Family Life in Colorado

Colorado Weekend: Fishing, Snowboarding, Snowshoeing

This past weekend was a “why doesn’t everyone live in Colorado” weekend.

Started out Friday evening with birding for Jessica and fishing at Sawhill Ponds and Walden Ponds for me. I only caught a tiny bass, but I never catch much at Walden or Sawhill, and this trip was no exception, but as usual it’s always great to be out there.

Fishing at Sawhill Ponds/Walden Ponds

Saturday Elijah, Jessica and I went to Eldora Mountain Resort for some snowboarding and snowshoeing. Eldora has an extensive Nordic trail system, but Jessica recently found the Jenny Creek Trail, the public snowshoe trail, so she and Elijah spent the day shoeing in the snow and the trees while I spent a couple hours snowboarding. The sky was stunning, the air was crisp, and while it wasn’t my best day, and the snow wasn’t great, I love any chance to get in the mountains.

Clouds above Eldora Ski Resort while Snowboarding/Snowshoeing

Finally, on Sunday Jessica and I trekked up to Wild Basin in Rocky Mountain National Park. We intended to snowshoe deeper into the park, but we forgot our park pass, so we went to Wild Basin which is one of the “free” entrances to the park with no pay station (at least during Winter). The trailhead is around 8500 feet, and with the warm 2016 Winter we’ve had (it was 50 degrees Sunday), there wasn’t enough snow on the trail to snowshoe so we headed off for a snowy hike. The trail heads to Copeland Falls, Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls (which we hiked a couple of summers ago), but in Winter you have to hike a mile or so up the road to get to the trailhead, and in the end we only went out 2.5 miles where we snacked and headed back. Still, any day in the mountains is a beautiful day.

St. Vrain Creek in Wild Basin in Rocky Mountain National Park

If anyone ever asks, this is why we moved to Colorado.

Family Life in Colorado

Rainbow Lakes

Rainbow Lakes is a series of lakes in the Indian Peaks Wilderness about 45 minutes from Boulder between Nederland and Ward. The trailhead is five miles up a fairly rough dirt road off Highway 72 and sits at around 10,000 feet elevation. There is a very popular campground, a short two mile trail to the lakes, and a much longer trail to Arapaho Glacier higher in the Indian Peaks mountains.

Rainbow Lake in Indian Peaks Wilderness
Josh at one of the Rainbow Lakes in Indian Peaks Wilderness. If you look closely, you can see David fishing in the background. ©Familyvance

We visited Rainbow Lakes Trail on a recent Sunday morning in early July. Driving up the dirt road we passed at least a dozen groups camping just off the road. Didn’t seem ideal but it was popular. We arrived at the trailhead around 10am and got one of the last parking spots. It was quite windy and a bit chilly (10,000 feet remember?). Dogs are allowed on the trail, so Scooter was very happy to join us. Even though the lot was full, the trail wasn’t very crowded at all when we began. By the end, however, it was quite crowded.

The trail itself is a gradual incline and winds through pretty, but typical, alpine forest. Even though you’re going up, it isn’t that noticeable (may not be true for sea-level folks ;). The lakes are small alpine lakes set in a gorgeous setting just off the trail. I tried my hand fishing with your everyday spoon and rooster tails with no luck. The peaks in the background are worth the blank fishing slate.

Rainbow Lakes in Indian Peaks Wilderness
Familyvance at one of the Rainbow Lakes in Indian Peaks Wilderness. ©Familyvance

Life in Colorado

Golden Ponds Fishing Report

Fished at Golden Ponds Park in Longmont on the morning of Saturday June 6, 2015. Golden Ponds consists of three ponds in a rather urban area of Northwest Longmont. Golden Ponds Park and Nature area receives heavy traffic from dog walkers, joggers, picnickers, birders, and of course fisher people. I’ve never had trouble parking in the lot next to the ponds, however. There are wonderful views of Longs Peak, and the St. Vrain Creek and Greenway run just South of the ponds and are easily accessible across a footbridge. The area was hit hard by the floods of September 2013, and the South bank of the first pond is still closed.

