Thursday, December 31, 2020

Last trout of 2020

 Those who stayed home and drank on New Year's Eve missed a great day on the ice at Red Feather Thursday. Okay, the trout weren't big but they were plentiful, including rainbows, cutbows, browns and what we think were tiger trout. Even the wind cooperated. Happy New Year!

Wayne Baranczyk with a double.
It LOOKS like he was using Gulp minnows...




New $1 increase on 6 high-visitation parks goes into effect January 1

 

Dec. 30, 2020

DENVER – Beginning Jan. 1, a $1 high-use fee will be added to the cost of daily vehicle passes at Lake Pueblo, Golden Gate Canyon, Staunton, Castlewood Canyon, Roxborough and Highline state parks. These parks join Cherry Creek, Chatfield, Boyd Lake and Eldorado Canyon state parks as areas with high-use fees.

The high-use fee at these parks is necessary to mitigate the extra expenses and resource strain associated with a high level of use by visitors. 

These parks have seen a huge increase in visitation numbers. In a year of record park visitation, record drownings and increased protocols for COVID-19, many of our high-use parks are in dire need of maintenance funds. CPW has relied on its volunteers in this year of unprecedented use at state parks for trash pick-up, extra patrols, and programs like the Trail Ambassadors at Cheyenne Mountain State Park to help with the increased demand. 

At popular spots like Eldorado Canyon, the park hits vehicle capacity all summer long. In an effort to alleviate traffic, CPW began working with Boulder to offer shuttle service during the busy summer months. The park’s work on a Visitor Use Management Plan could become a model for how CPW helps control congestion at its most popular parks. 

These efforts have helped, but increased financial support is needed.

The additional revenue generated will help CPW with increased trash collection, increased resource damage, additional temporary staffing, additional wear-and-tear on facilities and other expenses which were not offset by normal vehicle pass fees. 

These parks join Cherry Creek, Chatfield, Boyd Lake and Eldorado Canyon state parks as areas with high-use fees.

Passes to Colorado state parks can be purchased at the parks as well as online at cpwshop.com. Visit CPW’s Park Entrance Pass Information page for more information on the types of passes available to access Colorado’s 42 state parks.  
 

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Thursday, December 24, 2020

Fellow Club members: following is a kinda long Christmas letter to my nephews in Florida; thought you might find some of it interesting reading, or something you might want to share with kids in your family. This is highly secretive stuff that I normally wouldn't even share with Dennis or Wayne, but it IS Christmas after all. (Also, one of the great things about this club is, by the time it's warm enough for any of you to use these recommendations, most will have forgotten about it anyway.) Merry Christmas! Bill  

Dear nephews,

Okay, so your favorite uncle hears you fellows are getting into fishing more seriously these days, so I’m sharing more of my favorite Ned Rig baits and advice based on how they work here in Colorado. I’m sending along a few bigger soft and hard plastic baits - spinner baits and crankbaits - because being young you may prefer to fish faster and use heavier gear, and these should work in Florida as they do here. (You may also find spinner baits work well in stained and muddy water, which you may find in your area). But your uncle is obsessively into “finesse fishing” - getting by with the lightest gear I can without losing too many big ones. My go-to rig is a medium light spinning rod, size 2500 reel and 4- or 6-pound Berkley Nanofil brand braid, with a 6-pound fluorocarbon leader. For Florida, I’d recommend going heavier, maybe 8- or 10-pound braid and leader. It’s tricky to attach the braid to the leader, but you’ll find tutorials on Youtube and master it with a little practice. I recommend the double uni knot; it won’t slip.  

Anyway, five or six years ago at Christmas, I sent you some of my then- favorite baits, with an explanation of how to use the “wacky rig,” a salt-enhanced plastic bait that you fish weightless and let it slowly sink in places that likely hold bass. I still use the wacky rig a good deal, and hope you do too. But you may recall from our Horsetooth outing, I now rely more on something called the “Ned Rig” developed by a codger in Kansas whom I’ve become acquainted with online. Back three years ago, the only way I could acquire his gear was online, at places like Tackle Warehouse and Discount Tackle. Now the “TRD” and other small plastic baits seem to be everywhere under the brand name “Elaztech” by Z-Man. They still work great, but annoyingly, a lot more fishermen now swear by them.  Z-man has come out with a bewildering variety of large and small baits. In Florida,  your fish run a lot bigger than what I find here in Colorado and Wyoming. But I think Ned’s basic premise is true everywhere: the old fisherman’s tale that small baits only catch small fish is B.S.; if you use the Ned Rig, you’ll catch a lot of smaller bass, yes, but you’ll also attract big ones. 

