Elk hunting slow, but the fishing is fine

Various shades of orange, gold and brown color the days of autumn, and you’ll find them everywhere you turn.

A lone hunter, fashionably outfitted in blaze orange from cap to ankles, was walking a spur road on the east side of Grand Mesa on Sunday when a nosy sort in a passing vehicle stopped to query about his success.

“It’s been pretty slow,” the hunter said, shaking his head in dismay about the opening days of the five-day limited elk season which ends today.

Not much was going on in his camp or any of the nearby camps, he said, watching dark clouds roll overhead.

“Maybe this storm will improve things,” he said, hope filling his voice.

Not everyone, however, has spent their days wandering the roads, vainly looking for elk.

“We haven’t been swamped but the animals are coming pretty steady,” said Matt Anderegg on Monday at Olde World Meats in Grand Junction. “We’re probably even or maybe a little ahead of our numbers this time last year.”

Early seasons often put meat processors in the education mode, particularly when advising hunters how to avoid spoilage in the warm days of October.

“For the most part, the hunters have been pretty good about taking care of their animals,” Anderegg said. “If they would only get the hide off right away and get them in somewhere during the warm part of the season, they’d save themselves a lot of potential problems.”

Anderegg offered three key points of advice for keeping that fresh-killed elk fresh:

Cool the meat as quickly as possible in the field by skinning, gutting and bleeding immediately.

Expose more surface area to the cold winter air by cutting the carcass into quarters.

Do not rinse the meat and do not allow ice to contact it directly.

Some high-country hunters aren’t too worried about heat, Anderegg noted.

“We had a group come in this morning with a couple of elk and they said they had been hunting in snow and wanted to get out before it snowed again,” Anderegg said.

Additional snow probably isn’t much of a worry with the short-term forecast calling for continued mild weather at least through the weekend.

This is good news for anglers, who should continue to enjoy excellent conditions on rivers across the Western Slope.

“This is a terrific time to be fishing,” said Phil Trimm of Western Anglers Fly Shop (244-8658) in Grand Junction. “The days are warm and the rivers are all in great shape.”

The hotspot (or hotspots) is the Colorado River from just upstream of Glenwood Springs down to New Castle, Trimm said.

And for once, take your time getting out; the cool mornings have a way of making the fishing a 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. activity.

Fall fishing is all about starting late and ending early.

“I don’t think the guides in Glenwood Springs are even taking clients out until 9 or 10,” Trimm said.

Fall brings out brown trout dressed in spawning colors of yellow, orange and olive-green, the perfect camouflage for these aggressive fish.

Because the browns are spawning, angers are cautioned to watch for and avoid obvious redds, said Kirk Webb at Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt.

Popular fall streamer patterns include Autumn Splendors, Ziwis and Sculpzillas, but whatever you use, don’t spend to much time throwing that streamer at the same spot.

“You have to cover a lot of water in the fall,” Webb said. His advice is to find some good water, catch a couple of fish and move.

That’s advice that works, Trimm said.

“I was out over the weekend and caught 17 fish,” Trimm said. “One was a cutthroat and one was a rainbow. The rest were browns.”


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