Rocky Mountain Elk

Colorado is home to the biggest herd of Rocky Mountain Elk Cervus elaphus in North America, numbering more than 280,000. These majestic creatures graze lands from high mountain tundra, meadows, and forests in the summer to low lying valleys and prairies in the winter. Elk, or as native americans refer to them: wapiti, are one of the largest and most vocal members of the deer family.

Most of the year elk hang out in single sex groups.
Herd of Cow Elk
Every year male elk (bulls) grow a new set of antlers. Typically, males drop their antlers in late winter while new antler growth occurs throughout the summer. Their antlers grow a furry like substance called velvet Elk in Velvet Velvet is a sensitive skin filled with blood vessels that provide antlers with vitamins and minerals essential to their growth.

Come fall bull’s antlers reach full size. Bulls scrape or rub off their velvet by violently rubbing their antlers on trees. As fall moves forward bigger older bulls herd up their harem or group of female elk (cows) to prepare for breeding. This period is referred to as the rut.
Bull with CowsA bull elk starts to gather his harem in early fall

Throughout late September and October bulls challenge each other to establish dominance. Older more powerful bulls typically end up with harems of 20 or more cows while the younger bulls still hanging around the herd are called satellite bulls. The rut lasts for about a month, during this time the bulls are the most vocal, bugling to establish dominance and attract cows.

Recently we were fortunate enough to find a large elk herd with a monster 7X7 herd bull. This thing was HUGE! It was obvious this large herd of 70 plus elk was in the height of the rut. The herd bull was bugling loud and working hard at herding up his harem. It was quite the site watching nature’s beauty at its best…. best of all… we are bringing it to you in high definition.

So turn the lights off, grab some popcorn, and check out our latest a.m. Colorado episode:
(for full screen click on the icon with 4 arrows at bottom right hand corner of the frame)

For those of you who hunt elk I took the liberty of creating an MP3 audio file from this video. Feel free to listen to it here (click the play button): or better yet, DOWNLOAD THE ELK HERD MP3 FILE HERE throw it on your iPod and use it to practice your bugling and cow calling. There’s nothing better than calling in a big bull elk, but at the same time there’s nothing worse than sending one off to the races with a poor call… its never to early to start practicing

If you’ve never been lucky enough to hunt elk in Colorado but want to… Here is some information to get you started:

first of all you’ll need your Hunter’s Education Card

second, you’ll need to decide on a method of take: archery, muzzleloader (black powder), or rifle

third, you’ll need to decide on a time and place… this is where it becomes tricky… especially if you’re from out of state… but don’t worry. There are many resources out there to help you decide. The first and foremost is the latest Colorado Big Game brochure This brochure is your “go to” for all regulations regarding big game. It lists all big game species, seasons, and GMU’s (game management units). Colorado is separated into GMU’s so before you apply for a license you must decide which GMU you want to hunt first.

Colorado is the only state in the nation where unlimited “over the counter” (OTC) elk licenses are available. This means, anyone (except convicted felons) can walk up to any license agent and purchase an elk license that is good for unlimited GMU’s all over the state with out having to go through a draw. OTC licenses are available for archery season and 2nd and 3rd rifle season.

If you want to hunt in Colorado this should get you started… CDOW’s PlAN YOUR HUNT PAGE is a good resource as well. for more information visit the CDOW website or call the CDOW call center at (303)297-1192 (M-F 8am-5pm MST) GOOD LUCK!


