Autumn anglers have a friend

The Outdoor Scene: A column by Ron Hellbusch
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 11/29/22

When you need some good ole basic rod and reel fishing advice you have a lot of sources, not the least of which is our helpful State Parks & Wildlife pros. Add to that group your long-time …

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Autumn anglers have a friend


When you need some good ole basic rod and reel fishing advice you have a lot of sources, not the least of which is our helpful State Parks & Wildlife pros.

Add to that group your long-time personal fishing buddy, maybe that agent you have come to like at the nearby sporting goods shop. You can even look beyond this circle, as I did, and discover someone in the neighborhood rumored to spend a lot of time wading lake shorelines or in casting from fishing boats.

I discovered long time Westminster resident Don Goodman, a gentleman busy in his church with a “year around” fishing calendar marked heavily with his numerous angling outings. Unlike many anglers, Don’s fishing season does not end with the summer season. He is not one that stores his rods when the aspens turn gold, and the fall chill of winter settles in the foothills and along the Front Range.

“December is the slow, quiet month for me,” Don stated. He patiently waits for summer lake waters to cool and ice over. December is a good month for Don to tackle the angling gear repairs and check out fishing catalogs and sporting goods shops for the latest new fishing gear and technology.

Don frequents both cold water mountain lakes and warm water eastern slope reservoirs year around. His choice of lake baits includes night crawlers, liver, or sucker meat, fished off the bottom of the lake in a slow and varied jigging action. Carefully selected lures are equally popular in Don’s tackle boxes. Both are activated in slower movements to match the slower movement of the fish in the colder winter water temperatures. Don uses similar gear and seeks out similar water depths and environments in both summer and winter.

“To offset slower movement of fish in colder water I slow my speeds jigging or drifting.” he confirmed.

Don pursues fish at both eastern lakes like Jackson Lake, Boyd Lake, Pueblo Reservoir and Aurora Reservoir, and high-country mountain lakes alike in South Park and Grand County. He enjoys exceptional success at Sandpiper, Blue Heron, and Coot ponds at the St. Vain State Park ponds near the Longmont-I-25 exit. Closer into the mountains he enjoys success at Evergreen, Chatfield, and Bear Creek Reservoirs, both are younger waters with closer destinations.

“I have learned the challenge and value of matching, sometimes experimenting, the baits to lake depths and temperatures as the season moves into the early spring. Don encourages this process and has found the result productive to his catching success. Studying a lake for habitat, structure and plant growth is essential. Equally helpful is the fact this process leads an angler to where the fish are schooled.

South Park area reservoirs Antero and Eleven Mile, near the town of Fairplay, tends to attract Don early in the spring. An influencing factor are due primarily to the shallower depths and a faster warming of the water.

Don takes an active role in big fish challenges. His choice waters in the high mountain waters are Granby Reservoir and Willow Creek Reservoirs in Grand County and nearby Lake John near Walden.

“Lake trout, Larger mackinaw and mature rainbow and German Brown trout cruise deeper waters, normally at slower feeding times, requiring similar varied jigjig movements to attract the larger fish,” Don reminds us.

Bait and lure experimenting should be on our year around agenda whenever fishing slows regardless of where we are fishing. The popular and uncomplicated Mepps spinner or bright cast master with or without worms or sucker meat is a good example of one menu of choice for trout in the mountain lakes. Don is convinced there is a definite connection between a lakes natural bug species, aquatic growth, habitat and structure, and the angler’s lure types. Finding that connection is worth the study time.

Don’s confident presence takes on an excitement and big smile when you ask him about his recently awarded “Master Angler” award received last year from the Colorado Division of Parks & Wildlife. Don proudly landed a four-pound smallmouth bass, which comfortably exceeded the three plus pound smallmouth previously on record. The trophy was taken in late fall from an eastern plains warm water pond.

Don genuinely enjoys watching people pursue the sport of fishing and to do so with success. And he suggests fishing can really be a fun year-round experience.

Outdoorsman and Westminster resident Ron Hellbusch can be reached at Ron-Hellbusch

Hellsbusch, fishing, outdoors


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