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The first Colorado Walleye Association 2017 tournament (CWA) is in the books and like years before it was a GRRRRRRRIIIIIINNNNNNDDDDD!  For those of you who are not familiar with this Denver metro area reservoir, it is 880 acres (water surface) in size and is fed by a tributary of the South Platte…Cherry Creek.  This busy little body of water has a max depth of about 25 feet in an area of the reservoir referred to as the basin.  There is an amazing amount of structure in this little reservoir which includes submerged road beds, trees, weed growth and rock humps.  The lake has a healthy population of fish to include Walleye, Crappie, White Bass, Carp, Trout, Channel Catfish, Bluegill and Largemouth Bass.  All of these fish feed on a huge population of gizzard shad and different aquatic bug hatches.  The reservoir is considered one of three brood lakes used for spawning operations due to how big and how quickly the Walleyes grow.  The lake has an 18 inch minimum size limit for walleyes, meaning you can’t keep anything under 18 inches.  And that my friends is the rub!  Welcome to Colorado; the land of 17 ¾ inch Walleye and the greatest challenge to overcome in all Colorado Walleye tournaments.

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Sportsmanship!  What does it mean to you?  Are you a win at all costs kind of person or do you respect those engaged in competition around you? 

Around 15 years ago my Dad and I signed up to fish our first Colorado Walleye Association tournament away from our home lake.  It was Sterling Reservoir, a body of water neither of us had ever fished.  I had no information about the lake other than a map I purchased from Sportsmens Warehouse.  At that time I was a new boat owner and all of my fishing had been from a float tube I purchased at the Pueblo K Mart for $50 on sale.  I had two utility boxes with a very modest selection of curly tail jigs and jig heads.  I owned maybe 6 crank baits and trolling was not yet in my arsenal.  We prefished the Friday before like most the anglers and we had some success dragging crawler’s supper slow on 1/8 ounce jig heads.  As is my luck, I caught a nice 4 pounder on a light blue and green jig head which quickly became the color of choice.  We caught a descent number of walleye that Friday but we had trouble getting any over the 15 inch minimum size limit.

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The philosophy that is tournament fishing.  What is this guy talking about?  I am talking about getting your head right.  I am talking about mentally preparing yourself to win your next fishing tournament.  Over the past 15 years I have carefully watched some great fishermen consistently place high in tournament after tournament and do it year after year.  Tournament fishermen are always looking for an advantage and they never want to be left out on the bite.  We laugh and say the most effective piece of equipment on a Colorado boat for catching fish is a pair of binoculars.  We don’t have huge waters like the great lakes where the tournament field is stretched out over a few hundred miles of water.  Most times you hold your breath headed to your first spot of the day and pray no one is already there or tale piping you into your spot.  There is nothing worse than showing up at your number one spot and half the field is packed in there going at it.  I have heard the phrase; it is what it is used to describe this.  Well, it aint what it aint!  I am out.  I refuse to fish in a crowd and beat up a spot that has fished well during prefish with 20 other boats stacked in a few feet apart.  Even on small lakes there is plenty of water.  This is where the philosophy that is tournament fishing becomes gospel.  I have thought long and hard about this article and I think this is the biggest secret I can divulge.  It’s not a magic crank bait or the GPS coordinates to my favorite hot spots, it’s the idea of mentally preparing yourself to handle adversity and to be able to fish your own game plan.

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Early spring; just after ice out is the perfect time to get out to the lake for a chance to catch your first open water walleye of the year.  The typical water temp is around 40 degrees.  At this time of year, typically March through early April the walleye are in their pre-spawn to spawn pattern.

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It was 1980 something and I was around 9 years old.  Hair metal was rocking the radio and Michael Jackson was exploding as the King of Pop.  Cindy Lopper just wanted to have fun and I was not happy I lived so far from town which hindered by ability to have that new music channel.  My life during fishing season consisted of little league baseball, the swimming pool, my parent’s softball games and going fishing every chance I got.  I was at the age where I was just figuring out how to catch fish on my own.  No longer was I dependant on the bobber and minnow to catch fish.  I graduated from a Zebco reel to an open face spinning reel.  It was my own rig; no one else used my set up.  I had complete reign over my Dads four tray green Plano tackle box.  It was around this time that we started really exploring #13 Original Rapala’s and mister twisters.  My Dad was a pretty solid bait fisherman from Saginaw Michigan and we would watch different guys come down to the reservoir with different techniques and put on a clinic.  I couldn’t stand the slower pace of bait fishing and not catching any fish.  I would push and prod my Dad to go ask them what they were using.  We got educated slowly by those around us and it was not only eye opening, but it began my little mind working.

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How many of you troll for night time walleyes?  Put your hand down you are looking at your computer!  How many of you are successful and catch double digit numbers?  Night time trolling can be a fun and productive way to catch walleye.  You can catch fish all night long in big numbers and trophy sizes.  I am going to let you in on a few tricks and secrets in this article to help you master the night bite.

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ARIK DIEHL

Arik shows us how it's done Colorado style!!!  Another big Northern Colorado walleye!  Arik originated in North Dakota and says it's a little different in CO fishing for eyes!  Keep the pictures coming Arik!!

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