In the busy realm of winter sports, ice fishing in Routt County is a unique alternative | SteamboatToday.com

In the busy realm of winter sports, ice fishing in Routt County is a unique alternative

An ice fisher waits patiently for a catch Thursday on Stagecoach Reservoir. The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife and Steamboat Great Outdoors will sponsor an ice fishing tournament on the frozen reservoir Sunday.

Ice fishing on a budget

Craig Preston and Kent Baucke said it’s a misconception that ice fishing has to be an expensive sport.

Sure, there are those who use gas-powered augers to cut holes in the ice and pass the time in a tent.

But a daily fishing license can be purchased from the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife for less than $10, and anglers usually can find a previously cut hole to fish from with a simple rod and a baited line.

“You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy ice fishing gear to have fun,” Preston said.

Not interested in ice fishing? Stagecoach State Park also offers free snowshoe rentals this time of year, and recreational opportunities are available at nearby Steamboat Lake, Pearl Lake and Eklhead Reservoir.

Fishing conditions

Stagecoach State Park: 970-736-2436

Steamboat Lake and Pearl Lake state parks: 970-879-3922

Elkhead Reservoir: 970-276-2061

Tournament registration

To register for the ice fishing tournament and review the rules, visit http://www.steamboatgreatoutdoors.com or call 970-819-4525. Registration is $25 in advance and $30 on the day of the event. Young anglers fish for free. A portion of the tournament proceeds will be donated to the Oak Creek Fire Corps.