Once the lakes start freezing over, finding an open day in the busy schedule of ice fishing legend, Dave Genz, is not an easy task. However, I was able to catch up with him in-between fishing trips and sit down for a leisurely chat and breakfast.
With the ice fishing industry enjoying an abundance of new product and innovations, I was curious how he saw the industry creating opportunities to attract new anglers to the cold water season. I have to say his answer really surprised me.
Just when I was sure he would talk about mobility or presentation, he addressed the need of the family unit that was trying to enjoy an ice fishing outing to focus their efforts on a different part of the day.
Typically, the family gets organized to spend the warmest part of the day on the ice. They head out in bright sunshine to a section of the lake where the kids can play and then they sit for a couple of hours on the open ice until everyone is cold.
Once the cold settles in, it is over. And then the group packs up and goes home empty handed and somewhat frustrated with their winter fishing experience.
Although he totally understood the dynamics of this family situation, he suggested a different approach be utilized. Instead of spending time angling during the middle of the day when fishing is characteristically at its toughest, the time of the day when the very best anglers struggle to put fish on the ice, he suggested beginning anglers focus on the very best time of the day for fishing to optimize their potential for success.
What he thought families and novice anglers should plan for their fishing outing was to spend less time on the ice. He recommended getting to the lake an hour before sunset and capitalizing on the very best fishing period of the day.
He also did not believe it was worthwhile for new anglers to strike out on their own. Instead, he recommended following the ice road to the cluster of houses or to where other anglers were set up and then fish amongst the crowd at a proven hotspot.
He believed the most critical aspect of getting new people interested in winter fishing was to make sure they were successful. Once they had experienced success, anglers would know what they needed to add to their equipment arsenal to further enjoy the sport.
He agreed there were some basics such as augers and Vexilars that were pretty critical for successful fishing. However, I have seen people use hand augers to open old holes and then catch fish with no electronics by focusing their presentation on or close to the bottom.
Winter ice fishing is a great pastime. However, there is a learning curve involved with successful winter angling. One way to get started on the road to success may be to do what Genz suggests and spend less time on the ice and focus angling efforts on the very best time of the day.
Barrels Up Pro Staff