Not knowing what gear you use, I’ll assume it’s heavier than mine. Just get out and fish, and see what works for you. Lighter gear will just help you cast further. The heart of the setup is a simple mushroom head jig and a 2.5 inch floating soft bait, the most well known being the “TRD” in a variety of colors. I prefer California Craw and Green Pumpkin. One neat thing is, they are tough. Take one out and yank; it’ll stretch 10 inches or so without breaking. If you don’t hang up on a stump, you can catch 50 or 100 fish with one. Trust me on this.  If you look in Bass Pro these days, you’ll find a whole section devoted to Z-man stuff; the crawdad imitation is cool, and the “Slim SwimZ” that’s shaped like a minnow.  I ignore the great big stuff. Just use the small mushroom-shaped jig. If you find your TRD slips down the shank of the jig after a bit, you can fix it by first applying a tiny dab of Super Glue between the nose of the TRD and the flat bottom of the mushroom.

This is finesse fishing, and you want to fish slow.  If I can, I’ll use a 1/20 or even 1/32 oz. jig with a size 4 hook, so it sinks s.l.o.w.l.y to the bottom. This little bait is buoyant; fish it with a mushroom head jig and it floats nose down and stands straight up on the bottom looking like an easy meal. You shouldn’t even feel it hit the bottom. Assume it’s sunk down and just let it sit for 30 seconds or so, then twitch or hop it back to you. Z-man and others also make mushroom jigs in 1/10, ⅙ or even ⅛ oz sizes. Not my favorite; they sink too fast and make it harder to detect a soft bite.

 If you’re fishing from one of those kayaks I’ve seen on your Mama’s Facebook page, terrific. Or from the bank of those ponds you have everywhere around Sarasota. You should only be casting out 30 feet or slow and watching carefully for unnatural movement, which is hopefully a bass or big crappie spotting an easy meal, taking it in its mouth and swimming off. You don’t need to jerk hard to set the hook; if you don’t give the fish too much time to swallow, it will almost always hook itself in the lip. They also make a weedless version, if you fish in brushy or weedier water. I’m usually fishing in 2- to 8-feet of relatively open water, and prefer to rig it like the photo below. Avoid water that has too much vegetation on the bottom; the Ned rig will be heading nosedown to the bottom. 

Finesse ShroomZ™Image result for TRD rig

ElaZtech now sells its soft plastic to others, and you can find “Ned Rig” type baits sold by YUM, Gene Larew Lures, Zoom and Strike King. I assume you can get by with any floating soft bait, but Senkos and other salt-loaded plastics fall over.  Just cast, hop that jig along the bottom, nose down., and hang on. 

The bait I use most is Z-man’s 2.5 inch  “The Real Deal,” or TRD, or Turd, above.  Again, it’s basically the ZinkerZ cut in half.  They’re durable; unless you snag, you should be able to use the same setup for 2 or 3 days or more of hard fishing.  They also absorb scent pretty well; I daub mine with Pro-Cure Super Gel Nightcrawler.  Stretch the bait a little, rub the Pro-Cure in and try not to smell your hands.

You just bury the jig in either end and fish it bare hook, like the illustration above.  It looks like it would snag a lot, but it’s so light you can fish in pretty heavy rock cover and usually be able to work it free.  Just don’t yank and bury the hook in a log; try to jiggle it loose.  The same can’t be said in heavy weeds or brush; I try to avoid them when I can and focus on rocky areas or weed edges.  As the season progresses on ponds, it’s hard to avoid hanging up on shoreline weeds, so the kayak is the way to go. I use a float tube, but in Florida you’d probably attract alligators. 

