A Party on the Bighorn

I was freshly engaged a year ago when my best men asked me what I wanted to do for a bachelor party. Well, besides the obvious (That I wanted to party) I wanted to fish. I suggested a destination or two that I knew would yield good fishing. At first, I thought an exotic destination like Cabo, Central America or Cuba would be a great place to party and fish. Bonefish, permit and my favorite: Tarpon, would make for a sweet trip with my best buddies. I then quickly figured out that if you actually want your buddies to show up at your bachelor party AND your destination wedding then having a local and cheap party might be the way to go. Who am I to decide where my own party is anyway? Considering there are a handful of rivers in our neighboring states that I have not been to this local and cheap option sounded good to me.

The Green river below Flaming Gorge dam was the first river my best men suggested. I had never been but had heard good things. We spent months preparing the trip, from reserving a campsite to making sure all attendees had a spot on a boat. The plans were coming together nicely and the flows looked good until a couple weeks before our trip. With record snow pack they began releasing more and more water from the dam the weeks prior to our trip. We remained optimistic until the flows all of the sudden jumped to 8,000 CFS. I’m not really into white water rafting so we immediately established a back up plan: The Bighorn River in Montana.

Less than 8 hours from Denver …

… with 10,000 fish per mile, the Bighorn river offers great fishing

Effective flies on the Bighorn include everything from scuds like the bighorn original Ray Charles, to midges, caddis and San Juan worms. Even big streamers like the Sex Dungeon can be productive

With stream access laws that heavily favor public use, Montana is a great place to visit. The Bighorn has plenty of public use areas to access the river and camp. We camped at a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks property: Bighorn fishing Access site which also served as our take out.

Bighorn’s fish are educated, you must be quick on your hook sets or they’ll spit your fly faster than you think. While everyone in our group caught plenty of fish, even the beginners. One may assume that with 10,000 fish per mile the odds would be in your favor. Although, the fish in the Bighorn seem to fight like larger fish than they actually are. The fish in the Bighorn are wild and will give you and your rod a work-out …

… nothing is better than a hearty post work-out meal after a day spent flexing your guns and your rods

Although the Green River is still high on my must fish list, the high flows before our trip were a blessing in disguise. Fort Smith, MT is not the best place to throw a beer party. It’s a dry Indian reservation so buy your beer before you get there.


Columbian Sharp-Tailed Grouse

The way Columbian Sharp-Tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus) breed, is more like a song and dance performance than it is a breeding. Early in the morning both males and females visit the strutting grounds which are referred to as the lek. While sounds of hums, rattles, clicks and chirps ring through the crisp morning air their impressive dance routine ensues. The colorful males spread their wings and rapidly beat their feet chirping, and running in circles. The females or hens observe, and wait until a male proves he is worthy. The proving involves more than just a dance.

Violent sparring occurs as the grouse viciously peck and spur each other in between their dance offs. The quarrels and dancing are supplemented by long-lasting face offs. The birds crouch down face to face chirping at one another waiting for the other to make his move. The entire spectacle is quite the theatrical display, which is why the CDOW’s video production crew decided it was a must for Columbian Sharp-tailed grouse to star in the next episode of a.m. Colorado:

It is said that the birds visit the same exact location year after year. This is interesting because a lot of mining, drilling, and expansion has dispersed them from their historic range. The lek in this video is a restored lek, the process in which a mine is reclaimed back into its native forage and into a lek seems to work based on this energy company’s study in Montana (It says they used electronic calls to lure the grouse back to the lek)

More info:
Columbian Sharp-Tailed Grouse’s Current and Historic range
Avian Web Species Profile
Interesting Article by Summit Daily News (Blue Valley Ranch is where the grouse in the above video were released)


Ice Fishing

When I asked my fiance if she would go ice fishing with me I was pleasantly surprised to hear her response, “Sure! That sounds fun” she said. With a big grin on my face I replied “Really? Wow!” Going fishing, AND spending time with the better half without the guilt of leaving her. Talk about a win-win for a guy about to enter the married world.

