Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Northwest Colorado's lakes froze later than usual this season, but ice fishers have begun enjoying their favorite winter pastime at Steamboat Lake and Stagecoach state parks.
Vladimir Lange, winter ranger at Steamboat Lake, said recent interviews with ice fishers indicate the ice in the cove near the marina is 12 inches thick. However, he urged people venturing onto the ice to exercise caution.
"Be conscious that no ice is safe ice," Lange said. "The ice will be thinner the further out you go onto the lake."
Mike Taylor at Stagecoach said he cannot advise anglers as to the safety of the ice, nor does the park staff measure ice thickness. But anglers are reporting ice thicknesses ranging from 4 to 8 inches.
Ice fishers have been observed using snowmobiles at both lakes.
Stagecoach Reservoir typically freezes by Dec. 1, Taylor said, but there was open water this year on Dec. 15, and the surface wasn't completely frozen until Dec. 19. Later in the winter, he said, ice fishers can expect to encounter ice 22 to 24 inches thick.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife reports that ice conditions vary tremendously among Colorado's lakes and also vary at different locations on a single lake. DOW officials say a general guide for "proper" ice thickness calls for 4 inches for walking and drilling a hole, and 6 to 8 inches for a snowmobile.
David Hutton at Craig Sports said anglers visiting his store have reported good catches at Wolford Mountain Reservoir near Kremmling and at Stagecoach using jigs tipped with mealworms.
Taylor said fishing has been good for trout in the 15-inch class at Stagecoach. He received a report of a 24-inch fish being pulled through the ice Monday.
Daily admission to the state parks is $5, and a 2005 annual pass sells for $55.
It is permissible to fish for trout year-round in Colorado. An annual 2005 resident fishing license costs $20.25. The fee for nonresidents is $40.25. A one-day license is $5.25 for residents and visitors. Of the total fee, 25 cents goes to the state's search and rescue fund.
The daily bag limit is four trout, and the possession limit is eight trout.
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