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 Visit CPW’s Park Entrance Pass Information page for more information on the types of passes available to access Colorado’s 42 state parks.  


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

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; or  Doug at 1-847-717-0298, or 

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:

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



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 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:

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.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Gear Test - Garmin Striker Cast GPS


Garmin Striker Cast GPS—Castable Sonar

Garmin Striker Cast GPS | Fishing Wire ( 

For the many anglers around the country who fish from shore, piers or docks, it’s always a bit of a mystery how deep the water is within casting range, what structures are on the bottom, and where the fish are in relation to that structure. Without a sonar/GPS screen to tip you off, you’re fishing blind.

Garmin’s Striker Cast GPS puts fish-finding technology into the hands of these anglers, at a very affordable price. It provides quality sonar and GPS on any smart phone.

The whole system is encased in a hard plastic housing about the size of a tennis ball. The unit turns on when it’s immersed in water, and links via Bluetooth to your smart-phone once you download the Striker Cast app. You attach the device to your fishing line, cast it out to the water you want to check and presto, a sonar screen appears on the phone.

The Striker Cast is about the size of a tennis ball. It can transmit to your phone from up to 200 feet away.

The device weighs about 3 ounces, so it’s not something you’re going to throw on your light action spinning rod. And it would be easy to pop your line and lose the Striker if you got a dead-stop backlash on a hard cast. I tied it on with 65 pound test Spider Wire braid on the heavy duty snap swivel, just to be sure—that braid will hoist a couple of concrete blocks, so it’s not going anywhere.

You don’t really cast the Striker—it’s more like lobbing a tennis ball, unless you put it on a 10-foot surf rod. I used a heavy action Shimano Sienna 7-footer and a 4000 size reel that would whip a kingfish, and it was about right.

Manipulating the rod, reel handle and your smart phone all at once is a challenge unless you have three hands. The way I worked it out was to hold the rod in my right hand, the phone in my left and also lightly hold the reel handle. I then rotated rod and reel to retrieve line—it sounds more difficult than it is once you’ve made a few casts.

As with any sonar, the faster the transducer moves, the more the terrain and fish below are compacted, while the slower things move the more they are stretched out. Thus, a foot-long bass going slow under a fixed transducer can look like a 40-pound pike. However, you quickly learn to adjust. The system automatically sets range and gain, or you can adjust both manually at the tap of a virtual scale.

Bottom shows red/yellow, water blue, fish and structure also red if large, yellow if small or scattered. The screen has digital depth and water temperature readouts on the upper left.

The unit also has a very accurate GPS system which allows you to map the area you are graphing. Walk all the way around your favorite pond, casting every 50 feet or so as you go, and it draws a chart of all the water you can reach, complete with depth profiles. You can name and save this, and you can also share it publicly. (I suspect that’s a function not many serious anglers will use!)

The chart was made by repeated casts with the Striker Cast. The opening at the center was where the author walked around a creek, so there’s no graph of that area.

The transducer is not like your boat floating over a fish, which usually flushes anything shallower than 10 feet in most lakes. Fish are not aware of it, and in fact I had a catfish come up and bump it apparently to see how it tasted. So, you can graph an area with a couple casts, spot fish, tie on a lure that gets to their appropriate depth, and hopefully connect.

The Striker Cast would also be very useful for ice fishers—it’s compact, easy to carry, and would give you a quick read of what’s happening at each hole you open.

After saltwater use, you’ll want to rinse the connections thoroughly before hooking it up to the included USB charging wire—corrosion is not your friend. I wished the charging LED was a bit easier to see or had an alternate color when fully charged, but that’s a minor inconvenience. The battery lasts 10 hours with a full charge.

