Squamous friends, old and new
January 8, 2014
At the beginning of the new year a lot of people spend a lot of time and energy figuring out how to better themselves in the next 365 days.
I've never been one of those people.
Not that I don't need to better myself in certain (my wife would say many) ways, I just know I'd never follow through.
For legal reference see Old Dog v. New Tricks.
It seems many of the resolutions people make are just excuses to indulge during the holidays and not feel guilty about it.
"I can eat these six cheesecakes now, because I'll be working out next week."
And why not eat six cheesecakes?
We live in stressful times and people should be able to enjoy life and blow off some steam — as long as it isn't harmful to themselves or others.
Honestly, six cheesecakes in a lifetime isn't really that much.
I did, however, get a membership at the Glenwood Community Center recently so that I could shoot some hoops and get my legs ready for a March hut trip. The Peter Estin Hut is a haul, and I don't want to slow the group down.
As someone who played basketball for hours at a time in college, I was shocked at how sore I was after shooting around for only a little over an hour on my first day.
But that day reminded me how much I love playing the sport.
My thoughts then turned to my favorite pastime: fishing.
I realized that even fishing and venturing into the outdoors had become a chore, since I only participated in these activities for work these days.
Rarely do I get out without having to write about the experience, and it was sapping my enthusiasm.
Suddenly, I found myself with a true goal for the new year — learn to live in the moment.
As a friend of mine often says: "Don't let Monday ruin your Sunday."
An idea for 2014 formed in my mind.
Instead of traditional goals, I'll embark on the hunt for rare Colorado aquatic quarry. And whether I catch these fish or not, I'll focus on the journey and the beauty each sojourn offers rather than the result.
Arctic char and grayling immediately appeared on the list in my mind.
These beautiful fish, which I have never caught, do reside in Colorado, with Dillon Reservoir being one of two locations in the Lower 48 that is home to Arctic char.
As far as grayling go, I know they are present in Pearl Lake near Steamboat Springs and the Joe Wright Reservoir, which is sandwiched between the Routt National Forest and the Neota Wilderness along Highway 14 (the Cache la Poudre Scenic Byway), west of Fort Collins.
The search for these unique species will begin later in the year when the weather is more conducive to camping.
But come ice out, another species long known to me will join the list: the northern pike.
On family trips to the foggy lakes of Wisconsin, Minnesota and southern Ontario, I would spend hours fishing for these sleek, green wolves of the water.
I fished for northerns last fall at Harvey Gap and nearly pulled one out from a grassy bay, but it shook free a mere 5 feet from shore.
I continued to cast my giant Mepps spinner, but was eventually blown off the reservoir by gale force winds … the smell of skunk was thick in the air as I walked back to my Jeep.
Other potential targets this year include walleye on Rifle Gap and lake trout in Ruedi Reservoir.
But these two will only make the list if I get access to a boat.
For now, I'll have to drag my aching bones to the icy Fryingpan and frigid Roaring Fork to hunt for local monsters in familiar rivers.
But the idea of searching out new locales and species of fish has brightened my outlook for 2014.
Dare I say that I've made a resolution to seek out more enjoyment from the outdoors?
Nature offers an ever-changing catalog of adventures. One must simply step out of his or her comfort zone and seek out the splendor that begins where an old, dusty road or lazy stream ends.
For now, I'll have to sit and ponder if it's possible to teach this old dog new tricks … maybe over a piece of cheesecake.
— Collin Szewczyk is outdoors editor for the Post Independent. He also hopes to spy a lynx in the wild while snowshoeing this winter. Feel free to send fishing tips and story ideas to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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