Autumn Spawners

Fall means dropping temperatures, changing colors and good fishing, especially for a certain salmonoid. Native to Europe and western Asia Brown trout, Salmo trutta, first arrived from Germany in 1883. German fish culturist Baron Lucius von Behr shipped 80,000 brown trout eggs to the northeast which were soon after distributed through out the United States. The first documented brows trout eggs to make it to Colorado were shipped from England to a Denver hatchery in 1885. I’m guessing soon after Colorado’s streams and lakes were full of brown trout. The colorful little bastards were invading the waters native cutthroats inhabited for thousands of years, but that’s another story for another time …

Brown trout are said to be the hardest trout to catch, because they are smarter than most trout. For me, that is hard to believe, especially during spawning. This time of year browns boast a bright yellow gold belly and run from lakes up into rivers to spawn. Females push aside rocks and pebbles by fanning their back fin creating an ideal location to lay their eggs. These spawning beds are called redds. After the females lay their eggs the males fertilize the eggs. Typically both males and females become more aggressive during this time of year …
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… which makes spawning browns an easy target for anglers …

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Fishing for spawning fish can be exciting at first … but there comes a time when anglers must make a decision as to what exactly is going on. As proud as one may feel catching fish after fish it may not be one’s outstanding angling skills that are enticing these hostile browns to take a fly, spoon or whatever is thrown in their face, but rather the thousands of years of evolutionary instincts instilled in the fishes blood forcing them to be guardians of their offspring. For this reason, some purists refuse to fish for spawning fish …

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I am not a purist, but I’d like to think I’m somewhere in between a true purist and a whiskey tango (white trash) bait chucker. I have no problem with fishing for spawning fish … but at the same time I get bored with hammering a pool of fish stacked up, I mean come on, these fish are just trying to get a piece of ass.

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Either way, fishing should be about the challenge, the rewarding feeling you get when you work hard at something. When the challenge is taken out of that equation, its hard to get that feeling.

Some Sweet Stuff to Look at:
Potential World Record Brown Trout recently caught in Michigan
Fall Spawning Runs CDOW VIDEO (Including Underwater Spawning Brown Trout)
Meet the Browns By Dennis McKinney

2 years ago I fished Lake El Salto, near Mazatlan Mexico. This desolate desert lake is a renowned bass fishery. Of course catching bass all day was a ton of fun, but what I was really interested in was the off shore opportunities Mazatlan had to offer. Saltwater fishing always intrigued me, maybe because I live no where near saltwater… although the closest sea to Colorado is home to some of the most bio-diverse waters in the world. The Sea of Cortez is a critical feeding, breeding, and nursery ground for some of the
world’s rarest marine animals, including 32 species of marine mammals, 170
species of sea birds, 3,000 species of invertebrates, and 875 species of fish. (Alles)
Photo by Nasa

I have always heard about dorado, Coryphaena hippurus, and how they are voracious predators (we’re talking saltwater dorado, not fresh water dorado from South America). Their elongated bright blue, green and gold body is surrounded by a long dorsal fin spanning from head to tail.
Colorful dorado in water
This unique body design creates a powerful force thrashing and displacing water as they feed on baitfish at speeds up to 50 mph. Dorado, one of the fastest growing fish in the world, also called Dolphin or Mahi Mahi, fight like an Ultimate Fighting Championship heavy weight. Once hooked they make hard runs towards the surface resulting in an acrobatic aerial display pulling drag and fighting hard until the bitter end… just like a seasoned mixed martial arts fighter would.

We hired a guide for a half day and first set out to net live bait. Soon after, we found buoys identifying schools of dorado marked by commercial fisherman. The technique is to chum with live bait and throw spin rods rigged hook-less with bait while trolling. Once you see that rod tip starting to bump and the heads of dorado surfacing clobbering bait fish, its on. Simply throw your fly towards the action and watch as the dorado’s predatory instincts kick in as they inhale your fly.

Once hooked these feisty fighters immediately take you for a ride….
Mazatlan Dorado
jumping and flipping all over

Here’s a nice female dorado, also referred to as a hen…
Hen Dorado
while hens heads are round bull dorado have a protruding head (below)
Colorful Bull
when hooked dorado sparkle like light reflecting off a diamond bursting with a gold shine splattered with neon green and blue markings

After an epic morning catching one after another I was officially obsessed. The non-stop action was insatiable. I immediately told myself I’ve got to get back down here to do this again. I found myself dreaming about dorado feeding ferociously and how insanely hard they fight. Well, it wasn’t until this summer when I considered catching dorado again.

