Friday, February 15, 2013

Why do I bother?

I have been staying with my efforts in building good and productive lures despite (or perhaps because of) the hell that is winter. I am not a fan of frozen lakes. I know people that enjoy ice fishing more than they do open water. I have also heard some people will not eat bacon or drink alcohol. It is difficult to understand why people are as they are.

In an attempt to learn how to mold and cast resin hardbaits, I molded a Black Dog Shellcracker. I rationalized this two ways. First off and most importantly, I do not intend to gain financially from this transgression. And secondly, after buying several of the damn things at a not insignificant price, I have determined that I am not destined to get one that has been properly constructed. Maybe I would have better luck with the injected model? At any rate, if I can use the mold to build myself one that actually swims properly and has paint that does not look like it was done by a penguin, I consider that fair play.

Beyond that, it has been useful for me to have the opportunity to play with different resins and processes. I finally got around to molding a bait I have been working on, in fits and starts, for a couple years. I started off thinking I would carve and finish a wooden bait, but after the carving turned out pretty good I decided that it would be a waste to destroy it by using it to catch fish. So that led me to investigate the techniques involved in molding original masters to create fishable duplicates.

I got the mold for the bait in question done a couple days ago, and today I got the sections cast for the first time. I intend to continue experimentation with different processes, but I am pleased (in a hesitant way) with the results so far. I still need to attend to some cosmetic imperfections, mostly due to not being able to pressure cast the bait yet. I'll need to get a compresser and a pressure pot for that. Still, nice to see it finally in the real world instead of my head.

I intend to add fins of some sort, though as a rule I dislike the rigid fins found on most hardbaits. I plan on using some sort of flexible translucent material. This bait is about seven inches in length, a size I consider to be in the "sweet spot" locally, as it gets both decent numbers as well as attention from the big girls. The resin needs to outgas for several days before it is painted to ensure good adhesion of the paint and topcoat. In the meantime I will experiment with ballast. 

I am pretty eager to be out throwing this. 

These are the softbaits I have been pouring the last year or so. I have done well with them as have several of my friends, and I am stoked. I will be incorporating a couple minor changes, adding  hook slot and changing the tail slightly, but overall I am really happy with how these have turned out. They track dead-straight even at blistering retrieves when they are rigged properly, and the soft eyes get bit through by pike, but not torn off. One of my biggest gripes with soft swimbaits is that the eyes all too often get ripped off after a fish or two, and these stay put. I am using an Owner 6/0 weighted Beast Hook with a spring coil keeper, a bloody expensive hook but the best by far for the purpose. 

The master in the background is resin. I use it to make duplicate molds. 

I am also working on a spinnerbait design with the gracious help of my friend Ken Iles. He has contributed several hours to the CAD drawings needed to get aluminum molds cut. I will be showing that as soon as possible, but I can say it is a compact hidden weight design with a large eye. It is intended to be fished very fast at the surface to fish busting bait, or dredged in water deeper than is typical for a bait its size. I am excited about that as well. The nascent TOADWERX marches on.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Storing finesse baits

   I do a lot of light line fishing for bass. I started light line finesse fishing in about 1991 or so. Prior to that I was fishing nothing lighter than ten pound monofilament. That was what was handed to me as a kid. I caught plenty of fish as I recall, but that had perhaps more to do with the relative abundance of fish in south east Texas than it did with my skill set. 

   Sometime in the early nineties we moved to Austin. A long time ago (a few hundred years if you believe young earth creationists) what is now central Texas was covered by a warm, fertile and shallow sea. Marine life was eventually left high and dry as the sea retreated. Walk the hills around Austin and pick up rocks in gullies, and you will encounter abundant marine fossils. The remnants of this ecosystem were encased in sediments which eventually formed limestone. Limestone is a chalky and porous sedimentary rock that is extremely effective at filtering impurities out of water, and so the streams in the area tend to be crystal clear. Having grown accustomed to the muddy brown waters of the bayous and ponds of south and east Texas, the clarity of the water was a shock. 