We’re not big ice fisherman, so we borrowed an extra rod, an auger, some snow shoes and a hut then set off to a Routt Country reservoir.

Hiking through the spring slush can yield a good work out, even with snow shoes and especially when towing a hefty sled. But the hike soon paid off.

With the right habitat and bug life stocked rainbow trout can grow to impressive sizes. They can be caught on a variety of tackle. I’ve seen most success on jig-heads, spoons and kast masters in small to medium sizes.

This rainbow was caught on a large spoon while targeting pike.

Typically midday (10am-2pm) are the best times for catching trout through the ice, but some swear by the early morning or late evening bite.

USE CAUTION – Early and late season ice conditions can change quickly, always use caution and check the latest ice conditions.

Colorado Ice Fishing Reports and Conditions:
CDOW Ice Fishing Report
Ice Fish Colorado Report
Ice Shanty Forum
Fish Explorer


Snake River Cutthroat Trout

Snake River Cutthroat Trout Oncorhynchus clarkii ssp are a sub-species of the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri. They are native to the Snake River in Wyoming and Idaho. Even though these colorful fish are not native to Colorado, there’s a good chance of catching one.

Above photo by Mark Hudson

The Colorado Division of Wildlife’s fish hatchery system produces a significant amount of Snake River Cutthroat trout each year

These fish do really well in hatcheries. They have a high survival rate and once stocked they have the potential to grow to trophy size

Snake River Cutthroats are defined by their fine spots and reddish orange coloring

The “Dream Stream” stretch of the South Platte River below Spinney Mountain Reservoir and Eleven Mile Reservoir holds a healthy population of Snake River Cutthroats


Turkey Hunting Colorado

Colorado boasts a healthy turkey population that continues to thrive years after the the Colorado Division of Wildlife started the turkey re-introduction program in the early 1980’s. Whether its Merriam’s Meleagris gallopavo merriami (found in the Mountains) or Rio Grande Meleagris gallopavo intermedia (found along river bottoms on the eastern plains), turkey hunting provides an exciting challenge for beginner and experienced hunters alike. This video provides a wealth of information valuable in becoming a successful turkey hunter.

The chapters include:
-The Mating Season
-Gearing Up
-Calling all Toms
-The Scouting Game
-Playing the Game.

If you’d like your own copy of the DVD Call 303-297-1192 or email: wildlife.dowinfo@state.co.us

Music by Little Kenny and Neargrass Junction

The deadline to apply for Spring Turkey is February 10, 2011

More Helpful links:
Turkey Hunting 101
2011 Turkey Brochure
Apply Online
National Wild Turkey Federation


Colorado River Cutthroat Trout

With winter in full effect and ski season well underway the cold has settled into the Rocky Mountain high country. When you’re out there making turns remember that somewhere below all that high alpine snow there are flowing waters that hold endemic fish that have lived there for a million years. In Colorado we have three subspecies of native cutthroat trout: Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout Oncorhynchus clarkii virginalis, Greenback Cutthroat Trout Oncorhynchus clarkii stomias and the Colorado River Cutthroat Trout Oncorhynchus clarkii pleuriticus. Highlighting pleuriticus, here is the 9th episode of am Colorado:

To see more episodes of am Colorado visit the CDOW VIDEO PAGE


Pheasant Hunting Colorado

Pheasant hunters in Colorado are well into what has been said to be the best year for hunting ringnecks in the last decade. Reports from Brush, Yuma, and Burlington have all said the same thing: more birds than they’ve ever seen. The consensus is that 2010 is a banner year for pheasants in the Centennial State. Good timing for the Colorado Division of Wildlife releasing a new DVD titled Pheasant Hunting Colorado. An informative yet entertaining view at how, when, and where to hunt Pheasants in Colorado.

The prelude:

If you’re interested in hunting roosters in Colorado but never have, this DVD can be of great value to you. Part one explains the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Walk-In access program, which for the first time this year is free for anyone with a small game license. Part one also takes you through a pheasant’s daily feeding routine and stresses on the most important things you can do to successfully hunt pheasants: learn how to scout and identify habitat … CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) or grasslands are the most desirable for pheasants.

