Saturday, July 30, 2011

Flower Walk on the Creek (not my best work)

Conditions are far from perfect but the clearing water is good enough for me to take a first stab. Going back to the areas scouted last year I hit the “walkabout” section. As soon as my feet hit the trail my senses were overwhelmed with the multitude of wildflowers. This blissful summer weather of daytime sunshine and afternoon showers has caused the area to explode with a bounty of floral. (Sigh) I only wish my feeble camera skills and beat up camera equipment could do this natural splendor justice.

This plant has a common name of “butter and eggs” and almost impossible to find when I am looking for it. Grab a photo snap and get back on the trail. Every step seemed to unveil another wave of flowers that varied in color and type. Below is only one of the patches of daisies that have found an area to soak in the sun while not being completely taken over by the various grasses. White daisies, purple asters and so many more painted an almost surreal tapestry along the trail.

“Oh wait…I am here to fish.” A voice in my head reminds me of why I am there in the first place. “Stop worrying about these silly flowers.”

Cast and follow, cast and follow. It seems the fish are curious but not willing to commit. A quick change up in color and nothing. Going back the other direction I lose the silver and go straight to gold. Bam! A little fin scrapper gives gold a go. Grab a picture, release the fish and move on.
Cast a few more times and then move on. The areas worth casting were far and few between so after a few throws I would move on. Back on the trail was another immersion in the endless spectacle of natural beauty. You would have to search hard to find a square foot of area without a flower it seemed. Below is a patch of flowers in the aster family-hoary aster would be a decent guess on my part.
A few more nature pictures and then a few more casts. There aren’t any large pools to run through or huge smooth flats to run the lure across. I mean you have to literally pick at small spots here and there. What really helps is being able to see the bottom even if only a foot or two away from the shore. This helps me identify deeper water as opposed to what may be only an inch of depth. Feeling my way blind on the bottom of the murky brown was a struggle for me in earlier weeks
One spot was a shallow slice of flat water on the edge of the creek. The rocks and submerged sandbar seemed to break the current providing a perfect slice of castability. Pulled a couple small browns out of this spot. Had it been just a little bit deeper I am sure a larger fish might have been holding out there.

Are you getting tired of these flowers yet? Hope not because it just keeps going and going. The shot (blanketflower) above reminds me of two eggs on a plate sunny side up. No toast, no bacon and no coffee…two eggs sunny-side up. That must have been the trailside special.
Here is some Horsemint sporting their amazing flowers. This stuff is all over the place but I rarely see the flowers in this quantity. In fact, I don’t remember having a fraction of the flowers seen on this trip. My timing is a little earlier which helps but the additional rain is probably a major factor in these flowers being at this lower elevation so late in July.
Take a picture of some yellow flower (Gumweed) and move towards a large rock in the water. This sizeable boulder held the current back creating a perfect resting place for fish. Looking closer I can see a few smaller fish dart in and out of the white riffle that clings to the outskirts of the rock. Toss in and get a quality thump. Land the fish and struggle to get the photo on a very difficult shoreline. Turns out that the best fish of the day is of course the worst picture.
Move down a few feet to another rock and get struck by a sporadic cutbow. This was a stocked holdover from who knows where. This fish was very stocky and not the happiest fish to have its photo taken. Unfortunately the auto-focus targeted the weed branch in front of the camera instead of the fish.
Numbers were racking up and even had a few quality fish to count in the mix. Finishing up the stretch I can’t help myself but to continue taking pictures of the vegetation along the way.
One last cast and another fin-slapper photo op. At times the fish wouldn’t cooperate and sometimes they just wanted to lie there in my hand for a few seconds. With each and every click of the camera I am thinking, “Oh these pictures are going to sweet!”
It wasn’t until my tired feet got home and the material was downloaded before I could assess the actual quality of the photos. Ironically the photos that I wanted to turn out the best ended up being much less so. It doesn’t bother me so much except for the fact my pictures don’t compare to other blogs that provide far more exceptional photos. When I flub the best photo opportunities I feel a bit like the “William Hung” of fishing\photo blogs. Rather than try to pass off lame excuses or blame the beat up camera gear I will just admit that I have had no professional training as a photographer. Of course not dropping my camera in the water would probably help a little too.