   One day I was fishing Walnut Creek, a small stream that flows through Austin, using my standard seventeen pound Berkley XL. As a kid with no money, I reasoned that using line heavy enough to free most snags was best practice. After all, if I lost a lure it was unlikely to be replaced. 

   My standard method for fishing the creek at that time was to go early, capture crawfish, minnows, and sunfish with hands and bait nets, and fish these on Carolina Rigs. For reasons I did not understand, my spinnerbaits and worms were not met with the same degree of receptiveness in Walnut Creek that they enjoyed in Rusk State Park or at Toledo Bend. 

   An older gentleman made his way down to the water a respectful distance away and began casting a tiny lure. Almost immediately he caught a nice little bass of about fourteen inches. There are a type of spotted bass in Texas called Guadalupe bass, and these predominated in the area we were fishing. He then repeated the feat, and again. I started watching him closely. He had a tiny spinning rod, and was casting an item so small it made hardly a ripple when it landed. I could not stand it, I had to see what it was. 

   I approached the fellow and asked what he was using. He dug a small Plano box out of his pocked and allowed me to inspect its contents. Microscopically small spinners, crank baits, and jigs stuffed the box to overflowing. I was astonished with how tiny all the lures were, and more than a little skeptical that they would be of interest to the sort of fish I was after. I enjoyed catching the Guadalupe bass, but I had seen some pretty solid largemouth lurking in darker places in the creek, and it was these I sought. 

   He reached into the box and handed me an inline spinner, a black and yellow Rooster Tail with brass willow blade and a pad printed bee on the body of the lure. The identical bait was tied on his line, I noticed. I did a double take when I looked at his rig. He was using the thinnest line I had ever seen. Asking him about it, he told me it was four pound. He asked me what I was using, and I told him seventeen. He chuckled and told me “Stay right here for a bit, I’ll be right back.” Curious, I did as instructed. He returned in a few minutes with a spool of line, the four pound he was using. He wanted to spool up my reel with it. What the heck I thought, I can always take it off when I get home. 

   He set to work stripping off my seventeen and spooling up the four. He tested my drag, and loosened it till I expected the spool to fall off. Job complete, he handed me back my rig and I tied on the spinner. As small as it was, I would not have expected it to go ten feet. 

   The first cast was a revelation. The tiny spinner flew well clear of its intended mark and bounced off a concrete retaining wall. Snapping the blade to motion as soon as the spinner splashed down caused a swirl in the water and the drag slipped as a large fish went tearing across the pool. 

   A tense minute or so later I was holding the biggest largemouth bass I had ever pulled out of Walnut Creek, a solid three pounder. And I had caught it on a bait so small that it looked ridiculous. The man had a satisfied smile on his face as he watched me release the bass back to its lair. I did not realize it at the time, but looking back, that moment had a profound impact on my development as an angler. 

   After that, I started paying attention to details with my gear. I had always been good at seeing what was going on around me, but had not considered the ways that my choices in tackle could be guided by those observations. If the bass wouldn’t eat a Jelly Worm or a spinnerbait today, they would eat them tomorrow. I was pretty basic in my methods. 

   As my inventory of finesse tackle began to grow, I realized that these items presented special storage problems. Micro-sized hooks, minute split shot, and undersized plastics had ways of getting lost or damaged that never happened to a Devil’s Horse or a Scum Frog. So I started looking for a better way to store them. Plano Micro-Magnum two sided boxes, the size of a pack of cards, would do for spinners or micro-jigs, but plastics were another matter. Later, when I discovered western style hand-poured worms, the problem of how to store them safely was compounded by the softness of these new baits. 

   After years of trying different storage methods, I found a solution. Michael’s hobby store sells a storage system intended for printed photographs, but it works extremely well for my finesse baits. 

I put all the baits into new poly-bags first thing. The bags that most baits come in are heavy duty types that don't like to be folded. I lay them into the bags as evenly as I can, and I typically squirt a shot of crawfish Bang! into the bag. 

