Ice fishermen cautioned ice on the edges of Stagecoach Reservoir is ‘extremely thin’ in places |

Ice fishermen cautioned ice on the edges of Stagecoach Reservoir is ‘extremely thin’ in places

It’s only the third week in March but after 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 Mahaffey at the state park information center said an ice fishing clinic was held near the marina March 18 and participants encountered two-and-a-half 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 the time of year.

“We had a party of eight fishing in Placer Cove yesterday (March 22),” Mahaffey said. “The ice has definitely grayed-up (meaning the snow is coming off) but there’s nothing on pen 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. There was a guy out yesterday and I was not willing to go out and check,” his fishing license. “We’re recommending folks not to go out.”

Preston said there are small pools of open water in all four major coves, 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 coupe 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 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,” Mahaffey said. “It’s gorgeous here today, but it’s morally mid-April before we see water opening. He added that while Willow Creek has opened up, some of the visible streamflow is liekly on top of ice.

Across the Park Range from Steamboat Springs, North Park Anglers in Walden was reporting March 21 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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