Ice-fishing season is in full swing
Reposted with permission of
Karl Licis, Special to the
Rocky Mountain News
Wintry weather returned to much of Colorado the past few days and with it, the ice-fishing season is going strong. The ice cover on most mountain lakes remains solid, and closer to home, cautious, light-footed fishermen might even find suitable conditions on Chatfield and Cherry Creek reservoirs.
Even so, for those venturing onto the hard water, conditions and fishing prospects vary widely.
* GRANBY RESERVOIR: Granby, with Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake part of the Three Lakes Ice Fishing Tourney from Friday through Sunday, has solid ice, and fishing for rainbow and brown trout and mackinaw has been fairly good.
Mackinaw have been holding in 25 to 50 feet of water near structure, according to Richard Crager of Budget Tackle in Granby, but actively feeding lakers have been reported at 6 to 10 feet.
Recent snow and slush on top of the ice have created some problems getting around on the surface for ATVs and even snowmobiles. Tournament organizers are hoping cold nights will form a crust atop the ice surface in time for the competition.
Pumping has created a significant area of open water at Shadow Mountain and by the channel on Grand Lake. Nearby Willow Creek Reservoir has solid ice despite some recent open water along the edges caused by a rise in the water level.
For tournament information, call the Granby Chamber of Commerce, 1-970-887-2311, or Budget Tackle, 1-970-9344.
* DELANEY BUTTES RESERVOIRS: These North Park waters received 8 to 10 inches of wet, sticky snow the past couple of days, and more could be on the way. All have solid ice, and Bill Wilcox of the Lake John Resort reports some good catches on North and South Delaney, including a 24-incher from the South lake.
With the Delaney Lakes Ice Fishing Contest set for Feb. 7, Wilcox recommends crawfish and minnow imitators such as Squirmin' Squirts, Minnow Tubes, Tiny Worms and Teaser Tails. Marabou jigs also can be effective, as can jigging with Kastmasters and Swedish Pimples.
Fishing with flies and small jig that imitate scuds, midges and leeches also can be effective, especially later in the season when trout become more finicky.
All three lakes have special regulations, including slot limits. Ice anglers are reminded to check the Colorado Division of Wildlife's fishing-regulations booklet and handle their fish with care.
For contest information, call the Walden Chamber of Commerce, 1-970-723-4600, or the Lake John Resort, 1-970-723-3226.
* ELEVENMILE RESERVOIR: It will host the South Park Ice Masters Traveling Trophy competition on Feb. 7. For information, call the 11 Mile Marina, 1-877-725-3172.
Ice thickness is 18 to 20 inches, with relatively little snow on the surface. Trout have been the mainstay of winter fishing. Rainbows have been taking a variety of jigs in 10 to 20 feet of water.
Rocky Flats, Stoll Mountain, the north shore out from the main boat ramp and other traditional hot spots have been productive.
Kokanee salmon numbers are down dramatically because of the gill-lice parasite, and fishing for them generally has been poor. But some encouraging signs have been evident. Ice fishermen recently have been catching some 12- to 14-inch salmon and marking passing schools of fish on sonar units.
Northern pike fishing has been fair. The pike coming through the ice reportedly have been exceptionally well-conditioned.
* ANTERO RESERVOIR: As usual, this Elevenmile neighbor has slowed down after good early season activity. "Dead sticking" - fishing with a completely motionless jig - has been the most effective approach.
The ice thickness is 15 to 18 inches, and through last weekend, the surface had comparatively little snow. Jeff Spohn, the DOW fisheries biologist for the South Platte drainage, hopes that will help in avoiding a significant winter kill of fish, as happened last year.
* BLUE MESA RESERVOIR: Near Gunnison, this reservoir is something of a paradox. The Iola Basin and canyon section near the Elk Creek Marina have ice, but the reminder of the lake has open water, according to Andy Cochran of Gene Taylor's Sporting Goods. Marabou jigs and tube jigs tipped with a mealworm have been taking rainbow and brown trout and some small mackinaw.
* TAYLOR RESERVOIR: It has very solid ice with little snow on the surface.