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3 day fishing stay-cation.. pike, trout, and lake trout!

by: John Stevens 5/16/2013

Just this week, I took a 3 day mini vacation in which I stayed in-state to do what I love!  For me, it was a "stay-cation" , I would go out during the day and return home at night.

I actually got an early start on my stay-cation by having Friday of last week off as well.  I took advantage of it and took my brother to Cherry Creek where we night trolled for walleyes.  We caught 3 walleyes... a 17.5" and two 19", and a rainbow trout!  A good and fun time!

The stay-cation officially started Monday with a guided trip with Nathan Zelinski and Will Dykstra of Tightline Outdoors for Northern Pike for my son and I.  I was up and ready to go by 3:30 am, and we met at Elevenmile Reservoir at 6:30.  We started the day trolling, and my son caught his first ever Northern Pike, and I caught my first ever Northern Pike as well!  We trolled for a few hours, catching pike, and then we tried casting shallow weeds. I actually saw a pike come up, stare at my jerkbait, and trainwreck it!  I hooked and landed it, and it was awesome!  Zackary and I had fun, caught lot's of pike, and I learned a ton about weather, pike, trolling, and even more about jerkbaiting!

Day 2 started by getting up at 3, and heading out to the South Platte river to fish with my close friend Alan Peak! Alan and I have known each other and are good friends for a few years now, and he and I had talked about fishing the South Platte together for some time. Alan is now a guide for Rocky Mtn Fly fishing Guides, but this was not a guided trip, we were fishing as friends. We met up, and Alan convinced me to try to learn fly fishing! Now, I am a spin fisherman traditionally, but, I decided to try it! A few quick tips, lessons, and demonstrations and Alan soon had me casting a fly on my own. Too be technically correct, we were nymphing. On my 4th or 5th cast, I felt a strike and set the hook on my first ever fish on a fly rod.  A nice , healthy small rainbow trout!

Soon after catching and releasing this fish, I cast and drifted more, when I set the hook on a really solid , hard fighting fish!  We battled for 4 or 5 minutes, the fish winning sometimes, pulling drag, and myself reeling it back in when he would give me a chance, trying to keep him from running downriver on me.  Eventually I did land this fish... a new personal best fat, healthy, 21" rainbow trout!  After photos, and a careful planned release, Alan and I talked about it, and congratulations were made!  We fished a few more hours, and I learned about stream life, and reading river waters, and bug entymology, and then we said our goodbyes with a plan for me to take Alan on my boat very soon!

Day 3 started with getting up at 1:30, meeting a friend and riding with him to Granby after the next species.. Lake Trout!

We arrived at the lake about 6, and jumped in Bernie Keefe's boat.  Bernie is an expert Laker guide on Granby, and well known as Mr. Laker!  I have known Bernie for some time now, and we are friends as well as fishing acquaintences.

We started throwing jerkbaits , and immediately my friend Mark landed 3 or 4 lake trout.  I caught a small one, but lost him at the boat.  The next xast, I felt that thump on the line, reared back, and set the hook on the biggest fish of my life!  I fought and fought with this fish, bringing it up, then it would pull line and go back down, around the boat, away from the motor, back and forth, for many minutes.  Bernie said afterward that I was so excited he feared I was going to leap overboard with joy!  Truth is, all that was running through my mind was, don't screw up, don't give him slack, don't tlose this fish!  I finally boated it, measured her, and took pics.  Bernie and I then released this magnificent fish to live and grow more.  She measured a solid 35" and was huge!

After this, we caught more fish, tried jigging, drifting "bunnies", and back to casting jerkbaits again.  It was an awesome, and fun day with friends all around!  When I arrived home, exhausted and tired, I was so adrenaline amped that I couldn't sleep until 10 pm!

So... in 4 days, using 4 different methods, I caught 4 species of fish, saw many great parts of the state, enjoyed fishing with several friends, and learned so many new things!  I feel that the real value of any of the trips that I took comes in the education, the on the water training that I received, whether it be trolling, planer boarding, fly fishing, or laker fishing.  I now have the confidence to be able to replicate these results anywhere, and at anytime! The added bonus is that I was able to sleep in my own bed at night, and I kept my money local, to help out Colorado's economy!

I would heartily recommend any of the people I fished with to you all for learning anything about fishing or guided trips!  You can reach Nathan Zelinski and Will Dykstra at Tightline Outdoors at 720-775-7770; Alan Peak at 414-745-6472 or at; and Bernie Keefe at Fishing with or 970-531-2318.

I had a great stay-cation, and would urge anyone to give it a try!

See you on the water,


35" Laker! 
Blog content © John Stevens
Member comments
tatonka, CO   5/16/2013 2:23:09 PM
Glad you had a great time Tiny!
fom, CO   5/16/2013 2:24:27 PM
Way cool John. FOM
Coyute, CO   5/16/2013 2:26:27 PM
Nice fish. Grats.
panfishin, CO   5/16/2013 2:35:21 PM
those kind of staycations are the best! did one a couple of years ago and got my first every grayling and brookie. can't wait for next friday either...booked a trip with nate!
KingFisher13, CO   5/16/2013 3:19:27 PM
Your "Stay-cation" sounds better than most vacations. Way cool. I think I may've seen a picture or two from your Laker day. Was there a pink hat involved? Lol. As usual great blog. I'm going to start planning my next staycation now. :)
Neyet Stalker, CO   5/16/2013 3:36:35 PM
John, What an experience for you and Zackary!! You got some great pics!! I know guys that have fished for a big laker for years and have not caught one this size!! No doubt your still pumped, and will be for some time!! Congrats on a very successful "Stay-Cation"!!!
grababrewski, CO   5/16/2013 8:42:14 PM
Heck of a way to start the summer John! Great story. (I've seen the pink hat picz too :) Got to love sleeping in your own bed every night.
FISHRANGLER, CO   5/16/2013 9:06:17 PM
Sounds like a good time
moosegoose, CO   5/17/2013 7:57:28 AM
Really enjoyed this blog John!! It is three days I am sure you will never forget. Man that is a nice Laker!
Fishful Thinker, CO   5/18/2013 9:09:08 AM
Great stuff, Tiny! The education and memories will last a lifetime. CL
IceFishingFool, CO   5/18/2013 8:31:49 PM
WTG Tiny, way to get out there
John Stevens
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