Frozen fun: Come prepared
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Charlie Meyers: 303-954-1609 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Denver Post
A power auger and a windproof shelter are high on the list of items essential to a good start in ice fishing. (Charlie Meyers, The Denver Post)To that vast majority of sportsmen who believe ice is useful only for cooling beer, it remains the most inane of all outdoor sports.
Bone-chilling cold. Uncertain winter travel. Erratic results. Perhaps even an occasional element of danger.
These are among the factors to be endured by those who take their leisure looking down a small, round hole. Insert your own ice-fishing joke here.
For some, it is the most solitary endeavor, a chance to escape the remainder of humanity. Others see it as a social event, a convivial gathering of kindred souls in which the exchange of yarns and information is almost as important as catching fish.
So it was that nearly 50 ice enthusiasts gathered at Tarryall Reservoir a couple weekends ago for what Mark Lovato, one of the informal organizers, called an "ice picnic."
Like many things these days, inspiration arrived via the Internet.
"We all met on a great local website and decided to get together and meet in person, do some ice fishing and have a good time," Lovato said of the connection on www.fishexplorer.com.
Uncertain how many might show, the Henderson resident arrived around daybreak and quickly became amazed at the turnout.
"Every time I looked up, people were mingling, visiting each other's huts. Some wound up walking all the way across the lake."
Most seemed willing to overlook the fact that fishing wasn't so hot a 14 1/2-inch rainbow took top honors for the day.
That Lovato wound up in the thick of things underscores a growing interest in joining the frost-footed set.
"My wife and I had been out of fishing for a long time. In 2007, we decided to jump back in. We came out of the store with about $1,000 in ice-fishing gear, which might seem a bit excessive. But we didn't want to be uncomfortable, and it's paid off."
So, what's the breakout for a reasonable outfit? We asked Shannon Larsen, who monitors the ice-fishing department at the
An Internet connection brought a horde of enthusiasts together for a Tarryall Reservoir picnic. (Dave Coulson, Special to The Denver Post )Littleton Sportsman's Warehouse.
Larsen, who emphasizes the ice sport in his "Rip 'Em and Lip 'Em with Lefty Larsen" show will begin its second season on Altitude Sports Network later in the spring, offers this ranking in order of importance:
You already may have most of the essentials in your closet, but it's essential to stay warm and dry. "Boots, gloves and hat are most important, and outer wear should be waterproof."
2. Power auger.
You may need lots of holes to find fish, and mid-winter ice grows 2 feet thick some places. Don't mess with the hand crank. Expect to pay about $300.
"A good unit improved my catch rate by 90 percent," said Larsen, who favors the Vexilar brand. "Knowing the depth of my lure and when to change presentations if fish are present made all the difference." A basic unit costs $300.
Much as with warm clothing, the comfort of a hut helps an angler stay out long enough to catch fish, not to mention remaining active and alert. It's a must on windy days. A basic pop-up unit costs $150, an upgrade $200.
A successful ice fisherman matches the prevalent baitfish, crayfish, scuds or other food items.
"Ice jigs don't cost much, and we have a lot of this stuff in our open-water tackle boxes," Lar-sen said.
The rest comes relatively cheap: $10 for an ice rod compared to $700 for a fancy fly pole, $10 to $30 for cleats, $10
Chime in With Charlie
Post outdoors editor Charlie Meyers posts entries on this blog devoted to hunting and fishing. Visit it here.
for safety picks, $5 to $10 for a stool.
All things considered, it's fairly inexpensive compared with the price of a boat, motor and trailer. Besides, you don't have to worry about someone running over your line.