Monday, October 31, 2011

Ice Fishing Preparation and Anticipation


The ice fishing season is getting seriously close now. Most of us still have to put some deer in the freezer, but you cannot let time slip away to quick or you will find yourself in a rush, and maybe out of luck to hit the first safe ice of the season.

As a competitive ice angler, my season never completely stops, there is always something to do. Whether its speaking with potential sponsors, working with current sponsors, upgrading equipment or just cleaning up the garage form the hectic winter season, I always have something ice fishing related to do.
Now even if you’re not a tournament person, you still have off/pre season work to do. The one most common item I see neglected is line.

Your fishing line is the only link between you and the fish, why wouldn't you want new line every year? Or every month!? Ok maybe every month is excessive at times, but certainly you must change the line on your rods AND tip-ups every year. Even the best lines deteriorate over time and the edge of the ice creates small cuts in the line that you may not feel, so even spooling off ten or fifteen yards normally is not enough. The other obvious reason for the line change is the memory. Most ice angler use spinning reels on their ice rods, those spinning reels not only twist your line while using it, but also create a line memory issue after sitting for 8 months. To reduce line twists use a Fly Reel or The old standard ice reels you used to use as a kid.

Ice drills are certainly an item that is not remembered till you want to hit the ice. NOW is the time to take it out of the corner and look it over, or get it in now before the large winter rush of snow blowers and other items shops get pounded with as soon as we get cold weather.  Gas caps begin to leak after a number of years, blades dull and recoil cords get frayed. Items like that you don’t remember till you areon the ice normally, take a look at them now and be prepared this season. Jiffy Ice Drills' service center in Sheboygan Falls, WI becomes extremely busy the second week of December, but right now the turnaround is within a few days.

Tip-ups I believe see more abuse than most other items during the season and off, but there is some simple thing you can do to those tip ups to keep them working well every year. It’s as simple as re-lubing them with any of the cold weather lubes available from HT Enterprises or Frabill. Most tip-ups disassemble very easily and the process of lubing them is easy to accomplish, and worth every minute.

Throughout my process of doing all this I get a chance to reminisce about the season past. It’s interesting sometimes the items you come across while cleaning everything up.  Besides braking off a few dried up minnows and wax worms from hooks and jigs, I believe I have acquired 2 pairs of gloves and 3 hats that did not belong to me at the beginning of last season. So, if you went fishing with me last year and left you hat or gloves in my sleds or ATV, please contact me, lol.

There are many more things to check. How are the runners on the bottom of you sled/shack? You have gloves, boots, hats? Reels lubed? Replenish jigs and plastics? All the paint out of the eyes of your jigs? Of course checking batteries, ATV or snow machine maintenance. Do this now!

Look into all the things you can now, before it’s too cold, and before you are behind the rush of folks purchasing all the new equipment. Most stores have a good selection of ice fishing equipment out already, or will within a week or two. Get this stuff taken care of, and enjoy your hunting season! See you on the ice!

To find more info on ice fishing log onto Hardwater-Angler.com. Follow me on FacebookTwitter or Google +.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My first Post-An Intro and some Pre Season Insight

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.

-Shoey

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gear Review/Preview- Aqua-Vu "Micro" Underwater Camera


While every company in the ice fishing industry is looking for the next big thing most overlook some obvious issues consumers have with products. Many times that issue is the same, ease of use. When it comes to underwater cameras, it’s no different, many companies want the latest technology, for clarity and screen size but forget about an issue that has plagued underwater camera users since the beginning, portability.

Aqua-Vu, known as the “Original” underwater camera, has created what I think will be the next big thing in cameras used for ice fishing, the Aqua-Vu “Micro”. The “Micro” has a screen size as big as your smart phone, 50ft of 22# test cable, a camera the physical size of chestnut and IR LEDs. The “Micro” is a mobile ice fishermen’s new best friend because the entire unit fits into your jacket pocket.
I have used it in the open water of the local river, which is not easy to see through, the LEDs powered through the muck and I could see roughly 3 ft from the camera. In the clear water of the small lakes I frequent, I could see as far as the eye. This will absolutely change how I fish. I enjoy using electronics to ice fish, every advantage I can get I will take. This small easy to use camera will certainly be helpful. The battery life is another impressive feature, I have used it on 4 trips, total amount of time the unit has been on has far exceeded 3 hours and the battery still has over half life. Of course a true test of battery is in the cold, but it so far looks like it will have great stamina.

Aqua-Vu has redesigned most of their cameras for this upcoming season. Listening to the fishermen, taking advise and making the necessary changes to fit into the industry better. Some of Aqua-Vu’s cameras this season will even feature levels of zoom as well as HD quality picture. Check out Aqua-Vu’s new lineup at Aquavu.com and watch for the new cameras to arrive in stores soon. The Aqua-Vu “Micro” is available now  in most major retailers and online.

I had wrote a post earlier this year before I received the Micro, there are videos of the unit in action HERE.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tungsten Is The New Black

What a difference a summer makes. This time last year, folks in the ice fishing “know” were talking about tungsten jigs, discussing the few companies that made them and the limited selection. This upcoming season will breathe new life to the tungsten ice jig conversation. We will be blessed with a couple major companies releasing new tungsten jigs for customers.

Northland Fishing Tackle has released the Northland Hard-Rock jigs. These jigs will feature the shape a designs of the popular Bro Bug collection. The colors look to be more of the Vegas jigs color selection. With the introduction of these jigs Northland has begun to set itself up to have a banner year in sales. USA Ice Team member and former North American Ice Fishing Circuit champion Tony Boshold has promoted Northland for years and is super excited to introduce these jigs.

HT Enterprises has teamed up with a company in Latvia to bring you a tungsten Marmooska. These will be one of the hottest jigs on the market this winter. With the classic Marmooska design and a respectable amount of color patterns this tungsten jig will be filling many slots in my jig box.  I have photos and will be doing a full review soon about HT’s tungsten jigs at Hardwater-Angler.com.
HT Enterprises Tungsten Marmooska

Fiskas have been in the market for quite some time, Yourbobbersdown.com has been one of the few places to purchase Fiskas. They are great jigs, I have many and I even have a go-to Fiska, 3mm School Bus, great jig! With a good selection of epoxy, painted and unpainted, Fiskas will continue to be a solid choice of tungsten jigs.

Sportsmensdirect.com offers some tungsten jigs and based on what I know of Sportsmen’s Direct and the products they offer, I am certain these are high quality. The proprietor of Sportsmen’s Direct, John Bacarella,  is one of the nation’s best competitive ice fishermen, and does not settle for poor quality, and would not stand to pass it on to his customers.

Skandia is another company that has been around for a few years, with a growing size and color selection and available in many of the small retail shops they have a good following. I do not own many Skandia jigs but when the opportunity arises I will purchase more. NAIFC team “Hardwater Maniacs” swear by the Skandia jigs and would have a better selection of information for you to check out at GreatLakesIcefishing.com

Bentley Fishing USA seems to be an intriguing company that has a limited selection. You may purchase their jigs online, but only in packs of 6 or more. They seem like they would be very high quality jig, but without having personally used them, I could not give a fair assessment.

Tungsten IS the present and future of ice fishing, explore the companies listed, and do your homework. Good luck fishing!