Saturday, December 8, 2018

Two ice fishing newbies lose their virginity

Lake John's legendary wind was little more than a little bluster this past week, as some of Loveland Fishing Club's finest took advantage of good weather and better fishing.

Alan Jones shows off his first-ever trout caught
through the ice. 
First time ice anglers Alan Jones, a native of Jacksonville, FL, (photo at left) and Rick Palmieri both landed their first trout through the ice. Both say they're ready to go back.

Dave Boyle, left, and Pat Weller.

Norm Engelbrecht and friend.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A brief introduction to fishing through a hole in the lake

So we have a couple newbies heading onto the ice at Lake John this week, Rick and Alan, prompting me to put a few ideas together on how they might want to get started in this sport of ice fishing. 

Now I would modestly say I am close to the best ice angler in the club -- but only in the sense that I try to stand close to Norm Engelbrecht when we fish together. Norm is pretty darned good at this, but I would add that Dave Harem was probably even better. (The rascal up and died on us). Norm and Dave shared one – no, two -- common traits that made them pretty good companions on the ice:  a willingness to get out there when it’s cold and windy without whining about it too much; and a willingness to try different things to see what works on that particular day on that particular body of water.
When you’re just starting out, resist the temptation to visit Jax or Sportsman’s ice fishing shelves. You may find you're better off waiting until gentle, warm days and spring wildflowers. Just be sure to wear warm, windproof clothes and borrow whatever else you need, including hand warmers. I’m bad enough when it comes to having excessive equipment, but Merle for one could start a used tackle store. 

If you do decide to plunge in and invest, and you already have a good ultralight spinning reel, you may want to use that reel rather than pay for an ice fishing combo. Put your money into as sensitive a rod as your spouse thinks you can afford. You’ll get better equipment for your buck. Just switch your line to about 4- or even 2-pound fluorocarbon or braid designed to stay flexible when it’s really cold outside. (If you use braid, add a short fluorocarbon leader under a small, size 10 or so, barrel swivel. (Tying really fine braid to really fine fluoro under winter conditions can be a bitch. You'll find a swivel is easier to work with, and reduces line twist.) 

Anyway, for now, just get your hands on one or two ice rods.
They generally run from 24 to 33 inches long. You’ll want one with a ridiculously flexible tip section and stout backbone. (It’s harder to explain how to play fish with this kind of rig than it is to just laugh at you the first time or two you hook one of decent size. You’ll eventually figure it out. Again, you want something that helps you detect the most subtle bites you can envision. Lake trout/walleye type rods have a place in ice fishing, but they’re kind of the equivalent of a medium-heavy casting rod, and not as much fun landing a fish through a tiny hole in the ice. You want something with a really sensitive tip section, to help you detect and react to the subtle bites that can make this type of fishing such a challenge.

You begin with a hole in the ice. The trick here is to fish with someone with an auger, and bribe them with possibly unwarranted praise and an occasional cup of coffee. As winter progresses, and the ice gets thicker, you can’t beat a power auger. But early on you can get along just fine with a less expensive hand auger, by outfits like Strikemaster or Eskimo. An increasing number in the club are going to a hand auger powered by an 18-volt drill. I’ve seen them work well, and have one, but I really need a more powerful drill to make it work right. So I stick to drilling by hand, or telling the guy with a power auger how strong and good looking he is.

For Lake John, known for fast-growing, husky trout, you’ll basically use the same techniques we try on Front Range stockers:  a tiny (1/16, 1/32 oz. jig, preferably tungsten, preferably glow in the dark, with a 12- to 14-size hook. They come in all sorts of bright colors, which may attract fishermen more than fish, but hey, you never know. Sometimes changing colors really seems to help. I like hot pink, yellow/chartreuse and sometimes white. Besides the little jigs, you should try a tiny tube jig, like the Berkley Powerbait Atomic Teaser. Pink's good. You can also jig up and down with something like a Rapala Jigging Rap, which I like, or small spoons like the Kastmaster, in gold or silver.

Whatever, we generally tip the hook with one or two live wax worm or meal worms, sometimes pieces of nightcrawler or frozen raw shrimp. If the fishing's slow, go to a fresh worm every 15 minutes or so. In the past year or so, I’ve mostly migrated to Gulp Alive! or other tiny, scented plastics that have come onto the market recently, and seem to change about once a month. If those work well the day you’re fishing, you’ll find them less messy and tedious to work with. But keep wax worms handy.

Also, if you have a second rod stamp, and most of us do, you can fish in two holes about 18 to 24 inches apart.  In one you can jig it up and down like a marionette, which sometimes serves as an attractant to aggressive trout, or wiggle it ever so gently to trick the suspicious ones. In the other hole, I generally dead stick a bait – 6 to 12 inches of the bottom under a bobber. Not infrequently that’s where you get a bite, after jigging your arm off. I suspect the movement in one hole draws wary fish within range of the second, for an easy meal.

