My job as a park ranger in Colorado is both rewarding and stressful. On one hand I get to protect this beautiful area and teach visits about the plants and animals that can be found here, and I also have to deal with rowdy visitors that simply don’t understand that their behavior is endangering them and the environment. While I love my job and couldn’t imagine doing anything else, I also need to take an occasional break.
Thankfully park rangers are not always “on call”, even the ones that live in the park. This means that I actually have a set schedule that includes regular days off. When I’m not patrolling the park or giving guided tours and lectures I can usually be found with a fishing pole in my hand. There are several great places to fish in the park, and some of my favorite are truly off the beaten path.
There are several reasons why I enjoy fishing, even if I don’t catch anything. The main one being that it gives me a chance to simply get away. After dealing with a constant stream of visitors day after day, I am definitely ready for some peace and quiet. I don’t have to answer any questions or tell visitors “no” and that alone more than makes up for the times I don’t catch anything. Besides, there really are times when the last thing I want for dinner is fresh fish. After a day of fishing sometimes all I want is a hot cheese pizza and a cold beer.
Like I’ve mentioned earlier I love my job. I get to spend the day in this scenic park that remains basically untouched by man. Even though I get to see it on a daily basis, it can be hard to really appreciate all of its natural beauty when you are worried a visitor might fall off a cliff. Not that it has ever happened to me, but it is just one of my many concerns. When I’m fishing I can just sit back, relax and take in the scenery. Whether it is the top of a snow covered mountain or the bank on the other side of the river, there is always a stunning sight to see. It is times like these when I get the chance to truly see how beautiful unspoiled nature can be.
Without the constant chatter of tourists I can hear the birds as they fly around. The lack of noise also encourages the park’s residents to come out. We have bears, bighorn sheep, wolves and even coyotes, which I got to see the last time I went fishing. So now you know why I enjoy fishing even when I don’t catch anything, it is the perfect way for me to relax and recharge so I am ready to go back to my job.
For a license to fish in the parks, you should check out this site.
Many wildlife lovers tend to think that animals are completely harmless. Unfortunately, this rule does not apply when it comes to dangerous species that can affect the well-being and even health of people traveling through Colorado. Being a pet lover isn’t the same as having a pet bear or poisonous snake, particularly if you have no knowledge regarding the biology and ecosystem of these species.
Elks are cute and fluffy until the point they’re not anymore. For one, they’re on the large side, so there’s a low chance that you’ll come across a baby elf. If you do, you might want to stay away from it because its mother might be nearby looking for it. In spite of the fact that elks are not carnivorous, they can inflict severe damage on people, simply because some of them weigh as much as 500 pounds and are very powerful. The simplest way of avoiding a confrontation with an angry elk is to observe it from a distance.
Another dangerous Colorado animal is the mountain lion. Cougars are anything but friendly, and you should stay away from them particularly because they are carnivorous and are equipped with sharp teeth that can pierce through your skin. Wildlife mountain lions prey on deer, so why shouldn’t they do the same with humans if they are famished? Besides, much like many other species, they are known to protect their young. When faced with a mountain lion, our recommendation is to stand tall and call for help, although you needn’t show your fear as these animals can tell when you’ll risk becoming their next victim. There’s a very slim chance of you managing to scare off the creature all by yourself unless you have a gun or any other weapon that you can use against it.
The simplest and most efficient way of staying safe all the time is to use the services of a local guide. Regardless of the area you may be interested in exploring it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you aren’t from Colorado, you probably have little to no idea of the next danger that might come out from one bush or the other. Plus, running from these animals is never a good idea mostly because it’s very likely that they are faster and fitter than you. In spite of how many hours you might have spent at the gym, the fact of the matter is that a mountain lion can run as fast as sixty miles per hour, which obviously cannot be compared to the running abilities of any human.
If you are aware of the fact that the area you might want to explore may present some sort of danger, it might be a good idea to leave the kids at home. While I’m not a big fan of weapons, in general, perhaps you might benefit from carrying an army knife or any type of blunt instrument that you can utilize for self-defense.
Colorado is home to some 35 species of both cold- and warm-water fish species. Go to a sunny plains reservoir and bag yourself some walleye while trolling. Or you can catch the favorite rainbow trout in a cool Rocky Mountain stream. Colorado has over 2,000 reservoirs and lakes as well as 3,000 miles of streams where you can indulge your fishing fancy every time.