Personal preference:  I also crimp the barbs.  I know I’m losing fishing that way, but you get lots of bites, and anyway, you should just be giving these fish a kiss and letting them go.

This rig allows you to cover more water than my other favorite finesse technique, the wacky rig, but you’re still not covering much water.  So if you start off clueless on fish the fish are, start with something like a spinnerbait or crank, until you get a feel for where the fish are and how deep they’re holding.

That’s pretty much it.  If you start finding yourself overly attracted to girls, just take them fishing. And take your little sister along!

Love, Uncle Bill

Christmas 2020

(One final thought: Z-man plastic reacts with other kinds of soft plastics. Keep your TRD’s in original bag.)

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Folks are ice fishing on Boyd

 I’m not saying I’m ready to get out there yet, but half a dozen anglers were huddled around holes through the ice on the marina inlet Sunday. I didn’t see any holes bigger than the ones made by Norm’s auger...

Anyone thinking about the Laramie lakes or somewhere before the holiday? Maybe Tuesday?

Friday, December 18, 2020

Work Scheduled on Dam at North Michigan Reservoir

 

North Michigan Reservoir is part of State Forest State Park

WALDEN, Colo. - As reservations begin to open for the 2021 camping season, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding visitors to State Forest State Park that a contractor will begin rehabilitation on the dam at North Michigan Reservoir during the month of May. The dam at the popular fishing and camping reservoir is being upgraded to improve safety for downstream properties.

The work will require low water levels and may result in disturbances due to noisy construction equipment. Campsites immediately adjacent to the dam will be closed during the work, however other campers may experience disturbances from construction work. Generators, pumps, and heavy equipment will be active during the daytime hours. Some nighttime generator noise is also a possibility during times when pumps are required to remove water from the construction area around the clock.   

The 60-foot high dam at North Michigan Reservoir was originally built in 1963. The reservoir stores approximately 1,300 acre feet of water. Worsening seepage conditions on the north abutment were identified in 2015. The discovery resulted in the prioritization of repair efforts at the dam to address developing safety concerns. The planned rehabilitation includes seepage mitigation in the north abutment, removal and replacement of the spillway, and improvements to the outlet works.

To minimize impacts to the public, Colorado Parks and Wildlife hopes to complete the work in late 2021. However weather or unforeseen issues could lead to work extending into 2022. 

“It’s more important to get it done properly than quickly,” said Joe Brand, Park Manager at State Forest State Park. “This important project will assure that North Michigan dam will continue to safely provide water and recreation for many years to come.”

The total cost of the North Michigan Creek dam project is $7 million. The work is part of a multiphase project funded by the Colorado Lottery and Great Outdoors Colorado. GOCO invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state's parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. The GOCO board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1992, GOCO has committed more than $1.2 billion in lottery proceeds to more than 5,200 projects in all 64 counties.   


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Keep Moving for Ice Fishing Success

 As the ice on lakes and ponds gets thicker across the ice fishing belt, our ice-fishing tactics should change for more ice fishing success. Early in the year, when the ice was thin, a more stationary approach was usually more productive. Fish under thin ice can detect movement better, and movement from above can spook them. The angler that sits on a good spot and doesn’t move much will often be more successful early in the ice season.

As the ice gets thicker and snow gets deeper on top of the ice, an angler’s movement isn’t as much of a consideration. Thicker ice and deeper snow on the ice limit a fish’s ability to see what’s going on above. An angler’s movements probably won’t spook the fish much if at all. For the next few weeks, even until the end of the ice fishing season, the anglers that move the most will increase their odds for ice fishing success.

Now is when some of the most successful anglers on the ice implement a plan that they often refer to as “trolling on ice”, or “hole-hopping”. They drill holes on a structure at various depths and locations and move quickly from hole to hole. Electric augers like the K-Drill are very lightweight, so drilling holes in a large area is a simple and quiet task. These anglers keep moving, just like you would when trolling open water in a boat.

Or, they might not be fishing structure. Sometimes big flat areas are home to roaming schools of fish, mostly perch and crappies, but also walleyes and pike in some lakes. If this is the case, “hole-hopping” anglers pop a bunch of holes on a more random basis and again, they just keep moving.

