Great Lakes Angler Blog

That 70s Show On Ice

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

CORALVILLE, IA  – What’s in a name? Everything. Just ponder all the products we use today whose names represent the category itself.  Read Full Story

New Snow Shoe Tip-Up Stays Atop Deep Snow

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

PLANO, IL – Ice fishing in some snow-belt regions can get downright daunting. Thick snow blankets the hoarfrost, making hole to hole travel an adventure in itself, let alone finding the right fishing equipment to handle the knee-deep bog of white frozen fun.  Read Full Story

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

Frabill Straight Line Tip Up Gets Rid of Coils

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

PLANO, IL – Fact: The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Fact: Straight fishing line is more manageable and reveals strikes much better than a coiled tether. Fact: Frabill is progressive, almost prophetic in their forward-thinking tip-up program. Fact: Frabill has notched yet another victory for equipment evolution with the new Straight Line Tip-Up.  Read Full Story

Juice up for ice fishing

Monday, August 12, 2013

Here are some cool videos--promotional, but fun to watch--for you hardwater anglers hoping for a cold winter.   Read Full Story

Organizers of Ice Fishing Tournaments Need Permit In Wisconsin

Friday, November 30, 2012

MADISON - Organizers of ice fishing tournaments will want to apply for a permit for their 2013 event as soon as possible, and they can use a new online feature aimed at making the process faster and more user friendly.  Read Full Story

Trekker MAX and Commando MAX Feature Super Ice Gear Storage

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jackson, WI –Frabill’s says its new MAX portable ice fishing shelters offer the maximum amount of quality and fishability in a portable ice fishing shelter.  Read Full Story

Ice Fishing: Rod Box Shields Those Hallowed Jigging Sticks

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jackson, WI – Ice hurts. At least that’s what your hardwater rods, reels and tackle say. Things that get dropped onto a frozen surface aren’t typically cleared for safe and soft landings. Ice makes things go crunch, snap and crack. Only one way to combat this: put up a defense system.  Read Full Story

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