FEBRUARY ISSUE | 20-2021
DAY ON THE ICE W/
DAVE GENZ EARLY ICE
SILKIE JUST WHEN YOU
THE MYTH & MAGIC OF
FORT PECK TROPHEY ROD
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TABLE OF CONTENTS 06
DAY ON THE ICE WITH DAVE GENZ
EARLY ICE FISHING
EARLY ICE INTELLIGENCE
EARLY ICE SAFETY
DIGITAL Magazine Ice Team Magazine Editors: Matt Johnson Contributing Writers: Mike Howe, Jerry Carlson, Jason Mitchell, Mark Martin, Bob Jensen, Chuck Mason, Vic Attardo, Ryan Salemi
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6 >> iceteam.com >> Ice Digital November Issue
t wasn’t exactly a day for being on the ice when I sat down to visit with ice fishing legend and longtime friend, Dave Genz. Although it was cold and brisk outside, there was no ice. However, like any other activity that someone is passionate about, finding time to talk ice fishing and do a little pre-ice preparation is completely kosher, even if the lakes are still open. So, our morning began with a cup of coffee and a little reminiscing of past adventures. Before long, Genz was digging out jig boxes, packages of lures and other ice fishing equipment.
The first jig box he opened gave me some insight into one of his favorite lures. It was filled with Clam’s Drop Kick tungsten jig. It was easy to see that glow red was high on the list of colors. However, he did say that he really liked black later in the year because it matched the color of the invertebrates panfish were eating.
out of the jig eyes before securing them in the box. This led to a whole discussion about efficiency and preparation.
In addition to the Drop Kick, other favorites he commented on were the Pinhead Minnow and Half Ant.
Because Genz spends little time inside of a warm, cozy fish house, pre-planning is critical to ice efficiency. Simple tasks like cleaning the paint out of the jig eye is easy to do at the kitchen table but a monumental event on the ice when the wind is blowing and your fingers are frozen.
As he opened packages and added a few new lures to the mix, he was careful to clean all of the paint
He went on to talk more about the little tasks that need to be done before the first trip to the ice.
iceteam.com >> Ice Digital November Issue >> 7
These included things like charging batteries, putting new blades on the auger and changing line. I asked about his line preference for both panfish and walleyes. For panfish, he mostly used Frost threepound-test and for walleyes, it was six. He estimated that he changes line about three times a year on his favorite rigs. The next step in his preparation agenda somewhat surprised me. He opened up a package of Silkies and began to thread one onto a jig. The “Silkie” discussion that followed was very interesting. Whenever I utilized Silkies, I always pushed them all the way up the shank of the hook
to the jighead. Although Genz said this will work, he has found that when the Silkie is left at the curvature of the hook, he has a higher success rate. Genz went on to say that he uses Silkies most of the time when fishing. He believed that the more they were used and the more worn out they became, the better they worked. Somewhere along the line, we started talking about the longrange planning of trips. This involved a discussion about the seven states he fished in last year as well as where he hopes to travel to this winter.
equipment. He believed that anglers needed to get their orders in early and make purchases before items started to disappear off of the shelves. Eventually, the coffee disappeared and the sun peaked out and it was time to switch gears. With Genz, switching gears means going from one fishing topic to another. With our warm, ice fishing clothing along, we loaded up the boat and headed to the river to continue our discussion while sticking smallmouth bass.
And then there was the need to update his supply of jigs and
BECAUSE GENZ SPENDS LITTLE TIME INSIDE OF A WARM, COZY FISH HOUSE, PRE-PLANNING IS CRITICAL TO ICE EFFICIENCY. SIMPLE TASKS LIKE CLEANING THE PAINT OUT OF THE JIG EYE IS EASY TO DO AT THE KITCHEN TABLE BUT A MONUMENTAL EVENT ON THE ICE WHEN THE WIND IS BLOWING AND YOUR FINGERS ARE FROZEN.
