What You Should Know About Kayak Paddles

Did you know there are different kayak paddles out there? We are going to touch on some of the features, shapes, and sizes that make them unique. This will hopefully help you to decide what paddle may be the best for you and your kayak. First off is basics. Most kayak paddle are light weight and separate in the middle of the shaft for easier storage. Most also have 2-3 extra holes with degrees of measurement, so you can adjust the paddle feather, for less resistance in the air while paddling. This is helpful when paddling against the wind and wanting to go fast. Most paddles have 60-0 and -60 degree angles. See the photo below to show the visual use of a feathered paddle. The high side blade is making less resistance verses being flat against the wind.

Paddle FeatherFeather degree

The next thing to understand is High verses low angle. Most people paddle at low angle, but some of it is determined by your paddle length and stroke angle. Higher angles are more typical in white water and or with a shorter paddle.

Here is a visual example of paddle angle.Low and High Angle

So now lets focus on types of paddles and blades. There are touring, angler and white water paddles. Length of the paddle is important to allow longer or shorter strokes. If you are white water kayaking, you need to make fast turns and avoid objects, so these tend to be shorter in length and boarder across the blade. For touring across a calm lake, a longer paddle with a slimmer blade makes cruising across the lake a breeze. For our Anglers, there is a paddle design to help you reel in your catch. Most angler paddles have a notch in the blade so you can snag you line and a measurement guide across the shaft so you can easily measure your catch in you lap with you paddle. For added tips on kayak fishing check out this link Kayak Fishing

Ascend Paddle

Angler Paddle

Ascend Angler

Lure on PaddleMeasurement Guide

The last thing is how to determine what length paddle is best for you. A couple things to consider is your height and the width of your boat. Here is a easy guide to help you determine a paddle that length that will be best for you. The taller and wider the boat is, the longer paddle you will need.

paddle length

Now that you have a better understanding of paddles, get the one that works best for your type of kayaking and we'll see you out on the water! For some tips on your next kayak adventure check out our Kayaking, Make it an Adventure!

For your online shopping pleasure be sure and check out www.basspro.com.

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Kayaking, Make it an Adventure!

Kayaking is not just for non-motorized paddling on the lake, Make it an adventure! Did you know that kayaking can be more than just a paddle around the lake? Lets go Kayaking! I had no idea until my mom became an avid kayak-er. This is quite the adventurous sport and people all over the country have stepped up kayaking into a 2-3 day even longer adventure. This has prompted me to do a little research. Up till now our kayak trips include a lunch, the dogs, a remote control boat, and an afternoon around our local lake. After watching and learning what my mom does, I'm convinced you can turn kayaking into a vacation if your idea is roughing it, and not a 5 star Hilton. So what do you take on a kayak adventure?

First things first, a kayak. There are several to choose from and 2 basic types. Sit on top and sit in. Ascend Kayaks and Accessories I like my sit-on-top because it's more stable feeling in the water to me, my dogs have more room to walk around, and I can sun my legs, but our sit-in is cooler, since it sits deeper in the water. There are also short skirted sit-ins that are used in white water. I would recommend what ever kayak is most comfortable to you and what suits your all around needs. Choosing a Kayak If you plan to fish, be sure to get one set up for fishing. It will have rod pockets and holders to keep your fishing rods, as well as spots to hold bait and tackle. Be sure to check out our 1 source page for what you should know for kayak fishing. http://1source.basspro.com/index.php/component/k2/81-kayaking/3542-fishing-from-a-kayak 

Next is your paddle. I find a longer paddle gives me more reach and allows a more comfortable longer stroke. A shorter paddle gives you a good shoulder work out and is needed for a shorter kayak. This is a formula for the best paddle fit, (paddler height x boat width) and know your angle low or high, average length is a 220cm paddle. Do some research and adjust your paddle as you progress in the sport.

Next is life Jacket, invest your money well on this item! Fit is very important and this is the item that can save your life! I would recommend a life jacket specific for kayaking. It will be more comfortable. Make sure and try them on and sit down and move your arms in paddling motions. You want a jacket that gives you room to paddle and not pinch or rub in your arm movements. They are weight rated, so know your weight, and don't lie on this one. if you go too light, it may not hold you up. If you go too heavy, it may be too big and slip in the water. They also need to fit snug. If it's loose, it may be too big or not adjusted down far enough. You want it to stay in place should you get wet.

Speaking of wet, should you overturn and get wet, you want your gear to stay dry. This brings the need for dry bags. Especially, since this is an adventure, we are taking a lot more gear with us. There are several different sizes and weights. I would pack different bags for different stuff. Example: food and water filter, clothes, emergency, and sleeping gear I would pack in separate bags. This will allow you to only unpack what you need at the time and not everything you brought with you. It will help in packing your kayak as well. You don't have a lot of ample space, so pack small and tight so you can have options of where to stash and strap your gear down. Water tight is what you need. You can skimp and try zip locks and trash bags, but one dump in the water and will be sorry. This may cost you too. You may have to buy all your friends beer for helping you retrieve your items or worse case, all your gear sinks and you know have no shelter, food, or clothes. Now your adventure is over. So be prepared and pack smart.

Emergency essentials. A paddle, first aid kit, survival tool, knife, whistle, light, headlamp, poncho, rope, cell phone or GPS hand held, and batteries, would be in my emergency kit.

Now, let eat and drink! A small backpack style stove works great for kayaking. Jetboil, is the first type that comes to mind and don't forget fuel. This will allow you to eat a hot meal. Pack a nice selection of dehydrated food, Mountain House beef stroganoff is one my favorites and cookie and cream, ice cream for dessert. Pack enough for all your meals out. Energy bars, beef jerky, and compact snacks are great too. Water is essential to staying hydrated, but heavy to pack. So bring a filter and or filter system so you can pack less water, but be able to drink the water around you safely. Sawyer makes a great versatile filter that be used on a bottle, a bag, or in a hydration pack line. Do you research and get a good one that fits all your needs.

Just a few more items. Clothing and hygiene. Personal care and hygiene items to your preference. No rinse body wash, makes a great packable soap. along with other travel size products. Sunscreen and shades. Pack clothes and wear clothes that are versatile. Pants that zip off into shorts, long sleeve, light weight shirts that the sleeves roll up and fasten. Base layers are always a good idea if the weather is in cooler months, spring and fall. Water shoes that allow the water to leave the shoes and wool socks to keep your feet warm and dry. Gloves and a hat will also keep you from getting sun-burnt and blisters on your hands.

Last but not Least, Your sleeping gear. What you invest in and pack can make a huge difference on how well you will sleep. A sleeping bag with the proper temperature rating is essential. Our Ascend 20 degree mummy bag, is a great choice. Packs down small and tight, but will also keep you warm. A compact, self inflating, sleeping pad will help keep you warm and your back happy. Then for shelter, you can do a one man tent or a hammock. The hammocks seem to be the most popular now. They are super lightweight, easy to pack, no poles and comfortable to sleeping. Make sure your not kayaking or sleeping above treeline; that could pose a problem. A bug screen and rain fly are a good idea depending on where you go. Be to be safe and protected than not.

