Fishing through the ice, be it for crappies, walleyes, northern, or sunfish, is a sport that all can enjoy – rich or poor. But that doesn’t mean everyone is exactly on an equal playing field. A few expensive goodies can make the fishing easier and better.
The guy forced to be frugal can pretty easily buy a few fishing sticks, ice chisel, and bait to catch fish. A flush ice angler will have those things, plus a gas-powered auger, electronic fish locator, a collapsible space age fish house, and pull it all around with a new snowmobile or ATV.
You see, good ice fishermen have known for years that you’ll catch more fish if you can move around a lot – be mobile. And the best way to be mobile is to be able to afford the latest in portable ice fishing gear.
You see, sometimes to catch the most fish possible, you need some help. Once when fishing with a big party out on a flat, the guys along one edge of our group started catching crappies – nice silvery big ones. It was evident the crappies were part of a school moving because then the guys in the middle of our group started getting bites. Eventually the guys out on other edge started having bobbers go down, too, and the first guys were catching nothing.
Our one fancy amenity was a gas auger, and some one grabbed it and “headed the fish off.” As fast as he could cut a hole ahead of where the crappies were moving, someone dropped in a line and started catching crappies. It seemed like a hole was good for about five minutes before the school passed though. The only thing that stopped the action was when we finally ran out of gas for the auger. But before that happened we were a long way away from our original starting point.
So let’s say a guy who could only afford the bare necessities, which means an ice chisel rather than a $250 gas-powered auger, was in our situation. There is no way he could have kept up with those fish because the ice was about two feet thick. He most likely would have merely enjoyed a fast flurry of action and let it go at that.
Eventually most good fishing spots peter out, and it’s time to move. If you’ve won the lottery you can hook your new snowmobile or four-wheeler up to a high-tech fish house and pull it to another spot you found with your fancy fish locator. If you’re a little on the slim picken’s side you struggle all day moving your shabby old house once and hope it’s in a good spot.
But does all this mean a guy who’s pretty flush will catch more fish? No, it doesn’t. I see lots of frugally outfitted men and women come off the lakes with some pretty hefty stringers of fish. While the well off crowd was looking for better fishing, they stayed tight and relied on their fishing savvy to land a mess of fish.
So while a big bank account gives an ice fisherman options to catch more fish, it doesn’t mean it will happen. I’d sure think I’d like to try it, though.