North Park Ice Fishing Report 2/1/09
Lake John Resort
There is no doubt that February will test the skill and patience of an ice fisherman, at least here in North Park. Sure, Front Range lakes can be fairly consistent throughout the season when ice rarely gets a foot thick and is usually 6 - 8 inches on a good year with little to no snow on the surface. But here in the high country, ice continues to grow until the warmer temperatures of March arrive, allowing the combined thickness of hard water and wind packed snow to occasionally approach 3 feet. In my experience, it is this seemingly confining ceiling that cause fish to grow more dormant and lethargic even when oxygen levels remain totally adequate. It is this dense cap however, when prolonged by Mother Nature, that restricts the sunlight to submerged oxygen giving plants, which causes winter problems. Don't worry though, at last check by the DOW, all area lakes were still fine.
What this means to North Park fishermen and to those that will be attending the Delaney Butte Ice Fishing Contest this coming weekend, is that you may need to become more resourceful and imaginative. You may
think that when the fish are biting few and light, that utilizing your extra rod stamp is an advantage. Wrong! Concentrate totally on one rod, especially if you are fishing the contest where no bait is allowed. There is no way you can reach for a rod and set the hook successfully when fish are biting light. That rod must already be in your hand. Also, vary your jigging motion. Almost all strikes will be on the drop, no matter what type of lure or jig you are using. It is the free-fall motion of the offering that will entice the fish. You are not achieving a correct drop if you don't feel the "tunk" when your lure hits the end of your line. A double "tunk" means set the hook.
Most fishermen know what a dropper is. Now I'm not talking about a panfish or perch spreader, because that fits into the category of terminal tackle, and you all know how I feel about that junk while ice fishing. I'm talking about tying on another piece of line 8 - 12 inches long, a foot to 18 inches above your normal jig or lure. Attach a small fly to this line so it hangs weightless, and looks to the fish as though a minnow is chasing a small bug in the water when you move it. The fish may hit either your jig or the fly so be sure to attach your dropper with a tried-and-true knot.
I always use a fairly stiff rod, and this is even more helpful when fish are biting light. The hook-set must be immediate and firm. Even the slightest hesitation and lack of hook penetration which is present with a light-weight rod (I call them noodles), can be the difference between hooking and missing fish. I've also told people to set their drag light, because "you can always tighten your drag as needed, but if it's too tight to start with, you will never loosen it quickly enough if you hook a big fish". However if your drag is too loose to start with, and gives line at the strike, you won't get a good hook-set. That's why a good reel with a properly set drag is so important.
Whether you're fishing this week's contest or just enjoying a North Park winter day on the ice, I hope a few more tips will help with the fun. If you are an avid reader of this report you'll eventually have all my tricks and tips, and probably most of my fishing partners too. Ah, what the heck, just don't forget the sunscreen.
Lake John Resort