Calling all Coyotes


Calling all Coyotes


   When we hunt and call any predator (coyote, bear, mountain lion, etc.) we are playing on three different animal instincts. First is food, we’ll use some type of animal in distress call. Second is sexual, we’ll use different coyote vocalizations during their mating season. Third is territorial, these vocalizations are a lot like the calls we use during the mating season but are more aggressive and challenging. Basically we are invading their territory and antagonizing a fight.


    Coyote vocalizations are really just yelps, barks, whines, and howls with different emotions within their tone. There are other sounds coyotes make but these four sounds are what we mainly use. For example, if you do a long howl, you’re basically doing an invitation howl or hey everyone I’m over here. If you do the same howl only with a lower tone and anger you’re clamming your territory and letting all other coyotes know this. Now, if you do the same howl but cut it off real short and throw a couple barks before or after, it has now become a challenge howl. Learning these sounds is the easy part; it’s the when and what sound to make that’s the difficult part. Part of the learning process is being in the field as much as you can and listening to the real thing and then deciphering what their saying or doing. Another way is getting a DVD or CD and listening to them and then imitate what you’re hearing.



​To do these different sounds there are three different types of calls you can use. One is the mouth diaphragm which is the most difficult to learn but has the least amount of movement. When I use a mouth diaphragm I use two different ones from Hunter’s Specialties, Wayne Carlton’s Premium Flex 2.5 Elk Diaphragm and the Premium Flex Triple Elk Diaphragm 2.5 Elk Diaphragm and the Premium Flex Triple Elk Diaphragm. With either of these diaphragms I can make all four of those sounds, plus if I get into a barking challenge (which I have) I can mimic that coyote’s bark for bark or howl for howl. Coyotes are like elk, they don’t like to be mimicked and the more you do it the madder they get.


    Another type of diaphragm call is the Johnny Stewart Mac Daddy Howler with the Megaphone. Anyone can learn all the vocalizations fairly quick with it because it is so very user friendly and sounds great. The best part about the Mac Daddy Howler for me is I can take the mouth piece out and use just the megaphone with my mouth diaphragm to get a loader volume when needed; it acts like an elk bugle tube.





   Second is a hand held internal or external reed call. This type of call has been around for a long time and is probably the call most predator hunters started with when they first started calling. The internal reed is probably the easiest to use because you just blow air through it. The way it works is the air you blow goes through the barrel and the reed inside vibrates making the sound. The harder you blow the loader it is and by varying the amount of air you blow is what makes the call sound realistic. The same applies for an external reed type call but is a little more difficult in which you use your teeth or lips to put pressure on the reed while blowing to make it work. The more pressure you apply the higher the tone, less pressure the lower the tone.


  The third call is by far the easiest but the most expensive and that is electronic digital calls. There are really only two types of electronic digital calls manufactured today, remote and non-remote. A non-remote has a wire attached to the speaker and it is plugged into the hand held pad. This limits how far you can place the speaker away from you; average length is about 50-60 feet. Then when you’re done you have to roll up all that wire and when it’s cold the wire is stiff so it’s not a fun task doing it over and over. With a remote caller you are wireless and you have the freedom to place the speaker up to 300 yards away in any direction depending on the terrain and what type of digital call you have. You can put the speaker on the ground in a bush or in a tree. When you’re done just grab the speaker and off you go, no tangled wires in any brush and no rolling up 50 feet of frozen wire. The drawback like I said is the cost.Wireless calls can range from $50.00 dollars up to $600.00. The wireless digital call I use is the Jury from Johnny Stewart which has 25 preloaded sounds right at my fingertips, plus I can download more sounds at  All the sounds are authentic and are not computer or man-made; they are, the real sounds of real animals.



It is very important that you read the hunting rules and regulations for the state you may be hunting in on the use of electronic callers. Some states like Colorado, electronic callers are illegal to use on bear or mountain lion, but coyotes, fox, and bobcats it’s legal. In Colorado the only calls you can use to call bear or mountain lions in are hand held calls.


Mark Campagnola


Hunt Hard & Shoot Straight


Colorado Walleye Fever

The Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic ended today. I had the opportunity to meet a ton of great people and was blessed to give a few seminars at both the Denver and Colorado Springs stores. For those of you who braved the weather the first couple weekends I would like to give you a thumbs up and just say "Thank You" for visiting us at both locations.

One of my seminars was titled Jerk Baits "the night bite". I have given this in the past and it is a type of fishing that I lose sleep over and over again and again. With the full moon rising up from the East I thought I need to be out tonight. I was out last night with a few friends and after a long weekend at the Bass Pro Shops my body was telling me to take a break.

I did however manage to get out more than a few time as the Spring classic was going on. I tell folks that if you have never been out during the full moon phases starting in February thru December you could be missing out on a photo fish of a lifetime here in Colorado. I get out as much as I can this time of year and yes, I throw Jerk baits. Bass Pro XPS Nitro Minnows, Smithwick rattlin' rogues both in suspending versions are my lures of choice. I like a clown color and a black gold orange belly color. Firetiger and chartreuse are good to have in your arsenal also.

The key to fishing at night and being successful is to do your homework before the sun goes down and find a rocky point  that will allow you to cast parallel to the shore. The walleye like rocks to spawn on and are very active when the sun goes down. The full moon triggers them to move up. I like to make a long cast and try a slow retrieve mix in a few small twitches or a jerk - jerk pause and just let the bait sit there up to thirty seconds and jerk it down again keeping the same cadence all the way back to shore. When the fish hit it on the pause you feel a tick in the reel when they hit the slow steady retrieve they crush it. Set the hook.

Any body of water that has walleyes and saugeyes in it will produce if you put your time in. The smaller bodies of water heat up earlier and produce first then the bigger deeper reservoirs follow. You can always catch walleyes at night but early spring and late fall can produce giants.

Last week when I was giving my seminar on the night bite I told the folks I had been out catching walleyes already but I haven't landed anything worth a" CPR" Catch, Photo and Release picture yet and I hoped it would happen during the full moon phase. I went out a few days ago dressed for the wind and cold temps. I had to remember to put new batteries in my headlamp and after many No's from some of my diehard night fishing buddies I had a taker and we headed out to the reservoir at 1 am.

I worked the rocks pretty good and I finally hooked a nice one only to lose her in a bush close to shore. It didn't break my spirits but I wanted to land her since she felt heavy. I always wonder how they can manage to pull free from three treble hooks in a jerk bait but they do. It was a good hour later when I felt the tick and set the hook on the32' walleye big walleyereviving walleyereleasing walleye biggest walleye I have caught to date so far. This fish fought good and I knew she was a giant when she came to the surface. I had truly been blessed with this fish a 32'' fatty.

I always dream of a fish like this one and finally it was on the end of my line. I practice what I preach and after a few photos I gave her a kiss and let her go so someone else can have the same opportunity I just had. I wanted to share some photos with all of you and to let you know that there are giant walleyes in Colorado. 

Give it a try. that feelings and thoughts you have after you catch a few isn't a's just Colorado walleye fever.

                                                                                     Best of Luck,

                                                                                                            Sam Heckman / Pro Staff






Colorado Hardwater Panfish

Living in Colorado we don't have a lot of opportunity to chase panfish through the ice as most folks in the eastern states have and while I love to catch trout and most other species through the ice there's something to be said about having a huge crappie or a giant bluegill on the end of of an ultra lite ice rod and fighting it all the way up to the hole.

There are a lot of places to catch crappie and bluegill in Colorado and there are several ponds loaded with them that some have an opportunity to fish but for the most part it is tough to find a good spot where the ice is safe enough to provide some good action through the ice. I would say we have a very short window around the metro area for chasing slabs through the ice. One month the ice is good and a few days of warm weather and it all goes back to mush and becomes very bad in a hurry.

I will never say there is safe ice here in Colorado and I always carry a throw cushion with a fifty foot rope attached to it just in case. I have had some close calls in the past and this year I have heard about way too many anglers going through due to poor conditions. Always go with a few friends and use caution when venturing out on metro lakes. Don't risk it if you are unsure. If others are out on the ice there's a good chance it will hold you too. Wear your ice cleats. One bad slip and your day could be ruined this is from experience.

When you have the opportunity to get out and chase panfish through the ice you can do it very easily. A hand auger, A few ultra light rods with a spring bobber with two to four pound fluorocarbon spooled up on an ultra lite spinning reel. Pick up a few tungsten tear drop jigs in various colors and a few wax worms and your set. A Vexilar is nice to have but not necessary.

Look for structure like rock piles off points that have a deep channel close to a flat and cover like trees and weeds and you will be well on your way to finding the crappies and bluegills that live in the area. The best way to know where all this is at is to find it in the summer and mark it on a map or GPS and come back to it during the winter.