This trolling on ice can be as complex as you want it to be. With GPS and mapping chips and such, it’s possible to go right to a structure and be very close to the area on the structure that you’re looking for. You can start drilling holes near or on the exact spots that you think will hold fish. Or you can employ the strategy that many of us have used for a long time. Use shoreline markings or your memory to find the spot that you’re looking for. Your sonar will reveal when you’ve found the fish. It will certainly take longer, but that method still works.

Now that you’ve got holes drilled in the area to be fished, it’s time to drop a bait. Although we won’t be spending much time at any hole unless we see fish, it still works well to move from hole to hole pulling your portable shelter. You can carry all your equipment in the portable. By having all your equipment in the shelter, you can explore nearby areas when you get to the end of your “trolling” run. Also, they’re a lot more comfortable to fish from and they provide a windbreak when needed. The folks at Clam are the pioneers and leaders in creating portable shelters. They have units with features that will appeal to any angler who wants to “troll” on the ice.

As we move from hole to hole, we’re going to let our sonar unit tell us how long we should stay at that hole. Drop a bait and if nothing shows up in a few minutes, move to the next hole. Some anglers give the fish a couple minutes to show up, others wait maybe five or ten minutes for a fish to reveal their presence. It seems like the most successful anglers do the most moving this time of year.

Many ice anglers have learned how to determine a fish’s attitude by watching the sonar. If a fish comes in quickly and eats the bait, they’re aggressive. If they come in slowly and look at the bait carefully, they’re not so aggressive. Modify your lure choice and action by the way the fish behave. If they don’t want to eat what you put down there, continue your “trolling pass”. Move to a different hole. If you keep moving on the ice this time of year and until the end of the ice fishing season, your chances for ice fishing success will greatly improve.

Bob Jensen, Fishing the Midwest

To see recent episodes of Fishing the Midwest television, fishing articles and fishing tips, visit www.fishingthemidwest.com

Monday, December 14, 2020

Looking for a 2021 Vice President!

 Doug Money will be sworn in as our new club president on the Tuesday, Jan. 19 Zoom meeting, after a year as vice president. But according to outgoing President Jim Baxter, we're still needing a club member to serve as VP.

Whether you're an old timer who's been with the club since the beginning in late 2003, or an old timer who's just joined, we need you consider running for office. 

We select a vice president each year who serves alongside the president, then assumes the top position in January of the following year. That gives that person experience with leading the board, setting up monthly general meetings and establishing the general direction of the club with things like fishing trips, volunteerism and general merry-making.

Over the years, the club has become a leader in outdoor projects here in Larimer County, known for public service and enviable fishing skills.

Questions? Contact Jim at 970-689-3923, or hipshot12288@gmail.com; or  Doug at 1-847-717-0298, or douglasmoney@gmail.com 

We're having a Zoom General Meeting on January 19!

 It's time to put pandemics behind us, and at least meet online.

The Loveland Fishing Club Board met via Zoom Monday and scheduled a Zoom meeting for Tuesday, 2:30 p.m. Jan. 19. Details on how to log on, to come. 

Meanwhile, here's a Youtube video on joining a meeting for the first time. The basic idea is, someone will send you a note with a link to the meeting. (First time user, you may just complicate things a bit if you try to sign up for a Zoom id and download the software. Just click on the darned link. My nephew's 7-year-old does it)

Click here for tutorial:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9isp3qPeQ0E

President Jim Baxter says other meetings will be scheduled soon, but for now this will be the first general meeting since this damned pandemic began.

Meetings of the board have been set for 9:30 a.m. on the following dates: 

  • Monday, Jan. 18
  • Monday, Feb. 15
  • Monday, March 15
  • Monday, April 19





This reminds me: Let's go fishing Thursday!

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reporting that an unnamed angler fell through thin ice Monday morning. He or she got out safely, though, as it apparently happened in less than 5 foot of water. As the old saying goes, "The Ice Has Been Broken!"

CPW reported the ice was only about 1 1/2 inches thick at the time, and used the opportunity to remind folks that safe ice is typically at least 4 inches.

Here's Norm with a sample of what we're after...
Dowdy ice is supposed to be about 7 inches!

