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North Park Ice Fishing Report 12/8/13

Bill WIllcox, Lake John Report

North Park Ice Fishing Report


Even though the entire state was affected by the brutally cold weather that moved in last week, it almost always seems that North Park gets kicked a little harder. Each year it appears Ma’ Nature comes along in early December and delivers a devastating blow just to let us know who’s boss. Temperatures and snow totals varied around the county, depending on who did the reporting, but my records here at Lake John were 14 to 16 inches of snow, followed by a couple nights at minus 33 and minus 28 degrees F. respectively.

Now you would think that the ice on lake surfaces would just double in thickness due to that kind of cold, however the snow that came first acted like a blanket of insulation, and didn’t add as much ice as you might expect. And although snow accumulations were not near that depth on the existing 5-inch hard water lids at that time, it added enough weight that now when you drill a whole, water seeps out and can make for a slushy mess. Sneakers and loafers are definitely not advisable.

For whatever reason, not all areas of every lake are like that, probably depending on the ice thickness and strength before the storm, along with wind determining actual surface snow accrual. Reports from this past weeks say ice depth has increased to an average of 6 or 7 inches on most impoundments, though there are still some weak areas. The good news is, as far as I know, these zones of thin support are near shore in shallow water, nevertheless can ruin a day of fishing. Last Friday on Lake John, a cabin customer went through over his boots just east of the south boat ramp. A few days before that, a fisherman off the West Point went in over his knees. Last weekend off Davidson Point at the north end of John, I encountered a thin-ice obstacle course while retrieving a bucket blown there by the wind. I haven’t heard any recounts of frail ice from Cowdrey Lake or the Delaneys, but that doesn’t mean anything. The bottom line is use caution and common sense.

I’ve been going on at length about the weather and ice conditions thus far, with the reason being that those need to be prepared for more so than the fishing itself. The catching has been quite simple and steady on John, Cowdrey, and the 3 Delaneys just by sticking to the basics. Of course no baits are allowed on any of the 3 D’s, but plastics and tubes are doing well — Gitzits, Minnow Tubes, and Squirmin’ Squirts. White has been a go-to color for tube jigs, but be sure to try dark green and crawdad shades as well. Stick to skinny water inside of 10 feet, with 6 feet being the best-producing level.

On Lake John, just about any jig tipped with some meat such as a meal or wax worm or hunk of crawler is generating action. Rat Finkee’s, Shrimpo’s and Ratso’s are hard to beat, along with Squirmin’ Squirts, Tiny Worms and Teaser Tails. Sometimes just a small Tear Drop will work wonders. Location and depth is of little importance, with fish being landed all over the lake in 6 to 16 feet of water. The road along the west side of John to the south end is in good shape, however the east side travel route is just about blown shut.

Here’s a reminder that we’re only a month away from the first of two fishing tournaments coming to North Park this winter. The Lake John/Cowdrey Lake Ice Fishing Contest is just around the corner on January 11 and 12, 2014, while the Delaney Butte Lakes Trophy Ice Fishing Contest will follow on February 8, 2014. Big time prizes, big time money, big time fun, and big time fish. Don’t be stuck out in the cold. Make your plans and reservations now. For complete rules and entry forms for both contests, go to or See ya’ there.

Bill Willcox

Lake John Resort
Operation Game Thief
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