoes. The goal is to find bass in the shallows or at the very least see if they are moving in.

“Should have the place all to myself.” I exclaim with brimming anticipation.

But as I roll into the parking lot I see an SUV and an angler walking out. This means he managed to get up even earlier and may have done a lake lap bruising lips all the way around. This could make the fish ultra stubborn or at the very least wary. Approaching the first area there was evidence that this would be the case. A large male had moved in to nest and its lip was already marked with a black splotch indicating a fresh catch and release.

At the parking lot I had freshly tied on a skirted jig and dressed it with a plastic craw trailer. The jig combo looked absolutely delicious and the knot went on smooth and clean. First cast at the fish and I hook up on someone’s 30lb braided line. The jig is danced every which way but refuses to come loose. One heavy pull and my line snaps with the only three or four feet from shore. Dressed in work clothes I couldn’t wade in and retrieve the lure that would never see a fish otherwise.

“&#$%!” I blurt out watching the lure sink two feet to the bottom. “People gotta fish with %$#@& rope now!?!”

And it all goes downhill from here…

I take two steps moving down the shoreline and get wrapped up in several yards of yet more braided line. The more I tried to step out of it, the more I got tangled. Frustration started to well up in my brain causing the gray overcast skies to look red as blood. A few more hard kicks and twists of my feet and I was practically hog tied.

“Oh this is how its going be?” I start cursing myself.

Realize at this point I fully grasp my error in struggling. I should have started unwinding myself meticulously by hand instead. Now I was really in a pickle. With no other option I knelt down on the wet grass and started cutting the line with my pliers. This proved to be no easy task. Shifting from one knee to other nearly half an hour was spent removing the material probably better suited for towing vehicles rather than catching fish. Every bit was collected and shoved into the pocket of my slacks.

“Sweet!!!!” I exclaim in frustration. “Got $#%^# all over my slacks. Thanks Mr. Braid thrower. Glad I pick up your %$#&@ crap.”

Make my way over to the northwest side of the lake that is guarded by a steep cliff that varies from 10 to 20 feet in height. Thick tree line forces anglers to pick spots very carefully. Three feet from shore I see a bass musing around a clump of wood structure. With only a thin alley of open space to cast through I unhook the less delicious looking grub on the second rod preparing to throw. Turn slightly to check the casting area behind me for obstacles and manage to wrap the grub around one of the many branches in front of me. Its not completely looped so I give it a small tug. It breaks free from that branch but magically flies several feet completely wrapping itself around yet another branch. My eyes witness the lure loop over and over the branch like a Maypole. Several more moments were spent unwrapping the lure. Upon inspection of the line shows signs of abrasion. No choice but to trim and re-tie.

“Oh man…not today. Not this morning. I don’t have time for this &^%#@#.”

Re-tied I cast out. The cast is flubbed by a finger on my left hand and the lure is caught in the brush just inches from the water. No choice but to walk down and unhook it. This spooks the fish and the opportunity is lost. A deep breath is taken and I move silently down the shoreline pat the section obscured in Russian olive trees.

Beyond the thorn-wall of trees the cliff rose even higher shaping itself into the edge of a subtle cove. This area was overgrown by immense cottonwood trees. The roots clung to the cliff like heavy giant fingers while the rest towered above leaning towards the open sky above the lake for additional sunlight. It was there that I saw them. Three dark shadows following one large brown shadow moving slowly under some large overhanging branches. My heart leaped in my throat while moving to an open spot to cast. With some additional time before they reached me I was able to shuffle down the cliff edge about halfway before flipping the grub just outside the edge of the branches.

The shadows continued to move into the casting area. It was clear to see that these were three big largemouth bass palling around with a 10-15lb carp. The behavior could be the tail end of a phenomenon I call “The Gathering”. [It is my belief that largemouth bass will group together in as large as numbers as possible before breaking off into breeding pairs. Yes, I come up with a lot of crazy stuff but this is something I tend to witness on an annual basis more so on smaller ponds with less pressure. Just a theory. Not bonafide by science or anything.] As these fish are moving further from the branches two of the bass separate from the group and make a run for the grub. I give the grub just a small twitch for movement as it drifts slowly downward. The larger of the two fish is enticed and makes her move.

