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Ice Gamblers – What you might not know about the frozen addiction

Part social activity, part gambling, Genevieve Ackley tells you all the stuff you might have missed about the frozen addiction. 

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by Genevieve Ackley

Ice anglers are gamblers; they travel to a selected destination with gear in tow to bear frigid cold temperatures and hazardous ice conditions all in hopes of catching fish. To many this is a special form of torture; to the avid ice angler it’s an addiction and like a true addict it only takes one monster or that one unforgettable day of ice fishing to stay “hooked.”

Ice fishing has undergone copious technological improvements since its primitive beginning. From lines, rods, reels and ice huts to the innovation of the ice auger and fish finder, ice fishing has spawned from survival to sport.

Lining it up…

Fishing line is the simplest and most necessary prop in the fisherman’s bag of tricks. For many centuries anglers utilized braided horse hair, silk, or linen when available. All of these required rinsing and drying after every use, plus they frayed easily and were susceptible to UV damage. The demanding upkeep meant most people fished for subsistence, not leisure.

Modern fishing line is much more accommodating. Monofilament, a single strand complex synthetic nylon polymer, is ubiquitous, affordable, clear (fish are less skeptical) and it comes in several pound-tests (the amount of force needed to break the line). Other types of fishing line exist, yet monofilament is the big fish in the small pond of fishing lines.

It’s not about the size of the rod; it’s how you use it . . . Rods date back to 2000 B.C., originally called angles–this is where the term anglers derived from. Rudimentary at best, the first archetypes were constructed of bone, wood, or stone. In the 17th century anglers began adding an eye to the tip to facilitate bringing in or letting out line. By the18th century rods consisted of 4 to 5 eyes. Graphite rods soon replaced the popular split bamboo/cane rods in the early 1970s. Graphite rods are not only light, but most importantly allow for a variety of tapers that capitalize on different actions.

Action is a BIG deal, in order to imply the significance of action when fishing, I feel a bar analogy is necessary. Imagine three single dudes walk into a bar.  Dude 1 is light-hearted and easy going. Dude 2 is of medium build so as to not intimidate, but entice. Dude 3 is all power, no subtlety. Dude 1 attracts a small coquettish lady. Dude 2 attracts the assertive yet fleeting female.  Dude 3 attracts the fearless Amazon woman nobody else will dare talk to.

In fishing terms, blanks (the shaft or stick of the rod) can either bend just at the tip or throughout the length. If fishing for smaller fish, a light action blank that bends at the tip is necessary to identify faint bites (Dude 1). Medium action rods bend more throughout the blank and are ideal for jigging because they soften hard movements and cajole fish to bite (Dude 2). Slow action, stiff rods can’t detect lighter bites, but have the power to finagle larger fish (Dude 3).

When ice fishing, most anglers prefer shorter rods because they are easier to maneuver in small ice huts. Additionally because fish slow down in the winter they don’t strike as hard so the light action rods detect even the slightest of bites. Furthermore smaller rods offer more control to wrangle a fish through an 8-12 inch wide and 6-12 inch deep hole.

Time to reel it in…

The first mention of the reel is by the Chinese in 1195 AD and aesthetically resembles today’s fly reels. Reels weren’t introduced to the Western world until 1651 and these used a complicated three pulley system that allowed the middle pulley to be let down or brought up.

The first American baitcasting reel was invented by George Snyder in 1820. Today there are three basic types of reels: flycast which requires a person to strip the line with one hand and cast with the other; baitcasting which consists of a revolving spool and allows for anglers to broadcast their lines into farther waters; and last, spinning reels which are the same concept as baitcasting reels but can cast even lighter baits because of their less resistant design.

Breaking the ice… 

Prior to the invention of the ice auger in 1870 by William Clark, anglers were required to tediously chisel away at inches of ice until they finally hit water. The advantageous design of today’s ice augers make ice fishing more feasible for the hobby fisherman; what used to take hours now takes mere seconds with the right equipment. Ice augers work by pushing down through the ice like a flat screw while simultaneously excavating ice debris up out of the hole.