There are so many reasons that my fishing blog material is overlooked by the mainstream. Lack of high-resolution pictures with a far more professional look is just but one of those aspects. If my camera work gets any worse I am going to have to start calling them “piktors” and describe what is going on with blurry images put into the post. Maybe I will read the settings manual one day. Or I could destroy more expensive cameras. Most of the time I just want to fish.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Special thanks to WildFlowerChild and Wildflowersofcolorado for their amazing flower identification websites.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Cabela's pulls out of Wheat Ridge retail development

A long-delayed retail development in Wheat Ridge lost its marquee tenant Thursday as Cabela's announced that it is withdrawing from the project.

The outdoor-goods chain said the project, in the works since 2004, no longer fits with its revised retail strategy. Cabela's is reducing its "involvement in the land development business," said chief executive Tommy Millner in a prepared statement.

Cabela's owns 80 acres near Interstate 70 and Colorado 58, where it initially planned to build a 185,000- square-foot retail destination showroom. The company now wants to sell the property and consider other Denver-area locations.

"It's an overall shift in retail strategy," said Cabela's spokesman Joe Arterburn. "We're better off concentrating on what we do best, which is retailing outdoor goods."

Matt’s Rant: Looks like I will be shopping online for a few items from Cabela’s stock rather than cruising the aisles of a new store in Wheatridge. There are some mixed feelings about this in my view and I wish there were a few extra million in the bank for me to purchase this piece of property. The views are outstanding with an onramp to I-70. Cabela’s has done most of the ground breaking as well as built in a small pond.

Cantankerous people like me cringe at any development even if it is a quality sports retailer. This is an amazing piece of land that deserves a lot better than say a strip mall but sadly I have no control over this. The land will go to the first buyer with the cash.

Link to full article from the Denmver Post below.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rank of Rookie

When developing this unofficial angler ranking system I knew that eventually a confession of sorts was due to come out about my own skill level or lack thereof. The competition in Colorado is pretty stiff and as soon as I think I am getting close to perfection…someone or some fish shows me just how much of a rookie I really am. Other times my overconfidence after a big fish will drench my next trip in failure causing a big dose of humility to my fishing ego. At the end of the day all I have is lessons learned and honesty. 

Rookie: (‘ru-ke) A person who is entering the first year of a sport or lacks professional experience. Even though I fish a lot my skills are nowhere near what I would like them to be. Still a work in progress.

Sure I may run a fishing blog and catch a decent fish once in a while but that does not make me an expert on fishing by any means. Truth be told, my fishing style comes with many bad habits that seem downright reckless at times. I continue to make mistakes here and there which could cost me my life at some point. These are all signs of a rookie or novice blinded by a lack of patience.

Mentality of fishing is just as important as actual fishing skill or knowledge. Many aspects of fishing come from within more than the things brought to the water. A patient angler with a few basic patterns will always out fish an impatient person with many more patterns. Flubbed casts, dropped items and stumbles on the trail are often derived from a lack of focus. Lack of focus is often the doom of people in the outdoors. Improved focus is something I work on constantly and still not quite there.

The fish gods love humility and maybe they follow me on my fishing adventures more for comedy relief than anything else. One good fish…only as good as my next fish…must fish.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishahoic.

Wednesday, July 20, 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.”

July has come with much rain. The runoff and high country snow has pushed my planning off quite a bit. Rather than hitting the prime time river sections I find myself picking a cast at this pond or that. Some months are easier than others and as always I am thankful for every cast.