I label the bags for easy identification. I found markers won't last writing directly on the bags because the oils make the writing smear, so I use masking tape to write on. Observe that the size limit of plastics that you can put into these boxes is about 5.5 or 6 inches. Bigger baits will need to live elsewhere.

I also label the individual boxes so I can see at a glance where my Roboworm Sculpin FX are hiding, for example. Shameless plug here, go buy some Roboworms. They are the greatest baits out there for quality, consistency, and amazing colors. Plus, the guys at Roboworm are SUPER cool people. Mike and Ken are just awesome dudes. I can't say enough about how much I love Roboworms. 

All the bass below were caught in Colorado, in public water, on four pound test. In my opinion, they make a strong case for finesse fishing. 




Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fishing the Arkansas Tailwater

   I have been fly fishing for the better part of ten years now, and have (somehow) never made it to Pueblo to fish the Arkansas tailwater. I guess yesterday I decided enough was enough so I headed down there. 

   Arriving in Pueblo to find that Google Maps had led me astray concerning the most direct rout to the river, I resolved to flow, like water, down hill. This led me again and again to vistas overlooking the Ark, but with limited access due to private property. Increasingly annoyed with the less than practical layout of the city, I finally found a place to park that was neither posted nor perilous. 

   My first sight as I parked the car was a bald eagle perched in a cottonwood tree, scanning a slow pool formed by a diversion structure. There was not a breath of wind, the air was tolerably warm considering the time of year, and enthusiastic birds heralded my coming with a cacophony of song. In winter, we keep bird feeders stocked with oiled sunflower seeds and suet. They attract mostly finches and sparrows, with a smattering of chickadees, creepers and the odd woodpecker. Clearly this river bottom was better habitat than my front yard. A surprising array of bird life was in evidence along the wooded river corridor, and I was delighted to observe it. Geese and mallards of course, but also ducks of many sorts, from grebes to coots, goldeneyes, buffleheads, mergansers and a small flock of what I took to be teal flying by at a terrific speed. The sound of the wind ripping through their primaries, a course vibrating rasp, was the only evidence of their passing. 

   I saw kingfishers and herons, and besides the eagles (there were several patrolling the corridor) there was an assortment of hawks. The hawks claimed their perches with high, piercing calls. A number of smaller birds including robins, finches, wrens, chickadees, flickers, and a great flock of starlings rounded out those I was able to identify. An unfamiliar bird caught my eye, robin sized, with a dusty greyish breast and slightly curved beak. It was rustling in the undergrowth and looked quite content. 

   The sky was overcast, and a sparse hatch of blue winged olives was coming off. One alighted on my chest pack, and I paused to consider the fact that I never carry dry flies. When I started fly fishing, I foreswore dries and streamers in an effort to develop my high-sticking chops. I suppose I should discontinue that practice, as I am now fairly confident in my nymphing abilities. Still, sight fishing to a trout feeding sub-surface, with fine tippets and tiny flies, is my preferred way to fish. The mechanics of nymphing are more tricky (as a rule) than those of the dry fly, and streamers have always reminded me of fishing with a Rapala. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but personally I do not derive much satisfaction from catching trout on lures. Why the same does not hold true for me when it comes to other species of fish is anyones guess. Perhaps I am an idiot. 

   I waded out to a current seam at the head of a long slow pool, armed with a tiny glow-bug (Oregon Cheese) and a red and black Go-Go Dancer, size twenty. I was soon fast to a decent fish, and a flash of gold made me think I had hooked a walleye. There are a few warmwater fish in the Arkansas tailwater, but what I had was not a walleye, it was a sucker. Luckily for the sucker, my freezer is stocked to overflowing with sucker meat, which makes excellent laker bait. He went back to the river, as did his chums that followed. A couple small browns came to hand, much too small for me to pump their stomachs for clues, and I quit for another location. 

   All the “perfect” looking winter spots yielded nothing, so I resolved to fish imperfect water. I prospected swifter runs at the heads of pools, using a large amount of Mojo Mud for weight. A couple decent rainbows resulted. The better fish I caught were eating anything red. A red San Juan Worm, a red Miracle Midge (properly dressed!) a red Go-Go Dancer. Red flies in swifter water is a pretty flimsy pattern. Still, a few fish in a new river, in low flows, in the middle of winter, is something I can take. 