Speaking of breaking the ice…

Everyone has heard a story or two about the time a friend of a friend moronically decided to drive a vehicle on to what appeared to be a frozen lake, only to find it wasn’t frozen and subsequently the vehicle ended up in the lake rather than on it. Knowing a little bit about the ice can help clear that up.

The cold hard facts about ice: 4 inches of solid new ice is safe for foot activities, 5 inches is safe for snowmobiles and ATVs, 8-12 inches for cars and small pickups, and 12-15 for pickups. It is important to keep in mind that new ice is stronger, ice never freezes uniformly, snow slows down the freezing process, and white ice is half as strong as new ice.

It’s freezing out here! 

Eskimos and Indians realized the benefit of placing makeshift shelters on the ice to stay warm and block the sun, increasing the visibility to spear a fish as it swam by. Later people built small structures that remained fixed to the same spot until spring. Some really avid fishermen used to attach skis or a sled to cumbersome canvas tents. Modern ice huts are designed to be compact, light, wind blocking, and warm.

Literally a fish out of water…

Fish finders are probably one of the greatest tools a modern angler can invest in, the basics aside. In the early 1900s governments developed SONAR (SOund Navigation and Ranging) to locate foreign submarines. SONAR works by transmitting and receiving sound waves from the bottom of a body of water. The first consumer fathometers developed by Lowrance in 1957 were limited to displaying the depth and a flicker if a fish came near. Advancing technology has transformed fathometers to fish finders to mini computers.

Today fish finders are equipped with LCD displays, GPS, tracking, speed/temperature sensors, depth and fish alarms, the capability to change the sensitivity of sonar to better detect echoes from fish, adjust display depth (e.g. display 20-50 feet instead of 0-50 feet), and many are portable (use on a boat or on the ice).

What lies beneath the surface . . . So, how do fish survive such cold temperatures? Well, in the winter lakes undergo a topsy turvy phenomenon. Here’s how it works–in the winter as water cools the molecules pack tighter and tighter together increasing the density until the temperature reaches 39 degrees F at which point the water molecules become heavier than the molecules at the surface (32 degrees F) and sink, so that the greater the depth the warmer the water.

Additionally, fish are poikilotherms a.k.a. “cold blooded,” so they can acclimate their body temperature to their environment and slow down their metabolism to utilize energy reserves efficiently, a kind of fish super power. Certain fish stay closer to the bottom of lakes whereas others thrive in the cooler temps and are more likely to be found somewhere in the middle.

The only environmental factor that poses a real threat to fish survival is the lack of oxygen during winter, known as winter kill. Winter kill is when all or some of the fish die. Some winter kill is natural and beneficial because it allocates resources for surviving fish helping them grow bigger faster.

The world of ice fishing is not for the faint of heart below or above the ice. It is for those who understand the primal addiction of man vs. nature.

My addiction is the anxiety of waiting for the tip of the pole to dip down while wiggling my fingers and toes to stay warm.  What keeps me hooked is savoring a steaming sip of coffee, taking in cool crisp air, and gazing at white snow-capped mountains all the while trying to best my dad in the art of ice fishing.

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Denver’s Wes Watkins dynamic new future-funk EP is from another planet

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Future-Funk Party Starter | Wes Watkins

Dreams Out from Denver’s best kept secret Wes Watkins wears so many musical hats it needs a rack; downtempo G-Funk homage and sweltering nee-Soul / Rn’B are all over this release, all covered with a thicc pop glaze and a penchant for electronic-sonic experimentation that keep every song fascinatingly adventurous while maintaining a danceability and groove that easily, easily warrants multiple listens. Don’t sleep on this one.