Meanwhile, at least one report from Dowdy Lake puts the ice at about 7 inches there. Should be perfect. Let's go ice fishing! Let's meet near the boat ramp on the southwest corner about 8:30 a.m. and decide who walks on the ice first. I recommend our Coast Guard rep, Wayne Baranczyk. Questions or protests? Drop me a note at billjohnp@gmail.com


TROUT DISEASE STUDY PROGRESSING

 

A Colorado River cutthroat trout suffering from BKD. Photo by John Drennan


DENVER, Colo. - While many fish diseases have declined in recent years due to good management practices, cases of bacterial kidney disease (BKD) seem to be increasing in the western U.S. The disease is caused by the bacteria Renibacterium salmoninarum, which is common in cold water streams and lakes. The disease is characterized by the presence of grayish-white abscesses in the kidney and can cause death in both wild and hatchery trout.

After negative tests in the Colorado fish hatchery system for 18 years, in 2015 four state hatcheries, one federal hatchery, and a wild broodstock lake tested positive for the disease. An outbreak at one hatchery cost over $2.1 million and impacted fish management statewide with the loss of over 675,000 sport fish. In 2017, a statewide sampling effort led by CPW Research Scientist Dan Kowalski found the bacteria was common in trout habitat statewide, but generally occurred at low levels and only rarely caused outbreaks of disease in the wild. These recent detections of R. salmoninarum in hatcheries and wild fish populations in Colorado have generated additional questions about presence and infection intensity in trout and caused managers to revisit best management practices in hatcheries.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has partnered with Colorado State University Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Ph.D. student Tawni Riepe to investigate important aspects of BKD in Colorado. Her work, while still ongoing, has already produced some interesting results. In one experiment, fish were caged in a water known to have fish infected with R. salmoninarum to look at direct bacterial transfer between infected and non-infected fish (a process known as horizontal transmission). The trial lasted for 90 days and involved 320 caged cutthroat trout. Only one fish tested positive for the bacteria that causes BKD, demonstrating that horizontal transmission was low under these conditions but occurred in a relatively short amount of time. A second experiment was designed to look at transmission from an infected fish to its offspring (known as vertical transmission). Early results confirm that eggs reared from fish infected with R. salmoninarum may have varying levels of the bacteria depending on the degree of infection within the parents.

“Understanding how the bacteria that causes BKD is transmitted from fish to fish or fish to egg to fish, is important to figuring out how to minimize the spread of the bacteria and the disease among hatchery and wild fish populations,” commented Riepe.

Another focus of Riepe’s research is to compare and improve testing methods to detect the bacteria that causes BKD. The goal is to determine the best way to test fish, what test to use, and if non-lethal tests can be developed to test fish without sacrificing them. Just like testing for human pathogens that cause disease, like COVID-19, there are several ways to detect bacteria in fish. A technique called quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) can be used to detect the DNA of the pathogen and to determine the intensity of infection in fish. Another approach is to test for antigens, proteins on the surface of the pathogen that a fish host uses to produce antibodies that attack the bacteria. Riepe, in collaboration with Dr. John Drennan, a Senior Fish Pathologist with CPW, is also working on methods to evaluate if currently healthy fish have been previously infected with the bacteria by testing for antibody production. All of these methods have their strengths and weaknesses, and this important research will help identify the best methods to test for the bacteria that causes BKD in Colorado trout populations. Current results indicate that using qPCR to test the mucus, kidney, and liver tissue of the fish produced the best results and, in several cases, the non-lethal test of a fish’s mucus produced similar results to more traditional organ tissue tests.

A final component of the research is to explore how the disease may impact wild trout populations. Brook trout are known to be particularly susceptible to R. salmoninarum infections that can lead to BKD, so Riepe and her colleagues are studying several brook trout populations in high elevation streams and lakes to determine if varying levels of the bacteria might affect age, growth and survival of the fish.

Riepe is also working closely with Dr. Eric Fetherman, an Aquatic Research Scientist from CPW, to conduct this important work and is being advised at CSU by Dr. Dana Winkelman. Together they hope to make some headway in the management of this disease to benefit fish populations and anglers of Colorado.

