Fall Travel

Its that time of year again when I hit the road to see the kids and find some fishing adventures somewhere farther south. I am living full time in my RV now and looking for a new one that is 4 seasons. When I began this adventure, I didn't think I would be living full time in an RV but alas, here I am now.

Read More

Newspaper Column

This week marks the beginning of the Big Game seasons in Colorado and there is already a buzz in the air over the influx of hunters to the area. These hunters -- whether local or out-of-state -- bring in much needed revenue to the San Luis Valley. Although the first bow season opens this Friday, last week saw hunters arriving in preparation for their hunts.

Read More

Elk and Bear Season in Southern Colorado

Had the opportunity to travel about 50 miles of back roads yesterday and talked to lots of hunters both bow and muzzle loaders. NO ONE is seeing anything and people are starting to go home. I have been in the mountains in this area for many years and never have I seen such low numbers. Long time locals cannot seem to find the elk and there is concern about the long term prospects of seasons and being able to attract hunters and the money they spend while here.

I went out this morning and did find really fresh elk sign but people had been in there driving ATV's off road against the law and of course, will ruin that area. People don't care anymore and just do what they want regardless of anyone else.  

The rain drove me out of there today again. Its rained ever since the fire in June and has not quit since. Heavy rains too, not the intermittent mountain showers we are used to. Of course the lakes and rivers are over full and ash run off from the fire is a real issue. The river has about 5 more feet to where it will be of major concern but the way its raining today, that could come in one rain honestly.  

Trip to the Taxidermist

Last year, with a lot of help, I was able to harvest a bear. It took a village for sure with my disability but it was on the bucket list and got filled. I was gone over the winter living closer to my kids and so the taxidermist had the skin over the winter. He had bleached the skull and I had that with me and he worked on the rug off and on while I was gone.

The taxidermist I use is Keith Daniels of rural Monte Vista and he is excellent on all of his work. THE DETAILS are superb and he is a great guy to work with. While not cheap, his prices are well within the norm and I would recommend him to anyone with a trophy.  


I will get some pics of the rug tomorrow and post them on here. The one I did post is the skull that he bleached. That is a trophy in and of itself to a hunter. We ate the entire bear and honestly don't believe I have ever had that mild tasting wild game meat ever. Its better than elk, deer, pronghorn and moose for sure.  

The key here was that about 20 guys showed up after the kill and hauled it out for me and had it skinned out within 2 hours. Fast cool down of the meat is probably the key. That and this bear had no body fat on it. It was a dry female bear without cubs and the game warden said it was past cub bearing age. More on this tomorrow as I will look up her age from the tag and genetics testing they did.  

Skull from 2012

End of the Monsoons

We are fast approaching the end of the Monsoon season here in Southern Colorado and it seems this one has been a long one for me. I am not complaining too loudly as the area has been in the 4th year of a drought and this past year was the worst on record for over 100 years.

So it takes a lot of catching up to get back to normal. The rivers here feed the valley floor with life giving water and that water is used to raise a myriad of crops. Those same crops mean millions of dollars in income for the San Luis Valley which translates into jobs for everyone living both there and even some distance away.  

The San Luis Valley has been compared to a huge underground lake. The water sits in the sand that underlies the valley floor and that is where most of the irrigation gets its water. Conversely, the mountains typically feed this huge underground reservoir with the streams and rivers that run down across the valley floor.

With the last 4 years of drought, the valley has been short on water running down the rivers and so the underground lake has not recharged. So the water that was used for irrigation and other things is not being replaced. There is a huge effort underway to stop over using the water and find a balance between what is needed and what is available.

it would take a huge amount of rainfall and snowpack over several years to bring the underground aquifer back up to normal. Its so interesting that the very thing that is needed, high water in the rivers, then causes more problems for the people in the valley in other ways. Flooding, washing out of irrigation structures, siltation problems are just a few of the problems that come with more water in the rivers. The more man tries to manage nature, the more we seem to mess it up.  

The end of the rainy period is fast approaching and the high water in the rivers should start to recede. I believe that this will cause the river to clear some as there wont be the ash runoff from the fire areas in as much volume. This will allow the streams that are still running clear to add a more substantial proportion to the big river. Most of these streams are spring fed and so will help with the problem.  

