‘The More Things Change . . .’

I’ve always been fascinated by unusual or antique hunting and fishing paraphernalia. So, when several copies of Colorado Conservation Comments, the original version of Colorado Outdoors magazine, landed on my desk, I was eager to peek beneath the tattered and faded covers.

Colorado Fish and Game printed Colorado Conseravation Comments

Colorado Fish and Game printed Colorado Conservation Comments from 1938-1955.

Colorado Game and Fish published Colorado Conservation Comments from 1938 to 1955.  In my possession were several copies dating back to the mid-1940s.  I perused the Sept. 15, 1945, issue which featured, among others, an article encouraging big-game hunters to take advantage of the fantastic fishing opportunities in Colorado’s backcountry lakes and streams.

After reading this 70-year-old article, I couldn’t help thinking about how things have changed. In 1945, World War II had just ended, Colorado had a designated fishing “season” that closed every winter (sorry ice fisherman), trout anglers enjoyed liberal, 20-fish bag limits and fish were literally “hung-out to dry” as a means of preservation.

Colorado Conservation Comments. Photo by Jerry Neal (CPW)

Colorado Conservation Comments. Photo by Jerry Neal (CPW)

Likewise, the old adage “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” also seemed appropriate. Thanks to effective fishery management and habitat-conservation efforts, Colorado’s alpine lakes and streams continue to offer world-class trout fishing some 70 years after the original printing of that article.  And some of the most avid elk hunters that I know carry a fishing rod with them as required equipment on scouting and hunting trips.

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A Colorado Conservation Comments issue from 1945.

After poring through this dusty, old collection, I’ve decided to reprint a few of the stories from Colorado Conservation Comments here on Colorado Outdoors Online.  After all, we all could use a good history lesson from time to time, particularly when it broadens our understanding and appreciation of Colorado’s hunting and angling heritage.  Enjoy this glimpse into the past, and be sure that your fishing rod is tucked away in your hunting pack when you head into the backcountry this fall.  Be it 1945 or 2015, some of the best fishing all year happens in autumn.

To locate rivers, lakes and reservoirs near your big-game hunting site, check out CPW’s innovative Fishing Atlas, featuring maps and profiles of Colorado’s best fisheries.

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 “Take Your Fly Rod on Your Big-Game Hunting Trip”
Taken from Colorado Conservation Comments, Sept. 15, 1945

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A photo from Colorado Conservation Comments taken in 1945.

A lot of sportsmen have great days ahead.  Now that the war is over, high-altitude fishing will be tops.  A good way to find out what Colorado really has to offer in this connection is to sample the fishing in the high-altitude streams and lakes in the vicinity of where the big rim-rock bucks and the big elk-herds are to be found this fall.  The results will be a revelation to the person who has always done his fishing along some stream or lake where he can get with an automobile.

The Colorado fishing season remains open until October 31, in practically all the trout waters of the State.  The regular big-game season closes on October 21, offering an additional ten days of the finest fishing in the world from the hunting camp after the hunt is over.  Streams and lakes should be at their best for flies right up to the last day; and for the bait-fisherman, the fish are usually not adverse to sampling a meal of worms, of good red meat or almost any other kind of standard bait.

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A photo taken from Colorado Conservation Comments 1945.

In a recent ten-day trip in the high country, made by Game and Fish Department personnel, not a stream was contacted where a first-class fisherman could not take his limit of 20 trout on a fly, in from 30 minutes to an hour and a half.  Most of these streams are still dominated by the native cutthroat trout, the finest and gamest member of the trout species.  A trout under seven or eight inches long was an exception and a good many of them were from 12 to 15 inches long.  The streams sampled on the trip were in the vicinity of the headwaters of the San Juan and Rio Grande drainages, but like results can be expected from the high tributaries of every other river drainage in the State.  The person who wants real trout fishing should get off the beaten path where the fishermen and would-be fisherman congregate day after day by the thousands.Trout can be kept for four or five days without spoiling if they are given a generous salting on the inside, then hung up to dry.  After they have dried for a couple of hours, flies will not molest them.  Keep them hanging in a good circulation of air, in the shade and then wrap them individually in paper when packing them to take home.

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A photo taken from a 1945 issue of Colorado Conservation Comments.

An even better way to care for them is to use Director Feast’s “mild cure” formula on each day’s catch, at the end of the day.  The formula is as follows:  “To one gallon of warm water add table salt until it will float like an egg, add eight ounces of Wright’s liquid Smoke.  Pack cleaned fish in kettle, pour in the brine, place kettle over fire and bring contents slowly to a simmer (this should require from 20 to 30 minutes) hold at simmer 20 minutes.  Remove from fire and allow to cool.  Remove fish and place on paper cloth to drain; after which wrap each fish separately in waxed paper and pack in box.”  If you like kippered salmon you should pronounce these fish “tops,” and you can depend on them to keep for a considerable time.

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