Fishing & Boating News

Babe Winkelman Fishing Column...December

by: Babe Winkelman, Babe Winkelman Productions

(Monday, November 09,1998 - Brainerd, MN) Have you ever heard of flasher-friendly lures? Do your know the difference between a drop-and-lift and a lift-and-drop? Do you think a Pounder is a really big hamburger?

Anyone who's been staying up nights wondering how to catch more fish through the ice may be interested in the working definition of those and other terms found in the vocabulary of Saint Cloud, MN ice fishing guru Dave Genz.

Until recently, summer was the time for "serious" fishing. Once the ice formed, erstwhile scientific anglers parked their fish houses over a hole and didn't move until spring. "You see guys who aggressively hunt for fish all summer long," says Genz, a member of the silver medal-winning Team USA in the 1992 World Ice Fishing Championship, "but when they put their boats away, they put their tools and brains away as well."

Not Dave. He "trolls" frozen water, drilling a series of holes at different depths and checking them for signs of active fish. "I give a hole five minutes, max," he says. "If I don't catch anything, I'm off to the next hole."

So what are flasher-friendly lures? The term describes a line of flat-surfaced lures that show up on a sonar unit (flasher) at low gain. "If you have to turn the gain up real high you pick up a lot of unwanted stuff in the water," he explains.

The lures, designed by Genz for Systems Tackle, have names like Flyer, POunder, Fat Boy and the Genz Worm. The Pounder is a vertical jig, the Flyer has a spinner blade molded into a jig and the Fat Boy is a horizontal jig. A horizontal jig? When quivered, the Fat Boy actually moves sideways through the water.

Genz uses these lures to trigger strikes. "For a lot of ice fishermen, color is the most important consideration," Dave says. "To me, color is No. 3. What really count are depth and speed, or action. "Too many people take a passive approach, letting their minnow swim around until a fish pulls their bobber down."

One of Genz' favorite strike-inducing techniques is snap jigging. "I load up the rod tip and whip it with a snap of the wrist," he explains. "You're looking for a foot of movement at the lure. Then let it flutter back down and hold. A fish will hit on the hold."

Genz says the fit-and-drop is practiced by snapping the lure upwards and letting it slowly flutter back down. The drop-and-lift is a variation on that technique that calls for dropping the lure to the bottom and lifting it slowly upwards.

Pounding is another Genz innovation. "It's a kicking motion that makes the bait jump," he explains. "Pounding is accomplished by tapping the rod above the handle with the index finger. It requires a rod, line and lure that are balanced," he warns. "You can't throw a big stickbait for muskies on ultra-light gear, but ice fishermen are always trying to make do with tackle that isn't balanced."

Dave preaches mobility. "I drill lots of holes and use my electronics to look for active fish. Once I find them I experiment with different lures and aggressive presentations."

Pulling his gear around in a Fish Trap, a portable fish house he helped design, Genz drills 15,20 or even 25 holes in the ice, usually around the edges of where other fishermen have set their houses. He quickly moves from hole to hole, checking for fish with his electronics. When he finds fish, he pulls the roof over his head and works them as aggressively as a tournament bass angler firing a spinnerbait into cover. If no one's home, he moves to the next hole.

"That's how we fish in open water," he says. "Why not take the same approach to ice fishing?"

Tune into Babe Winkelman's award-winning television show "Outdoor Secrets" on Superstation WGN at 1:00 a.m. Friday night, 9:a.m. Saturday morning and 2:30 a.m. Saturday night (all Central). For information regarding Babe Winkelman's new club, "Society of Outdooor Sportsment," call tol free 1-800-333-0471 (Monday-Friday, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm Central) or write to S.O.S. P.O. Box 407, Brainerd, MN 56401.