Take a Load Off This Winter

A few years ago, many ice anglers would lug around a 10-inch gas-powered auger onto the ice regardless of what they were after. Up north, this used to be the go-to for making sure you could fit the transducer down into the hole and still have enough room to get a fish up through the ice. Sure, most ice anglers are optimistic, but it was really overkill for what we typically catch up here. 

I can see the value of a large hole for shallow-water sight fishing, but most of the time, it was just a hazard to watch out for, so you didn’t step into it and get your boots wet. Not to mention, it is quite a bit of work lugging around almost 40 pounds to drill that 10-inch hole. It was great if it was part of your doctor-prescribed exercise program, but not if it was exhausting to drill holes while wearing all that heavy gear. By the time you drilled a few holes, you needed to find a bucket to sit on and catch your breath before focusing on the next task. 

Last year, the largest walleye I caught through the ice was a 28-inch beauty. This fish easily came through the 6-inch hole that I had cut with my StrikeMaster Lithium 24-volt auger. There was not a lot of wiggle room there, but I was able to get her on top of the ice. The beauty of that setup is, at roughly 13 pounds, this auger allows me to venture wherever I want to and drill holes with ease. It is no longer a “workout” to drill a spread of holes on a piece of structure. And the lithium battery outlasts me and what I need it to do. 

Ice fishing electronics have been around long enough that I don’t even see the “yesteryear angler” sitting on the proverbial bucket anymore. Every ice angler uses some version of ice electronics to see what is happening around them, whether it is a camera, a digital system or the tried-and-true flasher. A lot of the technology-savvy anglers are even using forward-facing sonar units to see outside of the typical cone angle beneath their feet. Regardless of your chosen brand or style of ice fishing electronics, all require a power source in the form of a battery. 

For decades, the standard was a sealed, lead acid battery that came with two electrical spade ends on one end. All manufacturers based their product packages around this 6-inch x 2.5-inch x 3.7-inch battery. Most of these batteries were 12-volt, 7-amp-hour batteries that weigh over 4.5 pounds. If you took care of them, they would usually take care of you—at least for a few years depending on how much you used it. Most anglers don’t think twice about the weight because they are just used to it. Ice fishing

But the lithium revolution is here and making a huge difference. Take, for example, this long-held standard of the 7-amp-hour battery. MarCum Technologies offers a lithium version of this battery (7.5-amp-hour) called the Li-Ion Mite that weighs in at 1.1 pounds. You can take your old battery out of your existing electronics, replace it with this battery and shed 75 percent of the battery weight. And the battery is typically the lion’s share of the unit’s total weight. Suddenly, you have all the power you need at a fraction of the weight. This makes the whole ice fishing experience so much more pleasurable. Now the kids don’t have to grumble about moving around because the units are so light. It’s not that you couldn’t hole-hop around before; it’s just that it is so much easier when you shed so much weight. 

It doesn’t stop with the electronics, either. Clothing has improved immensely as well, with better fabric and outer shells to block out the wind, water and cold without adding unnecessary weight. The bibs and jackets of today are much improved over what was available ten years ago. If you are not comfortable, then it is tough to enjoy your experience outdoors. Be sure to update your outdoor wardrobe if you haven’t in a while, and you will notice how much lighter and warmer clothing has become.

Advancements in ice fishing technology are making this sport much more enjoyable. When you shed weight on the things you need to use, it opens doors for more people of all ages to partake in the sport. When it is time to replace your gear, auger or battery, be sure that you shed the weight so you can easily carry the additional weight of your catch.