We would love for you to share your photos and read your adventure stories. Do you have any gear on the list, you would like us to cover more in depth on a separate blog? We like to know what interests you, so let us know.. 

kayak photo listpack list

Dogs on the lakecamping

 

 

Out for Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

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Smoking-It's not inhaled, it's devoured!

Spring is in the air and smoker season for some is a year round passion, but for others it’s a fair weather thing. We see it as a year round passion and there’s never a bad time to dig into some amazing smoked meat. So we are going to give you some tips on how to smoke amazing meat all year long! I will also throw in some of my own lessons learned from when I first started smoking to how we do it now at our house. First things first, the smoker, which type of smoker is best for you?

There are several types of smokers on the market and we have most types here in the store so you can come in and see them. The first question I always ask anyone shopping for a smoker is where are you going to use your smoker? Reason why is the first smoker I bought was an electric one, thinking oh I won’t have to buy big wood or pellets, I can use it in the garage or out on my back deck and it will be great! A few things I did really like about the electric smoker were the programmable thermostat, and meat probe. I found the window wasn’t a necessity or more than pretty right out of the box. I thought I would like the window, and I could sit on the deck and enjoy a beer watching the meat smoke. I couldn’t sit still long enough for that. Once you use your smoker the glass gets coated and yes you can clean it constantly, but I wanted to keep that entire seasoned flavor in my smoker. What I forgot to think about was where my outdoor electrical outlets were, right next to the back door. So every time I walked in and out of the house while I was smoking, the smoke came right in the house. To remedy the problem I decided to run an extension cord across the deck, well that was great until it snowed, not only did I now have an wet extension cord, but I almost broke my nose, tripping over the cord hidden in the snow and falling on the deck. Also I never thought about when the power goes out and your 2 hours into a 6 hour smoke? It only happened once, and I did toss the meat in my gas oven to finish cooking it but it wasn’t the same.

So it was time to try and different smoker, propane. This would be the perfect one. I chose the 2 door model, so every time I needed to add chips or water I wasn’t opening the whole smoker and losing all my heat and smoke, which would happen occasionally on my electric smoker. Being propane, I no longer had to worry about tripping over a cord and I could move it anywhere I wanted. This became a great advantage. I didn’t realize all my friends were also getting into the smoking craze and when we decided to have a smoke out challenge, I was portable. I liked that the smoker didn’t use as much propane as my gas grill, which I thought at first may be a down side. But it did great. I did miss the electric thermostat and meat probe timer, but found the smoker held its temperature really well as long as it wasn’t too windy outside. They now make wireless meat probes, so is a great add on if you decide propane is the right type for you and it does not have a probe included. So I’m happy with my propane smoker cooking 3-4 times a month. I started thinking I was getting the hang of this and I need to start smoking more than chicken, ribs, and tenderloin. So it was time to tackle brisket. I soon realized that my cute little 2 door smoker wasn’t quit big enough for a full size brisket. I had to section it and cook it over 2 racks, which worked, but it got me dreaming of a bigger smoker. I was then introduced to the Giudice family smoker, and oh my gosh, my mind went crazy!        

So I’m now dreaming of a bigger smoker, but how do I choose? These new pellet smokers had just hit the market and my best friend bought one up right away. A Traeger!  Since I was spending all of my time at her house, we were having some fun and amazing meals on this thing. I could not believe how much smoke flavor we could get into our meat! Not to mention, we could bake pizza in it as well. My best friend being Italian could make some great pizza, and great pizza we were enjoining at least once a week. I thought this smoker was the best. It could smoke, it could grill and it could bake. We grilled a ton of great steaks, burgers, and brats. I loved that you could just fill up the hopper with whatever flavor pellets that caught our fancy and start it up and go. It had meat probes, thermostats, and an extra rack for potatoes, veggies or bread. This thing was great; no longer needed a gas grill. This thing did it all. We loved this thing so much we were grilling in thing rain and snow. Only down side was again, where is the electrical outlet? At her house it was right outside the glass patio door and there wasn’t enough cord to not need an extension cord. Again, I tripped a few times and if the power goes out, your smoker is down. We did have some die hard smoking friends who would bring their pellet grills to our smoke out challenge along with their generators, so it can be done. But hence I read a Myron Mixon book after I started my job at Bass Pro Shops and my desire for a full on steel smoker was came to pass.

Hence I’m now the proud owner of a ¼’ solid steel Horizon smoker Horizon Smokers , proudly made in OK, my home state, and readily available in your local Bass Pro Shops store. We did not carry the 20” classic smoker when I first started working here so I bought the 16” classic smoker. Craziest thing was we were living in a second story apartment, busy shopping for a house, but loved the idea of this amazing smoker in our new yet to be found back yard. So being impatient, we bought it and put in in my brother in laws back yard for a few months. This didn’t keep us from cooking up a storm. The cookouts were at the brother in-laws until it made its final destination to our back yard. We could cook full size brisket. We could smoke not only full racks of ribs but 4-8 full racks at one time. All of our holiday turkeys were now smoked and we could do a turkey and a ham at the same time. Best part we don’t need electricity or propane. We can move it all over the patio, so if the wind isn’t in our favor we just roll it to the other side of the patio. We use mostly charcoal, big pieces of oak and hickory log wood for staples. We can get these in bulk and keep all our specialty woods like peach, apple, maple, or orange wood in smaller quantities in chunks that we also sell here at the store. Of course you have to keep the fire going but this steel smoker holds heat like nothing I’ve used before. The hot box stays warm for days, literally. My first 12 hour smoking day, left hot coals for 2 days after in the box. I’m not too worried about someone trying to take off with it out of my backyard either. At a hefty 425 lbs. it takes 3 or 4 hefty guys to pick this thing up. It does have full steel wheels so it is easy to roll but only on a flat hard surface.

My quest for a thermostat and meat probe was also taken care of with our Bass Pro Shops wireless programmable digital probe. I love this thing. You put in the desired internal temperature you want, set it and forget it. I leave the base on the outside shelf of the smoker with the probe attached and put the handheld unit in my pocket. I can move all around the house, sit on the patio and have a cold one, or work on my car out front or just veg out on the coach and the thermostat will beep at me to let me know the meat is done. Hog heaven of smoking has come together and this smoker gets used at least once a week.

Now that I’m an old hand at this smoking thing, the fun has been perfecting recipes. Bass Pro has a full line of rubs and seasonings that keep the options open and taste buds tingling. Nothing pairs better than a marinated brisket rubbed in Jack Daniels steak seasoning, smoked with Jack Daniels wood chunks. Or for our holiday favorite turkey, brine overnight, rub down in Tony Chachere's Spicy seasoning, pack the inside cavity with oranges or clementines and smoke with orange wood. Another favorite is a pork shoulder, marinated and injected in apple juice based marinade/injection, rubbed down in a brown sugar based rub, smoked with apple wood, and then finished off with an apple jelly glaze. Our most often cooked delight is Beer Can Chicken. We use the ceramic sittin chicken accessory, fill it with our favorite brew, rub a whole chicken inside and out, and cook. Amazing!! These are just a few of our favorites at our house. I've added a link I found online Smoker Basics to give some extra tip and suggestions. What I love most about smoking is you can be creative! We'd like to hear feedback and ideas on how you smoke at your house, so what is your favorite smoker or recipe? Be sure to stop by our store or stop by online to find all the great items for smoking. http://www.basspro.com

Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt Propane SmokerTrager Lil Tex

Traeger PelletsBass Pro Thermometer

Family Smoker

My Horizon 16" SmokerBass Pro Seasoning 3 packJAck JD Wiskey Barrel ChipsTony Chachere's Assorted Wood FlavorsTurkey BrineSittin' ChickenSmokin Book

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Do you know why Dog Days at Bass Pro shops was such an educational and heartwarming event?

