Thursday, February 17, 2011

Political Brilliance.... Really!

The will of the people will not be denied!  Colorado HB 1150 will be terminated immediately by representatives Becker and Sonnenberg (sponsors of the bill).  Thank you fellow sportsmen and women for voicing your concerns and drawing attention to this matter through your state representatives and senators.  On the heels of an avalanche of public inquiry, the CDOW, with contributions from the Citizen's Wildlife Advisory Council (CWAC) and other outdoor public interests, brought this proposal to a grinding halt.

Over the past two weeks, DNR and CWAC have used public outcry as a foundation to pen a new agreement with the state legislature.  The new agreement will enable the CDOW to financially support "water type projects" with funds currently available outside the game cash fund that DOES NOT put at risk any federal funding.

Benefits from the agreement are:
  1. Sportsmen's dollars will not be diverted from the game cash fund and our federal dollars will be saved.
  2. CDOW will have a say in what projects they will financially support, and those projects will be limited only to those that directly benefit wildlife and fisheries habitat.
  3. CDOW will be involved at the development stage of proposals for water storage projects that seek their financial funding.
  4. Significantly LESS money will be coming from Sportsmen (CDOW).  It's now $6mm over five years, rather than $5mm per year.
  5. Sportsmen, and the general public, are assured an open voice and input on CDOW's five year strategic planning for water storage projects it will financially support.
  6. The State has a higher focus and planning objective for water development. 
I'd like to credit Chris Roe, CWAC, for his work in achieving the new agreement.

For more information concerning the agreement, read the press release.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Political Brilliance

I try hard not to burden readers with political positioning on this blog.  Of late however, I've come across a number of issues that are surfacing which are very troubling.  The following is a re-post from Colorado Trout Unlimited that illustrates yet another example of misguided intent to take funds from license purchases, originally designated for the purpose of supporting fish and wildlife conservation (self-funded I might add) in our state, and redirecting them to promote water storage projects for the primary purpose of consumption along the Front Range and propping up irrigation interests in eastern Colorado.  I hope you'll indulge me.

About HB 1150
Colorado’s anglers and hunters have always led the way in funding wildlife management in Colorado – and indeed, the Division of Wildlife doesn’t receive a penny from the state’s general fund.  Yet we now face a situation in which simply buying our license will not be enough to secure funding for fish and wildlife.

HB 1150, sponsored by Representative Becker from eastern Colorado, would take $5 million a year for 10 years – totaling $50 million – from wildlife cash funds at the Division of Wildlife and transfer it to the Colorado Water Conservation Board to help fund water storage projects.  While some water storage projects may be needed, they should be paid for by the cities or irrigators who will benefit from them – not by the sportspeople of Colorado who have paid our fishing and hunting license dollars in order to benefit fish and wildlife.

To make matters worse, by diverting license dollars from the Division of Wildlife, Colorado would lose its eligibility for federal wildlife funds – funds that come from proceeds on taxes that sportspeople pay on everything from fishing gear to boat fuel to ammunition.  As a condition of receiving these federal funds, states must maintain the fees paid for hunting and fishing licenses under the control of the state wildlife agency and for use on fish and wildlife management.  If HB 1150 passes, Colorado’s sportspeople would continue paying taxes into these federal programs – but because of the diversion of license fees, Colorado would lose the $21 million a year in federal matching grants for wildlife it currently receives.  Colorado would only regain eligibility for those grants when the full amount of diverted funds was restored.

The combined effect of the direct raid on your license dollars with the loss of federal grants means that we would see a $260 million loss of funding for fish and wildlife conservation over the next ten years.  This would be devastating for the Division of Wildlife and its ability to conserve fish and wildlife and provide for high-quality hunting and fishing opportunities.

What You Can Do
1) Call your State Representative today and tell them you and a sportsman or women against game funds for water projects.  Ask them to vote no on HB 1150.

You can reach the Capitol by calling: 1-800-811-7647 (or 303-866-2904 within the Denver-metro area).  If you don't know who your State Representative is or how to reach them, you can look them up and find their contact information by clicking here, selecting your state, and entering your zip code.
Phone calls are most effective – and it is fine to leave a voice mail message indicating that you are a hunter/angler/outdoorsperson and are concerned about HB 1150 and what it would mean for Colorado.  Emails can also help, particularly if they are customized to convey your personal concerns as a constituent.
2) Testify on behalf of sportsmen and women living in your community. HB 1150 is scheduled for hearing in the House Agriculture Committee on Monday, February 21.  This is an opportunity for the public to voice their concerns. Please contact Erica Stock if you plan to testify. 

4) Attend our upcoming Sportsmen's Day at the Legislature. Join fellow conservation-minded sportsmen and women NEXT Thursday, February 17th 8am @ the State Capitol for  'Sportsmen's Day at the Legislature'.   Click here for more information.  To RSVP email Aaron Kindle at

Monday, February 7, 2011

February 19th TU Fishing Trip - Update

Update February 17, 2011:  There was a rock slide on Hwy 50 just West of Cotopaxi  that has closed the highway to through traffic.  We were originally planning to fish around the Texas Creek area and then move back downstream toward Canon City, so we should be just fine.  The weather calls for excellent conditions, light winds and warm temperatures.  We are also going to have a special guest presentation.  Bill Edrington of Royal Gorge Anglers will give a short talk on fishing the Stonefly Molt, the Arkansas in general and some information about tributary systems that are fun to fish during the summer.  Only those that join us will get the top secret info! 

