The 2024 Lake John Ice Fishing Tournament
North Park is almost synonymous with fishing, hunting, and other outdoor sports. Lake John is one of the most well-known places for sport fishing in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Located just a few miles west of Walden, CO, with scenic views, ease of access to fishing spots, and plenty of room, it’s no wonder Lake John has become one of Colorado’s premier fishing spots and a great place to visit for things to do in North Park.
When the temperature drops and the lakes freeze over, Lake John is still going strong when it comes to fishing. Lake John is a great place to go ice fishing in the winter, and an even better place to experience competitive ice fishing. Each year in January, you will find the annual Lake John Ice Fishing Tournament. People come from all around the country and beyond to compete for the biggest catch on the ice.
What You Need to Know About the Lake John Ice Fishing Tournament
This year’s Lake John Ice Fishing Tournament will be held on January 13th and 14th on the ice at Lake John, west of Walden, CO about 14 miles on Jackson County Road 7A. Check this link for details on our North Park Calendar of events.
Click here to register for adults!
So far, the ice is around 8” thick, which is enough to support body weight and even snowmobiles. Participants are welcome to park anywhere on the shores of the lake and port their equipment in. The thickness of the ice determines whether or not vehicles are allowed on the ice.
Click here to register for kids!
Ice Fishing at Lake John, Near Walden, Colorado
Every year Lake John is stocked with thousands of fish. Its weed beds provide food for a wide range of sporting fish that live in North Park, CO. Leeches, shrimp, beetles and other forage comprise the diet of these lake trout. The high quality of food the fish are feeding on under the ice give North Park fish their characteristic pink meat.
Last year, more than 30 fish over 24” were caught during the Lake John Ice Fishing Tournament. North Park is home to Gold Medal waters in Colorado such as Delaney Lakes and the North Platte River. Lake John supports many of the same kind of fish with nearly identical environments without the restrictions of Gold Medal waters.
- Brook trout
- Rainbow trout
- Cutthroat trout
- Cutbow trout
- Brown trout
Big Fish in Lake John
The hybridized cutbow trout, a combination of rainbow and cutthroat trout is favored to win this year’s ice fishing tournament. Cutbow trout have reached lengths of over 30” in past competitions.
Entry Fees and Prizes
Tournament participants are broken into youth and adult categories. Entry fees are $55 for adults and $20 for kids 16 and under. Prizes in either category make the Lake John Ice Fishing Tournament highly competitive for anglers both old and new.
Prizes for the Lake John Ice Fishing Tournament
The Lake John Ice Fishing Tournament offers some serious prize money for a weekend of doing something you already love to do. Door prizes are awarded with a random draw, with prizes such as propane heaters, fishing equipment, gift cards, and other gear. $100 is paid out for the largest fish reported for every hour. Participants must be present to claim merchandise and 50/50 prizes. If they are not present, cash prizes wil be sent to the winners via US Mail.
- $1500 for 1st place
- $1000 for 2nd
- $500 for 3rd
- $100 for 1st
- $75 for 2nd
- $50 for 3rd
- $25 for 4th
Here are some frequently asked questions about the Lake John Ice Fishing Tournament
Do I need a fishing license?
Yes. Participants are required by State law to have a valid Colorado fishing license to fish on public lands. Lake John is part of the Lake John State Wildlife area, which is comprised of around 585 acres of public land. Fees from your fishing license go to protecting these areas for events such as these and future generations.
How is Fish Size Determined?
Size is calculated by adding length and girth of the fish caught. Length is measured from the tip of the fish’s snout to the end of the tail with fins pinned back flat. Girth is measured by the circumference of the widest part of the fish’s body. The two numbers are combined to get a competition measurement, which are recorded by the judges at Lake John Resort.
Are Fish Tagged or Notched?
Many fishing tournaments involve catch and release fishing, however due to the area of the tournament, volunteers, and weather conditions, catch and release fishing would not be feasable for the health of fish that are released. CPW regulations prevent notching or tagging.
What are the Size Limits to Catching Fish?
The Lake John Ice Fishing Tournament limits catches to 16” in length and above. Smaller fish are not eligible for submission to the contest by adult participants.
What makes Lake John a Great Place for Ice Fishing?
Lake John is known all around the country and internationally by sport anglers who have fished its waters. Visitors to Lake John appreciate not only the beauty of the surrounding foothills and mountains of North Park, but also the ease of access to this high plains lake. Finding a place to park nearby and hauling in your gear to your fishing spot is comparatively easier than most lakes in Colorado.
What is the Habitat at Lake John for Fish?
The habitat for fish is also ideal, with plenty of weed beds and places for fish to eat and get fat all year long. At 21’ deep, Lake John is in the Goldilocks Zone for being shallow enough to get to the fish and deep enough to let them get nice and big. With plenty of species of trout and waters that are managed against invasive species, Lake John is a jewel among sport fishing lakes in Colorado.
