Water opening up for fishing on Grand Mesa

Robert Christlieb, 15, of Grand Junction shows off the trout caught Sunday at Vega Reservoir by Christlieb and his grandfather, Leonard Miller of Collbran. The twosome were among other anglers enjoying a sunny and very windy day at Vega Reservoir. Vega, at 8,000 feet elevation, is one of the few lakes on Grand Mesa open for fishing.

The hard wind blowing this past week might bluster up some good news for anglers.

As of last weekend, most lakes on Grand Mesa were still well-covered with snow leaving few open places to wet a line.

Eighty-year old Milo Holton of Cedaredge was ready to pack it in Sunday afternoon after fishing in the wind for a couple of hours at a small piece of open water on Ward Creek Reservoir.

“Usually you can just toss it right up there around the faster water and that’s where the fish like to stay,” said Holton, bracing his slight form against a strong gust and pulling his green ball cap a bit closer to his ears. “But there’s too much trash blown up there right now.”

He pointed to where a fish broke the surface a few yards upwind of where he was standing.

The surrounding ice looked yellow, rotten and very thin.

“I’m not going to walk out on that thin ice, I don’t care to fall in,” he said, the wind carrying away his voice. “But I can’t even get halfway there today with this wind.”

Ward Creek wasn’t offering much access, with only a 30-yard stretch of open water where the creek enters.

The same is true of most other reservoirs; the only open water is where creeks have pushed away the ice and snow.

Saturday through June 12 is National Fishing and Boating Week and Colorado offers anglers free fishing Saturday and Sunday.

Utah offers free fishing Saturday.

You won’t need a license, but all other regulations, including bag, possession and manner of take, are enforced.

Prospects are sure to improve with even a few days of warming.

The snowpack, more than 6 feet deep in many places, will start to shrink and more open water will appear.

First water is eagerly anticipated by many anglers, who expect fish to be hungry and active after a winter’s worth of darkness.

But while the sides are nearly clear, there’s still plenty of snow on top of Grand Mesa.

The cool weather has kept the snow hard enough to walk on.

But once the thaw really hits, adventurous anglers will face post-holing to their favorite fishing spot.

Anglers at Vega Reservoir on Sunday battled some lusty winds high enough Sunday to send frothy whitecaps racing across the surface and keep most boats off the water.

Shore anglers huddling along the leeside of the dam fared much better.

“We didn’t get here until about 10, but we did all right,” said Leonard Miller of Collbran as he and his grandson, 15-year old Robert Christlieb of Grand Junction, walked to their truck parked near Vega State Park’s visitors center.

It barely was noon but Christlieb was lifting a full stringer of trout.

“We got down there out of the wind and the fishing was pretty good,” said Miller, 78.

He added he was a cowboy in the area before the dam was built.

“I used to fish the creek down there before the reservoir went in and, boy, the fishing was awful good,” he recalled. “I caught lots of fish and lost some big ones.”

There was a bit of open water at Jumbo Reservoir but Island Lake and nearby Cobbett Lake were still iced over as of Sunday.


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