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North Park Ice Fishing Report 12/16/13
Bill Willcox
The ice is finally here to stay on North Park sagebrush lakes. As I write this, exactly one week has passed since the current lid formed on Lake John. Three other surfaces had developed previously, beginning early the week of Thanksgiving, only to be crushed and re-liquefied by gales and periods of unseasonably warm weather. Although lately, colder temperatures and calmer winds have provided the means to get the ice fishing season officially underway.

The first of the cold-footers to walk upon John did so last Tuesday the 11th atop two and a half inches of good, clear ice. Each day since, as the ice continues to build, has seen fishing traffic. The existing nearly half foot summoned many hard water fishermen, women, and even children over the weekend, who have been itching to drill some holes. Lake John is completely covered and I know of no weak areas or recent mishaps, however common sense in the safety department is in your best interest. A quick word to the wise would be to follow some simple rules when proceeding onto early ice: Don’t bunch up in a group. Space out holes. Keep ice picks handy for each individual. A safety rope close-by. Early season ice is normally very slick so put spikes or creepers on your feet to move quickly if necessary, (and to keep from slipping and smashing your melon). Light portable shelters are being utilized, but no vehicles of any kind yet. Most of all, use good judgment.

I have talked to several of the ice fisher people that have already spent time on Lake John, and the action is excellent. I have seen trout ranging from 12 – 16 inches, some of which were landed at a rate of 10 fish per hour and caught on a wide variety of offerings. Teardrop jigs tipped with a meal or wax worm, or a piece of crawler. One and a half inch Squirmin’ Squirts in pink, white and crawfish. Several different lures including Z-Rays and Kastmasters in an assortment of sizes and paints. Also flies — Midges, Nymphs and minnow imitations, just keep them moving. Keep ‘em all moving. At present, location and depth is not critical. North end, South end, shallow or deep, early ice is hard to beat.

The Delaney trio, North, South and East, are all in similar fashion with John at least to the extent that ice conditions are concerned. Local angler Gary Arnold has walked out, drilled holes, and fished both South and East Delaney, while also observing several parties atop the North Lake. Gary reports settings akin to Lake John in ice thickness, however has not covered enough surface area to account for any thin spots or problem zones. Again, err on the side of caution until more information becomes available. Gary also informs me that the action was good on East, using his own hand-tied ice flies, but granting the fish were smallish. He additionally landed the largest fish of his ice season thus far from South, but allowed that extra time and further persistence, for fewer fish, were needed for that impoundment.

I believe that Cowdrey Lake has the more generous layer of ice among area reservoirs, however I have not yet talked to anyone that has fished it through the solid lid this season.

Don’t forget — the first of North Park’s two ice fishing extravaganzas is coming up in less than a month here on Lake John and Cowdrey Lake — January 12th & 13th, 2013. So if you haven’t received your information yet, entry forms can be obtained by visiting the North Park Visitors Bureau website at or by calling the North Park Chamber of Commerce at 970-723-4600. Big fun, big money !