Along came a spider

(Above: Walking the trail to an open space pond my eyes notice a black creature with eight furry legs about the size of a quarter. It was a jumping spider poised to attack. Its eyes were a glowing emerald green as it sat perched on a thick blade of grass. Curious, my feet stopped and I snapped a couple of photos. On the third picture my ears heard a faint raspy voice whisper, “Just a little closer…”)

Colorado Saguaro

(Above: Colorado is considered for the most part a mountain desert with an arid\high altitude climate. The common mullein often gains the appearance of a saguaro cactus even if only in silhouette form reminding me of a much drier form of terrain.)

Moving upstream

(Above: Taking a tour of the creek the other day looking for any scrap of slack of water to fish. Everything was moving fast and furious including a few really really big fish. I tossed a few things at them but they wouldn’t take.)

End of the rainbow

(Above: Chasing rainbows looking for the pot of gold is fruitless. However, due to real estate development and loss of habitat in mystical forests, Leprechaun’s have been forced to come up with alternatives for their pot of gold.)

Train keep on rolling…

(Above: After a few years of blogging I have seen writers\posters come and go. Some folks get bored after a while and posting drops off. Other bloggers may become frustrated with the realization that blogging didn’t result in big fat checks from Google. Know that I am going to do my best to keep my fishing blogilicious train rolling.)

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

Good luck and good fishing.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My summertime love affair with spinnerbaits

As early season fades to summer the forage base changes along with it. The fish generally are keying on the prevalent baitfish and no longer looking for crawdads or other creature type baits. Sure a bass may take something in the moment of opportunity but smaller fish are typically on the main course in summer. This forces me to abandon my beloved senkos and jigs. My summertime affection shifts to the sexier skirted spinnerbait. I almost feel like I am cheating.

Elements that make the spinnerbait so irresistible start with the larger baitfish presentation that this lure provides. The skirt gives appetizing bulk to the lure along with fluid motion in the water. Skirting comes in many color types that resemble many different species of fish as well as other forage types. Matching the lure to the day’s hot conditions with the spinnerbait can make those old summer doldrums seem like a second honeymoon. The shiny blade adds even more action and even the illusion of multiple fish. They even come in different styles and sizes. Put all of these elements together in one lure and it almost doesn’t seem fair. A hungry fish doesn’t stand a chance when something like this swims by. Customization and assembly kits are also available in the spinnerbait section. Below is a great reference for purchasing and reviewing spinnerbait material.

Below are three basic spinnerbaits that accommodate only some of the forage selection on the largemouth bass menu. These are straight out of the tackle box and some have seen more use and love than others.

(Above: This is one of my baby bass presentations with the single blade. Dark and light greens with yellow and even white are great options when the bass are feeding on smaller bass. Green sunfish also falls into this category. The spinnerbait at the top photo is my favorite bass presentation.)

(Above: Here is decent sunfish pattern for mild stained water that shows what I consider a slight flaw in production that happens more so with knock off products. The skirting is upside down with the dark colors on the bottom and should be reversed. Adjust the skirt and she is ready to go dancing. This is a replacement and will see water soon.)

(Above: Booyah Counter Strike in shad pattern. The box may say shad but I consider this more of a crappie pattern. Better for clear water as opposed to stained. One of my better producers out of the harem.)

(Above: Spinnerbait bucket from the MKG Trade a Trip post. I was wallowing in dismal action that day while Don and MKG were lighting things up. Switching to the Counter Strike saved me from a long drive home with my tail between my legs.)

The best rod type for the spinnerbait is a medium strength rod with fast action on the tip for sensitivity preferably in the 6ft-6inch or 7ft length. The fast action helps present the spinnerbait through the water with the best performance. Too soft of a tip hampers the hookset and some fast action rods fall into that category. Brand names are not as important and I generally hand select my fast action rods to ensure the action is just right.

Not having the specific type of rod shouldn’t keep you away from the sexy skirt and shiny blade spinnerbait action. I use spinnerbaits on the same heavy action rods that I throw jigs and plastics with at times. You lose a little bit in the performance and you don’t quite feel the blade action but it still works.

