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North Park Ice Fishing Report 12/23/12
Lake John Resort
Happy Holidays everyone! I hope this report catches each of you enjoying the Christmas Season while finding a little well deserved time off to relax with family and friends. If the family and friends are the reason you havenít been able to relax, maybe a day or two of solitude whilst ice fishing atop one of North Parks many lakes will do the trick. Youíve earned it. Especially if you were good and Santa squeezed some new toys down the chimney for you to play with. Everyone knows that sportsmen and women are the easiest to please at Christmas, itís just getting that new Ďman caveí style ice hut down the smokestack that may be challenging. But not to worry, Olí St. Nick knows the security code and has a key to the garage. Besides, there are a countless number of undersized yet worthwhile winter fishing gifts that will fit through the flue with only minimal force. In any case, grab your ice angling gear, no matter new or heavily-used and get up here. The cold water fishing is heating up.

Cold-footers on area lakes are getting more plentiful as ice thickens and weekends pass. Iím sure the next week will see even more hard water walkers with many sportsmen having time off over the holidays. The trip to North Park has been well worth it for those ice fishermen who have made the trip thus far. Lake John, Cowdrey Lake, and all three Delaney Butte lakes are kicking out fish. To date, Cowdrey Lake has the most ice, about 9 inches. It is fishing well, however the people I have talked to that have fished it most recently, havenít caught anything big--yet. To my knowledge, Cowdrey didnít have any winter or summer kill, so should be in pretty decent shape. If you recall, this small impoundment won the fishing contest last year, and should be a sleeper for some trophy fish again this season.

Over on the Delaney trio, the East Lake seems to be putting out the best numbers, although trout are running small. There are some real dandies in this pond, though finding them can be a chore. Reports are 7 inches of ice, give or take. Local angler Gary Arnold has had good success using his own hand-tied fly designs of beadhead nymphs. Imitation egg flies are also a good bet, as well as one of my favorites, Tiny Worms on a 32nd or 48th oz. lead head. South Delaney Lake holds some true bruisers, however has been a little stingy lately, at least for the truly big fish. Gary relates catching fish in a variety of lengths ranging from barely double digits to high teens, again with flies. Ice thickness is on a gradual increase, keeping up with East. Ultimately, the information and re-counts that I have gathered describe North Delaney Butte as currently fishing the best of these three. This is the reservoir that routinely puts out the hogs. Although I havenít personally heard of any wall hangers to this point of the season, Iím certain some wild stories are out there. What I have taken notice of from several ice goers, is the consistency North has been displaying. I believe this will change to more sporadic as the winter moves on, however take advantage while the gettiní is good. Very decent, mostly slot fish of Browns and Rainbows are being taken on Squirminí Squirts, Teaser (curly) Tails, and Minnow Tubes in white and crawdad colors. 8, 10, even a dozen fish can be landed in a matter of only a few hours. Ice thickness is consistent with the other two Buttes and I havenít learned of any weak spots. A word to the wise: read the signs around these lakes. All three lakes are looked at as one for limits and quantities, and now have all the same regulations. Flies and lures only, no bait allowed, and slot limits on all fish, to name a few. Read the fishing booklet for all the details and be legal.

The gift that keeps on giving this season is the way Lake John is putting out trout. I honestly donít know of any easier, more productive ice fishing anywhere. 7 to 8 inches of ice with 2 to 4 inches of snow, and Iím beginning to see ATVs leaving their tracks. The surface can be slick, even under the snow, so creepers are a good bet. The trout vary in size from 12 to 16 inches, and are biting on just about everything. Bring the family and kids, put on a Rat Fink, Shrimpo, Ratso or Tear Drop with a piece of worm meat, and tell them to hang on to the rod. Jig a lure, like a Kastmaster, Z-Ray or Dardevle. Replace the treble hook with a single, and make the fishís return to freedom simple. Waggle a tube jig or Gitzit. Finesse with a fly. It doesnít much matter. Teach the kids good catch and release techniques, while at the same time, letting them clean a few for dinner. But most importantly, have fun and relax. Youíve earned it.

Bill Willcox

Lake John Resort