A good friend from my Semester at Sea Spring 2006 voyage has been fishing the Sea of Cortez around the Midriff Islands for over 20 years. Every year a group of 20-30 guys live on an ultimate fishing vessel for a week nomadically fishing the area. When he asked me to join I immediately thought I’d have another shot at some dorado and eagerly agreed to join.

The trip started the last week of July. We boarded a bus in Orange County headed for San Felipe Mexico. After driving from Hot Creek through the night to Orange, CA we spent the majority of the 5 hour drive down the Baja sleeping. I was awoken by a bumpy Mexican road under construction (What roads in Mexico aren’t under construction?). As I squinted and yawned myself awake, I took sight of a sterile desert with wind blown sand drifts and cacti. We were deep in Baja’s far-flung desert.

Upon arrival in San Felipe we got our first look at our new home for the week. The Tony Reyes:

Tony Reyes
This 86′ ship once housed crews of commercial shrimpers.

The destination was the Midriff area which lies about 250 miles south of San Felipe. The plan was to set sail loaded with 10 pongas headed toward the southern end of the Midriff area and fish our way back north.

Most of the target species were all new to me: yellowtail, cabrilla, spotted sea bass, grouper, but what I was particularly excited about was again hooking up with a dorado. This trip was primarily a conventional tackle-stock the cooler kind of trip, but I knew if there were dorado around I could have some fun with my fly rod.

The first day we set out on a boat loaded with heavy jigs and conventional rods with lines up to 120 lb test. We were after yellowtail, more specifically California yellowtail, Seriola lalandi dorsalis, a subspecies of Yellowtail amberjack which are found nearly all over the globe.

The technique required to catch yellowtail was really not suitable to fly fishing. We were dropping heavy jigs 200-300 feet deep and after a morning filling the boat with nice size yellowtail it was quite apparent that we weren’t going to target these fish on a fly.
yellow tail An average 10-15 lb yellowtail

The majority of our catch was yellowtail, although we were pulling in all sorts of species including:

Trigger Fish trigger fish

and multiple Species of bass, or cabrilla, which in Spanish refers to any species of bass-like fish

cabrilla sabrosa

spotted bass Although we weren’t necessarily targeting spotted sea bass we couldn’t keep these big and healthy fish off our lines.

Some boats were lucky enough to hook into some bigger species like Sailfish:Sailfish

While we were having a ton of fun catching all these nice fish on conventional tackle we never gave up on catching fish on our fly rods.

Lenny's Bass We did have some success nailing some fish on the fly… but were still looking for dorado

Every night while docked the boats flood lights shined outward to the sea attracting plankton and baitfish. We rigged our rods to catch mackerel to use as bait to the following day. Blake, the experienced fly tyer in our group, saw what we were using to catch these mackerel and immediately decided to tie up some flies to match. So ironically enough we saw most action on fly rods catching bait. Not exactly what we had in mind for this trip but catching 3 mackerel at once on a soft 8 weight was a kick in the ass.

Blake w mackrel
Blake was real excited to catch multiple fish on single casts

I can’t go without mentioning a subject that interests me almost as much as fishing…comida sabrosaMexican food is hard to beat, especially authentic mexican food. On the Tony Reyes we were served 3 meals a day and more often than not the meals were mexican and damn good. The one meal that I still drool over the thought of is the beach BBQ the crew put together for us. We devoured fresh grilled clams we dug up that morning and a yellowtail grilled whole over an open fire on the beach. Fastened to the grill with foil for an easy flip the yellowtail’s crispiness yielded some amazing fish tacos.Picture 32

