THE ICE IS RIGHT | Grand County waters produce quite the bite year-round |

THE ICE IS RIGHT | Grand County waters produce quite the bite year-round

Dan Shannon
Fishing With Bernie

Courtesy Fishing with Bernie

The leaves on the aspen are just a memory. The bears have gone into hibernation. The snow that now falls will remain there until spring. Our boats are winterized and tucked away for a long winter’s nap, but it’s not time to put away the fishing gear yet. There is much more to do in the Rockies beside skiing, and ice fishing tops the list at Fishing with Bernie.

Our guides are just as knowledgeable on the ice as they are in a boat. In Grand County, we have many fishable lakes and reservoirs with fishable ice, and a few opportunities to fish open water in the tailwaters and streams. While the slopes may be crowded, there are plentiful opportunities to get away for a winter fishing adventure.

Ice fishing is a rapidly growing sport throughout Colorado and the US. In Grand County, the proximity to so many lakes makes an ice fishing adventure just a short drive away, no matter what part of the county you may be in. The cold-water species in our waters are active, and many times the bite through the ice can be as good or better than when the water is not frozen.

Ice fishing requires a little more gear and preparation to have a good, safe day on the ice, as travelling on ice is never considered safe, but it is an adventure that is worth the extra effort when done right. With safety always being a top priority, those looking to take their first ice fishing trip may want to consider one of the local guides. Having someone that knows how to read the ice and has all the gear and experience to safely navigate the ice can make for a fun and safe day of ice fishing. Check out for info on all of our guide services.

For those looking to take themselves, a top consideration is to research the ice thickness for the desired lake and what thickness is considered fishable. Some additional safety gear, such as ice picks, a rope, a floatation device, an extra set of dry clothes and a fishing buddy, are some items you don’t leave at home. Other gear that may be needed includes sunscreen, warm clothes, good waterproof boots and an ice auger. Other items you may want would be a sled to carry your gear, portable ice hut and an ice fishing rod and reel.

While your regular rod will work, the shorter ice fishing rods help by keeping you closer to the hole and make it easier to battle a fish once hooked. For lures, part of the fun of ice fishing is the challenge of fishing straight down through the ice hole. Various small jigs tipped with a wax worm for your rainbow and brown trout, or tube jigs tipped with a piece of sucker are popular baits, but don’t forget to stop in at one of the local tackle shops to stock up and find out what the fish are biting.

Now that you’re prepped to safely venture out on the ice, where do you go? Lake Granby is one of the most popular ice fishing destinations in the state. Lake Granby has rainbow trout, brown trout, kokanee and lake trout. Lake Granby is known for its lake trout, though, with a great population of fish 19 inches and under that are excellent table fare and readily catchable throughout the lake under the ice.

There is always the possibility of catching that trophy lake trout, as well as some fish reaching over 40 inches long. Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Reservoir are also popular ice fishing destinations. Lake trout are present and catchable in Grand Lake, as well as rainbow trout and brown trout in both Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain.

One of the bonuses of ice fishing Grand Lake is the proximity to the town; a hot cup of coffee and pastry are never farther than a short walk. Don’t forget about the 34th annual 3 Lakes Ice Fishing Contest that will be Jan. 28,29 and 30. This event is held on Lake Granby, Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain; it’s a fun event for families and the serious angler with some great prizes to be won and memories to be made.

Williams Fork Reservoir is another popular ice fishing destination in Grand County. Williams Fork Reservoir is just a short drive past Hot Sulphur Springs and holds lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout and northern pike.

Near Kremmling, Wolford Mountain Reservoir is a great place to go with an excellent opportunity to catch rainbow trout, brown trout and kokanee salmon. Willow Creek Reservoir is another destination that is easy access and a great place to ice fish.

For those not looking for an adventure on the ice, the tailwaters below the dam on Lake Granby and Shadow Mountain Reservoir would be great places to target rainbow and brown trout in the open water over the winter. There are also a few stretches of the Colorado River as you head west of Granby on US Highway 34 toward Kremmling that will be accessible at times during the winter months.

The winter months here in Grand County are filled with snowy adventures, and fishing is one you surely don’t want to miss. Done safely, ice fishing is a fun and rewarding way to spend a day or even several days. Whether you enlist our local guides’ help or opt for a self-guided trip, winter adventure doesn’t end at the ski slope — there’s a fishing hole never too far away wherever your Grand County adventure may take you.

Dan Shannon is a longtime guide at Fishing with Bernie. Born and raised in Colorado, Dan grew up in the outdoors fishing, hunting, and backpacking. He is experienced on waters across this state and beyond and has caught many different species. However, the focus of his attention has been in Grand County. For more,

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