“Tawni's work with R. salmoninarum represents some of the most comprehensive research conducted in inland trout populations and will not only benefit the State's wild and hatchery-reared cutthroat trout populations and the anglers of Colorado, but also further contribute to our knowledge of bacterial kidney disease in the United States and worldwide,” said Fetherman.

“Collaborating with CPW has been one of the highlights of my Ph.D. experience,” Riepe said. “Not only has the expertise that lies within the agency’s biologists, hatchery managers, and aquatic researchers enhanced all the planning and executing of these research projects, but the support and advice I have received from everyone I am directly working with or behind the scenes has been unmeasurable and I am completely humbled.”

Additional photos: 

Dr. Eric Fetherman with blood serum collected from a cutthroat trout to test for antibodies produced in response to an infection by R. Salmoninarum

Tawni Riepi and CPW Technician Crosby Vail setting gill nets at Eagle Lake to collect brook trout to determine the effects of R. Salmoninarum bacteria in wild trout populations. 




Saturday, December 12, 2020

Google Earth Pro has updated images for northern Colorado

If you have time on your hands these days, waiting for either warmer weather or weather that’ll put a proper ice cap on your favorite lake, you might want to play with Google Earth Pro. It’s free; it’s a bit complicated to use when you get started, but it's manageable and will give you views of favorite fishing spots that you can’t find anywhere else. They've added updated images for northern Colorado, taken in June and October...

Check it out; if you like it, with a little patience you can learn to use it. If you're puzzled, drop me a note at billjohnp@gmail.com. We've talked about this before; see articles from last February "Finding your secret fishing hole" Parts one and two

Google updates its virtual map of the world regularly using satellite and aerial photography, patched together by software to make it seem like one giant view of earth from space. Once you locate and zoom in on a particular location, at the bottom right of the image you can usually find the date that image was taken. 

Up on the lower left you’ll find a bunch of icons to try, including ones to save the image of a favorite lake or potential hunting spot. The one that looks like a little clock, called “Historical Imagery” allows you to literally look back in time for satellite images taken at different times. You can look for the best available view, for example, when water levels are low enough to learn something new. 

I’m attaching a June 20, 2020 view of St. Vrain State Park. If you click on the photo you'll be able to zoom in and out; you can do it even better within the Google Earth application so you can probe for things like shoreline cover and weedbeds. (If you were camped there that day, you might be able to spot your camper.) (If you’re reading this with a cell phone, the image is pretty small. You probably won’t be impressed.) The bigger the PC screen you use, the happier you’ll be. 

Below is the link to the free Google Earth download. The one for Microsoft-based computers is better than the version for Apple. Hey, it’s made by Google.




Thursday, December 10, 2020

Norm breaks the ice on big Laramie Lakes trout

It seems like Engelbrecht has been looking hopefully under Wyoming ice for years now, seeing an occasional whopper but never bringing one to the surface.

If I hadn't taken this picture myself I'd swear it was 
Photoshopped. Look at the tiny head on that
big fat body...They grow fast in Cowboy Country.

That all changed abruptly Tuesday, first at Meeboer with a big cutbow, a few hours later at Twin Buttes, with another cutbow and then a handsome post-spawn brown. His fishing companion, who shall remain anonymous, uh, got skunked. But I did see a monster swim annoyingly, slowly, past my hook.   


  

Friday, December 4, 2020

Colorado Youth Outdoors fundraiser is a drive-through holiday light event

 

A light display to delight the senses and raise money for CYO is being hold Nov. 27 through Dec. 31st in Fort Collins. The tour through the Swift Ponds property is about one mile long, costs $20 to $50, and the duration is 15 minutes. It's a fundraiser for the nonprofit, and additional donations will be welcome.

Because of Covid-19 concerns, to limit interaction between customers and staff tickets will only be sold online. Here's the link to register: https://www.nocowinterwonderland.com/





Thursday, December 3, 2020

Rick G's still out there fishing...

 Rick Golz is still bringing in some good ones at Carter Lake; just sent us this photo of a rainbow trout that looks to be about 19 1/2 inches. I would say "20" but hey, he caught it, not me.