Get Up for Ice Fishing Season

Get the most out of your ice fishing trips with the right equipment.

Love fishing? Then why limit yourself to just the warm months of the year? Even in the coldest weeks of winter, as far from the open waters of summer as possible, fishermen can still get their fix with ice fishing—with a few crucial pieces of equipment.

Shelter

Just because you want to do some ice fishing doesn’t mean you should have to endure harsh winter weather. That’s where a shelter comes in. With portable, permanent and semi-permanent options, there’s surely a great option available. Many even come with a sled-shaped bottom, perfect for pulling or towing out to your favorite spot.

Auger

Once your shelter is set up, the next step is to drill through the ice with the help of a handy ice auger. Essentially a large drill with metal blades on the end, it goes through the ice like a hot knife through butter. And with electric, gas-powered and manual options, you’ll have a line in the water in no time flat.

Heater

Along with bundling up in the warmest boots, pants and parkas you can find, buying a heater might be a good idea to stay comfortable in your shelter while ice fishing. With the use of propane, these heaters are perfectly portable and can make your shelter as warm as the summers you’re used to fishing in. Just be sure to read the label and ensure that the model you choose can be used in an enclosed area.

Rod and Reel

If you haven’t tried ice fishing before, you might notice that the rod and reel combos are quite a bit shorter than you’re used to. This is because there’s no need to cast; you simply drop your line into the water. The materials of the equipment, though, are mostly the same as your full-size combo. And with super lightweight and sensitive tips, you’ll see and feel when that lunker latches on.

Tip-ups

Want to increase your odds of catching fish, but only want to manage one line? One of the most popular devices used to assist ice fishermen is the tip-up. A small device, the tip-up goes over the hole in the ice, and a baited line from it drops down into the water. Once set, and once a fish takes the bait, the tip-up springs into action, setting the hook automatically and raising a flag (literally!) to show the fisherman it’s been set.

Dunham’s Sports has what you need to try your hand at ice fishing this winter.

-Hook, Line & Sinker

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Home Ice Advantage

Using ice fishing tech to your advantage
 
After the boat’s pulled out of the lake, the dock disassembled for the year and the tackle box stored until April, a new fishing season fills in the winter void—the kind that uses tools like augers, shanties and tip-ups while requiring some slightly heavier clothing than in, say, July. Yes, it’s ice fishing season, and if you have to scratch that fishing itch, it’s a great way to land that lunker, but with some slightly modified equipment.
 
Aug-mented Reality
 
As you prepare to set up shop on the lake, the first step is to drill out the hole. Using either a manual or gas-powered ice auger, you can quickly and efficiently drill through even the thickest of lake ice.
 
“The Honda Strikemaster auger comes in 8-inch and 10-inch with a four stroke 35cc Honda motor. It’s super quiet, clean and reliable,” said Ged Strzynski of Rapala. “The Lithium Lazer uses a 50-volt lithium battery and is available in 8- and 10-inch Lazer blades and 8.25 and 10.25 chipper blades. It offers consistent speed and torque without reduced power as well as a 25:1 transmission with polymer gear casting for maximum efficiency.”
 
Gas-powered augers are an item where you really do get what you pay for. As you step up in size and price, you’re saving yourself time that could be spent pulling out a northern the size of a Pinto.
 
Take, for example, the Eskimo Ion augers. The Ion X is Ion’s highest-performance auger with features like a 5 amp-hour XC5 lithium ion battery, which is a 60 percent increase from previous Ion batteries, and a cast bottom, giving smoother drilling and breakthrough.
 
Take Shelter
 
Once you’ve got your holes drilled and strategy set, the next step is to set up shop by setting up a shanty. The various features and sizes can be a little overwhelming, but luckily with brands like Eskimo, it’s tough to make the wrong decision.
 
“The Eskimo Evo Ice Shelters are innovative new shelters that launched last season,” explained Tony Aloia of Eskimo. “They combine traditional flip-style shelters and roomy hub-style/pop-up shelters to allow maximum space with the portability and convenience of a sled-based shelter.”
 
