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Gone fishing: Tales from Eleven Mile Reservoir's vast frozen expanse

An ice covered Eleven Mile Reservoir
Posted at 8:17 AM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-20 11:30:43-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Come snow or wind, brutally low temperatures or bright and sunny days; if the ice is covering Eleven Mile Reservoir, you'll find ice anglers out drilling holes, dropping lures, and spending all day out on the frozen expanse pursuing this extremely Coloradan pastime.

The reservoir finally capped over in the second half of December, later than it has in a number of years according to Darcy Mount, park manager for both Eleven Mile and Spinney State Parks, but as soon as it did, the crowd started rolling in.

With the ice finally coming on, the park will expect to see many anglers eager to begin ice fishing at the popular destination. For the months of December through January over the last four years, Eleven Mile has averaged just over 46,000 visitors in the wintertime. The almost exclusive winter activity at Eleven Mile is ice fishing.
Jason Clay, CPW

Throughout the week you may find a healthy scattering of huts and encampments stationed out on the shiny surface of this extremely popular fishing locale, but CPW reports that on the weekends, you can often find hundreds taking to the ice.

"We know that there are always going to be fishermen at Eleven Mile, no matter what the conditions are, whether it's ice or middle of the summer," said Mount.

You have large groups and families making the trip a whole-day affair, you have those that enjoy the peace and solitude that the reservoir has to offer, and there are those that fall squarely in between.

For one fisherman, it's all about the peace, "I enjoy being able to come out here and walk across the expanse, go anywhere I want, drill a hole, and sit; away from civilization, away from all the hectic craziness of the world. Yeah, mostly I'm just here for the peace."

For another fisherman, out with family and friends, the day is about passing on traditions and good quality time, "We brought a little grill out, we're going to cook some brats and hot dogs and enjoy lunch out here and hang out. The kids will play in the ice and the snow and we'll fish and hopefully catch something and just have a good time."

However, while various anglers may have different hopes and goals for a day out on the frozen reservoir, many that we spoke with seemed to agree that actually hauling in a catch was secondary to enjoying the special brand of relaxation that accompanies fishing through the ice.

The goal is having fun," commented one, "catching a fish is just the icing on the cake."

"Yeah," agreed another angler, "that's for me."

"Absolutely," laughed a third fisherman, "but let's be honest, for a lot of people, the icing is the best part of the cake."

Now that we've had a chance to catch up with our cold weather fishermen/women, let's check in with Darcy Mount (CPW) and take a brief look at what all goes into stocking Eleven Mile and Spinney.

Throughout the winter months, Mt. Shavano hatchery stocks about 200,000 ready-to-catch trout between Eleven Mile and Spinney Reservoirs.

"It's about every other week from December to March," stated Darcy, "and they do Eleven Mile one week and Spinney the next."

Each visit from the hatchery brings about 20,000 fish to either state park, a cargo that Darcy reports is unloaded in about 20-30 minutes and is delivered through the ice.

Behind the Scenes: Stocking Eleven Mile Reservoir

Of course when it comes to an iced over lake or reservoir, CPW always advises to "know before you go," check the conditions and pack the appropriate gear and clothing.

You can find weather and ice reports at both the MARINA'S WEBSITE and also the PARK'S WEBSITE.