   I was making my way up stream, passing the occasional riser, loathe to tear down my nymphing rig, when I came upon a pod of steady rising trout. They looked small, but there were at least twenty of them, and perhaps more. "To hell with it" I thought, and I broke down my rig. The emergers the trout were eating were alarmingly insubstantial, perhaps a size forty. Nothing I could match. Still, I tie some pretty sparse midges, so...

   I tapered my leader down to 7X, and tied on a single midge. The pattern is simple, but extremely effective. It is essentially a Disco Midge on a Tiemco 2488, with an Organza wingcase, divided over the thorax. You might call it a guide fly, it is as quick and easy a tie as exists. The variant I tied on was blue with a cream thorax, in a size 28. I straightened and greased up my leader, and put it in front of the fish. 

   I am not sure how many trout were actually in that pod, but I think I caught most of them. I need to fish greased leaders to risers more often! They were small fish, eight to fourteen inches, but acrobatic in their efforts to rid themselves of the annoyance. 

   It was beautiful. 



Saturday, December 22, 2012

The joys of winter

 Perhaps it is due to the stark realization that soon, very soon, we will all be dead, but I do not ice fish these days. Oh, I might be persuaded if some chum of mine picked me up at curbside with a step-side truck full of ice fishing techno-goodies... sonar, power auger, insulated bait buckets, quick-flip ice shelter, snow machine, hibachi, marinaded short ribs, and a bottle of bourbon. On the other hand, I may as well wish to hit the powerball, or for the sasquatch to invite me and my video-camera over to witness the birth of triplets. Such things do not occur.

 I do try to get a bit of tackle organization done this time of year, and that can be a blessing indeed. I try to stay organized, I really do, but I may as well try to ovulate for all the good it does me. It is for me a mighty accomplishment if I manage to keep track of my ass, let alone my shaky heads, or remember when I need to be off the water before the rangers pop me with a citation.

     I dredge through the accumulated detritus in the winter months, and if I am lucky, very lucky, I get to go out and grow ice in my beard in a valiant –but often ultimately futile– effort to ensnare some unsuspecting salmonids in my temporary embrace. No matter that the blessed creatures are nearly in a state of suspended animation... I will not be denied!

     Except I all too often am. I can tolerate the "skunk" when I am throwing big rubber trout in the hope that at least one twenty inch largemouth in the course of an outing will screw up the courage to dance. That I can take. But the idea that a pod of tailwater trout will deny me the pleasure of pricking their lip with a cunningly dressed splinter of steel, well, I can not abide that notion in any way that approximates good grace. It is an affront.

     Then again, who gives a good goddamn if I manage to pierce fish flesh with my efforts?

     Surely, I least of all...

Man, what a looker. 


When trout ninja attacks.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Industrial Society and its future

     I have been staying busy, what with the impending apocalypse and all. Preparations for the end times are no small task, and I do tend to get carried away. But as the days left till the end of 2012 tick by, I can't help but have second thoughts. I mean, the world has ended so many times in the last decade. Still, there must come an end of the end of the world. After the Mayans are laid to rest as the final millennial scourge, what do we have to look forward to?

     More of the same I hope. Things are actually not so bad. Honestly, they are not. Despite what you have been told, things are as good now as they have ever been, better in fact. And they keep getting better. No, I am not saying that there are not issues. Guns are still not killing people. The climate is changing, for the worse. I am part of that. But we are at least able to disseminate information to far flung corners of our world. Hey, I am doing it right now! There is less disease, more compassion, less violence, and more overall harmony than at any point in our prior experience. Don't believe me? Look into it. You might surprise yourself.

     In an effort to avoid the crippling ennui of corporate employment, I have recently embarked on a change of path. I have been involved in the fishing tackle industry in various capacities in the past, but never as a manufacturer. I am not certain that I like the term "manufacturer" as it carries a lot of baggage, much of it unpleasant and counter to my way of thinking, but in the end I am forced to admit that when you make things repeatedly you are in essence manufacturing them, so I will deal with my reservations.