My cliff vantage let’s me see the strike close up. The enormous bucket-like mouth snaps out and sucks in the grub with a quick implosion of air. At that point it should be money, right? Just set the hook and ride that pony to the dance. Not this day. Not this morning. I set the hook and run down to the shoreline while reeling in like crazy. (It is ridiculous how many times I do this a year.) Plant my feet at the edge with no slack in the line. Fish still hanging on and only a foot away from the shore. One foot out the fish miraculously bumps its face on one of the submerged logs and knocks the hook right out of its lip.

I just stood there for a second surrounded by trees as the shadows moved on minus one.

“Get to the next spot!” the voice in my head screams. “Hurry!”

My shoes scramble up the hill and end up slipping on the wet soil. I slide two feet down the hill completely trashing my slacks. Now my frustration becomes delirium and I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or jump in the @#$#% lake. Get back to the top of the cliff somehow with all of my gear and start considering the next move.

“Smooth move. You didn’t bring a change of clothes. Still some water left. Might as well finish it out.”

Still chasing the shadows I see them around the next bend but no option to cast through the trees. Then the squadron formation banked right and headed for deeper water. In moments they vanished completely. The rest of my tour was fruitless passing around another small cove and picking up a few hundred feet of line.

“This guy must have re-lined his pole right here on the shore. Pretty cool leaving all this @#$%^ around. @%%  #$%$#!!!!

Picking up the line made me feel a lot better actually but the swearing didn’t seem to help at all. Fact of the matter I was a complete mess by the time I got to the truck and finally rolled into the office before Lumbergs do their 8:30 sweep.

“Holy cow! What happened to you!?!” most popular greeting of the day.

“Changing a tire?” Man I need to work on my excuses for fishing.

“Well it looks like the tire won.”

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Colorado Wildlife Commission opposes artist Christo's "Over the River" project

Matt’s Rant: There is art and then there is absurd. Who the @#$%^ does this Christo guy think he is? No natural landmark or destination is sacred to Mr. Christo and his "art". This project has some serious financial backing from the east coast and others making it difficult to stifle. Hopefully the latest non-support vote from the Colorado Wildlife Commission will kill this endeavor once and for all. The audacity of some humans. We don’t deserve a planet as awesome as this if we are just going to @#$% it all up.

(Above: Here is Christo going over the project with the one person that really enjoys his work. Maybe I just don’t have enough of culture.”)

SALIDA — The Colorado Wildlife Commission has seen enough. As far as the nine voting members of the commission are concerned, it's hasta la vista for "Over the River."

With a bold, decisive stroke of the pen, the Wildlife Commission, which is charged with protecting, preserving and enhancing the wildlife and wildlife habitat in Colorado, stands unanimously opposed to the controversial landscape art project known as "Over the River" proposed by Bulgarian-born artist Christo.
After listening to measures proposed to minimize impacts to wildlife that were created by the grandiose art project, the governor-appointed commission drafted a letter to Colorado's Bureau of Land Management director stating that it "opposes the Over the River project and any approval or permitting of the project by the BLM or any other jurisdiction."

"This is an inappropriate action that we cannot support," commissioner Dorothea Farris said before initiating the decree at the commission's monthly workshop in Salida last Thursday. "We have a responsibility to protect the wildlife."

Link to full article below:


Good luck and good fishing.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Shorebang Bettie

(Above: See? I do catch a decent fish once in a while, even from shore. This photo was brought to you by Catch and release practice. )

Normally I go into full on shameless bragging mode when it comes to a big fish picture. Due to one of my projects going into construction\deployment there just isn’t time for me to go all lip smackity smackity on this one. In fact, I am lucky to even have enough time to grab a few casts here and there. Normally I take a full week or even two off. My one or two regular viewers will have to settle for a  quick pic post and a little tidbit that may or may not help others out.

