In the early 80s, for a group of gangly, basketball-loving young men in Golden, Colo., Pat Sanner was The Guy. He had the backyard basketball court, the basement sports cave, close access to a park for football and a mom who tolerated our group better than most. Sanner was genetically wired for sports: His father was Lynn Sanner, the sports director for KBTV (now KUSA) and host of “The Broncos with Red Miller,” the weekly Denver Broncos recap. I never met Lynn; Pat had lost his father right around the time my family moved to Golden, but you could see the impact the father had on the son. Read more
Category Archives: Fly Fishing
FOR THE HIKING BOOT-CLAD FLY FISHERMAN
Every outdoorsman has their specialty. Whatever the pursuit, there is somebody passionate enough to fill that niche. For me, that niche is backcountry fly fishing. I’m fortunate that I live in Colorado, where miles and miles of backcountry wilderness sit at my backdoor. For years I’ve explored rivers and lakes without names and no permanent address on topographic maps. Some are seasonal ponds or creeks only to be found during runoff, and I suppose others are ones the cartographer just never got around to naming, so they sit patiently waiting for the weary fly fisherman to come along and unlock their secrets. These waters can be either quite rewarding, painfully stubborn or barren of any life form. However, most tend to be quite willing to relinquish a few fish. At altitude, these fish have a short growing season, which means they are quite occupied with filling their gut with as many invertebrate vittles as possible. This is excellent news for the angler, but certain strategies can enhance success and even the quality of fish one might land. Although most backcountry fish have rarely — if ever — seen a fly, they can still be extremely spooky at the slightest disturbance. The following are guidelines I follow trip after trip that have treated me well over the years. Read more
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
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
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
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
Article and Photos 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
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
Article & Photos 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
In the modern era of overly complex, match-the-hatch fly patterns, adding a few simple, traditional flies to your fly box can be effective weapons in your fly-fishing arsenal.
The Gray Ugly is a vintage fly that surpasses many of its modern-day brethren in its amazing ability to catch trout. An oldie but a goodie, I was first introduced to this pattern in the late 1970s by my grandfather who spent most of his life trout fishing in Colorado and Montana. The Gray Ugly was one of his favorite patterns because of its versatility and effectiveness. Over the years, I also saw my dad and uncle use this fly with great success, catching everything from small brook trout at Monarch Lake to bruiser brown trout at North Delaney Buttes.
The fly works especially well with a fly-and-bubble rig and a spinning rod, which is how my grandfather, dad and uncle fished this pattern. For fly-fishing purists, the Gray Ugly also performs just fine at the end of a 5-weight fly rod, fished either wet or dry. Read more