Lo-Fuzz Folkie | Hoi Ann

The beauty of Hoi Ann’s Tangenier lies in both what you can hear and what it may want you to not hear. Lo-fi folk and bedroom-pop are easily tangible on its surface, but the buzzy electronic tones that sparingly flourish the 5 songs of this release lie low and create a unique aural atmosphere for listeners, like hidden secrets for your ears only.


Indie-Punk Sweeties | Gestalt

The pop-punk shred-bois in Gestalt are back at it again; The irresistible combo of the Get Up Kids earnest midwestern-emo and smart pop-punk wit of the Wonder Years is strong on the tracks that encompass LongBoix, as is an acute fondness and growing appreciation for the finer indie rock of yesteryear. Well I guess this is growing up.


Psych-Rock Screamcore | Gone Full Heathen

On their criminally good self titled EP, Fort Collins heavies Gone Full Heathen friggin dare you to try and trap them in a single genre. Nice try, but they’ll just chew right through your puny ropes using a gnashing blend of crushing stoner-rock laced hardcore punk and overdriven psych-rock / post-metal induced bite like the righteous rock and roll wolves that they are.


All releases available for purchase now thru Bandcamp. Go Local!

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The Haze Craze for Lazy Days

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There are many different styles of beer. Ranging from light lagers (think Bud Light) and ales to sours, stouts, and IPAs.

Within those styles, however, are varying styles.

For example, one would think a sour beer is a sour beer, right? Wrong. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, which defines every style of beer, there are six recognized European sour styles.

For IPAs, there are seven. American beers have four; stouts have three… You get the point.

Even with viewing the list of recognized styles, it’s not a complete list.

Take New England IPAs (NE IPA), as a prime example. Many breweries are currently mass producing this style of beer, and it’s selling like crazy.

You may have heard one of your annoying beer loving friends talk about drinking a “juice bomb,” or a requesting a “hazy IPA” at the pub, and shrugged it off. It turns out, they (sometimes) know what they are talking about.

What makes NE IPAs so popular when compared to a more traditional, West Coast IPA? NE IPAs have all of the hop flavors, without an overabundance of bitterness.

Instead of constantly adding hops throughout the boil to achieve a fruity flavor balanced by bitterness, the NE IPA has a small hop addition at the begging, and then nothing else until after the boil has finished.

That translates into a beer with very little bitterness, and plenty of hop aroma and flavor. Hops like Citra, Mosaic, Mosaic, Galaxy, and El Dorado are most common in NE IPAs, according to the Homebrewers Association. Those hops tend to impart a fruity, and dare I say, juicy flavor profile.

Between the juicy flavor and the seemingly natural haziness to NE IPAs, it’s not far fetched for an NE IPA to look like a tall glass of orange or grapefruit juice, only carbonated and full of alcohol.

NE IPAs are starting to gain momentum here in Colorado, with breweries turning their focus to the haze craze. Specifically, Odd13, WeldWerks, and Epic Brewing coming to mind.

Odd13 is based in Lafayette, Colo. and has a long list of NE-inspired IPAs constantly rotating through the tap room and distributed throughout the state. Codename: Super fan and Noob are two beers that are found in cans, and both offer a different approach to the haze craze.

WeldWerks is based in Greeley, Colo. and has accumulated a cult-like following in just a few short years for its Juicy Bits NE IPA. The brewery just started self-distributing locally, so you’ll have to make the trip to the brewery and pick up a crowler or four. Be sure to check the WeldWerks Facebook page for availability and limits. Yes, they have to place per person limits on how much you can purchase.

Epic Brewing recently announced its NE IPA, which will rotate between four different flavor profiles throughout the year. The cans will look the same but will be different colors as a quick way to tell identify which version you have.

So the next time you walk into a brewery or liquor store, it’s OK to ask for a hazy or juicy IPA. It’s a thing, and, frankly, they are damn good.

On Tap: By the time this hits newsstands, ThunderZone Pizza & Taphouse will have opened on the CSU-P campus. Located at 2270 Rawlings Blvd., the ThunderZone features 32 taps, a carefully curated tap list, and is locally owned.

