Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reasons Why Everyone Should Hunt

I haven't really talked about hunting yet in this blog. Although I have hunted since I was young, I have concentrated more on just enjoying the outdoors and writing about the activities that more people enjoy, such as fishing, hiking and camping. Yet hunting is one of the most basic outdoor activities that man has done for centuries. I came across this very interesting article from American Hunter magazine. It outlines six very simple reasons about why hunting is good for you and for the ecosystem. Check out the link below to see the article, it should only take a couple minutes to read.

Six Reasons Everyone Should Hunt

Whether you are a hunter or not, I would definitely suggest you take a look at the article to understand some of the reasons people hunt.

Bow Hunter overlooking a valley, Tyler Baskfield, DOW
Let me know what you think about it in the comment section below. I'm curious if this explains either why you hunt, or if you don't hunt, are these six reasons something that you hadn't thought about?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hiking Lair O' The Bear In November

Mule Deer Buck
Now that it is December, we have moved away from the temperatures in the 50s to 60s that we had just a couple days ago . The temperature and lack of snowfall a couple weeks ago made for excellent hiking weather. My family and I decided that we needed to take advantage of that nicer weather while we still had a chance (it's a good thing we did!)

The great thing about the Denver area is that there are plenty of hiking trails within a short drive of the metro area. Jefferson County Open Space and Denver Mountain Parks offer numerous choices for hiking, mountain biking, picnicking and more. These parks are free to anyone and many offer great views of the city and the mountains. There are also plenty of animal sightings, including Deer, Elk, Foxes and even the occasional Mountain Lion or Bear. With the great weather, my family and I decided to take a hike. We decided to hike along the Bear Creek at Lair O' The Bear Open Space. Lair O' The Bear is located west of the town of Morrison along Highway 74. The park offers both hiking and mountain biking trails.

View Larger Map

Although there is a lot more snow now than when we went hiking, the Jefferson County Open Space trails offer great year round access.  Not only are most of the parks open year round, the lower elevation of these parks, compared to places like Rocky Mountain National Park, means that the snow will melt quicker and the temperatures won't be quite as cold. 

If you want to take advantage the snow for hiking or even snowshoeing, you can always go to the parks right after a snow fall.  I've gone snow shoeing in the past, but not very often.  I'm hoping that this year I can try snow shoes a couple more times.  To me it's an enjoyable experience to be out in the woods after a fresh snow.  The pure white blanket makes it seem like you are the only person around.  On the other hand, if you want to get out on the trails, but don't want to deal with the deep snow, waiting a couple days will most likely give a chance for Colorado's sun to come out and reduce the amount of snow.  You can also check out some of the lower elevation hiking areas, such as North Table Mountain, where the flat mountain offers plenty opportynity for the sun to melt the snow and it gives you a great view of downtown Denver to the east and the foothills to the west.

Chipmunk, Michael Seraphin, DOW

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Here Comes Winter

Now that the second snow storm of the season has hit the Denver Metro Area, it is pretty obvious that winter is fast approaching.  The first snow storm last week resulted in broken limbs on trees all around town.  Fortunately, today's storm wasn't quite as destructive. 

I had been hoping to take the boat out at least one more time this year, but that didn't work out.  I had planned to go out last week, but was snowed out.  When we rescheduled for this week, we were snowed out again.  While you can still fish when it is snowing, some of the guys I was going with didn't really feel like enduring freezing temps and snow to get out on the boat.  Oh well, I look forward to getting out on the boat next year.

Now that snow is falling, it is time to look at having fun in the powder.  It's time to break out the skis or snowboard, snowshoes, ice climbing gear, ice fishing gear, sleds, or anything else that you like to use in the winter.  For many people, this can be one of the best times of the year. 

For those of you that like to get out in the winter and enjoy the scenery and crisp air, make sure you bring plenty of warm clothes, food and water.  Since you can get great photos of most winter activities, make sure you bring your camera.  Check out these tips for getting the most out of your camera in cold weather:  Cold Weather Photography 

Get outside and have some fun! Let me know in the comment section below what you like to do in the winter.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Upcoming Changes To Adventure Colorado

I'm excited to announce some changes here at Adventure Colorado.  I've had the Adventure Colorado Blog going for about 8 months now.  In that time a lot of you have come by to read about my fishing trips and other information.  I'm grateful to everyone that comes by and checks out my posts.

In order to help the site grow for the long term, I've decided to make a couple changes.  First off, if you haven't already noticed, I've obtained the domain name www.rmadventure.com  While I will still be using the Blogger interface, it will no longer be in the web address.  Hopefully some of the people that drop by and then don't come back will think a little higher of the site if it doesn't have a blogspot address.  If you have the site bookmarked, or if you have links to me, don't forget to switch them over.  Don't worry too much though, http://adventurecolorado.blogspot com will now redirect to the new site.

Along with the change in the URL, I will be changing the name of the blog to Rocky Mountain Adventure.  I've decided that even though I fish, hike and camp primarily in Colorado, I want to encourage visitors and even contributors from a broader area.  

The last change is one that may cause more problems to some of my readers.  I will be changing the layout of the blog.  I've been worried for a little while that the dark background and light text is difficult to read for some people.  I haven't quite decided what the site will look like yet, so I may be trying out a couple different formats.  If you see one that you like, or that you hate, let me know!  You can e-mail me here.

Also in order to provide as much high quality content as possible, I'm interested in guest posts.  If you write on topics similar to those on this site, e-mail me about writing some content and getting it posted here, here is my e-mail address again.

