Ice Fishing with some of Colorado’s best – 9NEWS.com
GRANBY – Bernie Keefe has been fishing lake Granby for over 30 years and guiding for nearly 25.
“I guide no more than three days a week, but I fish up to seven,” Bernie told 9NEWS.
Fishing is his life and guiding is a part of that passion. So much so, that he thought about being a guide when he was real young. The opportunity finally presented itself when he ran into some car trouble in Granby.
“I got the opportunity when my truck broke down and the mechanic up here was also an outfitter and he asked me if I wanted to work for him. I asked him ‘with all the people up here why are you asking me?’” Bernie told 9NEWS.
The mechanic responded, “well you’re the only one dumb enough to be out there every day.” Since then, Bernie has been guiding and ended up buying the business a couple years ago.
His team consists of three other guides who are just as passionate about fishing and offer different specialties with a variety of fish here in Colorado.
Although most anglers would prefer to fish in warmer weather and on the open water, there is something unique about ice fishing that introduces a whole different level of excitement to the sport.
“Ice fishing is kind of that weird passion.” Dan Shannon, guide at Fishing with Bernie, told 9NEWS. “I enjoy fishing from the boat a lot, but ice fishing is just that added challenge to go out there and say’ I caught that big fish through the ice or I caught a whole bunch of fish through the ice today.”
When ice fishing in Granby, the fish you are targeting is lake trout.
“Lake trout are notorious light biters. It’s not uncommon to come out and miss a bunch of fish.” Dan says. “On a lot of the trips it’s real fun to see. People will come out and they are struggling a bit. They’re trying to get used to what that bite means. They’re used to the fish coming in and hammering the bait and trying to pull the rod out of your hands. Lake trout, even the big ones that are over 30 inches, they just come in and give it a bump. They pick up the bait and you see your line go slack. But as the day goes go on they get it figured out.”
Bernie and Dan say that it’s typical for some people to come out and miss a lot fish early in the day, but once they get it figured out they are catching them left and right by the end of the day.
What makes fishing for the monsters so difficult is not just finding them on a giant lake, but then figuring out what they are biting on along with realizing when you have an actual bite.
Bernie, who is known for chasing the big ones, can tell you just how difficult it can be to land the trophy trout.
“On a big fish day we meet at the boat ramp at first light and we end up drilling 25 to 30 holes a person per day. On a good day the group will get six to eight bites and with any luck that will translate into one or two big fish per person. That’s if it’s really good. We have days where people get blanked. The average day I would say two out of three people land big fish and everyone gets their chances. But getting these big fish to bite, you see lots of big fish you see tons of them, but they’re 30 to 40 year old fish so you have to catch them in a stupid moment.”
In order to catch those fish it can take a lot of work. When most people think of ice fishing they think of drilling just one hole and sitting in a hut. But when targeting the big fish alone, you might be moving around the lake all day.
“We drill about 100 holes a day and fish for five days a week, so we drill about 500 holes a week. We kind of tear up the ice. I never really thought about it that way,’ Bernie joked. “So if you fall in a hole I guess you can blame us.”
But the great thing about Dan and Bernie is that they never stop enjoying a day of catching fish. They do it for the love of the sport. They do it because a day in the office for them is another opportunity to watch someone’s face light up when they see the tip of that rod starting to bend.
Landing a large amount of lake trout or that one trophy fish that you’ve dreamed of your whole life can be a huge success, but the laughs and conversation during the process just sweetens the deal that much more.
You can find pictures of the giant lake trout that Bernie and his team have helped catch on their website by clicking here.
(© 2017 KUSA)