Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Coming Sept. 25! Senior Derby!

The idea sprang to mind more than a decade ago, when then-President Ray Park pondered ways to leave his mark on the Loveland Fishing Club’s legacy. We settled on the idea of a day of fishing for folks even older than ourselves, and began to scour the country for ideas we could steal, mostly by Internet search. We found a ton of “senior derbies,” but all seemed to involve some sort of blanket invitation for old folks to come out and fish.
Hey, we already had a club for that.

And so, over coffee, the idea evolved:  Why not a senior fishing derby for folks who find themselves physically unable to still get out and fish? We began talking with administrators of Loveland independent and assisted living centers, and on in fall 2006, held the first-ever Loveland Fishing Club Senior Fishing Derby, at Flatiron Reservoir southwest of Loveland. It may sound odd to have a bunch of mostly octogenarians hold an outdoor event for other octogenarians. But really, it’s simply a case of doing for others what we’d like someone to eventually do for us:  do whatever is needed to put a fishing pole back in their hands.

That first derby was funded largely through a Community Service Grant from the IBM Corporation, through a program that promotes volunteerism among its employees and retirees. Fourteen years later, the event is a Larimer County institution, still managed by Ray, Warren Wolf and a gang of gray-haired volunteers, though some are admittedly moving a little slower than when all this started.
This year’s derby is set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25th at Flatiron Reservoir, a Larimer County Open Space property where there is normally an $8 daily entrance fee. The club also works with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to purchase a sort of in bulk fishing license for participants, and the Division also stocks the lake in advance with trout.

To participate, pre-register by Monday, Sept. 9 at Chilson Senior Center, 700 E. Fourth St. Loveland.

The event cheerfully remains entirely free for participants, including loaner fishing equipment, a well-stocked lake, prizes, and a “gourmet” cookout of hot dogs, chips and soft drinks. The IBM Corporation had also helped the club fund major handicap access improvements to Flatiron in 2012, aided by a Fishing is Fun grant in a cooperative effort with the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources.
The derby remains, we think, the nation’s only free fishing derby focused on residents of assisted living centers, run by and for senior volunteers. Other seniors are welcome, as we partner with Chilson Senior Center, but the primary invited guests are residents of Loveland assisted living centers. 

 Among guests at the 2017 derby
was 95-year-old Gerald Ravenscroft,
a fighter pilot in China during World War 2.
With the City of Loveland providing liability insurance for the derby, Colorado Parks and Wildlife supplying trout, and the eager cooperation of a dozen senior living centers, the derby attracts close to a hundred participants each year. We could unquestionably grow larger. But truth be told, we’re too damned old to take on many more guests. The goal is highly personalized help with fishing, mixed with great conversation. And if you want, Tom Miller will clean and bag your fish to be cooked back at home.


The first couple of years, many guests weren’t sure what to make of the derby, and contented themselves with watching their friends from the bank. Now nearly every guest is there to fish, and some come back year after year.

Senior living centers in nearby communities have been asking to participate, but because of the need to keep the event manageable we’ve tried to keep to the original target community.

The fishing club was founded in 2002 by about men and women mostly in our late 60s and early 70s. It’s now 2019; you do the math. We count on a stream of younger retirees and senior living facility staff to help keep the event thriving, but truthfully, a fair number of club members may turn up this year as guests rather than volunteers.

We welcome the idea. Behind this annual outpouring of affection for anglers no longer able to fish on their own is a touch of self-interest:  we don’t talk about it much, but truth is, we’re hoping someone, someday, will come by where ever we’re living by then and say, “Hey, Ray, let’s go fishing.”  


Derby godfather Ray Park







Saturday, August 17, 2019

Smallmouth are biting in Door County Wisconsin

Looks like Rick Golz is having a good time catching fish in Wisconsin!

Photo by Rick Golz

Monday, August 12, 2019

Fish like no one else is looking

By Bill Prater
(This article will also appear on the Fish Explorer website.

Most of us nod our heads at the old cliché, “Dance like no one else is looking.” Well, the same is true about learning to fish, or getting back into the sport after a lifetime of being a responsible adult.

