Have you heard the stories about how fishing was so good in the 80’s? We could go and catch 20 fish limits of salmon by noon almost any day of the year. Lake trout fishing was just being discovered and the lake trout anglers had a lot to learn. Let’s “flash” forward to 2018 and think about salmon fishing. It’s incredible at Blue Mesa and Wolford but what happened to Green Mountain, Eleven Mile, Williams Fork and others?


GILL LICE has destroyed some of Colorado’s best salmon fisheries. 


Green Mountainonce a prominent salmon fishery has been destroyed. The biologist at Green Mountain is trying an experiment; don’t stock any salmon for 4 years. Let the hosts die off and maybe they will take the lice with them. He is also not stocking rainbows, trying everything possible to get rid of any hosts.


Williams Fork reservoirused to produce 1-2 million eggs, (in 2007 a record year of 4 million eggs) this year produced about only 150,000 eggs. The DOW will halt egg operations at Williams Fork after this year. The lack of salmon in the run is the reason why.


Eleven Mile reservoirused to be an incredible salmon fishery for limits of salmon pushing 20”. There are still a few in there but it will never be the fishery it was.


Blue Mesathe states largest salmon producer. It has produced runs of 17 million eggs. During the drought of 2012-13 they suffered from a large algae bloom which reduced the egg take to 3 million eggs. In 2016 they cut the daily salmon limit in ½. That year they had 17 million eggs. In 2016 Gill lice were found in 9% of the salmon with an average of 1/salmon. In 2017 the 68% of the salmon in the run had gill lice with an average of 2/fish. The run produced 16.7 million eggs. In 2018 87% of the salmon had gill lice with an average of 9/fish.


Wolford reservoiris a “clean” lake for now in 2018 it produced 2.957 million eggs. Wolford is critical for Colorado’s egg take. If Blue Mesa fails the state will rely on Wolford to supply all the brood lakes. This will mean a lot of the other “salmon” lakes will be shorted or not stocked at all.


There are more lakes affected by this, to keep interest in reading this I chose to only include the data above.


Everything I learned about gill lice makes me believe it is being spread around by private hatcheries. A land owner with a private pond calls a hatchery. The hatchery dumps the contaminated trout in the pond. The outlet of the pond flows down to a reservoir, carrying the lice in the currents. Lice then attaches to a fish and proceeds to spread. 


There is a board called “Fish Health Board” Here are their email addresses.


Here is an email for the CPW wildlife commission.


Elizabeth Brown heads the ANS program in Colorado.


The Fish Health Board consists of 5 members 1 CPW employee, 1 dept of agriculture employee, 2 private aquaculture peopleand a US Fish and Wildlife person. They decide what “bugs” are legal or illegal. For instance, whirling disease is illegal.  They won’t make gill lice illegal. WHY NOT!! LOOK WHATS HAPPENING STATEWIDE!


Why are the private aquaculture guys outnumbering the state CPW employees? This system makes no sense to me. Why do the private guys outnumber the CPW guys and make the rules they have to follow? 


Here is the way I see it. We are letting a couple guys that run hatcheries make a very good living dumping gill lice in our waters, which in turn is ruining our fisheries.


If you’re not a fan of fishing for salmon, think about this. In ALL the great lake trout fisheries across the west there is one common denominator.  KOKANEE SALMON!!! Every time a state record lake trout has been caught since the 90’s in Colorado the lake that produced that fish had ample supplies of kokanee. Flaming Gorge which might be the best lake trout fishery in the west has lots of….. Kokanee Salmon! The only exception to that rule is Flat Head Lake Montana, it has Lake Whitefish instead of salmon. 


There is another factor in all of this. Drought cannot be controlled, it stratifies the lake and lumps all the salmon into a very tight band of the water column. Which in no time will help spread these nasty little critters. Drought can cause algae blooms and numerous other problems. 


I encourage everyone reading this to write the Fish Health Board, Elizabeth Brown and the wildlife commission (their contact info is above) and demand they make gill lice illegal. Then share this with your friends. We should be able to raise awareness of this problem and get it fixed before we lose more opportunities. 


Here are my suggestions to start to fix this issue.

 1.    Ban the transportation of gill lice.

2.    Give the hatcheries tools to help prevent gill lice from spreading through them. 

3.    Start research projects on smaller infested bodies of water to help determine how to rid our reservoirs of gill lice.


How to download CMAP Genesis maps for your Lowrance by Dan Swanson

About the author
*DAN SWANSON* is a multi-species guide in Northern Colorado. He is an 
instructor and seminar speaker on fishing techniques with a specialty 
around the use of fishing electronics - sonar, GPS and making lake maps. 
Dan competes professionally in walleye tournaments in Colorado, Wyoming and 
throughout the Midwest. He is on the Pro-Staff for Ranger Boats, Evinrude, 
Lowrance, St. Croix Rods, Crowley Marine, Abu Garcia, Berkley and Costa Del 

2018 Grand county fishing guide

While visiting Grand county there are a few things I always remind people to bring with them. A pair of binoculars, we have lots of wildlife and its always safer to see them from afar. Lots of water, this altitude can make a person very sick if they get to dehydrated. Their fishing equipment.

