Great Lakes Angler Blog

Ice Fishing from a Boat

Friday, November 08, 2013

CROSSLAKE, MN – Just because your favorite lake has yet to freeze over doesn’t mean you can’t go ice fishing. No, we’re not talking about performing miracles, or walking on water like another ancient fisherman once did.


Rather, it’s all about the fact that as water temps move into the mid to low 40s, fish of many species are fairly settled in the same spots they’ll be once the surface seals the lake shut. Find ‘em first in a boat and you’ll be light years ahead of the pack once safe ice arrives, with fresh hungry fish awaiting lures below.



Last year, three top teams at the North American Ice Fishing Circuit (NAIFC) Championships hopped into boats a month before the December tournament and discovered some real gem fishing spots—places that eventually lead to monster crappies and winning weights. Anglers Shawn Bjonfald, Kevin Fassbind and Brandon Newbie travelled to Mille Lacs Lake in Central Minnesota on a cool fall day to literally search the water for hotspots.


The key, Bjonfald noted, was the use of GPS alongside Humminbird Side Imaging sonar, which made clean sweeps of large shallow flats. The anglers’ eventual quarry—palm-stretching crappies and sunfish—were known to haunt very specific patches of vegetation. But on Mille Lacs’ shallow southern bays, the best plant patches—including pondweed, elodea and coontail—only grew in small gardens. The choice greenery housed the biggest panfish, too, but was often surrounded by empty acres of clean sand substrate.


“Finding these spots with Side Imaging in a boat,” noted Bjonfald, “was infinitely more efficient than it would have been on ice. We searched hundreds of acres of featureless, fishless water before finally finding our best spots; can’t imagine how many holes we would have had to drill had we waited to start searching at first ice.”



For Bjonfald, Fassbind and Newbie, the strategy involved motoring slowly across expansive 10- to 15-foot flats in a parallel grid pattern, simultaneously inspecting 100 feet of real estate on both sides of their boat.  Bjonfald’s Side Imaging unit clearly uncovered not only the location of vegetation, but revealed the tallest pondweed stalks interspersed with little openings—perfect habitat for monster crappies and sunfish.


“Not only did the Humminbird reveal the best weed beds,” he said, “Side Imaging also let us zoom in and drop GPS waypoints on tiny pieces of turf—areas we returned to during the tournament to catch big panfish.” Bjonfald and his comrades noted that the coordinates were often so precise that literally just one hole was needed to position them directly over a sweet spot.


The teams also attributed their precision and eventual success to Aqua-Vu Micro underwater cameras. “In prefishing, anytime we saw something promising on screen, we would drop the camera optics and verify it—often spotting fish relating to specific plant stalks. When we returned to fish the Championship, the fish were still there.”


After the two-day competition, which hosted nearly 100 top-qualifying teams from across North America, the enterprising anglers had nearly made a clean sweep of the tournament, capturing 1st-, 3rd- and 4th-place finishes. Bjonfald took “big fish” honors with a trophy 2-pound crappie, eventually finishing 4th. Fassbind and partner Nick Smyers took 3rd, while Brandon Newbie and partner Ryan Wilson iced nearly 25 pounds of panfish to win the Championship by over 6 pounds. Newby and Wilson also won two other qualifying events in the 2012-13 NAIFC season, leading to a Team of the Year title.


Recently, Bjonfald and company were back afloat Mille Lacs. Once again, they searched the shallows for those elusive giant crappies and, perhaps, another successful showing at the upcoming 2103 NAIFC Championship, December 21 and 22.


Even though most of us won’t be fishing for anything more important than bragging rights among buddies, the same strategy of scouting for fish prior to the big freeze can make you a big winner. Wait for one of those nice, calm late November or early December days. Launch the boat and you’ll likely have the lake all to yourself— and set the stage for the best ice season you’ve ever had.


  Read Full Story

Iowegian Sees Mississippi Crappies Sideways

Thursday, October 24, 2013

EUFALA, AL – Fishing pro Tommy Skarlis is no stranger to seeing his name on the top of tournament leaderboards. But what stood out about the Waterloo, Iowa, native’s latest first place – along with partner Kyle Steifeldt during the recent 2013 Crappie Master National Championship on Mississippi’s Lake Grenada—was the species of fish the duo were targeting.  Read Full Story

Chicago Angler Wins Tracker Marine Grand Prize

Friday, October 18, 2013

SPRINGFIELD, MO – When Steven Reay, an angler from Chicago, opened up the first envelope announcing he had won a 2013 NITRO Z-7 boat with 150hp OptiMax motor and trailer, he was skeptical. However, he sent in the requested information, and when he received a letter confirming he was being awarded the grand prize, he went from disbelief to delight. Reay’s lucky day was the result of a random drawing as part of the Tracker Marine Group’s NITRO “Ride With The Pro” Sweepstakes.

