Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Ice Fishing Gear

Otter makes excellent shelter

Otter makes excellent shelter

©Bert Gildart: Becoming a grumpy old ice fisherman (see previous post) requires years of perseverance and real honest-to-goodness dedication, but not a tremendous outlay of equipment, much of which is available from your local sporting good store.

Though you won’t need all the items shown below, you will certainly need some of it. So here’s a list for both the Minimalist and the Maximist.

John Clay tends to be more of a Maximist, while the other two ice fishermen of my last posting (though not absolute Minimalists) certainly fished with less. Sometimes it’s just a matter of preference.

Obviously you’ll need a fishing pole, and all of my friends from the other day had two, which helps optimize the action. These rods are much shorter than the spinning rod you use in the summer. They are also more sensitive for bait presentation and for fish strikes.

Because you’ll often be venturing some distance over the ice you’ll need a sled to haul your gear. If you are a Maximist, you’ll also want a gas-powered ice auger, unless you want to invest more time chopping with an ax than fishing. The minimalist might just use a hand-operated ice auger or an ice chisel. On some occasions the hardcore Minimalist might just use an ax. StrikeMaster makes augers, both gas- and hand-powered ones.

For comfort, you’ll appreciate a fold-out ice tent (mounted on a sled) and John Clay, who has researched the line, purchased an Otter. It’s a two-person tent, but Otter makes tents both smaller and larger. Inside that tent he placed a small portable “Mr. Heater.” When the wind started blowing (he let me in), I for one appreciated the heater. When the wind really starts blowing, Clay anchors his tent with “Ice Locks,” which Cabella’s carries.

You’ll appreciate a fish finder and a number of companies make them, but each of my three companions had a Vexilar so, obviously, that brand has made a hit with this group.


From the Internet I learned about Vexilar’s 200kHz system, which reads depths to 200 feet and can pick out targets as small as ½ inch! This detail allows you to follow the path of your lure and to then position it above an individual fish or a school of fish. The ad with this model says that with the “live action, 3-color sonar display, you’ll have an amazing window on the world of the fish!”

For more information follow the link, above.

Vexilar fish finder

Vexilar fish finder

All totaled, becoming a grumpy old passionate ice fisherman requires an outlay of about $1,000, if you want to be a Maximist. Of course, you can get by with much less, and another good friend of mine, Bruce May, a retired fishery biologist, gets by with a pole and a bucket on which to sit. Sometimes he carries a Thinsulite pad on which to lie. He’s a deeply philosophical person and questions the wisdom of standing when you could be seated–and the wisdom of sitting when you could be lying.

He uses no Vexilar, but then he’s one of the most frugal people I know. In fact, if there were a nominating committee for inducting friends into the hollowed league of Grumpy Old Men, Bruce–for reasons other than frugality–would be my first nominee.

Elaborate gear is not necessary to catch perch

Elaborate gear is not necessary to catch perch

For those of you who follow my blog you may be wondering why we’re not yet on the road and the answer in short is: weather. As a result, I’ve immersed myself in ice fishing.


But we are on a countdown and are hoping we can pull out next Wednesday for an extended trip into the southwest. Though I’ve pulled our Airstream (Airstream Life Magazine is example of why we venture out) over snow-packed roads, it’s nerve racking, and because we’re not under any real time constraints, we’ll bide our time.

However, the plumber is scheduled to winterize our house next Tuesday, so we are trying to lock everything into place. But if the weather doesn’t cooperate, expect a few more tales from Montana’s winter woods .

Note: For links to other informative ads on ice-fishing equipment provided by Google, click on my title, above, colored orange.

One Response to “Ice Fishing Gear”

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