So what are your thoughts on the changes here?  Let me know by e-mail or in the comment section below.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Printable Geocaching Logs

Here is one of my more popular posts from http://geocachingcolorado.blogspot.com, with some of the upcoming changes that I will be talking about soon, I am probably going to post more about Geocaching here on this site again.  Keep checking back for more updates.  There are some exciting things coming here in the next couple weeks.
Finding a micro Geocache

I haven't had a lot of time to go Geocaching recently.  Since I don't have any caches to post about, I figured I would post a resource for printable Geocaching logs.  I know that when I hid my caches, I didn't want to wait for logs ordered from an online source (not that there is anything wrong with getting them that way).

The best site that I have found has to be Techblazer.  There you can print off logs in several different dimensions, with various info and in color or black and white.  That is where I found mine, I would definitely suggest you start there if you are looking for printable logs.

Of course you can go directly though Groundspeak and get the official log books.  Click the link here, to see what they have to offer.

Either way, logs are easy to get your hands on, so find a container and print off a log to start hiding your own geocaches.  Do you know of any other great resources?  Let's hear what you use in the comment section below.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bonny Reservoir Fish Salvage

On September 21, 2011, the Colorado State Engineer started releasing water from Bonny Reservoir.  The State claims that the lake must be drained to satisfy legal obligations for supplying water to Kansas and Nebraska.  The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) believes that the draining will most likely result in the complete loss of the reservoir.

On September 23, the DOW released a press release stating that they would be trapping and relocating as many of the sport fish as possible.  The will also continue to allow fisherman access to the lake to help remove fish from the draining lake.  As long as it is still safe to access the banks of the lake, the DOW will try to allow access to the lake.

All manners of take will be permitted, including trotlines, jugs and seines.  The DOW has also removed all limits on species and numbers of fish, but will still require that everyone fishing at the lake has a valid Colorado fishing license.  They will also require everyone to fill out an angler survey card, available at the reservoir.

As the lake is drained, Bonny will transition from a State Park, to a State Wildlife Area.

You can read the full press release on the DOW site here:
Bonny Lake Fish Salvage Authorized

What are your opinions on the draining of Bonny Reservoir?  Is it really necessary to provide water downstream?  Or is it just one less lake for the state to manage?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Colorado Division Of Wildlife Is Giving Away Free Salmon!

Check out the 2013 announcement here.

Each year the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) gathers along several rivers throughout the state to collect eggs from spawning Kokanee Salmon.  The eggs collected from these fish are then used by the DOW to raise a new generation of Salmon.  Once the Salmon are a little older they are reintroduced to lakes all over the state.   Once they are done "milking" the Salmon for the eggs, they want to give those Salmon away, free!

Just like their Pacific brothers, famous for returning to rivers along Washington, Canada and Alaska, the Kokanee Salmon in Colorado will die shortly after spawning.  The DOW has decided that after milking the fish, they will give them away, rather than releasing them, only to die shortly afterwards.  That way others can take advantage of the meat that the Salmon have to offer, instead of letting them go to waste.

That means that if you have a Colorado fishing license, and you're willing to drive to one of the pick up points, you could receive some free Salmon.  The giveaways are, of course, first come, first serve.  They are also dependent on the number of fish that are actually collect by the DOW. 

Here are the giveaway locations and dates:

  • Roaring Judy hatchery near Almont, Oct. 14, 21, 28 and Nov. 4; be in line by 9 a.m.; call 970-641-7070 for information.
  • Vallecito Reservoir, community center on northwest side of reservoir; 3 p.m. on Oct. 14, 21, 28 and Nov. 4 and 11; call 970-247-0855.
  • Dolores River, Joe Rowell Town Park in Dolores; 3 p.m. on Oct. 20, 27 and Nov. 3 and 10; call 970-247-0855.
  • Williams Fork Reservoir, at reservoir inlet; Oct. 17, 24, 31 and Nov. 3; call 970-725-6200.
  • Granby at Shadow Mountain; Nov. 7, 10, 14, 17, 21 and 28; call 970-725-6200.
So if you are looking for Salmon, make sure you check out those dates!  You can always try to catch your own Salmon as well!

Check out some more of my posts on Salmon:

Learning To Cacth Salmon
Smoked Salmon Recipe

Want to catch your own salmon?  Check out the video below for some of my favorite lures and info for salmon:

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Well, I know that I haven't been posting as much recently.  Fortunately many of you have still been coming to read previous posts, which is great, because I was hoping that this blog could become a resource and not just a place to check for updates.  As I logged on this morning, I noticed that the number of views was at exactly 5000.  I just thought I would share that milestone with some of my regular readers.  Keep checking back, as I will try to add some more content soon.

If you have any suggestions about what to write on, let me know in the comment section below.  Also, if you are new to the site, check out my top five posts.  The posts below are ranked in order of number of views:

Trolling With Lead Core Line- Getting Set Up.
Trolling With Lead Core Line- In The Water
Home-Made Fishing Pole Float
Trolling With Lead Core Line- What Is It?
Big Brown Trout From Eleven Mile State Park

Monday, September 19, 2011

How To Fish

I was doing some research on fishing topics and discovered "How To Fish" is a frequently searched subject on Google.  I was a little surprised by that, I have used the Internet to look for tips and tricks to improve my fishing, but I hadn't thought of people actually learning how to fish online.

