Coulson: Don’t let winter put a stop to your fishing – The Coloradoan

Colorado offers year-round fishing opportunities. Granted, during the winter most fishing is done through a hole in the ice, something I’ve enjoyed immensely over the years. I encourage folks to give it a try if they’ve never done so. It’s easy to do, doesn’t require a lot of equipment and is often some of the best catching of the year.

Right now is an excellent time to get out as most Colorado waters, including those up and down the Front Range, are sporting an ice cap of several inches. While caution is always advised when stepping out on hard water, January offers some of the best ice conditions of the season.

Some great options at this time include Douglas, Boyd, Lon Hagler and Saint Vrain State Park near Longmont. These waters get heavy stockings of trout before ice-up and, as a consequence, are doing well for trout at this time. Plus, all these waters offer a chance to catch other species, such as yellow perch, crappie, walleye and black bass. Occasionally, even a catfish or carp will show.

Personally, I don’t ice fish much these days. There are a number of reasons for this, but the primary one is how I fish has become more important than catching. That doesn’t mean I don’t fish during the winter — I do. Colorado has numerous winter days when the air temperatures get above freezing for most of the daylight hours. When those times fall on weekends, I’ll often fish open waters that can be found on the Poudre, South Platte (especially in Denver), and Arkansas (Pueblo) Rivers.

I haven’t gotten out the last few weeks. Not so much due to the weather, as there have been several opportunities, but rather because my collection of fly boxes is spread out all over the floor of my tying room. Yep, one room in my place is set up specifically to tie flies, as well as store much of my fishing gear. I enjoy tying flies, almost as much as I do fishing them — almost.

Everything is spread out so I can work through each box and complete a number of tasks. Many of the boxes were passed on to me by Bill. While I fished some of his flies, I never quite got around to consolidating the flies into “like” groupings, something I’m doing now.

At the same time, there are a number of flies, both within my collection and Bill’s, which I’m not likely to ever fish. These I’m putting aside to pass on to others, such as Cody, Jennifer, my granddaughters and others. Of the patterns I’m retaining, many have holes in the collection, both in terms of numbers and sizes. So most days I’ve been trying to get in an hour or so at the vise. If things go as planned, in a couple months my collection will be organized into fewer fly boxes, unused patterns will be weeded out and favored flies will be fleshed out.

Building your own gear, be it rods, lures, or, as in my case, tying flies, adds another dimension to fishing. First, tying my own flies allows me to fish patterns, match the hatch if you will, better than I can purchasing flies. Second, there’s the imaginary savings I get tying my own — but the reality is I’ve so much invested in tools and materials I’ll never realize any savings, even though the actual cost per fly is less. Plus, there is the satisfaction of landing a fish that takes a fly of my own creation.

While tying flies isn’t fishing, it’s a great way to spend the winter waiting for spring.

Email Dave Coulson at dave@fishexplorer.com

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