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Ice Fishing Yesterday and Today By Gary Howey

Yes, I have been accused of being a bit crazy, which I am, “Crazy” about ice fishing.

I have iced fish ever since I was a youngster growing up in the Northeastern South Dakota near Watertown.

Back then, we would load our gear on our Flexible Flyer snow sled and follow the Sioux River out to Lake Pelican. We thought our gear was the pretty uptown! It consisted of a spud bar, broom handle rods, heavy line, a few bobbers, small hooks and a few minnows.

Our depth finder or locator was an old spark plug we tied to a piece of line.

To get a hole cut in the ice, we would us a spud bar we borrowed from our neighbor. For those of you who are not sure what a spud bar is, it is a long heavy steel rod with one end ground down to a chisel like point.

We’d use the bar to chip away at the ice to make our hole. The hole started out large at the top, as we knew we were going to be landing some monsters, so our hole had to be big. As we chipped away, with the bar getting heavier as we tired our hole would narrow.

One, possibly two holes were all my brother and I could chop because by that time we had them cut, we were exhausted.

The finish product looked like a funnel, with a wide opening at the top, with the hole at the bottom, just big enough to pull through a small perch or pike. I don’t know what we’d done if we’d caught a big fish.

Our rods were made from Mom’s broken broom handles with a couple of nails pounded into them where we wrap our line around.

Fishing line back then was either a heavy black Dacron or heavier primitive monofilament. The heavy Dacron would freeze stiff once it got wet and the mono would kink where it wrapped around the nails and wouldn’t straighten out no matter what you did.

The bobbers we used were big to say the least, way to large for the fish we were after as they would have died of exhaustion from trying to pull the bobber down and too large to be pilled very far down because of our funnel shaped holes.

Hooks were also too large, as we really didn’t have a choice of hook size. They were what we could borrow from my grandfather and neighbor. As far as we knew, we thought, one size hook fits all.

Since we were told or read that the fish always moved deep in the winter, we used our super duper depth locate, an old spark plug tied to some line, giving us some idea as to the depth we were fishing.

Then we would attach a bobber so the minnow suspended just off the bottom and set there all day waiting for a bite.

We may not have caught much and it is surprising that my brother A.J. and I kept ice fishing after such a dismal start.

Today, things are a lot different. Ice fishermen are much more comfortable, with our equipment being far more advanced!

The special clothing we wear, the special ice fishing bibs coveralls and parkas, polyester base layers, those that pull moisture away from our skin, our sweatshirts, hand warmers light weight heated boots and ice walkers make it much more comfortable, allowing us to spend more time on the ice during cold temperatures. [Read more…]