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Spring is slowly approaching the Front Range, drawing a close to hunting seasons and ushering in everyone’s favorite fishing season. Whether you are an experienced angler or novice, a two parent family or single parent, fish with a buddy or cast alone we have an excellent fishing program for everyone, adults or kids, right here in our backyard, at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.
For a modest $3 (cash or check) daily fee for fishermen age 16 and older with a Colorado fishing license, fishing is offered at the various lakes at the Refuge. Younger children can fish for no fee. A Season Fishing Pass can be obtained for $50 as an option to daily passes. The Refuge fishing season opens April 21 and closes Oct. 14.
The Refuge Rangers along with experienced volunteer anglers from Environmental Learning for Kids Youth Urban Rangers will be at the lakes to assist the youth and adults. Fishing poles will be available on day use basis for any one not having fishing equipment.
The basic ground rules are built around a “quality” fishing experience. For example, in addition to a state and Refuge fishing license, anglers can only use a single rod and reel with one hook or lure per line, agree to catch and release on all fish caught, connect barbless hooks only, use artificial flies or lures and not use any live bait. Fishing is allowed on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays only.
The environment surrounding the two refuge fishing lakes is beautiful and adds a significant enticement for visiting anglers. Lake Mary is the smallest of the refuge lakes at 8.4 acres and is approximately 8.5 feet at its deepest point. Lake Mary is encircled by half mile walking trail meandering through rich and colorful cottonwood trees, rabbit brush, and white sand verbena and towering cattails. Bird nesting boxes will be found along the south portion of the lake, drawing a wide variety of birds and waterfowl including Canada geese, ducks and coots all of which can be playful as they fly, swim and dive into the water feeding on aquatic plant life. Anglers will find good numbers of largemouth bass, channel catfish, white and black crappie, bluegill and yellow perch in Lake Mary.
The second lake in the refuge is Ladora Lake, larger at almost 55 surface acres and over 17 feet in depth. Both lakes offer excellent bank fishing and after Memorial Day anglers can wade with calf, hip or chest waders. The trail around Lake Ladora is almost 2 miles in length with a mid-point floating boardwalk offering unique views of waterfowl, birds and brush, wild flowers and tree stands. The trails are enclosed with prairie grassland and under impressive cottonwoods, plus showy milkweed, prickly poppy and sand sagebrush. Larger fish are typically found in Lake Ladora including northern pike and largemouth bass, and bluegill.
Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Stations are located around both lakes and anglers are asked to deposit used fishing line in these stations. The waste line is used for fish habitat structures plus it prevents wildlife and waterfowl from becoming entangled.
The overall fishing experience is a valuable learning experience for kids and a great opportunity for parents and adults to bond together in an enriched outdoor environment a short drive from the Denver Metro urban communities. The Refuge staff welcomes Visitor Center calls at 303-289-0930 about the popular fishing program or the countless other outdoors opportunities at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.
Ron Hellbusch can be reached at Ron-Hellbusch@comcast.net.
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