I like to drop my jig down to the bottom and work my way up from there if I hit weeds I keep it just above them. I like to use a very short jigging action and never move my bait too fast. The spring bobber is a must when the bite is light which is most of the time with panfish. Tip the jig with a wax worm and pinch off the head to allow the juices to flow into the water for more attractant. There will be pressure on the spring bobber when one sucks it in. Set the hook lightly because they have very soft mouths. Usually when you find one there are more with him. If the bite slows down move to similar spots and look for the school. They move around a lot so you need to be mobile.

Take advantage of this recent cold weather snap and chase some panfish around if you know a spot where they are try catching them thru the ice it is a lot of fun and the action can be constant. Be safe and I will see you on the ice.

                                                                                                                                   Best of Luck,

                                                                                                                                                         Sam Heckman / Pro StaffForrest with BluegillsChris and Sam with CrappiesSam and Bubba dogBubba dog



Twenty-First Century Coyotes

Hunter's Specialties Johnny Stewart's  Jury

Coyote hunting has really become a very scientific sport in the past few years. Not only has our electronic calling abilities gone from heavy batteries with cassette tapes and 50 feet or more of tangled speaker wires, to, light weight wireless digital calls with built in speakers. Our choice of hand held and electronic predator calls as a whole has over quadrupled in the market place in just the last five years.

The late great Johnny Stewart was the pioneer of electronic predator calls over forty years ago. When you put in a Johnny Stewart cassette tape, the sounds that you heard were the actual animal that was recorded and not someone making the distress call and recording it, they were real.

Now fast forward to the digital age of today. Johnny Stewart’s digital call the Jury is tops in its class packing many features other calls in its price range do not. Powered by 8 AA or 8 C batteries gives you 6 – 8 hours of run time. The Jury has 128MB of storage with 25 preloaded sounds and your choice to customize your calling by down loading over 25 different sounds from Hunter’s Specialties web site With a compact 12 key wireless remote with a range of 75 yards, plus the option of playing 2 sounds at the same time from its 9 watt Omni –directional speaker that doesn’t sound like a tin can?

So if you’re looking to buy a wireless digital call, take a look at the line up from Johnny Stewart starting with the Jury and then up to the Bloodhound, then the Gallows, and the top of the line, the Executioner. I know you won’t be disappointed with the user friendliness and the authentic sounds, plus all that you get for the price.  

Hunt Hard & Shoot Straight

Mark Campagnola


Colorado's Tiger Trout

Happy New year, I hope everyone caught lots of fish last year and plan on catching many more in 2014.

As a youth club director I have had the opportunity to chase many different species of fish mainly because many of my kids have not caught a certain species of fish and I try to help them catch a new species as much as I can.

I have witnessed many first species for several of my kids in the club this last year. Kokanee salmon, walleye, crappie, bass, pike, bluegill and tiger trout. Yes, tiger trout. Colorado has tiger trout in selected lakes. They are a hybrid cross between a brook trout and a German brown trout.Tiger trout in ice holeForrest with tiger trouttiger trout in full color

We made a trip up to a lake that has been known to hold a good population of brook trout and tiger trout. I wont give the exact name of the lake but I will say that it is five or so miles from the new Bass Pro Shops that just opened up in Colorado Springs.

The lake is a mile and a half up hill from the parking lot so we had to pack lightly and carry up the hand auger. I thought I was in decent shape but my calves were burning and I felt it when I made it to the top.

We discussed setting up in the inlet area where there was some current but a group was already there and we had to move into a cove that looked like it had a very small stream coming into it and that turned out to be a great choice.

We drilled some holes and spread out across the cove. The super ultra light ice rods were spooled with 4# fluorocarbon line and we used tungsten teardrop jigs tipped with a wax worm. The fish were just above the bottom and were biting very light. A spring indicator will help you detect the lightest of bites.

The brook trout were willing and they were providing most of the action for the morning. The colors of a full spawning brook trout are hard to beat and make a nice photo.

As luck would have it the first tiger trout was on. The fight was a good one and the rod was bending and it was pulling drag - what a fighter! It was awesome to see a first tiger trout on the ice. After a few photos back she went. Now if I could only catch one myself.

The brook trout were hitting really light so when my jig got hit hard and the rod started to bend I was hoping a tiger trout was on the other end. The fish was strong, pulling line and staying deep. When I saw it under my hole it was the most beautiful site. My first tiger trout at age 46.

I was blessed with a few more tiger trout as the day went on and finally another first for a buddy of mine was on the ice and he was all smiles. More photos and back she went. Awesome, the first tiger trout for three of us on o trip. It was amazing.

The colors of the tiger trout are spectacular especially the males in full colors, The markings are so unique for a trout and it is definitely a trout you would want to take a photo with.

Make it a point to take a kid out fishing for a new species this year. You will enjoy it as much as they do. I promise. See you on the water.

                                      Best of luck,

                                                          Sam Heckman / Pro Staff


Tiger Trout


Crankbait wind blown banks

November brings lots of changes and many of opportunities for the anglers and hunters in Colorado. You can go out and hunt some critters or head out to the reservoirs and chase some bass and walleyes. I am not ready to trade in my fishing rod for my shotgun and park my boat just yet.

The water in Pueblo Reservoir is the lowest I have seen it in years. I am praying for a good amount of snow in the high country this winter to help out with the water level come spring. There are points and islands I have never seen exposed and I know now why they hold fish when the water is up.

I took an afternoon with a few friends to head down and chase some walleyes during the day. The water is unusually stained for this time of year and the night bite has been slow. There was a strong wind blowing out of the west and I knew just where I wanted to look for feeding fish.

At Pueblo Reservoir I tell everyone the wind is my friend. I fish the wind blown banks and points as much as I can. The shad are usually stacked in those areas and the walleyes and bass take advantage of the mud line to ambush their prey.

I like to cast parallel to the bank and keep my Bomber crank bait in the strike zone as much as possible. You need to cover as much water as possible and when you find a stretch of bank that is holding a lot of fish, you beat it up and make pass after pass. When the bite slows down continue to look for the active feeding fish. Find the shad and you will find the fish. A good indicator to look for arekids craknin the bank22'' walleyekeeper walleye2 keepersgood day on Pueblo the feeding birds, they know where the shad are schooled up.

Shad imitation crank baits are what to throw this time of year. Chunk and wind is the name of the game. Have your buddies throw a different color phase or a shallower or deeper diver to see which one the fish like better and then change up to what is working best.

Take a trip down to Pueblo with some buddies for a great crank bait bite right now. Run the wind blown banks and keep it in the strike zone. The shad are schooled up and still shallow. It wont be long before they will be starting to move deeper as the weather gets colder. See you on the water.

                               Best of Luck,

                                                    Sam Heckman / Pro Staff







High School / College Road Trip

state championsAfter a long season waiting for the Western regional championships at Clear Lake California the road trip finally begins. I have had the great pleasure to mentor this years TBF Colorado state champions from Ellicott High School and watch former Fountain valley junior bass club members start a College fishing team at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs and qualify for the Western regionals. 

high school weigh in

The High school and College fishing teams are part of the FLW/TBF circuit. They compete in tournament bass fishing just like any other sport in high school and college. New to Colorado the high school and college fishing is growing statewide. Clubs are beginning to form in schools across the state. To look into starting your schools own club go to or FLWOUTDOORS.COM .Get in the game and make the love of bass fishing happen in your school.

Leaving Colorado hours later than planned we were finally on the road heading to Clear Lake California. No one has fished Clear Lake before and it has been years since I have been there so the boys had to do their research on line. They were excited to say the least and so was I. These kids are the future of the great sport of bass fishing and are part of the Fountain valley junior bass club and two now compete in the adult Fountain valley bass club here in Colorado springs. I have been the youth director for the local club and for the state for several years now and have seen these kids learn a lot in just a few years. Now I realize that all the time and dedication I put into it is worth it. It's about them. college weigh in

After twenty-one hours on the road we arrived at Clear lake just in time to watch the FLW circuit launch for their final western tournament. Meeting Ish Monroe in person was amazing for the kids they were in heaven. What a great guy to take time out before launching to chat with the kids...funny guy too. He couldn't believe we were in shorts and let us know it.

The rest of the day was preparing for the College tournament. They needed to make the top ten to qualify for the National championship in South Carolina next spring out of forty five college teams. They were as ready as they were going to get. Five AM came early and we headed to the ramp. The High school teams didn't fish till Sunday so we went to a few spots to practice until the noon cutoff. We headed back to watch the weigh in and saw some giants come in on the pro side. It was awesome. Clear lake bass are huge.