Line choice is less important but still a factor in regards to the best spinnerbait performance. Experts say monofilament should be your first choice with braided lines for heavier cover. The best advice I can offer in regards to line choice is selecting a quality brand that covers the majority of all the fishing you do. Sure I may re-spool to accommodate some area conditions but for the most part use the same thing for 80% of my fishing. Experimentation is key and most anglers generally fall in love with one type of line or the other.

(Above: Beauty bucket and another spinnerbait bass from the MKG Run. Just trying to add some visual support as I struggle to put together another lure type write-up.)

Spinnerbaits typically come in 3/8 and 1/2oz with a hook size to match generally in the 3/0 range. I like to start most summer days with the 3/8oz to dial in the preferred color pattern and then switch up to the bigger sizes when I feel there is a consistent bite. This could be as little as 3 small fish within an hour but definitely more than just one fish. The bigger lure size tends to avoid smaller fish while attracting the larger bass that would swallow a Volkswagen if they could get their mouths around it. However I don’t completely discount the smaller size in July. Smaller baitfish are prevalent right now and a lot of predator fish will be exclusively targeting them. Fishing long periods of time with the larger bait may produce the big fish and it may not. In a perfect world, there would be two rods with the perfect color and blade pattern in both 3/8 and 1/2oz at my side constantly. Suffice to say the only time I go exclusively big pattern is when I only want the +18inch section of the bass population or being plagued by smaller fish. With so many other bass in the system a larger lure can avoid the annoyance of wasting too much time in “Dink City”.

Retrieve speed can mean everything. Most people like to “rip” spinnerbaits through the water but there are a lot more effective ways to throw a spinnerbait. Most spinnerbaits have more buoyancy than we realize and can tolerate slower retrieves. In fact I find better results by running the lure as slow as possible around and through structure points an weed edges. I started writing up more on this but then found a better web reference already typed up. The reason I don’t go all yackity smackity on the gear breakdowns is for two reasons: Nobody pays me for this stuff and someone has generally covered things far better than I can.

Another good web reference for spinnerbaits is listed below at one of my favorite websites for the basic breakdown on anything bass related. A few of reader submitted tips at the bottom of the page could be weighed with a grain of salt.

There is a lot more that could be covered in regards to my summertime fascination with spinnerbaits. Plastic trailers, trailer hooks as well as more of my favorite patterns. Unfoertunately I have rambled on about 7 pages and looking to head out the door to grab a quick cast before going into work. Hope this information helps a few anglers get more familiar with the fabulously sexy spinnerbait as well as explain my infidelity towards beloved plastic lures as we roll through summer and into fall.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Low Standards…”I’ll hit that.”

Water still looks high and rough. Creeks look like rivers and rivers look, well…they finally look like the rivers they used to be back in the day before dams, reservoirs and this huge water-sucking metropolis. As the afternoon clouds build into heavy rain showers all of the extra moisture puts a smile on my face. This amount of water is something Colorado hasn’t seen in a long time. This big ol thirsty mountain desert is getting a good drink.
 (Above: tough going for even small fish on what is usually just a slip of water. Good, bad or ugly…I’ll give it a go for fish.)

Even though fishing conditions are slightly worse than terrible right now I still pick at spots here and there simply because I can’t help myself. Maybe it is just a matter of obsession and signs of clearing that vary by the hour. Struggling to catch fish in this swift soup is a test to say the least but inside I am giggling like something really happy. Snowmelt and monsoons don’t last forever. High water is good for the overall health of our drainage systems. Eventually the water will settle and clear. These waters will be healthier as a result of all this extra moisture for years to come. Many anglers are far more patient and still in wait mode. They will return to the water when conditions are pristine and perfect. Maybe I simply have low standards and will hit anything if I think there is a chance of success…at least when it comes to water that is.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Carter Res.-Larimer County getting serious about trophy fish management

First it was Lagerman Res. with some revised keep limits and overall emphasis on trophy fish management. Now Carter is going to get a boost with a change in regulations. Now instead of keeping one fish 16 to 18-inches, an angler can keep three fish 21 inches or smaller. This will help remove the common slot predator base allowing more walleye to grow larger. It will also ease the pressure off of other species that are getting hammered by these tasty yet aggressive fish. It may seem that keeping more fish is a move in the wrong direction but in this case it is exactly what the water needs. As sampling continues, the regulations may change accordingly.

