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It’s Greater Outdoors for April 22, 2010

The fish are biting at Lathrop

By Gary Rollins

LATHROP– I visited earlier this week with John Brandstatter,  who updated me on the recreational and fishing status of Lathrop State Park’s Martin and Horseshoe Lakes,  located on Hwy. 160 directly across from SPRHC.  John has done a superb job as Lathrop’s Park Manager for more than twenty years and he was generous with both his time and his knowledge about the prospects for fishing and camping at Lathrop State Park in the weeks ahead.

    Those in Huerfano County know Martin Lake was partially drained some months ago and the repair work on the lake’s perimeter has now been completed.  Brandstatter anticipates Colorado’s Dam Inspector will soon approve the repair work and allow the refilling of Martin Lake.  Approximately 57 days will be required to fill the lake and Memorial Day is the target for allowing small boats onto the lake once again.

    Brandstatter said Rainbow Trout fishing on Horseshoe Lake is already outstanding, with fish averaging 14-15.”  The temperature of the water presently favors catching trout, but when the thermometer finally eases into the 60’s around Mother’s Day, the action should pick up across the board. 

    Both Large and Smallmouth Bass are found in substantial numbers in Horseshoe Lake.  Although Martin Lake was lowered to the point where some might wonder if fishing would be productive, Brandstatter revealed there had been virtually no fish kill associated with the lowering of the water and, as a result, there are sizable concentrations of large fish in the waters near the rock formations. 

    What kind of fish?  Tiger Muskies.  Northern Pike.  Walleye.  Channel Catfish.  Bluegill and Crappie.

    Here’s the fun part.  While you might be thrilled to hook up with a nice, pan-sized Rainbow, many hasten back to the Visitor Center with reports that huge fish have stripped line and broken the rods of anglers hoping for trout and hooking up with substantially larger fish.  A 7-pound Walleye can wreak havoc on an ultralight spinning rod while a 36-inch Tiger Muskie will trash all but the stoutest of tackle.

    Tiger Muskies are sterile hybrids, by the way.  They are territorial fish that protect their underwater domain and they’ll frequently gobble-up brightly-colored Powerbait simply to “remove” it from their territory.  Imagine the surprise of hoping for a strike from a Rainbow and inadvertently hooking a monster Muskie!

    Colorado spends a sizable amount of money each year stocking these two lakes with Northern Pike.  They are expensive fish to stock, believe me.   But, here’s the problem.  They are voraciously hungry and they consume their own at a frightening rate.  Because of that fact alone, only a  small fraction of the Pike manage to survive.  It is “eat or be eaten” and the local taxidermists tell stories of finding segments of fish tail after fish tail of each of the preceding Northern Pike meals.

    You’ll find everything you need to know online at or you can e-mail for further information at    Be sure to snag that Colorado Fishing License before you show up and be prepared to invest a small sum for the sticker that is required to enter Lathrop State Park.

    Start your adventure at the Visitor Center.  But, be prepared to enjoy fishing like you haven’t enjoyed since you were a kid.

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