Lake John is really clear, with visibility usually 8-10 feet or more this time of year. If you lay down on the ice and cover your head and the hole, you can generally see all the way to the bottom. Myself, I have a one-man hut, and a Vexilar fish finder, which works even better for spying on our prey. They've helped me learn that I probably get twice as many trout come really close to my bait than ever commit to a bite. They’ll often pull up close to your lure, just look and look and look, and then swim away. Sometimes, rather than bite, they’ll just swat your best offering with their tails, and then swim away. 

It’s one of the reasons ice fishing can be so addictive.


Gift exchange set for holiday meeting, 2 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18

Dec. 18 is the club's annual holiday meeting; no formal agenda for the December.  We'll run over the possibilities for club officers, head for the cookies and coffee, and then have our annual gift exchange.

If you want to participate in the gift exchange, get something (new) for about 10 bucks.  Wrap it up, but don't put your name on it.  We'll have a kind of raffle to decide who gets to choose their gift first.

Contact Dave Johnson or Jim Visger if you're interested in being a candidate for club vice president, to serve in the 2019 calendar year. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Ice fishing seminars Saturday at Scheels

Johnstown Scheels is hosting an "Ice Fest" Saturday, with seminars starting at 10 a.m.

  • Lake Grandby ice fishing guru Bernie Keefe will be hosting lake trout seminars at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • At 11:30, Dan Shannon will talk about early ice opportunities.
  • 1 p.m., Barry Cundiff will talk about walleyes through the ice.
  • 2:30 p.m., Brad Peterson on panfish.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Flatiron after breakfast Friday

Bring your rods and worms, we're heading for Flatiron reservoir after Perkins Friday. Likely head out about 8:30.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Halloween Family Fun fishing booth

A great club turnout and warm, sunny weather were an unbeatable combination Saturday as hundreds of costumed kids lined up at the club's fishing booth in downtown Loveland.  Part of the annual Halloween Family Fun Festival, the booth offered the young "anglers" a pretty good chance of landing a piece of candy.  Thanks as always to Karol Stroschein for organizing this fun outing, and to all who made it a great success.
Jim Cadle, left, and Roger Smith wait to put candy
on the hooks of costumed anglers, while Karol Stroschein
helps a little one prepare to cast.

Barbara Ding, foreground, and Karol Stroschein
hand out goodies at the club's Fishing Booth
Saturday in downtown Loveland.

Roger awaits the arrival of a young angler's hook.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Nancy Paller has passed on

Nancy Paller, wife of former Loveland Fishing Club member Jerry Paller, died Tuesday following a lengthy illness.

Nancy and Jerry had moved from Loveland to Florida and were living near St. Louis, MO, at the time of death.  She was a fine lady.

Reminder, bruce's! Thursday, Nov. 8

It's fall - time for one of the club's most cherished, inexplicable traditions:  a road trip to Bruce's!Spouses are encouraged to come along on this one; assure them that alternative choices exist, but the big draw is All-You-Can-Eat Rocky Mountain Oysters.  The plan is to gather at the southeast corner of the King Sooper Parking Lot off Lincoln Avenue and 29th Street at 11:30 a.m. and carpool to Bruce's, a half-hour or so northeast of Loveland.  Or just meet us there about noon.  It's a pretty big place, but we make up a pretty large crowd, so let Norm know whether you plan to join us.

Most of us carpool; meet around 11:15 a.m. at the southwest end of the King Soopers parking lot off 29th and Lincoln.  Directions:  Take I-25 to Harmony Road in Fort Collins (38E toward Timnath) and go east about 7 miles to Severance.  Look for Bruce's on the left.  You can also take Colorado 392 through Windsor to U.S. 85, then go north about 4 miles to first street in Severance.  To read about what you're getting into, click

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Let's go fishing Tuesday

Okay, let's accept the sorry fact of life that some club members are too cold-natured to go fishing Monday.  And let's meet about 11 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16 at River's Edge.  It's supposed to be well into the 50s by then - maybe a bit warm for a trout, and near-perfect for the dedicated trout angler.  The fish should be ravenous in Dragonfly, and they've moved in pretty close to shore, so bank fishing will be first rate.

Questions?  Contact Bill by e-mail.

Sign up to help with our fishing booth at Oct. 27 Halloween Fest

Hundreds of Loveland's cutest kids will be turning out for the annual Loveland Hallow Family Fun Fest Saturday, Oct. 27, and one of the most popular attractions is the club's Fishing Booth.  It's a great deal of fun, helping the costumed youngsters "fish" for candy, and the more volunteers we have the more we can enjoy the event.

Karol Stroschein is recruiting volunteers to help in shifts, beginning with an 8 a.m. setup through the festival itself, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the downtown Loveland parking lot at Peters Park and 5th, just south of the Loveland Museum.  Sign up at Friday's breakfast, or contact Karol by e-mail.