When managing agencies make decisions based more on what nature needs as opposed to what the public wants, a few feathers get ruffled. Some folks may not understand these modifications that vary by body of water. It is easy to get confused in a trophy management scenario as opposed to the one-size fits all regulations that exist for most of the Front Range. Taking a moment to read the additional signage as well as adhering to these new modifications will have substantial payoff in the future. Fish will get larger, healthier and the take can only improve. Sport lovers get what they want as well with fish over 21 inches going back to the water to be caught many times.

I am very encouraged by the recent changes made in Larimer County and welcome more water management intended to improve trophy fish in Colorado. Who knows, maybe we even see some smallmouth regulation changes as well. Below is a link to the press release on the Denver Post website written by Dave Coulson.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tooner Area 51 update "The Light Design"

A while back Shaun from carpe troute “seize the trout”
reached out to me via the comment section with an offer of collaboration or something to that affect. Before I go much further I would suggest reviewing his swimbait “how to” blog post that was pretty damn impressive in my view. Maybe because I am pretty crazy about swimbaits. To be honest I was a bit intimidated by the proposition and still am.

Bill Trussel also mentioned the desire to see a little more on my tooner aspirations as well. In an attempt to save this fragmented paragraph I will detail one of the basic concepts I have in mind as well as a few variations. Hopefully this will appease the masses meaning one or two regular viewers of my blog.

Design One-Light and Simple

Simply take some thin aluminum pipe and bend it into a square similar to what is shown below. The dimensions would approximately be 7’x 26”. There are a number of specifics I will leave out but suffice to say this lightweight frame is intended to rest on the top of my 8ft. tooner. Right now you might be saying to yourself, “Is that it?” My answer would be, “It just might be all I need”.

Design Two-Light and Simple with Oar Locks

It may sound easy but adding something like oars to a metal frame design is more difficult than it looks, especially without the materials, a pipe bender, or any experience using said materials or this magical pipe bender unit. (I am more of an idea guy and this really holds me back in the overall development process).

Some of the work may be foregone by forming the oar holders with a few tight bends instead of forming additional pieces and welding them on. Then a couple of holes would be drilled to accommodate whatever oars and miscellaneous hardware are to be used.

The idea is to come up with as light of a version of the 8ft tooner frame as possible that would support around 350lbs. Decking material added would provide additional support as the frame itself won’t tolerate must stress. I haven’t quite finalized the deck design but looking to make that portable as well.

A few items are still being researched and not quite finalized, how the frame is sectioned and then connected back together for example. I have a few ideas but haven’t found anything that works better than the spring lock type on the front bars of my red tooner. The final concept would look similar to below.
As I mentioned before, this design is not earth shatteringly different. It is merely lighter than all of the rest and I could lug it further with less effort than other models. The deck allows me to stay out of the water eliminating the need for waders. It should go without saying that this frame would not be intended for any type of river or use on larger waters. Mainly smaller ponds and lakes where hand propelled craft are permitted but somewhat of a hike to reach.

In closing…

A lot of my time is spent keeping the bills paid and whatever precious moments are left tend to be focused on fishing. This mentality has kept me from being homeless but hindered a lot of my tooner concepts from going into the prototype phase. In all honesty I would be willing to discuss the financing of materials and possibly some of the labor to see my mad tooner visions reach the prototype stage. Letter of disclosure or some sort of partnership can be discussed prior to that life changing sales pitch to Creek Company or others.