I suppose I was fortunate to have family that enjoyed the outdoors and taught me how to fish at a young age.  I grew up going camping near the water and frequently trying to catch the stocked Rainbows at many of the Colorado lakes and reservoirs.   I started learning how to tie fishing knots, select lures and even how to thread a worm.  As I grew older I sought to add to that knowledge and experience by trying new things.  I have learned how to fly fish, use lead core and downriggers.  I have traveled to lakes, such as Blue Mesa Reservoir, specifically trying to catch a new species of fish (that trip was for Kokanee Salmon).

Artic Greyling in Alaska

But seeing the amount of searches for "How To Fish," made me think that there are a lot of people out there who either never had the opportunity to learn how to fish, or maybe they learned it as a child and haven't used it since.  Either way, they recognize that millions of people enjoy getting out on the water and trying to catch fish.  They simply want to know how to get started.  I can understand that it would be intimidating or frustrating to walk into a store, such as Bass Pro, and try to pick out a rod and reel without knowing a lot about them.  The selections is huge and without knowing what style reel to pick, or what lures and baits you will need for your local waters, it might be easier to just walk away without choosing anything.

Lake Trout at Green Mountain Reservoir

If you are reading this and you are just trying to learn how to fish, don't give up.  Try to find a friend or family member that can take you out to a local lake or stream.  You will learn much faster trying the techniques in person, with someone that knows what they're doing, rather than trying to read about it online.  Maybe you can go with a couple different friends, that way you can try different types of reels, baitcasters, spinners, etc.  Then when you decide to go into the sporting good store to pick out a rod and reel you will have an idea of what is more comfortable for you.

Here are some informational articles for additional reading:

What is It?
Getting Set Up
One the water
What is a downrigger?
Do you need the latest fishing gear?
Learning from the locals.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fishing Trip Checklist

If you're like me, you've probably showed up at a lake, realizing that you forgot an important piece of gear.  It's usually not the same piece, after all, once you forget it the first time, you will probably make sure you grab it the next time.  Whether your trip is a short one to a local lake, or a cross country trip that involves flying or driving long distance, make sure you are organized.

Don't forget your favorite lures!
Here is a list that you can use to help plan what you need to bring on your trip.  While I've tried to include as much as possible, it isn't necessarily all inclusive.  Make sure you add or subtract items from your personal list as needed.

Fishing License!
(It isn't fun to forget this, and you don't want to add a ticket to your trip experience.)

  • Rods and Reels
  • Hooks, Lures, etc as needed,  if you use multiple tackle boxes, double check that have everything you need.
  • Weights
  • Extra line
  • Bait,  worms, live bait, Power Bait, etc.

  • Make sure your clothing is appropriate to your local weather and time of year.
  • Hat
  • Polarized Sunglasses
  • Jacket,  at least a rain jacket, heavier if the weather dictates.
  • More insulation layers than you think you will need.
  • Gloves, both for the cold and if you use them for handling fish.
  • An extra pair of shoes or boots with extra socks.

  • More water than you think you will need.
  • Meals, plan according to how long your trip will be.
  • Snacks, enough to keep the "edge off," but also bring a little more than you think you will need.
  • Gum, candy, etc, depending on your preferences.

Don't forget your GPS!
  • Knife, pocket, fillet, etc.
  • Extras of anything mentioned above.
  • Map
  • GPS
  • Sunscreen
  • Cell phone
  • First Aid Kit
  • Flashlight
  • Insect Repellent
  • Pliers
  • Scale and measure tape for your catch
  • Copy of local fishing regulations

Hopefully, by planning exactly what items you will take with you on your next fishing trip you can reduce the frustration from gear left at home.  You may not carry every one of these items on your person every time, but hopefully you have them available in your vehicle, or camp nearby.

What other items are on your list?  Share your must have fishing equipment that I missed in the comment section below.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Do You Need The Latest Greatest Fishing Gear?

As with any other sport, fishing magazines and TV shows are full of ads for the latest and greatest products.  If we follow the ads and what we see the pros using on TV, we might assume that in order to fish well, we will need the newest equipment that we can buy.  We might even get the impression that we need to update our equipment whenever there is a newer product that offers some small advantage.

I recently posted that I added a Humminbird 768 Fish Finder to my boat.  I enjoyed the extra information and detail that the fish finder provides.  We tested it out at Green Mountain Reservoir, locating schools of fish and getting better readings of the depth than we could with our older fish finder.
A reel with lead core line

One thing about the fish finder though, is that it can't catch fish for you!  Sure, it can help you catch fish, but ultimately your success or failure will boil down to how you interpret and use the information that the fish finder provides.

We noticed at Green Mountain Reservoir that despite covering a lot of water and noticing fish around the lake, we were only successful fishing in one certain area.  You can read more about it here.  But to sum it up, we spent a lot of time without catching anything, but one we returned to the area where we had been marking fish, we started catching fish again.
Top of the line fish finder
So did the more expensive fish finder help us?  Or was it just the realization that we needed to be fishing where we had caught them earlier in the day?  In reality, the fish finder helped us to locate where a good number of fish were located, but our decision to return to the fish we had marked came from advice I had received in the past about locating fish and returning to them to try different depths and lures until you figure out what they want to bite on.  So while the technology helped, experience affected the way I decided to use it.