Ice Digital February Issue
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woke up this morning to a fairly heavy snowfall. That got me thinking about ice-fishing. If it’s snowing, ice on the lakes and ponds isn’t far behind. Following are some ideas for taking advantage of early ice ice-fishing. First and foremost: Make sure the ice is safe. Enough said on that topic. Next, fish with a friend, and keep a rope in your bucket. If you thought the ice was safe but it wasn’t, your friend and the rope can pull you to safe ice. More and more ice anglers are wearing parkas that float just in case they find a weak spot in the ice. The Rise and Ascent parkas that Clam has created provide floatation, warmth, and are comfortable to fish from.
10 >> iceteam.com >> Ice Digital November Issue
Now for the fishing part of our early ice ice-fishing adventure. Keep in mind that the ice will be thin, there probably won’t be much if any snow cover, and that you might be fishing shallow water. You’ll be directly above the fish, so they’ll be able to easily hear or see you. It’s important to get on your spot and get holes drilled before the bite starts. It often takes the fish a few minutes to calm down after you drill holes and get set up. If you know you’re on a good spot, keep your moving around from hole to hole at a minimum. If there is some snow cover, and if it’s on a good spot, drill your holes on the snow.
The snow will muffle the noise a bit and will camouflage your movements. Starting early in the season and going through the entire season, determine your lure size by the fish you’re going after. You might want to catch some panfish, but different panfish have different lure preferences. Take a look at a bluegill’s mouth, then compare it to a crappie’s mouth. The ‘gill has a smaller mouth and will respond better to smaller baits. Really tiny baits on light line can be the difference between a few ‘gills and a bunch of ‘gills. As many ice anglers know, tungsten has become
the go-to material for ice fishing especially for panfish. The Genz Drop Series of jigs are must-have baits for fisher-people who want to catch panfish through the ice. They’re also seeing more use in open water. Early in the season you can often see fish with your eyes, especially panfish, as they look at your bait. Much of the time they’ll come in and look your bait over quite a bit before eating it, or before not eating it and moving on. If they’re doing a lot of looking but not much eating, you need to do something different. I’ve seen
IF THEY’RE DOING A LOT OF LOOKING BUT NOT MUCH EATING, YOU NEED TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
plenty of times when the fish wanted the bait held as still as possible. There have been other times when color or shape was the difference between catching and not catching. If they’re looking but not eating, give them something else to look at. One last early ice ice-fishing idea: Do it! It’s a good time, if you work it right you’ll get a few, and it will teach you lots about fishing year ‘round. The opportunity to watch fish up close as they look at your bait will help you realize that they’re doing the same thing in open water and will teach an angler the importance of paying attention to small details in your lure presentation. As soon as the ice is ready, get on it and get bit. We’ll see you out there.
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here is no question that the development of the first ice in the early winter period creates a feeling of euphoria for seasoned ice anglers. This enthusiasm is hard to explain to someone that does not share the passion for ice fishing. One of the dilemmas faced by those wishing to partake in the early ice experience is locating fishable ice. When it comes to ice safety, everyone has their own level of comfort. I am not a very brave soul when it comes to testing the early ice. Because of this conservative approach, I am interested in fishing locations with safe ice
more than exploring areas that may hold super-sized fish. Last year, my first ice experience was shared by fishing guide, Matt Klug. As we arrived at the landing, there were several anglers coming off of the ice. Their reports were dismal as they said the limited fish they found would not bite. This is where lesson number one comes into play. I never let negative 12 >> iceteam.com >> Ice Digital November Issue
comments such as fish not biting have a bearing on my decision to go fishing. I can’t begin to count the times anglers have told me the bite is off and I have caught lots of fish. Klug was in total agreement with my assessment. Also, just talking to someone on the ice gives me no inclination as to the skill level of the anglers involved or their method of fishing. Because of this, I am determined to find out for myself just how tight lipped the fish really are.
people drill a couple of holes, set up a portable house and not move from that location. Although a warm, portable house is comfortable and cozy to fish out of, that does not negate the need to search for fish. I do not believe in “waiting them out” hoping something will eventually swim my way. If I am not on fish, I will keep looking until I find them or travel to a different lake.
