Tuesday, January 31, 2012

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.”

Thin Veil

(Above: Fishing 365 days a year would be a lot easier if the water cooperated with me. This is the time of year when there is often a thin veil standing between success and me. Too thick to cast through and too thin to drill. Come on Spring!)

Fragments of ice

(Above: One section is iced over but another section only has fragments of ice. Even though this area was too shallow to contain any fish of size, a few casts were thrown just to get the lures wet.)

Blind in Paradise

(Above: Throwing some shoreline casts in a place that could pass for paradise. As soon as the sun came out this muskrat emerged for some late morning munching. Upon closer inspection I could see the face of this creature had gotten mauled to some degree and the animal was mostly blind. Fortunate to be alive but unable to visually take in the splendor if its surroundings is a tragically ironic fate.)

Powering through the cold three

(Above: Winters in Colorado are loved by some and dreaded by others. Powering through the cold three can require determination and a bit of fortitude. Reaching the end of January means we are halfway to spring in Colorado. The destination awaits through the haze blizzards of February.)

This may be one of my tougher January’s on record in regards to time available for fishing and trips that didn’t pan out. It is my belief that effort is often rewarded but there are no guarantees. Rather than complaining about my failures I look for ways to improve.
Thank you so much for your views, comments and rates. This blog is fueled by your support. 

Good luck and good fishing.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Thank you and thank you, Veterans of America

When there is something precious that you love in this world, it must be protected. Otherwise someone will surely take it from you. This is the reality of humans shaped by a history filled with conflict. Many a brave men and women in this country stand firm on the wall of protection that guards this country from those who wish to destroy our freedom and way of life. The United States of America flag flies high to this day in large part due to the security our armed forces provide. To all veterans past, present and future I want to express my deepest thanks. Your sacrifice does not go without immense admiration and much appreciation. For all members of our armed forces…thank you.
Secondly I want to thank Veterans Benefits GI Bill for nominating ColoradoCasters as one of their top blogs in 2011. I am amazed when my blog gets any accolades whatsoever but this award is extremely humbling for me. Truthfully it should be giving them an award as their sacrifices allow me to live and fish in this great country. I am proud to accept this award and even more proud to show my support for all veterans and armed forces of this country.
Once again, thank you.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mattsabasser Drive to Fish Tips: Turn signals, just a vehicle accessory?

Depending on where you live good fishing can require a bit of driving. That statement is true for Colorado as well, particularly for those that live in the Denver Metro area. There may be a lot of fishing tips out there but few that cover the aspect that may help minimize trouble while traveling from Point A to Point B. I shall make an attempt to fill this void with random advice that may make that journey better.

Don’t be a stinker. Use your blinker! (Guess I am still working on the title for this one)

Driving up the highway to the fishing hole and the vehicle in front of me comes to a dead stop before making a leisurely right hand turn without using a turn signal. I dump my coffee over reaching for the gearshift while eyeballing the ditch for a soft place to land. Luckily my reflexes and a couple car lengths between us were enough to avoid a crash. (Really I just slowed down and swerved around the vehicle, as the other lane was empty.) Shaking my head in disbelief my throat yells out…

“Where’s your blinker, pal?!?”

Was there was a memo that I missed stating certain people with lower intelligence didn’t have to use turn signals any longer? Are these folks trying to add a little mystery and even excitement for other motorists by making random turns with little or no warning? If so, this could it be some sort of sick anti-turn signal movement. Something is definitely up because it seems like very few people are using these things anymore.

This isn’t the only close call I have had like this and doubt it will be my last. Countless close calls, bumper bumps and fender benders could be avoided if more people simply used their turn signals. If we could make this happen I might actually get to the fishing hole with a full cup of coffee…minus one or two sips.