Here’s a useful video that teases out the many functions:

The Garmin Striker Cast GPS goes for about $180, and it’s sized about right for a stocking stuffer. Check it out here:

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thank you, Mr. Watson, for taking me fishing

 Nearly 60 years ago, I got my fondest wish for my 14th birthday, a fiberglass fly rod. I hadn’t a clue how to fish with it, though; neither did Mom or Dad.  Across the street, fortunately, lived a quiet widower named Mr. Watson. After he spotted me clumsily trying to make a cast, I came to learn he was a terrific warm water fly fisherman, at a time and in a place (metro east St. Louis) where the sport was pretty much unknown. Not a relative, at the time not even a close acquaintance, he launched me on a path toward becoming the modest, legendary angler I am today. While we all struggle to find something to be thankful for in 2020, I have no trouble being thankful for my friend Mr. Watson.

To make a long story short, not easy for me, Mr. Watson took me to a local bait store, bought me a handful of homemade, blackened cork spiders with long rubber band legs, and asked: “Could you be ready to go fishing about 3:30 tomorrow morning?” With Mom’s help, it turns out I could. Off he and I went  to Staunton (IL) City Lake, a pond really, 45 minutes down the road. We pushed a 10-foot wooden jon boat into the water, he rowed, and I began flailing about in the predawn darkness.

I couldn’t see a darned thing. But all about me were the unmistakeable sounds of bluegills sucking mosquitoes off the surface film, mixed with the croaking of unseen bullfrogs and the occasional splash of something even bigger, lurking out there in the dark. Under his quiet direction, almost immediately I caught my first big bluegill on a fly rod, then another, and another, the start of a lifelong addiction. A short time later, one of the biggest bass I’d ever seen inhaled my spider, then foolishly dived into a big patch of coontail. Mr. Watson patiently winched the big girl to the surface with an oar. And I can still recall peeling back all those weeds to reveal a really annoyed largemouth.

God, I miss taking kids fishing 

Of the many things I’ve lost these past nine months, one of the toughest is taking kids and old timers fishing. In particular  

  • On the first weekend in June, the annual Loveland Police Kids Fishing Derby. 

  • In July and August, trips to Colorado Youth Outdoors with ridiculously enthusiastic little Girl Scouts. 

  • And in September, the Loveland Fishing Club’s annual derby for the residents of assisted living centers. And other opportunities, large and small. 

Mr. Watson was killed in an accident at the steel mill while I was away in college, or I suspect I would still be thanking him for that unforgettable fishing trip. Though come to think of it, that’s what I’m doing right now. Besides I suspect he enjoyed it as much as I did. 

Mr. Watson didn’t have to get up at 3 in the morning to go fishing with the backward, freckle-faced kid from across the street; he just wanted to. And I’ll bet he’d like knowing I’m still trying to pay that gift back, more than half a century later. 

As soon as we can, let’s all take some kids fishing.

Richard Radies not doing well

 Our friend Rich, Raffle Chairman and mainstay of the Loveland Fishing Club for many years, has gone into hospice treatment at his home in Loveland. Our thoughts are with him and wife Sheila this Thanksgiving week.

Richard has had limited fishing time recently because of health problems, but he's been an active club member for more than a decade, helping make the club's raffle a big success and serving as one of the original organizers of our Senior Fishing Derby.

Norm Englebrecht, who visited with him this week, says he'd enjoy getting a note or card. His address is 2690 W. 36th St. Loveland 80538. 

Rich and a friend he found in Boyd Lake.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Boedecker Reservoir to continue to be managed as a State Wildlife Area

 LOVELAND, Colo. - Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Consolidated Home Supply Ditch and Reservoir Company have signed a contract for a 10-year lease renewal that will allow CPW to continue to manage Boedecker Reservoir as a State Wildlife Area. 

"Colorado Parks and Wildlife has worked together in partnership with the Consolidated Home Supply Ditch and Reservoir Company,” said CPW Area Wildlife Manager Jason Duetsch. “Over the past several months we've developed a renewed lease that is a win for lovers of public access to local waters. We are excited to continue to offer fishing, hunting and wakeless boating opportunities to our customers and hope they have a chance to visit this beautiful property in the future." 

The fishery management at Boedecker Reservoir is for warm-water angling. 