This time of year in Colorado when you see a small male bass guarding a round spot of tail-swept lake bottom, there might be a reason for it. Folks get a little silly when they see the protective fish so close to shore. What they may not realize is that there is usually a larger female lurking nearby. All that water flopping after the male just pushes her away.

This time of year, catch and release of the larger fish is crucial. Good luck and good fishing.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Photos from the field

Through my adventures photos are taken that never seem to make it into specific fish posts. To be honest, a lot 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.”

May has fallen on Colorado with a bit of sunshine and winds leftover from March and April. I expected a soft warm blanket but instead was handed a whipped towel. There is no value in complaining about the wind but I still manage to find the time. These photos are a smattering of random shots taken between gusts and a few casts.

May 12th 2011
(Above: This storm could have packed a real snow wallop had the temps dropped just a little bit lower. Flirting between rain and snow most of the metro\front range received a slight “dusting” of an inch or so. Higher up was dealt over a foot. Chains were required to go over the high mountain pass. Summer never comes for some places or is fleeting at best.)

Lil bunny
(Above: Our office is overrun with tiny bunnies right now as these little grass munchers make the most of our expensive landscape. I’m telling you. These things breed like rabbits.)

Wood Shrooms
(Above: I am guessing this is the Velvet Shank\Flammulina velutipes Tricholomataceae. Supposedly edible but I wasn’t brave enough to take a slice for tasting. Besides, the cluster of wood mushrooms looks pretty cool just the way it is.)

Two gals on a stroll
(Above: Two gals going for a sun-filled stroll on saddled brown ponies. As much as people love their cars there are still a few people that like things the old fashioned way and don’t mind the slower pace once in a while. Arvada has an equestrian tradition that still thrives. Drivers of petrol based automobile units slow down and smile as they tip their hat while yielding the right of way.)

Goslings…ok they are cute.
(Above: Geese are not my favorite parks resident in Colorado. To be honest they kinda mess things up here in regards to bacteria and other issues. Originally the deal was that they would just pass through. Instead flocks started moving in like a bunch of in-laws you were never really that crazy about to begun with. But I have to admit that these goslings are darn cute.)

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

Good luck and good fishing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

After Work Cast Grab

Rising temperatures and the absence of wind had my casting elbow twitching and otherwise acting up. Some addictions come with physical withdrawals and despite the cloudy weather and a 10-hour workday…a Mattsabasser must fish. At the closing bell I rocket out of the office and was headed to the closest water to grab a few casts before dark. I expected to see bass cruising in the shallows. Instead a few crappie decided to keep me entertained.
(Above: Small but beautiful crappie. These fish look as if they could be part of the tropical fish section in your local pet fish retailer.)

Not seeing bass in the shallows I decided to walk the shoreline and fish the structure. A few casts in and panfish start nipping at the big bucket-sized lure. A quick downsize later and I am plinking small crappie about every other cast. Most were small and measured under 9”. From the thin look of the sides my guess is that these fish were in post spawn mode.

“Shoulda tried this place a few weeks ago…dangit.”
(One of the smaller crappie telling the tale of the tape. I am not a big fan of putting fish on the ground and more or less scoff at pictures of fish that look as if they are breaded with dirt. Just trying to get an accurate measurement.)

Releasing crappie may perplex a few of my readers, as they understand how good these fish can taste. Tender, flaky white meat makes this fish highly sought after. So many of these fish end up on stringers that a once upon a time hot spot can be thinned out after constant and methodical pursuit. I submit to you video footage that is virtually unseen in the Colorado fishing world…someone actually letting crappie go.

After a few minutes and a handful of crappie the action stops and the spot is more or less burnt out. I throw the bass gear again before moving on but that is a no-go in the bite department. Stop at the next structure point and repeat the crappie success. This time I get into a few 10’s with a bit more body to them.

(Above: This fish looks white in color. Back in the day I would refer to this as a white crappie, which is a misidentification. White crappie have stripes, black crappie have dots. Now you know.)

