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Hard Water Fishing

(Ice fishing)

by Capt. Dan ManyenCapt. Dan Manyan

  "Hard Water Fishing, New and Old"

Probably some of the most unexplored, unwritten about, walleye catching theories, techniques, strategies and equipment, is during the Ice fishing season.

Probably due to the interest, "or should I say lack-of" compared to the warm weather walleye seasons. Let's face it, not everybody heeds the call to go fishingwhen the mercury dips below the freezing mark.

These facts, along with other winter fishing variables and hazards have historically kept the hoards of warm weather fishermen off the lake when the water hardens.

But recent technologies, equipment changes and improvements have made it a lot safer and easier to both seek and find thee elusive Wall-a-gator under the ice.

Of course, knowing the how, when and where to apply these new tools, is the secret that will put the odds for success in your favor. Unlike the guy who heads out with spud in hand using it almost as a divining rod, hoping to stumble onto a fish catching hot spot.

The modern day ice fisherman has the ability to transport more and modern equipment. He can mark and locate structure, points, fish and the exact water depth along with more details on the featureless frozen expanses than his later day brethren ever did.

Let's explore some of the old as well as the new tools, their uses, advantages and the proper way to use them when it comes to catching any under the ice species.

"The way things used to be"

Back when I was a young lad (late50's/early60's) I remember driving out on the ice with my dad most often in the family car. Sometimes, some 6 to 7 miles out, depending on where the well worn trail was as well as the fishing action. walked or took the horse or truck drawn sleigh

And before those days you simply toughed it out and walked or took the horse or truck drawn sleigh or taxi out from the few hotels, marinas or bait shops that offered this service.

And most often a spud or axe was used to cut a hole once you arrived, as augers, especially the motor driven type, were very rare or to expensive to own.

And there probably were some topographic maps of the Lake of Bay in existence, but not in stores or outlets where Joe-Blow fisherman could readily get a hold of them.

Now, with vehicles being in the 20 to 30 thousand dollar price range, and insurance companies warning that once you drive out on the ice your coverage is nil.

Not to mention the fines you'll face from the DNR if your truck or car takes the big Dive. That old time thrill of simply driving off the end of the road and heading out to the fishing grounds has lost a lot of its charm.

Snowmobiles came into vogue around the late 60's and opened up a whole new form of transportation that allowed you to go virtually anywhere when the ice was safe enough to travel on.

The fishing equipment used back then was basic. And the only way you knew if you were in the right spot, was to actually catch some fish. Back when I was a young lad

Or fish in water shallow enough, to actually see if any fish were even looking at your offerings. Another of the things I remember best from that earlier era was the cloths I wore. Dad had bought me a set of World War II Bomber Bib coveralls and coat from the local Army Surplus Store.

These were teamed with the old style 4 buckle rubber boots that were worn over your shoes. A far cry from the Cabela's severe wear, with 1000 thermal denier pack boots of today.

This Bomber Bibs outfit was leather outside and sheep's wool on the inside and was actually fairly warm, even during the hours I'd spend laying face down on the ice looking

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