At the opening, the tap list includes tasty brews from the likes of Florence Brewing and Lost Highway.

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Senators upend GOP health care bill in true Trump style… Twitter

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WASHINGTON — When Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran decided they were in ready to disrupt the GOP rewrite of the health care law, they chose President Donald Trump’s favorite medium.

They could not support Senate Republicans’ plan, the somewhat unlikely pair of conservatives tweeted at 8:30 p.m. Monday night, giving no heads up to the White House or Senate leaders before pressing send.

The story behind the statement reveals two senators willing to be branded as bill killers and seemingly unconcerned with trying to soften the blow with party leaders.

The announcement, coming after some 10 days of conversations between the men, stunned official Washington and left Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at least two votes short in the closely divided Senate from being able to move forward with the GOP bill, effectively sinking the measure. It landed shortly after Trump dined with a group of senators to discuss strategy – unwittingly plotting a plan that would immediately become outdated.

Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican leader, found out about Lee’s defection after the White House dinner of rosemary-grilled rib eye and summer vegetable succotash. He “had no idea it was coming,” Cornyn said.

Another Republican, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, found out from TV news.

Moran, a second-term lawmaker from Kansas who isn’t known for making waves, and Lee, a two-term senator from Utah who has clashed with Trump, have been talking over the past 10 days about the health care legislation and agreed the GOP bill did not go far enough to repeal Obamacare or address rising health-care costs. They decided to announce their position to make the bill’s fate clear and allow senators to move on, Moran said.

“It could have been prolonged for days or weeks while no one said anything,” Moran said in an interview.

Moran, who oversaw the Senate Republicans’ 2014 election campaigns, concluded last week he wouldn’t vote for the latest version of the bill but “gave myself a weekend in Kansas to think about it,” he said.

Lee had helped draft an amendment, along with fellow conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would allow insurers to sell skimpy plans alongside more robust ones to lower costs. Cruz agreed to some changes in wording by GOP leaders, but Lee thought the new language allowed too many Obama-era regulations to remain in place.

After talking again, Moran and Lee agreed Monday night on a statement drafted earlier in the day. They issued their statement shortly after a White House dinner attended by seven GOP senators – all likely yes votes on the health care bill. Neither Lee nor Moran attended.

A Lee spokesman said the statement – and its timing – “had nothing to do with the White House dinner. It was not a reaction in any way.”

The statement was made public as soon as it was ready, the spokesman said.

Neither Trump nor McConnell received advance warning about the statement, although it’s likely that neither the president nor the Senate leader was completely surprised.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spent the weekend calling lawmakers, including Lee and at least seven other GOP senators, according to the administration. Trump talked politics, while Pence discussed policy.

Trump called Lee on Saturday, and Lee told the president he was leaning against the bill, for the reasons he later made public.

Lee told Utah’s KSL Newsradio that he had a great conversation with Trump, when he told the president his “consumer freedom” amendment had been weakened and that he wasn’t sure that he could support the bill.

“He was encouraging to me and said, you know, ‘Just see what changes you can make to it,’ ” Lee said.

Lee and McConnell did not talk over the weekend, but Lee spoke twice to Cornyn, R-Texas, the majority whip.

Trump, who frequently takes to Twitter to announce proposals or denounce opponents, was blindsided by, of all things, a tweet.

He told reporters Tuesday he was “very surprised when the two folks came out last night, because we thought they were in fairly good shape. But they did. And, you know, everybody has their own reason.”

Moran said while he remained committed to repealing the health care law, Congress needs to make a “fresh start” on writing a replacement bill in an “open legislative process.”

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” he said, in a statement that followed the tweet.

In his own statement, Lee said the GOP bill does not repeal all the Obamacare tax increases and “doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”

Both explanations were issued on social media.

“Twitter is a nice medium to get your message out,” Lee’s spokesman said.

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