THE EARLY ICE PERIOD IS A GREAT TIME TO EXPERIENCE SOME QUALITY FISHING.
My next thought is this. Just because anglers couldn’t locate fish does not mean that we won’t be able to. I have seen too many
My third thought has to do with location. As Klug and I trudged out onto the ice, it was easy to see that most of the anglers were clumped together in one small area. That
much activity in one spot can have a very detrimental effect. Not only will spooked fish stop biting, they will often move to a quieter location. Instead of joining the crowd, Klug and I walked off to one side and began our search. It did not take us long to pinpoint a cluster of panfish that proved to be eager biters. The early ice period is a great time to experience some quality fishing. However, anglers still need to approach their fishing in an intelligent and systematic manner. This means one needs to trust their own ability to locate fish and then find a way to make them bite. Early ice is a great time to go fishing, but it is not a period of guaranteed success.
Ice Digital January Issue
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arly ice is a coveted time for ice anglers. Anglers have been waiting to get out on the ice and are excited for a new season to begin. Early ice is also often some of the very best fishing of the winter. Combine the good fishing with the excitement of getting out on the ice and invariably, some ice anglers will push their luck. We have seen a trend over the past few years driven by social media where some anglers almost seem make getting out onto questionable ice some sort of contest. A show of bravado if you will on who can step foot onto the ice first and post some fish pictures onto their Instagram account. This desire for attention can sometimes prove deadly and dangerous. We all want to learn about where to catch more fish or how to catch more fish but with so many young and new anglers entering the ice fishing community, let’s start out with how to be safe on the ice. There is a saying that no ice is safe. The implication of this simple sentence is to simply keep your guard up and never assume too much. The reality is that some ice is safe. We just can’t assume. The reality is that conditions can change. Sometimes this change is unpredictable. Accidents can happen to the most seasoned ice anglers. An accident can happen simply by walking back to shore at lowlight and having fog move in where you get disorientated. You have a lake map app on your phone, you argue. Well, imagine your phone is dead from scrolling on social media all day. An accident can happen by simply driving fast with an ATV across the ice to get home and in the headlights appears a new pressure ridge that didn’t exist four hours earlier. We have been on some reservoirs where freak methane gas pockets open and create round pools of thin ice and these methane gas pockets change from year to year.
Ice Digital January Issue
Of course, many of the situations that can be extremely dangerous can be predictable. Moving water is always bad. That moving water might be a culvert under a submerged road or a bridge causeway. Could be an incoming stream or bottleneck between islands.
There are basic ice thickness charts that show the recommended ice thickness for certain activities. Three inches of good ice is generally recommended for walking out on the ice. Five to six inches of good ice is generally recommended for snowmobiles and small ATVs. Twelve inches of good ice is recommended for vehicles. What doesn’t get mentioned is that these are minimum suggestions and there is no room for error. Three inches of good ice will support foot traffic but when you encounter an inch of ice because an acre of lake was kept open three weeks longer because of a few hundred Canada geese… problems can arise. No question, one of the most important tools to have on early ice is a spud bar. A spud bar is simply a long heavy pole with a chipper blade on one end. A spud bar allows you to continually check the hardness and thickness of the ice. One good hard whack on the ice with a spud bar will usually chip at least an inch of ice. If water starts to come up from where you chipped with one strike, you need to back up. If you see water after two hard whacks in the same spot, you are typically dealing with three inches of ice. You can also tell if the ice is hard or soft with a spud bar. Usually at early ice, the ice is good but warm spells, rain and snow can deteriorate the quality of the ice even at early ice. Good ice will chip where poor ice will be mushier. If you are the first angler on the ice and you need to pick your way across ice that could be questionable, you absolutely need a spud bar. Other necessary tools include ice safety equipment should the worst happen. It has been over twenty-
