Fly fishers can get a little cagey this time of year. Ice on the banks, ice in their line guides, ice in their beards. Sure, tying flies for next season and planning a few trips can break up the monotony, but sometimes we need to step outside our comfort zones in the winter. One of my favorite distractions is hitting the “hard water” and doing some ice fishing for pike and trout. From Granby to Twin Lakes, and Ruedi to Lake Dillon, conditions are perfect for punching a few holes and seeing what is down there.
Can you simply go on the ice with a bucket, rod and an auger? Sure, but we like to get a little more sophisticated with our excursions. Snowmobiles, gasoline powered augers, shelters, heaters and grills producing hot food take our ice fishing up another notch. Keeping beverages cold is as simple as setting them on the ice. Lure selection can get as involved as matching the hatch on the Fryingpan, but simple white tube jigs get the job done on most days. Rods vary from short and wispy for smaller trout to lengths of forty inches for deep jigging to large mackinaw and toothy pike.
Quite frankly, huddling up in a warm shelter with a few buddies can be a lot more fun than river fishing day in and day out. The real allure for most of us is that you never know what you’re going to pull out of that hole. It could be a kokanee salmon or arctic char if you’re fishing Lake Dillon, a monster pike if you are over on Harvey or Rifle Gaps, or the lake trout of your life on Granby or Twin Lakes. Smaller lakes produce excellent brookie and cutthroat action as well.
Variety is the spice of life, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy our abundant waters all year long. My program is being on the ice on the cold days, and in the river on the warm ones. Before we know it, we’ll be fishing the strong spring baetis and caddis hatches, but for now I’m having some fun on the hard water!
Words and Photographs by Scott Spooner
Reprinted from the Aspen Times