Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ice Never Safe = No Ice Fishing

(Above: These signs or similar are posted on just about every metro lake I know of. These signs partly contribute to the confusion for those that misunderstand the intent of the phrase "Ice Never Safe". Translated the warning means "no ice activity allowed".)

A common mistake anglers can make in regards to local water is thinking that ice fishing is allowed when in fact the opposite is the case. Ordinances and penalties may result if anyone attempts to go onto the ice for any reason on lakes run by your local parks and recreation folks. The City of Wheatridge for example has listed in their winter activities-subsection-A, ordinance 17.54 stating “Any activity on ice is prohibited and can result in a 25 to 1000 dollar fine."

There a few basic guidelines that help lay out where to go and not to go ice fishing within the Denver Metro area and beyond.

1. Most metro agencies DO NOT allow ice fishing on local ponds for safety and liability reasons. Even though signs are posted stating “ice never safe” or “stay off ice” people have and still continue to get injured and even die on frozen ponds within the metro area. These ponds are unsafe most of the year so a blanket “no-go” policy is enforced even on days when you “know” the ice is safe.

2. State Parks and State Wildlife Areas check conditions and allow ice fishing at your own risk. These agencies may also close ice fishing when they feel conditions are not safe. Basically if the state runs the area with public access additional funds and management may be in place for safe and legal ice fishing. State agencies are also more deliberate in their signage and will clearly have at least one large green sign stating all of the regulations.

3. Altitude can make all the difference and most high altitude lakes allow ice fishing, as the ice is safe for much longer periods of time. 11-Mile, Green Mountain, Granby, Evergreen, Antero, the list goes on and on of consistently good ice fishing spots. That local watering hole is going to have to stay put until ice off…then hit it for all your worth!

4. Call before you go. Why don’t you call places before you fish them? In fact that is something I need to do a heck of a lot more of. Conditions change and those folks are there pretty much on a weekly basis with the rulebook right there on hand. One call could save you, me and anyone else a dose of frustration.

There are always exceptions to the rule such as a local agency that may hold ice fishing tournaments on occasion or a public water supply that does not allow ice fishing for water quality concerns. Standley Lake and a few others don’t allow ice fishing period, which really is a shame because at certain times that would be a great ice fishing venue. Until I get my own lake I guess I will have to follow their rules.

Yes I know it sucks and please know that I am not the one making these rules up but they do exist for a reason. It really sucks that folks get injured and even die out there when venturing out on metro ice nearly every year in Colorado. The obvious tragedy to the families involved is bad enough but this also causes problems for everyone who enjoys these places. One fatality can cause a lot of issues for the managing agency and some lakes are closed after such a tragic occurrence. Hence why the local authorities may get involved and criminal penalties may be applied to people who fail to read\adhere to the signs.

Please read the signs and comply for your sake and others.

Special thanks to the city of Wheatridge for helping out with the legal statute and clarification of the penalties.


Anonymous said...

This is a pretty defeatist attitude. The lakes belong to THE PUBLIC and not the "city". I am tired of this nanny state mentality. If someone falls through it is their OWN FAULT for going out on ice that is not thick enough. Also, there is virtually no scientific, factual evidence that banning ice fishing harms water quality. You should be protesting these regulations and trying to change them because they are OUR waters. Also, cities and the state governments are largely immune from such suits, it's just an excuse to limit freedom. Fight the regulations and protest them, for the sake of fishing and freedom.

Coloradocasters said...

@Anonymous: I choose to pick my battles in regards to fishing regulations and disagree with a allowing ice fishing on ponds that rarely sport solid ice. The number of deaths every year point to the fact that even signs and regulations do not fully bridge the gap of human stupidity. There is no room for ice holes on small metro ponds that are prone to weak ice. Not sure where the water quality argument comes into play here. If you get bored, sign in with your Google ID and follow my blog.