Speaking of good food, one night we got a chance to go after some squid. Calamari anyone? Using special glowing squid lures that looked like mini fancy chandeliers with spikes sticking out of them in every which way everyone was hooking up with these beasts left and right. I’d heard of people catching squid on a fly before so I had to give it a shot. Blake tied a special weighted bright green fly for my deep sinking fly line. Immediately after I hit bottom I felt a big tug, the squid immediately pulled drag and ran. It felt like a huge fish completely bending over my 14 wt two handed rod. All of the sudden I lost tension and the squid was off. Apparently, you really need those special lures to get them to stick.
Giant SquidHumboldt Squid

My hopes for dorado slowly dwindled. By the the end of the trip only one person had caught one dorado. We just didn’t get into them. I spent one morning walking a remote beach line where I heard rooster fish prowl the banks but I struck out there too. Despite the lack of success on the species I hoped to find on my fly rod this trip was sensational. Simply the opportunity to explore this lush ecosystem was a privilege. I must admit, I wasn’t to excited seeing the amount of fish killed to stock the cooler, but the crew on the Tony Reyes do a good job of helping manage the resource by releasing small fish under a certain size.

Apparently dorado, being prolific breeders, would double in population if they weren’t commercially fished for at all over the course of one year. Who knows if thats true about some of these other species. All I know is that we are very privileged to have such a rich and unique resource in our back yard and hopefully we will be able to utilize and maintain this sustainability for many years to come. As long as crews like the Tony Reyes continue to respect the resource and the Mexican government enforces illegal fishing the future is bright.

With that said… I leave you with a time-lapse reel I shot of the Tony Reyes wandering through the Sea of Cortez

Works Cited:
Alles, David (2007) The Sea of Cortez
retrieved on sept 30th from: HERE


Fly Fishing California's Sierra Nevada

In route to Orange Country where a week long fishing trip on the Sea of Cortez was about to began 36 hours later, my friend Lenny and I flew in to Sacramento where Blake, my Semester at Sea roommate picked us up. We then made a road trip from Sacramento up through Eldorado National Forest towards Lake Tahoe and down across the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada range. We were in search of what the Golden State’s streams and rivers had to offer. But first things first… we had to make a stop at the infamous In and Out. A burger joint only found in the far west.
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They say all their ingredients are fresh but the worst thing about In and Out is the wait. Maybe this is why their food is so good. Picture 12While waiting I got a chance to watch a young nor-cal punk do some tricks on his razor

Picture 10Grease burgers… yum… I still haven’t figured out why In and Out hasn’t made it to Colorado? If you get a chance to go to an In and Out make sure to order your burger “Animal Style.”

That night we stayed in Walker CA. The next morning we woke up early and hit up a local breakfast joint. The waitress kept talking about fishing on the West Walker river in her favorite honey hole using power bait, she kindly gave us specific directions to her hole down the road. We nodded and agreed to check it out. We soon found that the West Walker river near the town of Walker was nothing but fast moving water and bait fishermen, which lead us to immediately head up stream in search of some more pristine waters. About 20 miles up to road the terrain turned from the lower arid landscape to as Blake calls it “high desert.”
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After examining miles of the West Walker while driving down route 395 the river disappeared into the high pines and aspens as the beautiful rolling hills and mountains were covered by a blanket of sage brush. The high desert scenery and clear flowing creek finally enticed us to stop and fish the Little Walker River.

So we did…
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This small free stone stream is filled with brookies and rainbows…
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…who were taking dry flies all morning
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The area was quite phenomenal
Picture 13 These huge pine trees sky scraping over the aspen trees made this a unique experience for us Coloradans. Sure we have big loge pole and ponderosa pines in our state but I’ve never seen a pine cone this big in Colorado.

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Solid, it was only 9 in the morning and we had already had a days worth of fishing in.
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Next stop… the East Walker River near the town of Bridgeport

The East Walker River below Bridgeport reservoir offers some excellent tailwater fishing. But like any good public tailwater with big trout in it asses and elbows are always apparent on a consistent basis. Sure enough, when we drove by big hole, East Walker’s famous fishing spot, we saw a number of anglers fishing. So we ventured down river. The flows were must faster but the crouds were far less.

