Sunday, January 24, 2016

2015 favorite fishing moments

     Greetings all, and welcome to 2016. One of my goals this year is to revive this blog. I'm committing to posting once a month. I started out with weekly posts, then slipped to every two weeks, and now I'm going to try monthly posts. I should be able to sustain that. 
      The main reason I lost motivation with the blog is that in 2014 I held a couple of public meetings in which I was attacked and publicly crucified, and that was followed by this article in the Denver Post a year ago, which was a very thinly veiled personal attack aimed squarely at me.  From my perspective, it appeared that the ultimate reward for making an effort to communicate with those that I serve was to be publicly called out as a liar on the pages of the biggest printed media outlet in this state. I've got to be honest -- that was a devastating blow to take.  
     In addition to being accused of lying, what might have been even more brutal was to be accused of not being an angler.  This is a common tactic used by some people when there are no factual arguments to be made, and it's not just directed at me.  There have been many instances around the state in which my coworkers have been branded as "non-anglers".  The purpose of such claims is to cast us as some kind of entity which is "apart" and does not act in the best interest of recreational anglers because we apparently have no idea what recreational anglers want.  These claims have no basis in any kind of factual information.  It is simply impossible to land in this job without being an avid lifelong angler.  I don't even know why someone would want this job if that wasn't the case. It's not particularly easy, and it doesn't pay as well as countless other professional pursuits. However, if fish are the most fascinating creatures in the world to you and you've always been enthralled with their pursuit, it's the best job you could possibly have.
     So enough rambling. People who desire to be personal enemies to me have clearly identified themselves, and it's time to move on. But if I remain silent, I allow them the last word in defining who I am to the world at large.  I realize that these people are a "vocal minority" and many others have reached out to me to express that they find this blog to be valuable. So it's for these folks that I choose to continue with it.  So on that note, here are some of my favorite angling memories from 2015.

     In June, our family's schedules resulted in my youngest son Ben and I having the house to ourselves for a few days. I decided to make it a fishing odyssey.  One evening we were up at Meadow Creek Reservoir to try to catch the evening bite. I'll never forget the sound of Ben's voice as he exclaimed, "what the heck?!?!" as he hooked a sizeable brookie on his kastmaster. He was sure he was snagged for a second, until he realized it was moving. He proceeded to outfish me that evening, for the first time ever.
     The next day, we headed out on an overnight backpack. We take family backpack trips every summmer, but this was the first time that just Ben and I had set out. We headed for a promising lake in hopes of dining on brookies cooked over the fire. It was early in the summer, and the trail was not easy, with downed trees, some snowbanks, and lots of mud in the shady areas. However, we were rewarded with hungry, aggressive fish and we did enjoy that brookie supper. In the morning Ben was excited to get back out there and catch a few more before we packed up. Once again, he caught more fish than me on the trip.


     In August, we took the best family backpack trip we've ever had. It was one of the last weekends of summer and in the scramble leading up to the school year there were many things on the to-do list. Instead, we scrapped it all and hit the trail for a couple of nights. It was one of the most beautiful hikes we've done. On the second day we headed for one of my all-time favorite lakes, off trail and packed with aggressive cutthroats. This lake doesn't get stocked, and sustains a fantastic fishery solely through natural reproduction. The boys experienced their first-ever "double," pictured below, where they both had fish on at the same time. I won't forget that moment.  

     My sons are finally at the age where they've got some good stamina and enough physical ability that they can now get deeper into the woods than they've gone before, and I'm very excited about our adventures in the coming years.
     In September, I took a day and bushwacked in to my favorite low-elevation rugged canyon creek. The fishing is fantastic for a mix of browns and wild rainbows ranging from 8 to 14 inches. Ironically, on this particular day the rainbows were taking nymphs and the browns were all about the dries. It never takes long to get into "the zone" on this creek, and for a few hours the whole rest of the world just melts away. I don't seem to need days like that as often as I used to, but I'm always amazed at how much my batteries recharge when I take the time to do it.

