Outdoors - Hunting and Fishing

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The vertical angle of winter

By Joel L. Evans

We all learned at an early age how the earth revolves around the sun. Combined with a slight tilt of the earth, seasons of warm and cold follow the revolution. Changes are minor in the middle latitudes and extreme in the northern and southern bands. Colorado is somewhere in-between. I like in-between. I like fishing between the betweens. Summer between fall between winter between spring. Similar to the differing angle of the sun from summer to winter, our winter casts can take on a ...


Vega getaway

By Dave Buchanan

VEGA RESERVOIR — In the annals of marital bliss, this particular act might not seem like much to remember, unless you’re a hardwater angler who enjoys the companionship of marriage. “I let her use that hole today,” said a sagacious Keith Hofland, nodding toward his wife, Tish, who was standing a few feet away and whose compact ice-fishing rod was bent double from yet another plump rainbow trout headed into the bright sun. Obviously a man who knows the value of a ...


Shad should make ‘15 a great year

By Wayne Gustaveson

The resurgence of the threadfin shad population in 2014 at Lake Powell afforded anglers a great year for sport fishing, and it appears fishing in 2015 will remain strong. Shad came back last summer in record numbers, and all fish species responded by continuing to grow rapidly through the fall. Now, with winter nearly halfway done, feeding continues for striped bass. Fish health and condition is remarkable; striped bass have not been this healthy since 1993. When shad are at a low ...


Antero Reservoir to be drained, dam rebuilt, this summer

By Dave Buchanan

The legacy of ups and downs at Antero Reservoir’s popular fishery in wind-swept South Park is on the down. Way down. Western Slope anglers making the southern-route trek to Denver for the January sportsmen’s shows drive right past Antero Reservoir, and those who stop to cast a line or two often are surprised by the results. The 2,500-acre reservoir can grow large trout and grow them quickly, and if you catch the reservoir when the fates smile, you may leave with plenty of ...


Ice on Rifle Gap Reservoir means it’s time for fishing tournament

By Dave Buchanan

The 17th annual Mountain Air Mechanical Rifle Gap Ice Fishing Tournament, cosponsored with the Rifle Chamber of Commerce and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, is set for Jan. 17-18. The competition runs at 8 a.m. until 
3 p.m. on Jan. 17 and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 
Jan. 18. The awards ceremony will take place after Sunday’s competition closes. Prizes will be awarded for largest rainbow trout, brown trout and yellow perch. Anglers 18 years and older can win cash prizes up to ...


Merwin net plays role in corralling kokanee

By Dave Buchanan

A new tool in the arsenal of state fisheries biologists helped boost this year’s harvest of kokanee salmon eggs. Biologists Jon Ewert of Hot Sulphur Springs and Jim White in Durango this year used a Merwin net to corral kokanee salmon that otherwise might have escaped the fall egg harvest. The net, a style previously used successfully by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, attaches at one end to shore and then runs out a long (up to 150 yards) lead into the lake or ...


Net profits

By Dave Buchanan

The building blocks of Colorado’s most popular lake fisheries are no larger than an eraser on a pencil and much more fragile. Whether you’re one of the thousands of boaters spinning circles all summer around Blue Mesa Reservoir in search of kokanee salmon or one of the fewer but no less intense hunters of trophy lake trout at Blue Mesa and Granby Reservoir, your pursuit would be much-less promising without the millions of kokanee eggs gathered each fall at a handful of ...


‘A Taste of Yellowstone’

By Dave Buchanan

There’s more to Yellowstone National Park than often meets the eye or ear. Particularly for anglers, who can find a world of options in the park’s 1,000 miles of rivers and streams and more than 100 lakes. On Jan. 15, Montrose angler Joel Evans will present “A Taste of Yellowstone,” a recounting of his most-recent visit to America’s first national park and his fishing adventures there. The presentation is part of the monthly meeting of the Grand Valley ...


Western Slope experts headline at Fly Fishing Show

By Dave Buchanan

Western Slope anglers who are headed to The Fly Fishing Show from Friday through Sunday at the Denver Mart will see a lot of familiar names and faces. Some of the most popular features of the show are the hands-on classes in casting and fly-tying offered throughout the long weekend. Novices to professionals can get some intensive practice and lessons from some of the top names in fly fishing, all with years of experience in fishing Western waters and handling Western trout. Fly anglers ...

Fly Fishing Show gives anglers a good reason to celebrate

By Dave Buchanan

Fishing season never closes in Colorado, but you can celebrate an unofficial opening day when Denver’s 14th annual Fly Fishing Show casts off Jan. 9-11 at the Denver Mart’s Pavilion Building. The spacious pavilion, 451 E. 58th Ave., will host a virtual three-ring circus of all-things-fly-fishing, including casting demonstrations, fly-tying theaters, angling and travel films, a women’s fly fishing showcase and the newest fishing tackle and gear, all aimed at Rocky ...