We managed to pull a couple wild browns out of the fast moving water.
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We tried a couple different spots all requiring wading through swift strong currents. We kept moving down stream on the look out for new spots then all of sudden…
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We were in Nevada… whoops…

We fished a couple more spots and decided to head to our next destination… Hot Creek

The trip down 395 provided some fine scenery.
Picture 23 Looking west… at the east side of Yosemite National Park. Eagles Peak I believe, correct me if I’m wrong.

After lunch in Mammoth Lakes and a stop into the The Trout Fly we headed over to Hot Creek. After reading about this place in the guide book we thought, damn. This place sounds amazing. A creek that literally comes out of the ground and boasts numerous hot springs that change from year to year. Not to mention its one of the most trout rich streams in the west. Meaning there are more trout per mile in hot creek than most rivers. At least that’s what the guide book said… something like 4,000 trout per mile.

When we arrived we saw a small creek that meanders into a small canyon. It looked as good as any creek I’ve seen. But one thing was different, weeds. Hot creek is filled with weeds. As we stood on top of the canyon looking down at the creek, I stared closely at the creek looking for fish. Sure enough there were a some rises and a few pretty decent looking fish, but at 60 cfs these weeds were guaranteed to be a problem.

Hot Creek

First, we threw some streamers and immediately nailed a couple 12-14 inchers, but the big boys visible in the crystal clear water continued to reject our flies. One in particular was hanging out behind a big conglomeration of weeds. I couldn’t seem to get my fly down to him while my fly kept getting stuck on the weeds. So I threw on a small split shot and sure enough he nailed my size 20 rs2. The nice size rainbow immediately shot up into the weeds and I thought for sure my 6x tippet was going to break.

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Somehow I managed to pull him out of the mossy mess. He then shot over to the other side of the creek heading down stream into another set of weeds. Then back into the original weeds, this fish was taking me on a ride! While this continued over and over for a couple minutes I finally brought him in. He was still a little hot, so when I went in to grab him he thrashed vigorously shaking the fly. No grip in grin for this guy but he was definitely the highlight of the day for me.

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The day ended with a gorgeous sunset over Inyo National Forest. The only thing was now we had to drive 8 hours to Orange County to catch our bus to the Sea of Cortez… Next stop: I’M ON A BOAT!

Stay tuned


New Hunt Colorado Video

Colorado has some of the most diverse hunting opportunities in the west. The Centennial State’s unique topography provides everything from hunting the high country for Dusky Grouse and White-tailed Ptarmigan to hunting the eastern plains for Ring-necked pheasant, Scaled and Bobwhite quail, and Rio Grande Turkeys, not to mention the array of big game options.

Colorado is the only state that offers non-resident over the counter Elk tags. Meaning that anyone from out of state can travel to Colorado and purchase an unlimited over the counter elk hunting license. They don’t have to go through the timely process of a draw. That’s pretty cool and says something about Colorado’s elk populations… they are HEALTHY!

Check out the latest addition to the CDOW video library. This guide to game species provides an overview of what Colorado has to offer.

Hunting season is approaching fast, for those planning on hunting… get excited! For those who have yet to experience the thrill of one of America’s oldest traditions get enrolled in a CDOW’s Hunter Education Class to become legal to hunt in Colorado by earning your hunter’s safety card.


Dreaming of High Mountain Lakes-Ice off above timberline

Fewer tornadoes and flash floods means that Colorado’s temperamental weather has potentially found its summer groove. Inclement weather just means waiting longer for ice-off in the high country. More often than not, when we are getting rain, above timber line is usually getting sleet, snow or both. If you live in CO you know what I’m talking about. June was filled with tough weather for the outdoorsy type, but this July’s heat spell has catalyzed the ice-off in the high country that we have been waiting for. Although, a few north facing cirque lakes shadowed from the south may remain ice covered.

