As a parent of a ten-year-old, my wife and I struggle to find a balance between our son’s interests in music, Dude Perfect videos and scheduled sports activities with our family’s interest in getting out into nature. The unscheduled outdoor adventures that were the cornerstone of my youth seem to be a casualty of the modern hustle and bustle. Right out of the gate, I feel like this is getting dangerously close to sounding like one of those “When I was a kid” stories, but things have really changed since I was a kid. Spontaneous pickup sports with a group of friends has been replaced by organized club soccer and team baseball, all with hectic practice schedules and weekend commitments. Even the physical landscape has changed. Along the Front Range, and many other areas of Colorado, once seemingly ubiquitous farm ponds and abundant fishing access appear to have been gobbled up by a rapidly growing housing market. Whether you have kids or not, you probably feel that some things are just a little different than they used to be. Read more
The biggest walleye of the day. All photos by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW
The author with his first-ever walleye.
With a big smile on my face, I posed with my first-ever walleye. For our group, it was the first fish of the day, and the first walleye I had ever seen in person — all pointy fins, sharp teeth and cataract eyes. If Disney made a movie about freshwater fish, a walleye would be cast as the quirky sidekick to the main villian (probably a pike). I was proud; if it had been a trout, it would have been a keeper. However, since it was just under 18 inches long, we had to release it. But, as it slipped back into the waters of Chatfield Reserevoir, I began to calculate how much per inch that walleye had cost. Read more
The author with a Master Angler largemouth caught with a frog lure.
Picture this: You cast out into the small opening in the weeds. The plastic frog barely hits the water when a 5-pound bass crushes it, throwing water everywhere. You pause a second then set the hook with all your might, sending the hooks solidly into the fish’s mouth. You crank as fast as you can, skipping the bass across the mat of thick weeds. As the bass comes closer it fights harder trying to get away. The bass comes up to the side of the boat and slides right up on your thumb. You take a couple of quick photos of the Master Angler lunker and then you release the bass safely to the water where he returns to his weedy haunts. If this sounds fun to you it’s time to give summertime frog fishing a try.
Chironomids work well for large trout. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.
The cliché holds there are only two things in life that you can count on: death and taxes. Yet, if you’re an angler in Colorado, there are actually three. The third is that you can catch a lot of fish on chironomids.
What is a chironomid you ask? While it sounds like an evil character from a science-fiction movie, chironomids (pronounced “KYRO-nomids”) are actually members of the Chironomidae midge family. Midges are tiny flies that resemble gnats or mosquitos. They are the most prevalent aquatic insects in Colorado, making up more than 50 percent of a fish’s diet in some waters. While tricky to pronounce, fishing with chironomids is quite easy. Read more
Photo by Chad LaChance.
I love to fly fish. Been doing it since I was 12 years old, am decent at it and I have about 15 fly rods in my collection. I’ve tied flies (for money even), own all the assorted fly gadgets and have caught everything from snook and redfish, to bass and walleyes, to trout and grayling, all on feathers and fur. Geez, I even live in Colorado…how much more fly is there than that?
But this is my argument for conventional tackle…yep, even the fly fishing community needs spin-polers. Read more
When I was a kid and didn’t catch fish on a particular trip, my father used to say, “There’s a reason it’s called ‘fishing’ and not ‘catching.’” As an adult, I still recognize the wisdom in these words. After all, some days the fish just won’t bite no matter what you throw at them, and even the most experienced anglers can get skunked.
Over the years, however, I’ve learned there are a few things that can dramatically improve your chances for success every time you’re on the water.
Whether you’re a novice angler who’s just getting started or a more experienced fisherman who’s simply facing a summer slump, here are five tips to help you catch more fish and have more fun on your next outing.
1. Fish Early or Fish Late
Most suburban ponds have good populations of small bluegills, sunfish and other warm-water species.
Although Colorado’s big lakes and reservoirs get most of the angling attention and accolades, small suburban lakes and ponds often boast great fishing and provide hours of close-to-home fun.
Conveniently located in neighborhood parks and greenbelts, these easy-to-access waters are great places to unwind after a long day of work or to simply find a little solitude without venturing too far off the beaten path.
They are also the perfect locations to take kids fishing. In fact, some of my earliest (and fondest) memories of fishing with my dad took place at ponds in the Lakewood, Golden and Wheat Ridge areas.
At a particular pond near my dad’s apartment home, I remember catching fish nearly every cast on my little Zebco rod/reel combo. As a 5-year-old boy, there was nothing more thrilling than seeing a bluegill or bass pull my red and white bobber under the surface. I also remember the fun of catching my own grasshoppers and worms to use as bait. In addition to providing an enjoyable father/son activity, it was these early experiences that played an important role in developing my lifelong passion for fishing and the outdoors. Read more
Harvey Shade poses with his state-record striped bass. Shade caught the 29-pound fish below John Martin Reservoir on May 6.
Harvey Shade has fished John Martin Reservoir for years. In that time, Shade has caught plenty of fish, but none measured up to the one he caught on May 6, 2017.
Shade, 64, who resides in Eads, now holds the state record for the biggest striped bass in Colorado: The fish tipped the scales at 29 pounds, 5 ounces and measured 39 inches long. The football-shaped bass also boasted an impressive 25.5-inch girth.
Shade’s striped bass, commonly known as a striper, bested the previous record by a whopping 13 pounds. The last record striper, caught in 2016 from Prewitt Reservoir, weighed 16 pounds, 14 ounces and measured 35 3/8 inches long. Read more
Early spring is an ideal time to catch lake trout (Mackinaw). Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.
If you’re a fisherman, there’s no better time to fish Colorado’s lakes and reservoirs than early spring. Not only is it a great time of year to shake off your cabin fever, but many trophy sized rainbow, cutthroat, cutbow and brown trout are caught in those first days and weeks after ice-out. If those weren’t enough reasons to make you want to grab your fishing rod and tackle box, spring is also the best time to catch lake trout (aka Mackinaw) — a species that can reach upwards of 50 pounds in Colorado.
Although many of Colorado’s lakes and reservoirs offer excellent fishing, the following waters provide exceptional fishing opportunities this spring: Read more
The author displays a Colorado bass.
Stereotype: “a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.”
Do you think Colorado is stereotyped? I do. Firmly. And as with many stereotypes, the belief is not congruent with the reality. Is it a bad thing? Maybe, maybe not…depends on your position. As a Colorado outdoorsman, I think it’s a shame more of my peers don’t see through it. What is this oversimplified idea our fine state is tagged with? Trout . . . specifically the idea that trout are all Colorado has to offer anglers. Trust me, the stereotype doesn’t fit.
As a professional fisherman, I travel a lot. Since I angle from a traditional bass boat, I’m often viewed as “bass fisherman” – another stereotype that doesn’t quite fit because I pursue all kinds of fish but just happen to like a bass boat’s fishability on the water. Anyway, when “Joe Angler” see’s my boat at some gas station or even many of the lakes in our region, I very often get comments about our perceived lack of bass fishing. Same thing when the conversation turns to walleye, pike, panfish and a slew of other nationally popular species. Geez, last summer I coached the high school bass fishing national championship consisting of 175 high school teams from around the country competing on a huge lake in Tennessee. The fact that we were from “Colorado of all places” as the emcee put it at one point, was amusing until we won the whole event. In an ensuing interview, I was asked how we won it all given that “all you fish for is trout back home” . . . an incorrect assumption that perfectly makes my point. Read more