The level of fishing action rose as the dim glowing ball of the sun fell lower and lower behind the clouded veil of gray. I had maybe an hour or two before it slipped behind the mountains shrouding the trail in darkness. With so much of the lake left to explore I kept casting like a frenzied lunatic that often resembles my overall fishing style. Another cast over a fallen tree submerged in water and another good-sized crappie reaches the hand. This time I try to improve on my fish measuring technique.
(Above: Here is a crappie that looks a bit more slabilicious. Harvesting of crappie can help the population if done responsibly. Most crappie hunters fish them until they are gone. That is why the call of a crappie angler is usually…”I’m looking for another good crappie spot”.)

Just before I am ready to move further down the shoreline I run one more cast on the edge of the structure hoping for another big slab. Then a slightly heavier hit comes as I drop the lure to the bottom. When I pull the fish to shore I see it is a bluegill. My first gill of the year.

(Above: Generally I identify bluegill vs. sunfish by their mouth. A bluegill has a much smaller mouth as where the sunfish has a mouth very similar to the crappie. Bluegill are a member of the sunfish family and can interbreed with other types of sunfish. This makes hybridization quite common.)

Now I have pushed the daylight of my after work cast grab nearly beyond the point of no return. Fumbling my way out of here in the dark would not be the most perilous trip I have taken but still comes with its dangers. A ticket from the local ranger for being here after dark would really put a damper on the day’s overall results.

“One more cast…over there…on the flat shelf…” I cheer myself on and give the lure another sling.

Bam! As soon as the bait hits the water I see a heavy twitch in the line as it races off to the deeper water. Set the hook and start cranking. Sploosh! The fish leaps out of the shallow water giving a fierce headshake. The fish tries to run a few times and nearly wraps itself around a submerged fence post. One more crank, lift the rod tip and the fish is in the hand. A solid bucket in the 16’er range and averaging about 3-pounds.
(Above: I kinda flubbed the shot a bit here due to impatience and lack of focus. Woulda been nice to close this post out with a beauty bucket shot. Always room for improvement. I lightened the picture up a bit to show the color of the fish.)

All in all this was not too shabby of an after work cast grab. I managed to pull off a hat trick of sorts and managed not to destroy my shoes this time. Getting into a mess of panfish was a complete surprise. The bucket at the end was all bonus.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Oh Man…I think I broke blogger.

It has been so long since I have done any format tweaks that when some minor adjustments were made to my rusted old blog template the whole system went kaput. After re-wiring the waffle iron that I use for a modem the system finally booted back up. I didn’t lose any posts but did lose a ton of comments and my amazingly clever replies. Ok so I only lost one or two comments and my sort of clever responses to those. Not ever having thought of saving my comment replies…well…I will simply have to find the energy and time to redo them. Accept my sincerest apologies if I don’t remember exactly what I said the first time.

In closing, this Blogger malfunction could be my entire fault and maybe I will have to hire someone to do all of my format tweaks from here on out so this doesn’t happen again. Maybe then my blog would have blog rolls and a more professional looking layout. Then again it would probably cut into the fishing.

Good luck and good fishing.

Gray Day Bass and the Red Tooner…work with what you got.

Decided to limp the red tooner into some lake action despite the weekend cold front. Temperatures went from a near high 80-degrees on Friday to a low of 40 degrees by Saturday night. I was lucky to have the water still holding some of its warmth but the bass were hunkered down as opposed to cruising. Expectations went from slamtastic to “Oh man…this is going to be a lot like work”. Cold fronts can do a number on bass and today apparently was no exception.
Fish numbers were low and only one was respectable size. Due to layer upon layer of weed growth at this location my lure choice were deadstick style plastics such as the senko rigged weightless along with 3-4 inch grubs both Texas and Carolina rigged. All fish were caught either shallow in the weed structure or deep in the weed structure. The fish would hit the bait at the edge and at the bottom. One fish hit at the surface but that was just a lucky shot. I say this because it came at a time when the water was perfectly flat and it looked as if the clouds were going to break for a moment, which they never did. I ended up losing the fish in the weeds anyway so in retrospect it wasn’t that lucky.

