Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Giving Away Salmon- 2013

Unfortunately it has been a couple weeks since I last checked the CPW page, but if you can get to the area of Dolores, Colorado this Thursday you can take part in the Kokanee Salmon giveaway.

The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife will be giving away salmon at Joe Rowell Park on November 7, 2013.

Here is a link to the CPW press release:

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:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bear Creek Lake State Park Flooding

Thanks to record  amounts of rain hitting northern Colorado in September of 2013, the rivers along the front range grew from small streams and rivers to roaring torrents.  The heavy water flow built over several days and cumulated with the rivers overflowing their banks and hurling debris downstream.

Below are some photos that I took from Bear Creek Lake.  It shows some of the flooding that hit Evergreen and flowed through the town of Morrison.  The dam at Bear Creek Lake was one of three built to help protect Denver from flooding.  Cherry Creek State Park and Chatfield State Park also were built to contain potentially damaging flood waters from overwhelming the city of Denver.

Based on the amount of water that was at the lake, I would say that the dam did the job it was designed for.  The water level rose dramatically over the average height, but output towards Denver was closely managed and released at a level that reduced the chances of flooding.  

Flooding at Skunk Hollow Picnic area, Bear Creek Lake.
Bear Creek Lake flooding from Pelican Point.

Bear Creek Lake flooding from Pelican Point.

These photos were taken with an iPhone 4s in panoramic mode.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

10th Mountain Division Hut Below Homestake Peak

Spread across the mountains of central Colorado are a series of huts built to honor the 10th Mountain Division soldiers that fought in World War II.  The huts are available for rent and can hold a whole group of hikers or cross country skiers.

I personally wouldn't call these beautiful buildings huts, but rather cabins.  With wood burning stoves to fight the chill of the altitude and winter nights, to kitchen facilities, these accommodations take take the most grueling cross country trip and turn it into a luxurious evening of relaxation and story telling.

The hut below sits along an open grass field with Homestake Peak in the background.  Whether you are hiking up to Slide Lake to fish, or climbing Homestake Peak, there are amazing views back towards Leadville.

10th Mountain Division by Luke Parr on 500px.com
10th Mountain Division by Luke Parr

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Excelsior Geyser Crater, Yellowstone National Park

Excelsior Geyser Crater is what is left of the Excelsior Geyser.  At one time it was known for eruptions that were 100-300 feet high and just as wide.  In 1888 Frank Hayns captured an image of the geyser erupting.  As the years passed the eruptions stopped and the Excelsior Geyser Crater is now more of a hot spring.  It pumps more than 4,000 gallons of water into the Firehole River every minute.

Even though there are no more eruptions, the Excelsior Geyser Crater has a beautiful blue hue thanks to the temperatures of the water that inhibit bacteria growth.

Excelsior Geyser by Luke Parr on 500px.com
Excelsior Geyser by Luke Parr

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sunset Coyote

Here is a photo that I posted on my Rocky Mountain Arsenal post.  This coyote was with a another running through the parking lots near the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and the nearby Dick's Sporting Goods stadium.  I approached this coyote from the other side of the hill and popped up just enough to get the shot.  As soon as the coyote heard the shutter he took off running directly away from me.  Fortunately the only shot I could get off before he turned, was a decent one.

Urban Coyote by Luke Parr on 500px.com
Urban Coyote by Luke Parr

Friday, August 23, 2013

Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Eating Elk Carcass

I took this photo in Yellowstone National Park.  I've heard this grizzly referred to as "scar face."  There were three grizzlies that were eating on this elk carcass, but when we went by we only saw this one.  The grizzly was along the road pretty close to Mt. Washburn.  Out of all the grizzlies I have seen through out the park during multiple trips, about half have them have been along the road along the slopes near Mt. Washburn.

This particular grizzly has a radio collar so that it can be tracked by park personnel.

Grizzly Snack by Luke Parr on 500px.com
Grizzly Snack by Luke Parr

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Iceland's Northern Lights

I had the opportunity to go to Iceland in November of 2012.  One of the main reasons we went was to see the northern lights.  Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate for a large portion of the trip, but we were able to see them a couple of the nights.