Part one:

Part two continues on with CRP and how its specific stages are valuable to pheasants in different ways. We then move on to talk about wheat fields and why they can be the wild card in Colorado pheasant hunting.

Part two:

Part three continues the lesson on wheat habitat and how thicker and taller wheat stubble means more pheasants. We also learn why some sprinkler corners and transitional areas can produce an impressive density of birds.

Part three:

Don’t forget to visit your local Colorado Hunting and Fishing
license dealer to pick up your free copy of Pheasant Hunting
Colorado which is included in the 2010 Small Game brochure.

To see more pretty pictures and music watch the ENDING which features music from a good friend of mine: Little Kenny and Neargrass Junction


Welcome to the new Escape

You may or may not have seen the old escape(s), one (the old reelesapefilms.com) was a flash site while the other was a wordpress blog I updated with stories, photos, videos and information from recent hunting, fishing and production trips. These two sites have now come together into one ultimate escape.

Please feel free to browse around and check back for periodic updates. From here on I plan to bring you everything from Reel Escape Films and the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s video production unit. To receive an email every time I post something new enter your email HERE and become a fan on Facebook


In the Land of the Cutthroats

“In the Land of the Cutthroats” tells the story of three native trout species that evolved along the Continental Divide in Colorado. From ancient beginnings in tepid coastal waters, the wayfaring cutthroats found their way to the loftiest slopes of the Rocky Mountains and into the hearts of modern fly fishers. After a medley of outstanding mountain scenery, cutthroat trout, mayflies, and cutting-edge time-lapse photography, the film takes viewers to a high-mountain lake for action-packed angling for greenback cutthroat trout.

The film was an official selection of the 2010 Fly Fishing Film Tour and is now available on DVD. Visit the Reel Escape Store to purchase yours today.


Fly Fishing Colorado

Fly-fishers dreaming of the days ahead on Colorado lakes and streams can amplify their visions by immersing themselves in “Fly Fishing Colorado,” a feature-length DVD from the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

More than two years in the making, “Fly Fishing Colorado” takes viewers on a year-round tour of fly-fishing adventures spanning the entire state, from the loftiest reaches of alpine lakes to warm-water reservoirs and all points between. Anglers will get a firsthand look at the best fly-fishing that Colorado has to offer, as seen through the lenses of DOW’s revamped video production unit.

Fly-fishers can scroll through the pages of a weathered journal to find finicky trout rising to dry flies or high-speed wipers ripping line from screaming reels. Experience the thrill of catching all three native trout species against a backdrop of high-mountain scenery. Share the underwater haunts of northern pike, and take a ride on a jet boat for a lazy drift down a gentle river.

The journal also reveals when and where to find a multitude of the famous and not-so-well-known insect hatches that occur on major rivers and backcountry streams. Be in the right place at the right time to find trout rising to green drake, blue-winged olive, red quill and pale morning dun mayflies.

What to expect

Explore the stages of the Mother’s Day caddis hatch from start to finish, and discover the importance of widespread and prolific summer caddis hatches. Travel to mountain park reservoirs for famous still-water hatches and trophy-sized trout. Be there for the action when kokanee salmon, brown trout and native mountain whitefish make spawning runs up golden corridors of rivers cloaked in the dazzling colors of autumn in the Rocky Mountains.

The journal also is packed with fly-fishing instruction for anglers of all skill levels. There are techniques for fishing nymphs, dry flies and streamers. Proven fly patterns are listed for all events.

“Fly Fishing Colorado” is a useful tool for anglers making plans and scheduling trips to coincide with fly-fishing events.

The DVD also is designed to recruit anglers. Anglers spend nearly $1.5 billion dollars a year in Colorado, which is considered to be one of the premier fly-fishing destinations in the world. Showing anglers what the state has to offer will help add to Colorado’s prestigious fly- fishing reputation. Additional anglers in Colorado will mean more dollars for local economies, more license dollars for wildlife management and the continuation of the conservation ethic.

“Fly Fishing Colorado” is available for $20 HERE and at DOW service centers and at fly shops and sporting-goods retailers.