Technology certainly isn't bad.  There are many technological improvements that really do increase your chances of catching fish.  But in the end, it is ultimately up to the fish and whether or not it decides to take your bait or lure.  It isn't wrong to want to update equipment, or to add a piece that you don't have.  But no amount of technology will guarantee you a fish on your line.  You must balance your desire for new equipment with the knowledge that some times it is better to spend your money on gas so that you can actually go fishing.  All the newest, greatest fishing gear will get you nothing if you can't afford to go fishing after you buy it.

What technology do you find is helpful for your fishing?  What equipment do you find to be highly over-rated?  Share it with us in the comment section below.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Green Mountain Reservoir

Green Mountain Reservoir is located in north of Silverthorne 16 miles along Highway 9.  Although many people are more likely to recognize Dillon Reservoir because of its location near I-70, Green Mountain Reservoir is a popular location for those looking to enjoy fishing and water contact sports.  Green Mountain Reservoir offers over 2100 surface acres of water when it is full and has plenty of opportunites for boating, camping and fishing.

Green Mountain Reservoir serves as a storage location for water that is sent to Denver from Dillon Reservoir.  As Denver draws more water, more water is released from Green Mountain Reservoir to end up eventually in the Colorado River, providing steadier water flows to states down river.  As a result water levels in Green Mountain can fluctuate widely.  While not as big of an issue for shore fisherman, make sure that if you will be boating at the reservoir that you have a quality map with you.  When the water is down, watch out for rocks and other submerged hazards, especially in the shallower north west end of the lake.

Green Mountian offers fishing opportunites for Rainbow and Brown Trout, Lake Trout and Kokanee Salmon.  My dad and I made a trip shortly before this post and caught 17 Lake Trout and 1 Kokanee, most of them in about a two hour period of time.  You can read that trip report here.

The Town of Heeney and Green Mountain Reservoir

2123 Surface Acres of Water
Boat Ramps- Heeney and McDonald Flats
Marina that offer boat rentals and tackle
Rental slips on the water
Public docks near the town of Dillon for parking, picnic area
Fishing for the following species:
Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Lake Trout
Multiple campgrounds located around the lake.
The lake is free to use, camping and parking may have associated fees.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hiking In The Maroon Bells Wilderness

For any resident of Colorado, Maroon Bells is an easily recognizable landmark.  Nearly all gift shops in Colorado seem to have a post card or print available featuring Maroon Bells, typically with snow on the peaks, and a reflection in Maroon Lake below it.   The scene is so popular that many people outside of Colorado are also familiar with it.  The iconic scene was used by the state of Utah for tourism posters at one time, and it was featured in the logo of Molson Canadian beer.  At the bottom of this article is some information about the crowds of people drawn to the fall colors at Maroon Lake this year.

Maroon Bells over Maroon Lake
The popularity of the area brings millions of visitors each year, wanting to get their own photograph of the famous peaks.  These 14ers also attract hikers and climbers hoping to summit the peaks.  While such a beautiful location attracts so many visitors, the majority of them do not venture far from Maroon Lake, which is pictured above.  For anyone willing to hike a little further, the Maroon Bells Wilderness offers an escape from vehicles and other mechanical devices.  
Tear resistant map for Maroon Bells
Planning a trip to Maroon Bells must start with thoughts towards transportation.  During the summer, buses ferry hikers and sight seers up the last few miles towards Maroon Lake.  If you are planning on seeing Maroon Bells from Memorial Day to Labor Day, plan on taking one of the buses up.  If you want to backpack in the area, there are registration cards just past the lake.  There is no associated charge, but the park service does like to keep track of how many people are actually using the back country.  Make sure you get a good map of the area too, at right is the National Geographic series map for the area.  I own several of the National Geographic maps.  They are made from water and tear resistant material and have trails marked.
A good guide book can help you 
If you aren't sure where to go, or you want a little more information about trail difficulty and what to see, consider getting a guide book.  I have used Falcon Guide books for several parts of Colorado and can highly recommend them.

Wherever you end up going, be cautious, as Maroon Bells has earned the nickname "Deadly Bells."  Because of loose rock and steep terrain, the Maroon Bells can quickly take the life of anyone that ventures beyond their experience level or anyone that isn't paying attention to their surroundings.  For the average hiker, sticking to the established trails through the valleys will yield a beautiful, safe trip.  For anyone looking to try climbing the Bells, make sure that you have experience with other locations and similar conditions.  The Maroon Bells Wilderness is not a place for a first time climber looking to bag a 14er.  

Whether you want to see the iconic landscape from the typical vantage point, or if you want to trek deep into the wilderness, Maroon Bells has something to offer everyone.  Let me know what you think about the wilderness area in the comment section below.

Photographing The Fall Colors

As you might guess by the nearby town of Aspen, the area around Maroon Bells is famous for groves of Aspen that turn to beautiful shades of yellow and gold as the days shorten.  In the beginning of October, 2011 the forest service reported that over 5,000 people traveled to Maroon Lake each day as the colors in the Aspen hit their peak.  The beautiful colors certainly add to the picturesque view from Maroon Lake.

Unfortunately the hordes of people have caused the Forest Service to re-think how they will allow access to that part of the National Forest.  They may have to restrict vehicle travel or something along those lines to ease the pressure that it places on the natural resources.  Hopefully we will all still be able to enjoy the views and the colors for years to come.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Twin Lakes

Twin Lakes holds a special place in my memories.  As a young boy I can remember frequently fishing along the shore near the boat ramp and along the rocks near the power pump house.  In fact, when I was younger you could fish right along the walls of the pump house.  Of course these days you can no longer do that.  For security concerns you have to stay further away from the building itself.  I also remember a time as a young boy when we were fishing along the boat ramp, as we fished the Colorado Division of Wildlife came and started stocking the lake from the ramp.  Almost every cast from my red and white Daredevil produced a little stocker Rainbow Trout.  We threw them all back, but it made for a very exciting time for a little kid.

