Fishing season on thin ice

An uneven cap of ice skimmed the top of Rifle Gap Reservoir last January at the start of the ice-fishing season. This year, ice fishing again is seeing a late start, with no ice yet reported at Rifle Gap and most western Colorado impoundments.

Pretend you’re a suffering ice angler taking the 12-step 
ice-free diet.

Only you don’t have to pretend. This week’s ice-fishing report has virtually no ice to report.

A few numbers of interest to anglers looking for some ice to drill – Blue Mesa, 38; Vega State Park, 31; Crawford State Park, 41.

Those are temperatures as of 9 a.m. Monday, not the ice thickness.

Asking about ice thickness, or even the possible presence of the elusive substance, brings a chuckle from nearly anyone within casting distance of a lake in western Colorado.

“Ice? We don’t have any ice,” laughed Kelly Beauchamp at Crawford State Park. “We’re going to need a lot of days of cold weather for us to get some ice.”

The only bright spot might be the lakes along the top of Grand Mesa.

Ron Hayes at Mesa Lakes Lodge reported Monday there was “only about 8 inches of ice” on Beaver Lake.

“I had a buddy out there Sunday with six others and they were doing just fine,” said Hayes, who can be reached at 268-5467.

Anglers are cautioned to drill as they go.

It hasn’t yet been cold enough to form ice at Vega Reservoir, which sits at 10,000 feet.

Early Monday morning, park volunteer Helen Spence said a little ice has been spotted near Oak Point and Early Settlers Campground.

“But it’s certainly too little to walk on,” said. “This morning it was 31 at 8 a.m., so it’s still too warm.”

Spence said reports have been highly positive from the anglers willing to walk the distance to the water.

“Bank fishing has been very good up here and it seems the fishermen are quite happy,” Spence said. “Not everyone is catching 20-inchers, but there have been some nice fish lately.”

Brent Porter, the resident naturalist at Curecanti National Recreation Area west of Gunnison, said a little ice has been seen on the east end of Blue Mesa Reservoir.

“There was a little skim of ice forming over the weekend but it’s not even near enough to get on,” he said. “It’s just a really light skim, at most.”

Porter said weekend temperatures dropped into the low teens but didn’t stay there.

“It was warm again last night,” Porter said. “The water temperature still is too warm.”

The reservoir is about 40 percent full, which means the east end now is closer to Stevens Point Campground, which opens a lot of “new” river to anglers, Porter said.

He also said bank anglers are doing well snagging kokanee salmon. The snagging season runs through December.

Rifle Gap Reservoir also remains ice-free and bank fishing has been reported as very good.

The boat ramp has closed with the cessation of the ANS (Aquatic Nuisance Species) inspections.

Inspections are still required at Blue Mesa, where the Lake Fork and Elk Creek boat ramps still are open.

Porter said ANS inspections are being done on a call-in basis.

“Just call us when you are close or get here and we’ll have an inspector there,” Porter said. The phone number is 970-625-1607.


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