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Stop complaining, and start fishing

Blog by: Bill Prater 3/12/2021
Part of Series: Fishing for Beginners
This is that fun time of year when northern Colorado/southern Wyoming ice fishermen keep asking one another, “Anyone checked the ice on Boyd? Is there still ice on top of Douglas? How about Hattie? Hey, can you still walk on (and off) Crystal?”

The answer is: “Well, you can hope all you want; but below 6 or 7,000 feet, the ice around here has gotten pretty darned dicey.” Some diehards will just trek higher into the mountains, or get out their fly rods and head for a creek. Or catch a late season clearance on some fancy new floatation bibs, and hope they won’t be needed. Me, I’m thinking it is time for still water anglers to put away their augers and tiny rods, and take advantage of late winter/early spring open water.

This time of year, you really can catch fish in open water -  in most parts of the country much more frequently than you can around the Front Range. You Tube and Face Book groups are filled with photos and tall tales from grinning anglers in places like southern Colorado, Florida and Arizona. But even in northern Colorado, we can coax a few fish to the net; it just takes grinding patience, tolerance for being cold, and a willingness to live with (or possibly lie about) the occasional skunk.

Here is one grim truth that took me years to accept after relocating from the Midwest more than three decades ago: Colorado weather is just not a fisherman’s friend. By mid-March or even February in places like Missouri and Oklahoma, warm nights and warmer days typically kick start a new season for crappie, white bass and other warm water fish. Here? Yeah, we get warm afternoons, like the ones that lured some of us back into our float tubes last week. But we also get bitterly cold nights and annoying, disruptive spring snowstorms, like the one of Biblical proportions headed our way this very weekend.

So how does the determined fisherman find success on open water, without waiting for April or May? My advice is, ignore for now all those boisterous Southern fishing shows about prespawn bass and bedding bluegill. Do like me: settle for a gullible bass or two after hours of casting a lipless crank bait or Ned Rig. Or better yet, up your chances by concentrating on trout, in most lakes holdovers stocked in 2020 or earlier. I kind of ignored cold water fish when I first moved West. But eventually even I found, to my delight, that trout stay active much later in the fall than warm water species, and tend to stay that way right through winter, accessible through the ice or in open water during the occasional winter thaw. 

I prefer the float tube this time of year, though you can do quite well from shore. And Boyd Lake State Park is set to open for boating at 8 a.m. Monday, March 15. Other large northern lakes remain mostly closed to boating until April. But if you can find an open spot to launch, you can launch on most smaller waters. Good luck, and try to stay warm out there. I know some of you will keep trying to find safe ice until hell freezes over. Let us know how you do.

Blog content © Bill Prater
Blog Comments
FishHuntNow, 3/15/2021 9:18:29 AM
No time to complain, i love scouting and fishing part of the fun!

Other Blogs in the Fishing for Beginners Series

Let's argue over how size matters by B. Prater 10.02.22
You really can learn useful stuff watching those televised bass fishing tournaments. What I have learned is, those Southern boys and girls mostly throw baits five times larger than needed here in Colorado, and try to convince us we need that stuff too.
Getting ready for spring: time to study Google Earth by B. Prater 02.09.22
It appears Google Earth has updated its satellite photos of northern Colorado. Looks like most of the composite photos were taken on clear days in June 2021, giving us an updated tool to study fishing holes from a unique perspective high overhead.
Wacky Rigging by S. Brands 10.06.21
One of the best techniques for a beginning angler to learn is wacky rigging. Over the years I have learned a few tips and tricks when it comes to fishing a wacky rig, and I’d like to share some of those things with you today.
Let's argue: Does size matter? by B. Prater 08.20.21
One of the many great things about ultralight gear is, it doesn't matter whether your intended catch is a Master Angler class whopper or a small over-achiever.
When (and if ) you should lie about fishing by B. Prater 06.13.21
The trouble with writing an occasional fish story is, most readers won’t even agree on what kind of fish to catch, much less what to do with it afterward. (Eat that carp? or Let It Live to Bite Another Day?
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