Twin Lakes is located along Highway 82, which leads up and over Independence Pass, connecting the Arkansas Valley with Aspen.  The highway is closed in the winter, but while it is open it offers a beautiful drive up and over the Continental Divide.  In fact, to the northwest of the lake is Colorado's tallest peak, Mt. Elbert.  

Twin Lakes also has several historic buildings on the south side of the lower lake.  While these buildings were previously in disarray and boarded up, the last time I was there they were being restored.  In fact I was able to take my kids through one of the buildings, not only had it been restored to the point that you could go in, but there was even a log book to sign in your visit.  

2440 Surface Acres of Water
Boat Ramp on the lower lake
Picnic areas and camping along the lake
Fishing for the following species:
Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Lake Trout
Multiple campgrounds located west of the lake along the highway.
The lake has day fees for use, camping may also have associated fees.

Want to try start climbing some of Colorado's Fourteeners?  Check out some of these guide books to get you started.

Monday, September 5, 2011

What Is A Downrigger?

When fishing by boat, trolling offers the means to cover large amounts of water, while you search for and locate where the fish are located.  I've heard it said that 95% of the surface water of a lake contains no fish.  That means that in order to catch fish while out on a boat, you need to get your baits and lures down to where the fish are.  While there are several methods for doing so, in this post we are going to take a quick look at downriggers and what they have to offer.

A downrigger is a device that allows a heavy weight to be lowered into the water.  The fishing line is then attached to the weight and lowered to the desired depth.  When a fish takes the bait, the line is released from the weight and the the angler is left fighting only the fish, not the weight that was used to get the line down the water column.  Let's take a look at the parts of the downrigger:

The Downrigger

The downrigger itself is the actual device that makes this all possible.  It attches the boat, more on that in a minute, and offers a spool of wire (or sometimes heavy fishing line), an arm to get the line out away from the boat, and a pulley to facilitate dropping the weight or bringing it up.  Depending on the model, the downrigger can either be manually or automatically controlled.

Simple Clamp on downrigger
At right is a very simple downrigger with a clamp mount.  It can be used to attach the downrigger to a small boat or canoe to give small watercraft owners an additional method for fishing their favorite waters.  The compact design and ease of attaching/detatching this style make it easy to remove when it isn't needed, or pulled off for storage.  This is generally the cheapest style of downrigger to buy, but works best with lighter weights.

Manual downrigger
Stepping up, the downrigger at left offers a little more durability, while still being fairly affordable.  This type mounts to a special mounts that is typically either attached to the boat.  It offers a longer arm, to get the cable and weight further away from the boat and it gives you a little more leverage when reeling up the weight.  Although different brands may vary a little bit from each other, they will typically hold around 200 feet of stainless steel cable, making them useful at most freshwater depths.  (Especially here in Colorado).  If you don't need, or can't afford an electric downrigger, the manual models can offer you a lifetime of fishing for a fair value.

Fully loaded electronic downrigger

The next model, at left, is the electronic downrigger.  This main difference is that they offer you the ability to raise and lower the weight at the push of a button, rather than physically cranking a lever.  Not only is it easier (imagine raising and lowering the weight a couple dozen times when you the fish are really biting!), but it also allows you to bring the weight up while you are still fighting the fish.  This reduces the chance of the fish becoming entangled in the cable and leaves the weight at the water line, ready to go when you bring your fish in.  Some electronic models can even be connected to a fish finder, allowing for depth adjustments from the finder as you locate schools of fish, or the water depth changes.

The Line

Typically, stainless steel cable is used to attach the line.  The cable doesn't stretch and is plenty strong to keep you from losing the weight.  Some people also use heavy duty braided fishing lines instead of the wire.  This fishing line provides less drag, resulting the weight dropping deeper, and prevents the "hum" sometimes associated with the wire.

Downrigger weight
The Weight

The weight is what brings your fishing line down to the depth that you want it at.  Sometimes referred to as "Canonballs," due to their round shape and lead composition, they come in different weights, such as 4, 6, 8, 10, 12lbs.  The heavier weights allow greater depths when moving fast or when you have a lot of cable out.  The weights typically have two eyelets, one to connect the cable to and another for your release.  There are also a wide variety of colors available, plus you can paint them any color you would like.  While black is the classic color, you can try different colors to see what works for you.

The Release

Line release
The release is the ever important device that allows your line to be attached to the weight, but to release once a fish bites it.  There are different amounts of grip that a release can have, varying from a light grip, to a heavy grip.  The light versions are perfect for shallower waters and smaller fish.  The stronger versions are designed for fishing deeper depths and for hard hitting fish that need a little more resistance for setting the hook.  The release can be one of the most frustrating parts of using a downrigger, you want enough tension that it doesn't release prematurely, but you need it loose enough that it doesn't drag any fish that you hook.  Setting the release takes practice to set it properly and consistently.

Hopefully you have an idea of what makes up a downrigger.  Check back for more articles on how to use your downrigger.

If you want to try a different method of trolling, namely lead core, check out my three article series on using lead core line:

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Happy Labor Day!

As I post this, Labor Day weekend is starting.  To a lot of people, Labor Day tends to mark the end of the summer.  Kids are back in school, fall is approaching, which will bring with it cooler weather and eventually snow here in Colorado.  Labor Day weekend is the last big chance for many people to go camping.

