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Spring brings fishing

Anglers look forward to getting on the river

Bill Morgan walked past the Krocodiles, Triple Teasers, Little Cleos and Rooster Tails, and he stopped right next to the Mepps Spinners lures.

“I’ve got the itch,” he said. “I’ve been a couple of times and haven’t caught anything yet.”

Morgan, like many Moffat County residents, is already consumed by the thought of fishing this spring.

“You’ve got to stick to the lakes right now,” Morgan said. “The river is still too frozen, too muddy.”

Morgan gets out once or twice a month in the summer. His 20 years in Northwest Colorado have taught him that fishing is tricky in the spring. That’s what led him to Outdoor Connections on Friday. He was there to buy some night crawlers that will help him catch a big catfish.

At Craig Sports, Ernie Coats was talking about fishing with owner Joe Herod.

“I’m looking forward to higher water in the river,” he said. “But I’m not that lucky at fishing.”

Coats and his wife were in Craig from Grand Junction having their taxes done. While the wife was at H&R Block, Coats was telling Herod why he will not eat trout anymore.

“During the war, in ’43 or ’45, me and my dad rode with cowmen for a summer,” Coats said. “I was in the second grade, and we lived off fish that whole summer.”

Coats estimates he ate 1,200 trout that summer and he doesn’t like horses or trout anymore. He fishes only the rivers now, for catfish.

Morgan and Outdoor Conn–ections employee Ken Fleming looked at a photo from last summer while Morgan shopped there. The photo shows a 43-inch pike from Yampa River that is as big as the child standing next to it. The pike are territorial and will hit a noisy lure just because they are mad, Fleming said.

Morgan and Fleming are looking forward to Elkhead Reservoir opening again in summer 2007. They talked about when it was 80 feet deep at the dam and about a 23-pound catfish taken last summer.

But now, Morgan is headed south to look for another catfish.

Fleming points out that the higher lakes are mostly still frozen. He expects another month of ice fishing. When he was growing up in Steamboat Springs, his mother did not allow him in the river until the Fourth of July.

“That’s about when you can cross the river without getting your knees wet,” Fleming said. “That’s when the fly fishermen come out. They’re a little more particular about their equipment and what flies they use.”

Fishing equipment is a big part of the stock on the shelves at Ourdoor Connections. Fleming said that’s because you never know what the fish are going to bite on.

“I know fly fishermen that will tie flies right there at the river to match whatever bugs are hatching at that moment. I’ve caught trout with cigarette butts in their stomach,” Fleming said. “I would have tried that, but I only had non-filters.”

Licenses are available at supermarkets, sporting goods stores, Kmart and Go-Fer Foods.

Resident anglers will pay $26 for the privilege this year, not to mention the $75 for the Plastic Squirmin Squirt lure with the heavy salt scent on the end of their new graphite Ugly-Stick Rods with Zebco Reels.