Sunday, March 13, 2011

Snowboarding Is Dead, Go Fishing In Colorado!

Snowboarding Is Dead, Go Fishing!

By Ursula Romaine

Jill, a 28 year old woman ventures out of her comfortable Denver atmosphere to join the veteran ice fishers for a yearly Twin Lakes Fishing Tournament. For the last 28 years, Jill has gone to the brisk cold mountains, but she has never encountered an experience quite like this one.

Jill is one of many Coloradoans who gets pressured into spending hundreds of dollars on a day trip of snowboarding. But, what if we told you can have fun and not hurt your wallet. Let’s first live vicariously through Jill’s experience of ice fishing and learn how to become an experienced fisher in six easy steps.

She grabs the car seat tightly with her fingers when she sees the parked vehicles on the ice. Then she states, “We can drive on the ice?”

Step one

Ice Safety:

Being aware of the ice is very important. The Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) gives examples of where not to go on the ice, “Beware of ice around partially submerged objects such as trees, brush, embankments or structures.” According to Steve Sunday Lead Wilderness Ranger a person should not fish near a creek that leads into a lake, this sort of circulation makes the ice thinner.

General ice safety thickness guidelines:
2 inches of ice stay off.

4 inches is safe for people to walk on ice.

6 inches is safe for a snowmobile or ATV

8-12 inches is safe for a small car or small truck

12-15 inches is safe for a medium pickup truck

They approach the check-in desk located in a mobile truck lined with foe fur for warmth, to be greeted by five men in their 50-to-60’s. The men are wearing fatigue attire as if in mid-hunt. After checking in Jill flings her pink scarf to cover her face before entering the frigid mountain air and searches for her fluffy mittens to only find one. She thinks to her-self “Do I know what I got myself into?”

Step Two

What to Wear:

Another step to becoming a successful ice fisher is to dress warm. Layers are a necessity at keeping warm throughout a fishing day. The first layer should be long underwear with your smart wool socks tucked over your pants. The next should be a warm sweater and pants. The final layer and key pieces; waterproof gloves, jacket, pants and boots.

As they roll down the boat ramp in a Chevy Tahoe she looks around the lake for some assurance that there are other females enjoying this long lived sport. She only sees tents on the ice and a few mini-houses.

She understands the use of tents but needs more answers so she asks, “What are those?”  Her boyfriend Vern replies, “There called shanty’s you can sit in there and fish over the hole.”  She replies back “huh” while, she scans the lake swiftly then thinking to herself “Where are the bathrooms?!”

Step Three


Welcome to the wonderful outdoors, no bathrooms. Unfortunately no solving this problem in the wilderness, just bring toilet paper and hope for a secluded bush. However, if there isn’t a bush near by and you are in the middle of the lake Ineke Leer has some suggestions. Leer has been ice fishing since 1995, and tells us to, “bring a can with a lid, you can utilize that in your fish house.” The container, can be any kind even if it is an old laundry bottle. Leer continued to state if willing, “pee in the tide bucket.”

They park the truck where 15 other fishers are parked. Vern is eager to drop a line in so he jumps out of the car immediately after the ignition halts with eagerness. Jill on the other hand sits there for a second inhales and exhales while zipping, and buttoning to cover every inch of her body. She steps out of the car looking to Vern through a two inch opening for just her eyes.

He looks at her and chuckles “You think you are covered enough?”

“Do you need help?” she asks as she watch’s him use this metal thing that looks like a 3 foot long wine opener.

He says “actually I do, can you scoop the ice out?” She picks up a metal scoop to take out the remaining pieces of ice in the water.

Step Four

Come prepared:

When you ice fish it is important to bring all the right tools. The large wine opener mentioned earlier is called an auger. This can be either a gas auger that is less of a workout or a manual auger that you need to crank by hand. In either instance it needs to be drilled through the ice in order to pierce a hole to begin fishing. The metal scoop is to take out remainder pieces of ice so that your sitting line doesn’t get stuck. Also this will show the fisher if their pole moves, which is a sign that you have a bite.

Vern starts prepping for the day putting what looks to her like fish parts on a hook. “What is that?” she asks with complete curiosity.

He replies, “Sucker meat, a Lead head Jig, and a colored tube”.

“The Jig and tube are kind of cute.” she says with excitement.

Step Five

What bait to use:

The couple fished for Lake trout. But, according to Brian Neufuss a veteran fisherman of 23 years uses: Jigs, minnows or leeches to catch a Walleye. His trophy catch: a Walleye which was six and half pounds. When using bait the important thing is to “lift-pause-drop” according to professional fishermen Chase Parsons who just recently placed second in the AIM (Anglers Insight Marketing) Angler of The Year. “Lift-pause-drop” means to lift the fishing pole, then pause and then drop the pole. Parsons’ explained this technique at the Spring Fishing Classic event on February 26 this year.

Hours pass as Jill waits for the fishes to bite, but nothing. She then goes to the cooler that is lined with lunchmeat, water, sodas, cheese and beer. She grabs a beer. Thinking to herself, “maybe this will help.” And just then she notices that the clouds have just risen over Mount Elbert and she grabs her camera and click.

Step Six


To many veteran fishermen the entertainment is the fishing in itself. But to some newcomers it may seem a little tedious without a camera or beer. The best suggestion is to bring friends who know what they are doing this way you have the entertainment and the wisdom. Leer suggests to, “bring a friend that you like to chit chat with.” When Leer goes fishing she likes to “lay on the ice and go sight fishing.” This is a way of looking through the ice to watch where the fish are.

Another hour passes, and just an hour before the tournament is over, Jill sees her pole drop she rushes over to it.

Vern yells, “set the hook!”

In her past experience of summer fishing she thankfully knows what that means, which is to pull up on the pole roughly. Unfortunately, she missed it and the fish grabbed her bait. Ten minutes pass and Vern Jumps out of his seat and runs to his pole. Jill watches and waits to see him pull the pole with a firm grip and starts to reel the line in.

Just then he looks over to Jill and smiles. She says, “Did you get it?”

He answers, “It’s a nice one”.

Jill learned what it takes to be an Ice fisherwoman because of the six helpful steps; knowledge of ice safety, what to wear, bathroom techniques, to come prepared, what bait to use and finally keeping entertained.

Note from She's So Fly: Thank you so much Ursula for sharing your experience with us!  I spoke with her after receiving the article and she commented that she wished she would have had prior knowledge of to make her lack of bathroom facilities more pleasant!


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