I'm going to be headed to the mountains for the weekend.  I get to see some family, as well as hopefully spend some time enjoying the mountains.  While I never look forward to the crowds associated with a holiday weekend, I am looking forward to getting to spend some time in the wild.  

This shouldn't be my last chance to be outside this year, I still have some camping and fishing planned in the coming months.  If you are headed out to enjoy the mountains this weekend, be safe and enjoy yourself!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Are Pike Aggressive?

I haven't really shared video links in the past, other than the few videos  I have made.  But after looking around at a couple other interesting videos I decided I would post a couple that I found interesting.

Any one that fishes for Pike will have heard at least one that they are an aggressive fish.  What does that mean exactly?  Well, for one, they aren't as picky about what they will eat as other fish.  In fact will feed on pretty much anything they can get their sharp little teeth on.

Here is a video that I came across that illustrates just how aggressive Pike can be.  

The next video doesn't have any poor, suffering ducklings, but it does illustrate how a Pike will go after a fish, something that is more expected than the previous video.

What do you think of the videos?  Would you like to see more interesting links, or do you prefer my original content?  Let me know in the comment section below.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Looking For Feedback

I started Adventure Colorado over six months ago now.  I've enjoyed writing about some of my fishing trips and hopefully teaching others a little about Trolling With Lead Core, or other topics.  In fact, my lead core posts are some of my most read posts, being popular with search results on Google.  If you Google "Trolling With Lead Core" I should be on the first page of search results.

Blogger lets me see when I get views and certain information, such as country of origin, or if some one clicked on a link to my blog, what site had the link.  But I'm curious to know more about my readership.  For instance, I get fairly regular views from France, is it the same viewer?  If so, do you find this blog useful?

I would love to get more feedback about what you like or don't like about the blog.  Please leave comments in the comment section after each post, or feel free to email me at: adventurecolorado @ gmail.com (remove the spaces).  Although I originally intended to write more about subjects such as photography, backpacking, etc.  So far I have found that I have received the most views on fishing topics, therefore I have written more about fishing.

Are there any topics that you would like to see more of?
Would you like to see new topics?  If so, what?

With your input we'll continue to create a blog that will not only be interesting to read, but it will be a great resource for Adventure in Colorado!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Columbia Cougar Flats II Tent Review

Recently I started the quest to find a large family tent for car camping.  My wife and I looked at several tents at Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro, looking for a tent that would hold our family, stand up to various weather and would last us many years.  We found a couple we liked at Bass Pro and searched the online reviews to find the good and bad about each tent.

Columbia Cougar Flats II tent at Taylor Reservoir
After a considerable amount of research, we decided on the Columbia Cougar Flats II tent.  Columbia was a name that I recognized and most of the reviews of the tent were positive.  We liked the size of the tent, 10x14 feet, with a divider in the middle to create two rooms.  The build also appeared to be a little sturdier than some of the straight-walled tents that we looked at.  We also liked that the tent has numerous large windows, including two bay windows that overhang, providing some protection from the rain while open.  There is also an awning over one of the big bay windows.

Once we bought the tent, we took it home and set it up in the back yard.  I would highly suggest setting up any new tent at home before heading out on a camping or backpacking trip.  The Cougar Flats II had color coded sleeves and hubs for all of the tent poles.  Following the instructions the first time to get used to the proper order of set up made it easy to set up the tent after that.  I also appreciated that the tent came with enough tent stakes to stake down every ring or tie down on the tent, I am amazed that some tents that include stakes do not include enough to stake down everything.  When out in inclement weather it is always best to stake your tent as secure as possible to get the maximum performance out of it.

Columbia Cougar Flats II at Blue Mesa Reservoir
Our first trip with the tent was to Blue Mesa ReservoirWe found a campsite near the marina, but the few sites with trees were already taken.  As a result, we set the tent up overlooking the Cebolla Basin of Blue Mesa.  Every afternoon we had heavy winds and two nights we had rain.  The tent held up great in the wind and we stayed completely dry inside.  The only issue we had was one of the poles from the awning fell over twice during the trip.  While inconvenient, it didn’t affect the inside of the tent or the performance of the rain fly.  On the last night I secured the awning down in front of the bay window (one of the ways it is designed to be used), further protecting us from the rain and wind.

While at Blue Mesa we were able to put the whole family in one of the rooms, and then use the second room (where the entrance doors are) as a storage area.  The last day we set up a table in the entry room and used it to eat dinner while it was raining.  Just be careful cooking inside a tent, it’s always better to cook outside, but if you have to cook in the tent, keep any open flames well away from the walls of the tent and make sure that you have plenty of ventilation.

The second trip we took with the tent was to Taylor Park Reservoir.  While at Taylor Reservoir, we didn’t have to worry about wind, but we had lots of rain.  In fact, the first night it was pouring so hard that we couldn’t talk to each other inside tent without yelling.  All three days that we had the tent set up we had rain to deal with, everything from torrential downpours to light misting.  We never had to worry about the tent leaking or letting in water.  The only time the inside got wet was the first night when we had to open the door to get inside while it was raining hard.  A small pool formed inside the doorway during the brief time it took us to get inside.  This was another great reason for the second room, as despite the water in the entry way, our sleeping area never got wet.

