Three Grand Days Fishing With My Granddaughter Around Denver

Summer 2019

One of the delights of my life as a peripatetic angler is fishing with my three-year old granddaughter Aly who lives in Denver.  She loves to catch the finny creatures, having netted her first last year in Beaver Creek (See my blog Leave It To Beaver (Creek) from June 2018.).  She is a true waterbug who likes to fish, explore creeks, build dams, make mud pies…anything that has to do with water.  It’s been rewarding to see her embrace nature instead of being fearful of the outdoors and to teach her how handle worms, bugs, and other critters safely.

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No Fear!

I visit her and her Daddy Matthew frequently in Denver, so am always on the lookout for a new fishing spot with fast action to satisfy a toddler.  Preferably, it will be one that features easy access and other après angling outdoor activities and entertainment given the normal one-hour attention span of a three-year old.  I have found three that fill the bill in the Denver area:  Davis Ponds in Staunton State Park about 45 minutes west of the city, Lake Mary in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Denver, and what I call the Kid’s Pond in Bear Creek Park on the west side of the metro area in Lakewood.  They satisfy my criteria above and offer a variety of fish from trout to sunfish to bass….and lots of them!

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Staunton State Park And Bear Creek Park
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Bear Creek Park and Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR

In addition to providing direction to the best fishing spots on these waters, I first offer some tips and advice on tackle, techniques, baits/lures as well as other activities when the youthful angler’s ardor wanes.

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A Road Trip Through Hades Delivers A Reminder Of The Important Things In Life

May 2019

In early May I embarked on my annual road trip, migrating from my warm winter haunt in the Everglades to my summer retreat in the cool mountains of Colorado.  It’s a long 2,500 mile excursion in my Xterra SUV towing a 25-foot travel trailer that serves as a mobile fish camp.  The first day and a half went smoothly, and then I took a detour off Interstate 95 to visit Charleston, South Carolina, where I had worked on a legal assignment for a private client some four decades ago and then again in the 1990s drafting historic preservation plans and standards.  Back in the 1970s the city was struggling economically and trying to leverage its historic buildings to revitalize the community.  I was more than pleasantly surprised to see Charleston looking great!

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Hundreds of new apartments have been built outside the historic core, which is thriving.  When I crossed over the Cooper River on the stunning Ravenal Bridge, I was greeted with a scene of hundreds of young people jogging, walking, and pushing baby carriages, a testimony to the new lifeblood of Charleston.  What a great tribute to visionary Mayor Joe Riley who served the city well over 40 years from 1975 to 2016.

But then disaster struck about 100 miles north just outside Myrtle Beach.  Tired of the gawd awful traffic around that ode to sprawl, I took a cut-off to get back on Interstate 95 post haste.  Little did I know that I was joining a traffic nightmare created by weekend beachgoers hustling home on this narrow four-lane highway.  About 10 miles up the road a young woman turned in front of me at a busy intersection.  I swerved but with the big trailer in tow, couldn’t avoid her and with a sickening crunch my trip came to a crashing halt.  I struggled to gain control of my rig and almost succeeded, but the trailer veered to the side and skidded into a deep ditch, then began to roll on its side.  The force of the careening trailer tipped over the SUV as well.  The whole thing played out in slow motion.  As my truck lurched over on its side, I remember thinking “will I ever see my sweetheart granddaughter Aly, my two boys, and all the other people I care about who put up with me.” Next I remember the side air bags blowing.  When it was all over, I was suspended high up by my seat belt in the SUV which was on its side.  I couldn’t get out because the driver’s side door was jammed, which gave me time to think about the important lessons in life as I waited to be extricated by the firefighters who arrived from a nearby station within minutes.  Fortunately, aside from a few scratches on my leg, I wasn’t hurt, and the young woman escaped unscathed as well.  Of course, the saga didn’t end there.  It took better than an hour to winch the SUV and trailer upright and tow them out of the way.  Miraculously, my prized Hobie fishing kayak lashed to the top of the Xterra was unscathed!! 

Hobie Kayak Survives!!

