How to Hold a Musky (and other info)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Future of Ice Fishing

Dave Genz, the architect of today’s modern ice fishing methods, peers into a frozen crystal ball and looks at things to come for this sport.
By Mark Strand

At, first Dave Genz locks his fingers together and nestles them onto the top of his head, leans back in his chair, looks out the window, and chuckles. The question is: What does the future hold for ice fishing equipment and methods?

He thinks for a long time. Then, he says that before worrying about the future too much, he wishes more people would start fishing with the state-of-the-art equipment and methods available right now.

"If we could get everybody moving from hole to hole," he says, "using Lazer augers, FL-8s, Fish Traps, good rods and reel, and today’s ice jigs that fish heavy, they would think they were in the future." But this is how he’s been fishing for many years for many years. He takes the question seriously, and here is the ice fishing future, according to Dave.

Extreme Mobility

"There will be even more mobility," he begins. "We’re going to be able to get farther, quicker. We’re going to fish faster, and spend less time in non- productive areas. It’s going to be even more like fishing in the summer, with fast boats that can cover ground."

It’s going to take a mindset of mobility, something that Genz preaches at every seminar and interview he does. It mimics what we’re seeing from tournament anglers in bass and walleye events on open water, he says, with bigger boats and bigger engines that take anglers anywhere fish are biting." And still," he says, "the total cash outlay for somebody who wants to be well equipped for ice fishing is far less than what it takes to get a comparable boat, motor, trailer, and accessories."

He flips a photograph onto the table. In it, he is sitting on a long-track snowmobile hoisting a nice crappie, one hand gripping a graphite rod and reel. He is surrounded by a FL-8 rigged in an Ice Box and a Lazer Auger. A Fish Trap shell has been mounted to the rear rack of the snowmobile, into which nests the Fish Trap he lifts out and uses once he reaches a spot. The trap is covered with a custom-fitted tarp that keeps everything protected while he flies across the ice a 50 mph-plus.

A GPS unit is mounted on the dash, to lead him quickly form spot to spot. "You’re looking at a lot of what the future will hold for everybody, I think, right there," Genz says. "The equipment is going to look a little different; it always does as it evolves. But I think we’re getting onto the next generation.

"I’d call it extreme mobility. You’d have to fly get more mobile. It’s already faster than most boats. Going fast is easy, unless the ice is really tough." The choice of the ice fishing snowmobile is important, he adds.

"You need a wide track, long track, with high and low range transmission," he says, "Then, the machine has the ability to pull a load at slow speeds (with low range), and high speeds. I like the ability to pull a load at slow speeds (with low range), and high speeds. I like a liquid-cooled engine, because it doesn’t heat up as easily. We use 4 wheelers, too, but they aren’t efficient on snow. The right snowmobile can pull a trailer loaded with people and Fish Traps.

"You’re a machine out there. You drive right to the spot, using the GPS to guide you in, and you only stay if the fish are there and biting."

It will do no good to have futuristic equipment, Genz stress, if we use it with the old fashioned attitude toward ice fishing.

"If you’re going to get set up like this and then drill one hole and fish out of it for four hours," he says, "keep what you know."

In the future, we’ll be fishing with heavier jigs and lures, fishing faster, searching impatiently for biters. If fish are down there, and they can see the lure, and they don’t bite, we’ll move on even quicker than we do now, because we’ll have extreme mobility on our side.

"That doesn’t mean that finesse, and fine-tuning presentations, will stop altogether," he says. "But in general, we’re not going to sit over the top of a fish for more than five minutes and wait for it to bite."

On Sonar …And Cameras

"They have to come up with a sonar unit that will read through the ice on the move,"Genz says, talking to himself, "like we do in our boats. I don’t know whether the technology exists for this or not. Can a satellite come over the surface of a lake and tell you how deep it is? That would be a major advancement, and then it wouldn’t matter how much snow was on the ice."

Maybe, Genz says, thinking out loud, they could come up with map chips for the gaps, so the unit already "knows" how the water is in every inch of the lake. "The graphics will no doubt get better on map-based GPS units," he says," and they should be able to show us right where we are as we motor along on our snowmobiles. It’ll make us quicker as we look things over, deciding where to drill a hole."

He talks about cameras that are fitted with something like a virtual-reality headset that can give you an astounding view of the underwater world.

"They’re here right now," he says. "We’ll be able to actually look down the hole, even in fairly deep water, he says. "We’ll be able to actually look down the hole, even in fairly deep water, because water is clearest in the winter. We’ll be able to watch fish come into our hole, and see exactly how they react to our presentation. We’ll be able to see them coming from farther away, so the fishing is going to get more exciting."

Storm Chasers

In the future, Genz sees the possibility of outfitting the snowmobile with a weather radar system and using it to hone in on weather-created opportunities. "We can fish the edge of storms," he says. "When a storm passes by, the fish often go ballistic, they go on a bite. That will be common; we’ll be storm chasers. "Sometimes, you can’t stop the fish from biting, then the storm passes by you (it doesn’t have to hit right where you are), and you can't buy a bite, in the same spot, doing the same thing . I’ve experienced that more than once in my life." We’ll have to be careful not to replace fish catching with good judgement, though, he adds.

"That’s why dressed in thin, powered clothing that is heat regulated, Genz thinks. "You’re going to have on heated clothing," he says. "It’s already available’ but it draws too much juice. It isn’t going to be long and they’ll have that figured out. We’ll look like we’re dressed for a 50-degree day, but we’ll be comfortable well below zero."

Better information

We’re going to see more good fishing and equipment information disseminated to the average angler. "We’re already seeing this now," Genz says, "with the advent of Ice Team. We’re seeing separate manufacturers work together to help ice fishermen get the best equipment, and set it up right, and fish better.

"GPS is going to become more and more common, as it becomes standard equipment on more cars and people get used to using it to find their way to and from where they want to go, and that includes fishing spots.

"The history of each lake fish is going to be stored on our home computers. The future will bring, I think, more fishing for the sport and less for meat. Catch and release is going to become even more common. The hunt is what we have to learn to appreciate fishing for, more than showing off the catch in town.

"The secret spot that nobody knows about doesn’t hardly exist even now. We’ve gone to the easy places, where fish haven’t seen a lure. What do you think is going to happen when more people have the right snowmobile, and GPS, and depthfinders, and better rods and reels?"

Genz goes quiet again. As he stares out the window, you sense that he feels responsible for much of what’s going to happen in the next 10 years. And that he realizes we all have the future of ice fishing-and the fish that swim in frozen over waters- in our own hands.


Post a Comment

<< Home