Riege: Safe ice is at St. Paul ice fishing sports show

Published 6:25 pm Wednesday, December 4, 2013

By Bob & Ginny Riege

With Christmas just around the corner and the passing of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and the upcoming St. Paul Ice Show this weekend, we know that there are a lot of cool gift ideas for beginning ice fishing.

This event is the largest ice fishing show in the United States, hosting over 170 exhibits with products and services dedicated to the ice fishing and winter sports industry. Whether you are an avid fisherman looking for a few new accessories, an experienced angler in need of an upgrade, or totally new to the ice fishing scene, the show features everything needed for above, below, and on the ice. Attendance continues to significantly increase year after year, drawing huge media interest and coverage.

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According to Nick Chiodo, Clam’s Director of Marketing, “The St. Paul Ice Fishing & Winter Sports Show is the “Super Bowl” of ice fishing, and we at Clam are extremely excited to be a part of it at this level. Clam Outdoors is synonymous with ice fishing, as we are the original ice fishing company. With the show being in its 20th year, it was important for us to have a presence at this scale. We have been there from the beginning so this was a natural partnership. The show is a perfect place to showcase new and existing products.”

St Paul Ice Show is being held this weekend at the St Paul RiverCentre in St Paul, MN. There will be products (and discounts!) from all the leading industry companies as well as seminars and fishing tips from the Ice Team Pros throughout the entire weekend!! Also make sure to stop upstairs and check out the Ice Team Kids Booth packed full of fun for the whole family.

Most of you probably were introduced to ice fishing with some pretty basic winter equipment. The first time you ventured on to the ice did you had five buckle overshoes, a plastic bucket, a too large snowmobile suit, and a hand auger? Basic is great, but the winters are just as cold and now you might be a little older and you will need some new technology to help you enjoy ice fishing.

Getting started in ice fishing is relatively simple and inexpensive. Many “ice” related companies produce products for the beginning angler. These products have been tested by professional anglers, like myself, to hold up under harsh conditions and to increase mobility on the ice.

The warmest innovation that has helped the ice angler stay on the ice longer, which enables them to catch more fish, is the portable ice shanty. A good, lightweight, portable ice shanty can provide a lot of added comfort. A propane lantern is enough to warm the interior. These structures come with names such as the Clam, and the Fish Trap. The important thing is that they allow you to take others out on the ice and yet be mobile. One thing that many modern ice fisherman want to do is to move from location to location. Sure, the carpeted ice shack with the bunk beds is nice, but not as portable as the modern ice angler needs. Don’t forget about the silent killer. Carbon monoxide can build up in fish houses including portable houses. Keep your fish house vented. Warning signs include an oxygen-starved blue flame in your heater, shortness of breath, dizziness, and rapid breathing. Do not use unvented heaters

Clam Outdoors has a starter kit that consists of a twin hub pop-up shelter (Twin Hub I), a hand auger for drilling holes, and a toboggan for ease of transportation on the ice. Clam Outdoors also has a Dave Genz starter ice combo rod and reel. This is perfect for a young or inexperienced angler. Clam Outdoors has also introduced an ice fishing combo pack that has everything a young ice angler needs. The Ice Fishing Combo Pack has a solid fiberglass ice busting rod, an IceArmor jig box, 6 ice fishing jigs, a clip-on weighted depth finder and a handy hook removal tool. Clam Outdoors even has a Lady Ice Buster rod that is a cool color of pink. For more ice fishing gear check them out on the web at www.clamoutdoors.com.

When it comes to hard water angling, panfish top the list. If you were to take a survey on the ice, you would find as many as 80% of the fishermen are in pursuit of panfish. Don’t get me wrong, some attention is given to walleye and pike, but they seem to be secondary on many fishermen’s agendas. Unlike pike or walleye, which can turn off for days, panfish are predictable. The average fisherman is out to have fun, many times making it a family affair. Clam Outdoors has their new arsenal tungsten jigs just right for catching your panfish.

Vexilar flasher units like the basic FL8 and the Fish Scout FS1000 underwater camera are nice to teach the beginning angler what to look for when ice fishing. They also help entertain and replace the video games. Believe me it worked with my kids. For the advanced ice angler Vexilar has come out with the FLX-28. “ Vexilar has been working for years to perfect a brushless data transfer system which is the heart of what customers will be seeing in many future Vexilar sonar systems in the years to come. The new data transfer system opens flasher technology to do much more than just show depth. For sure this will continue Vexilar’s dominance as the world’s first and best ice fishing sonar system,” Corey Studer, Vexilar Pro Staff Manager said. “ Again check out all the electronics at www.vexilar.com.

Don’t forget to also include a pair of ice cleats for your boots and an ice chisel to sound the ice as you walk out on it. The DNR website will give you a list of productive panfish lakes and it will also issue the ice thickness. Words of caution from the DNR, “snow is a bonus for snowmobiles.” Remember that no ice is safe ice. State and provincial authorities in the Ice Belt provide ice thickness guidelines but will never proclaim any water body safe for travel because of the liability risks. Follow their ice safety thickness guidelines as good rules of thumb. 2” of ice or less, stay off. 4” for walking, 5” for snowmobiles or ATVs, 8-12” for a car or small pickup, and 12-15” for a medium truck.

Be prepared for the worst. Clam Outdoors is the first in the industry to offer a complete lineup of safety equipment for the ice angler. Every trip you take onto the ice, you should carry a set of in a familiar pocket. Should you fall in, these are likely your only way to get back on the topside of the ice. Thrashing around in cold water will make you weak in mere seconds as your body is sapped of heat and your wet and slippery hands will have nothing to grab onto. Ice picks grab and hold and float in case you drop them. Leave an emergency throw rope in the tub of your Fish Trap or in a gear bag. Should you or someone fall in, this throwable rope will be your only chance to get them to safety without compromising yourself. Wear an emergency life vest during those first and last ice trips you are planning to take. Clam’s life vest includes pockets for ice picks and a whistle. Remember – the life you save may just be your own.