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North Park Ice and Fishing Report Nov 18, 2012
Bill Willcox Lake John Resort
When my dog’s duty called this morning, not unlike other mornings, North Park’s eastern mountain border was a beautiful silhouette against the dawn’s early glow. Today however, something was amiss. The stillness in the air was eerie. No steam was rising from Lake John’s surface, and the playful sounds of splashing water birds were absent. It didn’t take long, even in nearly no light conditions, to deduce that the familiar reflection of the distant high peaks were bouncing from a hard surface. The lack of mid-night breezes along with single-digit temperatures had finally brought the first ice of the upcoming season.

That was a couple days ago and that ice has since succumbed to wind and above-freezing daytime temps. Friday I received just under thirty calls asking about the lake conditions here in North Park. Although some fishermen were looking for one last trip to fish open water, most were curious if the ice angling season had started yet. My answer to all of them, and everyone since, was that we are now literally on a day to day basis. And of course once the ice does form, and is here to stay, it will take a little time to strengthen and become safe, all depending on weather. However I do recall one year, when we were ice fishing just 2 days after the ice first formed.

If the hard water fishing continues on Lake John the way the open water action is wrapping up — and I see absolutely no reason why it won’t — this should be a phenomenal winter season. Even though very few of the larger brood fish, which were released over a year ago during the reclamation, have been caught recently, the action on the fast growing, hard fighting, bad attitude, yet willing and tasty 13 to 15 inchers is excellent. Also occasionally, Snake River Cutts and a few rainbows in the 16 to 18 inch range are being hooked. Angling methods currently remain as versatile as the fishermen themselves, however some must inevitably change as the hard lid forms.

There has been good action on the Delaney Buttes Trio as well. It seems the fish, especially the big fish, have strapped on the feed bag. Like a big bear before hibernation, these trout seem to be hammering offerings before the cold weather caps the surface. When presented properly, crawdad imitations have been the key to hog heaven — particularly on North Delaney, where one of my good customers has been flipping large 4 inch tube jigs into shallow water along the shorelines. One Rainbow broke the 9 pound mark. The same technique has been effective along the west shore of South Delaney, where 2 and 3 inch tubes, as well as Rebel Wee Craws are being worked along the drop-off with spinning gear.

With some of the daytime highs still near 60 degrees along the Front Range, I understand that it may be hard to start thinking about ice fishing contests. However now is the time to make your plans for the upcoming North Park winter season fishing extravaganzas. The Lake John/Cowdrey Lake Ice Fishing Contest is a 2 day affair on January 12 and 13, 2013. Also, be certain not to miss the second contest on February 9 for the Delaney Butte Lakes Trophy Ice Fishing Contest.