Steamboat Springs Renata Burgess stared down into Stagecoach Reservoir through a hole bored in the 18-inch-thick ice, dangling a fishing rod into the dark water below.
Next to her on the frozen lake, two rainbow trout glistened in the sun and occasionally flopped in spasms of final desperation.
She wasn’t the one who caught them: a group of ice-fishermen about 10 yards away generously had gifted their catch for Burgess to smoke for dinner.
“I’m not a fisherman,” the Stagecoach resident said. “So as you can see, nothing’s really happening here. But I had to try it. It’s awfully nice that we can come out here to enjoy this.”
She was one of about 50 people from throughout the Yampa Valley who milled around the marina area for the fourth annual Cure Your Cabin Fever event Saturday morning.
A new volunteer group, Friends of Stagecoach State Park, helped organize the event and served cookies and hot chocolate.
A guide from Yampatika was on hand to take groups on nature hikes, during which participants identified tracks in the snow from fox and ermines.
There were free snow bike demos, sleds and snow painting.
Steamboat Great Outdoors, a new guiding outfit, provided ice fishing rods, bait, ice holes and instructions for those who ventured out onto the lake.
Steamboat Great Outdoors owner Kent Baucke said he and his family moved to Routt County from the Front Range in the summer.
He’s fished his whole life, but this was the first year he’s taken to the ice on Stagecoach Reservoir. On Saturday, his equipment and guidance was free.
“This is nice,” he said about Stagecoach Reservoir, which is stocked with trout and Northern Pike. “The park is very cooperative and helpful, and the fishing is good.”
He said that a lot of first-time ice fishers are intimidated by walking out on the ice but that once he drills a hole they see how thick it is, they warm up to the idea.
The activity is just as fun on a low snow year like this one and can be entertaining for children, as well.
On Saturday, Baucke’s 9-year-old daughter, Shea, was catching trout with her lucky Barbie pole, and 3-year-old Davis Tomczak crouched next to an ice hole with his father, Rob, softly encouraging him.
“Hey dad, it’s cold,” he said, pointing at a rainbow trout lying on the ice nearby. “Can I touch it?”
Stagecoach State Park administrative assistant Kimmy Lehman said the event is a way to offer activities for children and adults, introducing them to the recreational potential of the lake in the wintertime.
“It’s a way to get people outside,” she said. “I like just connecting people to nature.”
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 907-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com