This design is the simplest one and the best one to start with. Due to simplicity, the overall design would be difficult to patent. The new design of kickboats more or less follows a similar framing size so I am not really that far from what is out there already. But just like that old U2 song, I still haven’t found what I am looking for. This idea may be it.

From there we can work our way to the solar powered fish finder with coffee cup holder\warmer as well as a few other tooner concepts that resemble something out of Kevin Costner’s Waterworld. How awesome was that boat?
Good luck and good toonin’.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The MAD Fishing Show “Trade a Trip” Saturday with MKG

This adventure was the first of a “trade a trip” scenario with someone who is an excellent high country warrior in my view. He wanted to get a taste of some warm water action so we decided to do a little horse-trading.

Keith has lived in Colorado longer than most. Legend has it that his ancestors helped settle this land and even traded with the natives. Ok, maybe that last part was made up but it is definitely a fact that Keith is one heck of a fly angler. I highly recommend checking out his blog

Early morning meet up, drive out and gear up. Morning conditions are a calm 65 degrees with very little wind. Water was mostly clear but with a slight tint due to algae and depth. Fishing action didn’t happen right off the bat but Keith managed to get into a number of quality bass on the long rod.
(Above: Here’s MKG with a solid bass and one of several on the day. Hopefully Keith will do a full write up on his blog and I won’t spoil the effort by telling the details.)

The fish were holding at the edge of the shoreline if there was sufficient shade, cattails or tree cover. Areas exposed to the sun for long periods of time were nearly void of action. A few fish were picked up in the middle of the lake as well as along the deep inclines but for the most part: tree shade on the south side was money. I expected morning action to be hot but the big bite didn’t come into play until 9AM for some reason. The bite lasted three hours and by noon it was tough getting even a nibble. Air temps were in the mid 90’s by then (up from a mild 60-degrees in the AM) and wind started to get angry.

Don also got into quality buckets on the long rod with the Kieth’ster putting in some of the photo work. I pondered posting a few of the shots that were e-mailed to me but decided against it. With a little more effort on my part we probably could have done a shared post or collaborated a bit more on this one. In fact a lot of my posts seem to write themselves and the flavor in text just rolls off my fingertips with little effort. Not this one. I tend to get this way when I fish the same spot too often and run out of different things to say. So a lot like the fragments of this paragraph, so are the remnants of this post.

Not the money shot

Action shots are some of the most difficult to nail down in the wild especially if you don’t have a camera crew following you around all the time. In this case I managed to get an action shot but the fish didn’t turn quite right making a potential money shot really ho hum.

(Above: This could have been an amazing shot had the fish done a front dive rather than the side flip. Things rarely go perfect.)

Me? Oh I caught fish…but that is not what I want to talk about.

It took me a while to get any fish of quality. My patterns and locations were working but not picking up anything of quality. Eventually I stumbled into a better pattern by way of an oversized spinner-bait in black and white. Rather than posting those pictures here I am going to milk them for a spinner-bait post hopefully in a week or two. 

Getting a trip where three people’s schedules meet is a lot like trying to juggle chainsaws into a shopping cart. Family obligations, work obligations and the spousal units of both Keith and Don add further complexity. People will often ask me to take them fishing or otherwise toss out an invitation of planning future trips. Part of me cringes deep inside when this occurs as this is often a difficult task to organize and the trips rarely go well for some reason. Mountain Goat Keith has been run through a few trips with The MAD Fishing Show, which have been real hit or miss. Probably already screwed myself by foretelling of a future trip, which is also the kiss of death. (Sigh) I am not a superstitious person unless it comes to fishing.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer brings high temps and E-coli warnings to Metro Reservoirs

The swim beach at Chatfield State Park was closed Thursday due to high levels of E. coli bacteria. The beach will re-open once tests indicate safer levels. This bacterium is commonly found in the lower intestine and a major component of fecal matter. Yep, that’s right…poo. This stuff is almost always in the water at lower elevations but usually in small amounts that are not considered harmful. As temperatures rise, so does the threat of getting seriously ill from ingesting even small amounts of tainted water.