Surprisingly, when we went out into the countryside to get away from the city lights, we seemed to have the worst clouds.  The best views of the aurora borealis came from the time we spent in the capitol city of Reykjavik.  

Northern Lights Over Reykjavik by Luke Parr on 500px.com
Northern Lights Over Reykjavik by Luke Parr

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Colorado Parks and Wildlife's YouTube Channel

I was perusing through the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website recently looking for news and interesting articles and found out that Parks and Wildlife actually has their own YouTube channel.

They post a new video approximately each month and the videos focus on fly fishing specific area with specific tips on how to fish effectively.  Most of the videos are fairly short, but I like the fact that they are posting videos that are area specific.  I have searched a lot for videos and articles specific to catching specific species of fish in specific mountain lakes her in Colorado.  It seems hard to find many quality videos on some of the mountain lakes.  Hopefully this channel will continue to grow and they will start adding longer, instructional videos.

Here is a link to their channel:

I'm not much of a fly fisher, most of the time I fly fish alpine lakes while backpacking and hiking.  Below is a picture of a small cutthroat that I caught at Rocky Mountain National Park.

I've been playing around with my GoPro HD Hero 2 recently and made a short video of fly fishing on the Taylor River, above Taylor Reservoir.  I caught a couple small brown trout with dry flies.  It reminded me how much I enjoy fly fishing mountain rivers and made me want to get back out as soon as I could.

What are your favorite informational YouTube channels?  Let me know in the comment section below:

Taylor Park

Here is the last photo in the series of Taylor Park.  This is north of the reservoir again and looking at the continental divide.

Taylor Park Fog by Luke Parr on 500px.com
Taylor Park Fog by Luke Parr

Take a look at the last photo here:  Taylor Park Morning
And the first photo here:  Taylor Park Fog
You can see more about the area here:  Taylor Park Reservoir

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Taylor Park Morning

The next photo of Taylor Park is further to the north and looking towards the east at the continental divide.

Take a look at the last photo here:  Taylor Park Fog
You can see more about the area here:  Taylor Park ReservoirMorning Fog by Luke Parr on 500px.com
Morning Fog by Luke Parr 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Taylor Park Fog

The photos for the next three days are some shots of fog in the Taylor Park area.  I've camped near Taylor Reservoir many times over the years and it seems like more often than not we wake up to fog surrounding the valley and sometimes completely filling the valley.  You can read more about the area from this post: Taylor Park Reservoir.

Taylor Park by Luke Parr on 500px.com
Taylor Park by Luke Parr

This photos was taken from the River's End campground looking north.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Reykjavik From The Perlan

The Perlan is built from old hot water tanks on a hill overlooking Iceland's capitol city of Reykjavik.  The Perlan houses a viking museum, restaurant and a gift shop.  While enjoying the view from the upper level on top of the old water tanks, I took this series of photos of the city.  

View of Reykjavik from the Perlan

Click on the photo for a larger version.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Iceland's Harpa Concert Hall

Here is another shot from Reykjavik. It is the Harpa concert hall, built with with geometric glass panels of different colors.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Sun Voyager In Reykjavik Iceland

Called the Sun Voyager, this viking boat sculpture sits on the edge of Reykjavik.  Designed by Jon Gunnar Arnason it was designed to represent hope, undiscovered territory, freedom and progress.  We just happened to drive by it as we circled the city.

Sun Voyager by Luke Parr on 500px.com
Sun Voyager by Luke Parr

This is another of my early attempts at HDR imaging.  I think it is more of a subtle effect compared to some of my other photos.  What do you think?  Let me know in the comment section below.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Strokkur Geyser Revisited

Here is another shot of Strokkur Geyser.  This geyser erupts every few minutes in Iceland.  I posted another photo of it a couple days ago here.  I had set up to get the sun behind the geyser and there was no one else in front of me, just like in the previous photo.  Not too surprisingly, a couple other tourists came and stood right in between the geyser and my tripod.  At first I was a little annoyed, but after I noticed I could get them silhouetted in front of Strokkur I decided it made a good picture after all.

Strokkur Geyser by Luke Parr

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Peek A Boo Bear Cub

Here is another shot of a black bear cub that I saw in Yellowstone National Park.  I posted the first picture here.  As he was foraging along the woods he approached a tree and peeked out around it.

