Friday, December 10, 2010

The Ice Fishing Show

Last weekend was the annual St. Paul Ice Fishing Show at the Excel Center in downtown St. Paul.  This is a 3 day show featuring the latest and greatest products for the upcoming ice fishing season.   My good friend Mark Applen called and suggested we head down on Saturday afternoon, an idea I was up for.  The show has grown significantly in the last few years and arriving the 2010 attendance was incredible.  One thing that became clear very quickly was the amount of new and exciting products for the guy who loves the hard water fishing.  From the latest in depth finder technology to what I call mansions on wheels, there is something for everyone.  There were gadgets for jigging your pole, new ways to clean the slush from your freshly drilled holes, and an amazing collection of sophisticated electronics claiming 1/4 inch separation 30 feet below you.   One of the newer devices out is a LCD display underwater camera.  I have owned a couple of the earlier model CRT type cameras however they are somewhat bulky and have limited battery life.  The new Marcum VS625SD pictured here has a bright sunlight readable screen, a High Definition Sony camera, and respectable battery life.  Cabela's had a nice $100 off coupon this week and coupled with a number of unused gift certificates, I pulled the trigger on one.  I am looking forward to using it this winter and of course they are becoming popular options for summer fishing.

One thing that is fun at these shows is buying "The Show Special".  Mark and I are suckers for this tactic and readily open our wallets to the deals.  I was the first to fall victim, buying a clip on LED light for the inside of my portable ice house.  Having seen them at stores for $25.00 the $12.00 I paid seemed like a bargain.  Next were the new St. Croix ice rods, nice and light with just the right action.  $20 regular price, the show special was another 10% off.  Well, contrary to what anyone says, it's always nice to have another fishing pole, in the bag they went.   After enjoying a shot of Christian Brothers Brandy at their booth we headed for the back room and ran across a very unique product, the Frying Saucer.  A second look verified a clever fish fryer using what looked like and inverted sombrero mounted on legs with a propane burner.  Completely portable it looks like just the ticket for frying fish outside.   A perfect compliment to Mark's ice house, he just had to have one and they were more than able to oblige!

20 years ago the ideal setup for ice fishing was to pull a permanent fish house, built on runners, onto the ice and leave it there for the season.  Today it is being replaced with what are called Wheel Houses, a fish house built on a special trailer, made for the ultimate in portability and comfort.  The base trailer frames have special axles that lower the house to the ice via rotating the wheels.  More like a modified travel trailer they have holes in the floor, bunks, a table, storage, and depending on what you want to pay, kitchens and bathrooms.  Starting at $6000 for a basic model you can spend up to $25,000 for a luxury house.  The convenience is the ability to move around from lake to lake or simply leave it in one spot.  Mark has a nice smaller house and he has talked about getting something larger.  For me, I still like being able to move around the ice with minimum effort.  Maybe someday!

Finally we have had enough cold weather to create fishable ice conditions.  Unfortunately we are also having record snows, with at least 10 inches on the ground with another 12 - 16 predicted for tonight and tomorrow.  Last Friday I returned from a 4 day trip to Austin Texas to a winter wonderland.  Arriving late Friday night, it was obvious I was going to spend the next morning shoveling snow.  By the time I cleaned up all of my driveways plus my neighbors, hit the Ice Fishing Show, and repairing my plows and snow blowers, the weekend was done.  It appears that I will be repeating the same thing this weekend with significantly more snow to deal with.  Blizzard conditions are predicted with the high temperature on Sunday to be around 0.  It's way too early for this.  Hopefully I can get out but it's looking more like it won't be till next week.  Oh well, I do have my portable set up in the shed and I can still pretend!  I will leave you with a shot of the Ice Fishing Bikini Team, always a warm reminder of winter's more interesting traditions here in Minnesota.


Jeff King said...

Cool report Dave. Ya know I think I could do the ice fishing thing if I were set up like that.

When you travel to Austin have you taken in any of the music venues? I hear wonderful things about it and would love to go see some of the Texas musicians like Junior Brown, James House, Robert Keen...

Dave Anderson said...

You mean the Bikini Team!

Austin is great as you would fit in perfectly.

ketchikanalaskafishing said...

Hi Dave! It looks like you really had so much fun! Looking forward for your next post.

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