College launch

The college teams were starting to weigh in and some impressive weights were coming to the scales. I was rooting for UCCS and CSU to make the top ten. The college weigh in is so cool with all the different school jerseys and the crowd was big. After the dust settled the team from UCCS was sitting in eighth overall and they advanced to the final day along with qualifying for the National championship for 2014. Awesome.

college trophies

The final day for the top ten college teams and the one day shootout for the High school was Sunday. we started the day early and excitement was in the air. The boys launched and all I could do was wish them the best of luck. After a long day the teams started coming in for final weigh in. The boys did well.

high school trophies

I would like to congratulate Justin Solverson and Peter Decker from UCCS in qualifying for the Nationals and Graydon Brewer and Mike Warner from Ellicott High School for placing 3rd overall in the High school western division. They all took home trophies and had caught some of the biggest bass of their lives so far. This was the best road trip ever. I can't wait until next year.

 Take a kid fishing. That how it starts. They are the future of our sport.

                                                 Best of Luck, Sam Heckman / Pro Staff






Wave of the Future for Elk Hunting

 Wave of the Future for Elk Hunting

One lucky spike bull

Trail cameras are one of the best tools to use for finding elk or any other type of game you may hunt 24/7. Trail cams price out from a little under $100.00 to over $500.00 depending on what features you want. If you have three trail cams it’s like having four hunters out in the field with three of them looking all the time night and day. The problem I have is that where I hunt elk is over a three hour drive, or if I was to go out of state to hunt, I can’t afford to be driving there every two or three weeks just to look at some pictures. So what I have figured out for this little dilemma is this.

The areas that I archery hunt I don’t always know very well, so what I do when I get to elk camp is take my trail cam and set it up in an area I know the elk like to hang around. Like this water hole, it’s a long way from any road and at the top of a ridge of heavy timber. On the second day after my morning hunt I’ll go in and check it to see what kind of action I have. In a little over twenty-four hours I would have four areas covered, two morning hunts and one evening hunt, all in different areas with one trail cam taking picture after picture of elk, I hope. After retrieving those images and down loading them on my lap top computer, I can make a good educated game plan on where I would want to concentrate my time hunting. Even if I was hunting out of state on a do it yourself hunt this plan would still work.

These three pictures where from my Moultrie M-880 IR trail cam at elk camp this year. While I was setting it up at this water hole I accidentally reset the date and reversed the AM/PM on the time. I didn’t catch it until I downloaded these pictures plus 42 more on my lap top the next day. This was not a mechanical malfunction, this was operator malfunction. The actual date these pictures were taken was September 7, 2013. What was cool was that morning of the 7th around 6:30am about three quarters of a mile northwest of this water hole, that spike that is standing in the water; I had called in to no more than twenty yards from me. Then about ten hours later he’s getting his picture taken. That day was a great day for information and really made me wish I had the new Moultrie Panoramic 150. This trail camera out does my M-880 IR in all categories and I do not have one single complaint with it either but, the 150 has three motion sensors instead of one, a lens that will rotate with no sound to take pictures or HD video with a 150 degree wide angle view.  Plus, it has a built in 2” viewing screen. No more changing out SD cardsSpike bull elk with cow elk.

Now rifle or muzzle loader hunting it is a little more difficult on public land because of the pressure from all the other hunters.  For rifle and muzzle loader hunters on  public land, get deeper into the woods where other hunters aren’t. Remember, pressured elk are going to go where the hunters are not. This could be walking one or two more ridges farther, or going down lower in elevation because most of the other hunters are up higher, just get away from them. Once you have done this and you have found fresh sign, set your trail cam up and keep hunting if time allows and then come back after about twenty-four hours and see what it has to offer. Now I know what you’re saying, I’m not going to carry my lap top five miles back to those spots just to see some pictures. Well I won’t either, but what I do here is I have an extra SD card for each trail cam and then just swap them out,  then when you get back to camp you can look and see if there was any action in that twenty-four hour period. If you know you are going to be hunting like the suggestion above, I would recommend the trail cams that have a display screen so you can review your pictures right there, or get a trail cam viewer. If you come up with nothing and you’re seeing sign that they are in the area find another spot and try it again, if there’s no fresh sign pack them up and try a different area completely. Trail cams are a little too expensive to lose or have stolen. Wes someone will take them, so when you do set them out make sure they are locked no matter where you set them up at. Then make a way-point on your GPS so you can come right back to them. There are a lot of variations with what you can do with trail cams; it’s just a matter of figuring out what will work for you and your type of hunting.

Cow elk















Mark Campagnola

Hunt Hard and Shoot Straight





Summertime Salmon Fishing

Tired of the summer time heat? Maybe it's time to take a road trip over Monarch Pass and head over to Blue Mesa Reservoir and hook up with one of my greatest friends and owner of Sport Fish Colorado, Robby Richardson.

This year the kokanee salmon have started schooling up early and if you have never experienced a thousand plus salmon below the boat all schooled up and whacking a jigging spoon in ninety plus feet of water it is an experience you will never forget and it will constantly be on your mind.

Robby has been a guide on Blue Mesa Reservoir in Gunnison,Colorado for many years and he is the absolute best at finding kokanee salmon schooled up on the fish finder and has the know how on triggering them into striking the lure. You will always know where he is at on the water when he is guiding,"just look for the crowd". I will never forget the first time Robby took my son Saje and I out for a day of salmon fishing. In my mind I thought "wow" everyone loves Robby and he is the nicest guy you will ever meet and he knows just about everyone out on the water today.

Turns out. I was right. Robby is the nicest guy you will ever meet. When Saje stuck the first salmon off a deep ledge I was excited and the school Robby found was huge. Ten feet stacked on the fish finder and all it took was one to strike to get the whole school to start whacking our jigging spoons. Just as quick the boats were all around us and everyone was getting in on the action. Fishing a lot of bass tournaments I found the encroaching crowd a bit disturbing and when we had to pull in our rods because other boats were bumping into Robby's boat I almost lost it.

I looked over at Robby and he had his smile and he was calm as could be. I said,"you look like this happens a lot" he just smiled and said this is salmon fishing here at Blue Mesa when they start schooling up. You just get used to it."No worries", Everyone was out just salmon fishing having a great time. They would ask how deep and someone would shout out the depth, what color was working and make sure you re-bait with white shoe peg corn or they wont hit it. This would go on until the school dispersed and then they would find another boat on a different school and it would become a salmon party again.

This was the craziest thing I have ever experienced on the water. I think about it, smile and laugh. It was a lot of fun.  Everyone got along and caught a bunch of salmon. Not your every day trip by no means but one you will never forget. Time to get out and hit the kokanee salmon at Blue Mesa. Look up my buddy Robby at and have him take you out. You won't be disappointed.

                                                        Best of Luck,

                                                                              Sam Heckman / Pro Staff

crowdfishfinderSaje with salmonlimit of salmon


The Straight Facts

The Straight Facts

Carbon Express Mayhem Hunter

            If you decide to get into archery hunting there is a lot to learn. First is finding a bow that fits, learning the fundamentals of shooting and being proficient with it. Anyone can pull a bow back and shoot, but to be proficient is a whole different story. When picking a bow, go to a pro shop with someone who knows bows and can get you set up with one that fits and feels good in your hand. When you draw a bow back and if the draw length is to short or to long you won’t shoot tight groups, your arrows will be all over the target. When shooting a bow it is very critical to anchor your bow hand in the same spot every time, and shooting one that is ether to short or too long, you will never anchor in the same place. There are so many bows on the market to choose from that you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that is just right. Plus most new bows today have some type of adjustable cam so you’re draw length will be perfect. I shoot G5’s Quest Torrent and it has a rotating module called a Fluid Cam which allows me to adjust it exactly to my draw length without a bow press. Prices for bows generally range from three hundred up to over a thousand dollars for a new top of the line bow. You could buy one on-line or from a friend, but then again if it doesn’t fit, you’re wasting your money. Same goes for the arrows you shoot.

You’re arrows need to be matched up to your draw length and the poundage you’re shooting. You want an arrow to be as straight as possible, ideally +/- .003 or less and weight wise you want +/- 1.0 gpi (grains per inch) or less. If I’m shooting 65 lbs my arrows have to be of a certain spine size and straightness in order for me to shoot consistently tight groups. If you shoot arrows that are too light they are considered under spine and if they are too light you could be slowly damaging your bow over time. Your arrow takes all that energy that’s stored in your bow limbs at full draw, so if that arrow is too light, your whole bow will be absorbing most of that energy and it won’t be long before it fails, plus when you release your arrow your bow will be very noisy. If your arrows are too heavy for the poundage you shoot they are considered over spine and your arrow will have an arc instead of a straight flat line. You may not see a huge difference at 20 and maybe 25 yards, but from 30 yards and out you’ll look like your aiming at the moon. When purchasing arrows for the first time you need to be measured for your draw length, know the poundage you can handle, and then you can decide what type of arrow you’re going to shoot. There are a lot of different types of arrows to choose from, but, before we go any further there’s one very important thing to remember. NEVER EVER shoot any type of wood arrow out of any compound bow. Compounds have so much energy built up in the limbs that if your wooden arrow has even the slightest crack in it; it could splinter upon your release leaving part or parts of it in your forearm and causing a trip to the emergency room.