Columbia Cougar Flats II Interior
We did have a couple complaints about the tent, although overall they were easy to live with.  The first is with the awning.  It extends out over the bay window, which makes it easier to open the window in the rain and gives you a place to set your chairs, but it would have been nice to have the awning over one of the doorways, especially during the rain.  At 10x14 feet it is a big tent, while it is nice to have the room on the inside, it may be difficult to find a place to put the tent in some campgrounds.

The other thing I didn’t like is the fact that the big bay windows on each end of the tent do not seal at the top.  They use two clasps each to secure the top, which means that when the wind blows against it, the air flows directly up the window and in to the tent.  With the entry room towards the wind, I found that when I closed the doors to the sleeping area, we did not get any of the wind in the sleeping area, but it would be nice to have the zippers go all the way around the big windows.

Overall, I am very pleased with the tent.  Both trips we have taken it on have tested it, in both wind and rain performance.  So far the tent has held up well and will probably serve us for years to come.  Do you have a family tent that you like?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
Columbia Cougar Flats II Tent Interior

Check out some of your options for camping in Colorado with some of these books:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Humminbird 768 Fish Finder

Not too long ago I mentioned how we bought a new Humminbird 768 Fish Finder for $200 rather than the regular price of $500, you can read the post here.  We had installed the fish finder fairly easily, though we had to wait a little while to use it.  We had gone to Dillon Reservoir and tried to launch the boat, but we weren't able to start the motor, you can read about that trip here.

As I mentioned in one of my last posts, we were able to get out to Green Mountain Reservoir and actually try out the fish finder.  I'm not going to claim to be some kind of expert on fishing electronics.  I also don't have a lot of experience with them, so the review that I am giving is based on using it for a short amount of time and based on my limited knowledge in fishing electronics.

Humminbird 768 indicating fish
First off, we were very pleased with the display on the Humminbird, it is wider than our previous unit and adds a lot of detail.  Our old fish finder would only display fish symbols and did not give you an option to view the raw data.  I've heard many people say that it is better to view the raw data, rather than the symbol, because you can interpret it yourself, rather than rely on what the fish finder believes is a small fish, large fish or group of bait fish. 

Using the fish finder with the symbols off, I quickly came to realize how valuable this is.  It will take me awhile to truely understand all the different returns, but I quickly started to get a feel for how large a fish might be and what appeared to be groups of smaller fish.  I was also able to clearly see my downrigger most of the time.  This was great for knowing exactly where my lure would be in relation to where the fish were.  The old finder would show a line of fish where the down rigger was, that made it extremely difficult to tell if there were fish there or if it was just the downrigger.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, with the old fish finder, we were having issues with getting depth readings below 100-120 feet.  When the bottom dropped deeper than that, we would not only loose our bottom reading, but would also frequently lose all other display, the depth display would bound from 1 foot to 300 feet or more, even though we were likely in 100-200 feet of water.  While Green Mountain Reservoir is not the deepest lake, we did get some strong readings down past 200 feet.

We also enjoyed the fact that the fish finder gives temperature reading from the water at the transducer.  That didn't give us an idea of what the temperature was down where we were fishing, but it was interesting to note the temperature change as we moved around the lake.

The last feature that I would like to touch on is the GPS.  I had really wanted the GPS option on our replacement fish finder, but I was worried that we wouldn't be able to find a unit that was in our price range.  Fortunately this unit came with an external GPS receiver, so it was a simple task to secure the receiver and hook it up to the fish finder as we were installing it.

Clear display on the Humminbird 768
Using the GPS, we were able to monitor our trolling speed through out the day, this was especially helpful as we would change directions and the wind would speed us up or slow us down.  Without the GPS giving us speed readings, we would have had no idea just how much the wind was affecting us.  We were also able to use the GPS track to go back over the same schools of fish that we had marked on previous trips.  This led to about a two hour window where we caught over a dozen lake trout and one salmon.

As I write this I believe that the Humminbird 768 has been discontinued, that means that with a little bit of searching, you should be able to find a good deal on the unit.  This fish finder will serve you well and I definitely would recommend it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fly Fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park

It has probably been a couple years since I have last used my fly fishing pole.  I had bought a pole that breaks down nice and small to take with me backpacking.  Since I haven't really been backpacking, I haven't taken my fly pole out either.  I have never done well fly fishing in rivers.  Someday I hope to get some instruction from somebody that knows how to fish a river well. 

What I have done well with is fly fishing in high altitude lakes and ponds.  My wife and I went for a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday.  Our goals were to visit a lake that we had only seen while it was frozen over, find a couple geocaches and I wanted to try and catch a Cutthroat Trout, which I had never caught before.

The lakes that I enjoy backpacking to have plenty of Brook Trout, but I have never caught a Cutthroat in one of them.  Rocky Mountain National Park is known for the Colorado native Cutthroat and seemed an ideal place to try and catch one.  Of course, Rocky Mountain National Park is a common fishing destination and the fish there proved to be tougher to catch than some of the other lakes that I backpack to.
My wife didn't want to wait too long for me to fish, so I didn't waste much time trying.  It started out pretty slow, but switching to another lake gave me the opportunity to sight cast to fish cruising the shallows.  The great thing about fishing calm mountain lakes is getting to see how the fish respond to your fly.  The water was so clear that I could watch the fish approach the fly, then mostly ignore it.  