Good luck and good fishing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Double Gut Check Run

The trip was penciled in on Monday with clear skies and metro temps in the +60 range. The plan was to leave work Thursday after the whistle blew, drive a really long time, grab a few hotel rooms and then hit the water Friday morning. By Wednesday things had changed from a forecast of bliss to the point where I was pricing dog sleds. Getting over the divide is always a gamble in January with bad weather but the second pass would be even worse. Thursday morning rolled around and more than a few people were looking to call the whole deal off including me. The no refund situation on the accommodations pushed us all forward.

Driving up was more or less what we expected. Heavy wind on the east side of the mountain and then snow as soon as we reached the higher altitudes. Not 100% white knuckle but close. Three hours later we arrived at the far away HQ for the night. Grab some grub and a few beers and watch John tie a few flies. I tried to get as much info on the water as I could only to receive the very basics followed with “you’ll just have to see it”.

Friday morning arrives and snow is falling in big fat flakes. The back roads were snow covered and icy. The only way in was slow go under four-wheel drive. Finally Park the truck and gear up in a flurry of white. No one talked about the drive back home or even calling the whole thing off at this point. Most dialogue was based around how everyone was setting up their rods and the walk in.

(Above: You think after all of this work we would be fishing by now. Nope. We still have a two-mile hike in.)

Reaching the water was a mix of euphoria and desperate anticipation. Everyone quickly moved down the hill and then stepped into a spot as slow as their self-control would let them. I moved further downstream into a series of smaller pockets while the main trio stayed in the big slow flat. It took me a while to find a rhythm and pattern that a few fish seemed to like. The minnow pattern was the only thing getting any attention on my part.
(Above: This fish may be as gorgeous as any rainbow that I have caught. Glowing pink color and a few big dots on its face give this fish a lot of personality in my book. Stocker fish may look all alike but older, wild trout can be vastly different from one another.)

(Above: The only salvageable shot of the brook trout caught in a very dark spot. Sometimes the flash cooperates and sometimes it doesn’t. Truth be told I flubbed a lot of shots on this trip.)

Within the first few hours I had released a small brown, a decent brook and the beautiful rainbow trout in the picture above. I was feeling pretty good with the results and keeping up with the big boys in the fish count situation. Numbers are not a contest or anything because there is no prize at the end. On the other hand I don’t want to come off as a non-fish catching goober either. This was my first trip with Don’s brother in-law John and the infamous “Pauly”. These guys have been fishing Colorado for a very long time and take their fly-fishing very seriously. The fact they let me tag along at all is nothing short of a miracle in my book.

(Above: Paul with one of many gorgeous rainbows caught and released in the stretch. This was one of his smaller fish but a real beauty worthy of the photo op. Part of me wanted to just stand by him and take fish pictures most of the day.)

I rejoined the trio to watch the spectacle of fish holding in the trough and mostly laughing at my presentations. By sheer luck I get one of the bows to tackle my minnow setup. The fish was small for this section and not as colored as the rest, which saved it from the shameless photo op. But the fact that the rookie caught a fish in the midst of such prestigious company meant a lot me. A few minutes later I landed another. This one was fairly magnificent and possibly my largest fish of the day. Unfortunately this was but one of the photos that didn’t turn out well.
(Above: Oh man. Why did I turn the flash bulb back on? Some of my best shots end up at the bottom of the pile once I get back home. Good light, bad light…it is what it is.)

These fish were fairly educated and I found myself more mesmerized by watching them rather than fishing. Sure I would cast at them once in a while but the fish would just laugh at me. We were minutes away from the cut off time (which we extended two hours from the originally set time) so I decided to take in more of the sights and roll with photo support when needed.
(Above: Don with one of the darker colored rainbow trout. I am sure Don bribed his brother in-law extensively so I could go on this trip. Dude…seriously…huge thanks.)

