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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…]

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Last Ice By Gary Howey

I was keeping an eye on the weather, as we needed cold weather in order to get back into the dam we hoped to ice fish, but didn’t need any sub zero temperatures or heavy wind.

I was looking at ice fishing a pond southwest of town, one that was in the middle of a half section. We had tried once before to get back into it, which wasn’t a good idea as it was just too muddy and we didn’t want to tear up the field.

When the Press and Dakotan indicted next week’s weather would have sixty-degree weather, the next few days of cold weather looked to be our last opportunity.

It was nine below zero when Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Larry Myhre, Sioux City pulled into the office, bitter cold with the wind that was howling in from the northwest.

We didn’t need to worry about mud on this trip as everything, including much of the water in my minnow bucket was hard as a rock.

Bouncing over the corn rows, we made our way to the pond with some open water around the riser, so it was my job to hit the ice first with my Jiffy auger to see if we had enough good ice. I punched several holes, finding ten inches of ice, signaled my partner to join me.

I would punch the holes with Larry following behind with his Vexilar locator letting me know the depth.

We were looking for deeper water, as this time of the year in this type of pond, the fish searched out the deepest water in the dam. [Read more…]

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Farm Pond produces Nice Bluegills By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

With a week’s worth of warm weather in the forecast, Gary Howey, Hartington, Neb., and I decided it was “now or never” time to fish a farm pond we’d had our eyes on for quite some time.

Gary had fished it years ago and had great success on largemouth bass. Rumor had it the pond could produce good numbers of bluegills and perch as well.

So, we had to try.

This was actually our second attempt. A few weeks ago we had tried to drive to the pond, but warm weather and greasy mud over the frozen field changed our minds. It was forecast to be even warmer that day, and since we had to drive a long ways through a hilly corn field we felt we might not be able to get out if it warmed up any more.

But this time was different. It was 8 below in Hartington that morning so we weren’t worried about the mud.

Yet, when we pulled up alongside the pond, Gary pointed and said, “Is that open water over there?”

“It sure is,” I answered. “Must be a heck of a big spring.”

Right along the dam the southwest wind was pushing small waves against the ice. The open water field was about 100 feet long and 50 feet wide.

“Keep drilling test holes as you go out,” I told Gary who was firing up his Jiffy propane auger. “That might not be the only spring out there.”

But the test holes revealed a good 10 inches of solid ice. I followed with the depth finder and when we registered nine feet of water we decided to start fishing.

We both were marking fish under us but there were a lot more “lookers” than “biters.”

Finally Gary set the hook and brought up and 8-inch bass. I soon followed with another. We caught several of these little fish before we got a decent-sized bluegill.

We were using tear drop jigs tipped with wax worms. Gary also had a bobber with a minnow on the hook but aside from one bite, which he missed, the minnow provided no action.

We decided to drill more holes.

We found a little deeper water and decided to try there.

[Read more…]