This past weekend I finally made it into the high country for a weekend long backpacking/fishing trip. the Holy Cross Wilderness area near Vail and Leadville is a popular backcountry destination for the ambitious adventurer and one of the original spots where my high country fly fishing virginity was taken.
Holy Cross Wilderness You can see why I have been going back to this area pretty much every year.

Although originally, years ago, after trekking up this steep bushwack I was most often greeted with the presence of a little back country gem. Colorado’s native Colorado River cutthroat trout. Picture 21

But as always in Colorado’s high country, the invasive imports from the east coast, brook trout, are more than likely to show up on the end of your line.
Holy Cross Brook Trout But with a little research and a lot of work hiking up a steep bushwack…Lenny the Japanese Tourist

you may be rewarded with one of Colorado’s native treasures…
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If you love fly fishing rivers and lakes but are yearning for something a bit more adventurous take a hike into the back country…

see some scenery….


and get a line in the WATER!
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and hopefully catch some fish.
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Finally, if you actually read this and are seriously considering a trip into the back country, I’d like to leave you with one of the best resources I’ve found on the subject. A publication on Colorado Fishing that has detailed information on every drainage in the state. Including information on what lakes in the high country have what species and how good the fishing is at each location. Are you kidding me? A book that rates back country fishing locations? But there are so damn many in this state? Yes, this book covers A LOT of them. Originally this book was published by Tim Kelley in 1954. How would you like to have had his job? Fish the state and write a book about it. Sounds pretty sweet.

In 2001, Kip Carey updated Tim Kelley’s book. In 2003 Carey released the most recent edition. It is titled “Kip Carey’s Official Colorado Fishing Guide”

Don’t forget… all regulations in the book were updated 6 years ago. Always make sure to look at the Colorado Fishing Regulations Brochure (I heard the dude on the front likes to party) Check the regs before fishing any new waters, especially if you’re a bait fisherman or want to keep any fish. Last summer I saw a kid walking down a trail from the high alpine lake where I was hoping to find some big cuts. This young kid, who looked about 20 years old, was wearing an oversized 49’er football jersey and was carrying a big (20’+) fish in a sock. He bragged that he caught it with his hands. I told him that not only catching fish with your hands is an illegal method of fishing, it is also illegal to kill fish at this location. Not to mention, it’s unethical and it pisses a lot of people off (like me). I’m pretty sure he didn’t check the regs.

Now that I have a copy of the Official Colorado Fishing Guide, I’ve spent hours looking at maps and comparing them with Kip’s recommendations. I just keep wondering, what if I had learned about this book years ago?! I would of saved numerous days hiking to random lakes on the map casting to nothing but winter kill, or lakes that aren’t suited well for a trout’s survival in through winter. Kip kindly points out these temperamental lakes for us in his book. Thanks Kip, you are the man. Where do I sign up to update the next edition????

Fishing is a great American tradition enjoyed by generations for many years. Some of my most fun filled and vivid memories from my childhood are from fishing trips to the midwest. I remember having the best time fishing for bass and bluegill with my Grandpa, Dad, uncles, cousins and brothers. My grandpa would rig up a worm on my hook and I’d fish it all day without a care in the world.

While catching a fish is one of the most exhilarating feelings a kid can experience, the lessons a day on the water can teach a youngster are unparalleled. It’s our duty as outdoorsmen to pass this great tradition on to our children. This past father’s day I got a chance to do just that with my brother Tony and my nephew Trace

After picking up fly fishing it was quite an experience going back to fishing with a worm and a hook. Typically, fly fishing is strictly catch and release. Most popular fly fishing destinations are delicate fisheries where harvesting fish can be detrimental to the fishery. Well, bait fishing is whole other can of worms. The Colorado Division of Wildlife stocks hundreds of thousands of catchable trout (10 inches or longer) every year. A lot of these stocked bodies of water allow bait fishing. For example, the lake we took my nephew to: South Catamount Lake on the Pikes Peak Highway near Colorado Springs was stocked the week before we went. My brother logged onto the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Statewide Stocking Report and searched for a lake close by that had been recently stocked. Sure enough we fished for no more than 2 hours and caught about 7 nice fish. As a fly fisherman, I’m usually against killing fish… especially trout in Colorado. Although, I think its perfectly fine to harvest stocked trout. Especially when the trout are raised in hatcheries for the purpose of stocking them in lakes that allow bait fishing.