Amenities at Boedecker include a boat ramp, primitive restrooms, ice fishing during the winter and wakeless boating during the spring, summer and fall. Past stocking efforts in the reservoir include plants for black crappie, saugeye, channel catfish and white bass. 

“Boedecker Reservoir will be a quality destination for anglers targeting white bass and crappie during 2021,” said Ben Swigle, aquatic biologist for CPW. “Both species thrive in Boedecker in large part because of natural reproduction. White bass can be targeted in open water while crappie tend to associate with submerged vegetation.”

Dove and waterfowl hunting opportunities also exist at Boedecker SWA.

“This was a collective effort to ensure the reservoir would remain public and available for outdoor recreation,” said Kristin Cannon, Deputy Regional Manager for CPW’s Northeast Region. “Larimer County, the City of Loveland and local neighborhoods were supportive throughout this process and because of that its residents will be able to enjoy this cherished piece of the outdoors right in their own backyard."

State Wildlife Areas (SWAs) are state- or privately-owned lands that offer wildlife-related recreation to the public. A valid hunting or fishing license is required for everyone 18 or older accessing any State Wildlife Area or CPW-leased State Trust Land

About Boedecker SWA
From Loveland, go two miles west on First Street to County Road 21, then 1/2 mile south to the reservoir. Boedecker is a wakeless lake with a concrete boat ramp and parking on the northeast side of the lake. When the lake is full it contains several submerged grass and brush piles along the western shores.

Sportfishing Notes

  • For walleye and saugeye, fish any rock structure when water temperatures are between 45-55 degrees.
  • Later, fish are scattered but tube jigs, kindy rigs, triple ripples, are good choices.
  • For white bass, follow the birds. The white bass will be chasing gizzard shad. Use silver castmasters or another shad imitation. White bass are also often attracted to flows when the reservoir is filling (especially at 60-65 degrees fahrenheit).

Boedecker SWA Regulations

  • Boating is prohibited in a manner that creates a white water wake. 
  • Fishing is prohibited from boats from Nov. 1 through the last day of the migratory waterfowl season. 
  • Horseback riding is prohibited.
  • Sail surfboards are prohibited.
  • Discharge of firearms or bows is prohibited except when hunting. 
  • Fires are prohibited. 
  • Camping is prohibited. 
  • Public access is prohibited from one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise daily except for fishing.
For more information or questions, please call CPW’s Fort Collins office at 970-472-4300.

PLEASE RESPOND: Getting ready to set up club Zoom meetings


Hello everyone,

We are trying to see how many club members we can add to a Zoom list. 
Please e-mail Past President Jim Visger at and answer the following three questions "Yes" or "No" 

1.    Do you have access to a smart phone and do you get your emails there? Yes  No
2.    Do you have access to a computer with camera and audio? Yes  No
3.    Do you have access to a I-Pad and do you receive your emails there? Yes  No

The information will be used to set up a list of members who can use Zoom for club meetings. 

Once we have a current list of Zoom-capable members, either Peggy Gwinnup or Jim will e-mail you with further information and an invitation to a Zoom meeting.

That initial meeting is tentatively set for 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 10.

Winter Fishing Tips from Colorado Parks & Wildlife


Brad Bryant enjoying some fall fishing at a Denver Metro lake. Brad caught this awesome bass using a jig. 