     I have started a company. I will for the foreseeable future be the sole agent of this company, responsible for all aspects of its activities. My aim is to... ahem... manufacture high quality fishing tackle aimed at enthusiasts and fishing nuts.

     The name of the company is TOADWERX. Stay tuned for further developments. I have several soft plastics in development, and will likely be doing balsa crankbaits and hard resin swimbaits in addition to geeky West Coast style rigs.

     Recently, several people have asked me to actually update this thing occasionally. While I make no promises to that end, I will at least confess my willingness to do so.  It might be to early to mention it, but I have also started drawing again, so some of that will be forthcoming. You have been warned.



Thursday, January 26, 2012

So you're a Master Angler, huh?

     What is a “Master Angler?”

     As an avid angler, I have often asked myself this question. Does the title come with years of experience? Is it a rare mixture of dedication and natural ability? Perhaps there is some other factor, a factor that is impossible to define? 

     If you live in Colorado, the Colorado Division of Wildlife might appear to be a good a place to begin the search for an answer to that question. After all, the Colorado Division of Wildlife is the government agency that keeps records of outstanding catches of gamefish made in Colorado. 

     We will come back to the question of what exactly constitutes a “Master Angler.” But first, we will look at a few facts about Colorado itself. Here is a link to a chart depicting values for the amount of rainfall, on an annual basis, in every state in America. 
Colorado needs water

     My hunch was that Nevada would have the least liquid precipitation per annum, but in reality that dubious distinction goes to Arizona, with just 7.11 inches per year. Colorado, with 15.31 inches per year manages to slightly more than double Arizona’s pitiful rainfall. This makes Colorado one of the driest states in the union. If you doubled the amount of rain that falls in Colorado, it would not quite equal the quantity that falls in Kansas. Kansas is (as anyone who has had the distinct privilege of transecting it via automobile may attest) a vast expanse of mostly nothing, and not exactly soggy at that. 

     In fact, Kansas, despite being smaller than Colorado by roughly twenty thousand square miles, and having about 2 million less people, is very thirsty. Thirsty enough that they successfully prosecuted their effort to enforce the letter of a compact made in the early part of the last century between Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas. This agreement concerns the allocation of water in the Republican River, a watercourse that is common to all three states. 

     Beginning in Colorado, the Republican flows slightly north and east to Nebraska before turning south into Kansas. Kansas maintained that the upriver states were not holding to the agreement, and owed Kansas water going back for decades. Now, people need water, but crops do too. And the economy of Kansas depends to a large extent on agriculture. So Kansas played their hand, and for Bonny Reservoir, it was a royal flush. 
     After the smoke cleared, Colorado was left with two options, one bad, and one worse. It could drain Bonny and send the water downstream to Kansas, or be in open violation of the law. Bonny reservoir was drained, and in a few years time (assuming that there is adequate rainfall for grass to grow) there should be excellent pasture for the deer to graze where Bonny Reservoir once lay. No doubt the carcasses of tens of thousands of fish will enhance the fertility of the land. 

     What does this prove? It is proof that Colorado is a dry state. One of the driest, in fact. Not much water, and what little water there is falls high in the mountains as snow. A great percentage of the annual snowmelt is claimed by farming, a fact that is difficult to begrudge. Some of it is out of state farming, but no matter. People gotta eat. 

     What on earth does this have to do with my original question of what, exactly, constitutes a “master angler?”

     I will get to that. In a minute. 

     First, a little biology. 

  Fish need water

     Fish, like all life, need water to survive. But fish are a demanding lot when it comes to the quantity of water that they require. You might even call them extravagant in their demands. Whereas you or I may be fine with a lot less than a gallon of water a day most days, fish need water in dosages that would surely prove fatal to other types of vertebrate life. Fish are born in water, breathe in water, eat in water, breed in water, shit in water, and die in water. There are a few bizarre fish that can make short expeditions onto land, but even they must soon return to the water or perish. We all learned this as small children, right? 