Kevin VanDam, the all-time money winner on the Bassmaster Tournament trail (left), poses with Steven Reay, a Chicago angler, who won a 2013 NITRO Z-7 boat with 150-hp OptiMax motor. This grand prize package was the result of a random drawing as part of the Tracker Marine Group’s NITRO “Ride With The Pro” Sweepstakes.

“I submitted a photo to the Facebook page back in February and then forgot about it. So, when I got the confirmation letter, I was totally amazed, just blown away,” Reay said. “It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever won.”

In addition to the NITRO Z-7 boat, OptiMax motor and trailer package, Reay also received a grand prize package, retailing at more than $30,000, which included:

• KVD Signature Series HYDROWAVE
• KVD Strike King Lure Kit
• MOTORGUIDE Tour Edition trolling motor
• Humminbird Model 597 GPS Fish Finder
• Pair of Oakley KVD Signature Series eyewear
• QUANTUM rod/reel combo
• $500 Bass Pro Shops gift card

In addition, Reay was invited to Missouri so he could receive his prize at Bass Pro Shops’ flagship superstore in Springfield. During a visit to Table Rock Lake, just south of Springfield, Reay also got to meet Kevin VanDam, the all-time money winner on the Bassmaster Tournament trail.

“It was awesome to meet KVD, it was one of the best parts of the trip,” Reay said. “He even signed my new boat.”

Reay said he plans to do even more fishing now and is excited to take his grandson.

NITRO Boats hosted the Ride With The Pro contest on its Facebook page from Feb. 22, 2013, to Aug. 26, 2013. To enter, participants were required to ‘like’ the NITRO Facebook page and complete and submit requested information via an online entry form. Participants were invited to submit a photo of themselves and complete a simple online entry form. All photos submitted as part of the contest may be included in a photo mosaic that will appear on Kevin VanDam’s tournament boat wrap at a future BassMaster Elite Series event. In addition, the boat wrap will be unveiled on the following Facebook pages:

More than 8,500 people entered the Ride With The Pro sweepstakes. Participants were encouraged to enter each month for an increased chance to win the grand prize, as well as having a chance to win monthly prizes including:

• Two KVD Signature Series HYDROWAVE fish finders equipped with special features just like Kevin VanDam’s
• Two Bass Pro Shops Gift Cards
• MOTORGUIDE Freshwater Edition trolling motor
• Three pairs of polarized Oakley KVD Flak Jacket eyewear
• Humminbird 597 GPS fish finder system, equipped with features such as a color LED display and dual beam PLUS SONAR
• Set of QUANTUM Bass Pro baitcast reels with medium-heavy KVD casting and cranking rods
• Plano Tackle bag and Strike King Lure Kevin VanDam Kit

For more information on this event and other Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Marine Group events, please visit or

  Read Full Story

Humminbird 360 Imaging Continues Winning Streak With NMEA Award

Monday, October 14, 2013

EUFALA, AL –- With its ability to provide anglers with stunning underwater imagery up to 150 feet in every direction, Humminbird’s 360 Imaging™ has been heralded as the biggest advancement in fishing electronics since Humminbird introduced Side Imaging™ in 2005.  Read Full Story

Lakemaster Lets You Chart Your Water

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

  Read Full Story

‘Superman X-Ray Vision’ Now Within Reach Of All Anglers

Monday, July 16, 2012

ORLANDO, FL – Since anglers first glimpsed Humminbird’s 360 Imaging at this year’s BASSMASTER Classic, the buzz has been electric. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the biggest name in bass fishing, KVD, took the podium and said fishing with 360 Imaging is like having “Superman X-ray vision.”  Read Full Story

