Early season fishing

Grand Mesa offers some good, lesser-known places for eager anglers to drop a line

Jess McElroy of Grand Junction tries his skill during a stop Monday at Mogensen Ponds State Fishing Area near Mesa. The 11-acre area offers early season walk-in fishing on two ponds.

A few snowdrifts surround Jumbo Reservoir, which is ice-free and open for fishing. Most of the other Grand Mesa lakes have limited open water but reaching them wil be the main hurdle this weekend.

An impulsive stop Monday at Mogensen Ponds State Fishing Area along Plateau Creek proved to be unexpectedly fruitful.

I saw Jess McElroy of Grand Junction fishing at the upper pond and pulled in, waiting 20 minutes or so until he was walking out before asking how he had done.

“Well, I caught a 15-inch bass and a few bluegill,” said McElroy, admitting it was the first time he had stopped at the 11-acre fishing area. “This is the first time I’ve fished here, and I was curious about what’s in here.”

McElroy, like most of us who drive the route to Collbran and Vega Reservoir on a regular basis, had bypassed the Mogensen ponds for years.

“Heck, the only reason I stopped was to see if it’s someplace I could bring my grandkids,” McElroy admitted. “I was up at Vega earlier today but got blown off the lake.”

He said he had left his house at 5:30 that morning, knowing he had a long drive to Vega.

“I guess it costs you about $4 a fish, when you figure in the mileage and the cost of gas,” he said.

Although the wind made fishing look unpromising at Vega, “I went ahead and fished anyway, considering I’d already driven that far,” McElroy said.

As we were talking, Tim Moss walked up, fishing rod and tackle box in hand.

Moss, who lives along the De Beque cutoff, said he originally was headed to Cottonwood Lakes on Monday, but the gate still was up on Forest Road 121 to Bonham Reservoir and isn’t scheduled to open until May 30.

“I figured I’d stop here because I’m really itching to fish, and I had never stopped here,” Moss said. “It’s been a long winter.”

He quizzed McElroy about his success at the ponds, trying to glean as much information as possible.

It was the classic conversation between two good fishermen, and it turned out the two had a lot in common when it came to fishing Grand Mesa.

Better yet, both men were willing to share their knowledge about the area.

A report later Monday said Bonham Reservoir still is iced over, and the sign at the lower gate said the road isn’t scheduled to open before May 30, but that’s really an educated guess.

The actual opening is tied to the road conditions past Bonham, so it’s possible the road might open earlier than the end of the month.

Check with the Grand Junction Ranger District (242-8211) for the latest information.

A few miles away and 4,000 feet higher, a light breeze brought a chill to the sunny day and ruffled the surface of Jumbo Reservoir, which was open and ice-free.

Not unexpectedly, late-May Mondays are pretty quiet on Grand Mesa, and there was no one fishing at Jumbo.

The road to Moose Manor and Mesa Lakes Recreation Area was drifted over and closed.

John Puccini at Mesa Lakes Lodge (268-5467) said the lakes around the lodge are open and fishable.

Some of those lakes are on private property, which requires permission to fish, and it wouldn’t hurt to talk with Puccini to see how other anglers have been doing.

If you don’t mind the walk, you could park at Jumbo and walk around the lake to Sunset Lake, which probably has some open water around the edges.

The view through the trees from Colorado Highway 65 showed Mesa Lake with lots of ice but some open water around the edges.

For most people, the local fishing choices this weekend on Grand Mesa are going to be limited to those waters within walking distance from Colorado 65.


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