There are many other arrow options that will be safer and more effective to use with your compound bow. Examples include aluminum, carbon, aluminum wrapped with carbon and on and on and on. Once you decide what poundage you will be shooting and what brand of arrows you’re going to use, you then can match it to an arrow chart from the manufacturer that will tell you the number (spin size) of arrow you should be shooting. Most arrow charts recommend one size of arrow but I have seen arrow charts that will recommend 2 different sizes of arrows. If this happens I recommend shooting the heavier of the two arrows possible in order to have the highest possible kinetic energy hitting with deeper penetration.


Now, taking penetration one step farther is adding more weight to the front of your arrow. This is called Front of Center (FOC). The heaver the front of your arrow is the more penetration you’re going to get. Doing this also allows you to use smaller 2”Blazer vanes for stabilizing your arrow faster than if you had 4 or 5 inch vanes. You will have less cross wind drag with smaller vanes also.

4" Vane & 2" vane


Carbon Express, a leader in the weight forward concept, came out with the Mayhem Hunter a few years ago with unbelievable speed, accuracy and penetration all in one arrow. With its Built-in Weight Forward these arrows have less oscillation with a faster recovery which means better accuracy, especially downrange. The front 2/3 of the arrow has a heavier material called BuffTuff which gives it added strength with deeper penetration. While the back 1/3 of the arrow is lighter and stiffer with the BuffTuff Plus K-360 Weave which aids in quicker recovery of  your arrow after release. 


  I shoot the Mayhem and can vouch for the speed, accuracy, and deeper penetration. I shot the Mayhem against another un-named carbon arrow head to head and I had almost 7 inches of deeper penetration and my groups were tighter. I used a brand new 18x16x11 Red Head Layered Target so that there was no soft spots for the penetration testing portion so everything was equal.The one item that does come standard on the Mayhem is the BullDog Nock Collar. The BullDog Nock Collar attaches on the end of the arrow below the nock and protects the shaft against nock-end impacts that can ruin an arrow in a split second. This is a great idea because when you shoot very tight groups like you will with the Mayhem Hunter, nock-end impacts will happen a lot.

Tight group

Mark Campagnola

Hunt Hard and Shoot Straight         








Memories of a Lifetime

Big BassBig Bass 2Big Bass 3When I was a little kid I always wanted to just go fishing. I didn't care what it was I was fishing for as long as I could catch it I was happy. Now that I am much older that feeling is still going strong today. I have fishing on the brain 24-7. I had been taken back by one of my greatest experiences to date and I will share it with you.

I remember the days when my dad would take me out to a pond on Fort Carson I would get up early pack a lunch and grab a few rods and spend the entire day trying to catch fish before my dad would pick me up after he got off work. I spent countless hours trying to figure out each species of fish that were in the lake, where they hung out, how do they react to my baits, how spooky they were, watching them feed on minnows and bugs on the top of the water and all the crazy things they did throughout the day.

I pretty much had the bluegills figured out. A small piece of worm on a #10 eagle claw hook under a small bobber was all it took and after seeing the trout hit a grasshopper I scared off the bush as soon as it hit the water it didn't take me long to whack a bunch of them also every time I went out. It was that bass that would always get to me. The little green fish with the black stripe that continues to drive me crazy today. Not to mention its cousins the spotted and small mouth bass. 

The bass seemed to mezmorize me, They would hit that grasshopper I threw in the water but refused to hit the one on my hook.The trout didn't seem to mind it. I flipped a few rocks and threw crawdads at them and they would eat em up but not on my hook. Every now and then I would get a smaller bass to take a whole night crawler but those big ones crusing would just come up and look and just swim off. Stressful for a little kid.

Through the years I studied about bass. I read every book I could find in the library about them and would read every issue of Bassmaster magazine I could get my hands on. Now we have every resource available just by the touch of a button from the internet or a phone call to a buddy. The kids sure have it easy now it seems like.

I still go back to that lake that has been there for forty plus years. it's just ten minutes from my home in Fountain, Co. so a short after work trip is always good for the mind, body and soul. I have seen pictures of giant bass being caught at that old lake and I have yet to catch a good one for myself. I went out with a few of my youth club kids that have held some 4# plus and one 7# in the years earlier and this was more than enough to peak my intrest. Giant bass close to home is like a dream come true.

This year the weather has put the spawn behind and the bass are just now starting to come up. I was out in my Stealth 2000 duck boat looking for active fish and when I saw them I beached it and tried to sneak up on them from the bank. I told my buddy that I had just seen the biggest bass of my life, he laughed and said, "like the ones in the tank at Bass Pro Shops" exactly I said. I knew that was a giant bass I just needed to figure out how to catch it and take a picture with her.

I mentally marked the spot and snuck up to find her and another smaller male on a bed. I covered myself with dead bulrushes and settled in with my rods. I threw a drop shot rig with a BPS teaser tube and the male whacked it instantly. I set the hook and landed him and quickly put him back in the water and right back to the bed he went.

I worked those fish for over two hours and the male kept pushing that big girl back and holding his ground. He picked up my baits several times and I just let him spit them out. The female kept coming closer and closer and as soon as she looked like she was going to hit my bait the male would chase her off. We played this game over and over. I decided I was going to stick the male again just to shake him up a little more and threw in one of my hand tied football jigs with a Lazer Trokar 3/0 hook and as soon as it hit the bed he came up and sucked it in and I swung and missed. I regrouped and pitched back in and he spun around and then just grabbed the tail of my YUM Money Craw trailer and spit it out. I hopped it back on the bed and the female bolted in from the side and crushed it.

I set the hook and the fight was on. I yelled over at my buddy and he and a few others came running over to check out what all the fuss was about and when I finally lipped her I started to shake. I have caught big bass in my travels and my biggest to date was an 8# 2oz.. I didn't have a scale and there was no way I was going to keep or hurt this majestic fish but I know it was my biggest bass ever. I had a few photos taken and put her back in the water and watched her swim away. I always preach "CPR" catch, photo and release. I hope someday she will be caught again and be much bigger.

I have been truly blessed to have landed such a giant bass so close to home.This is one I will never forget. I am glad I have the opportunity to share it with all of you. I thank my dad for teaching me how to fish and I hope all my youth club kids share their knowledge and teach kids how to fish so they can have their own memories of a lifetime....

                                                                           Best of Luck,

                                                                                                   Sam Heckman / Pro Staff


Fly Fishing Colorado - Fantastic Five Concluded

June 3, 2013

Blaine Haskell/Denver Store                                                                                                              

Last month I introduced the favorite fly survey taken here at the shop for a few months where I asked each participant the question:  “if you could only fly fish for trout with one fly for the next 12 months, what would you use?” I also introduced the KISS method of fly selection where simplicity is the key and that you DO NOT have to carry dozens of patterns. The two concepts melt together quite well and if used properly can keep your fly selecting task to a minimum.   At the same time you will be well equipped to catch trout in the vast majority of conditions you will encounter.

Survey Said #1 Choice for only one fly all year is: #16 Bead Head Flash Back Pheasant Tail. This is also the #1 rated fly in my Fantastic Five that was introduced at the same time.  It is a mayfly nymph of generic proportions, size, and color that is just close enough to active nymphs of mayflies, stoneflies and caddis that you could get away with using it all year round.  A smaller version could be used to simulate a midge larva. 

Survey Said #2 Choice with the second most votes is the #20 Red Midge Emerger.  The Fantastic Five has this as the #2 rated fly also.  This is certainly another good choice since midge flies are present in our rivers 12 months a year. Smaller sizes are recommended for tailwaters.

While the survey produced some interesting additional results I am not proposing that you limit yourselves to just one fly.  What I will propose is that you do not have to have 25-30 different fly patterns in your fly boxes.   In fact all you beginners can limit your fly selection to just a handful, yes just five flies, actually the Fantastic Five.  It is not a coincidence that the survey top spots identified two of those Fantastic Five. These flies work nearly all the time and nearly everywhere.  As mentioned they won’t work in all situations such as for Salmon or Marlin. 

The #3 fly to add to your box is: #16 Royal Wulff. Why? So far all we have in our fly box are nymphs.  All spring, summer, and fall you will be encountering rising fish.  They may be rising to BWO, PMD, Caddis, Yellow Sallies, or Midges.  You will need a good, all around dry fly to attract trout.  You will also need to be able to see your fly on the surface.  The Royal Wulff is all of these.  We don’t actually know why it is so attractive to trout.  Perhaps it is the red belly. Folklore says that it has characteristics of all the flies mentioned.  It just does not closely match any of the species in shape.  What we do know is that it works as well as dynamite.  Wait, I don’t know anything about that.