Not only is it puppy dog heaven, but some really memorable moments happen here. This was our second year for the event and it was bigger and better this year. We are hoping to continue to grow this event and already have a waiting list of shelters and vendors who want to attend again next year. So this event we literally let the store go to the dogs.  We start with “Free “ photos for you and your pet along with some great give-a-ways. Then to add to the fun, we offered educational live training, and  grooming demos. To top it off with a nice finish we brought in puppies and older dogs in need of a forever homes. 

                On Friday nights we offered an informative seminar on how to choose the right dog breed for you and a brief history of some of the dog breeds out there. We had one customer who was having a hard time selecting the next new dog breed for his family, and after our seminar, he left with lots of ideas on breeds that might be the perfect fit for their home.  This is a decision that should not be taken lightly. When you think about the fact you could have this family member for well over 15 years, getting the right companion for your family situation is not only important for your happiness, but very important for the dog as well. There are so many factors to consider, but most highly recommended are size, space, and lifestyle for you both. A very high energy dog with the need to run may not be the best fit for someone in a one bedroom apartment, who works 12 hours shifts. As well as a brachycephalic dog may not be the best choice for someone who wants a dog to run 5 miles a day with them. There are so many dog breeds out there now, that you can find one that is perfect for you lifestyle, space limitations, and companion desires. Most all dogs just want to be loved and a part of the family and getting the match perfect the first time can help avoid a dog ending up in a shelter, and hoping for the right family to come along a second time to adopt it.

                On Saturdays, we focused on training and grooming for your dog. This is also is very important in keeping harmony in the house. With over 400 recognized dog breeds there are a lot of fur types and intelligence levels with dogs as well. We had Sit Means Sit Denver dog training in to help show you how to avoid and correct some of the most common of behavior issues. Dogs learn how to sit, run, walk, and jump along all of other body functions on their own. What we have to teach them is where and when it is acceptable to do these things. One thing I learned from their demonstration is how to teach your dog to “Place”. This is an amazing command to teach you dog to stay in any spot you command them to until you release them. This is a huge help when there are distractions that can cause over excitement. Another great tip was learning how to teach you dog to come, and then advancing that into heeling. I didn’t realize it is a dog’s natural instinct to chase and follow you. So the best way to start leash, come, and heel training is to turn and face your dog and walk backwards in front of him. They naturally want to follow you. So you get them to follow you facing backwards and slowly progress that into turning away from them and then getting them to walk next to you. It was a tip I have started using at home with my dogs to teach them to come to me and walk next to me on the leash, instead of walking out in front of me and pulling on the leash. For more tips check out www.Sitmeanssitdenver.com

Anthony Sit Mean Sit

 

                So the Heartwarming portion of our event came in with our Fundraiser and Adoptions that we did. We had 3 shelters that joined us for over our two Saturdays. The first, Life Line Puppy Recuse, a no kill puppy shelter in Brighton Colorado that helps re home over 1200 homeless puppies a year.  They brought 3 puppies both Saturdays and they all found homes. The also partner with local fire fighters to produce and distribute and Fire Recuse Dog Calendar every to raise funds for their shelter to stay in operation. https://youtu.be/y7o3QZLn90I 

So they had live fire fighters on site from the calendar, signing the calendars they sold. One fire fighter even brought his now adult dog that was a feature in the 2015 calendar. It was an added bonus for us to help give an extra platform for theirs shelter and charity. For our families that already have dogs, they could still help the ones who are still searching for their forever home. The second, Aurora Animal Shelter, a local shelter operated by the City of Aurora Colorado, brought 4 dogs both Saturdays and waived the regular adoption fees for our event. 7 of the 8 dogs found forever homes with us. The last dog was transferred to another nearby shelter to find her forever home. The third shelter was My Fairy Dawg Mother shelter. They specialize in hunting breed dogs and use the generous help of volunteers to foster their dogs that are in need of adoption. They had several foster parents on site with their adoptable dogs, but with everyone walking around with dogs, were not sure our customers realized their dogs were up for adoption. We not know this is something for us to improve on next year. But all these adoptable dogs lead me to our Grand finale heartwarming moment.    

                We love to help these dogs find forever homes and we reach out in all ways to get the word out. So here is Reeve’s Story, told by one of our amazing customers: “This past week I have spent some extra time looking for a dog and every time I call about a dog they have already been adopted. I am always a day late! Today I had a call from my girlfriend, that Bass Pro was sponsoring an adoption event. Aurora Animal Shelter had a 6 month male chocolate lab, male is not my preference but I went to look. He was already big and I was going over all of the paper work with the Aurora Animal Shelter when a young man in an Army Reserve uniform walked up. He was there to adopt the same dog. I started asking a few questions and he told me that he had already been to the animal shelter several times and was told if he wanted to adopt this dog he would have to go to Bass Pro. I also found out that this cute puppy would be trained as a service dog. That is all that I needed to hear. I ask the young man if he wanted the dog and he said yes. I turned to the lady with the animal shelter and told her that I want the young man to have the lab. I explained to him that my brother, Rodger, had been a Warrant Office in the Army and that my husband, Steve, was a Intelligence Analyst in the Army. I explained to him that both men were deceased and I was going to name the lab Reeve after Rodger and Steve. I ask him if he had a name picked out and he said no. As I walked away with tears in my eyes he had agreed to name his new chocolate lab, Reeve. I cried all the way home and the tears are still flowing. Rodger and Steve are both smiling down on my and when the time is right I will find just the lab for me.” This was a huge moment for all of us. We loved the generosity of this customer and the fact this dog was going to a bigger purpose. “Reeve” will forever be a special dog for our store.

Reeve

                So when we think Bass Pro Dog Days, it is an amazing opportunity to bring our love of dogs to everyone. We enjoy the fact we can help customers learn more about dogs, find the homeless dog a forever home and wrap it up with a Free photo for the customer to take home a remember the experience. This is the one time of the year we love that the store “Goes to the Dogs” and can’t wait for next years event. Remember to like us on Facebook, Dog Days Family Event so you get all the details on next years event.

 

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What Everybody Ought to Know About Spring Fishing Classic: Recap

 

Spring Fishing Classic Recap:

Wow! Not only is it the World’s Greatest Fishing Sale but a fun and educational experience for all who attend.

