In the comforts of my CLAM Refuge Ice Thermal portable shelter, I lean over and turn the Mr. Heater on high. There is a brisk north wind with air temperatures sitting in the minus-25 range, and that’s not factoring in the wind chill, but who cares when it’s that bloody cold.
I crack open the zipper and peak my head out to realize just how nasty the weather truly is. With a quick glance around, I can just make out a bit of the shoreline as the powdery snow is being lifted off the ice, creating mini snow tornadoes throughout the lakes surface. Exposed skin freezes instantly, so I swiftly zip up the door, and back into the warmth of the hut.
As I sit down in a folding lawn chair, I start scanning all the electronics I had brought for the evening and began to chuckle. Are we getting lazy, or are we just getting smarter? Now, judging by the weather, the fact that I can be out of the wind and be able to fish gloveless is proof enough that, that it is the way to fish. But all the electronics, really?
Well, let’s start with my sonar I recently purchased, a Humminbird ICE Helix 7 GPS. This unit changes the game when searching for underwater treasures by having the ability to insert a compatible chart SD card such as Humminbird Lakemaster or Navionics. The full-colour HD seven-inch display, multiple view settings, GPS technology and a self-contained portable bag for quick set up make this unit a must-have. There’s no need to put this sonar away for the summer either. Simply change out the ice transducer to a compatible transducer for your boat and switch it over to open water mode for year-round use.
There have been countless days that I can recall where fish were scattered throughout the water column. Having a sonar allows you to put your bait into the strike zone and capitalize on fish that would’ve otherwise been totally missed. To put it “Frankly,” I feel blind without using a sonar.
The next piece of electronic device to discuss is my Vexilar underwater camera. This has proved to be a nice addition when the bite has been tough. Any guests, including me, find themselves glued to the seven-inch colour LHD monitor with anticipation of seeing a fish strike the bait. On any given day, you could say this is my kind of TV.
Another main necessity to discuss is the Mr. Heater, a portable propane heater, that on a cold miserable day can be your best friend. The heater has a built-in safety feature for CO gases and tip over auto shutoff, so it is very safe, but do remember to open the vents to get keep the air circulated. As a bonus cooker, I secure a metal grate that extends out from the top of the heater and cook gourmet meals such as hot dogs or warm up left-over foods. Remember to bring lots of propane so you don’t have to be cheap if the temps are in the minus-20s. There’s something to be said about ice fishing gloveless and holes that don’t freeze up, which alone is worth the price of admission.
Old Man Winter is throwing every card at us trying to send us into deep hibernation, but with the right tools we can beat this sucker!
Good luck and tight lines.
Frank Clark is a local guide and pro tournament angler. Frank’s Tackle Box column appears every other week in The Sudbury Star. Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at Pro Fishing Frank Clark.