The #4 fly to add to your box is: #16 Parachute Adams. Why? This dry fly will match the Mayfly BWO hatch, Trico Hatch, and the Baetis hatch throughout the year including winter and can even be used to fool trout when used as a tiny midge imitation. The silhouette of the upright post closely resembles the up right wing of the mayfly and the parachute style hackle helps to float the fly for a near perfect presentation.

The #5 fly to add to your box is: #16 Parachute Light Cahill. Why? The obvious reason is that all mayflies are not grey as matched with the Parachute Adams.  Many are yellow.  Please feel free to use the Light Cahill for this hatch, which will be experienced Mid June through August in Colorado.

Fantastic Five

 (1) #16 Bead Head Flashback Pheasant Tail

(2) #22 Red Crystal Midge Emerger

 (3) #16 Royal Wulff

 (4) #16 Blue Winged Olive

(5) #16 Light Cahill

Fly Fishing is fantastic right now so get out there.  Please visit us here at the shop for advice on places and patterns


"Youth" The Future of Fishing

Junior AnglersSAF High School eventTBF State ChampionsOne of my greatest rewards comes from my involvement with the youth. I am the Colorado TBF youth director and the Fountain Valley Junior Bass Club youth director. I also assist the TBF Student Angler Federation with their High School Championship tournaments and after five months of planning the TBF/SAF High School State Championship and the TBF Youth State Championship they were finally here. Friday May seventeenth was the official practice for both tournaments and there were a few teams and individuals that took advantage of the nice weather and calm waters to locate some bedding fish and finding staging fish along the bluff walls and on the points at Pueblo reservoir in Pueblo ,Colorado.

This weekend was going to be a great one for both youth championships. The bass at Pueblo Reservoir are on fire and would be caught with just about everything the kids could throw at them. The reports were coming in as always after a day of pre fishing. Every junior angler was hoping the pattern they found would hold up for two consecutive tournament days. Topwater buzz baits and Heddon super spook juniors were working first thing in the morning and various crank baits and spinner baits were working after the sun came up. Most every one in the tournament had a BPS stick-o , YUM dinger or a Yamamoto senko tied on. There were some kids that found bedding bass and they had their favorite bed baits tied on as well.

The tournament briefing was Friday evening and to see the anticipation on the kid's faces was priceless. I love the feeling I get before tournaments wether I am fishing in them or running the boat for the youth it is all the same. If I ever lose those butterflies I know it's time to do something else.The event on Saturday was TBF Student Angler Federation High School State Championship for Colorado. This format pairs up two high school students with a coach who runs the boat for them but cannot fish. They head out and try to catch the best weight for a five bass limit to earn the title of SAF high school state champions.Eighteen teams from twelve high schools around Colorado made the tournament and the top three teams were Billy Frazier & Devon Calloway from Vista Ridge High School placing third.Ryan Wood & Adam Deakin from Legacy High School placing second. The 2013 SAF Colorado State Champions are Michael Warner and Graydon Brewer from Ellicott High School. Congratulations to Mike and Graydon. They will be fishing the regional tournament with the College fishing teams at Clear Lake in California later this year.

Sunday's event was the Colorado TBF youth state championship. This is an individual event for youths in two different age divisions 11 to 14 years old and 15 to 18 years old. One winner from each age group will be going on to the TBF junior world championships at Red River in Louisiana this fall to represent Colorado. Twenty Six anglers went out to fish for the title and just about everyone came to the scales with keeper bass to weigh in. The top three for the 11 to 14 year old division are Forrest Beckman from the Fountain Valley Junior Bass Club. Third place. Gage Lovell from the 5280 Junior Bass Hunters. Second place. The 2013 Colorado TBF youth state champion is Michael Warner from the Fountain Valley Junior Bass Club. The top three for the 15 to 18 year old division are Justin Thornton from the Fountain Valley Junior Bass Club. Third place. Parker Strain from Front Range Junior Bass Club. Second Place. The 2013 TBF youth state champion is Sam Pierce from the Fountain Valley Junior Bass Club. Congratulations to both of you I know you will represent Colorado well at the Nationals.

To be a part of the future of bass fishing in Colorado gives me a great feeling knowing that I am impacting the lives of the kids who love the great sport of fishing as much as I do. There are so many firsts like my first bass ever,my first walleye ever, my first wiper ever,etc.that they can say they caught them with me and this is a challenge I give to everyone out there to try and beat. Make every trip a memorable one and always take a kid fishing. Fish for all species It will impact their lives more than you know and some day you will be watching them return the favor to keep this great sport alive. Thank you to everyone involved in the youth.

                                Best of Luck,

                                                      Sam Heckman / Pro Staff







Fly Fishing Colorado -- Survery Says...

May 20, 2013

By: Blaine Haskell/Denver Store                                

Do you have a favorite fly?  If so, why does it gain so much of your affection or even reverence? Is it your favorite fly because it produces results or do you like its construction?  Today I will avoid getting into the artistry of making flies both look pretty and increase their effectiveness and focus on the use of flies to capture trout, bass, bluegill, crappie, pike, salmon, bonefish and others.  This results oriented discussion is by no means authoritative or otherwise official.  I have been surveying my friends and others for the past several months by asking them about the flies they actually use and why. When I started I thought I would see a distinct pattern emerge from the results.  Instead a very diverse set of answers uncovered a specific type of trout fishing being enjoyed by the myriad of fisherpersons out there.  It seems the flies being used have more to do with the type of fishing being done than any specific pattern of fly.

An example is the streamer fisherperson who never tries the dry fly or nymph rig.  They will answer the #12 Bead Head Black Woolly Bugger and be done with the survey.  Those who prefer going to the saltwater flats will answer the #8 Crazy Charlie.  To simplify my task I have restricted the results obtained to” targeting 6 inch brookies in Rocky Mountain National Park’s Glacier Creek between Bear Lake and Sprague Lake”, just kidding.  Like I said earlier this is not the end all survey and it is generally restricted to trout fishing here in Colorado. It is certainly not scientific.

Over the years I have loosely restricted my own use of flies to just a handful of different patterns. This is an attempt to KISS the whole task of choosing flies from a box of a hundred patterns.  All collected over many years ostensibly to satisfy the needs of a specific region down to just a few flies that somehow will capture the attention of and generate action from a trout.  This has evolved into what I call Blaine’s Fantastic Five.  Some of these will be revealed a bit later.  First it’s on to the survey and the results.

Statisticians insist that to have a valid survey from even the simplest query you must have collected information from a minimum of 10 participants.  Electrical Engineers have a corollary rule in that to convert even a well behaved analogue waveform to a digital representation you must have at least 10 digital samples from that wave.  To comply with these stringent rules I approached my fly fishing acquaintances and random shoppers here at Bass Pro with a series of questions carefully designed to produce at least a starting point for further discussion.

I start each interview with the question “if you could only fly fish with one fly for the next 12 months, what would you use?”

After a lot of whining, Survey Said #1 Choice for only one fly all year is: #16 Bead Head Flash Back Pheasant Tail (BHFBPT).  This fly will work for you all year.  It can be used as a nymph in winter, spring, summer and fall.  It is a mayfly nymph of generic proportions, shape, and color that is just close enough to active nymphs that you could get away with using it all the time.  Remember the rule; this is the only fly you can use for the next year.

Choice #2 with the second most votes is the #20 Red Zebra Midge.  Another good choice since midges are present in our rivers 12 months a year and then there is that early spring midge fly fishing trip to New Mexico’s San Juan River or Colorado’s Frying Pan River where you would not want to be limited to a pheasant tail.  So plan your limiting factors carefully if you decide to do this.

Honorable Mention for the one fly all year contest:  #12 Bead Head Black Wooly Bugger (from a pure streamer fisherman who can’t fish with dry flies) and a #16 Parachute Adams (from a dry fly enthusiast who will not fly fish in the cold months and will not put on a nymph. 

Interestingly enough two of the above four patterns are in my Fantastic Five and are bolded.  The other two are underlined and certainly useable and garner Honorable Mention Status. Please stay tuned for the rest. Fly Fishing is fantastic right now so get out there.  Please visit us here at the shop for advice on places and patterns.



Ice out Lake Trout

Marty's Lake TroutMarty and Me w/lake troutThe high mountain lakes are starting to become ice free and now is the time to catch your lake trout of a lifetime. I have been waiting for the days when I could make the trip over Monarch Pass to Gunnison and finally chase ice off lake trout at Blue Mesa Reservoir with the best of friends. This trip was a trip to remember.