And when the mechanics at the tow yard said they could get the truck and travel trailer patched up so I could continue my journey, I foolishly agreed.  They said just don’t drive over 55 mph.  The thought of having to rent a truck and empty out my SUV and trailer to get back home was just too daunting to consider.  But of course that’s exactly what happened a day up the road when the differential started leaking oil on the hot rear brakes, and I flew down the road billowing smoke.  It took me four hours in the hot sun to transfer all the gear, etc. from the SUV and trailer to a U-Haul truck and hit the road once again, waving goodbye to my faithful Xterra and fish camp that appeared headed to the salvage yard.    Now I will tell you 1500 hundred miles in a noisy rental truck so loud I could barely hear the AM/FM radio (no Sirius, no Bluetooth, no CD player) gave me even more time to mull over life’s lessons and other observations.  Here they are, in no particular order.

 

 

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Fishing The Forgotten Parks Of The Florida Keys–Curry Hammock State Park

January 2019

For the first two articles in this series, see my earlier pieces on fishing Indian Key and Lignumvitae State Parks 

Most visitors to the Florida Keys whiz down the Overseas Highway (US 1) heading for destinations in the Lower Keys like Bahia Honda State Park (Florida’s most popular) or Key West, oblivious to the natural beauty, solitude, and hungry fish literally a stone’s throw away in four fabulous state parks—Indian Key, Lignum Vitae, Curry Hammock, and Long Key.  I have to confess that for many years I did.  A fortuitous convergence of unfavorable winds and tides on Big Pine Key where I usually set up my mobile fish camp for a couple of weeks every year got me to doing some research.  I wasn’t about to sit at home all day in my travel trailer twiddling my thumbs.  A little on-line sleuthing revealed more favorable tides and breezes back up the road about an hour between Marathon and Islamorada, as well as a string of state parks that would give me access to a lot of water.  It paid off in a bonanza of barracuda, jacks, and snapper with shots at bones, permit, snook, and sharks.

In contrast to Bahia Honda State Park near Big Pine Key that hosts over 400,000 visitors annually, with long lines of cars waiting to get in most days, the parking lots of the hidden four are rarely full and each has fewer than 10% of the tourist numbers.  Rarely do I run into other kayakers and even more rarely other anglers, and even if I do there are miles of shoreline and flats to fish.

These four state parks have now become a destination for me, not an afterthought.  In the series of articles that follow on each of the hidden gems, I will take you on an angling tour with some fascinating history and nature tidbits thrown in.  This is the third of the series featuring a hidden gem of a park that offers solitude and excellent sheltered fishing cheek-to-jowl with the hubbub of Marathon along its own fascinating history involving a genteel southern teacher lady who made it all possible.

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The Fantastic Four:  Fishing The Forgotten State Parks Of The Middle Keys

January 2019

 Most visitors to the Florida Keys whiz down the OverSeas Highway (US 1) heading for destinations in the Lower Keys like Bahia Honda State Park (Florida’s most popular) or Key West, oblivious to the natural beauty, solitude, and hungry fish literally a stone’s throw away in four fabulous state parks—Indian Key, Lignumvitae, Curry Hammock, and Long Key.  I have to confess that for many years I did.  A fortuitous convergence of unfavorable wind and tides on Big Pine Key–where I usually set up my mobile fish camp every year for a couple of weeks–got me to doing some research.  I wasn’t about to sit at home all day in my travel trailer twiddling my thumbs with fish to be caught.  A little on-line sleuthing revealed more favorable tides and breezes back up the road about an hour between Marathon and Islamorada, as well as a string of state parks that would give me access to a lot of water. 

Four Secluded, Lightly Visited State Parks Can Be Found Between Marathon and Islamorada

It paid off in a bonanza of barracuda, jacks, and snapper with shots at bones, permit, and sharks.

In contrast to Bahia Honda State Park near Big Pine Key that hosts over 400,000 visitors annually, with long lines of cars waiting to get in most days, the parking lots of the hidden four are rarely full.  These smaller parks get only 1/10th the number of visitors every year.  Rarely do I run into other kayakers and even more rarely other anglers, and even if I do there are miles of shoreline and flats to fish.

These four state parks have now become a destination for me, not an afterthought.  In the series of articles that follow on each of the hidden gems, I will take you on an angling tour with some fascinating history and nature tidbits thrown in.  I start at Indian Key near Islamorada and work down to Curry Hammock near Marathon.

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