“Preparing Properly for Ice Fishing in Wisconsin”
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Hello again folks! We’ve now entered December in the Wisconsin Dells, which typically provides us with our first ice fishing opportunities. As discussed in previous articles “caution” can not be stressed enough when ice fishing and even more so during the “first Ice” Wisconsin recreation event.
Being properly prepared for ice fishing in Wisconsin has became a lot easier over the past decade with incredible advances in clothing, electronics, Rods and reels and portable shacks complete with lighting and heat which enable the ice fisher to be mobile and cover large sections of the lake. Quickly checking with electronics for concentrations of fish, allowing the fisher to find fish and stay with the fish instead of waiting for them to come to you.
Finding fish with units such as “Vexilar” flashers has enabled fishers to make wise use of the precious time we have to spend on Wisconsin lakes. The years of drilling a hole and hoping a fish swims by are over. In properly using a Flasher a fisher can actually shoot his transducer puck through the ice “without drilling a hole” and identify whether structure or fish are present as well as defining depth and identifying areas of depth changes and contour. All of these are critical factors in finding fish quickly.
There are a number of these units on the market including VEXILAR, Nature Vision, Lowrance and Marcum. All these have their own claim to fame with Vexilar Flashers being the most recognized and reliable unit on the market today as well as economical cameras that shoot underwater such as “AQUAVIEW” to identify structure and view underwater activity as well as to just enjoy viewing the world which lies beneath the frozen surface.
Prior to finding the fish however, if you plan to spend any time on the ice you must be dressed for the conditions. With the many portable lightweight shelters and heaters that are on the market, comfort can easily be attained. In many cases however, a good deal of time is spent being mobile and checking new areas where you are exposed to the elements for periods of time.
Some great new cold weather suits on the market today offer water proof as well as wind proof materials with Kevlar and other thinsulate components which create a barrier between you and mother nature and the old hunting suits of yester year can not hold a candle to the advancements in this sector of the ice fishing market.
Suits made by Strikemaster can be purchased for very reasonable dollars and can be viewed by going to www.strikemaster.com as well as outfitters such as Cabelas also make some fine outdoor products as well as other industry leaders and most of these items can be purchased locally at many of our area’s fine shops.
The money invested in a cold weather suit is worth its weight in gold. These are generally quite lightweight, durable and amazingly warm and oversized to allow layering so you can take off clothing once inside your shelter and settled in to fish and your portable heater, such as Mr.Heater’s “Buddy” heater turns your portable shelter into a comfortable paradise.
The new portable ice houses or Shaks are incredible. With the ability to manually pull them behind you with a rope or to attach and pull or mount on ATV’s to transport them as opposed to the old wooden structures that used to be a staple on frozen lakes across the regions of Wisconsin and required considerable manual labor to get on the lake and then off again by the end of the Wisconsin winter recreation season .
These portable house are made of windproof and waterproof materials as well are fire retardant, should an incident occur. The sizes of these shaks range from 1 person units in flip over styles mounted on plastic tubs to cabin style suitcase units that hold up to 6 fishers with weights and sizes that fit all fishers personal preferences. All of these can be set up in a matter of minutes and provide “remarkable” protection from the elements.
www.otteroutdoors.com makes the finest portable shaks on the market although there are many other such as Frabill, Shappelle and Clam that produce excellent products and offer a price range and size to fit any budget. These units have easy access zippered doors, ventilation ports and adjustable seating arrangements to enhance comfort and are a must for the serious fisher.
Long gone are the days of leaving your permanent house on the lake and having it freeze in and going through “back breaking efforts” to remove it at the end of Wisconsin winter, as well as the elimination of “theft” and “vandalism” which became a big problem with permanent houses left unattended at night and prime targets for opportunistic thieves.
Look on sites such as EBAY, where you can save a lot of money when first transitioning into the new world of ice fishing equipment. Items such as Power augers, names like “Strikemaster” and “Jiffy” are excellent products to choose when making your purchase. These gas powered units allow you to quickly and effortlessly drill out an area you intend to fish without exhausting yourself with a manual hand auger, especially when the winter season grows long and the ice reaches depths of 25-30” or more of ice.
These units will drill up to 100 plus holes on a single tank of gas and again a wide selection of these exist, from single blade units to 4 blade units which are reasonably priced and again can be found on EBAY or fishing sites such as www.lobybaits.com as folks upgrade from one unit to the next best thing on the market.
Live bait, long a staple of the ice fishing world, still has its place but has lost a huge market share to the new “plastics revolution” that has occurred in the past few years.
Companies such as Makiplastics which produces plastics that my company sells have mastered the ability to produce resilient soft, durable, scent impregnated baits that drive fish crazy. Eliminating the need to care for live bait is a huge advancement in the sport.
Our plastics “mimic” the hatch that the fish are feeding on, and after quick stomach analysis of a fishes stomach, you know what they are feeding on and can present a nearly identical plastic offering to them. Makiplastics and LobyBaits offer 26 styles of plastics in an endless array of colors that are much more economical than live bait and enable the panfisher or walleye hunter the ability to utilize plastics in place of live bait and in the process increase catch rates dramatically and eliminate live bait mess in most cases, excluding pike fishers who use large sucker minnows or shiners, but even in those cases we have a few tricks in our arsenals to entice even those to bite by rigging with special lures and different plastic configurations. It is not uncommon to catch 45-50 pan fish on one piece of plastic as opposed to wax worms which freeze and die and storage concerns abound with live bait in general.
We hope this article is helpful to you in preparation for the Wisconsin winter recreation season and brings you success on your ice fishing adventures!