Recent snows suggest winter is far from done, especially in the High Country. However, spring isn’t that many weeks off, and it won’t be long until we see Old Man Winter start to loosen his icy grip on our waters, especially the rivers. Until then, ice fishing will be the primary game. With the snows, expect slushy conditions as the snow weighs down the ice, allowing water onto the surface were the snow insulates it from freezing.
South Park waters continue to attract large numbers of anglers. Not sure why, as fishing has been generally slow and Tarryall, Antero and Elevenmile reservoirs are all sporting close to 2 feet of ice. Tarryall continues to have the best action, primarily on smaller rainbows. Ice jigs tipped with a meal or wax worm are the favored lures, although occasionally those using whole dead suckers encounter a northern pike. Elevenmile continues to produce a few nice trout, with most coming out of shallow water, less than 20 feet. Fish away from the crowds, and try small tube jigs tipped with something.
Granby Reservoir and Grand Lake have also seen a lot of snow, so much so that even snowmobiles have been having a hard time getting around. Those who’ve braved the conditions have been picking up solid numbers of lake trout, mostly less than 20 inches long. No particular area appears to better than another. The standard baits are reported working — small tube jigs, 2 to 3 inches long, with a bit of sucker or earthworm. A good tactic is to pay attention to your electronics; set one rod at the depth fish are showing and dead stick it, while jigging a second. Keep in mind jigging doesn’t need to be vigorous, just some movement on occasion.
Nearby to Granby Reservoir, Willow Creek Reservoir had been fishing well for decent-sized rainbows, to 14 inches. While many methods will produce, dead sticking baited hooks, worms, doughbaits or salmon eggs on one rod, while jigging spoons, such as small Kastmasters, has been a deadly combination.
The Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers around the Glenwood area offer open-water fishing, especially during those warmer afternoons when the ice often quits flowing. Nymping with attractor pattern, midges, small stones and even a small streamer can be productive. The next few weeks, into April, before runoff gets going, can be some of the best river fishing of the year. Look for the White and Eagle rivers to start picking up as the ice starts coming off.
Dave Coulson is the Colorado state editor for www.fishexplorer.com. He contributes a weekly fishing report to the Explore Summit Weekender.