The real champ of the day was the red tooner for holding air long enough for me to get a few hours of fishing in before going squishy on one side. The red tooner is much more pontoon compared to that of the green kick-boat. Even the trailer fits on the back better.
Rather than tearing apart the right side tooner for the fourth or fifth time and looking for the mystery leak I have decided to just go this year limping in. I will still use the green machine as it is a great kickboat but the red tooner will continue to see some water. Suffice to say that when faced with cold fronts and leaky tooners there is little choice but to work with what you got.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

“Brown Water Bail!” (You probably had to be there)

Prologue: Every once in a while an incident occurs that ends up being one of those “inside jokes” that no one else will understand and they look at you in confusion every time it comes up. This pointless and non-fish bragging post is a story of one of those moments. I will do my best to recount this moment for the small handful of regular viewers. But without having been there the brown water bail concept may fall a bit short.

Brown Water Bail

One day Don and I rolled out to one of our prime time lakes trying to get a jump on the early season. The water was cold and stained from heavy rains and spring run off. Stained water is my least favorite and it put me in panic mode right off the bat. After 30 minutes of no bites I was trying to convince Don that we needed to get off the “hot spot” and haul everything to another venue.

“Dude…we need to start thinking about a Plan B.”

“Huh?” Don says with startled amazement. “Pull off of here? Go where?”

I could see that this would be no easy sell. Looking at the cold stained water my worry and lament grew.

“The water is really brown. If I don’t start seeing fish soon…we need to bail.”

Not more than 30-minutes later the sun peeked out of the clouds and the extra light kicked the action into high gear. We were landing fish right and left with some good-sized ones as well. Don looked at me with that expression as if my mental faculties were now in question.

“I can’t believe you wanted to pull off this water.”

“Yea, man. I went kinda Chicken Little for a second. The brown water and slow morning action…not a big fan of stained water.”

Don chuckles and then goes into a shriek-like turkey call, “Brown Water Bail! Brown Water Bail!”

I nearly hit the deck of my pontoon boat in laughter. Couldn’t even fish for the next 5-minutes. Now every time one of us sees the other waning in fear and self-doubt a call is given in the sprit of Chicken Little that day on stained water.

“Brown Water Bail! Brown Water Bail!”

Guess you had to be there.

Good luck and good fishing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Trash pick up 2011…just getting started.

Weather is always a factor when it comes to my relentless pursuit of fish. But weather also plays havoc on my clean up trips. In recent years I have had a period of warm\dry weather at the end of January or even into February that has allowed me to do a good scrub at places I fish. This year I am playing catch up and just getting started. Better late than never.

(Above: Yours truly “mean mugging” it up with a fist full of trash. This was a quick trash grab on the creek after work. A little bit goes a long ways and I am just getting started. Better late than never.)

For whatever reason 2011 has been met with lots of cold, heavy wind, some more wind and then the wind really kicks up. The ground has been frozen or otherwise muddy making the trash pickup scene a lot less pleasurable. Seeing the newly hatched goslings I realized the trash removal is severely tardy for 2011. Wind or no wind…I was going to have to dig in.

Wind is one of the largest culprits when it comes to refuse on the shoreline of Front Range ponds. All it takes is one open dumpster, a tipped trashcan or even a spilled backpack to spray leaflets of pain all across the landscape. Rather than picking up the homework, little Timmy will simply take the “F”. A stiff breeze comes along and all of this refuse will end up at the one spot I plan to fish that day. The wind is so bad this year that I am finding license plates and other oddments from as far off as Nevada or even California.

One of the things that have brought me good fortune in regards to my fishing is trash pickup at places on a semi-annual basis. When people ask me, “Matt what is your secret for your fishing success?” I will often refer to the trash pickups and adopting a handful of urban lakes that fish better as a result of this practice. Or at least it seems that way.

Good luck and good fishing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Don lands Monster Bucket.

So this Don guy that I fish with on occasion gets into some amazing fish. Saturday we are out on one of those lakes that requires a bit of driving to reach. Only minutes into the day and Don sticks the hookset on a huge largemouth bass. Seconds into the battle I turn my head to see the fish leap out of the water.

“Oh man…” I mutter under my breath with baited anticipation. “…you gotta land that fish.”