Water in public reservoirs are frequently tested (usually once a week) and aquatic personnel may or may not tell you what those levels are unless they reach levels deemed “too high” by Colorado health agencies. Irrigation, treatment plant releases and wildlife are the largest introducers. Domestic animals, humans and even heavy rains also contribute depending on the frequency of visitors or turbulent weather.

Cases of E. coli poisoning will often rise with summer recreation and medical personnel are armed with the proper questions: “What have you eaten recently? Have you been in the water?” There is no effective way of treating E coli symptoms other than to prevent dehydration. Most medical officials avoid antibiotic treatments as that can lead to an even worse condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Expect periodic testing and beach closures throughout the summer at Cherry Creek, Aurora and even Chatfield Reservoir. So many other lakes, ponds, streams and lower elevation waterways will be wrought with high levels of potentially harmful bacteria.

Fish and most wildlife are fairly resistant to E coli and can tolerate higher levels but can still be susceptible to illness as well as death if levels reach too high. I am still researching this by the way and looking for studies that track bacteria levels in fish. It may be alarming to know that some farmed fish are fed a mixture of protein and chicken poo that may contain E. coli as well.

Below is a link to the official announcement from the Denver Post via the Colorado Health folks.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Round 2 Sunfish

Managed to get out and do another round of chasing Green Sunfish. A little disappointed with the photos that I got last time so I decided to grab a video snap of a fish in excellent light for a better visual from this trip.

In truth I am searching for bucketmouth bass but my attention gets diverted whenever I see these guys in schools of quality. Depending on the location, one rod will get a tie up of a smaller presentation for this purpose. Most people would probably use an ultralight setup to take full advantage of the sport these slabby scrappers can provide. However, to simplify things I simply go with light line on everything and use one of the medium\fast action 7’ rods. Not perfect by any means but remember my panfish addiction is just a side gig to my bass obsession and this method lets me utilize all of the rods in full rotation.

Still hitting anything that moves these guys were more than eager to hit my small jig presentations run through areas with cover and thick vegetation. Weeding through a number of smaller fish I was able to land some decent examples. The problem is dialing in the larger fish around so many smaller ones. Patience and multiple casts seemed to be my only working strategy for this. The long rod would have been perfect had I brought the small trout bag with my assortment of flies. The #18 Mosquito was getting nipped at but not inhaled by the largest fish. With more selection I could have dialed them in with a smaller fly. This time of year they simply can’t resist it.

Another aspect of this time of year that anglers have to fish through is the white fluffy seed material being released from cottonwood trees. This “cotton” can get very thick on the water where cottonwood trees line the shoreline. As the sunlight hits the branches, seed pods open up and all it takes a slight breeze to bring the appearance of snowfall. Nearly half the lake is surrounded by these trees covering the cove in a white blanket. It doesn’t take long before my gear is fouled up.

Temperatures peaked slightly before noon and with it came the unrelenting heat of summer. Sweat was seeping into my shorts, my eyes and down the middle of my back. With the heat came added wind and the bite seemed to fade along with my visibility into the deeper water. It was time to call it a day, port out and haul the tooner back to the truck. This is the moment where I am kicking myself for not taking more pictures. So much focus was spent on finding large bass as well as keeping an eye out for batfish that pictures and video didn’t make it into the schedule. It may have been a bit boring to post a bunch of 4-inch gills and a few 2-pounder bass but in hindsight a little extra color may have greatly helped this post out.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Three bagger trash haul with secret weapon deployment

Prolog: It’s only the worst when I need it the most

This is a personal best at this lake and I wish it were a good thing. The other morning I arrived at a lake with some folks and it ended up being the worst experience for them. The discarded trash, the line strung from trees, the story of someone who took possibly ten to twenty fish out in a garbage bag last year…it all was a blending of horrors for people who regularly fly fish high mountain streams. They looked at me and said,”You really fish here?”

