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Ice Fishing Then and Now By Gary Howey

   The sport of ice fishing has really changed a lot from when I started ice fishing as a kid back in Watertown, South Dakota.

  Our clothing we wore outside in the winter, whether it was to go ice fishing or scoop a few walks to earn spending money was basic. It consisted of blue jeans, long johns, tee shirt, sweatshirt, two pair of socks, covered by a plastic bread sack, the only pair of shoes we owned, overshoes, a parka, a pair of Jersey gloves and a stocking cap.

  Today, there are dozens of ice fishing suits, such as the Clam line of outerwear, in numerous accent colors in sizes to fit men, women and kid.  The Clam bibs and parkas allow you to face some of the most extreme conditions that  we ice fisherman may have to endure, utilizing cutting-edge engineering with segmented flotation assist material to help you float should you fall through the ice.

  On our first ice-fishing trip, we borrowed a spud bar (a heavy sharpened steel rod) that you banged on the ice until you got a hole punched through the ice.  The hole would start out about two-foot wide and ended up the size of the rod as it slipped from our cold hands and went to the bottom of Lake Pelican.

  Later on, I moved up to a hand auger and it worked fine for a few holes and by that time, you had no more energy to drill another hole and decided to fish the two or three holes you managed to dig.

  Now I have a Jiffy Model 46 Propane 8″ auger, which is great as there is no mixing gas and oil, so you avoid the smell and odor on your clothes and tackle.  They start quickly and have enough power to tear through any depth of Ice.

  Back in the “old” days, our sled was a Flexible Flyer with a peach crate wired to it where we threw in our gear, not much, but it hauled what little tackle we had and gave one of us a place to sit down and rest.

  Now, there are numerous companies manufacturing ice fishing sleds, one, two and three man sleds with a bench seat or with comfortable swivel seats as well as pop up icehouses that can hold your entire fishing crew.  Some come with light covers while others have a tough denier thermal insulated covers. Some include a place to store a small 12-volt 9-amp battery out of the way; the battery used to run your sleds LED lighting and fish locator.  They also have rod holders and other accessories that will make your ice fishing experience more enjoyable as well as more productive.

  Tackle, back when I was a kid consisted of a short piece of a broom handle with a couple of nails in it to hold our line, a bobber, hook and our bait were minnows. The bobbers we had were generally so large that a hooked fish would die from exhaustion trying to move the large bobbers and when and if you did get a bite, you pulled your line in with the “old” hand over hand method. [Read more…]