I knew we were heading out on Friday and I have been in another state for a business conference during the week, not a good time to concentrate with lake trout on the brain. I have made the trip from Fountain to Blue Mesa several times to meet up with my buddy Robby Richardson owner of Sport Fish Colorado and we have put a great number of fish in the boat. He has landed several lakers over 20# and I have yet to get one in the boat. I was going to land a giant on this trip for sure I just knew it.

I picked up my good friend Marty Riddle who is the Pro Staff Manager for Eagle Claw and we headed out with smiles and anticipation of a giant lake trout. Marty has never been to Blue Mesa before and I hoping for the best for the both of us. Robby had been on big lakers the entire week on guide trips. Perfect, everything was lining up for this trip to be successful.

We headed out early on Saturday and trolled some baits along the points. The fish were showing up on Robby's Lowrance graph and we were in the right areas. I had to chunk and wind a swim bait off the front to work the areas from the shore to the boat.It seemed like the lake trout had other plans than to take pictures with us. Then I got whacked and the fight was on. This one felt like a big one. It headed straight to the bottom and head shaked. I got a few cranks on it and back to the bottom it went head shaking and then the heart break happened the line went limp and there was no weight on the end of my rod. Wow. not again. Just my luck with the lake trout so far for the last couple of years. the big ones seem to always get off.

The day was long and we were not on the board with any big lake trout so far. Marty got whacked and the fight was on. This was a great fish it dove to the bottom and wasn't going to give up easy. This fish fought him for a good ten minutes and we saw a glimpse of her before she made another dive. She came up again and blew bubbles and Robby was able to get the net under her and in the boat she came. This was an incredible fish. Marty was as excited as I have ever seen him. She choked the bait it was completely gone. Robby quickly removed the bait and we took a bunch of photos of Marty's first Blue Mesa fish a 24# lake trout. Not too shabby.

Sunday was a different day there were several boats on the water and the lake was getting some pressure as luck would have it Marty's rod was loaded up with another giant early. This beauty had a much larger fish come up from the depths with her that had at least another ten pounds on her and spooked when she got closer to the boat. Marty's second lake trout of the weekend weighed 20#. I never got bit until it was time to head back to the ramp. I had a sympathy 3# German Brown show me some love. Although I have yet to land a laker over 20# I had the one of the best times on the water that I will never forget. My stomach still hurts from all the laughs we shared and what better way to spend the weekend with the best of friends.

If it is giant lake trout your looking for this spring give my buddy Robby Richardson a call with Sport Fish Colorado (719) 649-3378 He is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. Check out his website


Best of luck,

                     Sam Heckman / Pro Staff


Fly Fishing Colorado - Deep Water Surprise

April 28, 2013

By: Blaine Haskell/Denver Store                                                           

The run was a long one.  A wide cascading riffle funneled into a narrow channel that slammed into the far bank and then started to slow down.  A 20 foot vertical cliff resisted the waters pressure and forced it to take a long journey gently curving to the right for some 50 feet before the next riffle formed in this high mountain stream.  The top of the run was fairly shallow yet the water clouded up quickly as it gently deepened to 8 feet in the middle of the curve and then tapered up to the end of the run. No sight fishing was available here.  There was no dry fly action so a two fly rig consisting of a hot pink #16 San Juan Worm and #16 Bead Head Flash Back Pheasant Tail as a dropper was assembled. This is a great rig for fishing cloudy water and is very effective even in runoff as the hot pink color seems to be visible to trout in dark water conditions.

I armed the rig with enough weight to get down to the bottom in the deepest part, but not so much as to rocket straight to the bottom where it would hang up in the shallows of the top of the run. An orange yarn strike indicator was added about 12 feet up and I started dredging the run.  After a few problems with sinker weight and wrong placement of the strike indicator were fixed by adding more weight and then moving the indicator down a couple of feet I was ready to get serious. The final rig assembly, the successful one, had just enough weight to get near the bottom in the fast water at the top of the run.  Yet it did not hang up on the bottom.  An added benefit was that if a trout did not attack early then the rig continued to drift even deeper well into the run eventually covering the entire bend at what turned out to be “just right” depth. 

Those of you who follow me will be turning really skeptical right now.  Hold on, while I reiterate earlier advice about drift length.  Normally I suggest fishing both a dry fly and a nymph rig a total drift distance of 5 feet.  Sounds short, but if you can get 5 feet of absolutely perfect drift at the right depth with no errant speeds or angles of travel caused by drag or even ”micro drag” you will have astounding success.  If the run you are fishing is 10 feet long then fish the half closest to you first.  After picking off all the trout in that imaginary section you can move to where you can fish the second section more perfectly.  If you try to bite off more then there is a very good chance of experiencing a bad presentation somewhere along that much water.

So why am I attempting a 30 foot drift.  By trial and error I discovered that I could not make it work any other way.  Casts to the middle of the run were messed up by currents in the various eddies that made up the rest of the big bend in the river.  I found that if I got the business end into the strong current and then made several line mends I could funnel the line down the current channel, but could not get the right action if I cast to other downstream starting points. The trout told me when I had it just right.

The fun part about this bend is that 16 to 22 inch Rainbow Trout live in the entire curve.  It is not unusual to hook up with 10 trout in this one big run.  The key is that the rules I described are the successful ones.  Casting to the middle of the run just never brings a trout. Those casts must land in places that produce drifts of the wrong speed, track angle, or depth as the drift proceeds. 

Near the end of the day I hooked a nice rainbow that felt big at first as he struggled to escape. Then quickly he changed his tune to race straight at me.  Surprised I started stripping in line to take up slack to keep tension on the hook.  Out of the depths came a leviathan of unusual size.  Vision somewhat obscured by the murky water I witnessed what I could only describe as a huge four foot fish heading upstream past my toes.  To be quite candid I was a bit shaken by what I witnessed, I may have even been a bit panicked by what I may have gotten a glimpse of and could not identify.  Perhaps you Zombie hunters know what I mean. 

Just as quickly he turned for a long downstream run, then straight back at me.  Line tension control and line containment was difficult; remember this is a large run. This time I got a better view.  It was a 16 inch rainbow alright, but in close pursuit right on its tail was a 30 inch Pike matching every turn the trout made. The combined length of the two in such a tight swimming formation had appeared to be just one giant fish when I got the original glimpse.  Once I realized what was happening I quickly took control of the rainbow and just dragged him onto the bank. A bit rough for the trout, but I am sure that I saved him from a worse fate.  The rainbow already had a deep 1” cut on his left side from those sharp unrelenting teeth that were right behind him.  I released him at the top of the run in the shallower water, away from the pike, to give him a chance to survive. What a surprise to find a Northern Pike living in little old Tarryall Creek.  The property owner gave permission and encouragement and so the next day the Pike was harvested for a nice dinner.  Pike season is upon us, some suggested flies to use are included below.

Despite the weekly blizzard conditions I am relatively sure that spring fishing conditions will arrive. The near blizzard this past Tuesday marked three consecutive Tuesdays with blizzard conditions here in Denver.  Couple those three with the previous three Mondays and two Sundays earlier that is a whole lot of snow days since Punxsutawney Phil made his prediction and has not been seen since.  I still think he was right and we are just mis-interpreting him.

When spring conditions do arrive you will need to be prepared with: hot pink, red, and brown #16 San Juan Worm, #16-20 Bead Head Flash Back Pheasant Tail, #14-20 Parachute Adams.  #14-20 Blue Winged Olives and of course several midge patterns are still working. #14-20 Bishop’s Dynamite, #14-20 Prince Nymphs, #14-20 Bead Head Hares Ears.  Even though we will have left the official grip of winter your favorite midge patterns will still be effective as midges are present 12 months of the year. Especially in the tailwaters of Colorado.

Pike flies: Tsunamis, you may not be able to use one that is too large, 6-10 inches with hooks ranging from #10 to at least # 2/0.  Deceivers, a little smaller will work just right, let’s say #1-8. Use Shad, Muddler Minnow, Bunnies, Wolly Buggers, Mouse patterns, and even Frogs.  Multiple color flies are quite common in patterns with a pairing of any two that include white, orange, chartreuse, red, black, brown, green and yellow.

Come in for some specific help with your destination.  The lower elevation streams have thawed and are fishable now.  Reports are coming in daily of folks getting out and having fun and having incredible successes with trout.  The Arkansas River Mothers Day Caddis Hatch is underway with Caddis just passing through Canyon City, you know what I mean.  The upper river is fishing just crazy with trout of good size taking Caddis, even though the hatch is not that far up river, and BWO Mayflies.  Check out my blog of approximately May 1, 2011 for more details on the Arkansas River Caddis Hatch.  


