by Gary Rollins
It was just two weekends ago that there was still snow on the ground up where we live, including a couple of inches of fluffy stuff that fell recently. That made working on the tackle in the garage less than fulfilling. Sorting leaders and attaching tiny swivels while blowing on numbed fingers is not my idea of fun.
Those who enjoy fishing in Southern Colorado are aware of a couple of realities. When the ice melts on the various lakes around us, the trout appear to be voraciously hungry. Spending winter in a state that approximates hibernation does wonderful things for a trout’s appetite. Trout are cold water fish.
If you are of a mind to target largemouth bass or crappie, bluegill, catfish or walleyes, the kickoff date for those fish to begin to bite is Memorial Day. Serious local anglers carry a thermometer in their tackle box to check the temperature of the water. The warmer the water, the better your chances for netting one of the warm-water species. Wiser fishermen know they should first concentrate on the portions of a lake that have been bathed in sunlight. When the water warms up, the fishing heats up.
If you live in the La Veta/ Walsenburg area, your choices are pretty darned good. My first stop would be Lathrop State Park, where both lakes offer the promise of productive results. I’d recommend you first stop by the Visitor Center, because those folks are quite helpful in pointing you in the right direction. They will also share information about the various fish that have been recently caught and they’ll tell you what kind of bait is working best on either Martin or Horseshoe Lakes. You’ll need a Colorado Parks State Pass and you’ll also need a current fishing license, but your chances are pretty decent that you’ll be successful.
Here’s the fun part. If your tackle happens to be light or even ultralight, you’re equipped to tangle with either rainbow or brown trout. Is there a better dinner than a grilled 14” trout?
But, if you want to seal the deal while avoiding the challenging task of “matching the hatch,” many know the secret is an earthworm. Trout love worms. And so do some of those larger species, so when the bobber dips below the surface and you set the hook, watch out. That might not be a pan-sized trout on the other end. It might be a 15-pound catfish or a walleye or a pike or a hungry bass and you’ll then find yourself asking “who is catching whom here?”
That’s what makes fishing in Southern Colorado so very special. You just never know what’s going to happen when you feel a tug at the other end of your fishing line.
Memorial Day marks the beginning of what promises to be a wonderful fishing year here in the Spanish Peaks. Let me urge you to take advantage of the “local information” you will find at both Hollowpoint Sports and The Pawn Shop in Walsenburg. Whether you need bait, tackle or simply good advice, that’s where your successful fishing day can begin.
They’re biting. And they don’t even know it’s Memorial Day.