Fishing & Boating News

Having it Made

by: Ron Anlauf,

Ron Anlauf used the latest and greatest to nail this chunky walleye.
Photo by Ron Anlauf
Modern electronics like the Humminbird Ice 385ci make ice fishing more productive and a lot more fun.
Photo by Ron Anlauf
(Oct. 31, 2011 - Braham, MN)

Today's ice anglers have it made. I remember punching out a hole with a spud bar, not knowing where I was exactly or how deep of water I was in, and then hoping for fish to come to me (which they usually didn't) and almost freezing to death (well at least my extremities). With today's equipment and new clothing there's no good reason to chill to the bone, wait for the fish, or not know where you are. Nowadays you can be plenty comfortable, know exactly where you are, and better yet; be completely mobile.

Good electronics are a key and includes flashers, graphs with ice fishing capabilities, as well as Global Positioning units and electronic mapping. Flasher type depth finders like my Humminbird Ice 55 are depended on to find depth and bottom content as well as seeing fish and bait. They've been a mainstay since the ice fishing revolution began and really have made time spent on the ice a lot more productive and a whole lot more fun. LCD units like the Ice 385ci combines a flasher type capability with G.P.S. as well as electronic mapping and makes for a powerful spot and fish finding machine.

G.P.S and electronic mapping have made it incredibly easy to find potential hot spots and know exactly where you are all the time. Lakemaster has been working overtime surveying lakes across the country and uncovering information that we anglers could never completely find on our own. There are those that are worried that the maps reveal too much but it's the way it is and it's awesome! Now you can go to a new lake and have a reasonable chance of finding productive hot spots and do it without a lot of wasted time. Drop the Lakemaster chip in a 385ci and you'll see structure in incredible detail and be able to plot a course directly to it and know you're where you want to be.

Portable shelters that are easy to put up and take down are another important key to spending quality time on the ice and include the flip over styles as well as the new and wildly popular pop-ups. Eskimo of Cumberland, Wisconsin introduced the pop-up style to the ice fishing market and has really created a monster. Anglers looking for something easy to put up, store just about anywhere, and provide a lot of room found the pop-ups like the Eskimo Quickfish to be exactly what they were looking for. New for this season is what's called a Fatfish, which is a pop-up with a wide bottom that gives you even more room to fish. There is also an insulated model (949i) that will help keep you nice and toasty warm even under extreme conditions.

Of course the days of the spud bar are gone (at least when it comes to cutting holes) and its gas power augers like Eskimo's Shark that make cutting twenty holes a day or more possible. Hand augers like the Eskimo Barracuda can handle early ice easy enough but when the ice starts to thicken; the more power the better. Lots of holes can mean more fish at the end of the day and in my opinion more fish is what it's all about. Just make sure your blades are sharp and you keep them protected with a cover when not in use, especially if you carry your auger lose in the back of a truck. One smack of metal to metal can dull a blade or the leading point and greatly reduce a unit's overall cutting speed.

Clothing has made a huge difference in fending off the elements and being able to stay on the ice longer and includes everything from head to toe. Super warm suits with bib and jacket combinations designed specifically for the ice angler are an absolute necessity if you plan on spending any amount of time in the great frozen outdoors. They need to be roomy with plenty of pockets for storage and be totally waterproof. Even if you don't plan on going in; if you're drilling holes or getting on your knees to bank a house or land a fish you're going to get wet and wet is no place to be if you're on the ice. Boots and gloves need to be waterproof as well or you're probably going to go home early. When it comes to gloves I want a waterproof Gortex shell and not some kind of liner. A liner still lets your gloves soak up water like a sponge and your hands will be just as cold. Found that out the hard way the first time I used a brand new pair of "waterproof" ice fishing gloves which are probably in a landfill somewhere, still soaking wet. See you on the ice.

Ron Anlauf