Estes Park… The Cure for Your Winter Blues
Guest Blog by: Devin Gelsinger 1/26/2015
Some anglers have it made, they are completely content sitting on a solid cap of ice while jigging a minnow in hopes of getting a fish’s attention that is lurking below. On the other side of the spectrum, you have other anglers that pucker at the thought of freezing their tails off dreaming of those warm summer days of open water and a more conventional style of angling. Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park
can satisfy an appetite for both styles of anglers during the cold harsh Winter Colorado has to offer.
For those of you that cringe at the thought of the lakes locking up for winter, Estes Park could be your saving grace to get a line wet in open water and have an opportunity at actually catching a few fish along the way. Naturally there’s a catch. Most of you know that Estes Park is located in the foothills. What some of you don’t know is winter in the foothills blows. Yes, I’m talking about that “W” word that most of us anglers hate…WIND. The “W” word can actually be an anglers friends during the warm months, bait fish get flushed around while predatory fish have a feeding frenzy thus resulting in good fishing. During winter these bait fish are hunkered down with cabin fever and are very less active. So the wind is actually a disadvantage for most of us.
In reality you have to ask yourself, is the short drive to Estes worth catching open water fish? The answer is yes. Catching a limit of trout can be fairly easy for lure guys, fly guys, as well as bait dunkers. Setting the hook on these fish can wash your winter blues away and quick. Trout are a cold water fish and stay active during winter. These fish can be located all around the lake, so whichever direction the wind is blowing, you can shoot across to the other side and hunker down out of the wind.
Additionally, Lake Estes
does freeze from time to time but no ice fishing is allowed. The influx of water coming in and out of the lake in addition to our friend the wind, the lake normally opens up a few days after a cold snap to some degree. With this in mind and thanks to Fish Explorer, I am able to let all of you know when there is open water almost daily. On a side note, Mary’s Lake
is only a few miles from Lake Estes and can offer up the same type of open water rarely freezing even during cold snaps.
For the guys that prefer river fishing, there is almost always open water in the Big Thompson
through town as well below the Olympus Dam. (Please be aware of special regulations fishing below the dam.) If this open water in the middle of winter toots your horn, then come on up. Just dress in layers and bring all different types of tackle to be able to adjust to the changing weather conditions.
As for the hardcore ice guys, Rocky Mountain National Park can offer some great ice fishing. Some of the most beautiful fish you will ever see can be caught here through the ice. (Again, ice fishing is not allowed at all lakes so please check your regs or call the Park office). These lake usually freeze early in fall and have a solid cap on them for a good part of spring. Notably resulting in an ice season much longer than the Front Range. As noted before, you will run into some wind and changing weather conditions, so don’t believe what the weather forecast states.
One of the best parts of Ice fishing Rocky, is there is practically no one up there. It’s still amazingly beautiful. So without giving out too much info, strap on your boots and cleats and hit the frozen lakes of Rocky. You may be surprised at what you come across. Sometimes, solitude is exactly what you have been looking for.
In conclusion, Estes Park has a lot to offer year around. Most of the restaurants and local watering holes are open for business. Most of the shops downtown are open on the weekends so if the wife or kids come along and fishing isn’t their cup o’ tea, they will find things to do. More importantly, if you have a bad dose of cabin fever and need to get out and fish, Estes Park has many opportunities to get a line wet no matter how you prefer to do it. So come on up and catch some fish.
anglerwannabe, CO 1/26/2015 9:09:13 PM
you forgot to tell em about Smokin Daves BBQ.. that's worth the trip alone! I know the Boss and I have truly enjoyed our visits up there Elk Fest was a blast and then some fishing too! If you guys get the chance and Devin can meet you.. he's a great guy to show you Estes. Nice blog Devin. Steph ad I are already ready to visit again. lol
lewdog, CO 1/26/2015 9:16:32 PM
Great blog man. You should see about being a guide up there. Make money on your days off while you wet a line. I hear you are great guide material. Thanks buddy.
led2zep, CO 1/27/2015 8:05:10 AM
yard dogs, CO 1/27/2015 8:07:07 AM
Got to agree with Wannabe here - Smokin Daves is worth the trip alone. Best BBQ I have found anywhere (and fried pickles too) Good blog though man. Estes is a sweet place - cant wait to get back up there!
the fishing dj, CO 1/27/2015 8:14:05 AM
Good read Devin. It is a great place for sure! I'll be making another trip up there soon! You just cant beat catching some open water brownies in the winter!
team FMFO , CO 1/27/2015 8:23:40 AM
Awesome read Devin ! Great info about the cool place we live man. Good job. :-)
Devin Gelsinger (pikeNcolorado), CO 1/27/2015 8:30:46 AM
Thanks Gents for the kind words. As for Smokin Daves BBQ, all this food talk is making me hungry. I think I'm going to call in a to go order for lunch. HA HA. I take everyone to Daves. You know you are going to get good food ( If not the best) and they have something for everyone.
Dangly, CO 1/28/2015 8:14:10 AM
Good read, buddy.
Ajax5240, CO 1/28/2015 9:47:14 AM
Great write up Devin! Estes is a very frequent day trip for my family, and some great year round fishing. I could drink the bbq sauce at Dave's straight from the bottle, and their draft beer selection is top notch as well! The fried pickles are a must!
Devin Gelsinger (pikeNcolorado), CO 1/28/2015 8:59:45 PM
Thanks again Gents. Ok, so next time we throw down an Estes fishing get together, we will make reservations at Daves BBQ and tear the place upside down. Hopefully we will all be able to tell fish stories from the day or at least lie about them.
OldMikkDale, CO 1/29/2015 12:54:49 PM
ops, I screwed up, however I really appreciate this blog.
ColoradoDad, CO 1/29/2015 4:58:00 PM
Great blog- I love the line "Sometimes, solitude is exactly what you have been looking for."
anglerwannabe, CO 1/29/2015 7:39:37 PM
Devin I love that idea. Bunch of us get together and then tell lies.. I mean fishing stories. and some Smokin Daves.. and you know The Boss will there for that
the fishing dj, CO 1/29/2015 7:53:04 PM
Shoot... with all this hype I'm hearing about this BBQ place, maybe my buddy and I should have come there with you guys instead of fishing!
elkskinner, CO 1/29/2015 7:55:18 PM
Foothills? FOOTHILLS? Estes is hardly in the foothills. It lays just a few miles from the base of Long's Peak, a 14er.
I like Estes Park. Over the past 50 years, I have spent a great deal of time in and around EP.
Good article. (Except for the foothills part!)