Spring is still weeks away, but thanks to a ďmilderĒ winter, or so it seems, there are numerous open water options at this time. Granted, the majority of them are rivers and streams but, should the weather remain mild into February, especially if we get some breezy weather, look for increasing open water options, such as inlet areas, shallow ponds, streams, and rivers.
As I wait for spring to arrive, and with it, the thawing of lakes and reservoirs, on those days when the air temperatures are above freezing, Iíll spend time fishing the rivers up and down the Front Range such as the Cache la Poudre, Big Thompson, South Platte, and even the Arkansas. I might even make a run over the mountain and give the Roaring Fork, Colorado River, or White River a try in February.
Come March, Iíll make a trip to southern Arizona and do a bit of warm water fishing. Within a couple hours of Phoenix there are eight or so reservoirs that offer some excellent fishing for stripers, white bass, crappie, largemouth, catfish, carp, and even trout at times. Plus, Phoenix has an excellent urban fisheries program where they keep area ponds well stocked with trout in the winter months, and catfish the rest of the year.
Recently, I was reminded of my father who used to speak of ďwintering well.Ē It was usually in the context of himself or someone else who came through the winter fatter than they started it. In that context, I can say Iíve definitely wintered well.
Per the calendar, winter is still upon us. It seems to me that itís been milder than in recent years, as evidenced by the Cache la Poudre remaining mostly ice free through Fort Collins. Last weekend, with air temperatures in the mid-forties, calm winds, and nothing scheduled, I gathered up my gear, waders, rods, and vest, and headed for the river.
Upon reaching the river, near a pond where a number of folks were ice fishing, I donned my waders. Iím going to have to rethink my winter storage, as they seem to have shrunk a size or two the last few weeks. The walk to the first run seemed more like a waddle than a brisk walk, but I made it without working up too much of a sweat, even though it seemed the run was a lot further from the car than the last time I fished it.
After a few hours fishing, including changing locations, I found myself feeling a bit bushed. In part from playing cards late into the evening, then rising before I got my full allotment of weekend sleep. For a senior, thatís closer to twelve hours rather than the scant six or seven I managed. Plus, the step counter indicated Iíd gotten in my five miles worth of steps, something Iíve not done for a few weeks. Then to add insult to injury, the fish were uncooperative, so I called it a day and headed home to watch football and tie flies.
Thereís no doubt Iíve wintered well to date and need to start the process of shedding a bit of that ďwellnessĒ before fishing season is in full swing. With increasing open water fishing opportunities over the next few weeks, Iíll have the incentives to get out and moving, which will take care of the exercise side. Toning down the calorie intake will be another story.
Regardless of whether youíre an open water angler or a die-hard ice fisher, the month of February will offer an abundance of both. All you have to do is decide which to participate in.
First published Jan 29, 2017 in the Fort Collins, Coloradoan