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

GlAngler Subscription

Recent Posts


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