Buffalo bull crossing the road. — Photo by Wayne D. Lewis (CPW)
“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there,” I sang, but not as loudly as the young men in the commercial. Their car had just been crushed by a bull buffalo, whereas I just had a large bull sauntering across the road, mere feet from my car’s front bumper. It was the closest I had been to a free-ranging buffalo in, well, ever. Although the bull wasn’t threatening me at all, we had made some serious eye contact a few seconds earlier. Signs advise you to stay in the car, I gladly took the advice.
It felt like I was in the middle of Yellowstone National Park, but I was actually only 7 miles from my northeast Denver home — in the heart of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. If the proverbial crow flew from downtown Denver to Denver International Airport, he would grab a midflight snack at the arsenal. Read more
Photo by Jerry Neal (CPW).
Competitive fishing is now one of the fastest-growing prep sports. And at Colorado’s Pueblo West High School and hundreds of other schools across the nation, catching fish is catching fire among high school students.
In this Colorado Outdoors magazine video-supplement, members of the Cyclone Anglers, Pueblo West High School’s fishing team, explain how participating in an extracurricular fishing program has enriched their high school experience.
The Cyclone Anglers are proud members of the Student Angler Federation (SAF), a national organization that establishes fishing clubs/teams in high schools across the United States. As part of this growing trend, three states — Kentucky, Illinois and New Hampshire — have sanctioned bass fishing as a varsity sport. Similar efforts are underway in South Carolina, Virginia, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas and Alabama. Pueblo West is the first high school in Colorado to offer the SAF’s innovative program to students. Colorado Parks and Wildlife encourages other schools to get involved with this exciting opportunity. Read more
A Self-Professed ‘Fly Snob’ Shares His Guilty Pleasure of Bait Fishing for Colorado’s Largest Sport Fish
A lake trout (Mackinaw) taken on 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 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. Read more
As I prepared myself to cast the latest and greatest in fishing lures, I realized that no other type of lure has caused me so much thought and contemplation before the initial cast. The rig I was about to cast (especially with bare hooks) was a fearsome looking beast.
And what is this magic lure?
The Alabama Rig.
A five-arm umbrella rig. Photo by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW
“I designed it to simulate a school of small bait fish in a tight bait ball,” said Andy Poss, inventor of the original Alabama Rig, on his website. “You can fish a huge range of lures with our rig — grubs, swimbaits, jigs, worms, spinnerbaits, etc.” Read more
When I was younger and had more free time, I would take a drive, turn at the first unfamiliar intersection and see where the road took me. I have discovered some of my favorite haunts that way. On an October visit to Grand County, I applied the same method. It would have been hard to plan out a better route or final destination point — Meadow Creek Reservoir.
Driving from Fraser toward Tabernash, I impulsively turned on County Road 83, which lead to County Road 84 and finally Forest Road 129. Along the way I saw signs, some big and some so small I almost missed them, indicating the way to Meadow Creek Reservoir. Even the name of the place was news to me, but at least I had a goal. Read more
Since their introduction into Colorado in the late 19th century, brown trout have established wild and self-sustaining populations throughout hundreds of miles of rivers and creeks. They occur today in nearly every mountain stream between 6,000 and 10,000 feet in elevation. In addition to the more accessible rivers and mountain reservoirs, where they can grow to trophy sizes, vibrant populations of wild browns provide sport-fishing opportunities for backcountry anglers.
The largest brown trout caught in Colorado weighed 30 pounds, 8 ounces. Although it was caught at the Roaring Judy Ponds, located at the state fish hatchery near Almont, it probably swam up the Gunnison River from Blue Mesa Reservoir. Blue Mesa is known for producing trophy-sized brown trout. Read more
Getting in quality fishing time lately has been extremely hard. I sneak away some lunchtimes, but no luck. I really don’t want to eat outside on a patio away from air conditioning when it’s hot, so I understand why the fish aren’t biting. Lazy fishes, don’t they realize that I have deadlines? Read more
Those looking to fish for brook and rainbow trout within easy access of I-70 should check out the picturesque little lake at Officer’s Gulch. The lake’s crystal-clear waters are bordered by an easily hiked trail that winds along the banks and through the trees. Ample parking and its location right off Colorado’s main east-west thoroughfare make this a popular spot.
According to the Summit Historical Society, Officer’s Gulch is not designated in honor of law enforcement or the military, but in fact, is named after James Officer, an early day Ten Mile Canyon resident who mined the gulch.
Officer’s Gulch is located about midway between the towns of Frisco and Copper Mountain at Exit 198. Standard fishing regulations apply.
Ferril Lake with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in the background.
I park my car, gather my gear and take a short hike through the pine trees to the lake. I think I hear the rustling of wolves, just yards away. In the past I have heard them howl and caught glimpses of their ghostly white forms through the thick greenery. Further on, a crowd has gathered celebrating a wedding, the DJ’s music fills the air with love songs and hits from the past. Firefighters spray streams of water into the lake, why, I don’t know. A technicolor fountain shoots dancing water into the air, moving to a rhythm all its own. Dogs and joggers are everywhere. Is this a dream? Nope. It’s just a typical night in Denver’s City Park.
Anglers bait fishing for lake trout are encouraged to use circle hooks to help conserve Colorado’s trophy Mackinaw fisheries. Mackinaw are slow-growing and take decades to reach trophy size. Preserve the memory of the catch by taking a quick photo, and releasing large lake trout to live another day.
Fishing with bait is one of the most basic and productive methods of catching fish. It’s also one of the most popular. According to surveys conducted by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, nearly half of the state’s anglers fish with bait. Additionally, nearly all anglers learn how to fish by dunking worms, salmon eggs or by using artificial “dough” baits like Powerbait and Gulp.
However, despite its popularity and effectiveness, bait fishing has one major drawback: it often results in increased fish mortality. Fish caught on bait frequently become “gut hooked,” which makes it nearly impossible for anglers to remove deeply embedded hooks and return fish safely to the water. Read more