The mentor, the editor, and the holey boat [Video]

Exiting a writers’ conference in Minneapolis earlier this month, I saw a familiar face seated near the door. None other than Minnesota’s own and the godfather of modern ice fishing, Dave Genz.

“Hey Dave!” I said, and was flattered when this living Minnesota fishing legend recognized me. “What’s going on?”

Genz said he was planning to film a TV show fishing segment the following day, but he needed to scout the location beforehand. On the fly, he asked if I was interested in tagging along.

I’m not a spontaneous kind of guy. Office email, work projects, and other day-to-day issues beckoned. But this was Dave Genz.

“Where you headed?” I asked, figuring it’d be an hour-plus drive, which would likely prevent me from considering the impromptu invitation.

Dave named a big lake just five minutes from my office. An opportunity to fish with angling guru Genz wouldn’t get any easier than this.

“Can I get back to the office, check email and phone messages, then meet you there?” I asked.

“Yep, I need to pick up my boat first anyway. See you there in 45 minutes.”

Fifty minutes later, I was enjoying the living, breathing experience of fishing from what Genz calls his “holey boat.”

More than a year old already, the so-called holey boat appeared at Clam Outdoors pro day in October 2014. Frankie’s Marine in Chisago City customized the watercraft with two holes, so Dave can employ his ice-fishing tactics over open water.

Dave Genz with one of many healthy fall bluegills he caught and released with the author earlier this month.I can’t say I’ve never seen a similar watercraft and I asked Genz if he had.

“No, I’ve never seen anyone cut holes in the bottom of their boat before,” he replied.

An ingenious design, Genz’s holey boat has metal sleeves that extend up to the mid-point depth of the boat. Two plugs keep water from spouting up when he’s on the move. Once in position, Genz drops an anchor in the bow and stern so he remains stationary. Then he drops the transducer from his Vexilar down the round, 8-inch metal sleeve and commences panfish jigging.

The experience is remarkably like hard-water fishing, but occurs in the heart of spring, summer, or fall. And by “experience,” I mean great fun.

I’m no fishing expert, but I gotta believe that when most panfish are seeing bobbers, split shots, worms and hooks all summer, anything that looks different – say an ice-style vertical presentation with small, fast-dropping tungsten lures and state-of-the-art plastics – has got to be productive.

And it was.

Fishing through the metal sleeves just like they were ice holes, we caught and released dozens of big, thick bluegills and some small crappies during our two hours on the water. I watched my lure and the stacked ’gills on the flasher, then maneuverered them around my transducer (or pulled it up) before landing fish.

Genz believes the tactics he’s learned and perfected for ice fishing the past several decades perform equally well on open water, and he made a believer out of this scribe.

One unique situation occurred when I failed to properly secure the plug over the front sleeve. Heading to a new location, a plume of water briefly shot up through the flat-bottom watercraft before Dave cut the engine and I re-secured the plug. Dave smiled.

“Now you know what it feels like to have a hole in a boat!”

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