Turkey Hunting and Shotguns

                                                             Strutting Toms

I do quite a few turkey hunting seminars every spring and it’s amazing at how many new turkey hunters of all ages that are hitting the field every year. If you’re thinking about going turkey hunting and your weapon of choice is a shotgun, there are a few things you need to know and do before your first morning out.


First off, what gauge of shotgun are you going to use, 10, 12, 16, or 20? I have only heard stories about the 10 and 16 gauge but I do not personally have any experience with them, but the 12 and 20 gauge, I do have firsthand experience and have seen both knock a turkey down like there was no tomorrow.  There’s a lot of veteran turkey hunters who feel that the 20 gauge is a little on the light side for turkeys, but I know that under the right circumstances a 20 gauge is very deadly. Using a 20 gauge full choke with a 3 inch mag and the right load at 35 yards is very deadly, but anything much further than 35 yards your pattern will be to spread out and you may end up with a wounded bird. But with some of the new turkey loads like Hevi-Shot that has a mix of 5, 6, and 7 shot your kill distance has just increased past the 35 yard mark. My oldest son killed his first turkey when he was 10 years old at 32 yards with my old 20 gauge Mossberg with a Winchester 3 inch mag 4 shot and that bird dropped as if he was hit with a 12 gauge. I know a few older aged hunters who use a 20 gauge because of the difference in weight and the kick being less than a 12 gauge. A 20 gauge is a great shotgun for women and kids just learning or unable to handle anything bigger without problems.  The 20 gauge is starting to become a favorite for a lot of veteran turkey hunters.

   Mossburg 20 Gauge                                      

My old Hunter’s Specialties camo taped Mossberg 20 gauge

I would say without a doubt that the 12 gauge is the most popular shotgun used by turkey hunters. The great part about a 12 gauge, especially the new ones made special for turkey hunting, is their shorter length.  Many also come already dressed in camo or matt black, and have the ability to shoot three different shells, 2 ¾”, 3”, or 3 ½”. If you wanted to shoot 2 ¾” shells it would be really close to the same challenge as if you were using a 20 gauge 3”mag, but, if you have the ability to use a larger shell for turkey I would highly recommend it. When I hunt with a shotgun I shoot a Mossberg 835 Ulta Mag 12 gauge loaded with a Winchester 3” 4 shot in the chamber and then backed up in the magazine with 2 Winchester 3 ½” 4 shot. The first season I used that Mossberg I called a very nice tom in from my left and 2 hens came in from my right. Those hens went straight to the tom and I couldn’t get them to come any closer than 55 yards. Little to say he walked away with the hens and I never got the shot. So since that morning I start off with a 3 ½” 4 shot backed by two more 3 ½” 4 shot. If I would have had a 3 ½” shell in the chamber that morning that tom would have went home with me, but that’s hunting. The one disadvantage of using a 3 ½” shell is that it kicks like a mule on steroids. Now I know you don’t feel the kick when shooting at an animal but when I had to pattern that gun every time I pulled the trigger I saw stars.

Mossburg 835 Ulti Mag

The Mossberg 835 Ulta Mag in both camo and matt black with the Undertaker Sighted Choke Tube


Choke Tubes


               Any time you choose a shotgun for turkey there are two things you must make sure of. First, you need to find out if your barrel is threaded at the end so you can use different choke tubes or like my Mossberg 20 gauge the barrel has no threads and came factory made as a full choke.  My Mossberg 835 Ulta Mag has a threaded barrel so I can use different choke tubes for other types of hunting. Since my 835 was made for turkey hunting I use a full choke Undertaker Sighted Choke Tube from Hunter’s Specialties with great results. Choke tubes are designed to give you tighter patterns out to certain yardages before they start to widen from the end of the barrel. Choke tubes are made for different patterns from skeet, improved cylinder, modified, full, and extra full. Depending on which choke tube you use will depend on how far down range your pattern will stay tight before it starts to open up and become ineffective. When choosing a choke tube be very careful because there are a lot of choke tubes out there made for water fowl, so make sure what you are looking at is for turkey. This brings up the second must, patterning your shotgun.


Shot Size             


There are three recommended shot sizes to use for turkeys, 4, 5, and 6 shot. Plus now the ammunition manufactures have come out with special turkey loads that are nickel plated, copper plated, and mixed shot size. Not all shotguns are created equal; some may shoot 5 shot better than 6 shot, or 4 shot gives you a better pattern than 5 shot. During my seminars I like to tell all the new hunters to get with a couple buddy’s, buy the 3 different shot sizes made by different manufactures and go out and pattern your guns together, make a day of it. Not onld does shot size affect your pattern, different manufacturers can also produce different results. Federal, Winchester, and Hornady all make great ammunition but when I patterned my 835 the Winchester Supreme 4 shot gave me the best pattern from ten yards out to forty with a 3” and with a 3 ½” ten yards out to sixty.




When you’re getting you ammo pick up a couple packs of turkey head targets. The two I prefer the most are Bass Pro Red Head and Hunter’s Specialties. The Red Head target has the duel-color flake-off technology. What happens is whenever your shot hits the head neck the top layer of color flakes off and turns green, but if you miss the head neck it shows up white. This is great so you know from a distance what was kill shots and what is not. Hunter’s Specialties turkey target is in color and has the vitals outlined so you know exactly where and how many pellets are actual kill shots. It also has on the right side a column for you to record seven different pieces of very important information. Those seven pieces are yardage, number of hits, gauge, shot size, and ounce of load, ammo brand, and shell length.

H.S Turkey Target

As you can see there is a lot of information you can record




               What I like to recommend when you pattern your gun is you start at 10 yards and aim right were the turkeys head and neck meet. Most turkey hunters start at 20 yards but I’ll tell you at the end of this why I say 10 and not 20. Shoot only one time and then check your target to see how many pellets are kill shots. This close you should have at least 10 to 15 pellets in the kill zone. Some hunters say 5 pellets is enough but I prefer 10 or more, I want that bird down and not going anywhere. One pellet to the brain will kill but the more the better. If your pattern looks good, put a new target up at 20 yards and repeat this same process out to 40 with a 3 inch. If you’re shooting a 3 ½ inch start at 10 yards and go out to 60. Use a new target every time. If your pattern was high or low or off right or left at 10 yards do it again with a new target to make sure you didn’t pull the shot. A friend of mine had a brand new shotgun right out of the box and it shot one foot to the right on every shot. He ended up taking it to a gunsmith and having the barrel replaced. If you’re dead on but didn’t have enough pellets in the kill zone this is when you try a different shot size or brand. This is why I said make a day of it.

               Now the reason I say 10 yards is a few years ago I called a boss tom in and I thought he was going to come out about 20 yards to my left and it would be a slam dunk, well that didn’t happen. When that bird came into view and the way I was set up he was 5 yards to my left and when I was able to shoot he was less than 10 feet from the end of my barrel. I knew what my 3 ½ would do at 10 yards but being this close I knew I had to be dead on. I put my bead right in the middle of his head and pulled the trigger. That 3 ½ inch 4 shot hit that bird so hard he did a back flip and it was over. I sat there in disbelief at what had happened. When I looked at that birds head I seen that if I would have been ½ inch to the right I would have missed completely, or ½ inch to the left I would have decapitated him. It was almost like hitting him with a slug.

               Knowing exactly where your shot is hitting at different yardages is an ethical responsibility all turkey hunters should know before they hit the fields. Just like big game hunters sight in their rifles every year, turkey hunters should pattern their shotguns every year.

Mark Campagnola

Hunt Hard and Shoot Straight






Fly Fishing Colorado - Last of Winter Fishing?


By: Blaine Haskell/Denver Store                                                 

April 12, 2013

Zac inched slowly upstream along the bank peering into the shallow water in search for a big trout that might have moved in close during the night.  Pausing, he gently indicated with a hand gesture the location of a group of rainbow trout.  After observing them for a while he retreated back to where I stood frozen with anticipation of being able to “hook up” with a nice trout.  I listen intently to his evaluation of what he witnessed.  First, there were 20 or more fish in water averaging 18 inches before it dropped off into a deep stretch that obscured his vision. The trout were aligned shoulder to shoulder about 6 inches apart and in a general nose to tail line where each side to side group consisted of 3-4 trout and was about 3 feet ahead of the downstream group. All were actively feeding on an steady stream unseen nymphs. 

This was estimated to be true by the action of the trout themselves. A trout at rest, not feeding and just waiting for a hatch to start will be quite stationary.  Those observed were described as being quite active and demonstrated side to side motions of several inches.  Some movements were culminated by an opening and closing of the trout’s mouth and a rather quick return back to where it started, still with its group.  Such motion is a sure sign that a trout is eating some species of nymph, especially when they stay deep near the bottom of the River.