When winter fishing, how low can you go?

By Dave Buchanan

As the winter closes in on regional rivers, slush ice and shelf ice squeeze anglers into the tailwaters where water temperatures stay around 40 degrees year-round. That means the biggest difference in fishing those waters winter or summer is how much cold can the angler stand. “One thing about the Fryingpan is that we’re so high and the water so cold our hatches are late morning and afternoon” year-round, said Will Sands of Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt. “That ...

Ring in 2015 at Steamboat Great Outdoors Ice Fishing Tournament

By Dave Buchanan

Get a jumpstart on fishing in 2015 at the 4th annual Steamboat Great Outdoors Ice Fishing Tournament Jan. 4 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Stagecoach State Park. Co-hosted by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Steamboat Great Outdoors, the one-day hardwater tournament attracts hundreds of competitors chasing cash prizes and the lake’s big trout. “I can’t think of a better way to enjoy winter than with some fishing and some good, old-fashioned competition,” Park Manager ...


Fishing Fryingpan

By Dave Buchanan

BASALT — The shortest day of the year was a work in chiaroscuro, even Dickensian one might say, with none of the Colorado sunshine for which the state is known. Such days are rare in western Colorado, although some might argue that point given the generally overcast skies of the past week or so in the Grand Valley. At the turn of the last century, sunny days were in part the domain of entrepreneurs, such as those running the La Veta Hotel in Gunnison with its well-known offer to ...

Ice-fishing tournaments to heat up your winter

By Dave Buchanan

Grand County is anticipating a cold winter, which is a sign to hardwater anglers that fishing is just heating up. Already on the county’s lineup for getting through the winter months are three of the state’s top ice-fishing tournaments. Start with the 27th Annual Three Lakes Ice Fishing Contest from Jan. 23-25 on Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake; sled over to the 18th Annual Wolford Reservoir Ice Fishing Contest on Feb. 21 near Kremmling; and finish the ...


Living a fishing dream

By Dave Buchanan

A fly angler’s mid-winter dream might include any or all of the following: A sky blue as a baby’s eyes, water flowing around your knees, no other anglers to crowd you, and a 20-inch brown trout, nose high, sipping tiny dry flies in the current. It’s enough to make an angler pinch himself to see if he’s if he’s still haunted by sugar-plum fairies. Places such as this are rare as unicorns during the summer months, but in the winter the chances are better than ...


Waterfowl hunters may have to pay a little more for stamps next year

By Dave Buchanan

When Will Ela of Hotchkiss and countless other waterfowl hunters across the nation buy their next Federal Waterfowl Stamp, the price likely will have increased by $10 over this year’s $15. The U.S. Senate this week passed legislation passed this week authorizing the price increase, the first since 1991, and now the bill only has to be signed by President Barack Obama to become law as of Jan. 1. The 67-percent increase is an effort to increase funds for wetlands habitat ...


On Gunnison: It’s personal

By Dave Buchanan

On a warm, late-November afternoon, with a declining sun casting long rays across the Gunnison River, a visitor found the river uncommonly deserted. The anglers one would expect to see upstream of the Pleasure Park on a sunny day were absent, perhaps victims of a turkey-and-all-the-trimmings overload two days prior, or maybe they were busy succumbing to the temptations of Black Friday marketing. For several reasons, late-fall fishing on the Gunnison is never as crowded as in the warmer ...

Some options for bullets

By Dave Buchanan

Of the possible alternatives to lead bullets, solid copper or copper/zinc (95/5) alloys are the leading contenders. Two hurdles in adopting non-lead bullets are the availability and cost of copper bullets. A brief and nonscientific survey of local sporting goods stores showed few selections other than the traditional lead bullets. Store personnel often had to look around to find the nonlead bullets, indicative of the lack of demand from customers. Plus, in all cases there were only two ...


Studies, reports fuel arguments for lead-bullet bans

By Dave Buchanan

It’s been nearly a quarter of a century since waterfowl hunters railed against a proposed ban on lead shot even though studies showed waterfowl and other species were being unintentionally poisoned by consuming spent shot. According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study published in 2000, the 1991 ban on lead shot reduced lead poisoning deaths of Mississippi Flyway mallards by 64 percent, and overall ingestion of toxic pellets declined by 78 percent over previous levels. The ...


Not taking the lead — yet

By Dave Buchanan

The chorus of voices seeking a ban on lead-based ammunition fell flat in Colorado. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife commission voted Thursday not to move forward on a citizen-raised proposal to prohibit lead ammunition for big-game hunting in Colorado. The commission killed the petition after citing a “lack of credible scientific evidence” as to the long-term impacts of spent lead to wildlife, along with a strong lack of support from the agency itself and concern about ...

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