Since my own retirement right after the turn of the millennium, I’ve been a zealous member of the Loveland Fishing Club, (Our Motto: the club is open to everyone, but we fish during the week and we meet at the Chilson Senior Center). Over the years we have welcomed a fairly steady stream of newly retired folks. A few join us with enviable skills, armed with the latest equipment and knowledge of some or all freshwater sport fish. Most were like me, though, a guy who remembers being a legendary angler in my teen, but that was half a century ago and I sometimes forget things. They come seeking fishing buddies and maybe a little help getting back in the game. Let’s talk about how to do that. This will be the first in an occasional series on what some of us have learned the hard way, and how you may choose to restart your own fishing passions. Please feel free to join the discussion.

First, I think most of our newer members are reluctant to talk about their skill level, or more importantly, reluctant to ask for a little guidance. Truth be told, most of us like to talk about what we’ve learned about fishing as much as what we actually catch. And most of our long-time buddies really don’t want to hear our cherished opinions about lure choices or how to read the water. So you can take advantage of our lack of a reliably good audience.

Also, one frustrating but ultimately wonderful aspects of fishing in the Rocky Mountain region is, there are many species to choose from, and many ways to enjoy the chase. You can pick one, like stream fly fishing or tournament bass or walleye fishing. Or do like me and many other members of my generation of reborn anglers (again with the cliches’): become a “Jack of all Trades, Master of None.” If you do that, you may not be the very best trout or bass or walleye fisherman. But you can keep on learning and improving right up to the moment they pry your rod from your cold dead hands.

I don’t claim to be an expert on any one type of fishing (and regularly prove that on the water.) I DO know that most of the national fishing shows you can find on television or You Tube channels are created by anglers who live in other parts of our nation. Personal opinion: an awful lot of what is offered as Gospel from Southern and Midwestern anglers will not work worth in our fishing holes around here. Thank the good Lord for local legends like Terry Wickstrom, Bernie Keefe and Dan Swanson, who know what works around here, and when, and are willing to share. But you also have to figure the finer points of Colorado fishing for yourself.

So. You have barely fished for years and can’t quite remember how that happened. If you’re ready to get back in the game, be prepared for surprise: the sport and its options have changed drastically. Don’t start by rushing and investing in a bunch of Powerbait jars and a spin cast rig like you had as a kid. Think first about where you live, what kind of fish thrive in your area, and whether you can over time parlay your spouse’s outrageous spending on other hobbies to justify a few reasonable investments of your own.

In our little corner of the world, I have evolved to where I get by with lighter and lighter spinning tackle. I have some nice fly rods, and bait casters, and heavier way spinning gear, but they’re gathering dust. Around here, unless you want target catfish, I’d recommend medium light or even ultralight equipment. The sensitivity and castability of a modern-day quality, well-balanced rig is a thing of joy. But honestly, you’ll find even pretty inexpensive gear is pretty darned good in the 21st Century. So start thoughtfully, but start small. Stick to a brand you recognize or a friend recommends, and do the same with baits. You WILL probably want to switch to a better quality line. We’ll talk about that and various rigging options in a future column.

You don’t want to get too heavily invested in gear only to discover an unexpected love for something like fly fishing high country lakes, or Tenkara for tiny fish on tiny high country streams. You may learn to love fly fishing for carp; that’s going to require heavier gear than most of our trout or bass.

Truth is, here in northern Colorado we enjoy a multitude of species, but live with the fact that
1. Growing seasons are short, occasional drought is just something that will happen now and then, and water conditions are subject to human as well as divine intervention.
2. Someone else owns all the water and
3. Those same folks are notoriously willing to drain your favorite fishing holes without warning or apparent conscience.

You may find yourself with companions willing to travel for their sport, which will open your options tremendously. If so, be really nice to them, and flexible. If not, for now think a lot about the waters close to you, and the opportunities they present.

If you are blessed with reasonably experienced fishing companions, start by just going wherever they want to go, and try to figure out why. They may just be creatures of habit, fishing for the same stocked trout or stunted bluegill season after season. But hopefully their choices are based on the quality of the resource and, equally important, the season.

In July and August, we can catch fish along the Front Range; just don’t expect a record outing unless you are persistent, or have access to a boat and use it wisely. Over time, you’ll be plotting midsummer outings to the high country, or learning to fish deeper than in spring or fall. And take up ice fishing. Accept what you can’t change, like some lakes and ponds being occasionally cursed with algae or fluctuating water levels. All kinds of factors come into play, not all of them obvious to newbies. The fact that a flatland pond has just been stocked with trout, for example, doesn’t mean you’ll have much luck until the water cools. (The good side of that equation: trout also bite earlier in the year and later than most species). Your best bet in summer may be the high country, or patience.