In addition to the portability and convenience, the Evo shelters utilize IQ insulated fabric on the roof and rear panels. Black in color, they absorb and maintain more heat than competitive shelters.
 
Sonar Savvy
 
Now that your holes are drilled and you’ve got your shelter ready to rock, it’s time to use modern technology to the best of its abilities. Sonar isn’t just used for finding enemy ships in the Navy. The MarCum VX-1i flasher, using sonar technology among other features not found in flashers at its price point, has the ability to show you a number and depth of fish right below your feet.
 
“It has 2-inch target separations,” explained Strzynski, “meaning that if two fish are 2 inches apart, it will show up on the screen as two different fish. The unit also includes a split-screen bottom lock zoom, helping you pay closer attention to the bottom 5 feet, where most fish are located.”
 
Tools of the Trade
 
Once you’ve locked in on the fish you’ve been after all winter, it’s time to get a line in the water. That’s where Celsius Ice Fishing comes into play. When looking for a new combo kit, look no further than the Blizzard Flat Line Combo. With a classic cork handle, it also comes with aluminum oxide guides, a high-visibility orange tip and a graphite reel body with a nylon compression drag system. An additional handy feature of this set is the antifreeze lubrication so you can reel up as the temperatures go down.
 
Another solid option from Celsius is the Boiling Point Combo. Coming in 24-, 27- and 30-inch lengths, this set will give anglers a fiberglass blank, EVA No Flex handle for added strength, a Dynaflow stripper guide and 1BB graphite reel.
 
As far as the lure or jig to use, the brand leader is no doubt Rapala, who remains at the forefront of technology and innovation in ice fishing hardware. The Slab Rap is the next in the line of classic ice fishing jigs.
 
“Quick rod snaps make this lure search in wide, erratic directions, circling back to center after pause,” explained Strzynski. “Lift-drop motion creates subtle vibration on rise followed by evasive side-to-side motion on the fall. Weight-forward design enables a rocking action to trigger fish.”
 
Whether you’re a seasoned vet or brand new to the sport, Dunham’s has you covered from the moment you stick the auger in the ice until you’ve pulled up enough walleye for a Friday night fish fry. And thanks to leading brands like Eskimo, Rapala, Celsius, Strikemaster and MarCum, there’s no stopping anglers from making this winter the most successful one yet.
 
-Hook, Line & Sinker
 
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Do It On The Ice

Real fishermen & Women don’t call it quits when lake freezes over.
 
Fishing through the ice is a great way to extend the season. It doesn’t require a lot of gear, since casting isn’t part of the equation. What is necessary if you want to fish in comfort is an ice fishing shelter. Dunham’s, your ice fishing headquarters, carries a range of shelters in hub, cabin and flip-up styles.
 
Hub-style shelters provide plenty of room. They’re inexpensive, sturdy, light and easy to set up. Attached to the ice with anchors they remain in place when the wind howls.
 
Dunham’s stocks three Fatfish hub-style shelters from Eskimo. The Fatfish 767 measures 76-by 76-inches at the base and stands 67-inches tall. Collapsed, it can be carried on your back. Fatfish 949 and 949i shelters measure 94- by 94-inches at the base, stand 80-inches high and can accommodate three to four. The 949i is insulated, making it 35% warmer than a non-insulated shelter.
 
Two Shappell hub-style shelters are available. The Wide House 5500 has a floor area of 75- by 75-inches and is 68-inches high. The Wide House 6500 has a floor area of 90- by 90-inches.and is 80 inches tall.
 
Cabin-style shelters are heavier than hub-style shelters and set up like a tent. They come with a built-in floor for extra warmth. Once setup they should be anchored.
 
The Shappell DX 3000 shelter measure 45- by 72-inches and is 72-inches high. Features include six removable windows and two fishing holes with covers.
 
