Doug Payne takes in the epic, snow-capped scenery at Lake Granby. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.
You just had to be there. That’s all I can really say about my recent fishing and kayaking trip, which was one of the most unusual and memorable outings that I’ve had in years.
Last week I joined coworker Doug Skinner and his friend Doug Payne for some early spring fishing at Lake Granby. Skinner and I talked about this trip for weeks, so I was excited that our “water cooler” plans were finally coming to fruition. In addition, this was going to be my very first kayak/fishing trip. To prepare for my maiden voyage, I purchased a new Ocean Kayak, which, sadly, had been collecting dust in my garage ever since it arrived by freight truck more than month ago.
Needless to say, the anticipation of getting on the water was killing me. Even the short, 90-minute drive from my home in Denver to the Grand County reservoir seemed endless. Although I’ve made this easy jaunt hundreds of times before, this time I was like the impatient child on the family road trip who keeps asking “Are we there yet?” every five minutes.
My youthful enthusiasm was short lived, however, when we finally arrived at our destination only to discover that the lake was almost entirely frozen. Big bummer. We knew this was a real possibility before we left Denver, but we kept our fingers crossed that some serious thawing had occurred in the warm days leading up to our trip. No such luck. Although these conditions would’ve iced most people’s kayaking plans, “the Dougs” and I saw this, instead, as a prime opportunity to shake off our cabin fever and embark on a springtime fishing adventure. And that’s precisely what we did. Read more
My father Jerry Neal Sr. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.
On Dec. 23, 2013, my father and friend, Jerry Neal Sr., passed away at his home in Morrison, Colorado.
I was close to my dad and his unexpected passing two days before Christmas made a heartbreaking loss even harder to endure. My dad’s final words to me remain sealed in a Christmas card that I still haven’t opened. I’m not sure if I’m just not ready to read his final sentiments below a generic Hallmark greeting or if saving his unopened card has simply been my way of trying to hold on to a part of him for a bit longer. Even now, as I’ve reached the one-year anniversary of his death, the realization that my father is gone often hits me as if I’m hearing about his passing for the first time. And his absence has left a void in my life that’s hard to accept.
Normally, I would not share such a personal experience on a forum like this. Yet, as editor of Colorado Outdoors Online, a blog dedicated to providing how-to and where-to information for hunters and anglers, it seemed appropriate for me to discuss why I hunt and fish. There is no greater reason than the relationships I had with my father and stepfather. My stepfather, who was my main hunting partner, passed away in 2012. To put it mildly, it’s been a bumpy couple of years. But, this period of loss has also led to personal discovery, and it has given me the chance to reflect upon my childhood and my love for the outdoors. Read more
Bowhunter Mindy Paulek poses with a large, tom lion that she harvested near Durango, Colorado on Feb. 4, 2014. In addition to this mature lion, Paulek has taken record-sized bears and mule deer with her bow.
Calling mountain lions “elusive” is a radical understatement. It’s as if the ultra-secretive cats are equipped with cloaking devices that allow them to remain nearly invisible in their surroundings, while leaving behind only vague clues of their presence. In fact, relatively few people will ever catch a glimpse of a mountain lion in the wild, and most are perfectly happy to keep it that way. But, for bowhunter Mindy Paulek, seeing mountain lions became an almost routine experience. Finding and harvesting the “right” mountain lion, however, turned into a monumental challenge for the archer—one spanning three years and hundreds of miles in Colorado’s backcountry.
Fortunately, challenges are nothing new for Paulek. The 30-year-old Durango resident has amassed an impressive hunting resume, harvesting bears, deer, elk, wild hogs and bobcats — all with her Mathews compound bow. She’s also bagged kudu, bushbuck, springbok, wildebeest and jackals in Africa. But three years ago, Paulek set her sights closer to home on the one animal that had eluded her: a tom cougar.
Vintage fishing equipment. Photo by © Jerry L. Neal (CPW)
I like vintage fishing gear. There’s just something fascinating about old rods and reels and the unique history they possess. Behind every bent eyelet or scratched and faded surface are untold stories of backcountry adventures and decades of devoted use. Some blemishes denote years of hard-fought battles with feisty trout, while other scars speak of far less glamorous tales: of a fly fisher’s misstep on a “snot-covered” river bottom that sent both angler and his shiny, new equipment crashing against submerged rocks. Read more
Fishing guide Iolanthe Culjak in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Jerry L. Neal/CPW
There are some locations that perfectly depict the beauty and grandeur of Colorado’s backcountry. In these unique landscapes, bugles of bull elk echo across serene mountain valleys, hungry trout populate cold, gin-clear streams and the scenery is so sublime that it’s like it was conjured up from lyrics in some John Denver song. For fly fishers, autumn in Rocky Mountain National Park epitomizes this perfect setting.
In mid-September, I had the opportunity to spend a few hours exploring a small section of this remarkable area with local fishing guide Iolanthe Culjak. Iolanthe or “IO,” as her friends call her, lives just minutes from RMNP, which she proudly refers to as her “backyard.” That description is apropos, as Culjak’s fish-sense and knowledge of local waters are impeccable. Read more
Colorado Outdoors Magazine Video-Supplement
Colorado archer Mindy Paulek. Video screen capture by © Jerry L. Neal (CPW)
In this Colorado Outdoors magazine video-supplement, Colorado archer Mindy Paulek shares her experiences as an accomplished bowhunter. Paulek touches on the inspiration that fuels her passion for hunting with a “stick and string,” offers advice to other aspiring archers and explains how bowhunting has helped her develop a deeper connection to family and nature. 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
Colorado Outdoors Magazine Video-Supplement
Video capture by Jerry Neal/CPW.
In this Colorado Outdoors magazine video-supplement, author and fly fisherman Ron Belak demonstrates techniques for fishing small streams. Anglers will learn how to locate and approach spooky trout and see Belak’s recommendations for fly rods, flies and other equipment.
To learn more, see Ron Belak’s article, “Fly Fishing Small Mountain Streams” in the 2011 Colorado Outdoors Fishing Guide. Now available by calling 1-800-417-8986.
Winter on the Blue River. Photo by © J. Peterson
Colorado’s Blue River is famous for its exceptional year-round fly fishing and abundant fish populations. The Gold Medal fishery provides anglers the chance to catch rainbows, browns and even the occasional brook trout, cutthroat trout and kokanee salmon. But when Evergreen resident and avid fly fisherman Jesse Peterson visited the Summit County river, he was shocked by what ended up in his fishing net. Read more