Regional Reports - West

San Luis Valley

If you're after big Colorado pike, take a drive to get past the Front Range reservoirs, which are getting hit hard, and head for a sleeper spot-Sanchez Reservoir in the San Luis Valley just north of the New Mexico border. Drought reduced the lake to a fraction of its full pool, which should concentrate pike and make winter fishing worth the trip. Ice-off can come as early as late March. If the lake is still iced, bring a selection of jigs, bladebaits and jigging spoons; the brown-trout Jigging Rapala is a favorite lure here. If the ice is receding, fish with soft-plastic crankbaits, wobbling spoons or larger frozen smelt weighted on the bottom. In February and March you can find larger fish in the northern lobe of the lake. Fish just south of the boat ramp and across the lake off larger points, keeping your bait near the bottom in about 15 feet of water. Good ice-off spots are those east-shore coves that catch the afternoon sun. The bigger pike are eating yellow perch here, so any lure that resembles a perch should get a second look. Most Sanchez pike go between four and eight pounds, but good numbers of double-digit fish come from here every year-along with a handful of 20-pounders. And the walleyes usually go about four pounds. Drive three miles east of San Luis on Highway 152 to Highway 242, then 5.2 miles south to the access. Contact: Division of Wildlife, Monte Vista (719-587-6907); Alamosa Sporting Goods (719-589-3006).