Ice at Stagecoach Lake is thinning |

Ice at Stagecoach Lake is thinning

Anglers attempt to catch trout through the ice at Stagecoach State Park in January. A little more than two months later, open water is visible at the inlet, and the ice along the shore is very thin.
file photo

— It’s only the third week in March but a spate of unusually mild temperatures has brought about change on the ice at Stagecoach and Steamboat Lake state parks, suggesting anglers may soon be putting away their ice augers to fish in water.

The ice at 1,055-acre Steamboat Lake is solid enough that Kirk Mahaffie in the information center said an ice fishing clinic was held near the marina March 18 and anglers encountered 2 1/2 feet of ice. Still, as he glanced out the window on Wednesday, the thermometer read 60 degrees at 8,000 feet, which he called “crazy” for this time of year.

“We had a party of eight fishing in Placer Cove yesterday (March 22),” Mahaffie said. “The ice has definitely grayed-up (meaning the snow is coming off), but there’s nothing open on the edges yet, no inlets open at all.”

It’s another story at Stagecoach, at 7,200 feet near Oak Creek in South Routt.

“We don’t restrict people from going out, but I would say it’s sketchy at best,” Park Manager Craig Preston said. “It could be up to 12 inches in the middle, but there’s some extremely thin ice on the edge.”

Preston said there are small pools of open water in all four major coves at Stagecoach, as well as at the inlet where the Yampa River flows into the reservoir. Those could begin to expand this weekend if there is sufficient wind associated with a couple of storm fronts forecasted to impact the Yampa Valley.

“By this weekend, the inlet could open enough that we’ll have accessible,” water for shore fishing, he said.

The earliest Stagecoach has ever recorded a complete ice-off, Preston said, is April 1.

The potential for anglers with fly rods and spinning tackle to cast into open water at Steamboat Lake is further off.

“It all depends on how cold it is,” Mahaffie said. “It’s gorgeous here today, but it’s normally mid-April before we see water opening.”

Across the Park Range from Steamboat Springs, North Park Anglers in Walden was reporting that the three Delaney Buttes Lakes — North, South and East — are still “mostly frozen.” However, they observed a “sliver” of open water on Delaney Buttes East Lake.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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