Friday, November 14, 2003
Craig With the long winters in Northwest Colorado, the lakes freeze over thick enough for fishermen to enjoy their favorite winter pastime -- ice fishing.
"It's quiet and different and there's nothing else to do," said Nick Kamzelow, ice fisherman and owner of Craig's Outdoor Connections.
For Tony Stoffle, the Craig Chamber of Commerce's sportsmen's information specialist, ice fishing is a way to enjoy the tranquility of winter.
"There's usually a lot less fishermen out," he said. "You can relax and enjoy the quietness."
Stoffle said a safe thickness to fish on is about 12 inches depending on the ice. If the ice is layered, it is what fisherman call "rotten ice." A solid layer of ice that goes eight inches deep can suffice for safe fishing.
Popular frozen-over waters include Steamboat Lake, Stagecoach Reservoir, Elk Head Reservoir, Avery Lake and Trapper Lake.
Equipment for an ice fisherman may vary from regular fishing because of a lack of need for a long cast. What is needed is a fishing license, a 24- to 32-inch rod, a means of pounding holes through the ice and, depending on weather conditions, a tent to stay out of the wind.
"If the wind is blowing, it gets pretty miserable," Kamzelow said.
In the cold water, a fish's digestive capabilities slow so smaller jigs and bait are suggested. Bait sold locally for ice fishing include millworms and salmon eggs.
According to Kamzelow, another advantage of catching fish in the cold water of winter is that typically the meat of a fish during the winter is of better quality because of its firmness.
Trout, bass, crappie and pike have been caught in the lakes of Northwest Colorado through ice holes and, as Stoffle said, "anything that gets hungry is going to bite."
The popularity of the sport has grown over the past couple of years, according to local sporting good stores. Most of the employees at those stores can help with questions and locations for good ice fishing if advice is needed.