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Nine of us made the annual trip to the Gunnison Valley on Thursday morning. First time in many years we crossed the continental divide and Monarch Pass was dry. This has definitely been a strange winter indeed. Pulled into Gunnison around noon and promptly checked into the motel for the weekend. If you ever find yourself laying over in Gunnison for a few days I’d recommend staying at the Wildwood Resort with Teresa and Perry Anderson; they’re great hosts and the place has nice amenities. www.wildwoodmotel.net

After checking in

a few of us drove out to Blue Mesa to kill a few hours on the ice. Didn’t want to waste time driving so we fished out of Iola and managed to ice a few macs the short time we were there. There were two others fishing when we headed out on the ice. Spoke with them briefly on our way back to the vehicles. Didn’t realize it at the time but after logging onto the forum the next day I discovered it was elkdeerbear and his father. Had a brief chat with them and found out they were staying in a camper referred to as the Man Cave and were going to be fishing for a few days as well. It was nice chatting with the two of you and I wish I would have known it was you I had PM’d some info on Blue Mesa a few weeks earlier. EDB your father made me chuckle when he asked if my machine could fly and commented that it sounded like a chainsaw.

Friday morning we made the trek to Taylor Park for a day on the ice. We hadn’t been up there for several years because of the conditions notorious to Taylor. Believe me, we’ve spent many days battling the slush, digging out snow machines and fishing in calf deep water on Taylor over the years and grew tired of the cruel mistress she can be. However, the fishing isn’t the only thing that draws us back to Taylor; it’s the sheer beauty of that park in the winter time that makes us forget how many times she’s kicked us in the arse. The temperature gage in the truck showed -9 F in some spots in the canyon during the drive up, but promptly climbed to 16 F when we parked south of the Taylor Park Trading post and unloaded the machines for the ride out to the lake. Surprisingly, we had no problems accessing the lake and promptly got to popping holes and dropping a line. There was about 6 - 10” of snow on the ice and the ice was ~ 23 – 25” thick. We set up in 40’ of water and had many lookers but not a lot that would commit to the jig. We managed to ice fish; consequently, nothing worth bragging about.


The crew on Taylor





My "Chainsaw" as defined by Elkdeerbear's father on Taylor. ;D


After messing with the dinks for a while I unhitched the otter from behind the ski doo and headed to a productive spot I had marked on the GPS several years ago. Unfortunately, when I neared the spot I slowed down only to realize I was in some slush and the back end of the machine started to bog down. I didn’t waste any time getting on the throttle and getting my arse out of there. Thank God for 2” paddles and 800cc’s. We couldn’t have asked for a better day, sunshine all day and no wind to speak of at all. Unfortunately, we’ve had our better days on the ice at Taylor in whiteouts or extremely cold and gray days. Naturally, we would have preferred to have iced more fish but with the Collegiate Peaks as a back drop we weren’t complaining and it beats a day at work anytime.

Saturday we fished Blue Mesa and unloaded at the boat ramp in Elk Creek. Most of the guys fished the usual spots and landed a few bows and a lone kokanee which we thought was a good sign but that was the only silver slab we’d see the rest of the trip. A couple of us explored some new areas and promptly got into some browns, macs and a nice bow. Weather was a repeat of Friday on Taylor with the exception of a slight breeze in the afternoon. The sunshine was pretty intense all day and I’m glad I borrowed the sunscreen from my buddy. Otherwise, I would have looked like a lobster that evening.

A few samples of some of the fish we caught.....



Blue Mesa brown (Custom rod built by Jeff Looney)



Blue Mesa mac



Martin's nice bow



Another look at Martin's bow



Martin, Larry and Stevie working the edges



Stevie's brown



Pretty little brown with red spots



Sunday we fished the Iola area for a few hours. We didn’t fish too long due to losing an hour because of daylight savings time. Not many fish showed themselves on the vexilars but we didn’t get the skunk either. The last fish I caught on Sunday was the largest I iced all weekend; so, it was a nice way to end my ice season. The ice in Iola and the Elk Creek area is ` 18 – 20” and still good and solid. There is about 3-4” of snow on the ice. It’s hard and crusty in the morning but as the day progresses it gets pretty soft. When we drove out to the lake on Sunday the temperature in the truck read 32 F. Yep, you read that correct 32 F at 6:00 AM. Hell, typically in the Gunnison Valley you’re praying for a high of 32 F. Unfortunately, with those temperatures spring and ice off is not that far off. So, if you want to ice the big Blue one last time I’d recommend doing it sooner than later.


My last fish of the trip

The nine of us had a great time on the ice and beat the skunk this weekend. Consequently, we discovered some new areas on Blue Mesa that produce fish. I only wished I lived closer to the Gunnison Valley than I do, but I’ll continue to put the time in on both Blue and Taylor and one day the effort will pay off tenfold. Well my ice season is officially over and it’s time to put the auger, poles, vexilar and ski doo up until first ice in November. Thanks for reading and tight lines everyone. Checkers8 is signing off……………roger out.
 

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Now thats what I call a GREAT report.... you guys look like you had a blast. I love Taylor, but usually after ice off..... Beautiful place to camp and fish, but the weather and wind is the key factor there.
 

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Nice meeting you guys out there, but didn't know it you till I seen your post on the ice fishing page. Was gonna ask if you were on Colorado Fisherman or the other site, but you seemed in a hurry to go. ;D Think next year were gonna try icing big Blue in January. We did better last year in mid-Feb. that this year in mid-March. Always wanted to ice Taylor but have heard horror stories about the deep snow and slush. Thanks for the info. you PM'ed me earlier in the year Checkers8. That secert spoon you told me to use caught half my fish, just jig it right on the bottom. >:D
 
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