Part of the challenge and fun is figuring out what waters are productive in what seasons, and what tactics work across the seasons.
Next, let’s talk about how to choose where we fish, and how to approach that water with some hope of success.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Boat Day is Wednesday 14 Aug at Boyd Lake, about a week away.


As far as I can tell, we have more boats than we have riders. That means a few boat owners should leave their boat at home ride with another owner.  Anyone still wanting to participate can use the Sign up sheet, available at Friday breakfasts, or you can get in touch with Rick Palmieri.

Charlie Higgs and Pat Mikulak have volunteered to do lunch for everyone around noon when we get off the water..

The typical schedule is 8am to noon but some may want to start earlier. Starting times and meeting places are determined by the boat owner and anyone that rides with that owner. Friday breakfast is a good time and place to work that out.

I'll be sending an email to those that have signed up soon. Right now we only have 11 people for lunch.

Thanks,
Rick

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Photo by Pat Weller
Fished at North Michigan  Reservoir  last week with this hardy group, from left, Bill Prater, John Gwinnup, Rick Palmieri, Dave Johnson, Pat Mikulak and Jim Visger. Not many fish but lots of Colorado wildlife, red fox, doe deer with twins, Rocky Mountain sheep, 5 moose! WOW!  Also fell in a creek crossing when the bottom disappeared,  (up to neck)!  I am now a believer  in waders belts!

Friday, August 2, 2019

The day John and Bill arguably saved Jim's life

Or it seemed that way to Gwinnup and Prater on that fateful last day of July 2019. The Loveland Fishing Club's annual trek into the high country had wound its way west to the Delaney Butte lakes, legendary for big trout and equally big, murderous hordes of biting insects. On this fateful morning, most of those bugs seemed to realize some of us were planning to fish with a mosquito imitation, and vowed to keep us off the water.

It came to pass, not long after dawn, that Bambi-like Jim Clune emerged from that Lincoln Navigator of his wearing nothing a naive grin,short pants and sandals. In an instant, John Gwinnup and Bill Prater fell upon him and began dousing the lad's bare head and hands with insect repellant. By the thousands, though, the mosquitoes, fell on Jim's bony, bare knees and tried to carry him off into the sagebrush. Only a half bottle or so of Cutter's kept them at bay until Jim could slip into his waders and rubber fins, surviving to fish another day.

It seemed like those damned mosquitoes could bite right through the fabric of our waders. But all of Loveland's finest anglers eventually escaped to the unseasonably calm, clear water  for a memorable confrontation with healthy, gullible trout, who'd obviously been fattening up on mosquitoes. With Jim, John and Bill, though grimly concentrating on their fishing gear instead of lifesaving, were Jim Visger, Dave Johnson and Pat Mikulak. (Rick Palmieri and Pat Weller drove up for the day Tuesday, and concentrated on biting fish on North Michigan.)

A few million biting insects aside, it was another great club fishing trip to the high country, with better than average Jackson County weather, cooperative trout and understanding wives.
Club attendance was down this year, for a variety of reasons. So plan on joining us in 2020. We'll want to book our campsites at Ranger Lakes early.



Monday, July 29, 2019

Dixon Reservoir below Horsetooth 19 July 2019

Not many fish were caught but the ones that were caught were nice and fat.
Dixon Reservoir Photo by Rick Golz

Pumpkinseed for Bill. Photo Rick Golz

Bluegill for Rick. Photo Bill Prater

Walking to a good spot. East side of Dixon Reservoir. Photo Rick Golz


Saturday, July 27, 2019

River's Edge

Photo by Bill Prater
Jim Clune displays a fat crappie yanked from one of the River's Edge ponds Friday. Fishing wasn't great, but not bad either, as a steady stream of decent, hand-size bluegills came to the net.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Not one Master Angler award, but two!

Wayne Baranczyk had a great day on Boyd Lake fishing with Dave Boyle during Boat Day, earning a couple Master Angler awards from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:  one for a 30-inch blue catfish, the other for an 18-inch largemouth.


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Volunteers Needed at Harvest Bazaar Fundraising Event for Chilson Senior Advisory Committee

Chilson Senior Center is asking for volunteers for this event on Saturday, September 14. Jim Visger will have a sign up sheet at the Friday breakfasts and also at the Annual Picnic.