Flip-style shelters are for anglers on the move. If you fish more than a couple of spots each time you head out on the ice, a transportable flip-type shelter might be right for you. Built on sleds they can be easily raised and lowered.
 
Two flip-style shelters from Shappell are available: the FX100 and FX 200. Both feature solid one-piece flip frames. Full width padded sliding bench seats provide plenty of comfort and help reduce the amount of gear that you have to carry. Because the base is a sled, packing up and moving is painless. The FX 100 is 44-inches wide by 85-inches deep when set up. Overall height is 59-inches. The FX 200 is 60-inches wide by 88-inches deep at a height of 61-inches.
 
Also available at select Dunham’s locations is the Wide1 Inferno flip-style shelter from Eskimo. The shelter measures 85-inches by 51-inches at the base and stands 60.5-inches tall. Fully insulated for extra warmth, it comes with an expandable bottom and a comfortable swivel seat.
 
The fish await, so let’s gather up some gear, head out on the ice and drill some fishing holes. Few other outdoor activities are as inexpensive, entertaining and rewarding.
 
-Hook, Line & Sinker
 
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Dr. Dunham’s Cabin Fever Cure

 
“I’ve got cabin fever, it’s burning in my brain. I’ve got cabin fever, it’s driving me insane,” sang the Muppets in their 1996 blockbuster, “Muppet Treasure Island.”
 
Well, in truth the movie may not have achieved blockbuster status, but most of us won’t soon forget the “Cabin Fever” song. Perhaps because it hits close to home.
 
Cabin fever has been recognized as a very real affliction for almost 100 years. It results from being confined to one place for an extended period of time. It’s exacerbated by inactivity. The usual result is extreme irritability and feelings of anxiety. It often strikes in winter when many of us shun the cold and curl up on the couch for the duration.
 
The most obvious cure is getting outside and interacting with the rest of the world. For those of us whose favorite activities include things like gardening, swimming or hanging out at the beach, the winter world may seem foreign and forbidding. But winter sports can be invigorating and entertaining. And there’s no better cure for the ills of cabin fever than the crisp air of a January day.
 
Did we hear someone say it’s too cold to play outside? Well, that’s only true if you’re not dressed for outdoors. Today’s winter clothing is light yet warm, so there’s no need to fear the frigid air, and bundling up need not cramp your style.
 
Winter Games, Out and In
 
Once you’re dressed for the occasion, the possibilities for winter entertainment are almost unlimited. Those who appreciate a good workout might try cross-country skiing or snowshoe hiking. Snowboarding and downhill skiing can provide a good amount of exercise as well, and few thrills compare to that of racing down the side of a ski slope at speed.
 
Ice-skating and sledding are a bit less taxing than skiing but can be just as much fun, particularly for the younger set. Most towns have a good sledding hill or two, and winter afternoons will likely find a happy group of kids enjoying the ride downhill. Ditto ice skating rinks or frozen ponds. You can find them everywhere, and there’s always something special about tracing lines on the ice as gentle flakes fall from a moonlit sky.
 
Of course you can invent your own winter games. When I was a kid, a zillion years ago, we would play football in the snow – on our knees. That required only a small parcel of land, which was all that was available in the urban area where I was raised. But while the playing field was small, the games were big.
 
For those who hanker to get out and do something but would prefer to minimize the strenuous part, there’s always ice fishing.If you’d prefer to fish on open water, some fast-moving streams in Colorado, like the South Platte River, offer winter fly-fishing.
 
On days when it’s just too cold to go out, try changing your indoor routine to relieve symptoms of cabin fever. Table tennis, a popular indoor sport, is a great way to stay active. There’s also billiards, air-hockey and Wii games that are played in front of the television. Some games, like Wii Grand Slam Tennis, mimic outdoor summer sports and can provide a pretty good workout. Or for a top-notch workout do some cardio and resistance training to get ready for swimsuit season.
 