Peek A Boo Cub by Luke Parr on 500px.com
Peek A Boo Cub by Luke Parr

Monday, August 12, 2013

Green Mountain, Lakewood, Colorado

I don't use iPhone photos very often, but on a recent hike I decided to try out the built in panorama function. This is a shot from Green Mountain looking to the north and east.

This photos was taken with the panoramic function of the iPhone 4S.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Is It A Buffalo Or Bison?

Whether you call it a buffalo or a bison, these amazing creatures a pretty cool to watch.  This one below was relaxing in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone as we drove by.  He didn't seem to mind the traffic too much...

Resting Buffalo by Luke Parr

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Clouds Above Horsehoe Park

This shot is from Rocky Mountain National Park.  It is from the area of Horseshoe Park, an area famous for herds of elk and bighorn sheep.  This image was another attempt at HDR, which really brought out a lot of the color to extreme to catch on a single exposure.

  Horseshoe Park by Luke Parr on 500px.com

  Horseshoe Park
  Luke Parr

Friday, August 9, 2013

Morning Waterfall

This little waterfall sits at the base of the Mt. of the Holy Cross.  It was also one of my first attempts at HDR processing.  The biggest thing that struck me about this little lake was the apparent complete lack of fish.  Spending several nights in a backpacking tent near the lake I never saw any fish in the shallows or rising to the surface.

  Mt of the Holy Cross Waterfall by Luke Parr on 500px.com

  Mt of the Holy Cross Waterfall
  Luke Parr

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tabeguache Peak

I took this photo after climbing down from the summit of Mt. Antero.  It is a view looking to the south at Mt. Tabeguache.   Both mountains are Colorado 14ers, mountains with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet.

Tabeguache Peak by Luke Parr on 500px.com
Tabeguache Peak by Luke Parr

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Scanning The Valley

This is one of my older photos, but a favorite.  I took this picture of my cousin as the sun set.  He was scanning the valley below us for elk.  The light of the sunset and the silhouette worked together perfectly.

Sunset Scanning by Luke Parr on 500px.com
Sunset Scanning by Luke Parr

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Iceland's Strokkur Geyser

While visiting Iceland in November of 2012 we took a tour of the golden circle.  Included in the tour was a stop by the famous "Geysir," which is Icelandic's Old Norse for "to gush."  We get the english word geyser from this feature.

Unfortunately Geysir has a very infrequent eruption that is rare to catch.  Fortunately we only had to wait a few minutes before each eruption of Strokkur Geyser.  Below is a shot with Strokkur against the low winter sun.

Strokkur by Luke Parr

Monday, August 5, 2013

Beaver Pond Reflections

While camping near Cottonwood Creek a couple years ago I found this beaver pond with perfectly still water.  I didn't see any recent activity from beavers, but the pond was still holding plenty of water.

Beaver Pond by Luke Parr

Here is a short time lapse video from this year of the same area;

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Yellowstone Bald Eagle Taking Off

I'm not much of a bird photographer, it usually takes powerful telephoto lenses to get close enough to get a good shot.  When we were in Yellowstone National Park we got to see a Bald Eagle just across the Madison River.  We watched it in a tree for awhile until it swooped down into the river to catch a fish.  I would have liked a better telephoto, but thanks to how close the bird was, I was able to get decent photos.  Check out the one below after he finished the fish and took off again:

Flying Bald Eagle, Yellowstone National Park

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Crater Lakes Sunrise

One of my favorite areas to hike and backpack is by Moffat Tunnel, near Rollinsville.  The trails in the area are not as long, or remote as other parts of Colorado, but it is easy to access from the Denver metro area and makes a great destination when you are short on time.  I have spent many nights listening to the trains that approach Moffat Tunnel.

Above Moffat Tunnel are four small lakes that make up Crater Lakes.  When I only have time for a short backpacking trip, Crater Lakes is on my short list.  I typically bring my fly rod and catch small Brook Trout from the lakes.  The crystal clear water makes it easy to see the fish approach and take your fly.

