Finding Your Playground

Finding Your Playground
The American Heritage Dictionary defines Playground as: A field or sphere of unrestricted pleasurable activity. Have you found your Playground? A place where you can go for a day trip, spend a little gas money to get there, catch nice fish and not be harassed by the crowds.

My playground is about 20 miles from my front door and a one mile hike. It has a substantial wild trout population and very few anglers. I can camp, fish and hunt if I chose. It is always quiet and the few people I see are respectful. At night I am visited by fox, raccoon and deer. I can get there in the morning and be home for dinner; or stay the night with a few friends with some steaks over a campfire. This is my playground, here is how you should find yours.

Before you load up your gear for your next fishing trip you should consider three things; time, money and crowds. Being a husband, father and serving in the military I am mindful of these factors when deciding where to go when I get the "kitchen pass" from the wife. I will usually take a day trip in order to relax. I do not want to drive more than three hours to and from my spot. If I have anyone casting over my line there is a definite problem.

I started by drawing a circle 60 miles around my house. This distance allows for me to take day trips and not use too much gas and have enough time to hit the water. A 120- mile range is about half of a tank of gas and only about three hours driving. The key to this 60 mile zone is that this is what most people skip when they are taking their epic fishing trip into the mountains. It is extremely likely that 60 miles will make every species available to you. It will also be probable that you will have a chance to catch a Master Angler fish as well.

Within this radius I scour for lakes that are off the beaten path. I do not start with Google Earth, I use Google maps as it switches between map mode and satellite mode. Finding blue water in map mode is easy and switching to satellite mode will confirm if the water exists. If the lake or stream looks like there will be a hike to get to then I switch to Google Earth to get a 3d look at the trail. If I am unsure if the lake is open to the public, I will make one call to the local police department. Because they are local and know the area, they can provide a more accurate picture of what you are getting yourself into.

I hail from Colorado Springs area. If you would have asked me two years ago how many lakes were around me I might have been able to tell you six places. After doing my research in the 60 mile zone I have found no less than 53 fishable public bodies of water. While some are in the city, many of these are a little bit off the beaten path and promise a great day. If you are willing to hike a mile or two your odds of finding your playground are exceptionally good.

On one of my few camping trips this year I went to my playground. I was told by more than a few people that I would be fighting a mass of people enjoying the outdoors. Twenty miles from my front door and a little over a one mile hike, I set up camp. There were a few hikers and two kids with their parent's poles. Caught and released 30 cutthroat and brook trout in one and a half days. Promising to be home for dinner I left my playground early and decided to see what was happening at the local urban pond.

After a short hike and a very short car ride I was amazed to see over 50 fisherman casting over each other and fighting over turf to just get a chance to fish. Canoes and kayaks were launching over fishing lines. It was angler mayhem. I should have known, as it was 4th of July weekend. I had the slight edge, I looked just passed my backyard urban pond and found the overlooked waters.

Alan Peak can be contacted anytime at alanpeak11b@gmail.com

This blog was originally posted 11/26/2011 on Fishexplorer.com
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