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April provides trout on ice or open water

4/18/2005
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    GRANBY, Colo. — For those of you that like to fish on hard water, April is about your last chance, except for those mountain lakes around 10,000 feet.

    Some lakes like Jefferson, Joe Wright, Big Creek, Chambers and others may still keep their lid into May, but you want to be very cautious.

    In April, even on our higher lakes, it's a good idea to fish in the mornings and get off the lake in the afternoons.

    On sunny days the thinner ice behind you, near shore, can weaken and cause problems getting off the ice.

    Here are a few hard water and open water spots I recommend for April.

    Best hard water trout

    Lake John, in North Park near Walden, is one of my favorite hard water fishing locations.

    In mid-March the lake still had a lid of over 24 inches, and trout were cooperating for those willing to brave the snow and wind and who knew finesse ice fishing techniques.

    Bill Willcox, owner and operator of the Lake John Resort said that anglers were bringing some nice rainbow "footballs" through the hole at Lake John.

    If you've never fished Lake John, you may not know what I'm talking about, but for some reason the fish are fatter there.

    Willcox says that the morning bite is best, but some fish can be caught throughout the day.

    By the time this article hits the stands, the trout should be coming back up shallow — 6 to 8 feet or less.

    In late winter, with thick ice and heavy snow cover on this relatively shallow lake, oxygen can become thinner in the deeper water.

    The big fish will soon be moving to just off the shoreline.

    Willcox also advises that instead of the subtle presentation that normally is best this time of year don't be afraid to try aggressive jigging of a Kastmaster or Swedish Pimple.

    Some of the biggest fish caught in North Park at Cowdrey, Delaney Butte, and Lake John have been caught on spoons.

    The best way to get to Lake John is to take Hwy. 9 (Exit 205 off I-70) to Kremmling. At Kremmling, turn west on U.S. 40 for 27 miles to Hwy 14.

    Continue east on Hwy. 14 for 33 miles to where 14 merges with CR125 then go north for ½-mile to CR 12W and follow the signs.

    For more information on North Park fishing, contact Bill or Tish Willcox at the Lake John Resort (970-723-3226).

    It's a good idea to get a cabin or room right there at the resort and spend at least one night.

    Granby Lake, in Middle Park just north of the town of Granby, is a late season favorite of many Colorado anglers.

    I just today received an e-mail from longtime F&H News reader Glen Straziar who, along with his neighbor and fishing partner Terry Lane, caught 25 Mackinaw on a trip to Granby this week.

    Straziar's biggest Mack came in at 5 pounds and was caught on a Storm Wild Eye Shad tipped with a piece of shiner meat.

    Straziar, who fishes Granby regularly, says that he's been having better luck on the shiner meat than with sucker meat.

    Many areas of the lake fish well this time of year. Other areas include Arapaho Bay, Dike 3 and the east side of Sunset Point.

    Straziar found his latest group of Macks stacked up on the 62-foot deep humps on the dam side of Deer Island.

    Your best time of day, for both safety and fish bite, will be in the a.m. Make sure and be on the ice between 7 a.m. and noon.

    Macks are usually within 3 feet of the bottom when in water 50 feet deep or less, but out over the 60-foot-plus humps, fish were aggressively striking from 10 feet deep to the bottom.

    Watch your electronics and place your bait just over the fish.

    Straziar likes to get his shiners from the tackle shop at 62nd and Wadsworth run by Brett Knight.

    If you're in the Granby area I recommend stopping in and seeing Richard or Margaret Crager, or Angie Kuczkowski at Budget Tackle 255 E. Agate (U.S. 40) in Granby, or give them a call at (970) 887-9344.

    Best open water trout

    Arvada Reservoir in the northwest Denver Metro area is a great place to fish in early spring.

    Arvada didn't open up until the first of April and the fish have been unpressured since last October.

    Arvada Reservoir is owned by the city of Arvada and is restricted to bank fishing or hand propelled or electric boats only.

    No wading or belly boats are allowed. Rainbows in excess of 24 inches roam this relatively small 180-acre lake.

    Trolling or casting spoons, spinners or small crankbaits can all be effective. I especially like to toss a Rapala Husky Jerk in the rainbow pattern.

    These baits work just about anytime, but they are especially good if you toss them just after the DOW stocks a truckload of fingerling 'bows.

    Fish the shallows; around the boat ramp; and, around the underwater humps in the southwest corner of the lake for your best early action.

    One of the nicest 'bows I've seen come out of the lake was a 24-inch hog caught by Boots Lewis on opening day a couple of seasons ago.

    Arvada Reservoir is located 4 miles west of Ward Road on the north side of 64th Street. (64th turns into 66th street just before you get to the lake.)

    For more information, contact the park ranger station at (303) 420-7773 or call the Park Office at (720) 898-7400.

    Jackson Lake, near Wiggins in northeast Colorado, opened to boating early this year and I've been getting good reports about the trout bite.

    One visitor to my Web site says that he's been getting good numbers of trout off the dam using Power Bait.

    Senior Park Ranger Brad Jackson tells me that the inlet canal on the southwest corner of the lake is the best area for trout in early spring, especially for bank fishermen.

    The canal is only about a cast wide and you can only get a boat a little ways up into the canal.

    The rainbows will be in the canal until the water gets into the 55- to 60-degree range, then 'bows will move back into the main lake.

    The deepest water in the lake is only about 24 feet and is located just in front of the white gatehouse on the dam that controls the irrigation gates.

    Jackson says that Power Bait and worms can work just about anywhere in the lake.

    Small spoons and spinners, such as Mepps, Kastmaster, Panther Martin or small crankbaits like Rapala Countdown or Jerk Baits in shad imitation 2½ to 3-inch size seem to work best in the canal.

    Forage in the lake is gizzard shad, crawfish, and maybe some freshwater shrimp.

    To get to Jackson Lake, take I-76 northeast to Exit 66 Hwy. 39.

    Turn north on Hwy. 39 for 7½ miles through Goodrich, then go west on Y5 (follow the paved road) for 2½ miles to the park.

    For more information, contact the park office at (970) 645-2551.

    There are many other opportunities for spring trout in Colorado. Trout will be the most active species until waters warm to over 50 degrees.

    So while you're waiting for walleye to complete the spawn and for bass and wiper to wake up for the year, it might be worth your while to grab your ice rod, fly rod, or ultralight spinning rod and try for a Colorado rainbow trout.


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