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I’ve always preferred the simpler means of enjoying fishing. At times you’d think I’m the only one without some kind of electronic depth finder, underwater camera or GPS to mark my hot spots.

I know better than that. There are other low-impact anglers. During summer we call them hook-and-bobber types, which is a generalization that could be applied to just about anyone taking part in outdoor recreation in a less-than-contemporary fashion.

I’ll explain this in more detail. Fishing technology has advanced way past me. I don’t have any of the modern day “must haves.” I grew up ice fishing with my dad, sitting on five-gallon pails, using a big lead weight for a bottom finder and nothing more than a glorified stick with a hook as a fishing pole.

Five-gallon pails have been replaced by ice shacks with amenities suited for all dayIt didn’t bother me that we didn’t have a power auger or some of the other fancy stuff for a number of years. In fact, I remember when dad won an electronic flasher and we wondered how we’d figure out what all those lines and colors meant, and if they’d really help put fish on the hook for us.


For most people, those days are gone. Five-gallon pails were replaced by ice shacks with amenities suited for all day living. GPS devices mark hot spots, and underwater cameras even show the fish – but they still don’t make the fish bite!

For me, a good sack lunch was more important than catching a pail full of perch. That will probably always be the case.

If you agree with some or all of what I’m explaining, count yourself among the hook-and-bobber crowd.

Greg Gullickson, Minot, is a Game and Fish biologist and avid angler who uses the term “bobbers and worms” to explain his more relaxed forays into the outdoors, including ice fishing. “There are thousands of versions of the equipment needed to be an ice angler,” he says. “Now don’t get me wrong. I am a gadget man, but still remember when my ice gear consisted of a five-gallon pail filled with homemade poles made from broken summer rods and sticks with line wrapped around it.”

As Gullickson explains, it all comes down to supplying the basic needs to ice fish. “You need to be able to make a hole in the ice (auger), pole (rods or tip-ups), lures (hooks, weights and bobbers), bait (minnows, smelt, wax worms) and if you desire, some sort of shelter.”

You can still catch fish through the ice the old fashioned wayGetting into the ice fishing scene is not as difficult as some would have you believe. Here’s a few tips Gullickson offers that will help even those who’ve never tried ice fishing because they don’t think they have all the equipment advertisers deem necessary.

“An easy way to make a hole is to ‘magpie,’ or find an old hole that someone had been using and chip it open with a metal bar,” Gullickson recommened. “A pole can be a stick, chunk of 2-by-4 or most anything that can be used to wrap line around. A hook, small weight and a bobber will get the job done as far as tackle is concerned. Bait can be as simple as hot dogs for pike, or minnows for perch and walleye. Shelter can be as simple as a vehicle with the heater on. And sonar can be replaced with a depth weight to check how deep it is and measure it with your arms.”

I’m smiling as I visualize the mental picture of Greg’s plan to minimize ice fishing output, while still providing a means for success. Think of neighboring ice anglers who spend considerable time to get all their electronics set up and situated prior to dropping a line. With Greg’s tips and a little experimenting, you too can get into ice fishing the old fashioned way. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the latest and greatest in gear and equipment is bad. The key is to not let your lack of gear and gadgets keep you from trying a little ice fishing, even if it’s the hook-and-bobber type.


Dour Leier is a respected JustNorth columnist, hunter education instructor, and outreach biologist for the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email: dleier@nd.gov.

 

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