This photo was taken one morning from the bank of the larger of the two middle lakes.  You might even recognize it as the photo from the top of this blog.  It always reminds me of the solitude and calm of waking up in the wilderness.

Crater Lakes Sunrise by Luke Parr (rockymountainadventure)) on 500px.com
Crater Lakes Sunrise by Luke Parr

Friday, August 2, 2013

Colorado Columbine

Colorado's state flower is the Columbine, or Aquilegia saximontana.  It is typically found at higher elevations and can vary in color from white to various shades of purple.  I tend to associate the Columbine with camping, hiking and backpacking.  I used to think of it as a rare flower, but the more time I have spent in the backcountry, the more I find them.  

The photo below was taken in the Mt. Holy Cross wilderness. The high altitude and moist environment leads to large concentrations of Columbines in the valleys around Mt. Holy Cross.  

Colorado Columbine by Luke Parr (rockymountainadventure)) on 500px.com
Columbine, Canon 60D, 15-85mm

Colorado Columbine by Luke Parr

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Curious Black Bear

As I mentioned the other day, I want to try and post an image a day for the month of August.  I thought I would start off with this Black Bear cub from Yellowstone National Park.  We watched him for awhile as he explored the forest.  I watched for mom or siblings, but was not able to see any.

Click on the image or link below to see a larger version of the image.

Curious Black Bear Cub by Luke Parr (rockymountainadventure)) on 500px.com
Black Bear cub, Yellowstone National Park
Curious Black Bear Cub by Luke Parr

This photo was taken with a Canon 60D and 100-400mm L lens.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Photo A Day For The Month Of August

I don't post on this blog quite as often as I would like to.  Work, family and other activities seem to get in the way and take up a lot of my time.  After my recent trip to Yellowstone National Park, I decided that I would try to post a photo a day for the month of August.  Most of these photos I have already taken, I'm just spreading out the posting.  Most will be new to this blog, but there could be a couple that you have seen before.

Photography is one of my oldest hobbies.  The nice thing about it is that it can be used in most other sports, hobbies and activities.  Whether it is fishing, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking or geocaching, bringing a camera along can make that experience last forever.  I decided that a personal photo challenge would help encourage me to look through my photos and maybe even take a few new photographs to include with the others.

So tune in tomorrow and the entire month of August to see a new photo each day.  If you have any questions, or have an idea for an article that I should write, let me know in the comment section below.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lures For Salmon Fishing

What are your favorite lures for salmon fishing?  I am far from a salmon fishing expert, but I love chasing Kokanee salmon in the Colorado reservoirs that have them. I've posted a little about it before Here.

The lures that have worked the best for me so far are the Rocky Mountain Tackle Company Assassin and Signature Squid series. I bought a few new colors for an upcoming trip.  I ordered directly from their website and they shipped quickly and they even threw in an extra lure.  The colors I picked to add are those pictured below:

I typically troll these behind lead core line and downriggers depending on the depths I'm fishing. My most productive colors in order have been pink, orange, chartreuse and green. For this trip I'm adding a few new variations to try. 

What are your favorite salmon lures?  Let me know in the comment section below.


Here is a video I added while I was down at Blue Mesa Reservoir.  It adds some additional info about the lures and methods we were using.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lower Falls- Yellowstone National Park

I spent a week in Yellowstone at the end of June and beginning of July.  If you haven't been there, Yellowstone National Park is one of the most amazing examples of wilderness in the lower 48.  There is beautiful scenery, incredible hours and awesome thermal features to enjoy.  I have quite a few photos from Yellowstone to include, but thought I would start off with this one.

This is probably Yellowstone's most iconic waterfall, known as Lower Falls.  The canyon surrounding the waterfall is known as the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  As you can see from the picture below, the yellow canyon walls led to the title "Yellowstone."  We arrived at the falls just in time to capture a rainbow forming from the mist at the base of the waterfall.

Click on the link below to view a larger version of this photo:

Lower Falls- Yellowstone National Park by Luke Parr (rockymountainadventure)) on 500px.com
Lower Falls- Yellowstone National Park by Luke Parr

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Watching Grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is one of my favorite Rocky Mountain destinations.  Not only is there amazing and unique scenery with many thermal features, water falls and mountains, but there are few places in the lower 48 states that allow you to see the selection of wildlife that Yellowstone offers.

