Colorado Fish Report

Ice season is here!

by Born to Fish Media

by Matt Carlson

Ice season has arrived!!! I fished the Fall bite as long as I could this year, my last open water trip was a few days into November. The last few years I have been able to find Ice usually last week of October, that is when I put the long rods up and pull out the short ones. This year was different, I had Walleye Fever and I spent every chance I had to fish chasing them. Luckily fellow BTFM pro-staffer Mitch Bradshaw was able to get out before October was over and I was able to live vicariously through his pics and posts.

It's now already December and I still have only been out twice. The first weekend my buddies and I went to check ice conditions near South Park,CO, first stop Antero Reservoir. The lake looked very promising upon arrival, fully capped and snow covered, but that was the problem it was too snow covered. Snow on early ice can be very dangerous, what is even more dangerous is NOT using a SPUD BAR when venturing out on new ice. It does not matter if someone else is already out there, don't use that as your indicator that it is "safe".

One small hit with the spud bar it would go straight through, I was able to reach down and check the thickness and it was close to 3". I took one step out and hit it further out, same thing straight through the ice with very little effort, I turned around to step back to shore and both of my legs went through at the same time. Luckily I was only in knee deep water. Typically 3" of good "black ice" that has had no snow or very little snow I will feel comfortable to fish on. We left the lake with a good idea of where the best ice would be once it got cold again but did not dare to fish it that day.

Next stop was a much smaller lake that is also known to have ice pretty early in the season, Tarryall Reservoir. Upon rounding the corner to the lake there were huts in sight, we didn't want to crowd so we drove to the other side of the lake. Now with high hopes of fishing we couldn't wait to get down to the ice, the whole lake was capped and didn't have much snow like Antero did, we were thinking there has to be 4" all over. Stepped onto the shoreline with spud in hand and took a swing at the ice, about lost the bar when it went through. Checked thickness and was only 1.5", noticed the people in huts were on the thicker side of a pressure ridge. Checked in multiple other areas and could not find safe ice. With our heads down we headed back to the highway. Looking down on the lake I seen another small pressure ridge on the opposite end of the lake as the huts were on, this is the deepest end so I didn't even think to stop there first. Parked the truck and ran down the hill to check ice, first hit solid ice, took a step out and next hit same thing, after the third step I was wondering if I was even on the ice because it was that hard. Took a few swings and finally got through. 3.5-4" fishable ice in that area. Grabbed the gear and got on to fishing.

Within 20 mins we had people pulling up and dragging their sleds down to the lake, first guy with all his kids just walks on out past us a little ways, didn't check the ice just headed out and set up. Next guys same thing, they did finally drill a "test" hole once they got past us about 15yds. Next couple guys did the same thing just kept walking further out than we were not checking ice as they went. I'm really glad I didn't witness anyone go through but I did see where a guy did go in, big hole in the ice about 10 ft from shore, he was about 75 ft out from where he went in. Ice conditions change by the hour, don't think because it was good yesterday it is still good. Same thing happened last weekend when we iced 11mile, ranger said it froze two days prior. Watched multiple guys walk out without checking ice first. Not sure I've seen anyone use a bar in both trips this season, now with this cold snap Metro area lakes will be freezing up. Please use caution if verturing out. The point I have been trying to get at is carry a SPUD BAR, I think it is one of the best ways to check ice, not just early ice either, late ice too. Check out Frabill Spud Bars, great product and can't beat the price. I have the one pictured, retail price under 20$, I won't go on the ice without it this time of the year.

Check out the "ice safety" blog on BTFM written by Jim Douglas for more information and tips.

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