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hi folks, i am 21 years old and attend regis university. i play baseball there but am taking the year off from that because i had an elbow surgery (tommy john's) a month ago. because of that i cant do the normal things i love like shoot my bow, lift weights, etc. and have been bored out of mind. i asked my doctor and physical therapist if i can fish and they said no fly fishing, spin fishing, but you can ice fish. i said ok, ive never done that or really thought about it, but i will give it a try. so i did last weekend and went up to golden gate canyon state park and had a blast. i only caught three fish, keeping one, but i had many bites/nibbles. i have decided to stick with it because it is so much fun. i am the only outdoors person in my family so i have to learn on my own about this kind of stuff or read advice from internet forums like this. so i have some questions:
1) i have read alot of the reports posted on here and a common thing that i read is people "seeing" fish through their holes. well i would like to know how? are you guys seeing them on electronics like fish finders or cameras? or seeing them with your own eyes just by looking in the holes? i didnt have a shelter when i went does this help? i tried to peer down into my hole and i couldnt see where the ice ended, what am i missing here?
2) i bought a 24" frabill ul rod/reel combo. i did this because i knew that the fish at the park would be little. can i still use this rod on other lakes where the fish might be bigger? in the summer i use the same two ultra light rods for whatever i am fishing for: walleye, trout, bass, panfish, etc. because i just like how they feel when a fish is on. it makes me feel like i have a big fish lol. i just dont know if ice rods are built the same way that regular rods are and dont want to break my ice rod if i do get a bigger fish. any advice?
3) i read on another thread (something about green mountain res.) that some people can get aggitated when a person cuts a hole x distance from them. i think one person said 200' would make him aggitated. now i wouldnt have thought that because in my mind that is a long way(home to first to second and then some). so can somebody list some sort of icefisherman's code of conduct/ethics? i'm just curious because when i went last weekend the worker at the visitors center told me another gentleman was fishing and it was his first time too and maybe i could ask him how he was doing. so i did, and we talked and i watched him for a few minutes and then asked him where he would like me to fish since he was there first. he said he didnt care so i asked if i could fish about 10-15 yards from him and he said that would be great. i dont know if that was unethical, or if another fisherman would be offended by me asking him where i should fish in relation to him/her, or even if they would get aggitated just by me approaching them? some advice/help there would be great!
4) how long typically does the icefishing season last? i would imagine that the lakes around the divide would hold ice longer than those closer to home which is denver.
5) are there lakes that are better off for someone who has a very basic knowledge of icefishing? are there ceertain species that are better for me? i have talked my stepdad into going with me, and he has done it before, but said that he jsut went along with his friends and did what they did/told him to do. he said he enjoyed it, but doesnt know what to do anymore than i do.
6) anything else that you think i should know?
thanks for your time and help in advance!
kyle
 

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Hey Sndmn11. I was that guy out on the ice with you last weekend up in Golden Gate Canyon Park. the name's Chris.

I've found most of the people on this board very helpful. I've also got a lot of tips from a guy over at Gander Mountain here in Thornton. He fishes a lot at Green Mountain for Lake Trout, but has given me a lot of tips about fishing for stockers, warmwater species too.

Another place I was planning to go is up towards Red Feather Lakes (Dowdy or West Lake), as they seem to be popluar locations when someone who is new asks where to go. I figure maybe the fish might be a little bigger up there as there would be more holdovers from previous years. I was thinking of going tomorrow (Sat), but with this really cold weather and wind, I'm thinking of bagging it. I'm not sure if my email shows up on this site, but if you want to try and meet up sometime or even share a ride, let me know. I had a blast with this ice fishing last weekend too.

Here are some of the changes/additions I've made after reviewing that first trip.
1. Some sort of windbreak would be great. Can't say that I'll be buying one of those fancy sleds anytime soon, but my wife was almost talked into it. Maybe next year. I'm trying to figure out one with some PVC pipe I used to make a street hockey goal and a tarp.
2. A second rod (you need a second rod stamp)-one to jig with, one to let sit, probably with a spring bobber. I got me a really cheap one today with a holder to fit on a bucket. Maybe my catch rate will be double
3. Having that fold-up chair was of great benefit. You can sit on a bucket, but after using the chair, I'll definitely stick with that. I can't believe you stuck it out laying on the ice last weekend.
4. Bring a cheap kids sled to pull everything in. It makes it very easy to bring a few extra supplies/conveniences
5. Mittens were much better than gloves. My fingers froze until I stuck on some heavy mittens.
6. Closeness of holes: I read some of those same posts and it does seem like a lot of people want to be left alone when fishing. I didn't mind you asking (heck, I prefer the company, its more fun when you've got a couple people fishing to see what works), and I would guess most wouldn't mind, but probably expect a few no's. Probably depends upon the person.