If you’re like me, you would probably be after trout. Now for trout fishing, beside trout rod and reel,it is essential that you take note of the water temperature, which has a tremendous influence on trout behavior. Water temperature determines where the trout will be located and what food they will be eating. It also dictates the aggressiveness of the trout’s feeding habits. Plenty of anglers include a water thermometer among their fishing gear so they know the temperature of the water. This also contributes to the decision making on which techniques to utilize for effective and successful fishing expeditions every time.
The spring and winter runoff will have water temperatures ranging between 40 and 42 degrees. The fish are most likely to move less so they can conserve energy when the water’s cold. Make sure you’re wading waist deep in the water with good quality waders or near the shore in wading boots. In addition, make sure to have a good quality rod and reel for short distance casting, since you will have to present your fly directly in front of the fish as they are not likely to move away or get spooked from a meal. Your fishing rod and reel should make a good presentation of your lure, which can include small nymphs.
You need dry flies when the water heats up due to daytime temperatures. Fishing is best done when the water is at its warmest, which is around 11 am to 3 pm. Trout fishing is done best when the water is between 55 and 60 degrees, which is the level at which insect and trout activity are much stronger. Aside from causing larger insects to hatch, the temperature range also incites a feeding intensity among the fish. Trout will not hesitate to move a lot further to catch a meal and they are most likely to go for dry flies and nymphs at that point. The fish is also more likely dispersed throughout the water instead of staying close in clusters in deeper niches. You can fish in any depth throughout the day in this temperature.
Anglers can also opt between freestone rivers and tailwater rivers. Free flowing freestone rivers are characterized by unregulated water flow and this is directly influenced by rainfall as well as snow melt. On the other hand, a dam or similar hydraulic structure regulates the flow of water in a tailwater river, so waterflow is consistently and predominantly controlled. Fishing in freestone rivers is easier due to less pressure on the fish but catching them will be a challenge to anglers because of the varying conditions that this type of water can present. Check out condition reports on the specific location in Colorado you will be fishing. For instance, August usually means lower water flows and crystal clear water. With the calm, clear water, fish tend to spook easily so you need stealthy and delicate cast presentation, with use of lighter leaders and tippet to make your fishing line discreet.
I work as a park ranger in Colorado, and, during my career I have encountered many stressful situations. As an experienced ranger, I need to deal with all sorts of things from protecting the visitors to giving them interpretative talks related to the park’s surroundings. Protecting nature is, I believe, a much heavier task than just one cultural or historical monument. In a park, monuments of nature, plants and protected animal species are everywhere. As such, it is extremely difficult to handle all groups in a manner in which they don’t harm the environment.
From the beginning, I knew it was a challenging job, as the park in which I work is quite large.
Though you do your best to keep all things in order, there’s no God given day in which something doesn’t go wrong or some unpleasant event doesn’t take place. Mostly, you couldn’t find a responsible person for a negative deed, sometimes it is disinformation, and other times misplaced attention or even personnel’s mistakes. In such cases, you can only try your best the next day to improve things, to repair what was broken and find better solutions for the problems to come.
However, as the main damage caused to the plant and animal species in parks is due to tourists’ disinformation, I believe a smart idea would be creating a blog where everything related to natural reservations and commonly encountered issues, caused directly or indirectly by humans are thoroughly explained. Even the littlest of parks provides visitor with many indicators and guiding brochures, but these are simply not enough if you receive them the day you visit a certain place. Some of the visitors don’t even read these, even if they are of crucial importance to properly behave when you are in nature. Moreover, for a first time visitor, some indications may be hard to understand. However, if they read a text explaining in detail why certain rules need to be respected for this or that reason, people will be more inclined to give the necessary attention to guides and regulations that they need to obey in natural parks.
As such, I will try keeping people updated with the newest rules that apply to natural reservations and protected species, but also explain why some typical and normal behavior in other circumstances, can be strictly prohibited in such areas. In addition, I will focus my attention on explaining how activities such as camping, fishing or hunting must be done when you are in the perimeter of a protected area. Though general rules that apply to some activities in most parks exist, each and one of them has its particularities that must be kept in mind when you take a walk in that place. As I have some experience in Colorado parks, I’ll share my input with those interested in visiting this area and teach them how to behave according to nature’s unwritten laws.