Hikers, anglers, hunters should take advantage of outdoors before cold weather, snow returns

The Gunnison River holds many brown trout such as this, all of them eagerly feeding in anticipation of the coming winter. September is the perfect month to fish for brown trout



If April is the cruelest month, September has to be the most convivial.

Sun-filled days and mild temperatures lure us into the high country, tempting winter-wary hikers, anglers and early season hunters eager to fit in one more activity before the dark season slams its door.

Hikers unwilling to wear blaze orange can enjoy two more weeks before the Oct. 15 start of the first of four big-game rifle seasons.

Anglers pondering a day chasing the fall run of kokanee salmon from Blue Mesa Reservoir up the Gunnison and East rivers had better make up their minds soon.

“They’ve been running for about six weeks now and there aren’t many left in the river,” reported Craig Otto at Gene Taylor’s Sporting Goods in Gunnison (970-641-1845).

Otto said most kokanee are pooling around the Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery, although some late-ripening fish still might be found in the deeper holes along the Gunnison.

“There’s a good hole right there at Almont and some deep holes in the Palisades area (the Van Tuyl public fishing access) where you might find a few,” he said.

Otto said he spends his falls concentrating on fall-hungry brown trout, which now are starting to feed in preparation for the long winter ahead.

“It’s a funny time of year,” Otto said. “The browns are active but the best time to fish is from around 11 (a.m.) to 2 (p.m.). We had some bad weather last week and the fishing was great, with Blue-winged olives out in huge numbers.

“You know how it goes: bad weather, good fishing.”

Productive fly patterns for kokanee include “anything big and ugly,” Otto suggested. “The bigger, the uglier, the better. Just make sure you have enough weight on it to get it down in front of their noses.”

He throws big streamers for big browns. His favorite patterns include the Autumn Splendor, the Platte River Special, the black Gunny Special and just about anything with orange and brown, true fall colors.

That creaking sound you hear is the door slowly closing on summer.

Cliff Man contest: If your tastes and persona are a bit more Type A, Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey is sponsoring the 2011 Man of the Cliff contest Oct. 1-2 in Red Cliff.

According to the announcement, this contest is an open invitation to “men and women of all sizes, skill levels and from all walks of life to don facial hair, denim and flannel and spend two days trying their luck at outdoorsman-type activities.”

Events include axe throwing, archery, keg tossing, caber tossing, sledge hammer throwing, speed chopping, two-man cross-cut sawing and more, “all of which have been slightly modified to suit the skill sets of the untrained weekend lumberjacks and outdoor enthusiasts,” says the organizers.

All profits will go to First Descents, a Vail-based non-profit that provides free outdoor adventures for young adults surviving and fighting cancer.

Information at http://www.manofthecliff.com.

Park it and walk: Hunters headed into the Manti-La Sal National Forest in Colorado and Utah are reminded mechanized off-road game retrieval is not allowed.

According to forest officials, all national forests in Utah have since 2010 prohibited using motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails to hunt or retrieve game.

Resource officials are concerned about damage to soils, vegetation, wildlife, fisheries, and wetlands. Violators will be cited and ordered to appear in federal court.

Maps of the vehicle closures are available at Manti-La Sal district offices and on the forest Web site:  http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/mantilasal/maps/.


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