Anyway, hope some of this helps and I'm not spouting off too much. It's really fun to get into now, and it seems like most stores have their ice fishing equipment on clearance right now, so I'm stocking up on what I might need for the few months left (the guy at Gander said you could get another month or two at least out of some of the reservoirs like Green Mountain), as well as what I might want to use next year.
 

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Sndmn11,

First of all, welcome.

IMO fishing on Golden Gate ponds is different than fishing at Green Mountain where you saw/read about the controversy. Green mountain has a huge amount of space to fish without inpinging on someone else. I think the original reporter thought he would just run over and see whats going on, without regard to the situation.

Anyway, I think you will find most people will go out of their way to help you. Give them a little space and walk up to talk after a bit.

I would recommend green mountain as a place to catch some lakers fairly easily. If you read hatchmasters report from 2 weeks ago, you will know exactly what to do. I'm sure you will catch fish.

T
 

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I, for one, don't mind someone fishing close by as long as they are courteous. If you ask someone if it's OK to fish near them, they have the opportunity to send you packin' if they don't want you there.

I've had my share of a-holes near my icehole, but the only reason I wouldn't want someone, who is well behaved, near my spot is if they are using sonar that shows interference on my sonar. In this case, the depth of the water would dictate how far away they should be. Since you're a newbie without electronics, I would probably drill you a hole near mine with my gas auger and offer you a grilled bratwurst. Fishing, for me, is about comaraderie and being outdoors. Catching fish is important, but not as important as the experience. For others it's more serious, so I don't think there is a right or wrong answer for the "How far away is correct?" question.

As far as seeing the fish, you can look down the hole as long as you can block out all of the light. It's easy from a shelter, but you can do it by covering your head with a tarp. It's really exciting when you can see the fish. You'll see bites that you can't feel. It's then that you realize how "soft" fish bite when they're cold.

There used to be a sled on the market that was about 4-5 ft long and had a box toward the back of it. When you get where you're going, you stand the sled up on the back end, sit on the box, and the sled becomes your one sided windbreak. I think it's perfect for the solo ice fisherman who is somewhat hardy. It seems like you could make something like this pretty cheaply too.

Red Feather is a good place to catch a lot of stocker size trout and there are some bigger ones too. I've introduced a few people to ice fishing and that is where I take them. BellAire lake is up there too and the action is non-stop at that place.

A stiff rod is better for hooksets. I suggest a somewhat stiff rod with a sensitive tip or a strike indicator tip. A stiff rod won't show the "soft" bites very well.

If you get a chance, watch someone using a flasher sonar unit. It will surprise you when you see how much better a fisherman it makes you.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
hey chris thanks for finding me on here and for telling me about this site. my name is kyle by the way. and oh yeah thanks for letting me fish near you. i will definately bring a chair next time, ibet it wouldnt be as cold! it would be cool to get together with you for a trip. we could learn together from about the same skill level. but it is sometimes hard for me to make plans in advance because you never know how much homework professors will slam on you at the last minute. you have some good gear ideas and additions, thanks for sharing. and if you ever see me out again you can use my auger anytime!
-tal0362- i kind of figured that golden gate was alot different than other lakes. i kept reading about how guys catch trout in 15-20feet of water. i was amazed that the bottom was only 5 turns of the reel handle down. i was more amazed that there was fish there! im not sure if chris heard my "holy s**t" when i got my first bite or not. i also certainly would not park myself close to someone on a bigger body of water, but at those ponds you are kind of forced to. i would like to get up to green mountain this season...how bad is traffic typically? to be honest i have never skied so ive never been up i-70 in the winter so i have no idea what to expect with that. "I'm sure you will catch fish." really? it's that do-able for someone with one trip under thair belt? sounds like fun
-hosswolf- i kind of figured i couldnt see in the hole because of the difference in light between above the ice and below, much the same effect that when it is night time and you are in the house with the lights on it is harder to see out than window than when the lights are off? i thought about bringing a sled and a bucket and some bungee cords, and standing the sled up on end and then putting the bucket inside and bungee cording it to the sled so the sled stands up...but i didnt want to look stupid to anybody else who was out on the ice. i think i am going to give it a trial run (my ideas always sound better in my head than in actual practice)at home and see if it actually works. about the rods: i did search through our attic and found two rods, one kind of stiffer than the one i have, and one stiffer than that. so i am going to give them a try and see what works out best. they both have little wire-type strike indicators on their tips so i am optimistic. it makes sense what you said about a stiff rod being better for hooksets. i missed a lot of fish, and that may be the problem, but i did go buy some smaller hooks (14 i think) to put on my swedish pimple. is a flasher one of the things that looks like a fish finder but just has bars with lights? if i see someone with one is it ok to just ask them "excuse me, i see you have a flasher, can i just sit a few feet from you and watch how you use it?" (no fishing or drilling by me). if you ever see a kid that looks really out of place, thats me...and yes i would love a bratwurst! thanks for your reply.