We have a wide variety of fishing opportunities here in Grand county. High mountain lakes above tree line to the large reservoirs and the rivers that travel through them. The choices on how to fish these waters are as abundant as the waters them selves. Make sure to check regulations for the body of water or section of river you are fishing.

Rainbow trout and brown trout can be caught along the banks of almost every reservoir or river in the area. They are most active from first light to the time the sun hits the water then again in the evening from just before sundown to dark (throughout the night can be very good for you night owls). Fishing near the shore with a variety of baits and lures can be vary productive in the lakes. In the rivers the rainbows like to sit in a little bit faster water then the browns, they will eat the same flies and lures. 

Brook trout reside in our smaller streams and higher mountain lakes and ponds. They are not known for their size but they are aggressive feeders. In the lakes a fly and bubble early and late in the day can be amazing for these fish. Do not worry so much about matching the hatch, just switch colors of the flies till you find out what they like. Small lures will works as well. In the evening wait for a fish to rise then cast directly at the rise. If your cast is quick and accurate that fish will come back and eat your offering. The small streams in the county can be full of these beautiful fish. Try sneaking up on the creeks to be successful, these fish are vary wary and will hide under anything they can if they sense danger.

Lake trout can grow to lengths over 40” and over 40 lbs in this county. During the summer months they are best caught from a boat or other floating craft. Minnow and fish looking baits top the list for these fish. Try trolling lures deep or jigging with soft plastic lures tipped with a small piece of sucker meat. 

Northern Pike can be caught in a few lakes in the area. The largest swim in Williams Fork reservoir and can be seen swimming along the shorelines. Top water bass lures, crawdad imitations and lures that imitate other fish can all trigger strikes from these water wolves. 

Kokanee Salmon live in the deeper water of our reservoirs and below their spillways. The reservoirs are generally best fished from a boat, however early summer when the water is still cool they can be caught from the banks. Using heavy small spoons (kastmasters, leech flutter spoons) with a bright color painted on them can illicit strikes early and late in the day. When fishing below the spillways try a small bright colored jig tipped with a wax worm, shrimp or white show peg corn under a bobber. 

Here are a few ideas of places to go and how to fish them. 

Willow Creek reservoir rainbows will be catchable most of the summer. Bait will work vary well, but mobility will catch more fish. Walk the banks in the morning and evenings with small spoons. Vary colors and retrieves. A simple retrieve with a few rod twitches and pauses should get bit. It the fish are not on the points make sure to fish the backs of the bays.

Monarch lake brookies bite vary well in the evening. A small black ant fished vary slowly behind a bubble will yield brookies.  Try the inlet areas as well as the shady shallow areas as the sun goes behind the mountain. The creeks that run in and out of the lake are a great opportunity for fly fishermen. Just remember to sneak up on the river to not spook the fish.


There is a lot of public stretches of water on the Colorado river starting at Hot Sulpher Springs. Fishing small spinners and jigs tipped with Gulp minnows or small tubes can be vary productive. Fly fishermen should try to match the hatch. When fishing during the evening try swinging wet flies across the pools. If you see bats flying around in the late evening, put on larger wet flies. There will be a good hatch happening and fishing can be incredible.

The more adventurous people might try hiking to a higher lake for great fishing and seclusion. Gourd Lake above Monarch lake has some vary large Cutthroat trout in it. The hike is a difficult, we never did it in a day hike it’s a great are to spend a few days. To fish any high mountain lakes all the tackle we bring with us is small tube jigs with 1/16 oz lead heads a few small spoons and a few nymphs with a bubble. 

Lake Granby is a very scenic lake with some great opportunities. Rainbows can be caught along most of the shorelines. Try spoons and flies with a bubble early and late in the day. Powerbait or worms on the bottom during the day. Brown trout can be caught casting minnow style baits around rocky points early, late or on cloudy, windy days. Lake trout will be moving deeper as the summer progresses but can be caught trolling spoons or crankbaits with wireline, snap weights or downriggers. Jigging tube jigs and spoons tipped with sucker meat can entice strikes as well. 

Bernie Keefe has been a fishing guide in the area for over 25 years please check out www.fishingwithbernie.comfor more iformation.

Lake Trout On The First Step Down


*Lake Trout On The First Step Down*
*Timely tactics for early season success*

As lake water temperatures warm during late spring and summer, lake trout make a predictable migration from shallow shoreline areas deep into the offshore abyss. Right now, the fish are on the first leg of their seasonal exodus, offering anglers the opportunity for fast fishing a short cast from shore.