What Kind of Gear Do I Need for Ice Fishing?
Ice fishing is pretty simple. With as little gear as an ice fishing rod and reel, a bucket and flotation cushion to sit on, and an afternoon to kill, you can enjoy ice fishing. Check out this guide to ice fishing in North Park for more information.
What Kind of Bait Can I Use?
Lake John allows the use of lures and bait including Powerbait. Live bait such as nightcrawlers and worms are also permitted. Bait such as minnows is prohibited, however, due to the possibility of introducing invasive species to these mountain lakes and waterways.
What Kinds of Facilities are Available?
Ice fishing shelters can be used on Lake John. Lake John Resort is licensed by CPW to permit ice huts on Lake John. Ice huts provide four walls, seating, and a floor for protection against the elements while ice fishing. Supplies are limited, so please reserve your ice hut in advance by contacting Lake John Resort.
Places to Stay at Lake John
Lake John Resort has accommodations for visitors year round. The resort offers majestic views of Mt. Zirkle and the Park Range, Lake John, North Park, and even works as a great jumping off point to other lakes such as Big Creek Lakes, Delaney Lakes, and high country lakes further up into the mountains.
Contact Lake John Resort for reservations, availability, and information about accommodations. The Lake John Resort General Store is also a good place to stock up on snacks, equipment, and a good place to swap fishing stories. The owner and proprietor of Lake John Resort also provides a regular fishing report throughout the year for North Park.
Here are some options for lodging at Lake John Resort:
- Cabins with kitchenettes
- Suites with full kitchen
- RV Parking
- Tent camping
Howling Coyote Mexican Restaurant!
The Howling Coyote Mexican Restaurant and Lake John Resort have teamed up this year to bring the El Toro food truck to RV site C1. Enjoy some delicious Mexican food on Jan 13th and 14th, from dawn to dusk!
Other Places to Stay in North Park
Lodging and accommodations at Lake John Resort are limited and fill up quickly. Nearby Walden, CO has you covered with a wide range of options for your stay.
Places to Eat in Walden, CO
Whether you need a hot meal after a chilly day on the ice or you are celebrating hauling in that monster catch, North Park has all sorts of places to sit down and enjoy a meal. If you are looking for things to do in Walden, CO, these are great places to start.
- Rita’s Cafe: Get a start early with breakfast and lunch five days a week (closed Wednesdays and Thursdays) open 6am-3pm and 6am-2pm on Sundays.
- Howling Coyote Mexican Restaurant: New restaurant in Gould, CO, on HWY 14, 23 miles SE of Walden. Serving up a wide selection of authentic Mexican food from ceviche to parrilladas. Open Wed-Fri, 3-9pm and Sat & Sun from 9am-9pm. The El Toro food truck will be at Lake John Resort!
- The 10th Frame: A wide selection of burgers, sandwiches, weekly specials and bowling! Open Tues-Sat 11-9pm. Closed Sunday and Monday. Brews and cocktails, are also on deck!
- River Rock: Classic American cuisine in a historical Walden, CO location. Open seven days a week and serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and a full-service bar.
- Stockman Bar and Grill: Good food, drinks, local flavor, and live music.
- Four Winds Pizza: Pizza, ice cream, wings, and antiques. Call (970) 723-8668 for current seasonal hours.
Weather in North Park
North Park weather can be harsh and very unpredictable in the wintertime. High wind gusts are possible. Blowing snow and ice, and the chance of severe weather conditions, require good planning on your part to be prepared for the worst. Protective clothing, appropriate winter gear, and waterproof boots and clothing are crucial when participating in outdoor winter sports and recreation.
Extreme temperature drops and unsafe conditions are possible, so always check with the North Park Chamber of Commerce site or Lake John Resort for current conditions and any information about closures or cancellations.
2024 Lake John Ice Fishing Tournament Rules and Information
A full set of rules can be found on the North Park Chamber of Commerce site. Prizes are redeemable only by registered participants of the 2024 Lake John Ice Fishing Tournament and proof of registration must be provided. Here are some important things to remember:
- Bag and possession limit for Lake John is four (4) fish.
- Check CPW regulations for fishing in Colorado, Colorado laws are still applicable on public lands and wilderness areas.
- Only one major cash prize is available per entrant.
- In the event of a tie, time of submitting the catch for recording with judges is considered the tie breaker, with the winner going to the earliest submission.
- Fish under 16” caught by adult entrants are NOT eligible for measurement.
Come Check Out the Lake John Ice Fishing Tournament
If you are looking for a way to beat the slump of the post-holiday season, come to North Park and check out the Lake John Ice Fishing Tournament. It's a great way to relax, get away from the city, and see some breathtaking scenery. Pit your wits against wily sporting fish and explore the beauty of this pristine corner of Colorado. We will see you there!