Pondering advancements as ice-fishing season draws near
I didn’t do much, if any, ice fishing as a youngster, though I recall clearly the old-school rods in our garage. They had the one sharp end so they could be pushed into the ice and a couple of knob-like appendages that you could wrap the line around. It’s entirely possible I didn’t know what they were for.
All through high school I didn’t ice fish much, either, busy as I was during the winter playing basketball and trying to earn some money. I finally got into ice fishing during my freshman year of college, and in January 1999 took a trip to Lake of the Woods. We fished from a small shack with exposed foam on the walls and we used rods that were pretty much the same as the ones I’d seen in the garage all those years back.
With that as my perspective, it’s been absolutely stunning to watch as advancements truly have changed the ice-fishing game. Today’s rods and reels are every bit as good as those designed for open water, and anglers can choose them based on their preferred presentation. And if the rods are made of high-quality materials, so, too, are the reels, which you easily could pair with longer rods and use them to fish crappies and sunfish in open water.
The number of lures available is staggering, too, with many designed to serve specific purposes. Tungsten jig heads are smaller than regular lead heads, so anglers can keep their lures in front of fish longer, or fine-tune their presentations such that they achieve a particular drop rate. And with today’s advanced plastics, many anglers don’t even use live bait anymore.
Finally, ice augers. I received a hand auger sometime during my latter high school years, and got my first gas-powered auger for Christmas in 2002. The same year, I got a nice new winter jacket. Sometime the next month, I went out ice fishing and got oil and gas on my new jacket. I didn’t notice it right away, and by the time I did, the stain was set. I wasn’t happy.
Today, you don’t even need a gas auger. Some run on batteries – and the ones I’ve seen perform really well – and you can even attach some to your cordless drill. Not only do they pop holes with ease, but they weigh a fraction of what gas-powered models weigh.
It’ll be interesting to watch what unfolds in the future as it relates to ice-fishing equipment. But if the past is any indication, it’ll be fun to see.