-one other question: how is the right way to hook a mealworm? i was using half and just going right through the middle of them with the hook. it seemed that after one little nibble (that i noticed) they would steal it. if there is a more secure way, or certain part of the mealworm to go through when putting them on i would love to hear it.
thanks again for all the replies, i apprecciate it emmensely.
kyle
 

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Don't worry about looking stupid on the ice. My ice sled is made from a military footlocker, milk crates and OSB bolted to some thrift store skis with a conduit towbar. You wouldn't believe some of the stuff we've all seen on the ice. At the Granby tournament this year, I saw an old couch that someone gutted, then made storage boxes underneath the cushions and attached skis. My dad told me that part of the fun of ice fishing is coming up with different ways to get your stuff out on the ice and fish comfortably on the cheap.
Yeah, that's what a flasher is. Most people are proud of their particular flasher and wouldn't mind showing you. There are exceptions though.
This site is a good way to find someone to icefish with if you don't already know people. There are several people who would meet you and help you with some tips/techniques. PM me and maybe we could try to schedule some time on a lake.
 

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Lake maps are a must, look for places with the type of habitat the fish you're after would hang out in and you'll usually find them. Some sort of fish finder is nice too, I for the most part use mine as a depth finder to locate my place on the lake map. A clip-on lead weight will do the same thing but sonar is faster & easier. Always be aware of the ice you're standing on or walking across. Flowing water means thin ice, this is also where a map is useful, they'll show you where potential weak spots might be. Don't let it stop you from enjoying the sport but sometimes "Kerplunk" try to bring some type of device (look into it,there are plenty) to pull yourself out of the water if need be, some rope and a buddy are best. Those cheap cameras are good to have for the catch and release lunkers. Hand warmers for the pockets, good bait and a transistor radio. Fish on......
 

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Rocky areas or rock walls can have thin ice too...reflected heat from our warm colorado sun and rocks can make for a thin ice combo...
 

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I think Dowdy Lake at Red Feather would be a good choice for you. Lots of action and a good place to learn.

Cabelas and other places sell a "Jet Sled" which is basically a tub to haul your stuff. There are slots in it where a board fits, so you can turn it up, slip the board in, and have a seat with a good windbreak.

Get some 1" Berkley Power tubes in various colors, some small mealworms (Pet stores are a good source for these) and some very tiny bobbers. Pinch the mealworm in half and thread it onto the hook so it sticks straight out the back of the tube. Tie your knot tight so the tube rides exactly horizontal in the water. It can't hang down. Horizontal. Then attach the tiny bobber to a loop in the line so when it pulls tight (from a fish) it pops off. You'll have to try different depths. Try not to move the jig too much. Fish often want it sitting dead-still, especially very large fish. Just lift it a couple of feet every 30 seconds and let it drop slowly, then sit. The fish will come in on the drop. Watch your bobber for any slight movement. The problem with using a spring indicator on the end of the rod is that with a liight jig, you likely won't know if a fish has taken it from below until it's too late, while a bobber will rock a little. Also, unless you are a surgeon, you likely won't be able to hold the rod steady enough all the time. The guys I see using the spring wire usually move their jigs way too much, and dont' catch nearly as many fish as the bobber fishermen.

In some lakes, especially in murky water, the fish will tolerate the jig moving a bit. On very clear lakes like the Delaney Buttes and Lake John, they most often want it absolutely dead-still, even a simple artificial marabou jig. You'll have to experiment a little to see what is going on where you're fishing.

At this time of year, some lakes are losing the oxygen in the lower strata, and the fish often move up in the water column. Cutthroats will often move into 2-4 feet of water during mid-day. Rainbows and browns sometimes, too, although you'll do better out a little deeper as the sun gets on the ice. 8-14 feet is a good range.

Last weekend I was having good luck fishing about 8-9' below the ice, at various depths. also found a lot of fish early, in 5' of water over the top of weeds. FYI, some of the guys you see out in the very deep water who are doing well have discovered (with their flashers) that the fish are suspended. They might be fishing in 25-30', but have their jigs only down 10-15'. That's one of the examples of how a flasher will improve your fishing ten-fold.

Good luck, and welcome to our insanity!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
hey thanks guys! jaquomo-i am not too clear about your tube/mealie method. but if i have it right you are saying that instead of the tip of the hook pointing up towards my hole (running parallel with my line if we could extend an imaginary line off the hook tip in the direction it is pointing), the hook tip shodl be perpindicular to my line, and the eye of my jig shodl be pointing up towards my hole?
 
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