Ice angling boot camp: 90 seconds with Dave Genz

Dave GenzRendezvousing with the folks from Clam Outdoors and Vexilar earlier this week, I witnessed some incredible ice-fishing prowess on Leech Lake in central Minnesota. In balmy but windy weather, we found big bluegills and crappies snapping. A surprising number of largemouth bass were cruising the shallow flat we plied, too. We were practicing catch and release for everything, but with the season closed, the bass went immediately back down the holes. 

One of the perks of my job is that I have access to some incredible fishing mentors. I’ve been lucky to have a great fishing mentor over the years in “Tackle” Terry Tuma. He’s given me tons of great fishing advice. During this week’s event on Leech, Clam ice pro Dave Genz also was visiting with participants, and during a quick, 90-second chat, he schooled me on some simple but important hard-water techniques.

First, he saw me preparing to scoop ice and slush out of the hole. “Hold up,” he said. “That little bit isn’t stopping you from jigging, and I like some slush there to dampen the bright sunlight on a bright day like this.”

OK, makes sense.

Then Dave caught me letting my 1-pound-test ice line wear against the side of the ice hole. A definite no-no with light line, which can fray if you’re dragging it along jagged ice.

“Keep that line in the center of the hole,” he said. “Puts the best action on your lure and the less you’re running it against the ice, the better.”

Then I dropped the lure to the bottom of the flat before reeling up about 8 inches. Figured I’d jig right over the bottom. Genz kindly ordered me to move it another couple feet off bottom. Fish were bumping around throughout the entire lower half of the water column, not just the bottom zone.

“I see all you guys trying to set up right off the bottom,” Genz said. “I like my lure just above the fish where they can see it. Bring it up.”

Then he critiqued my spring bobber, which he said was hanging down too low. “How’s it supposed to bounce and signal a bite when it’s already hanging so low?” Perhaps muttering slightly under his breath, he adjusted the spring bobber so it remained more parallel with the rod.

A fish entered the flasher cone, and I lowered my jig toward the strike zone, jigging vigorously. Calm down with the jigging and just quiver it momentarily, Dave suggested, while keeping it slightly above the fish, which began moving toward my lure.

“Reel up just a bit… let him chase a little,” Genz advised.

The spring bobber flicked, and I set the hook, reeling up a thick, 8-inch-plus bluegill.

“Nice one,” Dave said.

“Biggest I’ve caught in years!” I replied.

Experience counts, but the good news is that experts like Dave Genz and “Tackle” Terry Tuma have never been more accessible and willing to share their secrets. Read them online or in the print edition of Outdoor News.

Thanks Dave.

“Tackle” Terry and I shot the quick video below offering some of my thoughts on (mandatory) owning of a flasher for ice angling.


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