Recent Posts


Pop-Up LED Bowlights Titan Chain Deck Plate Lake Erie Rushton Gregory Goby WeatherStation Traditions Media Earth Day Topwater Sport Shows Ranger Audio DuraSafe Wildlife Forever Marine NewsWire Rough Weather Dave Genz Aqualuma McMurdo Innovative Outdoors Nautical Bass fishing Betsy marlin Tom Neustrom Beckson Marine Stowaway Bag Plate JVD Smart Guide to Freshwater Fishing Knife sharpening Fishing Clubs Knives Bethel University USCG Berkley RAT FINKEE Smartfind S20 Personal AIS Beacon Accessories Flat Slider 75 Mike Seymour Bait Rigs Fuel Dollahon FLW Costa Sunglasses Shoremaster Lighting EZ Splice Fasteners Baitcast Fishing Pole BBQ Lighter Thermacell Beckson Marine Stowaway Bag Plates and Kits Conservation Yamaha Skamania Mania Scott Martin Olcott, NY Gary Dollahon Tournaments Home Port Marine Marketing Water Buddies radar Normark Soo Locks WileyX Trout Unlimited Blue Heron Communications Hamlin Wounded Warriors hardbaits Camera mount Brown trout BoatUS Angler YUM Grady-White Tyee Green Bay, Wisconsin AmVets Boat maintenance Gunnison, CO Storage ChartSelect Coast Guard splice iPilot Link Barry Brown Marine Humminbird New Lures Insect repellent Autotether Fish America Foundation Power Optima Mercury Marine Bro Brosdahl Triton Boats Traxstech Airmar Louie Stout STRATTEC Walleyes Andrew Dordek CMP Global Sportsman's rights Accon Marine Shoes Gravity Alaskan Mack's Lures ODNR Skarlis Full Throttle weather Ranger VS1780 Clay Dyer LineGrabber Ditch Tournament Delorme Bristol Bay Chargers Venice, Louisiana National Guard USSA Mag Light jigs Tournament Grade Circle Hooks Honda cruzin PulseTech Yamaha ATV 580P lenses Shock Wave thieves Video Extended Warranty Micro-Mobile Pro Viewing Case Beckson Balog Reese Bass Technology Jeff's Tackle Shop Lake Assault St. Croix Rods Slide Moor Catch & Cook bimini top Mustad Andrew Semprevivo Boating safety USCGA Boat Covers Safety spoon Rods Bass Pro Shops Four-Person Dome Tent with Screen Porch Seakeeper gyro Line Dan Egan Salmon Ranger Boats iPilot Grand Rapids Ultimate Outdoors Show Sharpeners Extreme Baitcast Reel Greater Niagara Fishing & Outdoor Expo Deep Sea Diver Chaco Milennia MIL-iDock METS Ultimate Flannel Shirts Odd'ball Fin Spin Spencer Yachts Hobie Pro Angler Lures Raritan Blue Collar Outdoors Telescoping JIggler Long Rod PRADCO Strike King Lock iPad Ned Rig Glorvigen HELLA Jeff Wenzel FRIDAY FUNNIES tackle storage Side Imaging Fort Wayne, Indiana Whale TRAC Ecological Hobie Angler 175T Indiana DNR Soul5 Tackle Labs Marine Speakers Spreads Oshkosh Costa Del Mar SeaEra QC Wind Power Bass Pro Shops Gift Card Black Earth Creek Lights Mosquito repellent Free Fishing Weekend Swim bait Northland Izaak Walton League Snow-Shoe Tip-Up Ryan Kleckner Downriggers La Mar Sunglasses Port of Indiana Magnum Flow-Troll Alabama Rig Beckson Marine Davis Instruments South Haven LOTSA Boga Ranger Aluminum Deep V Series Invasive species Tides Lead Jonathon VanDam iPhone Marine Radio ASA Lund Boats Iaconelli Interlux Bad Elf Absolute Outdoor, Inc. fitness MUSHING WFN Coleman cooler Matt Straw Homeport Marine Marketing Weather Buoy Kayaks Gear Okuma Serious Shine South Haven, Michigan Gill NA Uncle Norm's Macho Minnow Monel Metal Trade Shows Costa Coleman Chronglobal Lund Contaminants EZ Dock Chicago barrier Headgear spreader light Church Tackle Scott Glorvigen Turning Point Props BoatUS Evinrude Fish Hawk XD4 Faria BOLT Padlock ice fishing, Bro Show, Traditions Media Jeff Gustafson Fishouflage Walleye tournament Side Thruster Foul weather gear Gull Lake Marine PLB PFDs Brite Wash Rescue BASSMASTER CLASSIC inReach Lake trout Personal Flotation Device trailer