With the cold weather setting in, ice anglers in our neck of the woods are anxiously waiting for the ice to form.
While up north in northeastern South Dakota, Minnesota and North Dakota there are some anglers out there trying their luck
Throughout the year, different manufacturers have been adding new products to their ice fishing equipment, with many of them displaying at the St. Paul, Minnesota, Ice Fishing and Winter Sport show held at the St. Paul River Centre Nov. 30-Dec. 2.
To me, it is hard to believe how far the sport of ice fishing has grown, when I was growing up in Watertown in the 1960s, there were not a whole lot of ice fishing going on.
Some outdoorsmen, like our neighbor Glenn Matteson, and his friends, built their own icehouses, set them up on lakes like Pelican and spent many an hour, fishing and playing cards.
Today, things are much different, as there are companies out there that are almost entirely manufacturing tackle and gear just for ice fishing.
Take for example Wisconsin’s Feldmann Engineering, their Jiffy Ice Auger, put the world on ice with they began manufacturing ice augers in 1950 and continue to develop new products, ice augers that include gas, propane and their new electric auger, the Battery Powered, 6 Amp-Hour, E6 Lightning Ice Drill. No longer will you need to worry about your fishing tackle contamination by gas and its fumes as it offers clean power. Its powerful 6 Amp Hour ‑ Lithium Ion Battery equipped with an eight inch auger will drill seventy holes through twenty-four inches of ice on one charge . It is easy starting, as all you have to do to start it is just depress the control lever, the unit has a high torque 40-volt brushless electric motor with reverse drill operation, night-lights and an Integrated USB charging port. The unit, depending on the auger size weighs in at twenty-four to twenty-seven pounds.
Following Northland Tackles introduction of their Glo-Shot Spoon, is their new Glo-Shot luminescent Jig.
The Glo-Shot jig has a body designed to attract all species of fish under the ice. The lead free, zinc based Glo-Shot jig hangs vertically, with a single-hook design perfect for about any way an ice fishermen wants to fish it including jigging, deadsticking or below a bobber. Available in three sizes and 12 colors this unique design lure can be used to swim, dance and flutter seductively below the ice mimicking a dying minnow.
The added color radiating from the Glo-Shot stick in the lure makes it ideal in darker water, low light conditions, below thick snow cover with over cast skies or when fishing at night. The Glo-Shot jig comes with a three-pack of Glo-Shot Sticks along with a handy removal tool. More information on this and other Northland products is available on their website northlandtackle.com.
Clam has some excellent products for the ice angler, let’ be honest, there are many days out there where you are not going to be able to stay on the ice long because of the wind and sub zero temperatures without a shelter. It is a known fact, that not all shelters are made the same. There are several things you want to take into consideration when looking for an ice shelter. You want to look for one that is rugged, will keep you warm, with enough room for your locator, heater, tackle and yourself. You will want one that is easy to set up and the Clam’s Warrior X Thermal Shelter has all of these. It has enough room for two, with thermal fabric on the roof helping to retain heat, ample interior storage, along with anchors that secure it to the ice with the help of your auger.
Their IceArmor Clothing has the ice fisherman covered from head to toe which includes their Clam Poly and Zero Base Layers, Sweatshirts, Men’s Float Coats, Accent, Edge, Parkas, their Rise, Edge Cold Weather, Extreme Cold Weather Bibs and their Women’s Lift Parka and Lift and Glacier Bibs, Headgear, Gloves and Footwear. Information on these and other Clam products is available at clamoutdoor.com.
Vexilar the company that developed the first liquid crystal display locator/fish finder has been leading the way when it comes to locators and underwater cameras. Their FL-8 started the revolution allowing ice fisherman the opportunity to see exactly where their lure was, to spot fish hugging the bottom, suspended and those approaching your bait.
From their original FL-8 t o their newer FLX-12, FLX-20 and the FLX-28 units they created a world where the ice fisherman can see what’s going on below. With the addition of their Fish Scout cameras and their Vexilar DVR 100, a device, which gives the ice angler a way to attach their underwater camera into a Digital Video Recorder connected into their camera and monitor. With its remote controlled recorder, you have the ability to capture underwater video and photos on its micro SD card, then, view them from the comfort of your home or office, allowing you to show your fishing friends what they missed on the ice. These and other Vexilar products can be found on their web site vexilar.com
There are days out there you want to have some sort of heater along and Mr. Heater is the manufacture of all sizes of heaters. I have one of their smaller heaters I use in my shelter as well as a larger one I attach to a propane tank to heat my outer shop.
I have several that I think will work well for the ice fisherman, depending on how big a shelter you want to heat. They are the Big Buddy, Potable Buddy and the Little Buddy heaters.
Do not do as some of my ice fishing buddies did, to purchase too small of a heater for the size of shelter you need to heat. It is better to go too big as the heat on larger heaters can be turned down, while a small heater at the high setting may not be enough to keep your ice hole open, your line and you from freezing.
Another thing to look at when purchasing a heater is; the larger the heater, the more heats available but takes up more room in your shelter.
Their Mr. Heater Big Buddy, heats about 400 square feet, the Portable Buddy up to 225 square feet, while its Little Buddy will heat approximately 95 square feet. More information on the complete line of Mr. Heater’s products, check out their web site mrheater.com
The 13 Fishing FreeFall 13 Trigger Reel, allows the ice Fisherman to drop their bait down to stop at a certain depths using their flasher, allowing the angler to present their lures where the fish are holding, helping them to entice these cold blooded fish for better hookups. The FreeFall 13 Trigger Reel gives anglers the edge when it comes to ice fishing. Information on the FreeFall 13 Trigger Reel and other products is available at .13fishing.com.
St. Croix, known for its quality open water fishing rods, believe that when it comes to ice fishing it is no different and now produce a St Croix ice fishing rod. Their Black Ice rod is lightweight featuring a properly tapered carbon blank, allowing those of us who like to use jigs to detect even the subtlest of pickups by those not overly active fish. There is no question about it, a quality rod helps you to catch and ice more fish. If you want more information on the Black Ice rod, go to the St. Croix web site stcroixrods.com.
The equipment and tackle mentioned above are but a few of those ice-fishing items that are making it easier, more productive and much more comfortable for those of us who love Hardwater fishing.
As I mentioned previously, ice fishing has changed, no longer will you see many anglers on buckets on the ice as ice fishing has come a long ways, making the sport of ice fishing one that almost everyone can enjoy!
Gary Howey, Hartington, Nebraska, is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide and was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2017 and the Producer/Co-Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series. If you are looking for more outdoor information, check out www.outdoorsmenadventures.com, like Gary Howey’s Outdoorsmen Adventures on Facebook or watch his shows on www.MyOutdoorTV.com.