I was recently invited by Jeff to contribute to this fine blog site. As the other, somewhat heavier and hairier, half of NAIFC Team 711, I hope I have some useful information to share with everyone.
A quick intro to myself and why I might be in any way qualified to blog on the subject of ice fishing and other outdoor activities. I am an all seasons outdoorsman. In spring, I enjoy hunting for morel mushrooms as much as I enjoy hunting for turkeys. As the year progresses, I try to steal any time I can to get a little fishing in for any species that may be catchable. Come fall, my focus shifts to hunting season. While I will hunt for anything in season, I particularly enjoy waterfowl hunting. Throughout all of this, I enjoy target shooting of any sort. Finally, as the air and water chills and eventually freezes, my focus shifts to my favorite outdoor activity, ice fishing.
I've been ice fishing as long as I can remember, though it became an obsession once I could drive myself to the lake. The idea of competitive fishing only appeared in front of me two short seasons ago and I'm eagerly awaiting a new tournament season.
As the season nears, there is a lot that I've been doing to prepare for this years hardwater experience. A short list of some of the things I've been up to:
1. I acquired an ATV
This was essential. Mobility is a key to success. Last year I tried to fish the season using a used snowmobile and ran into mechanical issues that forced us as a team to use one machine. This definitely hurt us, especially in prefishing.
This doesn't mean you need a shiny new quad every season. However, take the time before the season to go through your machine mechanically, tighten bolts, check fluids, make repairs, check and replace your battery if needed. Get out and ride it a few times to ensure that everything is functioning properly. Now is the time to straighten out issues, not on the ice when there are fish to be caught!
2. Organize your Gear
This may sound trivial. But it isn't. In the off season, I've acquired new gear. New plastics from end of the year sales and our wonderful sponsors at J&S Custom Jigs. New line from Vicious, another wonderful sponsor. Take the time now to get it all in order.
Organized gear means you can find it when you need it. You know when you need to purchase more. Every second counts when the bite is hot and you don't want to be left in the cold without the bait that could have caught you a limit.
Also, I got a new rod case. Turns out I can pack 6 ice rods into a hard sided break-down shotgun case. This solution was cheap and will provide superior protection over soft sided cases for travel. Keep trying to streamline your fishing and become more efficient.
3, Do some homework
Ice fishing is a sport that is evolving incredibly fast. In order to stay at the front of the tide, you need to do a little leg work.
Buy the publications and read up on the articles. This will allow you to glean out new presentation ideas, new location ideas, and new techniques.
Find lake maps of lakes you plan on fishing. Study them, make a game plan for the winter so you know exactly how you want to attack that lake as soon as you can safely get on it. If you have time and the ability, get out on the lake with a boat and mark potential hot spots on your map or GPS. Again, efficiency can make or break your day sometimes.
I hope you all have a safe and productive season. Keep checking back for more posts. As I type this, I'm sitting on a bucket and it just feels right. Ice season must be approaching.