Vega getaway

Vega Reservoir known for its ice, plump trout

Tish Hofland of Grand Junction proudly displays part of her catch Sunday from Vega Reservoir. With a foot of ice in most places and a reputation for growing plump trout, Vega Reservoir is a popular winter fishing spot.

Vega Reservoir long has had a reputation for producing plump trout and this year is no exception, as shown by these fish caught Sunday by Keith and Tish Hofland. They both had their four-trout limit by early afternoon.

Keith Hofland of Grand Junction pulls a rainbow trout through the ice Sunday at Vega Reservoir. Hofland was fishing with his wife Tish and the couple were among several parties of anglers catching their limit of the reservoir’s well-fed trout.

VEGA RESERVOIR — In the annals of marital bliss, this particular act might not seem like much to remember, unless you’re a hardwater angler who enjoys the companionship of marriage.

“I let her use that hole today,” said a sagacious Keith Hofland, nodding toward his wife, Tish, who was standing a few feet away and whose compact ice-fishing rod was bent double from yet another plump rainbow trout headed into the bright sun.

Obviously a man who knows the value of a gift given from the heart, Keith grinned like an elf.

“It’s the one we used last week when we caught all our fish, and it seems to be just as good today,” he said.

Tish played the fish to the surface and with a grin as bright as the sun on Vega Reservoir’s blinding-white surface, plopped the trout on the ice, where it joined five others.

“I caught the first (fish) and I’m catching the most,” she said with satisfaction. “It’s been fun.”

Fun, in fact, seemed to be the word of the day, as most anglers spread across the snow-covered universe that is Vega Reservoir in winter seemed to be catching fish.

Although anglers have been cautioned off the thinning ice-caps on other local reservoirs during the continuing January warm spell, anglers at Vega Reservoir reported 8-12 inches of ice.

Across the ice from the Hoflands, Ben Ashmore of Grand Junction, dressed in coveralls of a color more often seen at Denver Broncos games, was grinding away at the foot-thick ice.

“This is only the second hole, and I figured I’d sort of work my way over that way,” he said, leaning his head toward Vega’s south shore. “We’d heard that fishing was pretty good up here and thought we’d come up.”

Ashmore is a UPS driver and was enjoying one of the first days off his profession sees after the busy holiday season. He noted that there was another UPS driver is his group that day and, “By the way, my sister’s husband is from Azerbaijan.”

Nearby, dressed in bright yellow jacket and knit cap and looking not at all like he was almost 7,000 miles from home, Elnur Iskandarov admitted yes, he was having fun and no, he’d never done this before.

“I’ve fished on the Caspian Sea,” offered Iskandarov, who is stationed with the U.S. Army at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs “But I received a fishing rod for Christmas and when they invited me today, I said yes.”

At the time the group had one fish on the ice, landed by Ryan Biggs, a sophomore at Fruita Monument High School, who was fishing with father Daren and mother Kris.

Daren Biggs, the other off-duty UPS driver in the group, said he’s been fishing Vega for four decades but family affairs recently have slowed his visits.

“We love to fish here in the summer, and sometimes we’ll take photos to help us remember what the reservoir looks like when we come back in the winter,” he said.

He also takes out the boat and uses the sonar fish-finder to track bottom depths and contours, valuable reminders when looking at an uninterrupted, ice-covered surface.

Vega is known for its fertile waters and a visitor wasn’t surprised when another pair of anglers 30 yards away also admitted to limiting out.

But then they suddenly became furtive when asked about the size of the trout .

“Not too bad,” said one hesitantly, holding his hands about 10 inches apart. Since he had just been seen hefting a rainbow that might have topped 15 inches, which is pretty good in any angler’s ledger, the visitor wondered if the man was merely being modest or lacked the typical visual acuity besetting anglers who can stretch a 10-incher to 14 or more.

Either way, it was a sign of success, something that Tish Hofland was sure to remind her patient and generous husband, all the way home.


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