ICE FISHING IN GRAND COUNTY | Getting started is easier than you might think |

ICE FISHING IN GRAND COUNTY | Getting started is easier than you might think

By Bernie Keefe
Owner of Fishing with Bernie
Ice fishing in Grand County can be a fun outing for the entire family that’s much cheaper than snowmobiling or skiing.
Courtesy Fishing with Bernie

Have you ever driven by a frozen lake, seen people ice fishing and wondered why on earth are they doing that?

It’s a pretty simple answer: Ice fishing is a fun family event. It’s often much cheaper than skiing or snowmobiling, and if you’re lucky, you can bring home fresh fish for dinner after spending the day getting exercise outside on the lake.

It’s also pretty simple to get started. All you need is a way to punch a hole in the ice, a rod, some jigs and a little bait. Some of the tackle shops in Grand County will rent you everything you need for a fair price, and there are great fishing guides in the area that can shorten anyone’s learning curve.

The first step is deciding what you want to fish for. Rainbow trout are about the easiest to catch through the ice. They cruise the shorelines, generally in 3-15 feet of water. When they are cruising, they will eat just about anything in front of them and they put up a fun fight.

You can find rainbows in just about every larger body of water in the county. However, catching brown trout through the ice can be very challenging. They bite in very low light conditions; the cold water slows their metabolism, so they don’t need to eat as much and they are naturally a wary fish. Kokanee salmon are pelagic fish that like to suspend in the water column. Sonar units are a great benefit to catching these fish. They cruise the deeper water looking for plankton, putting flashy lures in front of them will elicit strikes.

The best thing about salmon is, when you find them, a meal is generally easy to catch. Most of the reservoirs have salmon. For the trout and salmon 4-6 pound test line, small jigs or spoons and a wax or mealworm should suffice for gear.

Lake trout are very prevalent in a few of the larger reservoirs. Sonar helps with these fish, but it is not absolutely necessary. Lake trout can be found anywhere in the lake, though 40-80 feet of water seems to be the most heavily fished depths. Fishing the entire water column helps. Using heavier line and larger jigs tipped with sucker meat should get strikes.

Let’s go through a few bodies of waters to try. Lake Granby is arguably the most popular lake in the county. It can be intimidating to some anglers just because of its size. Lake trout are abundant as are rainbows and brown trout. Kokanee salmon are very rare. Fishing access is plentiful around the lake.

Shadow Mountain reservoir has rainbows, browns and kokanee in it. There are some currents in the lake that keep the ice from forming here so be careful.

Grand Lake is a great family spot. It’s a short walk to the fishing areas, and if people decide they want to walk into town for coffee or food, it’s right around the corner. Rainbows, browns and lake trout can all be caught. There is some open water around the channel and Adams Tunnel, so be aware of this.

Willow Creek reservoir does not see as much fishing pressure as some of the other lakes, but the fishing can be great. Rainbows, browns and kokanee all swim here.

Williams Fork reservoir, is a peaceful lake without any snow machines allowed here. Walkers have the opportunity to walk away from the crowds and catch rainbows, browns, lake trout and northern pike. There are a few kokanees in the lake also.

Wolford Reservoir is best known for its great rainbow and kokanee fishing. This lake has the biggest population of salmon in the area. For the more adventurous types, waters like Monarch, Meadow Creek and a whole bunch more are accessible by snowmobiles or snowshoes.

These lakes also have brook trout in them. Please check the regulations for each body of water because they can be different from lake to lake. It’s also a good idea to bring binoculars. The areas around these waters are wintering areas for deer, elk and moose.

Bernie Keefe, owner of Fishing with Bernie, and his team have been fishing guides in Grand County for more than 25 years. For more,

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