Embracing Technology Makes Ice Fishing More Fun

Over the years, I’ve maintained that I’ve wanted to keep my fishing and hunting as low tech as possible. But the older I get, the more I seek out other methods and additional comfort to make my life easier.

This is no different for my ice fishing.

Pretty much gone are the days of sitting on an upturned bucket in a swirling, wind-driven snowstorm while I struggle to keep my line guides from freezing. I have invested in an Otter Ice Cabin, a dandy ice shelter that sets up in a jiffy and can be collapsed into a sled that can be pulled behind a quad or an ice machine. And for a day of fishing on a smaller, nearby farm pond, the whole contraption slides easily into a covered bed of my pickup truck and unloads easily too.

With the addition of a small propane heater I can remain in my shelter, out of the wind and plenty warm enough for a long day. I’ve even found myself nodding off in the warmth—I don’t mind this as long as I don’t miss the fish on my Lowrance, another hi-tech tool I’m using now.

Also gone are the days when I relied on an old pair of rubber boots to keep my feet warm—they didn’t. So I tried on a pair of Ice Armor Boots. They have felt liners, and my feet have been thanking me ever since. I also use ice suits and couple mine with some long underwear, a pair of Ice Armor Gauntlets for my hands, some moisture-wicking socks and I’m all set.

I’ve had some problems with my left shoulder. Prior to that, I had relied on a manual auger for my light ice drilling—no more. After physical therapy and a couple of shots in my neck, my shoulder is better, but a manual drill is out of the question for me. So I picked up a StrikeMaster electric auger, and what a relief. With a flip of a switch I can go through very thick ice in a matter of moments. Yes, it is quite a bit heavier than my manual auger, but the trade-off has been more than its worth.

Being the sort of person who is constantly searching for a bargain, I’ve spent the summer checking out the “bargain bins” in local sporting goods stores for newer, ice fishing lures. I found several, and while I have confidence in the great old standbys, such as Rapala Jiggin’ Raps and Northland Buckshot Rattle lures, time will tell if the “newbies” will bring a few more fish up through the holes.

And finally, while you are in your preparation mindset, why not give some thought to attending an ice fishing vacation/school for using high-tech tools and the basics? Pro walleye angler Mark Martin runs two or three every winter in Michigan, featuring seminars and ice fishing with one-on-one, hands-on fishing instructions from Mark and his pro staff. For more information check out markmartins.net or go to YouTube and search Ice Fishing Vacation School.