Thanksgiving provides an excellent mark of when anglers need to set their sights on winter fishing. For many, they gear up for the ice fishing season, while other anglers are thinking about winter fly fishing. Winter fly fishing is dramatically different than hitting the river in the spring, summer, or early fall. The bitter cold, ice clad banks, and mounding snow are enough to make me think twice before heading out. For those anglers that are able to bare the elements, they will be rewarded with beautiful landscapes, little angler pressure, and hungry fish. One of the best ways to be successful catching winter trout is fishing midges. Midges are small mosquito like insects that hatch year-round. Fishing with midge patterns is fairly straight forward. There are three life stages that midge patterns imitate, larvae, pupa, and adult. Larvae patterns are small, simple patterns that are fished deep near the riverbed to imitate the early life stage. The pupa pattern is a larger and more complex fly that is fished in the water film or just below the surface. The adult stage pattern is a typical dry fly presented on the surface of the water. Regardless of the stage, midge flies are typically very small (#18-24) and require a couple extra considerations. Such a small fly needs a similarly thin tippet (5x or higher) to be discrete as possible. Likewise, the small size makes it difficult for anglers to identify a strike on even a dry fly. Anglers will need an indicator to catch the slight strikes typically associated with midge fishing. Although patterns of all three stages can be successful, many anglers utilize the pupa pattern while winter fishing. A simple dead-drift just below the water surface is an effective way to attract trout. Pupa and adult stage patterns are particularly productive in the late morning and early afternoons on sunny winter days. 


One of the greatest lessons I have learn from fishing has been patience. It is a lesson that I learned as a child and have been constantly reminded throughout adulthood. Whether trolling, retrieving a spoon, or fly fishing, anglers need to have the ability to withstand the lulling action that we all experience. When I was young I assumed that to be patient was to simply wait. I've come to think about patience as more than sitting idly until the magic moment when a fish strikes. Patient fishing is an active process of observing, learning, and acquainting oneself with the rhythms of the ecosystem around them. I remember the first time I noticed birds swooping down over the river hinted at the start of a new hatch. Or the importance of sitting and studying the water to see if fish are rising or what bugs may be flying around before rigging up my fly rod. Through a process of patient observing and learning, anglers become better equipped to know when to call it quits, move onto another location, change a lure or fly, or simply to go home. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Not Too Shocking: Your Electrofishing Questions Answered

By Alex McCrickard, DWR Aquatic Education Coordinator
Photos by Meghan Marchetti/DWR

Have you watched some of the videos from aquatic biologists at the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) and seen a boat outfitted with long, wand-like poles with dangling cables? Have you ever showed up to a river or stream and witnessed a crew of biologists with large backpacks and long rods extending into the water? This unusual-looking activity is called electrofishing, and it’s modern science in action.

As Virginia’s state fish and wildlife agency, DWR is responsible for the management of our fish and wildlife resources for the benefit of the public. Our agency staff work hard to conserve and protect our freshwater fisheries across the Commonwealth. The best way to monitor the health of fish populations is to catch a number of fish from one area at one time. While our aquatics biologists are all excellent anglers, there is a more efficient, safe, and effective way to catch the fish! Electrofishing is a common method used in fisheries science; this type of biomonitoring is truly one of the most effective ways to monitor our fisheries.

Fish can really help tell the story of the health of a certain waterbody. They are in the water 24/7 and are constantly exposed to the elements. Some species are more tolerant to pollution than others. The make-up and diversity of a water body’s fish population can help tell the story of water quality and inform our agency’s biologists. In turn, all of this influences sound management decisions that can improve habitat, water quality, and fish health, which benefits the general public and anglers who cherish Virginia’s freshwater resources.

So, you now might be wondering what exactly happens during electrofishing? What’s going on behind the scenes during these surveys? Our electrofishing FAQs below cover these basics.

What is electrofishing?

Electrofishing is a technique used in fisheries science to sample fish populations. Sampling is when biologists study a number of fish from a certain area, measuring and examining them and recording the statistics. When biologists electrofish, a generator or battery gives off an electrical current that runs through the water. Volts, amps, and frequency can be adjusted based on water temperature, conductivity, and other variables. Electrofishing can take place on foot with a backpack unit on a small stream or river. For larger rivers and lakes, electrofishing typically takes place from a boat or barge.

From a boat, the anodes enter the water from a long boom off the bow. Electrical current travels from anode cables back to the cathode(s)–in many cases, the metal hull of the boat acts as the cathode. The electrical field typically expands 5 to 7 feet in circumference from each anode and down about 6 to 7 feet. The size of the electrical field can vary depending on conductivity, voltage, and frequency of electrical current.