This year we kicked off with an amazing sale Valentines weekend. What goes best with a Valentines weekend? A wedding proposal at our weekly public fish feeding! It was so much fun to help out this customer with popping the question. Congratulations to Chris and Anastasia. We see a fish themed or maybe a camo wedding in their future. https://www.facebook.com/bpsdenver/videos/965255456856334/

We continued the week with a Triple Crown Bonus on Marine installation and an amazing offer with our Rod and Reel trade in. Did you all know what we do with all those rods and reels? We donate them to amazing non-profit partner groups who help get kids, veterans and underprivileged into the sport of fishing. So never think they go to waste! Some deserving person just got the opportunity to experience a new passion that was once just a dream. So a huge thanks, to all who took advantage of the rod and reel trade in. To round out the Spring Fishing Classic, we ended on a high note with a busy 2 days of seminars, demos, non-profit partner displays and activities for our Next Generation.

We featured tons of extra seminars from our local pool of amazing talent including:Nitro Pro Staff, Dennis Hunter.  Professional Walleye Fisherman and Bass Pro Shops Pro Staff,Jack Winters. Professional Bass Fisherman and Bass Pro Shops Pro Staff, Sam Heckman.(It just happened to be Sam's Birthday on Saturday, so we had to celebrate at the Weekly fish feeding! The whole audiance joined into to sing Happy Birthday to Sam). Colorado Walleye Association member and avid fisherman, Brad Peterson. Fly fishing expert, guide, and artist, Melissa Davis.Current “Best of the West Fly Casting Champion”, Sandi Roberts. Umpqua Fly tier and Designer, Herman deGala. Expert Fly Fisherman and Bass Pro Fly Shop associate,Bill Louthan. Past JR. Bass Master Jr. Champion,Ryan Wood. Expert Fly Fisherman and Bass Pro Fly Shop associate,Alan Reyes. Expert Fly Fisher-woman and Bass Pro Shops Fly Shop associate,Simone Geoffrion. Professional Fishing and Hunting guide, owner of Tightline Outdoors, Nathan Zelinsky. Expert Kayak fisherman and journalist of Born to Fish Media,Eric Allee. Our seminars were packed with attendees and covered fly fishing, freshwater fishing topics, as well as live tank demos on some of our best lures. If you are ever in search of a place to get expert advice, attending our seminars can certainly help in the quest of knowledge from the people who live it, love it and do it.  Eric Alee KAyak Fishing

Our Next Generation Event featured Fun kids activities including a kids fishing seminar, Free downloadable photo, interactive fish craft, coloring activities, and casting bucket challenge. For those who completed the craft and photo they also received a adorable Fish string backpack.

Some of our Amazing Non-Profit partners that joined us were: Casting For Recovery, Colorado Women Fly Fishers, Colorado Walleye Association, High Plains Drifters, Project Healing Waters, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Hawkquest, and the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. This is the one time of the year you can see our National Symbol, The Bald Eagle live and in person with an opportunity for a photo.

So if you by chance missed all the great happenings here at the store, stay tuned to our store webpage and Facebook page for upcoming events and we’ll plan to see you next year! Loralee Alemanni, Promotions Coordinator, Denver Bass Pro ShopsNate ZelinskyHawkquestOur Engaged CoupleStore Sings Sam Heckman Happy BirthdaySandi RobertsCoastieFly TiersFly Fishing PartnersHawkquest Bald EagleBill LouthanRyan WoodJack Winters

 

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Colorado Ice Kokanee

Happy New Year everyone, I hope this year brings you all the species on your wish list and plenty of them.

There are several lakes and reservoirs in Colorado that have Kokanee Salmon stocked in them. A landlocked sockeye salmon. Blue Mesa Reservoir, Eleven Mile Reservoir, Antero Reservoir, Gross Reservoir, Wolford Reservoir, Williams Fork Reservoir, Green Mountain Reservoir and Dillon Reservoir all have Kokanee in them just to name a few and I know there are several other lakes that have them as well.

 Normally you could find the Kokanee Salmon starting in spring through the ice using jigging spoons tipped with a wax or meal worm and they are usually immature and are still very silver. They are a schooling fish so they can light up the fish finder when they come through when you have an active school you can get some of these salmon on the ice in a hurry. We target deep drop offs on points in the main channels of the reservoirs we fish looking for Kokanee.

Sometimes you can find them still in the spawning stage under the ice and if your lucky they can still be firm and just perfect for the smoker. Kokanee are an aggressive fish if you can observe them when they are in the spawn you would understand why they hit an assortment of lures and jigs in all colors at that time of year. They are a blast to catch and are very good eating. Kokanee will die after they spawn and it is okay to take your daily limit if you are a fish eater like myself.

We were on a trout trip and found the Kokanee in this very stage just last week. Our trout trip instantly turned into a Kokanee Salmon outing. They were very aggressive and were hitting anything in pink and chartreuse and the majority wanted it jigging. Kastmasters, Swedish Pimples, and small BPS teaser tubes were the hot baits. They were shallow and were cruising the bank so look for them in spawning areas with rocks and sandy bottoms if you are at a reservoir where they are known to be.

Don't get stuck on just fishing for one species in a particular body of water if other species are in there you might be just as surprised as we were when we lucked into these salmon. Please be safe out there on the ice and never go alone. 

                                                                         Best of Luck,  Sam Heckman / Pro StaffMale Kokanee SalmonFemale Kokanee Salmon10 Kokanee limit

 

 

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Colorado High School Regional Champions

High school fishing. Yes, an actual sport growing in high schools nationwide. Along with football,baseball, basketball high school kids have the opportunity to join up and fish team bass tournaments. I know it sounds crazy but it is here and here to stay. 

Many of you who read this will probably think there are no bass in Colorado and most people who live here fish for other species. We actually do have some great bass fisheries in Colorado. A few examples are Pueblo Reservoir, Aurora Reservoir, Chatfield Reservoir, Brush Hollow Reservoir, Cheeseman Reservoir, Horse Tooth Reservoir and Trinidad Reservoir just to name a few. Not to mention the hundred of ponds throughout the metro areas that hold a lot of nice bass.

High school fishing is very popular in the South and by far there are several more high schools affiliated with the program there but there is an opportunity in Colorado if this peaks your interest. There are two organizations that have high school fishing under their name one is BASS and FLW. I am a member of both and they are great for our sport of bass fishing. The group I am involved with is the FLW side that has a sub organization called the TBF. "The Bass Federation" Here they have the SAF, "student angler federation".

Currently there are a few high schools that are involved in the SAF high school fishing program. Pueblo West High School in Pueblo, Co. has been the longest active club and Mesa Ridge High School in Fountain, Co. is in there second year. BASS has the Windsor High School program in Windsor, Co. Clubs are starting to form throughout the state for both organizations. 

You can go on the website and check out highschoolfishing.org and see how you can get a club started in your high school. If you live in a rural area and still want to be a part of this you can sign up under my youth club as a SAF member the Fountain Valley Junior Bass Club. The TBF has allowed the club to be sanctioned as a high school so no kid would be left out who wanted to fish. Pretty awesome.

The format is having one qualifying tournament usually at Pueblo Reservoir every year with each high school team fishing against other high school teams.The team consists of two high school team members and a boat captain. The winner of that qualifying tournament earns a spot to move on to the regional tournament and from there on to the National event to fish for scholarship money towards a college of there choice. 