The rest of the story is probably more dismal than I make it sound but suffice to say the place needed a cleanup. It is absolutely crazy how some places get a cleanup every year or so and you could never tell after a few months. Once upon a time this lake was great for largemouth bass and I may or may have not done some Youtube videos here for catfish. This post is about one of my toughest cleanups for 2011.

“Red Five I’m go…what the @#$% ???”

Pull up to the lake after work trash bags, secret weapon and no fishing poles. This is a lake I hit a few times a year on the morning route but rarely visit on the evening shift. I figured there would be a small crowd but I didn’t expect five vehicles at the small lot and then two more coming in as I geared up. The two “anglers” rolling in looked at me like I was from another planet.

First hour doesn’t go to bad. There was little to report until I reach the illegal trash dump of construction material. This is the kind of thing that is beyond my scope and makes my effort seem completely futile. Nonetheless I purge forward filling up bag number one focusing on the trash I could pick up. The second hour goes by and the first bag is full. Things are going pretty smooth and the day looks like it could wrap up sooner than expected. For once a trash haul into this location wouldn’t be so bad.

“This run is going to be easy.” One of these days I will learn to stop saying that. As soon as I thought things were going to be easy I ran into Trash Cove.

Trash Cove…every lake has one of these it seems

The top part of the area was filled with loose paper and items not too tough too grab. The bottom was much worse. Here is where I have to really dig in. So many plastic bags, water bottles, cans, and one freshly placed trotline. A vinyl plant box was also pulled out and had to have been there for several months. It could have been much worse and I have seen much worse here. Ugh…every year. The more I pulled out, the more junk I found. Some places you almost want to give up on.

No good deed goes unpunished.

I am turning the corner and nearly half the distance on filling up bag number two when I feel a slight twinge of pain in my lower leg just below my knee. It was so subtle at first. Maybe a small thorn or even a plant-prickly say from a thistle. I checked my pants and saw a spot of mud with some plant debris. I brushed it off and thought nothing more of it. A few steps later my leg began to throb and I stopped once again. This time I felt inside my pant leg for a creepy crawly. Through denim it was tough to feel much but there seemed to be nothing there. Usually you expect to feel some sort of crunch, right? Nothing. Like an idiot I kept walking thinking it was just a lingering pain from the thorns and easily fixed later. Minutes later my leg was on fire and the memory of this strangely pulsating pain that has occurred several times in my life came flooding back to me.

“Red ant.” I muttered rolling up my pant leg and pulling off a half dead red ant with mandibles the size of bear claws from my leg (ok maybe not bear claws).

The escalation of pain stopped as soon as the ant was removed and the throbbing subsided. I continued to pick up trash while reminding me how intense the red ants are at this location. Fierce may be too mild of a term and they control a vast amount of the shoreline at this lake during the summer season.

Final Lap and pull out the secret weapon (ok it is just a cart)

By the final lap I have cleaned up the north side of a lake that gets zero attention unless the city wants to cut down all of the trees due to some invasive species policy. No this is not bizzaro world. This is where I fish sometimes and well it kinda sucks the way people treat it and even the local management is not on my side. The only thing I can really have any impact on is releasing fish and picking up trash, just so happens that by now I have three trash bags nearly filled up. One is a little light but I am still going to count this trip as a full three-bagger. (Who knows? After a few beers I might tell a story about three sticks, some fishing line and a large piece of plastic that nearly kicked my ass.) Lugging all of the bags out would be difficult at best. So I leave the bags at one location and deploy my tooner cart to do the heavy lifting for me.

Limping back to the truck on one good leg my arms grudgingly load the trash bags into the back of the pathfinder. Driving off the frustration of so much litter starts to fade and my mind lends focus to next trip.

“May that trip actually have some fishing involved.”

Good luck and good fishing