Fish are temporarily stunned as the electrical current causes their muscles to contract.  The fish then float towards the surface where they can be easily netted.

Is electrofishing harmful to fish?

Electrofishing has the potential to be harmful if not used properly; however, biologists have the training and experience to operate the equipment safely and effectively while minimizing impacts to fish. Prior to any sampling, biologists adjust and monitor electrofishing settings to the target species in a particular habit. In some cases, electroshocking is avoided during spawning periods and habitats of certain rare and endangered species to eliminate even the perception of harm.

Does electrofishing affect different species of fish differently?

Yes, the frequency of the electromagnetic current can affect species differently. For example, low frequency electrofishing tends to only affect catfish species. When we sample tidal rivers to assess the catfish populations, we solely use low frequency. High frequency sampling is often used for standard community assessment of multiple species. Because of their larger surface area, big fish such as bass and muskie are more susceptible to electroshocking than small fish such as minnows and darters.

Electrofishing is only efficient in shallow water, so sampling is usually conducted when all species and sizes of interest are likely to be vulnerable to this technique.

Why do DWR biologists electrofish? What’s the goal for sampling and what do DWR biologists do with the fish during electrofishing?

Electrofishing is an effective method to assess the health of a fishery in a non-lethal manner. It allows biologists to evaluate the health, variety, size distribution, and abundance of fish species on a given body of water and how that population can change over time. Length and weight measurements further allow biologists to assess overall fishery health. This type of sampling allows DWR to look at interactions within a fish population. Furthermore, we can track status of endangered and threatened species or the status of spread of any invasive species. All of this information influences sound management decisions that benefit the public who recreate on these resources.

DWR staff weigh, measure, and evaluate the fish netted during electrofishing, keeping careful records of the information.

The information collection during electrofishing helps DWR fisheries biologists make sound management decisions for fish populations.

Is electrofishing safe for the DWR biologists?

Yes, because of their training and experience, DWR biologists are safe when electrofishing. Our biologists wear non-breathable waders that keep them from being shocked while using backpack electrofishing units. For electrofishing boats, numerous electric cut-offs are in place to prevent accidents, and the boat is grounded. All DWR biologists wear personal flotation devices while sampling on boats. DWR biologists have also had formal training in electrofishing principles and techniques (for example the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service electrofishing course), which contributes to the safe operation of electrofishing gear.

In what kinds of waters do you electrofish?

Electrofishing takes place in freshwater and tidal freshwater rivers and streams. Because of the high conductivity of saltwater, it is not conducive to electrofishing.

Can anglers use electrofishing equipment to catch fish?

No, it is unlawful for the general public to use electrofishing equipment to catch fish.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Christmas idea for anglers from a local beanie maker

Wayne Baranczak is sporting a nifty new beanie these days made by a couple of local businesswomen, Beverly and Christine. The mother-daughter duo has created a variety of beanies with embroidered designs including this "Gone Fishin'" logo. They're $29.95 on the website but you can get $10 off if you type in the discount code FishingLover when you order. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

The club needs a vice president for 2021. Consider tossing your fishing cap in the ring

 A year has come and gone since we elected Doug Money as the club's vice president. Now it's time for him to prepare for the presidency, and for the club to choose a new VP.

This has been a strange year for the club like the rest of the world, so you probably haven't had the chance to really think about seeking a leadership position yourself. Well, now is the time. Assuming 2021 will be a little less scary than 2020, find it a great way to get really involved in the club, and help us plan for the future.

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. Frankly, unable to meet regularly with other club members, we do not have a vice president candidate in mind. 

Election will be Dec. 1

The election is planned for Dec. 1, with the new board taking over in January. "We're not quite sure what will be involved in the job in the coming year, but we'll be doing our best to get the club back to interacting with each other and some fish," says President Jim Baxter. 

The way the club is set up, 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; or  Doug at 1-847-717-0298, or