tongue Shelter Dunkirk, NY Vick Owners tournament award GPS Speedometer Tight Lines Jewelry Ryan Wilson Aqua Vu Safe boating Kevin VanDam RedHead Games Michigan 1675 Pro Guide Sunstream Boat Lifts toilet Crankbait Net redfish Bass Pro Fiberglass tiller Brad's Plano Lowrance Whistler Spoon Bait head Acme Shurhold Slender Spoon Tommy Skarlis Soft Jigwobbler Tim Popfinger Lake of the Woods Kurt Mazurek Todd Sokolow Aquatic AV Streams Rippin Lips Fiberglass boat Global Spectrum Up Stream Hydration Back Pack Endura Kindle book ABT sunglass On board Larson Electronics Brandon Newby Gary Giudice MATE USA Apps Future Fisherman Foundation Catfish Scholarship Oculus Rig'N Tails B.A.S.S. Sphaera CUSTOM JIGS 'N' SPINS Ice Features Kill switch Rippin' Lips Promise Keeper Rugged Shark YUMphibian Black Velvet Shipping TRAC dock lines Husky Jerk OHIO spinning rod MWC Pro Polish Z-Man Insurance One-Handle-Does-It-All System Legend Gold Kayak Alaska Pharmaceuticals Holland U.S.S.A. Wake Fishing eZSplice The Harry Lure Sun protection Conservation Marathon St. Croix treestand injury Traditions Keep Kool IGFA clubs Lake Huron boat rental Marine General Contest Frigibar Lake Ontario ABT X-2 Countdown Smart Guide Publications Stabenow Minnesota DuraSafe Electronics Lock Angler News/Social Corey Schmidt Forage Minnow mudsnail University of Buffalo Wild River series Marine Lighting Dogs GPS for Lightning Connector Evolve Rovermax LR 100 Grunden's JBL Bheestie Bag Kevin Van Dam New Zealand Wedding Ring Onyx Mary Snyder Northwest Indiana Steelheaders News Lake Superior Dave Mull New York NMEA Bibs CLASSIC Fishing Lip-Stix Asian carp Lake Michigan SeaLife Cameras Muscle Squared 65 Cabela's Swanson-Russell Mazurek Plano Tackle Boxes Beckson Marine Deck Plate Marcum Ascend KVD Speedbag Rain suit Silver Horde Lakemaster High school bass fishing Bug repellent Princecraft Bug bite relief Size limits EVOLVE FISHING CO exotic species Launch ramp Patrick Hurst Footwear Clam Tools Personal Flotation Devices Ravenswood Media ATV Ditty bag Jerky BASSMASTER The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls theft KVD Speedbag Wormfile Dollohan Salmon Unlimited of Illinois Martin-Flory Rubrail Batteries Glacier Glove Boat lifts Orca Fin System Cannon Great Lakes Troller Wisconsin Legend Extreme Multitools Tackle Bag River Fishing Brian "Bro" Brosdahl Michigan City, Indiana Swim Whizz Matt Serbenski Simrad Frabill Buff ONIX Niagara Falls Air show Torpedo Divers Bass Pro Shops Radio Boat US Chatterbait Manistee Radial exotic invader Reef Runner EZ BoatPort Youth Gene Larew Michigan DNR LakeMaster Western States Version Bass lure Swedish FireKnife Records DSC Practical Sailor Quantum Steve Wood Line Recycle Bin Bob Schmidt Aluminum Deep V Series Multi-species KVD MULL BLOG Walleye Green Bay Muskie Lure Dogwood Canyon Trail Runs Rain gear Plano Synergy Tracker Marine Ultracoat USO great lakes ShowSpan Ethanol Tip-Up Synergy Outdoors thieves trailer tongue Bristol Bay Salmon Cliff Pace LineSnubber Mystery Tackle Box Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Bait Holder Electronics Dave Mull Blog Speakers Prosepec Electronics blue marlin F-Series Storm Gear InvisaSnap Whale Pumps Army Corp of Engineers Hevi-Beads Brian Brosdahl AKOYA Ice Fishing Minn Kota SOG Boats binoculars LCWCC Mark Zona Volvo Penta Mark Chmura Team Aqua-Vu 360 Oakley Sunglasses Boating Grab Rail Big Bear Products VMC Masters Walleye Circuit Jack Links John E. Phillips Boat names Navigation NAIFC Championship Marsh Madness YUM Dinger Hunting Mr. Twister Rapala tree stand injury Custom Jigs & Spins Moisture Muncher Aqua-Vu Mack's Lure Sheldon's