This year the team of Bradley Czosynka and Josh Cundiff from Mesa Ridge High School also members of my youth club competed against eighteen other teams to win the Colorado SAF high school state champion title. From here the team , myself and their boat captain David Wilkins made the long 22 hour one way trip to Clear Lake California to fish the SAF regional tournament. We spent a few days on the water prefishing looking for a pattern and with the FLW Rayovac series and the College regional also going on at the same time the lake and most common spots were getting hammered.

We decided to let the boys fish all the techniques they gained information on through research, the internet, club members and friends it was a treat to hear the strategy of how they were going to throw big swim baits and then flip docks and then go punching weed mats and then go deep cranking....that didn't last a full day of practice so we decided to fish their comfort zone the following day. We found a pretty decent pattern and the boys were good with what they needed to do to catch fish during the tournament. Practice was over and it was all up to them now.

 There were six other high schools from the western states who made the trip and they all were excited at the launch.This would be a one day shoot out and the winner would go on to the National championship from here, I would not be on the boat the final day so all I could do was wait and hope they made the right decisions to bring in the five bass limit. It seemed like forever for the 2 pm weigh in to get here and they came in with only four fish but two of them were in the 4 + pound range. They weighed in 12# 14 oz.with those four fish and were the first team to weigh in. The California team had a five fish limit and weighed in 12# 13 oz. Three other teams had limits but were just ounces shy. This was the closest tournament for the SAF regional championship so far and I am proud to say they pulled it off. Great job Bradley and Josh. SAF high school regional champions from Colorado. Best of Luck at the National Championship.

Get involved with some classmates and start up a fishing club in your high school. Get out and go fishing as much as you can. Your team could be the next National contenders and move up to a College fishing program from there, Yes. College fishing...you bet. It only gets better from there. :)

                                             Bradley & Josh weigh inJosh and Bradley with trophiesDavid Wilkins, Bradley Czosnyka, Josh Cundiff, Sam Heckman   Best of Luck, Sam Heckman / Pro Staff

 

 

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South Park Trout Action

 Morgan FitzgeraldSouth Park is known for its excellent trout fishery and you have three lakes within a ten mile stretch off Hwy 24 to choose from. There is 11 Mile Reservoir, Spinney Mountain Reservoir and Antero Reservoir all three produce giant trout and you can fish from the shore or boat and have great success.

Sam's 11 mile troutThere are a variety of baits and lures that many of you can use to catch trout at all three of the reservoirs. Spinney Mountain has a special regulation and you can use artificial flies and lures ONLY.  Traditional baits such as Berkley power bait, Kraft miniature marshmallows, salmon eggs and night crawlers can be used at Antero and 11 Mile fishing from the shore and are very successful baits for many fishermen. Each reservoir has their own regulations on bag limits if you are wanting to keep a few to eat.

Isaiah PerkinsI prefer to throw hardware like Kastmasters, small rapalas, tube jigs and an occasional fly and bubble every now and then. Mainly because I am in my boat and moving around looking for active fish. Now is the time to go West and enjoy some great trout action at all three reservoirs. The weather has been exceptionally rainy this year and the water is starting to cool down and the trout are becoming very active.

I have fished all three reservoirs in the past few weeks and have been very successful for trout on all three. I have had the pleasure of taking out some of my youth club kids, Morgan Fitzgerald and Isaiah Perkins to watch them catch some of their biggest trout so far. What a great time and lasting memories.Dayton Tervort

  My most recent trip was The winners of the Bass Pro Shops Preferred Rewards night. Ryan and Dayton Tervort from Kiowa, Colorado. We discussed where we wanted to go and we chose to go to Antero because it was fishing very well with lots of numbers of fish being caught. We used copper colored kastmasters and small rapala jerk baits and we caught well over 40 trout. We did manage a few 2 plus pounders but for the most part the fish were in the 14'' to 16'' range and they were very cooperative. Ryan told me it was one of the best trips he has had in a very long time and I was glad he was able to bring his son Dayton along to enjoy the day with me. Great company and new friends for sure.

Ryan & DaytonIf its trout you are wanting to catch head West to South Park as the weather cools it will only get better. Stop by your Bass Pro Shops for the baits and lures you will need to make your trip a success, our Team is always willing to help set you up and let you know where the action is.

                                 Best of Luck,  Sam Heckman / Pro StaffRyan & Dayton Tervort

 

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Preparing for Your Elk Hunt Part 3

Practice Your Shooting

It really doesn’t matter what you shoot, whether if it’s a rifle, muzzle loader or bow (compound, re-curve, or long bow) you need to shoot year round. I know it gets very expensive to shoot a rifle or muzzle loader all the time but to stay proficient you need to shoot more than just a couple times a year. That’s not really the case with archery, we can shoot our arrows over and over unless you are a beginner and then you ruin a lot of arrows practicing. I can shoot my Carbon Express arrows over and over as long as I don’t miss and jack up an arrow which very rarely happens unless we are getting stupid and trying almost impossible shots.  Another advantage with archery is I can shoot in my back yard and no one cares, but if I started popping off with my 30-06, oh man look out, the cops will be there in a heartbeat with their guns drawn and aiming right at me. For the rifle and muzzle loaders if you can’t shoot a lot during off season you need to at least get out once a month or every other month before season and make sure your gun is still sighted in, plus if your gun is in a gun safe for extended periods of time you might start to have a rusting problem. When you do go shoot you may find something is wrong or broke or something breaks while you are at the range, if it does you can get it fixed before you go on your hunt. I had this happen a few years ago, I hadn’t shot my bow for a couple months because of an injury and when I pulled my bow out of the case and started waxing my string, I noticed that my cable guard slide was broke. I don’t know about you but most of the places I hunt it’s a long drive to a town that may or may not be able to fix the problem. If I wouldn’t have caught that broken slide I would have had a very long drive to find a place that would have one for my bow. The bottom line here is to shoot as much as possible so when that moment of truth comes along you’re ready.

Staying Organized

Keeping all your hunting equipment organized is one of the most import things to do that I can’t stress it enough. A lot of hunters when they get home throw everything in the corner of the garage, clean their gun, put it away in a gun safe and they're done until their next hunting season. Well the next hunting season arrives and you are going through everything trying reorganize and make sense of everything when come to find out, you left a pair of used socks in one of the bags, and the worst part of it all is there’s no laundry detergent made on this earth that’s going to take that smell out of everything you had in with those socks. This may be a little over kill but I think you get the picture.

I’m not much different but when I unload my truck I put everything into three different piles. One pile is all my hunting clothes, another is my regular clothes and then the third pile is all my other hunting stuff like my bow, boots, and that sort of stuff. My hunting clothes go straight into the washer and are washed with Hunter’s Specialties Scent-A-Way Laundry Detergent and then hung out side to dry. When it has all dried completely it is all folded and put back into my Hunter’s Specialties Scent Safe Travel Bags with one Primetime Fresh Earth Scent Wafer in each bag. Now I’m ready for my next hunt. I go as far as all my shirts are in one bag, my pants in another, and my coats in another. Each bag is marked so if I’m looking for a pair of pants I don’t have to go through all the bags to find them. While everything is washing I’m putting all my other stuff away down in the basement where it all has its own place, this way when I go looking for something I know where it is. Now my wife will disagree with this but at least I know where it is.  If something is broke I will fix it right away and if it’s something I can’t do I’ll get it to someone who can. There’s nothing worse than having something broke and forgetting about it and then as you’re getting everything out and ready for your hunt and you find it, well I know the words you’re going to use because it happened to me and it was a good thing there was no kids around when I found it. If you can fix it, fix it, but if it’s one of those items you can’t fix take it to someone and get it fixed right away.