five years since I have fallen through the ice but I cannot begin to explain how terrifying falling through the ice can be. What also doesn’t get said is how exhausting the whole process is. Simply pulling yourself out of the ice took everything I had and I was in the best shape of my life. Safety equipment is even more important if you fish alone. Float suits are available and very affordable and offer peace of mind. Suits that have floatation like the Ice Armor Rise Float Suit simply buy you a lot more time. Other safety items I like are ice picks you can wear around your neck. These ice picks can simply be used to pull yourself out of the ice. A task that can be extremely difficult if you are trying to pull yourself out with just your fingernails. If you don’t have ice picks, at least put a Phillips screwdriver in your pocket of have something you can use to poke into the ice and pull yourself with. Another tool to have in your sled is a simple rope. Clam makes an emergency throw rope that is a slick contained throwable
iceteam.com >> Ice Digital November Issue >> 17
rope for emergency purposes. If nothing else, have a fifty-foot rope and a boat cushion that you can tie to the rope in case of an emergency. Ice cleats really should be part of every ice angler’s equipment list as well. Ice cleats won’t help you if you fall through the ice and probably won’t prevent you from falling through the ice but early ice is often very smooth and slippery. The reality is that you are more likely to slip and split your head open than fall through the ice. Some boots like the Korkers Polar Vortex have interchangeable soles that have cleats built right into the sole. My favorite cleats however are the BOA cleats that can fit over any boot and are more aggressive. If you must walk across the ice, especially early ice… do yourself a favor and get yourself a good pair of cleats. Early ice is often a slimmed down affair where we are basically dragging out the bare minimum of equipment. I often use a small plastic sled or a one man flip over shelter for dragging my gear. If you don’t need something, you leave it at home. Must have items include a small tackle box, a few rods and perhaps a five-gallon
bucket and your flasher, only the essentials. I often use a hand auger or a K-Drill to cut down on weight. One small modification that I like to do with my sleds and Fish Traps for dragging by foot is to put eye bolts into the tub or sled and use a longer tow rope with clasps on the end so I can remove the rope if needed. If you are hoofing it out on foot to your favorite fishing spots and you must walk any distance, add more length to your tow rope. I like to use at least fifteen feet of rope where I can drape the rope over my shoulder. I fully understand the allure of early ice and can’t wait to get on the ice myself. Early ice is simply a magical down over them, stop on them or drive parallel. Check them with your auger and spud bar. Fresh ice heaves are dangerous. Stop well before hand and get out and check them. Don’t assume. If you can see water or fresh cracks, that is an accident waiting to happen. Good news is that ice fishing is an extremely safe activity if you use common sense and respect the ice. Don’t get complacent if you are experienced and be diligent if you are inexperienced. Good luck this winter.
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e’re getting closer...the overnight temps have begun dipping into the 20’s and 30’s, the leaves on the trees begin to fall, and there’s even some skim ice starting to form on shorelines. For many of us, it signals the start of this crazy, infectious sickness we call ice fishing! Here are a few friendly tips I start to put in motion while waiting for Mother Nature to bless us with her consistent cold temps leading into the long awaited first ice period! GEAR CHECK: My gear check always starts with my Rise Float Suit from Ice Armour. With today’s advancements in motion float technology, to me, nothing is more important than taking advantage of a suit that offers comfort, warmth, mobility, and safety in the form of superior bouyancy assist technology that just could save your life if you go through the ice. The best part for all of us ice anglers, is the fact that it’s a suit specifically made keeping ice anglers’s needs in mind and the price point is hard to beat. Next on the gear check list would be to make sure my Vexilar is operating