     Over Christmas break, despite the brutal cold we dragged my Dad out and we did a little ice fishing on Willow Creek Reservoir. Although we grew up fishing a lot, southern Kansas never offered much in the way of ice fishing opportunities, and it was my dad's first time ever on the ice. We barely lasted an hour out there because the wind came up, but at least we got out there, on a day that seemed too cold to do anything.

     For me, the enjoyment of fishing has always been about the place just as much as it is about the fish. And increasingly, in the past few years, it's been about appreciating those places with my sons. So with luck I'm looking forward to a 2016 filled with more such memories, and here's hoping that everyone is able to enjoy such special times. 
     I'll get back to talking about fish populations with my next post. I would like to get some feedback on what topics folks would like to read about in 2016. So please don't hesitate to make comments here, or drop me an email at Thanks!



  1. Very happy that you decided to resurrect your blog. Have always appreciated your insight. A couple of questions. At one point you were considering putting in Mountain White fish in Lake Granby. Is that still on the drawing board?

    A year or so ago I think you put Tiger trout in Meadow Creek Res to control the stunted brookie population. An update on the status of that experiment would be appreciated.

    1. Keith, thanks for the questions. They're good ones, and will be topics of future blog entries, so stand by.

  2. really happy that you have re-started, thank you. I read all the back entries in the blog once I found it ;-)

    never mind the bucket biologists and special-case pleaders. Let's see, do I trust a trained and practicing biologist, or a bunch of guys who like to catch lakers but have not studied the science of ecosystems to support their favorite fish ? My choice is clear..
    I thought that DP column was surprisingly ignorant, Scott W. was usually better than that. Now of course he's been laid off and we have no regular hunt/fish column anymore, boo to the DP for that.

    here's my backpacking trip with my sons from last year, not a lot of fishing but some..

    1. Thanks Douglas. It's been years since I've been in the Weminuche. Looks like a great trip, but sad to see the beetle kill is so thorough down there too. It wasn't when I lived in that area.

  3. I appreciate the way you have written the blog & even for started writing for the fishing survey moments.

  4. Interesting how you claim you were attacked and publicly crucified at the meetings.
    The Granby meeting had many long time local Anglers, several who were avid Anglers involved in the issues decades longer than you've been the biologist here. We debated and didn't agree with you on certain issues and it was mutually agreed to make changes accordingly.

    I thought the article in the paper was a little goofy with the "all fisherman are liars theme", had several things wrong but in no way thought it was calling you a liar.
    It's unfortunate you could be so offended as to take it out on the Anglers including canceling your annual state of the fish meeting in Granby and only doing one in Silverthorne.
    Very cool family angling outings, thanks for sharing the great pictures.
    Steve Penley

  5. Thanks for posting. It's great to get an informed view on these subjects rather than the local anglers who think they are right bc of anecdotes and individual observations.

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  7. Mark, its not just anectodotes and individual observation. The numbers of fish that I have in my guide logs by far exceeds the numbers of fish caught in the states gill nets. For example at Dillon, I have been out 85 times this winter alone. On the guided trips I average 8 fish per outing, a mixed bag of all four main species in the resrvior. The information I got didn't come form gill nets and state run operations, but the information gained and observations seen are worth something. As a fishing guide on Dillon, I do not know more than the state, and I by far do not know it all, but my info and observations is definitely real and valuable. The state gets to soak gill nets 2 days out of every year. I as a guide am on Dillon over 250 days a year. Again, i don't clam to know more, or know it all, but i do claim that my observations and experience is valid and real. There is no question that Dillon would benefit form a slot protection on the magnificant, wild, and scarse brown trout. It just seams normal and responsible to protect something that is special, valauble, and not easily replaced.

  8. Randy definitely wasn't commenting about you or anyone else! Not knowing, do you share the guide logs with the state? Happy Easter!

  9. Mark, At times i have given them some #'s,and I share lots of photos of the fish and I always try and update and ask Jon questions on anything interesting I run into out on the outings.
    I always give some of my differing opinions especially on trophy fish protection, but that doesn't mean we don't have the same goal in mind, and that's better fishing around here for everyone in the future.