(Above: Here’s Don offering a few seconds for the photo op before letting the fish go. Admittedly Don is not nearly the fan of the shameless bragging as I am. Great fish!)

Don goes through some of the most dramatic highs and lows in regards to fishing that I have ever seen. For weeks he may be in a terrible slump only to bounce back with a jaw dropping huge fish catch the next day. This year started off pretty rough for the guy. This fish is a little bit of payback. Earlier fishing slump? The slump is in that fish’s gut!

This fish was caught using a black colored swim bait pattern. I may or may not elaborate on this pattern in subsequent posts. For now I will simply let Don soak up some of the shameless bragging and post a video of the release.

Good luck and good fishing.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Painted Turtle-a video short

While doing the evening cast for some mud bass I managed to catch and release a small painted turtle. These video shorts may or may not make into later video montages so I might as well post them when they are created and milk an extra post on the fishing blogilicious.

After so many years of fishing and coming across turtles I am starting to think that these creatures find me for some reason. Respecting nature means respecting all of nature, even turtles.

The sound was lost somewhere in the editing process. Maybe its time to update my ancient movie making software. Thanks for watching. Good luck and good fishing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mud Bassin’…not the best idea I ever had.

After leaving work I drive to a small pond for an evening shorebang cast. When I reach the water my throat gasps at how low the water levels have gotten. It has been a little over a year since visiting this place last and the reduction in volume was a bit unsettling. Still determined I walk the shoreline and immediately step into search cast mode.

The south side of the lake has gravel and rock structure that was easy enough to navigate. But step beyond the rocks and your foot sinks as if you were in quicksand. Halfway down the shoreline I make that mistake by trying to retrieve a piece of trash in the water. Within a blink of an eye I am up to my knee in mud on my left side.

“Well there goes a pair of shoes…maybe the slacks too.” I mutter digging myself out. Later I repeat the same action chasing a small painted turtle.

Then I reach the other side of the lake that is void of any rock or gravel structure save for a few odds and ends. My feet are forced a distance from the shoreline for fear of mud. I see a large swirl in the water in front of me signaling an attack of a predator fish onto something munchy. Sling out just past the boil and begin the retrieve. Nothing hits as I roll the lure through the sweet spot. About ten feet from shore the line signals a heavy hit. Wham! I swing back on the rod tip, feel the heavy tug. I fight the fish for a whole two seconds before it shakes the hook. A few feet further down I cast and repeat the same instance on yet another fish. Missing fish sends me into a spiraling tailspin of frustration. Taking deep breaths I manage to calm myself, take some moss off the bait and sling it out again. Another bite and this time I set the hook right on the first chomp. A fish battle ensues and the reality then starts to sink in.

“Getting this fish is going to be a mess.” I say stepping in a foot of mud for the fish grab.

(Above: Beauty mud bass and this tire typically lies under several feet of water. You have to brave some serious mud to land these fish.)

Get the photo op taken care of and endure yet another trip into the murky stink of soft shoreline for as gentle a release as possible. This muck is nothing more than layers of sediment accumulated over time and has the consistency of butter. Upon releasing the fish I slip up and dip my tackle bag into the mud on one side. Turn quickly to try and minimize the damage simply making things worse. The bag graces my fishing reel, my slacks, pretty much smearing my left side with mud. One look at my reel and I knew I was out of the game…at least for tonight. Hopefully the reel cleans up nicely and slacks I can get anywhere. Fishing after work does come with some hazards apparently.
(Above: Here’s a shot of the entry\fish-land area with my footprints in view. Those prints go about a foot deep near the water’s edge.)

There are times when my fishing addiction is more obvious than others and even I have to admit that my activity borders on psychosis at times. After some pleading from my family and co-workers at one point in my life I met with a psychiatrist to see if there wasn’t some sort of help for my problem. 30 minutes into the session I show him a few fish pictures from the previous year (this was January at the time). He looks at me and starts babbling like a fish crazed goober.

“Wow…how big was that fish? Where did you catch it? Can you take me fishing? I need to fish more…”

It was everything I could do to leave his office without adopting a tag along for next Saturday.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.