correctly. Check all the knobs and settings and make sure your battery is functioning and charging properly. With the new lithium batteries available from Amped Outdoors, battery issues are a thing of the past. I strongly recommend switching to a lithium battery, specifically for it’s light weight and running time power. After you’ve checked all the above, fill up your bathtub or take a run down to the lake in order to make sure your transducer is working. Also some very important items on my check list would be my ice safety kit. My ice safety kit includes the following items: multiple throw ropes, ice picks, float cushion, a first aid kit, several packs of “Hot Hands” for feet, body and hands, along with a small warm blanket or towel. I also include a thermos of hot coffee and a bottle of water. It may seem like overkill...but trust me, there is no such thing as overkill when it comes to ice safety, especially first and last ice. We also have invested in a Nebulus System for our UTV. To find out more info on the Nebulus, check out Nebulusflotation.com. After the important gear above is marked off the checklist, I start reorganizing my Clam Slim Jig boxes and going through 20 >> iceteam.com >> Ice Digital November Issue
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my favorite ice fishing jigs, making sure I’ve got plenty of variety in color and sizes. As a tournament fisherman and guide, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate these jig boxes and the way they keep my jigs neatly organized. My favorite go-to jig by far has to be the Clam Dropkick. It’s my favorite jig for many reasons, number one being it’s versatility. If you’re a multispecies fisherman, you’re going to want a few Dropkicks in your aresonal. The action it provides your presentation, be it with plastics or live bait is unmatched... especially when it comes to enticing big slab crappies! When guiding clients in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, all my clients are required to tie on a Dropkick! Once my jigs are in order, I turn to greasing up and oiling my reels. No one has time for sticky reels and we don’t want them freezing up on us when it’s go time. A dab of grease and a dab of oil to keep that grease regenerated will go a long way in keeping you in the game all ice season. You’ll also want to spool up some fresh line on your rigs. There are a ton of great ice lines available out there. My particular favorite is the new Frost Mono in Hi-Vis Gold. The gold is completely transparent to fish in the water column but helps us anglers see the bite better up above and also helps us out visually when tying knots. Once the terminal tackle is in order, it’s time to check auger blades, drills and batteries. Nothing will shut down a first ice outing quicker than an auger with dull blades or batteries that aren’t holding a charge. Sharpen or replace your blades if needed and make sure your drill batteries are charging properly. I will often do battery checks a few times throughout the summer and fall seasons to ensure I’ll be good to go come first ice...same can be said for your Vexilar batteries! Finally last on the list would be a quick inspection of my Stealth Kenai one man flip over shelter. I rarely fish out of a shelter during first ice season, but sometimes due to windy conditions it’s necessary for both personal comfort and jig cadence control. I’m looking for any holes in the fabric caused by critters or Mr. Heater mishaps! If you’ve had one of these little mishaps... you can find replacement material at www. clamoutdoors.com. Our great customer service reps are always here to help us with any issues that may arise from our equipment to our terminal tackle. Truly the best in the business! iceteam.com >> Ice Digital November Issue >> 21
ew this year and one of the hottest panfish baits around. It is great fished alone on a bait or tip it with a few euro larva/spikes, wax worm orV adding Maki plastic with the Silkie works awesome, my favorite Maki is a 1” Mino white with red flakes or a red is good also. Most of the time it will catch fish all by itself. The silk like strands just float around in the water with little jigging motion. It is very easy to install on the hook just put your hook thru the rubber ball in the center and slide it all the way to the head of the hook. I will also rotate it in the up and down position, so the top silk covers the hook. Two of my favorite jigs are the Clam drop kick and the Drop jig rigged with a Silke. Red glow and Gold are two of my favorite colors. I have been having good luck with the Black in color and White/Red combo.