     So, let us examine the information that I have so far provided. First, Colorado has very little water. Second, fish need water, and lots of it. Sorta makes Colorado look like a less than ideal place to be a fish, huh? 

     Colorado is not a great place to be a fish, and for more reasons than lack of water. 

     Colorado, in addition to being one of the driest places in North America, is growing faster than almost any other state. Not much water now, and because more people are coming every day, even the water we have won’t be enough. I will not even bother to speculate what climate change might mean in all of this; even the most optimistic predictions of rainfall look inadequate in the face of growth that if plotted on a graph looks like an upward curvilinear arc, something Evel Knievel might have made ready use of. So...

     Fish need water like Wal-Mart needs China. Colorado is bone-dry, and keeps getting drier. And the population of Colorado is skyrocketing.

     What does this have to do with the original question? I will get to that, honestly. 

     Anyone who has kept an aquarium knows that there are only so many fish that may survive in a given volume of water. Sure, it looks great to have lots of fish finning around in there, but they soon exceed the carrying capacity of the tank. Their metabolic requirements for oxygen and the volume of waste they create is not sustainable, and soon smelly, smelly fish-death takes place. A rotten aquarium full of ammonia and dead fish is nothing that anyone wants in their house, so the tendency is to abide by the recommendation set by the aquarium manufacturer as to how many fish to stick in the tank. 

     Lakes and ponds are just like aquariums. Big aquariums, but the principals are the same. Only so many pounds of fish flesh per acre are possible. Colorado is in short supply of suitable fish habitat. There are only so many fish Colorado can produce, and no more. There are exploding numbers of people in competition for a resource that is at best not getting any richer, and at worst diminishing substantially as lakes all over the state go dry. This is the west, crops need water, and people gotta eat.

     But does this have anything to do with my original question? I’ll get to it, I swear! 

     Anglers need fish

     In every state in the union, the local agency responsible for natural resources management keeps track of the largest individual fish –by weight– of each species of gamefish ever landed within that state’s borders. This is what is known as a “state record,” and is the brass ring that any serious angler dreams of taking for his or herself. Oh, some people might claim not to care about the record books, but the opportunity to capture such a rare specimen is something very few would not relish, if only for the feeling of personal accomplishment. Thus, the state record has become the de-facto standard of angling renown. 

     There is a problem with this model, however. The very persons most likely to catch a record sized fish are often the committed anglers that will go fishing come rain or shine, hot or cold, day or night, Hell or estranged spouses. They have put countless hours and thousands of dollars into an angling education that far outstrips the bulk of the angling public. They have become conversant in many techniques, devoured any available knowledge, honed their physical skills through endless repetition, and have apprenticed themselves to the twin masters of bitter disappointment and earned success. Very often these die-hard fishermen have killed enough fish to quench the furnace of their ego, and have evolved into another sort of angler all together; one who fishes because they are compelled to do so, but has no desire to kill a trophy gamefish. 

     Some might even call them master anglers.

     Thus, if such an angler catches a fish exceeding in size the existing record for that species, there are two options they may choose. One is to kill the fish and claim the record. The other it to release the record back into the waters of its capture. To a master angler, killing a trophy gamefish is anathema. But there still is a sense of regret in not being able to claim the accomplishment, if only for bragging rights among one’s friends.

     In an effort to rectify this dilemma, the Colorado Division of Wildlife created a program that enabled lucky anglers that captured outstanding gamefish to be recognized for their catch. They called it the “Master Angler Program” and it was an immediate success. 

     Since the creation of the program in the 1990’s, anglers can apply to be awarded a certificate proclaiming them a “Master Angler” if they happen to catch a fish big enough to qualify. As an example, the size a largemouth bass, (micropterus salmoides) must be to qualify for a Master Angler catch is eighteen inches. There are lakes in Colorado where a bass any smaller than eighteen inches must be returned to the water immediately. So, at these lakes, any fish big enough to be a “keeper” qualifies for the program. A four year old girl that caught a keeper with a Princess combo could apply (assuming she could address an envelope or compose an email) for the status of “Master Angler,” and she would be awarded that title by the authority invested in the state. But we do not wish to be accused of trafficking in sour grapes. The adult responsible for the child would surely swell with pride if their offspring rose at a tender age to the exalted rank of Master Angler. Surely such a child is destined for greatness. No, let them have their fun. Still...

