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Traveling Master Anglers

Blog by: David Coulson , Colorado 11/30/2017
Years ago, over coffee, a fishing buddy and I were chatting about big fish and the Colorado Division of Wildlifeís Master Angler Program.  There were two points of discussion.  The first it would be an interesting challenge to catch all fish on the list, especially fishing strictly flies only.  Second, would it even be possible to catch everything on the list, which at the time I believe included all records, such as American eel.  Do some species even exist in Colorado anymore?

Things have changed a bit since then. The current list holds 43 species, of which Iíve managed some 20 on the fly.  Yet a few that I consider very doable, even easy, Iíve yet to catch an MA, such as white bass, lake trout, grass carp, suckers, and cutthroat.  With my upcoming adventure, retirement and becoming a full-time RVer, starting March, it will become even more difficult to complete Coloradoís list. Oh, Iíll have more time to fish, but most of the time weíll not be in Colorado.  Rest assured that when Iím in the state Iíll continue my pursuit of the remaining 23 on the list, and I may even try to get them to expand it to include more of the stateís ďroughĒ fish.

There were many reasons I started down the MA path.  The primary reason was to show, mostly to myself, that not only can most species be caught on a fly, but also that trophy fish are just as susceptible to flies as any other bait/lure.  My rules are still the same, it must come on a fly, it must be released, and if I already have an MA for a given species, it must be larger than my current best MA.  I really donít need to wallpaper my tying room with certificates.  A notebook of them with a picture and short story is enough for me.

One of my retirement/RVing goals it to fish every state in the Union.  To date Iíve fished 22 states, parts of Canada and Mexico.  Needless to say that leaves plenty of water to cover.  

While not a goal per se, I figure it might also be fun to keep track of fishing accomplishments in other states, such as Coloradoís Master Angler program where they exist.  Core to that is my being able to release the fish.  I have no desire to kill fish.  So my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to do a quick check on which states have catch and release angler recognition programs.  Including Colorado, at least 32 do.  A few others have slams, such as Wyomingís slam or annual ďtournamentsĒ where you submit your best catch and the anglers with the best of species get recognition.

So it looks like Iíll be adding separators to my MA binder for other states' trophy fish that I happen to catch, and there will be dividers.  This year I managed a 15 inch MA crappie in Kansas but didnít submit it.  I didnít realize at the time they had a Master Angler program at the time.  I missed a redear in Missouri by a half inch.  In spite of the misses, Iím on the board in Kansas.  

Over Thanksgiving weekend, fishing Wyandotte Reservoir, I managed one fish.  As the fates would have it, it was a Master Angler sized white bass, 17 inches, the qualifying length is 16. A species Iíve yet to catch that large in Colorado.  There are 33 species on the Kansas list.  

So aside from the fun of fishing new waters and catching new species, Iíll be able to spice things up a bit through participation in the various angler recognition programs across the country.

17 inch Kansas white bass
Blog content © David Coulson
Blog Comments
Fish4Colorado, CO   11/30/2017 1:52:47 PM
Good write up. I like the challenge you've set upon your self. They are very much doable, right now and after ice off, you should be able to catch a laker with a nice minnow profile like fly in the shallow water as shallow as 3-5feet. I've been doing it on a regular lure but at least their close to shore. Catfish would pose the toughest challenge I would think. Congratulations on your white bass, patience and persistence eventually net you something good.
Lloyd Tackitt, TX   11/30/2017 2:07:57 PM
Dave, you certainly don't mind setting the bar high for yourself! Rock on! I've caught a few catfish on wooly buggers, FWIW.
bron, CO   11/30/2017 7:20:50 PM
Good luck Dave! I think the MA sucker length should be a little lower in CO....its only an inch off of the cnr record. I dont know if you will get a sturgeon on the flyrod, Im no expert but that seems like a stretch.
bharper, CO   11/30/2017 11:31:21 PM
Good luck! I like the notebook,picture,,and short story outlook!
bharper, CO   11/30/2017 11:33:06 PM
Good luck! I like the notebook,picture,,and short story outlook!
FISHRANGLER, CO   12/1/2017 1:13:58 PM
Sounds like a tons of fun