Zac decided to use a three fly rig and quickly rigged an egg, bead head pheasant tail, and a small midge. To expand our understanding of what might be happening quickly I rigged up a different rig of a San Juan worm as the top fly, a Prince nymph as the second fly, and a red Crystal Midge as the third fly. We both added sinkers just above the first fly and a strike indicator and went to work.

45 minutes later I noticed a rise from a trout against the far bank and quickly decided to change to a dry fly rig. Throwing a dry fly to a rise pool is better than dragging the bottom of the River for one minute longer with no results for either of us so far. We had changed several times to other nymphs and were still stonewalled by what appeared to be trout actively feeding. I quickly disassembled the nymph rig and tied on two dry flies.  For the next thirty minutes both flies were ignored except for a weak attempt from an uncommitted rainbow trout.

A bit discouraged I decided I must have flies that are too large so I switched my number 20 parachute Adams to a number 24 stuck in the shuck parachute Baetis with a little, make that tiny, Styrofoam post about a 32nd of an inch tall. Disgusted with my success so far I only put on one fly and tossed it to a rising fish who gulped it down without any hesitation. 10 of the next 15 casts brought fish to my net. This little fly tied on with 7X tippet produced fish for the rest of the day. The only time I had to change the fly was to replace one that was now hiding in the Bush behind me. Somehow that Bush had sneaked up closer and snagged my fly. A maneuver it executed several times throughout the rest of the afternoon. I won’t blame it on the 30 mile an hour wind. It was the bushes fault. In all, it’s a pretty cool day when both of us had to take off our shoes to keep count of the fish we were catching. I guess I’m going to have to invest in one of those fish counters we have in the shop.

Zac’s two fly rig included a tiny dry as mentioned and a dropper of #20-24 Bead Head Midges such as Crystal Midge Emergers in Black, Red, and Cream, plus #20-22 Rojo Midge Garcia.  Tiny adult midges and Parachute Adams are all available here in the shop. 

Most of the lower elevation streams have thawed and are fishable now.  Reports are coming in daily of folks getting out and having fun.


Eyes in the Night

Spring is here... or is it? The full moon phase in March is usually when my buddies and I are loosing lots of sleep chasing those walleyes in the night that are grouping up and getting ready for the spawn. The biggest problem we have is where do we go. The spawn is happening in most bodies of water that have walleyes in them throughout the state and there are lots of lakes and reservoirs to choose from.

This year the late cold spell that seems to not want to go away has kept some waters frozen and unfishable for this time of year and the low water levels have the walleyes doing things that we are not used to like not being in the sure spots and changing their patterns that we have been acustomed to finding them in by now. Not to mention last week's snow storm kept freezing my line and after the three rods I brought were froze up it made for short trips to the reservoirs.

I always say you never know unless you go. I am one of those that just has to know so I make my trips and some are better than others. Same goes for a lot of my buddies that are die hards that chase eyes in the night. We are a different breed I would say, but I love it when the big girls let you pose with them for a photo before you put em back in the water to fufill someone else's dream of holding a double digit walleye.

This year is definately different but for those of you who hear about the walleyes being caught this time of year there is still a great chance that your catch of a lifetime can happen. You must make the effort and stick with it and eventually you will be successful. Make sure you bring a camera.Walleye releasing walleye11# walleyereleasing 11# walleye

What you need to give it a try is simple. Have a couple of medium action rods lined with Bass Pro Shops XPS-8 advanced braid and one with Seaguar InvizX flourocarbon line just in case it gets below the freezing mark. It will allow you to fish a little while longer. Pick out your favorite suspending jerk baits like the BPS Nitro Minnow and the Smithwick Pro Rogue in a few of your favorite colors have some scissors to trim the braid just in case you break off more than you like to, it happens, a lot. Especially standing on the bank in the dark.

Make sure you dress in layers when the sun goes down it can get cold very quickly. Bring some gloves and make sure you have an extra set of batteries for your headlamp to replace the ones that are weak because the switch was jolted to on when you put it away the night before.That never happens.....haha.

Make casts that parallel the bank to keep the lure in the strike zone. Use a twitch, twitch pause cadence and switch off between that and a slow steady retrieve...slow. The walleyes usually hit it on the pause and it is just a slight "tick" that you will feel. Set the hook. On the slow steady retrieve they sometimes just load up on the rod with a firm strike or you feel the "tick'. Set the hook. It takes patience and practice to know what the bite actually feels like and it is different every time we go out it just takes some getting used to but once you catch a few you will know what it is that keeps us all going back night after night.

When you do catch that double digit walleye please remember to practice "CPR" catch, photo, & release. We have a rule within the group of guys I go out with that when we go out we will keep nothing over four pounds if we decide to keep a few legal walleyes to eat. There is nothing wrong with eating a few if you love to eat fish like I do. You can have a fiberglass reproduction done of your trophy to hang on the wall. Have fun chasing the eyes in the night..

                                                      Best of Luck,   Sam Heckman / Pro Staff









Where is Spring?

Contrary to a growing uprising and widespread unrest emanating from our television media personalities regarding a proposed “intervention” with the famous weather prognosticator Punxsutawney Phil Sowerby, I believe Phil was right and no intervention is necessary.  I refer back to my blog of early March. There I suggested that Phil’s handlers and those who interpret his weather predictions have got it backward. A quick review. 120 years of interpretations show him to be right 39% and wrong 61% of the time if taken the current way. I for one will reverse the interpretation from now on, the actual data is just overwhelming.  Let’s take the latest interpretation of an early spring.  Wow! Sure misinterpreted that one.  If you missed it, “an early spring”.  By the way where is Phil?  My latest info is that he is slumbering deep within his burrow waiting for spring, much later just as he expects.  A perusal of the weather going on through the country this morning can be described as a collection of grumblings and even more calls for groundhog interventions as the national weather map was explained.  Snow, blowing snow, temperatures well below zero, and well below normal for the transition into spring over ¾ of the country.

Disgusted I hit the remote control’s off button and reached for one of my fly boxes where I tucked the last of a herd of flies I have been tying while I let the melters, from the sun, take care of the last of the remnants of icy bits on the driveway. I hope to have it clear just before the next storm from the northwest hits Denver in the next 2-3 days.  For the last month we seem to be in a storm pattern where we get hit every 7 days and it happens on the weekend, so much for fly fishing for trout or bass.  You should hear the grumblings from those who visit the shop.  When you come in covering the children’s ears is advised.  Spring better come soon.

One of our former associates and author of our earlier email newsletter (before blogs were invented) Seth and his wife dropped in for a visit this week.  He told of one of his recent fly fishing adventures to the tailwater of Taylor Reservoir, the famous Taylor River where a recent state record rainbow trout was captured and released. Knowing what the prevailing conditions are in that area (hard winter until July 4) I paid close attention to his body language as he presented his story.  His fame as a fly fishing guide and purveyor of tales is renown so I paid close attention for any “tell” he may expose. He proceeded to explain about his trip from Gunnison, (one of the coldest locations in the lower 48) to the rivers outlet in Taylor Park (picture the Arctic Circle).  He seemed genuinely pleased that he only used 4 wheel drive for the last 20 miles.  A hint of giddiness flushed across his face as he explained that it was 21 degrees when he stopped to park the car.  Noticing my reaction to 21 degrees, he hesitated, then clarified that it was minus 21, (-21F). Noticing my relief at the truth being established he then finished the story by describing fingers that could not bend, rod guides clogged with ice, line that would not bend encased in a perfect sheath of ice, and trout ripping wakes as they attempted to throw the tiny mysis shrimp before he could bring them to net.  He further described how trout jumping into the air disturbed the clouds of fog that forms above the water as the cold air extracts the calories of heat. Then something that surprised me.  Seth explained that he always kept the trout in the water to protect it from freezing to death in the cold air while extracting the barbless hook as quickly as possible.  After all, he explained matter of factly, the temperature differential would be nearly 60 degrees F to the trout and with no clothes for protection the trout would undoubtedly be injured otherwise; good call Seth. Now warm up your hands.   Not much to endure at all considering the fun he described of rounding up a few trout. A very pleasant break from the grind of school and a long hard winter in Gunnison where people show up at Burger King in short sleeves when the temperature gets above 30.

Flies he recommended were #20-24 Mysis Shrimp, #20-24 Bead Head Midges such as Crystal Midge Emergers in Black, Red, and Cream,and  #20-22 Rojo Midge Garcia.  All are available here in the shop.  Thanks for the report Seth.

As for local waters.  Reports are starting to come in of short stretches of open water in some of the previously frozen streams such a Clear Creek and the Big Thompson.  No, you cannot go there and fish just anywhere, but persistence in your search techniques will expose a spot or two.  Perhaps things will get better when Phil does emerge for Spring.  In the meantime keep using those midges mentioned and some small Baetis as they have been spotted in our local tailwaters.

Blaine Haskell/Denver Store

March 21, 2013