"I call it the first step down," says veteran lake trout guide Bernie Keefe, of Granby, Colorado. "When the water temperature reaches about 52 degrees, which typically happens three to four weeks after ice-out, the trout move onto humps, ridges and flats in 10 to 40 feet of water, near the shallow water where they've been feeding since open water arrived."

"The fish are active and highly catchable," he reports. "So finding them is more than half the battle."

Keeping a close eye on his Lowrance Carbon 12 electronics, Keefe idles over likely areas, watching the screen for signs of life below. "In depths of 10 to 20 feet, you might not mark an entire school of fish since the sonar cone is still pretty narrow," he says. "So it pays to spend a little time over every fish you mark because there may be more trout in the area."

When Keefe spots a promising return on sonar, he marks the spot with GPS, turns his Crestliner around and prepares for battle. "I don't look for the fish on sonar," he notes. "The fish is most likely on the move, cruising the structure in search of a meal. My job is to lure him back to me."

Keefe's "first step down" tackle setup includes a 6- to 6½-foot Scheel's Guide Series spinning rod, paired with an Abu Garcia Revo reel spooled with 14-pound Berkley FireLine. He finishes off the mainline with a 10-pound leader of Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon.

Jigs are his lures of choice. All feature razor-sharp TroKar hooks and range in weight from ¼ to 1½ ounces, depending on the depth and conditions. Plain heads are tipped with 4- to 6-inch Berkley artificial softbaits including Havoc tubes, PowerBait Power Tubes, Gulp! Minnows and Jerk Shads. Shades of white or natural grays, greens and browns are perennial producers. "An assortment of hair jigs in the same colors rounds out my jig box," he adds."

Keefe's presentation includes a variety of moves. "Drop the jig to bottom and start with a nice constant jigging rhythm," he advises. "Then experiment with snaps and deadsticking. Don't be afraid to raise the jig for suspended fish or even reel it all the way to the surface, inviting hungry trout to give chase. Pay attention to what works, because consistent success is all about repeatability." The diehard guide also encourages trout fans not to wait too long to give the first step down pattern a try. "It typically lasts four to five weeks," he says. "Some of the areas will produce fish all summer, but others become barren as trout continue their journey into deeper water offshore."

CONTACT INFORMATIONFor more information or to book a trip with Keefe, visit: or call (970) 531-2318.

This content is free for publication. For questions or additional high-resolution photography, please contact: All Creation Outdoor Media, LLC, 3930 Cty Rd 5 NE, Isanti, MN 55040, 763-244-5019

Crankbaits, Swimbaits and really big fish!!!

Crankbaits, Swimbaits, Single Hooks and Really Big Fish

The sun had just began to send its rays through the peaks on the continental divide and a small chop from the morning breeze kept slapping the boat. I had the Crestliner a long cast from shore. Steve had a Sebile Magic Swimmer and cast it towards the bank. About 5 or 6 cranks of the handle it stopped for a brief second Steve wondered if it was a snag then felt the head throb of a large fish. After a brief battle the 34” lake trout surrendered to my net.

A Guides Life

As a fishing guide I get to fish more then anyone I know. On hot bites I get to net a lot of fish, slap high fives and listen to people giggle with excitement when they get a big fish on.

 I generally get my Crestliner ready in April for ice off in May. This year mother nature decided to give me an early spring. When my boat was ready for delivery my wife and I decided pick it up in Minnesota. After a short 2.5 day drive and 2 days of rigging my boat with a Motorguide XI-5 and Lowrance sonars we were ready for ice off.

Early Fall Trout, Opportunities Abound for Fast Autumn Action

Fall offers ample options afield. Across the spectrum of hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits, autumn is truly a time of plenty. And one of the more overlooked opportunities involves the early fall trout bite.

The action often gets lost in the shuffle of activities, and is largely misunderstood by the masses. But the fact remains, September produces fine fishing afoot and afloat for anglers who understand a bit about fall trout behavior.

Logbooks, who needs them

Keeping a logbook of waters you fish, conditions, and details of the catch are to me, a key tool in the development of an angler.  Logbooks help us to remember significant and minute events that may have affected the bite of the fish that day.  Why were they there?  Why aren't they here?  What are they feeding on?  Those are all questions which a fishing logbook can answer for you.

Lessons learned from one particular fish

My buddy Scott and I were out ice fishing at Granby recently.  I had moved a ways away to drill our next series of holes when I heard a shout from Scott. Setting the auger down hurriedly, I sprinted over to Scott.  He was totally fixed upon the screen of the Vexilar FL-20.  He had a fish there and Scott was doing his best to entice it to bite while the fish was eyeing the jig to see if it was real or not.  Scott would offer up the jig, jiggling it, lifting, slowly falling, trying everything he knew to get the bite.

