Category Archives: Fishing

Fishing the ‘Burbs: Small Suburban Ponds Offer Big Fun for Anglers

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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 a great place 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

Angler Catches State-Record Bass Below John Martin Reservoir

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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

Colorado’s Top Springtime Fishing Destinations

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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

Eliminating Angling Stereotypes: Colorado is More Than Just a ‘Trout’ State

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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

Video: 16,000 Trout Stocked Beneath Ice at Eleven Mile Reservoir.

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Snow and ice covers Eleven Mile Reservoir in South Park. Video capture by Jerry Neal/CPW.

On a brisk morning in early February, three hatchery trucks from the Mt. Shavano State Fish Hatchery arrive at Eleven Mile State Park. Snow crunches beneath tires as the rigs creep down the North Shore Boat Ramp and prepare to unload their cargo of 16,000 cutbow trout. After spending nearly 15 months confined to hatchery raceways and traveling more than an hour over snow-packed roads, the cutbows face just one final obstacle before their release into Eleven Mile Reservoir: 12-inches of rock-hard ice.

For most states, frozen lakes and freezing temperatures would put hatchery operations and fish-stocking plans “on ice.” Yet, this unique and ambitious effort is all part of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Winter Fish-Stocking Program. Read more

Taste-tested recipes for your next trout cookout

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Professional chefs work their magic at a recent “trout taste test” in Fort Collins. CPW is experimenting with new hatchery feeds to produce better tasting fish. Photo by Alicia Cohn/CPW.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s hatchery system produces millions of rainbow trout annually. Each spring, the rainbows are stocked into lakes, reservoirs and rivers throughout Colorado to provide exceptional angling opportunities. But did you know that CPW also works hard to improve the taste of the trout you catch in Colorado’s water system?

Two professional chefs recently prepared rainbow trout raised in four different test feed groups for a special “trout taste test” evaluation organized by CPW. The event was part of a year-long research project for which the aquatics team at Bellvue Fish Research Hatchery raised four groups of Hofer rainbow trout from fry to catchable size to determine which feeds produce better quality fish, factoring in health, conformation and taste of the fish, as well as overall feed costs.

“Our trout are a healthy food choice that Coloradans can go out and catch themselves, and this event demonstrated innovative ways to prepare fresh fish caught from Colorado waters,” said George Schisler, aquatic research chief at Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “I hope this event helped get people excited about the meals they can make and the effort we put into making sure Colorado fish are the best product they can be for our angling public.” Read more

KOKANEE

Article and Photos by Scott Willoughby

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Spawning kokanee by © Scott Willoughby

In a state that pretty much has it all, the most glaring gap in Colorado’s vast menu of outdoor options becomes obvious at its borders. The ability to walk across state lines almost anywhere without getting your feet wet serves as evidence of a basic reality: We’re landlocked. High and dry.

For a large chunk of the fishing world, that could be considered a problem. There are plenty of fish in the sea, as they say, and the opportunity to chase a wide variety of them is what drives many an angler to wet a line. But in the network of rivers and lakes draining from the mountainous spine of the nation to oceans east and west, well, the species selection falls a bit short by comparison. Sure, we’ve got a respectable assortment of more than 40 types of cold-, cool- and warm-water fish species statewide in Colorado, but it seems like the grass can always get a little greener. Read more

Fishing, Fisher and Fall Colors at Urad Lake

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Urad Lake. Photo by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW.

If you are looking to either fish, hike, see the aspens change, wildlife watch or all of the above, you can do far worse than a trip to Urad Lake.

Urad Lake is in the Urad Lake State Wildlife Area, the newest SWA in Colorado. Located off of Jones Pass and Berthoud Pass in Clear Creek County, it is the result of a cooperative effort between the Climax Molybdenum Company (Henderson Mine), the City of Golden and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW).

The property was historically open to the public for several decades, even though privately owned by the mine.  In 2011, the property closed to the public as Henderson Mine did a massive, multimillion dollar mitigation project in the Woods Creek Valley.

During the closure, the mine, City of Golden (which owns the water and reservoir) and CPW were able to work out a long-term lease to turn over the management of the property to Colorado Parks and Wildlife which reopened the area in 2014. During that time, CPW stocked the lake with 6,000 10- to 12-inch cutbow trout. The lake is full of small brook trout, recently stocked rainbow trout and plenty of the cutbows. Read more

Fish Magic: The wizardry of European nymphing

Article & Photos By Scott Willoughby

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Jason Lieverst. Photo by © Scott Willoughby

Jason Lieverst is performing a magic trick. Or so it would seem. With just a few flicks of his 11-foot wand, the former captain of the British national fly-fishing team plucks trout after trout from a seemingly shallow pool in the Eagle River like some overgrown Harry Potter pulling a litter of rabbits out of a hat.

“What was that, about 14?” Lieverst estimates in a proper English accent as we hike back up the bank toward the truck before the engine had time to completely cool. “Not bad for an hour or so of fishing.”

Unlike most modern magic, Lieverst’s wizardry is no illusion. Rather, it’s a systematic technique originating in Europe and honed over nearly 30 years before making its way to the banks of the Eagle River near Avon, where it’s now being put on display on an increasingly routine basis. Read more

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