December 06, 2004

Late-fall fish stocking in Colorado’s high mountain lakes is expected to ensure high-quality ice fishing opportunities around the state this winter.

”In ice fishing parlance, the lid is going on,” said Robin Knox, Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) sport fish coordinator. “In plain English, that means ice is forming on high mountain lakes and reservoirs above 8,000 feet.”

What it really means, though, is that anglers are beginning to think about ice fishing for a variety of fish species, Knox added.

Ice fishing has grown more popular in Colorado over the past decade. In fact, nearly one-third of all Colorado anglers engage in the sport between December and late February, according to recent estimates. Portable shelters, electronic fish locators, and other new equipment and gadgets have increased angler success and have made it easier to go ice fishing.

Since Sept. 1, the DOW has stocked more than 720,000 catchable rainbow trout in many popular ice fishing waters. The fish had an average length of about 11 ½ inches, with many more than a foot in length.

Knox said aquatic biologists have come to recognize the popularity of ice fishing, and the movement of fish from production units to lakes in the fall actually helps those units gear up for the following year’s production.

Greg Gerlich, senior fish manager for northeast Colorado, said the DOW has tried to improve ice fishing potential across the region by stocking fish in popular waters in late fall.

Sites that have been stocked include Elevenmile and Chatfield reservoirs, Boyd and Horsetooth lakes near Fort Collins, Jackson Reservoir, and small local waters such as Akron, Holyoke, and Haxton City lakes, and Milevac Reservoir near Erie.

“A secondary effect of stocking these larger fish in the fall is that substantial numbers survive the winter ice fishery and are available to anglers in the spring after the ice melts. This is a great win-win situation for our anglers,” Gerlich said.

In addition to the always popular rainbow trout, there are other species that are eagerly sought by ice fishing aficionados, including walleye, yellow perch, kokanee, crappie, and lake trout. Many of Colorado’s most popular waters contain a mix of these species, along with rainbow trout.

For more specific information about ice fishing, anglers should consult the Colorado Fishing Regulations and Property Directory, and remember to purchase valid Colorado fishing licenses.

Fishing licenses are easily obtained in person at sporting goods stores, at the DOW Web site, or over the phone at 1-800-244-5613.

Click on the following Web links to read about ice-fishing opportunities, safety tips and to access the fall fishing report.

Fishing opportunities:

Rules and safety tips:

Fall stocking report:

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