Everything I have talked about organizing so far has been all about when you get home. Don’t forget about staying organized while hunting. I’m just as guilty as the next when it comes to staying organized. When I get back to camp after hunting all day all I can think of is getting something in my stomach and going to bed. Now the next morning comes and I’m scrambling to get a lunch made, make sure my hydration bladder has water in it and off I go with a pop tart in one hand and a soda in the other.  It's really frustrating when you’re about a mile from camp and all of a sudden you hear a bugle and you go to grab your cow call that normally hangs around your neck and it’s not there along with the rest of your calls. Been there, done that, but it only took that one time for me to learn that lesson the hard way.

Check Off Sheet

A check off sheet is something I feel every hunter should have, get one of those generic ones that you find in magazines or at the game and fish department and modify it for you. A rifle hunters check off sheet would be different then a bow hunters as would a muzzle loaders. Some of the items will be the same like your licenses, GPS/Maps/Compass, but a bow hunter doesn’t need blaze orange and a rifle hunter doesn’t need camo. I have my list broke down into categories, day pack, hunting clothing, camp clothing, camp accessories, and camping equipment. Like with my day pack, I have a list of everything I carry in it, my camp clothing is what I wear around camp and it’s broke down as far as how many pair of socks and underwear I bring.  It took me quite a while to come up with my lists, but I started with one of those generic lists a long time ago and went from there. Sometimes I may add to the list or I may remove some thing. Once you start don’t stop unless you feel everything you have is sufficient. I’ve been using these lists for a long time and things are constantly changing as to where I’m adding and subtracting all the time. I even have a needs list and a want list. The needs list is stuff I need before next year’s hunt. My want/wish list is a whole lot longer than all my other lists combined. I don’t think I need to explain what kind of list that is but you know, like a new AR15 to whack a few coyotes. Maybe if I’m real good this year Santa might bring me one.

Hunt Hard & Shoot Straight

Mark Campagnola

         

 

 

 

 

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Preparing for Your Elk Hunt Part 2

Preparing for Your Elk Hunt Part 2

I don’t like to pre-scout too early in the summer because when the rut hits the bulls will be looking for the cows and those bulls you saw above timber line probably won’t be there come opening morning. Now depending on the weather, a heard bull may take his harem up high if it’s too hot, or there’s a lot of hunting pressure, or he’s trying to get away from other bulls, but like I said, at the beginning of the rut (not pre-rut) those bulls will come looking for cows. It’s nice to see elk during that time so you can get somewhat of an idea of the antlers they are growing and how many elk may be in the area. But don’t expect them to be there when the rut hits, or during a rifle season.

I like to try and get out about 2 to 3 weeks before the season starts and that’s when I get real serious about what I’m finding or seeing. Some bulls could still be above timber line but their antlers are pretty much done growing so what you see is what you get. Going later also shows me what the moisture level is closer to the season. During June it could be lush and green but by the end of August it could be dry as a bone or a foot of snow late October. There is no right or wrong time to pre-scout as long as you can get out and have fun. If you’re hunting in a different state and you don’t have the time to pre-scout, you’re going to have to do a lot of research and looking over maps. This is where hiring an outfitter may be your best option.

After you have put all this together, now you are ready to go out and look the area over. Even if you have hunted the same area for many years it’s still a good idea to get out and look around. You never know if a new road was put in, an old road is now closed, or the worst of all, land was sold and someone is developing it. All this will affect elk in a negative way with the exception of a road being closed. This will help the elk but it won’t help you if you used that road in the past to get from point A to a long away point B.

Elk need three things to survive; food, water, and cover, cover could be thermal cover or escape cover. When I go out pre-scouting the first thing I do is get up as high as I can early in the morning on a ridge that overlooks a large area and start looking it over with my eyes first, you have a better field of view to start with then binoculars. Once I’ve done this then I will use my binoculars and start from one side and work my way to the other side going up and down in a grid pattern. If you use a grid pattern and not just randomly looking around, you won’t miss much. Once I spot something then I’ll pull out my spotting scope to zoom in for a better look.

If you are only trophy hunting this will let you know whether you want that animal or not, but still, try figuring out a game plan on how you would get to him as if you were actually hunting. If you are meat hunting all the better, you have located them and now you can figure out how you would get to them. When you do spot elk, mark it on your map, put down the total number of elk, number of bulls, and number of cows, plus the time of day and what the weather was like. Also make a note which way they left after feeding, but don’t stop there, continue looking for them because you may get lucky and see exactly where they go to bed. If the timber is too thick that you can’t see them any more unless they go through another meadow, go back to the area you seen them last and continue looking for other elk using the grid pattern again because there could be more.

If you were to miss any other elk during your actual hunt and started after the first bunch you may get busted by one you didn’t see and then it’s over. Don’t overlook deer either, you spook them and the same could happen. When you do set up to glass an area plan on being there for quite a while, especial if you are glassing areas with oak brush. Elk blend into oak brush so well that one minute you’re looking at one spot and you see nothing, then a couple minutes later you look at that same spot and there’s elk everywhere. Trust me; it has happened to me more than once. Take your time when you’re glassing, there’s no reason to get in a hurry whether you are pre-scouting or actually hunting.

During the middle of the day I don’t like tromping around the forest where elk may be bedded. I want to keep the area as human scent free as possible, nor do I want to spook them into the next county. It doesn’t take a lot to move elk out of an area and by running around the country side it could happen. Just because elk have to bed to digest their food doesn’t mean they don’t get up to drink, wallow, or just wonder around during the middle of the day. During my walk in and out of the area is when I look for elk tracks, droppings, rubbed trees, and good game trails. I pay special attention to which way the tracks are going, if everything seems to be heading only one way I want to figure out why. If they are going both ways then I know this would be a normal travel route usually from their feeding area to their bedding area in the mornings and reversed in the late afternoon.

As long as they are fresh I know for certain there’s elk in the area, but if everything is old, they have moved for some reason. This could be a matter of not enough food or maybe water. It’s nothing for elk to travel 10 to 15 miles in a single night, and if pressured enough this could very easily happen and possibly more. Never take your elk calls with you pre-scouting, you may be tempted to use them and this is neither the time nor place to do this. You may be a great caller but just one mistake and you get busted by some elk you have just educated them. It can happen fairly easy too because you’re not in the hunting mode and you’re not paying as close of attention as if you were actually hunting. Leave your calls at home and just listen to the elk and learn.

So during midday I will drive around looking at other areas that I picked out on my maps. What I’m looking for here is where the aspen stands meet the timber, headwater drainages, and bowls. A lot of this you should already have an idea about if you studied your maps beforehand. Most of this can be seen from the road along with the use of your maps. If you are scouting fairly early in the summer you may see elk above timer line lounging around and soaking up some rays.