My last attempt on New Year's day to lead a Trout Unlimited excursion to the Arkansas River was met with Colorado's first bitterly cold winter storm.  Unfortunately, we had to cancel that trip due to weather conditions.  Well... it's time for round two!

Late February begins a little known Stonefly molt along the Arkansas River that gives the fish an opportunity to gorge themselves on the first significant amount of protein to float down stream in a long time.  Because this hatch is sub-surface, many fly anglers overlook this "golden" stone opportunity.  Given the right circumstances, this event can trigger a massive feeding frenzy and a truly exceptional day on the river.

The February-March Stonefly molt is an excellent time of year to test your Czech Nymphing skills, particularly if you're trying to learn this technique.  The flies you will be using are heavily weighted and large, making it easier to stay in touch with the streambed while you're feeling your way through the freestone bottom.  Short line nymphing is also an extremely effective technique.  Using a combination of straight line monofilement leader and flourocarbon tippet, your fly will drop like a rock to the substructure where you can thump an unsuspecting brown trout on the nose where he's hiding.  The combination of large flies and hungry fish can make for some spectacular takes during the molt.

A 9' #5 rod is perfect for this kind of fishing.  However, if you have a longer rod, say a stiff 10' #4 or even a 11-12' #4/5 switch rod, you will find it easier to reach across seams, keeping more distance between you and the fish and dramatically increasing the length of your drift. 

The fly selection will be pretty simple - large (12,14,16) golden stone flies.  When Stoneflies shed their exoskeleton their bodies are milky white to yellow in coloration with hints of brown throughout.  Pennington's Golden D Rib Stone, Morrish's Iron Sally, or Mercer's Biot Poxy Golden Stone are among my favorites for this hatch.  Being the Arkansas, it's never a bad idea to tie on a caddis larva as a trailer.  A loop wing RS2 as a second fly will also fool a few fish it they happen to miss your stone bouncing by their nose.

This promises to be a great day on the river.  As always, if dangerous weather conditions loom, we'll cancel the trip.  Remember to check back at this post the evening of Friday the 18th for any cancellation notices.

We'll depart at 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning from the board of Realtors parking lot as always.  Plan for a 2 1/2 hr. drive.  We'll be heading down to the Texas Creek area and will likely work back toward Canon City as the day unfolds.  Make sure to pack a lunch and any beverages you'd like to bring along or share.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

1 Beer : 3 Advil

Keep walking I tell myself.  Jagged crystals from an icy fog covers a frozen landscape that's shrink wrapped in ice.  Sharp air tightens each breath and sweetens a withering optimism that I will find a pheasant.  Nothing bad can happen if I just keep moving.

Mile after mile, ice-covered Foxtail, Red Grass and intermittent Sand Sage crackle beneath my boots, amplifying my presence, broadcasting intended stealth.  I trudge on with freeze-dried fortitude hoping amongst hope that I might cull from the bloodstock one last thoughtless ring neck.   In the quiet of my mind I recall a book I read recently, Hope is Not a Strategy.

The birds, absent altogether or flushing wild beyond the horizon discourage my posse.  What started as buoyant confidence has faded to exasperation, tired legs and heavy guns.  Such is the truth of a late season hunt.  A bewildering intelligence whispers in my head, "the jackal may just have the last laugh."

Another field... another hen.

The dogs, military in their pursuit and exploration offer some distraction.  Tongues flapping, ears bouncing, tails wagging with child like enthusiasm, they are absent the burden of choice.  Singular in purpose they labor on with elegant grace as the scales tip heavily against us.

A bitter afternoon gale rushes in further threatening our resolve.  We've walked CRP, hit pockets, corners and tiny islands amid cut corn.  We've pushed wind breaks and even been reduced to throwing rocks into private cover, yet nothing will break lose the quarry.  With the hour growing late and our spirits broken, two hit the wall, returning to family responsibility while two soldier on toward last shooting light.  "After all, if you're going to stay for the whole dance, you might as well close down the bar," my companion tells me.

As we press toward good bedding cover I begin to bargain with myself, "If I could only see something crossing the road.... " Then, out of the corner of my eye I receive the gift, three hens crossing out of cut corn into a small patch of grass.  "They're moving," I tell myself.

Nearing The Field, the holiest of holy covers, we pass three more roosters along a road making for bed.  Now in a pleasant state of mind, the game is on.  With only minutes left of shooting light, we scamper out of the truck, dropping shells as we frantically get organized.  The dogs are released, they're attitude focused as they interpret our mood - we mean business.  A short stroll into The Field and a rooster comes up, pressed by a tracking Pointer.  A roar of white flame ensues.  The bird falls and is retrieved handily.  With only a thumbs up from a distance, there is no time for congratulations as we press onward.  Another 200 yards and my dog goes on point.  Less then ten feet from his nose another rooster erupts, cackling as he takes flight.  I let loose a bevy of #4's and he falls lifeless out of the sunset, retrieved enthusiastically by my young puppy.

Beaming from our good fortune, we return to the truck to revel in the afterglow resulting from our tenacity.  Exhausted and freezing, it's time to return home.  A hot bath, a warm dark beer and three Advil are calling my name as we celebrate the end of another glorious pheasant season

I am truly thankful for all those I've hunted with this season, for all the memories, the brilliant dogs, the opportunity to admire some exceptional guns, and the new friends I've met along the way.  You've each given me a gift I may never be able to repay.  You know who you are, and I thank you.