Seconds later John gets a big bend on what I am guessing was a 4 or 5wt and a large trout makes a run for it. At first I think this is a really smart fish by running to the bottom of a deep current flow. All it needed to do was hunker down on a big rock to bust off. Instead the fish keeps moving up the current in what looked like an attempt to clear out of the stretch altogether. John stayed a steady hand and followed slowly behind the fish while it wore itself out in the heavy current. Once the fish turned its head the fight was over. Being led into a shallow pool the fish found itself in the net and going through a quick photo op

(Above: Beastie bow in the hands of John and but one of the great fish these guys caught. This was a trip we could have taken pictures all day long.)

Around noon the weather was clearing and sunshine was peaking through clouds of white in a small area of sky directly above us. Off in the distance a wall of black was slowly moving in while the surrounding mountains blocked the previous storm from escaping. The respite from falling snowflakes would help us in our exit and even brought of a decent January hatch for a moment. It sparked a flurry of action that somehow made the smile on our faces even bigger.

“RS2’s!!!” One of them would yell out after netting a decent trout. “#20 baby…RS2’s!!!”

If it were really that simple. I changed up a few more times, took a few pictures and almost wished it would start snowing again. All in all I have to say it was really good to dig into a longer trip. Just seeing fish like this makes every white-knuckle mile worth the effort. At this moment I feel very blessed on many levels. Great start on the 2012 season and I owe a lot of thanks to Don, John and the infamous Pauly.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Been a lil buried…Please Stand By

Apologies for the lack of fishing posts lately and I am going to admit that I have been a bit buried with the work situation. This has kept me from digging into the January fishing scene with my usual focus. Add the fact a few smaller trips with haven’t gone very well with the results even worse than ho hum, my fishing blog is less active than usual.
Rest assured the shameless fish bragging will be back on track as soon as I save myself from drowning a bit at work. I may have to lean on some extra “filler” posts to get me through this dry spell just so folks don’t confuse me with news reports of people recently lost in the wilderness.
The good news is that I have managed to keep from going completely under water at the office while still getting in a few casts (if even on the skunkalicious side of things). Also replaced the 95 Pathfinder with a 2000 Xterra that I hope not to completely destroy in a few years. The new rig will help me extend my fishing range while keeping me from throwing a few extra grand into the old vehicle.
Once again, please accept my sincere apologies for a less than amazing start. January is rarely my best month but admittedly this one is more difficult than usual. Hopefully the extra diligence pays off at work while the fish enjoy a slight reprieve.
Good luck and good fishing.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012…I’ll fish it!

It is amazing how fast 2011 went by. My plans were fairly grandiose and unfortunately I fell slightly below the mark on a few fronts. Not getting a large catfish and a few failed trips that didn’t happen only scratches the surface. Seeing how things went last year it may be foolish of me to try and make even more elaborate plans for 2012. But between workdays and digging underground bunkers I intend to fish.

A few things left undone on my 2011 list include making a few blog layout tweaks, doing a few interviews and making longer treks to those far away places that I dream about. I have no crystal skull telling me secrets of the universe and will have to simply make the best of every day from here on out. Sounds a lot like my game plan from last year. If a devastating calamity does hit I will only be mildly prepared depending on the situation. If things go very badly I can at least say that in this life…I fished my ass off.

There is always room for improvement and even though I only gave my blog a B- grade for 2011 there was still a lot of quality fishing. A few things I am looking to do more of in 2012:

  1. Quality fishing. More trips at new locations while still checking in on a few old ones. The further the distance, the harder the planning and that is always an obstacle with the workaday\responsibility scene. Some day I may be a fishbum but for now I still have to feed the dog.

  1. Be a better blogger like TexWisGirl over at http://run-a-roundranch.blogspot.com/. This means commenting more on the many other blogs that I read and maybe even buying a real camera. Her photos are superb and I could place more focus towards mine. 

  1. Follow up on a few offers that I failed to complete in previous years. This is a longer list than I like to admit.

A few things I am going to avoid in 2012:

  1. Organizing a large event that will most likely backfire on me horribly. The luncheon I planned for the staging group is but one example of my terrible failures of 2011. I am finding that trips with even three people are difficult to plan. Make no mistake that folks who pull off large events with any degree of success are pretty amazing in my view.

