Springtime Fun: Bait Fishing for Colorado Lake Trout

A Self-Professed ‘Fly Snob’ Shares His Guilty Pleasure of Bait Fishing for Colorado’s Largest Sport Fish

A lake trout (Mackinaw) swallows a sucker minnow. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.

At 7 a.m. on a sunny May morning, the fun begins: “Clang!” The empty Dr. Pepper can supporting my fluorocarbon line topples and crashes down the rocky bank toward the water. The clatter of the makeshift strike indicator disturbs the tranquil Lake Granby shoreline and rouses me from my early morning stupor.

I jump from my folding chair, spilling my morning coffee and hurry across the bank to rescue my spinning rod from its metal, v-shaped holder. Line races from the reel’s open bail, and my anticipation soars — the first “run” of the morning is always the most exciting. Continue reading

Bad Weather, Baby Goats Pave Way to Smithsonian

Tomajko's photo, that was the cover of the 2013 Colorado Outdoors Photography Issue, will be displayed at the Smithsonian Museum in September.

Tomajko’s photo, that was the cover of the 2013 Colorado Outdoors Photography Issue, will be displayed at the Smithsonian Museum in September.

Braving the weather at 14,000 feet on a summer afternoon and waiting out that one right moment with rambunctious baby goats has paid off for Colorado photographer Verdon Tomajko. He was recently awarded for his photo that graced the cover of the 2013 Colorado Outdoors Photography Issue — four frisky little goats playing while a single lightning bolt strikes in the background.

The image has been named the “amateur winner” in the wildlife category of the Wilderness Forever Photography Competition 2014. It will be displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., in an exhibit that begins in September. It will also be published in the 2014 spring/summer edition of Nature’s Best Photography magazine. Continue reading

Cheyenne Mountain State Park Archery Range Hits Bullseye

An archer takes aim on the competition-style shooting course. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.

An archer takes aim on the competition-style shooting course. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.

When Mitch Martin, manager at Cheyenne Mountain State Park, invited me to attend and photograph the grand opening of his park’s new archery range, I have to admit, I really didn’t know what to expect. The term “outdoor range” immediately evoked memories of summer camp back in middle school — lobbing arrows at hay bales and flimsy, easel-mounted targets that toppled over in the slightest gust of wind.

What I discovered, however, is a modern, first-class shooting facility. Quite simply, Cheyenne Mountain’s archery range can be summed up in one word: awesome. Continue reading

First Turkey

david turkey

David Lien displays his Merriam’s turkey taken in southwest Colorado.

Anyone who’s heard the echoing Gobble-obble-obble! of a longbeard at dawn during April knows something primordial lives in the woods, hills, mountains and valleys of this country and continent. It’s an explosive vocalization, one like no other, that my friend David Petersen says is, “at once high-pitched, deep-throated, melodic and maniacal, with emphasis on the last quality.”

The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is endemic to North America and evolved more than 11 million years ago. While they have no close relatives, they’re cousins of pheasants. And not unlike a male pheasant, the wild tom, with his bold tail fan and bright wattle, is one of a kind. Prized for his keen senses and fabled intelligence, a tom can reach 30 pounds or more with a wingspan pushing 5½ feet. Continue reading

Let the Games Begin (Part Two)

Cow and bull elk

This or that? Applying for either-sex licenses will increase our chance of success. Photos by Wayne D. Lewis (CPW).

April 1st is quickly approaching. Normally I would be planning an April Fools’ prank or two, but not this year. If my hunting partner, Alex Kedas, and I do not get our big-game limited license applications submitted in time, we will be the fools.

Kedas and I needed advice, tons of it, and help was just a door away. Amy Bulger’s office is right next to mine where she does an incredible, and sometimes thankless, job producing the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) regulation brochures. After a short chat, Amy offered up the services of her newlywed husband, Aaron. He built CPW’s hunt planner program, and for years guided hunters through the application process. He has since left the agency for a career as a paramedic and fireman, but he has taken his knowlege with him. (CPW hunt planners can be reached from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (MST) Monday through Friday at 303-291-7526 (303-291-PLAN).

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Colorado Outdoors March/April Issue Now Available

mar-apr-2014 cover

It’s March madness, Colorado style. For hunters and anglers, March is the perfect month to shake off the delirium of cabin fever by preparing for the upcoming spring/summer hunting and fishing seasons. It’s also an excellent time to look back and reflect upon last fall’s big-game hunts.

The March/April issue of Colorado Outdoors features the “2013 Big-Game Wrap-Up,” which includes a statewide recap of last year’s deer and elk seasons. In addition, hunters will learn how to select camo for the upcoming spring turkey season in “Crazy About Camo.” Anglers will learn tactics for fishing the Gold Metal waters of Gore Creek in “Dredging Gore Creek Gold,” and how fly fishing with streamer flies can produce large, trophy-sized fish in “Streamer Trout.” To view the entire contents page for this issue, click here.

To order the March/April issue or to purchase an annual subscription to Colorado Outdoors magazine, call: 1-800-417-8986.

Let the Games Begin (Part One)

The author's quest for an elk has just begun.

The author’s quest for an elk has just begun. Photo by Wayne D. Lewis (CPW).

Alex Kedas

Alex Kedas. Photo by Wayne D. Lewis (CPW).


One of the most discussed barriers for novice hunters getting out to hunt is that they have no one to go with. Those novice hunters haven’t met Alex Kedas. Kedas is an Illinois resident, and an avid whitetail and turkey hunter, beaver and otter trapper, and warm-water fisherman. A typical weekend will find him taking his three kids to a movie, or to a park to play catch, but that’s after they all go sighting in their bows at a range. He is also a lover of all things Colorado. And when a hunter sets sights on Colorado, the main target is elk.

Kedas and I met briefly years ago, but a few months back ran into each other (like everyone does nowadays) online. Our chats quickly turned to an elk hunt. I offered to help him scout, and then go along to document and photograph his hunt for an article in Colorado Outdoors, the magazine for which I am editor and art director. With a pitbull’s tenacity, his hunt quickly became our hunt. He figured if I’m out there with him, I should be hunting. And, BAM, with that push, this long-time employee of Colorado Parks and Wildlife is going on his first hunt in more than 30 years. Continue reading

Hunting for Experience

Hunters explore a meadow in the San Juan Mountains. Photo by David Lien.

Hunters explore a meadow in the San Juan Mountains. Photo by David Lien.

Hunting has always been driven by curiosity to discover what lies over the next hill and, accordingly, much of human exploration has been driven by hunting. Some 14,000 years ago, human migrants from Asia entered the New World. These people hunted and gathered wild animals and plants. Many of these Stone Age hunters, in what is today the western U.S., focused their predatory attention on giant, wide-horned bison. Today, Utah’s Henry Mountains are home to the only free-roaming, huntable herd of bison in the 48 contiguous United States.

Although there are few bison-hunting opportunities in North America today, many hunters from across the country venture out West to explore and experience places like Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana to hunt elk and other big game, including mule deer, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Some hunters are ultimately successful in harvesting an animal, but many head home without meat for their freezers. Continue reading

CPW Seeks Participants for Novice Hunter Program

A group of hunters poses for a photo-op after a recent NHP pheasant Hunt. Photo by Theo Stein (CPW).

A group of hunters poses for a photo-op after a recent NHP pheasant Hunt. Photo by Theo Stein (CPW).

Experienced hunters enter the field confident of finding game. For new hunters, gaining that confidence — knowing the where, when, how and why of hunting — is often the biggest barrier to success.

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