Bass Caught at Golden Ponds in Longmont on June 6, 2015
Bass Caught at Golden Ponds in Longmont on June 6, 2015

I’d fished Golden Ponds previously a little with no luck, but this particular morning was rather excellent (relative to other Boulder County warm water fishing). The first, most Eastern pond (actually Pond #3) is the largest and most heavily fished, with a pier and easy access bank fishing. You can park and have a line in the water in about 15 seconds. So this morning I started by fishing the East bank of the first pond, and within 10 minutes caught a couple of nice two-pound bass and a couple of smaller bass as well. Weather was perfect, maybe 65 degrees and partly cloudy. I was fishing with my typical lightweight spinning rod and small crankbait. The two bass were easily the largest bass I’ve caught in Boulder County and I was jazzed. A heron was itself fishing on an island in the middle of the pond, and the view of Longs Peak was majestic. Go Colorado.

Heron at Golden Ponds in Longmont on June 6, 2015
Heron at Golden Ponds in Longmont on June 6, 2015

After a bit I moved on to the middle pond (Pond #2) with no luck, and then the most Western pond (Pond #1). There were a couple of guys in belly boats on this pond fishing with what looked like artificial worms (artificial flies and lures only on Ponds #1 and #2), but they didn’t seem to be having much luck. On the West bank I had a few bites, saw dozens of perch, fingerlings and few larger bass. I had been switching between a mini Rapala, bigger Rapala, and a couple of more crankbaits searching for a solution, but nothing was taking. On the North bank of Pond #3 I caught another little bass and a couple of perch with my mini crawdad crankbait that always seems to produce. The sun was up and I was getting a bit burned by this time, so I called it a morning, and was happy with it. Will definitely go back.

When: 10am, Saturday, June 6, 2015
Weather: Sunny, Calm, 65 degrees
Lures/Bait: Teeny Crawfish Crank Bait, Mini crank bait
Action: Couple 2lb Largemouth Bass, couple smaller bass, couple perch

Life in Colorado

Sawhill Ponds Fishing Report

I usually don’t like to fish at Sawhill Ponds or it’s sister Walden Ponds, but driving home from work today I decided to stop by Sawhill Ponds. I hardly catch anything at these mostly over-fished and fished-out ponds. I guess I’ve got the seasonal fishing bug.

Even though the day was a beautiful day in Boulder, Colorado, it started to get breezy and a bit chilly as afternoon turned into evening. When I arrived the parking lot was nearly full. I read on the internet (so true!) that Sawhill Ponds and Walden Ponds used to be pretty reliable fishing honey holes, but that with drought conditions a lot of the water was siphoned off for farmers in Eastern Colorado, destroying the fishing in these ponds. Another theory I’ve read is that these ponds are just overfished. I can believe both, and both are probably contributing factors.

One of the many tiny bass I catch in Boulder County. ©Familyvance

At any rate, the fishing at Sawhill Ponds is not that great, unless you want to take your eight-year old niece and bait fish for perch. In that case, it’s probably pretty great all things considering: easy access, lots of perch, pretty scenery. In my case, bass fishing at Sawhill ponds is less than so-so. I’ve had luck in the big pond by the parking lot, and in the largish pond a little Southwest of that, but by “luck” I mean “I’ve caught very small bass and a lot of perch.”

Still, it’s a nice stop-off after work, or a place to wet a line while my wife birds at Walden Ponds. I can’t recommend it as a fishing hole though.

When: 6pm, Mar 16, 2015
Weather: Partly Cloudy, Breezy, 60 degrees
Lure/Bait: Mini crank bait
Action: 1 6″ Bass, 1 Missed fish

Life in Colorado

Viele Lake Fishing Report

Today’s fishing at Viele Lake was a picture-perfect day, but absolutely no fish anywhere to be seen or caught. I usually at least see some sunfish or the occasional bass swimming by, but today was completely dead. There was one other fisherman out, and we were both bank fishing with lightweight spinning rods. Small non-motorized boats are allowed on the lake, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in use by a fisherman. The lake only recently (in the last couple of days) de-iced, so the fish are still probably dormant at the bottom of their hollows. The lake is not deep (probably 10 feet at the deepest), and even though Viele Lake is a constant-level lake, the water level is still a bit low before Spring runoff.

Viele Lake in Boulder Colorado
Viele Lake in Boulder, Colorado ©Familyvance

I expect the fishing at Viele Lake to improve as we get into Spring and Summer, and even if I don’t catch anything, the lunchtime respite from my office is too tempting to pass up.

When: Noon, Mar 16, 2015
Weather: Sunny, Calm, 74 degrees
Lure/Bait: Mini crank bait
Action: None

Feature image (top of post) of Viele Lake and Harlow Platts Park in Boulder, Colorado by Shoshie8 from Wikimedia