I have noticed that the weather here in Colorado is turning chilly earlier than usual. Estes Park (right next to Rocky Mountain National Forest, home of the highest elevated paved highway in North America) has already had snow. Not much but three inches in September is highly unusual to say the least and downright scary to flatlander vacationers. The highs during the day are in the low 80s when it should be in the 90s (I'm not complaining). At night, it is getting down below 50, normally in the mid 60s. At the higher elevations (where some of my favorite fishing holes are located), it's getting close to freezing at night. Again, highly unsual.
Now I'm not saying that animals are smarter than humans, but I've seen flocks of migratory geese flying over already, and goose season doesn't open for another two months. Squirrels are stocking up for the winter. Bears are bulking up (numerous sighting in the suburban areas), and foxes, coyotes, and the list goes on and on. I have Barr Lake State Wildlife Area about five miles from me and the rangers I've talked to there are saying that the animals are all showing signs of preparing for winter, putting on their winter coats months in advance and storing food. I've often wondered, just how does a squirrel know where they have stored all their food? Do they mark the location? Remember? Or is it just hit and miss?
I'm wondering just how these changing patterns will effect the wildlife and the hunting seasons. Will the lakes freeze over early? Will the fish have time to acclimate? Answer one question and three more pop up. Get my drift? Now an early snow will wreck havoc with the local driving population, as summer new-comers won't have time to adjust to driving in snow and on ice (4-wheel drive doesn't mean 4-wheel stop, basic lesson #1. Got it?). Will an early ice-over mean the fish will be hungry for lack of food? How many will survive till spring and melt-out? Questions, questions, questions and no answers. Like my Daddy once told me, weather prediction is 90% guesswork and 10% flipping a coin. The odds are in the forecasters favor to get it right once in a while, if they are lucky.
Now we've always had bear sightings in the suburbs but the number has increased this year. Driving just ten miles from Golden (home of Coors brewery), I saw a bear cub, minus momma, dart across the road and disappear toward the forest in Clear Creek Canyon. There have been mountain lions reported very close to populated areas (since when did mountain lions migrate to populated areas?). Our Bighorn sheep herds are bulking up for winter and have fewer newborns with them. Now, I've heard that some animal species will reduce their successful matings in preparation for a severe winter, but don't know for sure. Just something I saw on a science program.
I realize that this subject has little to do with fresh water fishing and probably should be posted elsewhere but a severe winter kill effects all of us, and I like my trout grilled outdoors, with a salad, garlic bread and corn-on-the-cob. Yum, yum.