Coming from Colorado, some of my favorite animals to see are the Grizzlies and Wolves. We have a lot of animals around Colorado, but we don't have any of those two species left in the state.   We ended up seeing three different Grizzlies in different areas of the park. We came across one that was feeding on an Elk carcass. That bear wore a radio collar and I photographed him for about half an hour.

While I was photographing I decided to try shooting some video. Below is a quick video, just over a minute long of th bear feasting. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Timelapse from Cottonwood Creek

This is a short (just over a minute) timelapse from a camping trip next to Cottonwood Creek, which is near Buena Vista, Colorado.  I shot it with a GoPro HD Hero 2 set to to take pictures at one second intervals.  I don't have an LCD back or wireless transmitter for the GoPro, so I would take a picture, pull out the card and put it into my Canon 60D to view the photo.  Then I would make adjustments and do it again.

I hope you enjoy it:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Staunton State Park- Colorado's Newest State Park

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is having a two day opening weekend for the brand new Staunton State Park.  The park was made possible by a generous donation of 1,720 acres from Frances H. Staunton.  She provided the land to the state with the stipulation that the land was to be "preserved in perpetuity" as a state park.

The new state park is located off of US Highway 285 near Aspen Park.  The two day grand opening events will be on May 18th and 19th.  For more information on those events check out the state's site here.  You can check out the map below for a general location and information.
Photo from http://www.parks.state.co.us/parks/staunton/Pages/Staunton.aspx

The information states that dogs and bikes will be allowed in the park, but I don't see any trail maps or specific information yet.  I always like to see new hiking and biking opportunities made available near Denver.  It makes it easier for people to get outside and away from the TV and computer.  

The event is this weekend, so if anyone makes it out there, let me know how it goes!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Grand Junction Geocaches

I found myself in Grand Junction this week with some time to kill. I enjoyed checking out the local Cabela's and found some decent deals. Since I haven't been to Grand Junction in years, I decided to spend some time exploring the town. The easy choice for exploration was a little geocaching. Geocaching is a great way to see parts of a new area that you might otherwise miss.

Below are a couple of the caches that I found, and don't worry, there aren't any spoilers.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rocky Mountain Arsenal

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal is one of the largest urban wildlife refuges in the country.  It is located just a short distance from Denver and offers 15,000 acres of prairie and water features that is tailored for both wildlife and for people to enjoy and explore.  From bird watching, and photography, to hiking and fishing there are
many options for enjoying what the Arsenal has to offer.

Buffalo crosses the road at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal
During World War II the Rocky Mountain Arsenal was converted from farmland to a chemical weapons manufacturing plant.  Even during the production of military weapons, the staff noted that large parts of the unused complex were home to local deer, coyotes and a huge variety of birds.  As the cold war came to an end the land was the focus of massive environmental clean up efforts.  As the clean up continued, the focus shifted from manufacturing weapons, to creating a habitat for wildlife.

Today the Rocky Mountain Arsenal is the home to a herd of buffalo, as well as Mule Deer, coyotes, the Bald Eagle, Northern Pike and more.

I recently took my kids to the Arsenal for some easy hiking while parts of the front range were covered in snow.  My son loves to see bison and it was the highlight of his trip to Yellowstone National Park a few years ago.  The buffalo herd was one of the main reasons we chose to visit the Arsenal.  Unfortunately there aren't many places anymore that give you the chance to see herds of buffalo in what is a mostly wild setting.  We weren't disappointed and saw buffalo as soon as we entered.  As we drove through the Arsenal we had buffalo crossing the street as cars pulled off to the sides to watch them pass.  It is a scene that you would expect to see more in one of the more famous national parks, namely Yellowstone.
Buffalo graze along the Colorado front range.

As the photo to the right shows, we were able to see the buffalo grazing below the Colorado front range.  Although the buildings and power lines detract somewhat from the overall experience of seeing the buffalo, it was still impressive to see the buffalo roaming in an area that they have all but been wiped out of.

