It’s Fishing Season

“If you want to catch a fish, think like a fish.”shutterstock_1763192

The line may have come from one of Steve Conrad’s favorite TV shows in the 90s, but to him, nothing sums up the essence of fishing better.

Conrad was an eagle scout in 1973 when his dad gave him his first fly rod, and he’s been addicted to fishing ever since.

Not only is he a certified guide for Tenkara, the Japanese-born style of reel-less fishing that’s exploding in popularity worldwide, he also works in the McGuckin Hardware Sporting Goods department, which serves as a complete fly and fishing shop for local anglers.

Recently Conrad has noticed an influx of anglers coming into the store.

“Those coming in for gear, I remind them to get a license, and those coming in for a license, I remind them to get gear,” says Conrad, who thinks the Front Range angler season unofficially kicks off with the annual Fly Fishing Film Tour at Boulder Theater, an event that pairs two of Boulder’s prized amenities—fishing and beer—and also happens to coincide with the April 1st availability of 2015 fishing licenses.

“The start of the season is often where I see people who are not die-hards go out and fish,” he says, “but people are just starting to think about fly fishing.”

Typically, Conrad explains, anglers who practice the western style of fly fishing will “match the hatch,” selecting flies that resemble the native bugs hatching in an area during a specific time of year. shutterstock_135845108

Coming out of winter, many fly fisherman tie flies to mimic the Blue Winged Olive (Mayfly), which hatches biannually across North America when overcast days reach above 40 degrees. The next match will be the annual “Mother’s Day Hatch” of caddis, a small moth-like fly. Then there’s the summer hatch, where a myriad of terrestrial bugs like grasshoppers, ants, beetles and bees become prolific in the environment, allowing anglers more flexibility to try different strategies in finding out just what the fish are craving.

That’s not to say that Conrad doesn’t see every other type of angler as well.

As the lakes “ice-off” due to an increase in air and water temperatures, the fish start to move around more and more and surface for food. And that’s the kind of situation where he likes to recommend live bait.

“It’s a more enticing form of stimulant for the fish after a winter’s worth of rest,” says Conrad, who’s always trying to get a fish on his hook, no matter the season. This year he fished on New Year’s Day, embarking out early in the morning to cast in the tail waters from the release dam near his house, where the unfrozen water was warm enough that the fish were active and feeding.

Lately, Conrad’s been drawing attention to another movement: the rehabilitation of Boulder Creek by Boulder Flycasters, the local chapter of Trout Unlimited.

The group is trying to raise $30,000 to improve the creek’s structure after the September 2013 floods redefined its terrain. One stage of the process is to place boulders in the creek to increase the hydraulic complexity of streams so they will hold more fish and insects in calmer pockets.

“Most fish like to hold in a resting spot near the current,” Conrad says, “this way the fish can find food, and hopefully survive and reproduce.”

Be sure to check out these local fishing events, coming soon!

  • Senior Fish-Off, April 24th, 6:30-10:00am at Walden Ponds in East Boulder. All anglers aged 64 and older, with a valid fishing license, are welcome to come out for morning on the pond for prizes. A fish fry will follow.
  • Kids’ Fishing Derby, May 23rd, 7:00-10:00am at Viele Lake in South Boulder. Kids 12 and under can bring their gear and come and catch fish for prizes!