If you have young kids and have yet to get them out on the water I would highly recommend it. For more suggestions on where to go check out the CDOW’s 101(+) Places to take a Kid Fishing

Also, For tips on where to go check the CDOW’s weekly fishing report by region

When I first caught the fly fishing bug about 6 years ago I found myself obsessed with all the different species you can catch on a fly rod. Trout were fun and still are, of course, but when you think about it, the possibilities of going after various species of fish in fresh and saltwater all around the globe are almost endless.

It was winter ’05 when my fishing buddy Billy asked me if I wanted to go to Costa Rica with him during our break from school and workouts in May. The first thing that came to my mind was “I wonder what kind of fish we can catch there?” Thinking back on it, I didn’t have a clue what fly fishing in saltwater is all about. So, I did a lot of research and found “The Rich Coast” offers good variety of waters to fish. You can either go deep sea or off shore fishing on the west coast for Marlin, Rooster-fish, Dorado etc. while the Caribbean ocean on the east coast offers more of a tropical flats style of fishing, maybe some bonefish or permit and this a fish called a tarpon. At the time, I didn’t really know what a tarpon was, and was completely clueless as to the incredible fighting abilities it possessed. However, Billy and I soon found out.

We flew into the capital, San Jose, and hopped on a bus headed for a small town in the most southern tip of the eastern coast. Just north of Panama, the town of Manzanilla sits in the midst of a jungle lush with various species of primates, birds, and insects that never stop chirping, humming, and singing to you.

Within minutes we found a fishing guide, Delroy, who greeted us on his rusty bicycle outside what appeared to be the only bar/restaurant/hotel this tiny town had to offer. He said, “You FLY FISH?” in his broken english and we set up a trip for the next day. The next morning we boarded his ponga and motored down the coast until we reached a large river mouth spewing its muddy water into the clear blue ocean at the edge of a dense green jungle. He pointed to the water and said “cast.” We didn’t have a clue what we were doing so he showed us. He flopped the fly in the water and let out some line and let the fly sink. He demonstrated stripping the fly in against the current letting his fly line fall and collect on the floor of the boat. All of a sudden his line went taut and his fly line started flying around everywhere, he hooked a TARPON! It was like he hooked a train. Out in the distance we saw a large silver fish flying out of the water completing a full back flip. Delroy struggled to let the line through his fingers as it wrapped around his thumb. “Oh shit” Billy yelled as I tried to help Delroy unwrap the line tight around his finger. Suddenly, the line went loose, the fish broke off. I asked Delroy “Man, what would you have done if it didn’t break off?” He responded, by lifting his opposite hand and showing us his other thumb that was severed at the knuckle. He said “Thats how this happened” pointing to his injured thumb. Apparently fishing the same technique cost him half of his thumb.

Delroy needed a nap after the tarpon almost took his other thumb.

You’d think he would learn a new technique. Like the technique Captain Clifford Ramos taught us at the Barra del Colorado (Barra is spanish for “place where river current meets sea tide.”)

After a day of fishing off Manzanilla we traveled north for a few days ending up in the Barra del Colorado, a small fishing village nestled where hundreds of miles of river maze ends and flows into the Caribbean Ocean. The Barra del Colorado is only reachable by boat or plane. When we arrived by a small passenger boat, little did we know that we were in one of the best places to fish for tarpon in the world. The large river mouth provides a low salinity breeding ground which tarpon prefer for spawning activity. We spent the next two days with Clifford who taught us a technique that would NOT result in a severed thumb by simply not stripping line, rather jigging it, letting your line stay taut with the pull of the boat against the current and holding the same spot in the line and retrieving it back and forth against the current. This way, when a tarpon takes the fly, you don’t have to worry about all of your slack shooting up and potentially wrapping around something, like your thumb.