Getting Away From It All
 
If you really have to get out of town to cure that cabin fever, then get out of town. There’s a winter resort in the U.S.A. for any winter sport you can think of, and accommodations range in price from very affordable to lavish and expensive.
 
Looking for something novel? Durango Mountain Resort in Colorado offers ski biking. Another Colorado attraction, Ouray Ice Park, offers ice climbing in the Uncompahgre Gorge. In Alaska you can try dogsledding. Skijoring, which is popular in Minnesota, is a melding of dog sledding and skiing.
 
What’s that you say? You want to get away from the cold? Then head south or west to Florida, Arizona or California. Caribbean and Mexican vacations can be very affordable. There’s always somewhere where one can find a bit of summer in the throes of winter.
 
A Cure That’s Sure To Work
 
But you don’t have to leave home to defeat the winter doldrums. Why not organize a winter Olympics for the neighborhood? And your event doesn’t have to focus on winter sports. Playing softball in the snow is a hoot, as is Frisbee golf. Picnic games like a three-legged race are even more fun in the snow.
 
Plan a post-Olympics tailgate with plenty of hot chocolate, some hot dogs or pizza, a blazing fire pit and some marshmallows to roast.
 
That’s a sure cure for even the worst case of cabin fever.
 
-Fun For All Ages
 
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Jigging Your Way to a New Way to Fish

 
As fall turns to winter and the lakes begin to freeze, that doesn’t quite mean fishing season is over. With some slightly different equipment—as well as your winter clothing—you can keep fishing all the way until spring. In case you’re new to the sport, have no worries. With just a few additions to your tackle box, you can be jigging your way to a whole new way to fish.
 
In order to get the proper setup for ice fishing for the first time, it’s recommended by Jim Burrows of Pure Fishing that fishermen get an ice fishing rod and reel, an ice auger, which drills through the ice, a skimmer to remove ice shavings and a depth finder. It’s also helpful if you can go out with someone who’s experienced in the sport for some extra guidance.
 
“If you know someone who does go ice fishing, I would suggest talking to them for guidance and possibly an invitation to join them,” said Burrows.
 
When searching for a great brand for your new rod and reel combo, Burrows also has some recommendations that are all available at Dunham’s.
 
“My preferences with regards to my ice combo include combos from Shakespeare, Berkley and Abu Garcia or rods from Fenwick paired up with reels from Shakespeare, Pflueger and or Abu Garcia,” explained Burrows.
 
In addition to the tools required to actually catch the fish, John Vander Sloot of Shappell and Eagle Claw also recommends that fishermen get a 5-gallon bucket for carrying everything as well as a sled, like the Shappell Jet Sled, for effortlessly getting everything from one end of the lake to the other. Also, while a shanty can be a very helpful (and warm!) tool, they aren’t required.
 
“A person can stand over their fishing hole or sit on a bucket,” explained Vander Sloot. “But a shanty is nice, especially if one is going to fish for an extended amount of time. They block the wind, making the day of fishing more enjoyable.”
 
With ice fishing and walking around on a lake, fishermen, especially those who are inexperienced, need to take a little extra precaution. If you’re worried about thin ice, Vander Sloot recommends the Ice Spud, which is a pole used for testing thin ice. However, as Burrows describes, it’s best to avoid areas that may look like thin ice altogether.
 
“I would recommend staying away from black ice, which is usually an indication it is very thin,” he said.
 
With some slightly different equipment, awareness of one’s surroundings, and a friend with some experience, fishing can be in season every month of the year.
 
-Hook, Line & Sinker
 
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Ice Surprises!

If you’re an ice fishermen, you’ll enjoy some unexpected surprises this season – not only in the size or amount of perch, pan fish and pike you’ll catch – but also how quickly and easily you’ll be able to drill through the ice to reach them, and the whole new level of comfort and convenience you’ll enjoy once you do it.

