ELEVEN MILE STATE PARK — Through the coldest months in Colorado, when the snow falls and the lakes freeze, you can find avid anglers out on the ice continuing their love of fishing.
The time honored tradition of drilling a hole into an icy body of water before sinking a line and waiting for that ever elusive big catch, is something that takes more than a bit of preparation and even more patience.
"I think getting out here is the biggest challenge, a lot of people don't want to leave the comfort of their warm house and I can understand that," commented one avid ice fisherman.
"It can be dramatic, it can be cold," stated Darcy Mount, the Eleven Mile State Park manager, "the day that it was 48 degrees below zero at Antero Resevoir, it was 31 degrees below zero here."
However, with the right gear, plenty of bundling up, and a healthy love of the outdoors, anglers, turning up in droves with their, regularly turn frozen Colorado lakes into makeshift towns.
"It's a getaway, it's just something different and it makes memories," stated Derek MacLachlan, a CPW park ranger.
"You see family units out here," commented Darcy, "couples, dads and sons, moms and daughters, a combination of six or seven friends or cousins or whatever coming out here as a group. They're cooking lunch out in those huts out on the ice, just having a really good time. You hear a lot of laughter when out there with the ice fisherman."
It's not just laughter and friends that you can find out on the ice, you can also find stories.
In February, one of those stories KOAA just happened to run into was a love story; found at Eleven Mile State Park, built around fishing and every form that it takes, and cemented over time.
Liz and Mark Johnson, a retired Colorado couple, have made it their business to travel the world in search of that next big catch.
From the oceans to the lakes to the rivers and back, in warm weather and cold; these two have fished it all and we just happened to catch them while they were enjoying one of their favorite winter pastimes.
When these two retired, they made a deal: 50 fish in 50 states.
Having traveled a significant portion of the country already, they decided to start over. So now, they work to reach at least three to four states each year where they enjoy the challenge of landing the fish as a team.
When they finish their fish finding journey, they plan to have a celebration; if we had to guess, it's a safe bet that party will involve a fishing trip.
Now, as we approach warmer weather, ice fishing season is nearing its conclusion.
Weather conditions across the state appear to be gradually warming and we’ve begun to see a transition from winter into spring. Lakes across the Front Range and other low elevation bodies of water have thawed and produced hazardous ice conditions and increasing amounts of open water. Meanwhile, many high elevation lakes continue to hold favorable ice fishing conditions.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife urges any interested in ice fishing, especially as the end of the season draws closer, to show prudence and exercise caution for a safe experience.
CPW highly recommends always calling ahead to park staff to check ice conditions before going out on the ice.
**This footage in the videos attached to this story was shot at the end of February at Eleven Mile and Spinney Mountain State Parks. CPW advises that as warmer weather comes in, the ice will continue to thin. Always check the ice conditions before going out on the ice.**