I knew that I wanted to go ice fishing, but everything I thought I knew about ice fishing was nothing like the reality of it, at least in Colorado!
We are staying in Winter Park for Spring Break, and while my boys are skiing, my husband John, our daughter and I went ice fishing today! I booked a few weeks earlier with Fish Winter Park, which offers year-round fishing guide service in Grand County. There are full day and half-day available, and although I would have preferred an afternoon half-day, they were all booked and that’s how we ended up on a frozen lake in Northern Colorado at 8am in the morning.
Well, maybe after 8, because we were running a little late.
We met Adam, our guide, at a convenience store in Granby, then followed him in our car up to Williams Fork Reservoir. It’s a beautiful drive along the Colorado River headed West on U.S. 40 towards Kremmling (one of my personal favorite places in Colorado), then we pulled off a ranch road towards the iced-over lake.
We pulled on all the clothes. I was about 24 degrees, with a chilly wind, but the sun kept peeking through the clouds, and we were definitely cheering it on! It’s crazy what a huge difference a sunny day makes in the mountains. We basically dressed just as we would have for skiing, with waterproof, insulated pants, jacket, many layers, face mask, hat and gloves. I lost one of my thinner gloves, and my ski gloves are just too thick for fishing, of course. I did buy a pack of hand warmers and kept them in my hands whenever possible. My daughter and I both wore our snow boots, and my husband wore his waterproof hiking boots. Since we were walking on ice, I also brought along my son’s Crampons ice cleats, (affiliate link) which really made walking up and down the boat ramp a lot easier. Adam also loaned me his trekking poles, which were a huge help as well.
Then we walked out to the middle of the lake, which was just the craziest feeling. Adam assured us that it was completely safe, as the ice was about 27 inches thick!! There were a few mushy places on top of the ice in places, so I was glad we were wearing our waterproof shoes. Also, if you got off the packed down snow, walking was harder as you would sink quite a bit. It was definitely an adventure, but we loved it!
There were tracks in the snow everywhere, including a large bird that Adam said was probably an eagle that was often seen on the lake! We asked about bears, but he said they were still asleep, and it was the moose that were scarier anyway. I’d love to see either, from a distance, with binoculars, while safely in my car.
All the guides used these huge sleds to transport their equipment across the ice. Once we reached where we were fishing, Adam pulled out a battery-powered auger and began drilling holes in the ice. He drilled 4 or 5 to start, pulled out the excess ice from the hole, and set us up with short little poles (he explained long poles weren’t necessary since we were sitting over the holes and if he needed to put up the shelter long poles wouldn’t work as well).
Each pole had a lure on the end, and we just dropped the lure into the hole, which sounds easy enough, but we had to drop it all the way to the bottom of the lake. We fished numerous holes, which varied from 18 ft. to 70 ft. down. Once on the bottom, we tried to mimic crawfish on the bottom of the lake, bobbing up and down in the mud. What I expected to be sitting on the lake watching a cork bob turned in to a lot more work. In addition to this, Adam set up a sonar in one of the holes, which we watched for fish coming through. When one did, it was fun to watch as we tried to get them to chase our lure up.
Adam said we were mainly fishing for lake trout. Unfortunately for us, the sun never came completely out, and it kept those trout lazy. I was thrilled because I did catch a young lake trout, my first, and he was quickly returned to the lake. Lake trout, like all trout, have a soft bite, and you need to be ready to set the hook and keep a tight line.
Also, we opted to never put up the shelter, because while it might have been a little warmer, it would have blocked our beautiful scenery, and I could never get enough of these views in Colorado!
To read about our entire Spring Break trip, click HERE.
Fish Winter Park
78902 U.S. Hwy 40, Winter Park, Colorado
Click HERE to visit their website.
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