Ice Fishing – Why I Love It
By Tim M. Bergman, Moose Lake, Minnesota
My buddies at PartsVu and I have whiled away many hours in the Southwest Florida sun (and occasionally in a Southwest Florida storm) fishing for grouper, snapper, amberjack, tarpon…you name it. I greatly enjoy the excitement of these offshore fishing trips and the company of good friends. I also really enjoy fishing from the shore on beautiful days and have developed a certain amount of skill maneuvering a skiff around mangrove points and edges in the pursuit of redfish or gray snapper.
As much fun as I always have on these trips, I’m a Midwesterner at heart. I relish days fishing in the tropics, but I deeply love fishing the Great Lakes and the inland Lakes of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. It’s in my blood, really. While I have loved fishing from a very early age, it has been only in the last few years I revitalized a pastime I haven’t thought about much since I was a teenager – ice fishing.
As a boy, I spent hour after hour on the lake in my grandfather’s, then my father’s ice shanty – mostly on Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota. I would bundle up in many layers as outdoor gear for kids was not all that great in those days. I waddled out to the truck, then onto the lake, where we would make our way to the shanty. My job was to carefully deliver my dad’s or grandfather’s 6-pack of beer to the shanty, then to attentively scoop the ice keeping our augured hole clear once we had settled it.
Of course, too young to drink beer, I would be treated to a couple of bottles of Coca-Cola and Swedish Fish from the penny candy jar – my favorite. Swedish Fish were not only my favorite candy, I felt they provided us a certain amount of luck. Fish-shaped candies developed by a candy maker from my ancestors’ homeland had to be a lucky fishing snack.
For reasons I can’t even explain, I went years without ice fishing. I would still get out onto the water as early as I could in the spring and fished as late into the fall as possible. For years, I have enjoyed a fishing trip or two each winter in South Florida or some other warm-weather destination. But, those lovely afternoons on Mille Lacs Lake in the depth of a Minnesotan winter became a distant memory.
A handful of years ago, I revived the hobby, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did. First, it is something to look forward to. Minnesota winters are long and, if you let them, become a little depressing. If you don’t embrace all of the beauty and the activities the winters in the upper Midwest have to offer, it is easy to become a little stir-crazy, and you find most of your mental energies longing for days to become warmer, so you can get back out on the water. Especially as I grow older, longing for what is to come rather than enjoying the moment seems to be a huge waste of energy. Maybe this is why my dad and grandfather loved ice fishing so much.
So, what do I love about ice fishing?
The lakes are quiet in the winter. It is a quiet that I can’t really explain, you just have to experience it. The only sounds out there, besides the occasional vehicle or drone of an auger, is the wind in the trees, the sounds of birds, and creaking ice. I will confess that the sound of creaking ice takes a little getting used to, but once I became comfortable with my safety, it became one of my favorite sounds.
Also, snow creates its own beauty – stark, white, and desolate. The sunrises over ice are like no other as the snow picks up and reflects the colors of the rising sun.
The other thing I really love about ice fishing is that it is a great equalizer among anglers. Yes, like anything, you can spend money on ice fishing toys and accessories, but you can enjoy ice fishing for very little investment. And, even when you do decide to indulge in acquiring items to make your ice fishing experiences easier and a bit more comfortable, the costs are fairly modest.
Warm-weather fishermen are segregated by those with a boat and those without a boat. Even when you decide to treat yourself as an ice fisherman, you are generally looking at a few hundred dollars for a new toy rather than the hefty sums we spend on our boats – me certainly included.
With my love of ice fishing rekindled, I thought I would share some of the tools of the hobby that I have been impressed with – that either I own, have tried, or friends have relayed their experiences with. If you haven’t tried ice fishing, I encourage you to. Find an experienced friend who can show you the ropes of evaluating the safety and thickness of the ice, throw on a good coat, hat and gloves, grab a few drinks of choice and give it a try.
Tim Bergman’s Top Ice Fishing Products
(in no particular order)
The PTI-WSU is an 83/200 kHz ice transducer with a 7-foot cable. Key features include 83 kHz with 52° beam width, 200 kHz with 22° beam width, up to 1000-Foot (300-Meter) range at 83 kHz, ice fishing mount and float kit, 1 internal broadband ceramic, uniplug connector only compatible with Elite-3x and certain legacy displays
The Raymarine Ice Fishing Kit includes everything cold weather anglers need to unleash the power of Element 7″ sonar on the ice. With a waterproof bag and rugged base designed specifically for the Element, this portable kit is built to withstand the harshest conditions. The Ice Fishing Kit houses a rechargeable battery, charger, and high-frequency CHIRP CPT-S ice fishing transducer with float. Full-sized cargo pockets provide ample room for tackle, and the integrated rod holders make it easy to travel with all your gear. The Raymarine Ice Fishing Kit truly is an all-in-one portable fishing package.
Ice Ducers have revolutionized the way anglers use sonar for ice fishing. The ease of use, along with the reliable performance, took away much of the former problems with seeing the bait, a most important requirement for ice anglers. Additionally, anglers can easily jump from hole to hole in an effort to find and catch fish on the move. Vexilar offers the Ice Ducer in four beam angles; 19 degrees, 12 degrees, 9 degrees (Pro View), and a switchable tri-beam model with 8, 12, and 20 cone angles.
Hydro Glow Underwater LED Fishing Lights provide a very energy efficient light source to provide a 360-degree light pattern in the water. Each light rod is made of virtually unbreakable construction to meet every need. Enjoy the 80,000 LED average life rating as you lower the green or blue rods into the water off your boat or under the ice to attract fish. Hydro Glow Underwater LED Fishing Lights power cord is designed with a waterproof connector that easily connects to an accessory plug (not included) or to the included alligator clips that hooks onto your existing 12V battery power supply.
The LPS-1 is simple to use. Just put it in the water, point, and push the ON button. The depth or distance is digitally displayed for 10 seconds before automatically shutting off, with no risk of battery drain. For ice fishing, the signal will shoot through clear ice! When diving, use it to check depths or distances to any object underwater: reefs, sunken wrecks, even the distance to the surface. Waterproof down to 150′.