Ice fishing a popular pastime during cold Colorado winters |

Ice fishing a popular pastime during cold Colorado winters

April E. ClarkGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kelley Cox

RIFLE, Colo. – Ice fishing is more than just a sport for Aaron Fero.It’s family bonding time.During the winter, hours on the frozen waters of Rifle Gap State Park are well spent with his 9-year-old son. And sometimes his wife and daughter join in the fun to make it a family affair.”It’s a pretty social environment,” said Fero, park manager for the Rifle Gap State Park complex. “My wife comes out, and my daughter. It’s like the whole family going out hiking together.”Fero has been taking his son ice fishing for two years now. The father-son pair enjoy the thrill of trying to catch fish through holes drilled in the frozen water.”It’s a great way to spend the day together,” he said. “It’s a pretty fun activity.”Like angling in the summer, ice fishing allows for a lot of wait time. That allows for several hours of talking, telling fish stories, catching fish – and sometimes not catching anything at all.

“I have good days and bad ones,” Fero said. “Most people are pretty good at it.”Rifle Gap is stocked with perch, brown trout and some Northern pike. The best fishing is said to be at the west end of the lake for perch and trout. The east end of the lake still has open water.”We have a pretty good perch species,” Fero said. “We’ve got some good fish in there. We have a lot of people who come from all over the state.”Ice fishing at Harvey Gap features perch and crappie – and some pike and trout have been reported. Ice thickness ranges anywhere from 5 to 9 inches.As in any sport involving water, ice fishing and safety go hand-in-hand. “The safety aspect of it is important when you’re out there on the ice,” he said. “Just like if you’re out there boating. Ice is a natural kind of feature. It varies in thickness on the lake.”On Rifle and Harvey gaps, sleds that pop up into temporary one- or two-person shanties are popular for fending off the conditions while fishing. Permanent ice fishing structures are prohibited.”The sheds break the wind when you’re out there – and you can put a little heater in there,” Fero said. “You can get it set up in less than four minutes.”

Ice fishing equipment also includes an ice spade, saw or auger to drill the round or rectangular holes. Augers can be hand- or gas-powered.”With some of the augers, all you have to do is push a button and they drill right through the ice,” Fero said. “You can drill through four inches of ice in no time.” Fero said hand-drilling the ice can be strenuous, especially for older anglers and those who don’t like to stay in one place all day.”Some people move around a lot,” he said. “They may be drilling up to 10 to 15 holes a day.”Ice fishing isn’t limited to just sportsmen.Considering how much there is to learn about ice fishing tools, techniques, and tricks of the trade, the Colorado Division of Wildlife office in Glenwood Springs is hosting a clinic in February for women. The inaugural Women’s Ice Cast takes place Saturday, Feb. 10, at Gypsum Ponds, located in Eagle County near Interstate 70’s Gypsum exit.Cost of the clinic is $10, which covers lunch and drinks. Preregistration and prepayment are required. Call 947-2934 for more information.

Contact April Clark: 945-8515, ext. 16601aclark@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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