Winter is a long season and the shop can get pretty darn slow. As most of you have gathered, we've been passing some of the cold times on the hard water, especially when temperatures are in the single digits.
Kory, Harlan and I went out for a quick sunrise mission before opening up the shop to chase after a unique species in Lake Dillon, the Arctic Char.
Colorado Parks & Wildlife stocked Arctic Char in Lake Dillon from 2008 to 2015. The goal was to establish a population of fish that would sustain itself over time and they are now successfully reproducing. Dillon is the only reservoir in Colorado that has an Arctic Char fishery. Check out Jon Ewert's Fishery Management Report to learn more about the history of this unique species in Lake Dillon!
I like to drill a dozen or so holes that are spread out right off the bat in the morning. This allows the area to settle down vs continuously drilling holes, and you can hop from hole to hole frequently to get a feel for depth in the area. A solid drill battery is key, preferable one with an amp hour rating (Ah) of 5 or more.
Technology can go a long way when it comes to ice fishing. Marking fish makes the experience more enjoyable and you can learn a lot about how the fish are behaving and the surrounding structure fairly quickly with a Vexilar.
I prefer a medium size Dynamic ice rod for Dillon to detect subtle takes that seem to be the norm.
Ice buildup in each hole can mask strikes so it's important to keep the holes as ice free as possible.
A 2.75" Tube Jig and 1/4 oz Blade Runner hooks have been my go-to when chasing larger predatory fish in our local reservoirs.
Make the switch over to an Atomic Teaser sized jig when the fish are being extra persnickety. I quickly connected after making the switch!
On to the fish! Arctic Char are genetically diverse and they all look different! Some are colored up..
Some are chrome in appearance.
And some are a bit darker! The variation in fin color is one of my favorite characteristics of this predator.
It's important to handle these fish with care when pulling them through the ice. They are susceptible to barotrauma which is a condition seen in many fish caught in waters greater than 50 feet that is caused by expansion of gases in the swim bladder. The fish may appear full but the bump is indeed gas that has expanded. Stick to water less than 40 feet and move spots if you notice consistently bloated fish. As with all fish, keep em wet. Don't take the fish out of the water any longer than you can hold your breath.
Swing by the shop for more advice on the hard water and fishing Lake Dillon!
Thanks for following along.