Mule Deer at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.
Near the herd of buffalo we observed a small herd of Mule Deer.  There were several nice sized bucks among the group.  They didn't seem to have any qualms about grazing around the buffalo.  We saw a few more deer throughout the Arsenal and while on our hike around Lake Ladora, but this seemed to be the largest concentration and the best bucks in the area.

Much of Lake Ladora and Lake Mary were still frozen during our trip on the trail around the larger lake.  While you can fish it during the summer, it was closed to fishing during our trip.  I have heard that the the lakes are well known for producing some of the best Northern Pike that you can catch along the front range.  I hope to come back later in the summer to try it out for myself.  If you decide to go to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal to fish it, make sure you check out the current fishing regulations here.

Northern Pike at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.
As we finished up our hike around the lake we noticed a patch of bare water near a building situated along the lake.  I decided to take the kids to the opening, just in case we could catch a glimpse of one of the Northern Pike cruising the exposed water to warm up in the snow.  Surprisingly there was a nice sized Pike relaxing in the shallows right at the edge of the building and the shore.  Seeing the Pike got the kids excited about trying to fish the lake come spring time!

Once we were ready to leave the park we decided to check the area for some nearby geocaches.  There doesn't appear to be any caches in the Arsenal itself, but there are quite a few around the perimeter and by the nearby Dick's Sporting Goods park.  We found several of the caches and as we were looking for one last cache at the nearby soccer fields we noticed a couple coyotes cruising along between the edges of the soccer fields and the road.  One of the coyotes appeared to have mange, but the second looked pretty clean.  I was able to get a nice shot of the better looking coyote at the edge of one of the fields.  Check it out below:
Coyote near the Rocky Mountain Arsenal

What are your thoughts of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal?  Have you caught any great Pike, or taken an amazing Bald Eagle photo?  Let me know your favorite part about the Arsenal in the comment section below.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tips For Safely Releasing Fish

There are a lot of arguments that can be made about releasing fish after they are caught, or keeping them for the table.  There are times that I keep fish to eat, especially Salmon.  But more often than not, I would rather throw a fish back to give it time to grow bigger and catch it again.

If you choose to release your fish after catching it and maybe taking photos, the whole idea is for the fish to survive to fight again.  Let's take a look at some tips for making sure the fish you release will swim away for another day:

Land it quickly!  Starting with the fight to bring your fish to the boat or shore you can start preparing to release the fish safely.  The more tired a fish is when you release it, the lower its chances for survival.  Try not to fight the fish for any longer than you have to.  The more energy a fish has when you put it back in the water, the easier it will swim away.

Use a rubber coated net.  The next step is to choose a rubber net.  Both rubber coated nets and netting made out of rubber are more gentle on a fish's delicate slime layer.  Keeping the slime layer intact helps keep fish healthy when they return to the water.

Leave the fish in the water.  When possible, remove the hook without taking the fish out of the water.  This works best with smaller fish when you aren't worried about snapping a picture.  This reduces the amount of the time the fish is out of the water and unable to breath.

Wet your hands.  Another step to reduce the damage to the fish's slime layer is to wet your hands before handling any fish.  This again reduces the chances of damaging the slime layer, which improves the survival rate of the fish.
Brown Trout from Elevenmile State Park

Hold the fish correctly.  These days it is easy to find pictures of anglers holding fish by their gill plate.  If you are releasing the fish, you don't want to risk injuring the delicate gills.  Imagine someone sticking a finger in your lungs!  The safest way to hold a fish is with one hand on the tail and the other supporting the belly.

Take a quick picture.  It's best to get the fish back in the water as soon as possible, which isn't always easy when trying to take a photo.  When possible, try to have your camera ready and set to take your trophy picture.  The quicker you get that keeper photo, the quicker you can return the fish to the water.

Take time to revive.  When you're ready to return the fish to the water, hold the fish in the water while it starts to recover.  You can face the fish into a current or the direction of travel of your boat to get water flow past the gills.  The extra support and time can make the difference between a fish that swims off and one that floats to the surface.

What to do with the gut hook.  Occasionally a fish will swallow your your hook hard.  While this seems to be more common with bait fishing, it is possible with other small hooks.  To help prevent gut hooking you can use circle hooks while bait fishing.  If a fish does get gut hooked and you can't easily get to the hook, cut the line as deep as you can and leave the hook in place.  It isn't great for a fish to have a hook, but a gut hook will likely cause more damage when you try to remove it.