If you’ve used any other hand ice auger before, you’ll really be surprised how quickly and easily Eskimo’s Barracuda hand auger tears through the ice without tearing up your arms. The Barracuda has three height adjustments, includes a palm grip handle for added comfort and it’s also available with a choice of 6-inch or 8-inch dual stainless steel TurboCut blades. TurboCut blades are tough, durable and curved to help you drill faster. They’re also replaceable and include a blade protector to help guard against accidental damage. And, with Eskimo’s two-piece Crossbolt Takedown System, the Barracuda can be disassembled quickly and easily with just a twist of a knob.

If you prefer to power your way through the ice, grab hold of Eskimo’s Stingray power auger. The Stingray is equipped with a high-performance 33cc Viper engine rated at 1.2 horsepower. Eskimo Brand says, “Eskimo saw the need for an economical high performance engine. We found an engine manufacturer with a large engineering staff that was willing to work with our engineers to develop a high performance engine that hit our price target. The Viper is a powerful, durable and reliable two-cycle engine that really will surprise you.”

The Stingray also features primer start, muffler and carburetor guards, a see through gas tank, a heavy duty gear case and 8-inch diameter dual stainless steel Quantum blades for maximum performance. According to Eskimo Brand, “Our Quantum blades cut faster, last longer and have smoother breakthrough than any other power auger blades. The design also features an exclusive centering ring that prevents drilling angled holes. So, the Stingray delivers outstanding power and performance at the best price.”

And, once you’re on the fish, you can now also enjoy a whole new level of comfort and convenience. Frabill, Inc. of Jackson, WI is celebrating 70 years of providing the most trusted gear in the fishing industry by introducing the Refuge, a new cabin-style ice shelter that’s loaded with unexpected surprises.

“We’ve put a lot of extras into the Refuge,” says Frabill. “For example, we added a pre-assembled galvanized steel Quick-Set frame. Just flip it up, and go fishing. Refuge will accommodate up to three anglers, plus gear. It has two oversized doors with heavy-duty zippers, a fully carpeted floor, four removable clear-view windows and a four-foot by six-foot footprint with 72-inch of head room.” Mobility is another welcome surprise. Cabin-style portables aren’t supposed to be mobile, but the Refuge folds into a tight package and weighs only 44-pounds, so it easily fits into most smaller SUVs and trucks.

If you need more room, just step into Frabill’s Outpost Hub Shanty. It’s ready to fish, with room for up to three anglers plus their gear. The Outpost features a Quick-Set frame, has a six-foot by six-foot footprint, includes four removable clear-view windows and the high-profile roof design offers 80-inches of head room. An oversized corner door with a heavy-duty zipper allows easy entry and exit, and Frabill’s adjustable MaxVent system helps minimize interior condensation.

According to Frabill, “The Outpost is ideal as a base camp, cook house, warming house or final fishing destination. And, room isn’t the only pleasant surprise. The Outpost is also incredibly lightweight, weighing in at only 24 pounds.”

Both the Refuge and the Outpost feature amazingly durable, high-quality 300 Denier tent material with extra polyurethane coatings for water-resistance, durability and maximum protection from extreme weather conditions. The black exterior color also warms faster.

Or, if a “quick fish” single-person ice shelter is more your style, Frabill’s Recon is designed just for you. The Recon has a molded sled runner base for easy towing over snow or ice, a durable steel conduit frame, includes two removable clear-view windows, and has a 50-inch by 29-inch footprint with 57-inches of head room. Recon’s exclusive “flip-over” windbreak roof design also includes a vented roof to improve airflow and minimize condensation. The Arctic Armor Tent provides superior protection from the elements, yet remains pliable no matter what the temperature. It’s also removable for cleaning and off-season storage. The Recon is also compact enough to fit into most car trunks and weights only 32 pounds.

So, now you can tear through the ice more quickly and easily than ever before, and also enjoy a whole new level of comfort and convenience after you do it. The only surprise left is size and amount of perch, pan fish and pike you’ll catch.

-Hook, Line & Sinker

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