It’s March! I don’t know exactly what that means to everyone but judging from the warming temperatures around Denver, it means more fishing opportunities are opening up. All across the city, ponds are free of ice and the fish are looking for food. I know some of you probably live a bit further north or at a higher elevation that hasn’t begun to thaw yet, but fret not, the spring will come for you too. Besides this post is for all of you, as the water opens up and you get that itch to head back out and fish, where do you go?
I know the odds are you all have your own spot that you won’t tell anyone about and you go back there time after time. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, I’ve been guilty of it too, but one of the reasons Crystal and I started this blog was to force ourselves to try new places, explore new trails, and find new fishing spots. But how do you go about finding a new spot? Well there are several ways; you could blindly wonder off into the wilderness and hope for the best, you could read a bunch of fishing blogs all over the internet to try and find a good spot (I strongly suggest this one), you can buy guide books for the area you want to fish, or you could check out your state’s DNR page.
Yes folks you heard me correctly, a government webpage can actually help you! Now, before you jump down to the comments section and rip me a new one, hear me out. Every state has a wildlife service; in Colorado its “Colorado Parks and Wildlife”, in Wisconsin its “Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources”, in California its “California Department of Fish and Wildlife”, you get the picture. And all of these agencies have websites designed to get people outside hunting and fishing, because the money we spend on licenses typically goes back to their agency to help with conservation. So the more people that head outside to fish, the more money they make, and the more they can do to help the environment. So they have some pretty handy tools for you and I.
Every state’s website is different and has different tools. For example in Wisconsin, the website has and entire page dedicated to places to fish. It’s full of suggestions depending on fish species, if you’re fishing with a family, etc. They even have maps of all the trout streams in the state, which indicate the private and public sections, as well as fish populations, and average sizes. They even have stocking reports so you can see when your favorite stream is getting a fresh shipment of catch-able trout!
Now California and Colorado have taken this a step further. They have apps you can even access on your phone that can help you find a place to fish. They call them “The Fishing Atlas” in Colorado and “The Fishing Guide” in California. You can select any lake or stream you’re interested in and these apps will tell you what types of fish you can expect to find, if that location is stocked, if there is lodging or food nearby, if there is a fishing license retailer nearby, even if the area is ADA accessible or not.
For my Colorado readers, get ready to be amazed. The Colorado app even lets you search by fish species. Many fly-fishermen challenge themselves to catch every species of trout they can, so if you need to check Golden Trout off your list, the app will show you every lake in the state with Goldens. Wanna catch Channel Catfish, large-mouth bass, perch, pike, walleye, salmon? Plug it in and you’re off.
I’m not telling you all this because I want to steal your secret spot or force you to break your habits, but it’s a big world out there folks you should do everything in your power to enjoy it all. There are so many tools to help you find new places to explore, and many of them are freely provided to you by your own state. As the snow continues to melt I’ll be hard at work locating new places to try this summer. And thanks to Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Fishing Atlas, if I want to catch Artic Grayling, I know right where to go.
I encourage you all to check out your home state’s webpage and see what tools they offer. Some are better than others but I’m sure they’ll all offer you something you can use to help you get out there and explore.
I hope you all find a new spot this spring, summer, or fall, and I won’t be hurt if you chose to keep it your little secret. Until next time, happy fishing!
– A. Egli