Hopefully these tips will help keep your fishery healthy and growing.  Each fish released has an opportunity to grow larger and gives another person the pleasure of catching it.

Want to catch more fish from a boat?  Check out some of my previous posts:
What is a downrigger?
Trolling with leadcore line- What is it?
Trolling with leadcore line- Getting set up.
Trolling with leadcore line- In the water

Do you have any other tips for releasing a fish safely?  Let me know in the comment section below:

Friday, February 8, 2013

North Table Mountain Park

Jefferson County Open Space provides over 51,000 acres of public land in the foothills west of Denver.  These parks cover various parts of Jefferson County, and offer access to hiking, mountain biking, picnicking and wildlife.

View towards Lookout Mountain from North Table Mountain
North and South Table Mountain separate the City of Golden from the rest of the Denver metro area.  North Table Mountain has over 1,900 acres available for hiking, biking and rock climbing.  The trails along the park start out steep to climb up on top of the plateau.  Once on top, the trails rise and fall gently along rolling hills.  There are many different types of rock that you can see along the edges of the plateau and on top.  Here is what the Jefferson County Open Space website says about the history of North Table Mountain:

The mountain is the result of three lava flows that originated from the Ralston Dike located about two miles northwest of the mountain.  After centuries of weathering, North Table Mountain has been transformed into an area that contains several different types of habitat.  These habitat types include grasslands, shrub communities, lichen rock gardens, riparian, shore and cliff habitat.  Although human activity has occurred over the years, it is still considered high-quality habitat and in 1993 the Colorado Natural Heritage Program classified North Table Mountain as one of only twenty-seven Conservation Sites in the County.
-Source:  Jefferson County Open Space

Tilting Mesa trail on North Table Mountain
For an easier hike or bike ride, you can travel around the trail along the perimeter of the mountain.  It offers rolling hills and skirts along some of the nearby neighborhoods.  For a better view of the mountains to the west and downtown Denver to the east, hike up the steep, but relatively short trails to the top.

North Table Loop on North Table Mountain
If you hike up to the top of the mountain from the trail head marked in the map below, you will end up on top of North Table Mountain and have a choice between the North Table Loop above and the Tilting Mesa Trail further above.  These trails meander across the top of the mountain  and have gentle hills, but no major climbs.

View of downtown Denver from North Table Mountain
While you're hiking in the open space, keep your eye out for the typical front range animals.  You may see deer, coyotes and rabbits.  Be cautious of snakes, there are occasional rattle snake sightings around North Table Mountain.  I make sure my kids stay on the trail!  In the spring you may find wildflowers mixed in with the wild grasses.  There is also cactus, you can catch it flowering like in the photo below:

Cactus on North Table Mountain

North Table Mountain on Google Maps:
View Larger Map

Have you hiked at North Table Mountain?  Let me know your favorite front range hiking spot in the comments below.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

SCUBA Diving at Aurora Reservoir

When looking at a lake, I've often wondered what was beneath the surface.  What does it really look like at depth?  I've use fish finders and fishing maps to get an idea of what the topography is like for different lakes that I've been to, but I've always wanted to see more.  

In 2012, I finally went out and got SCUBA certified.  While the training and certification could be a whole post, I wanted to share a dive at Aurora Reservoir.  While not the most glamorous place to go diving, Aurora Reservoir has a dedicated SCUBA beach and a plane that was intentionally sunk for divers.  Many of the local dive shops take their new divers to Aurora Reservoir to do their check out dives as a part of the final certification process.  

Below is a video from September of 2012.  Although the water is murky, there are still plenty of crayfish and even some bass to see.

One thing that surprised me at Aurora is the lack of underwater terrain features.  That could be part of the reason that the SCUBA beach was located where it is, but there is very little structure for fish to hide in.  The plants that are visible are in a band about twenty yards from the shore.

I plan to post more about SCUBA in the rocky mountains in the future.  It may not be as warm and vibrant as the tropics, but there is still a lot to see in our local lakes.  Where is your favorite place to dive in the rocky mountains?  Let me know in the comment section below.