     Resource managers need anglers

     A little known fact of fisheries resource management is that surveying a fish population in a given body of water is very, very difficult. Electroshocking is not as effective a method as most believe, and some species are not easily caught in gill nets. Fish survey methods available to resource managers are limited and in-efficient at best, and nowhere is this more true than with trophy sized fish. 

     If one examines the survey data from a lake known to hold large numbers of better than average gamefish, one might conclude that there was something amiss. Seldom in these surveys are larger than average specimens collected. In fact, the best way to evaluate the trophy potential of a given body of water is with creel data, or data collected from anglers regarding the number of hours they fished, how many fish they caught, what size the fish were, and what species. A program that encourages anglers to voluntarily submit information of bigger than average fish (for a pat on the head) is an unqualified asset to the agency responsible for fisheries management. Again, no problem, right? 


Anglers need to protect the resource 

     There are two points of contention with the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Master Angler Program.
     The first is that even though there was an existing category for dead fish (this of course being the record by weight, or state record) on the books, the CDOW awards Master Angler certificates for DEAD fish, as well as for those released alive. Every year, roughly half the fish that are submitted for the award are dead. Some species, such as walleye, are kept at higher rates than others. But to have a management program that rewards –perhaps even encourages– people to kill trophy sport fish is counter productive to the objective of maintaining Colorado’s fragile fisheries in the best possible condition. 

     The second point is this; though I do not doubt that the information gathered by the Master Angler program helps the CDOW to make informed choices regarding the implementation of special regulations where appropriate, that information should be between the angler who caught the fish and the CDOW. The fact that the locations of “Master Angler” catches are a matter of public record is a mistake. These records serve to further focus attention on vulnerable public waters, many of which are vulnerable to angler over-harvest and abuse by unscrupulous individuals that do not abide by regulations. In the days of the internet, what is put on display stays on display. The fact that the CDOW is chronically understaffed and underfunded is of course only another aspect of the problem. 

     The Master Angler Program needs to change

     The simple solution is twofold. First, keep data regarding outstanding catches limited to the name of the angler, size of the fish, and the date it was captured. People could still brag to their buddies, but the attention focused on sensitive Colorado ponds and lakes would be diminished. 

     Second, do away with Master Angler awards for dead fish. Encouraging anglers to kill trophy fish reduces the quality of the angling experience for all fishermen. Any body of water can only support so many fish, and very few of those can be large. There are a lot of us here in Colorado, and more are arriving every day. We can not afford to degrade a finite resource that must be split millions of ways.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Some organization tricks

Here is my C&F midge box. I am making use of the 
wasted space on the back side of the micro-slit foam. 

How, you ask?

I got a chisel style blade for my Xacto knife...

And cut the back side of the foam. I can get a little 
more than one thousand midges in the box with the 
center page (not shown here) installed. This is the 
smallest size C&F box, mind you. 
Well, what are you waiting for?

Here is a nice way to store a few random jigs where you can 
get at them easy, without digging. It works well for spinnerbaits
and buzzbaits as well. 

Stretch bead-chain between sheetrock screws. You might 
want to re-enforce the loop in the bead chain that the screw
passes through into the door with thread or wire to prevent
catastrophic systems failure. 

Here is how you make the hangers. Start with a map-pin, and grab
it in your round nosed pliers. You do have round nosed pliers, don't 
you? If not, get you some. Them may be obtained at craft stores and bead shops.

The first bend ^

The second bend ^

The bait hangs thusly ^

And over the bead chain ^

This system also works nice on the underside of the 
lids in storage compartments in your boat. The commercial
systems available are very expensive by comparison, and work no better.