It remains to be seen what affect the ash flow and mud in the rivers had on the fish population. Currently, the water is so dirty you cant see more than an inch into the water. This makes fishing impossible with flies and lures if you want to catch anything.  

The lakes remain SUPERB. I have never seen fishing this good. Get out there and enjoy the days as they clear and the rains subside. kk

Glorious summer morning on the Rio Grande

Water Conditions Rio Grande Basin

Today we took a drive up the Rio Grande to Antlers Lodge near Creede.  Paula had some work there and I got to see the lodge with the Rio Grande passing by the deck of the restaurant. It was a beautiful day and The sun felt good on my face.

I had discussed previously about the ash problems in the water. There are many problems this can cause including, warmer water, loss of insect life, change in the pH of the water and large amounts of sediment in the stream and others.  

The water in the main river was better than I recall last week and I think this is due to the number of clear streams which flow into the Rio, diluting the ash flows.  

After Paula's meeting, we drove on up the valley to Road Canyon Reservoir to inspect the conditions there. The water, while green with algae and maybe turning over some with the summer heat, looked normal to me. A man fishing on the dock with a rapala said he had been having good luck there after work and both he and the kids had caught plenty of fish over the weekend.  

The fires near there really stayed away from the lake and the shorelines remain clear and clean of any fire damage. There was one fold a boat on the lake fishing at the time but I didn't see them catch anything in the time we were there. We didn't have our poles due to being on a working trip and the water was full of too much algae for me to fish anyway. In all the years I have been fishing here, I can honestly say that Road Canyon didn't look any different that in other years. Having said that, the ash flows may still be coming down and will eventually reach the lake but for now, fishing is still very active there.

The Rio Grande is murky with the runoff from the streams to the south of the river. But the other feeder creeks such as Deep Creek and others feed in clean water to the river from the west and north and this helps dilute the dirty water from the affected areas. So while it is dirty, its not to the point where the fish are going to start suffering or dying.

I look for fishing to get better than its been in a long time as soon as the monsoon rains stop. The fish will not have been fished for in the river for a month or more by then and it should be fantastic as the water clears somewhat.  

I was also at Big Meadows but only for about 30 minutes. People were catching fish and the boaters who were trolling seemed to be catching fish on a regular basis. My dad and I had gone into Million Reservoir and found it so full of algae that it was just no fun. We had no bites there and so went on up the road to Beaver Lake. Its getting lower now and in a week or so will be down where it was last October.  

The access there is too hard for my dad and I so we just had a good look around, enjoyed the sunshine and the lake view and came on home. Its not always about catching fish but about the journey.  

We are all on that journey in life and if you miss out on the sights along the way, you end up without memories to tide you over in later years. Go out and enjoy the mountains while you can as they are all here for our enjoyment.  

Hiking In the Rockies

This is going to be a new addition to the blog that will highlight the hiking activities here in Southern Colorado and will feature a weekly hike and pictures from my good friend Dennis Shepherd. Dennis leads hikes each week and is a well known local expert on the area trails and flora and fauna of the surrounding mountains. They meet at the visitor's center in South Fork most mornings at 9 a.m. and everyone is welcome to participate. He also has a youth program and that is a great addition to the area.  I will start with this weeks hike and also include past hikes as space allows. So kick back and enjoy the adventure as Dennis tells us about this weeks hike.

DENNIS___We started out at Silver Pass at 10500 ft. and  had lunch on top at an elevation of 11600 ft. over a distance of about 2  miles.  The trail is in good shape with only a few trees down on the  trail.

As always, the views were magnificent, very  little smoke from the Windy Pass fire and none from the West Fork fire (YEA!).  As you can see the wildflowers are out in full force for our  pleasure..............

I didn't see the bull elk but everybody else  did, he was in velvet.  On the way to the Silver Pass we saw a doe with a  TINY fawn, couldn't have been very old.

Wayne will be leading a hike Monday for your  enjoyment, meet at the VCPL at 9AM, bring lunch water and  raingear........