Rocky Mountain National Park Cutthroat Trout
I kept moving along the shore to find new fish to cast to, but none of them seemed interested.  I finally picked the right fly and the right fish and had one take the fly on my first presentation in that area.  I brought the small Cutthroat in quickly for a couple pictures and let him go back into the cold mountain water.  Though many of the high altitude fish don't grow to large sizes, they are some of the most beautiful trout you could ever catch.
I tried a few more spots, but there weren't anymore fish that wanted to take a fly.  We moved on to find our geocaches and finish the hike.  We did decide to look for a couple geocaches on the way out, you can read more about those here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Aaron Kerchner On His NoMo Tournament Win

I posted a little while ago about Aaron Kerchner winning the NoMo Tournament a little while ago.  Since then I have had the chance to talk to him a little more about the fishing and what he did to get his win.  First off, he showed me a link to a short article about the tournament in Kayak Angler Online, click that link to read the article.

The tournament took place at Union Reservoir, a 736 square acre body of water located near Longmont, Colorado.  The small size of the reservoir made it an ideal fit for the hand powered craft used in the tournament (NoMo stands for No Motor).  Aaron said that the relatively featureless bottom of the reservoir led to several key pieces of structure coming into play as the contests made their way to where the fish would be.

Fishing tackle Aaron Kerchner used at NoMo
Aaron stated that he started out trying top water lures and spinner baits, but the fish just wouldn't bite, in part because of the high water temperature.  He recognized that the fish were feeding on plentiful bait fish and he decided to switch to a jig head and worm combo, pictured at right.  The worm is an Xcite Baits Slim X in green pumpkin.  He placed it on a shaky head jig from Buckeye Lures, he followed that up with a Chartreuse marking pen on the tail to help trigger a strike. The combo worked well for him, as he placed first in the tournament.

Xcite Baits was originally formed in Highlands Ranch Colorado, but has since moved to Texas.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Green Mountain Reservoir And The Humminbird 768

Yesterday, my dad and I got a chance to fish Green Mountain Reservoir.  Green Mountain Reservoir is located west of Silverthorne, not too far from Dillon Reservoir.  Unlike Dillon Reservoir though, Green Mountain Reservoir is not just known for sailing and boating, but also for fishing.  Offering Lake Trout, Rainbow and Brown Trout, as well as Kokanee Salmon, Green Mountain Reservoir has a lot to offer the angler.

As I mentioned in my Dillon And Bust post, we had problems getting out boat started when we had arrived at Dillon Reservoir last week.  We had figured out the problem and were ready to try again.  When we got to Green Mountain Reservoir, there was no one else at the ramp and we were ready to give it a try.  Fortunately the boat fired up right away and we were out on the water in no time.

We trolled from the McDonald Flats campground west towards the dam.  We caught a few Lake Trout as we trolled over the old river channel.  As we got further to the west we tried jigging in the deeper water, but that was quite unsuccessful.  We also tried anchoring and casting in the shallower sections in the north west part of the lake, that was also unsuccessful.

An Orange/Purple Squid, great for Salmon
We figured we would start trolling again where we had caught the fish earlier.  That turned out to be a great idea.  From about 2:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon we caught about 14 more fish in the same area.  We would mark fish using our new Humminbird 768 then make multiple passes using the down rigger and lead core line.  We found one of the best combinations was a gold/blue dodger with an orange/purple squid on the lead core.  We also did well with a silver dodger with a gold/chartreuse Kastmaster.

In total we caught 17 Lake Trout, all between 13-16 inches.  We also caught one Kokanee Salmon on the squid.  While we would have certainly enjoyed catching a couple larger fish, it wasn't meant to be.  The Lake Trout and Salmon that we got were all between about 25-50 feet down, in the deeper parts of the lake tried fishing the down rigger down to about 120 feet and jigging from 80-200 feet down.  The deeper depths didn't produce anything.

Not a big Lake Trout, but quantity beat size
Overall, we were excited with the catch, especially since we had never been to the reservoir before.  Thanks to the Fishexplorer forums, a Fish-n Map and the Humminbird fish finder giving us accurate information, we felt like we did well.  I didn't want to make this post too long, so I will write more about the fish finder in a later post, I will also post some more information on Green Mountain Reservoir, just like I have done for some of the other lakes.  Until then, keep fishing and check back soon for more posts!

If you're interested in some relevant reading, here are may posts about lead core:

What is It?
Getting Set Up
One the water

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dillon Reservoir

If you saw my last post, you know that we tried to go fishing at Dillon Reservoir, but it didn't go so well.  I figured in honor of Dillon Reservoir I would go ahead and post some information.  Dillon Reservoir is located along I-70, east of Eisenhower Tunnel.  The cities of Dillon, Silverthorne and Frisco all wrap around parts of the Reservoir.  You can also access boat ramps from both Dillon and Frisco. 
Sail boat on Dillon Reservoir

3200 Surface Acres of Water
Concrete Boat Ramps- Dillon and Frisco
Marinas that offer boat rentals and tackle
Rental slips on the water
Public docks near the town of Dillon for parking, picnic area
Fishing for the following species:
Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Artic Char
Multiple campgrounds located around the lake.
The lake is free to use, camping may have associated fees.

Public dock on Dillon Reservoir

Dillon Reservoir is extremely popular for sailing enthusiasts and offers plenty of wind and water to explore in your sail boat.  Dillon seems to be a little less popular for fishing though.  When preparing to flood the Reservoir, crews clear cut the forests to make way for the water.  As a result there was a lot less biomass in the Reservoir to begin with.  As a result, Dillon Reservoir is often considered to be fairly sterile.  While this doesn't mean that there are no fish to catch, it just means that they may be a little harder to catch than some other places.