We finished the two day trip jumping about 20 fish between the two of us. The tarpon, completely annihilating our gear.
670888105205 This one I hooked right next to the boat while I was reeling in my line. He immediately jumped right over the back of the boat 6 ft in the air nearly knocking out Clifford, He successfully ducked, dodging the fish. He then smiled while telling us it wasn’t the first time that has happened to him. He estimated it weighed about 180 lbs. The beast snapped my fly line in two.

While Billy surrendered and moved to conventional tackle the silver kings still managed to strip the drag on his spin reel. It was making loud cracking sounds as he reeled in. 843234305205 Despite the equipment problems he still managed to land this nice 60 lb tarpon.

Honestly I was disappointed I didn’t land a tarpon on that trip, but after talking to other tarpon anglers and reading up on the subject, I realized that jumping a handful of giant tarpon like that was a pretty good accomplishment. Anglers typically don’t “land” tarpon that often, its usually a game of “I jumped a couple tarpon today” rather than “I landed a bunch.” To land a big boy is quite the feat. So I was now officially obsessed with Megalops atlanticus.

After landing a couple Puerto Rican baby tarpon on my Angling the Globe trip I still think about those 180 pounders I hooked in Costa Rica.

This spring I got a chance to head south to Boca Grande, Florida to chase after some big tarpon on the flats and beaches. Tarpon migrate north in the late spring early summer in search of spawning grounds. They daisy chain and swim in circles surrounding the spawning female and follow each other along sand bars up the coast. This time of the year (late spring early summer) is best for sight fishing to a 100+ lb fish. With a good guide and a decent cast you can put a fly right in front of their face, its just a matter of getting one to take your fly…

So if you haven’t yet, go after some tarpon. So far, I haven’t found a more exhilarating fish to catch. Just watch out for your thumb.


Dreaming of High Mountain Lakes-Colorado's Cuts

The State of Colorado has three sub-species of native cutthroat trout. The Colorado River cutthroat trout, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, and Colorado’s state fish: The Greenback cutthroat trout. The Continental Divide separates the Colorado River cuts from the Greenbacks, with Colorado River cuts to the west, and Greenbacks to the east. The Rio Grande cuts are distributed throughout the Rio Grande river basin in South Central Colorado.

All three sub-species are essentially identical in appearance
green back cutthroat tail
All three sub-species can have different shades of yellow red and green throughout their bodies with a red mark on their throat (hence the name “cutthroat”) but the defining characteristic that makes it easy separate the cutthroats from other trout is their black spots. Pure cutthroats have a high concentration of black spots on their tail while the spots lessen towards their head where they have very few or none at all.
green back cutthroat

Due to the introduction of nonnative salmonoids like rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout over the last century cutthroats have been displaced from their historical ranges. They typically won’t be found in some of the popular rivers and lakes around the state. This means cutthroats are widespread throughout smaller high elevation creeks and lakes (Thanks to Cutthroat Trout Conservation Programs) Which makes going to these places that much more special.



Ice off at high mountain lakes typically comes in late May/early June and not till late June in some places. So get geared up with a lightweight backpack, sleeping bag and tent, grab your rod and get excited for a high mountain lake trip into Colorado’s high country.


Dreaming of High Mountain Lakes

In anticipation of ice off in the high country I will be posting pictures over the next couple weeks to get people excited for the back country fishing season. Colorado’s native cutthroat trout are the main reason to make a long strenuous trek into high alpine areas. artistic-cut But more often than not, these indigenous gems are just an excuse to travel off the beaten path and into some of the most astoundingly beautiful places known to man. willow-lake