Working with fluctuating reservoirs

Up thirty feet and down eighty feet in the same year?  If your reservoir regularly changes depth to manage water supplies or due to drought the daily, monthly, or yearly change in depth affects your fishing success.  Or simply plays with your mind and tests your ability to find the fish every day.

Lake Granby Water Cycles Explained

It will be fun this year seeing Dike 3 recede back into the depths.  It rises like a beached submarine every four to six years only to dive back a couple of years later.  I started guiding about 20 years ago and I have seen it all.  High water, low water, and everything in-between.

Lake Granby area fishing report 9-4-13

This lake Granby area fishing report is being brought to you by “Fishing with Bernie”. The crawdads have hatched!!!! The past couple weeks the fishing has been getting tougher on Granby, Grand Lake and Williams Fork. The fish will still bite but it takes some patience. The rainbows and browns are hitting crankbaits and spoons around the shoreline very early and late in the day.  The Brook trout in the streams around Rocky Mountain National Park and Winter Park are still hitting large dries, spinners and small crank baits in the evenings With the water rising after rainstorms streamers have become effective. Pike fishing at Williams fork is still fair but it should be getting a lot better as the weather starts cooling.  The Kokanee bite at Wolford is good to excellent in the mornings.

Things that go "thump in the night"

Every fall as the nights get cooler, I relish the thought of putting on my waders and casting floating stickbaits like the Sebile "Koolie Minnow"around the inlets of my favorite reservoirs. While Brown Trout are spawning they will still hit a stickbait presented over their heads. I grew up without a boat and learned how and when to catch certain species from the shore.
It all started in the late 1970’s at the Delaney Buttes and Dillon Reservoir at night in the fall. We would go out just before dark and throw everything in our tackle boxes at them. Eventually we started putting together a pattern that just seemed to work. We have refined it over the years, so here are the basics of what we have been doing.Starting in late September, Brown Trout stage at or near their spawning areas. We have always worn waders whether we needed them or not. Waders will keep you dry and warm and although we typically do not wade in the water, you never know when you’ll need to get wet.

Fishing report 8-6-2013

This lake Granby area fishing report is being brought to you by “Fishing with Bernie”.The weather has cooled a bit and the bite has been getting better every week. The Kokanee in Wolford reservoir are starting to school up and a few are being caught by trolling lead-core or down riggers. PK spoons and Dodgers with squid imitations caught a few last week. Rainbows, Kokanee and browns are biting spoons and flies at Shadow Mountain, fish them just above the weeds in the evening and morning periods. The Lake trout in Granby and Grand lake are still biting, the trick is finding them. Tube jigs and twister tails tipped with sucker meat or a small piece of "Gulp" baits seem to trigger a few more strikes then a bait less presentation. One of the keys to deep water jigging is a sharp strong hook. TroKar hooks have been responsible for landing 90% of the fish in my boat this summer. The streams in Rocky mountain national park, and Winter park are fishing very well during the afternoon wins with Grasshopper patterns.

Granby area fishing report 7-19-13

This lake Granby area fishing report is being brought to you by “Fishing with Bernie”. The heat has driven people into the mountains. I have noticed people from up here are ducking into air cooled areas about noon and the people from the lower elevations are still thinking its cool at 2pm. The rainbows and browns are becoming increasingly harder to catch in Lake Granby, while the lake trout are still biting albeit not very much. Trolling small spoons on Shadow mountain and Grand lake are still producing rainbows and a few Kokanee. The rivers around Rocky Mountain national park are still fishing very well for brook trout in the evenings. The grasshoppers are starting to jump in the Frazier river through Winter park and the trout are eager to eat them. Bernie Keefe has been a fishing guide on Lake Granby for 15 years. Contact him through his

6-28-2013 fishing report

This Lake Granby area fishing report has been brought to you by "Fishing with Bernie". The run off is about over and the bugs are hatching on the rivers. The Frazier river through Winter Park is fishing well for brookies and rainbows. The Colorado river through Rocky mountain national park is fishing excellent for brook trout and the Tonahuto and Adams creek near Grand lake is fishing very well for brookies. Grand lake still has some brown trout hanging around the shoreline as well as a lot of rainbow are being caught also. Shadow mountain spillway and the river below it is producing browns, rainbows and a few lake trout with lures early and late. There are some kokanee biting jigs and waxworms under a bobber very early in the morning. The rainbows and browns in Granby have moved a little further off the shoreline in the lakes but are still catchable. Worms and powerbait are producing rainbows, the browns are still eating rapalas and crawdad imitations. The Lake trout have continued their downward descent into the depths. They can still be caught trolling plugs or jigging. Tube jigs with a small piece of sucker meat have been working well.