North Park Ice Fishing Report 12/04/11
Bill Willcox Lake John Resort
By the number of phone calls I received before and during the Thanksgiving Holiday from ice fishermen chomping at the bit to walk on hard water, inquiring about ice thickness and condition, I figured there was going to be an all out early assault on North Park fish. However, by the fewer than expected and smaller than usual groups of cold footers, that hasn't happened, at least not yet. On the other hand, the content of some of the calls that I have recently received have changed. Upon being told that there is now about 6 inches of ice on area lakes, they want to know if they can drive out? Absolutely! As long as your full coverage insurance premiums are paid in full and you have a very good friend at the E.P.A. Not. Although you may possibly get away with using a snowmobile or an ATV, I have a simple school of thought for that also — don't be the first. In a case like this, you definitely want to follow in someone else's tracks, unless they end abruptly and are empty. Come on fishermen. Are we all getting old and lazy? These are some of the easiest lakes to access and ice fish in the state, at least until the deep snows come, and they're not here thus far. And I hope I didn't just jinx us.
Maybe I'm just reading too much into some petty phone calls, and the fact is that fishermen are simply home getting their gear ready. Which is exactly the place it should happen and not on the ice in the early morning dawn. There is one group staying in our cabins this weekend who are fortunate they were prepared, because averaging 50-60 fish a day from Lake John will take a toll on equipment. Most of these fish were under 14 inches, however there were a few big boys, (or girls) mixed in. For these fishermen, the action stayed consistent throughout the day using small jigs dabbed with scent. There is no doubt that most of the action on Lake John is from smallish fish just because of the sheer numbers that are present. Nevertheless, there are many different sizes currently being caught, including some huge brooders, and it's easy to see the enhanced growth in length, girth and attitude, from the time they were released just after the reclamation.
Not everyone is landing and releasing those kind of numbers from John, myself included. I fished with my good friend Schoolteacher Mike this past Thursday, (I know a lot of people with the same first name so we give them pre-name descriptions to keep them all straight, and this Mike is a retired schoolteacher from Greeley — thus the name), and while I caught the first fish, it was also my only fish. Conversely, Mike, only 6 feet away, in an hour and a half, threw a dozen fish back into his hole, using the exact same thing as I. Did I mention that Mike is a very good fisherman? Although the very first fish came on a Kastmaster, all the rest came on a fly that Mike ties, and yes, I had one tied on also. Go figure.
During the next two days, Friday and Saturday, Mike, and Gary who is a local fisherman and good friend of both of ours from Walden, (I don't know that many Gary's, so no need for a first-first name), spent time over at South and East Delaney Lake. (I didn't go because I didn't want to show anyone up). The East Lake proved the best over those 2 days providing good action near the boat ramp on both flies and tube jigs. Bead-headed bugs and 2-inch Minnow Tubes worked well for the boys who caught and released fish for a couple hours each day. Though nothing was over 15 inches while fishing through the ice, both Mike and Gary landed fish over 20 inches from East just before ice-on with their fly rods.
The way things currently stand, Lake John, Cowdrey Lake and the Delaney Lakes, all have about 6 inches of ice, and absent any natural disaster, it is here to stay. With current weather conditions, you can expect to add about 2-3 inches a week. The last time I heard, the roads around the Delaneys were all passable as well as the road along the west shore to the south end of Lake John. All main county roads are currently in great shape. As for driving full size vehicles on lake surfaces, it's best to wait until the Christmas Holidays. But of course, that's totally up to you.