Now, that evening, I will go to the same place as I was that morning and watch to see if any elk come out in the same area. If they do I mark my map the same way I did that morning. Don’t forget time of day, make sure you document that any time you see elk. Elk are creatures of habit and if not disturbed they will stay in the same areas as long as their food and water source remains.

I will continue doing this in different areas until my scouting trip is over. If there’s more than just me, and some of my friends I hunt with are there too, then all the better. We will get better coverage of the area.

Now, here’s the fun part for me. When I get home I will take all my maps and notes and try to figure out a pattern from the elk I seen and then form a strategy for my opening morning hunt.

My next post we will finish up Preparing for Your Elk Hunt with Practicing, Staying Organized, and Check Off Sheets.

Mark Campagnola

Hunt Hard & Shoot Straight

 

 

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Scrappy Panfish / Lake Havasu Giants

I love to catch big bluegills. Pound for pound they are one of the scrappiest fighting fish there is and we all know as kids growing up they were always willing to accept any bait and presentation we presented to them without any hesitation, This is still true today. I love to take kids out for their first time fishing down to the local ponds and wet a line and catch plenty of willing bluegills.

I now have a whole different outlook on those scrappy little fish. I was headed to the TBF Southwest Divisional tournament with my great friend and travel partner Bryan Leck at Lake Havasu in Arizona. Like all tournaments we were anxious and anticipating what the bass would be doing when we got there and we had high hopes on finding a pattern that would last the entire length of the tournament after all we had four days of practice to figure them out.

What we found in practice I wanted to share with all of you. Yes we happened to pattern the bass that would help us out in the tournament but the giant bluegills and red ear sunfish we found in practice are a memories I will have for a lifetime. We were working a main lake point with some crank baits and what seemed like a decent fish for Bryan ended up being the biggest red ear sunfish I have ever seen a 14''' giant. Looking at a sunfish you could lip like a bass in real life changes your perspective at least it did mine. Wow a giant. That's all I could think about. We laughed about it all day.

I couldn't get that giant red ear sunfish out of my head and come to find out the new world record red ear sunfish was caught there this spring a whopping 5 plus pounds on a Texas rigged rubber worm. I saw the replica in the local tackle shop and it it was unbelievable and absolutely a giant. I had to catch one of those red ears for myself.

I had heard that some of the guys were seeing some big red ears on spawning beds in the very back of the coves and even though we were establishing a pattern on main lake for bass I took the boat as far back in the coves as I could to get a look for myself. Yes there they were red ears spawning all over the place. But there weren't those giants I had pictured. don't get me wrong there were several that would be pushing a pound or better and would be a great catch in anyone's book. I needed to find the giants.

Bryan was definitely being a great friend knowing I was wasting time looking for sunfish when we should have been looking for bass after all we were there for a bass tournament. I am the type of guy who just loves to catch anything. It definitely helped when the stripers started schooling on the third morning and Bryan didn't have a choice but to throw at them for the hour I spent chasing them. I live for those opportunities.

As my luck would have it I never did find a giant red ear sunfish but while working down a bank I thought I had hooked a decent bass and when it came up all I could think was please don't get off. I had hooked the biggest bluegill I have ever seen and I had to take a picture of it. A giant bluegill on a crank bait. This lake is awesome. On the last day of official practice I was blessed with a picture opportunity of his twin brother that lived way up the river in a back slough.bluegill

I normally try to do my blogs on whats happening now in Colorado but when you see the size of the red ear sunfish and bluegills at Lake Havasu AZ.  You might want to take a vacation where the giants live. If you love to fish for them as much as I do this will be a special trip that will have you hooked. Your kids will love you even more. I could only imagine how awesome a worm under a bobber would have been.

                                                                  Best of Luck, Sam Heckman / Pro StaffBryan's Red Ear Sunfishsize verificationgiant bluegill

 

 

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Preparing for Your Elk Hunt Part 1

Preparing for Your Elk Hunt Part 1

Preparing for my next year’s hunt starts the last couple days of the hunt that I am currently on at the time. This may sound funny or weird to a lot of people but depending on how that hunt went depends on whether or not I go back to the same place or I start looking for another. This gives me a whole year to prepare for next season. If it was a draw unit and the hunt was good I will know how many years I may have to wait to hunt it again or try drawing some other unit because this one wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.

Type of Weapon

So your first decision you need to make when preparing for your hunt is deciding on what type of weapon you’re going to use. The reason for this is it will dictate when and where you are going to pre-scout and hunt. For example, if you were to choose Colorado’s fourth rifle season, the odds of hunting up high (10,000 Ft.) would be slim because of snow.  Colorado’s fourth rifle season is towards the beginning of November and the odds of having snow is very possible and a lot of snow is quite possible. Depending on how much snow there is will also dictate when the elk start migrating down or not. During the migration the cows and calf’s start first then the younger bulls with the big mature boys pretty much last unless it’s a big storm then the big boys may come down sooner. If you were to choose to hunt archery then the chances of a storm that big is fairly slim and you would pretty much be able to hunt anywhere. In all the years that I have bow hunted I have never had a big storm like that hit. I’ve been rained on, hailed on, about blown over by the wind and snowed on, but never a massive snow storm that dumped 2 to 3 feet over night.

Deciding Where to Hunt

Now you need to decide where you want to hunt and/or if you want to hire an outfitter.  Hiring an outfitter takes about 90 percent of the work away from you, and then the other 10 percent is showing up and hunting. Also knowing where you want to hunt will depend on if you have to draw for the license or if it’s just an over the counter tag. If you decide on a (DIY) do it your self-hunt, selecting an area to hunt (if you don’t already have one) will take a lot of time and a whole lot of researching especially if you are looking for nothing but a trophy bull. A trophy bull, what exactly is, “a trophy bull”? Most people if asked “what is a trophy bull” would say, one that is around 300 plus. For me, it’s any bull that is legal. If I was strictly meat hunting, it would be any legal elk except for a calf, I will go home empty handed if that was my only choice, but that’s just me, let them grow. So depending on if you want a trophy bull or anything legal, either one will dictate where you’re going to hunt, and how much time it will take researching. Another very important equation is altitude sickness. Even though I live in Colorado it still takes me a couple days to get acclimated to the altitude. I got a minor case of altitude sickness a few years ago and I never want that to happen again, I lost a day and a half of hunting. So when you are planning your hunt be prepared for the altitude difference, start drinking a lot of water a couple weeks before you arrive at camp and keep drinking a lot of water throughout your whole hunt. When I got sick mostly what I drank was ice tea, thinking it’s made with water right, WRONG, it’s a diuretic and that’s how it happened to me. I love ice tea but since that day I have never drank it up hunting again. A severe case of altitude sickness can kill you. So drink a lot of water and take it easy the first few days and you should do just fine.

