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Fifteen, But Whoís Counting? Ė Oh, I Am!

Blog by: David Coulson , CO 10/17/2014

Be warned that the following text contains a little puffery.  OK, maybe a lot.  If thatíll bother you, please stop reading, otherwise enjoy.

As many know, over the years Iíve been collecting master angler certificates with a bit of a twist.  My goal to catch at least one master angler sized fish of all those currently listed, and maybe a few others. It should be noted that the species list and qualifications have changed since I embarked on this quest.  There is a second part to this endeavor that is strictly personal, all the fish must be fair hooked with a fly using a fly rod and released. 

Once I have a Master Angler certificate for any given species, say a largemouth bass, the only time I apply for another one is if I catch a larger specimen, an upgrade, so to speak. I donít need to wallpaper my house with MA certificates, which in my opinion isnít that difficult to do.  As examples, one day on Quincy I caught a dozen bass, of which only one wasnít MA sized.  On another occasion, at Jerry Creek Reservoir, I actually caught three MA size bluegills on a single cast. Yes, I do fish three flies at a time on occasion.  Itís a rare day on the White or Roaring Fork River that you canít catch a master angler sized whitefish, often several of them.  And under the right conditions at Jackson itís possible to land a number of MA carp in a day. Simply, I donít need to record every MA qualifying fish I catch, just my personal Colorado bests.

The first couple of years produced the most different species, as I went for the easier one to obtain, such bass, bluegill, whitefish, carp, and pike.  Since then itís been a much slower process, but somehow Iíve manage to add another species each year.  This yearís is a 22.5 inch brown I caught Monday and will submit my application this weekend.  Actually, I should have added three, but the 15.5 inch grayling at Joe Wright didnít get recorded as I was the only angler on the water at the time. Then I lost a crappie that I believe was pushing 15 inches at the boat a few weeks ago and I have a witness, but you have to land it in order to count it.  Ah, well thereís always next time. 

Missing MAís because I was fishing alone and no one was around is a common occurrence for me.  Even more frustrating are the fish that have been within a quarter to half inch short.  Oh, I know many would have submitted them anyway, but my pride doesnít allow me to.  Close doesnít cut it, and besides whatís the value in cheating oneself?

I began this quest for several reasons.  Foremost, it was to show that fly fishing can be an effective method for all species, not just trout.  Second, itís a way to demonstrate flies are not just for small fish, they work for big fish also.  Third, I figured it would be an interesting challenge for the long rod, and it has been.  And finally, as Iím not a guide or pro, I figured it was a way I could demonstrate that I have some skills with the long rod.

While I have a long way to go to complete the list, I figure I will be able to catch the majority of the species on the list.  The only ones I see as being nearly, if not totally, impossible are Chinook salmon and American eel, as Iím not sure they exist in Colorado any longer.  Others such as tench, rock bass, sauger, golden trout, Sacramento perch, and Arctic Char will be challenging just because of the limited number of opportunities. While I know of waters that hold them, waters capable of producing trophies are harder to come by.

There are also a few species, such as redear sunfish that arenít currently on the list that I may submit and see if we canít get them added.  But before I do that, Iíll have to catch one worthy of submitting, which I figure is 80 percent or better of the maximum expected size or state record. 

Anyway, for those who are curious the list of different species that I have MAís for follows.  Note, that in the case of the common carp, they donít recognize the mirror as separate species so I donít count it as such, but I do have a MA for a mirror as well as one for the run-of-the-mill common.  I also have MAís for both male and female kokanee in spawn and Iím still pursuing a MA kokanee thatís bright. My near miss list, missed by less than an inch or no witness, includes crappie, white bass, bullhead, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout (couple of species), lake trout, grayling, wiper, grass carp, white sucker, longnose sucker, and drum.  

How you play the MA game, if at all, is strictly your choice.  What really matters is that youíre having fun fishing along the way.  If not, maybe you should take up golf.

Flyrodnís MA species list.

Brook Trout
Brown Trout
Channel catfish
Common Carp (and mirror)
Green sunfish
Largemouth Bass
Kokanee (both male and female)
Northern Pike
Rocky MountainWhitefish
Smallmouth Bass
Yellow perch

Landing my MA brown
Finally a witness to a 22 plus inch brown
Blog content © David Coulson
Blog Comments
JOHN_COSprings, 10/17/2014 9:33:46 AM
Excellent blog. I have the MA's for carp (go figure!) I submit each each year since I took up the sport once again in 2012. I even have a scrap book with the certificates and a photo of each years best capture. I try to wait until I get a specimen I feel is truly worthy before sending it in to CPW. The MA qualifying length is 30" for carp, my personal qualifying length was 32" when i started, then 34" last year, and now, 36" for this year. I try to push it out each year to give myself more of a personal challenge. 38" for 2015, now that will be a tough one - lets hope I can make it! I totally agree, we don't need to wallpaper the room with awards but sometimes they are a nice reminder of the hard work and effort that goes into the pursuit of our beloved target species. We all fish for different reasons but a MA of each species out there, now that's a real challenge. Well done and best of luck in next years endeavors!
anglerwannabe, 10/17/2014 9:56:34 AM
Great job Dave! I'm jealous of your brown trout
Ajax5240, 10/17/2014 10:53:43 AM
Sounds like a terrific personal challenge! Seems like some of them should be adjusted as a 18" LMB really isn't that uncommon, but a good pat on the back for catching one never hurt anyone. If you ever need someone to come be your "witness" I'd be happy to volunteer! :)
David Coulson (Flyrodn), 10/17/2014 1:41:08 PM
John a 36 inch carp is truly impressive, let alone 38. I've not been able to land one much over 32 on the fly. I agree that they need to do a bit of "equalizing" on some species. 18 is too low for a largemouth and is only about 65% of the state record if I remember correctly. I use 80% as a guide. There are a couple such as white bass that is 90% of the state record, too high for Colorado, and the MA for sauger is 26 inches and the state record (weight) is 21.5. Doesn't seem quite right to me. I also think they should give the awards for any fish in Colorado that grows over 12 inches and isn't prohibited in some manner, either protected endangered or illegal to bring into the state.
jshanko, 10/18/2014 7:40:33 AM
Nice storey Dave. Funny though, I gave up golf to fish more. If I had that many MA fish I would also thump my chest and crow.
Atompunk, 10/18/2014 9:06:26 PM
I didn't even know this program existed. I caught a beautiful 25 inch brown last weekend that I am now going to submit.