  1. Posting up stuff without at least one or two edit cycles. Last year I submitted a few posts with some egregious spelling errors and omitted words that could have easily been avoided. I don’t claim to be highly edjumakated but with a little more effort I could look far less illiterate.

  1. Being my own worst enemy. This is a goal of mine every year as no one hurts my chances of success more than me. Looking before I leap and not talking myself out of larger trips would be a good start.

Admittedly this may not be the most riveting fish post that have ever put up. My goal was to put up an introduction for the year while more or less apologizing for some failures in 2011. This is something I say every year as I purposely set the bar too high for me to reach. The amount of disappointment from last year equates to how much harder I need to try this year. Sincerely I wish the best to all of my followers, readers and viewers be the very best in 2012.

The calendar was done in AutoCAD 2011 and then later rendered using the material library features in 2002. I am not promising my imaginary graphics team will do better in 2012 but they sometimes come through in a pinch.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mattsabasser on hard water…sign of pure desperation

Every inch of open water within a thirty-mile radius of my HQ is looking rode hard and put away wet. So many muddy footprints on the trail make it difficult to count the number of water-slappers that got in before me. Open water\tailwater trout seem exhausted and simply annoyed with my presentations. Running out of options I grab the ice gear and head north. This is clearly a sign of desperation.

(Above: The first Mattsabasser “ice fish” in a long time for no good reason. I still wet the hands and release these fish for others to re-catch or table. C&R is not a big deal for me here but would prefer the trophy fish to go back. Pickin’ my battles on this one.)

My plan was to break the ice curse that has plagued me for so long with only a few hours to work with. Guess you can say it was one of those “anyfishwilldo” days.

At first I was dropping lightweight jig and grub combos in 1\16oz. White, yellow and black were what I had on hand. White and yellow got a few taps but that was it. After about an hour and three drilled holes later I went to 1\32oz. Here I was able to stick the landing on a very small trout. The pond to the west was also scouted with a few drilled holes. I didn’t get so much as a nudge so the gear was moved back over to the other pond. Ice wasn’t stable enough for me to fish the big lake on this side, which was my original plan.

(Above: Small fish and a lot of slush but just enough fish to make it worthwhile. This fish nearly owned me on the photo op with an escape attempt. One point deduction for getting the sleeves wet.)

Over the next few hours I experimented with tube jigs, brown with black dots and a few other variations. The results were more or less the same. Small hits, missed fish and the occasional trout. As time wore on and the edge on my hand auger blades dulled I realized that my limited game was only working on the smaller fish. Funny how in the beginning I just wanted to catch any fish but once that was accomplished my heart started to long for something better. To make matters worse my time limit was exceeded beyond repair. An appointment was junked and the rest of my agenda in the real world was thrown out the window.

By 2pm I was completely regretting having to rely on the jig setups. Not bringing more of my trout ensemble left me with only a few options and my own footprints on my butt. Woulda coulda shoulda.

(Above: Here is an ice-hole shot showing the top snow layer and about four inches of ice. Easy work for the auger and just enough hard water to make me feel comfortable.)

Not all of the ice was stable. The north side had mostly solid frozen water around four to five inches. Other areas had a good deal of gray or soft ice with some open water depending on the pond you were looking at. The intense sun seemed to be baking the top of the ice in some areas adding yet another factor of danger. I would constantly look ahead of me for any anomalies in the top of layer of snow before approaching. Then I would brush the top layer of snow off to ensure solid ice was below me.

(Above: This is but one area where you could take a run and jump right in the water. Stable ice around 3-4” is roughly 10 to 20 yards towards the west of the lake.)

My mentality towards ice fishing needs to change as the hard water scene offers a lot of opportunity. If more focus was applied I am sure that larger more spectacular fish would be the result. That doesn’t mean a power auger and ice hut purchase is in my immediate future.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.