Where Will You Stay

Deciding on where to stay or camp hinges on what season and where you’re going to hunt. A lot of people stay in tents and that’s great but if you think you’re going to go to Wal-Mart and buy a tent and then use it fourth rifle season in Colorado, you got another thing coming. If I’m staying in a tent, and I have for many years, it’s going to be an outfitter tent with a wood burning stove on a late season hunt, I don’t like freezing when I’m sleeping. I do have an outfitter tent that’s 12x 18 foot with 4 foot side walls and I love it. In thirty-four years of hunting elk I have stayed in cabins, tents, fifth wheel trailers, pull behind trailers, and motor homes. Depending on where I hunted really dictated what I stayed in. If you’re packing in on horses or on your back you’ll be staying in a tent. For me in all honesty it doesn’t matter what I stay in as long as I’m comfortable. If I don’t have a comfortable organized camp my hunt becomes unorganized and not as enjoyable in my opinion. So whatever you choose remember comfortable.

Maps       

After you have chosen where you’re going to hunt you’ll need to get maps of the area. You’re going to need topographical maps, forest service maps, and aerial maps if possible. Topographical maps are going to show you how the land is laid out along with elevations. It’s a good idea if you can find a class that teaches map reading because if you don’t know how to read a topographical map and match it up to a compass and/or GPS you stand a greater chance of getting lost. Reading a topographical map will help you in finding areas that elk like.  For example, elk love to use saddles on ridge lines to get from one side to the other; if you can find these on a topographical map you will have a starting point, plus a possible ambush area as they go from point A to point B. Elk are lazy and they are going to take the easiest route possible just like us, but spook them and it doesn’t matter how steep that mountain is they will go straight up it like nothing.

Forest service maps are a necessity in my opinion. These maps have a lot of information and will show interstate highways, county roads, dirt roads, and forest service roads. They will also show four wheel drive roads, closed logging roads, walking trails, and closed roads. Most importantly they will show boundaries from National Forests to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land and the BIGGEST of them all, PRIVATE LAND BOUNDRIES. It is the hunter’s responsibility to know what is private and what is not. If you’re lucky and have permission to hunt private land then it is still your responsibility to know where the private land boundaries are. Get the land owner to mark on your map where their land is so there’s no question. If you can get one of those private land permission cards and have the owner sign it or at least something in writing so if you were stopped you can prove you have permission to be there all the better. In Colorado if you are caught trespassing you could have everything confiscated including your vehicle and a very hefty fine.

Good aerial maps are worth every penny you spend. If you take a topographical map, match it up to your aerial map, you will know exactly what’s over the next ridge or how deep that canyon really is. You can also down load Google Earth www.googlearth.com for free which is a very good one to look at on your computer when you are at home looking the area over, but the problem is you can’t print the free version, you have to pay for a yearly subscription to print anything. Virtual Earth www.virtualearth.com is another one you can down load and use your computer for free.  There is topographic software you can purchase and down load yourself to your computer which than you can print and take it with you. I used DeLorme www.delorme.com topographic software and when I chose a spot I would print it and then laminate it so it was waterproof and tear proof and kept it in my hunting pack all the time. That software at the time was around hundred dollars but for the amount of copies I did back then it paid for its self. Now I use Map Data which has maps specifically for elk and turkey hunting. They show summer and winter areas along with migration routes, densities, and a whole lot of other great information. I can personalize my maps to any area I want within any unit I want in Colorado. Map Data will pay for itself ten times over with just the information it has let alone being able to print your own personalized maps. Go www.huntdata.com and you will see just how much information you can get from their maps.

Next month I will cover pre-scouting in Part 2 of Preparing for Your Elk Hunt.

 

Hunt Hard and Shoot Straight

Mark Campagnola

 

 

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Colorado High School Fishing

Colorado offers many fishing opportunities and in the past few years I have had the pleasure to be a part of an amazing opportunity for our High School youth. Four years ago I received a call from a good friend Mark Gintert of the TBF. A bass fishing organization. He asked if I could set up a High School state championship for Colorado and I had three short weeks to make it happen. High School fishing I thought how awesome is that. It turns out that the SAF Student Angler Federation is the largest growing sport in many high schools around the country just like baseball and football an actual high school sport.

High school youth who have completed the eighth grade and have not graduated by the time of the regional tournament are eligible to find a partner in high school and a coach/boater to team up and compete in high school bass fishing tournaments and possibly end up winning $10,000 in scholarships if they make it to the Nationals and win it.

It starts by having a sponsor teacher who would step up and sign up their school as a high school team. From there it would take six high school kids to get the club started. They would have meetings and possibly have a few fishing tournaments to focus on competitive bass fishing. They would partner up and fish as a team in qualifying tournaments all the way to the National event. If this sounds like something you would like to have in your high school please go to highschoolfishing.org and get it started.2nd Place

There were nineteen High School teams from throughout the state that competed in this years state championship at Lake Pueblo in Pueblo Colorado. Kids from Windsor. Salida, Ellicott, Montrose and High Schools along the front range made the trip with their coaches/boaters to compete and test their skills on the water and see what High School would be crowned the Colorado state champions.

The weather was perfect after a week of freezing temperatures and rain and snow they were all ready to get out and do some fishing and the anticipation at the pre meeting with the talk of the bass cooperating  would cause a restless night for most thinking about what strategy they would put together and if their patterns would hold up.

At the weigh in all but four teams caught a legal bass "fifteen inches in Colorado" and everyone reported that they caught lots of bass and had a great time. As the teams weighed in the crowd gathered and waited for the results to see who this years Colorado state champions were going to be.

Rounding out the top three. In third place was the team of Morgan Fitzgerald and Forrest Beckman. Salida High School Spartans. They caught their bass throwing BPS Sticko's in the tires in both the North and South shore marinas weighing in two spotted bass and one largemouth bass for a total weight of 6.7#.

The second place team was Dexter Flick and Calvin Corey. Olathe High School Pirates. They caught their bass throwing tube jigs along the bluff walls and main lake points weighing in four smallmouth bass for a total weight of 7# even.

3rd PlacePlacing first was the team of Josh Cundiff and Bradley Czosnyka. Mesa Ridge High School Grizzlies. They found their bass on beds in the very back of the North coves and threw BPS Sticko's to get them to bite. They weighed in the only five bass limit of the tournament weighing 8.9#. to win the title of SAF / Colorado High School State Champions.

From here Josh and Bradley will be making a trip to Clear Lake California to compete in the SAF / High School Regional tournament against other High School State Champions from the Western States. From there the winners of the Western division will earn a trip to the National tournament and compete against the Divisional champions. The winners of the National tournament will receive $10,000 in scholarships. Best of luck guys make Colorado proud.

High School fishing is just the beginning. There is also College fishing with teams From CSU in Ft. Collins and UCCS in Colorado Springs. The great sport of bass fishing is growing bigger every day and it starts with you. Take a kid fishing and make a positive impact in their lives. To see it come this far in just a few years is awesome. Get involved and make a difference. You will be as blessed as I have been.

                                                                 Best of Luck,

                                                                                         Sam Heckman / Pro Staff

 

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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 www.hunterspec.com.  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

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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 sickness....it's just Colorado walleye fever.

                                                                                     Best of Luck,

                                                                                                            Sam Heckman / Pro Staff

 

                                                                               

 

 

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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

 

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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 www.hunterspec.com. 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

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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

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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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 highschoolfishing.org 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

 

 

 

 

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