My thought is the fish think the Silkies look like the nature microorganisms, water bugs, back swimmers that are swimming around in the waters. I have caught blue gills, crappies, bass and pike on these so far this year. Next on the agenda is try are see if I can get walleyes to bite on them. Stay tuned on this. The durability of the Silkie is outstanding I can catch 40-50 or more fish on one Silkie itself. If I forgot my live bait at home, I would still go on my fishing trip without it as I am vary confidante in the Silkie for catching fish. Safe Fishing, Scott Seibert
22 >> iceteam.com >> Ice Digital November Issue
iceteam.com >> Ice Digital November Issue >> 25
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cenario: September, 10mph NE wind, cloudy, 59 degrees. Forecast: Winds building to 1520, 90% chance of rain, temps dropping to low 50’s. Nasty… but exactly the kind of weather change that can get fish active and eating. Normally on these type of days anglers would be adding layers for warmth. They’d be taking off and on a rainsuit as rain squalls came and passed. They’d be trying to stay comfortable while focusing on getting The Next Bite. For me a better solution is one layer of clothing that works all day long – Blackfish’s Soft-Shell clothing. Now the scenario above does not just happen in September. Late season ice fishing, early spring open water fishing, cold fronts, etc. And not just fishing – ATV/UTV’s trail riding, rigging boats, prepping for ice fishing, I even use it as a sublayer when hunting in a tree stand on a cold November morning in Wisconsin. All sceneries where good clothing makes the task fun.
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Blackfish has a slogan – “You Can’t Choose the Weather” – my slogan is “I Choose to Fish – So Deal With It”. Since Blackfish’s Soft-Shell clothing came out about 3 years ago, my favorite setup has been the Gale Pullover (or Zenith Jacket) and the Soft-Shell Pants. The premium fleece does a great job of retaining heat. This fleece also makes them super comfortable to wear. The outer shell is a water-resistant fabric that is also wind-resistant which adds tremendously to the warmth factor. One last comment on the SoftShell line up – it’s been really durable. My 3 year old set hasn’t ripped or torn, has endured many wash cycles and like a bunny we all know – just keeps going, and going and going.
rain shower, melting snow or boat spray and not let any dampness through. VI got a chance to test some of the first StormSkin clothes and I was really impressed. I was wearing the StormSkin Gale Jacket and StormSkin Gale Bib. The situation was the exact scenario I mentioned at the start of this article. Nasty going to Nastier. Underneath I was wearing only a T-Shirt and a pair of shorts (I like to wear shorts as long as I can before winter). The result was a full 12 hour day of fishing, never cold, never wet (or even damp) and not fatigued because like the Soft-Shell clothing, StormSkin is lightweight and not bulky. In other words I “Dealt with it”.
MY SLOGAN IS “I CHOOSE TO FISH, SO DEAL WITH IT”.
So just when you thought it couldn’t get any better – enter StormSkin. At first glance looks very similar to the Soft-Shell and it is, fleece lining and great fit – but the big difference is that StormSkin is water proof. Yup, even the seams are sealed so the clothing can take a
Make sure you go to the store. blackfish.com to read about all the features I didn’t mention (Thigh High Zippers, Articulated Knee, Silicon Lined Suspenders, Angled Leg Pockets, etc.). Both Soft-Shell and StormSkin are great options for all season anglers. Stay dry, stay warm, be comfortable and Choose to Fish!
or years the story was written thusly…” Fort Peck is a place where big fish of all species lay in numbers unlike anywhere else, but you are on your own out there, with very little intel or support. If you go, you have to be prepared for anything, and good luck finding anyone that will help you catch “their fish”! And for the most part, that was spot on. There were only a few places to stay, none with lake access, lesser places to get any info, and services were few and far between. And as for ice fishing, well, Hell Creek Marina and State Park, on the southern edge of the lake and 50 miles of bad road North of Jordan Montana, was really the only place you ever heard of anyone going in the winter. Yes, you had to pretty much figure out Fort Peck on your own, but the one thing was true…the fishing was almost always worth it. Clam Pro Staffer and acclaimed Devils Lake Guide Jason Mitchell has known and shared about Peck for years. He was always a good source of intel, between his TV show and infrequent articles. And every now and then there would be a report from a tournament there, with guys like Parsons and Kavayecz reporting in. Then around five years ago, the Mindt family came to town. When the old Lakeridge Motel in Fort Peck changed hands, a paradigm shift happened. With a family of avid outdoors men AND women taking over and getting serious about building exactly what the area needed, they (and myself to an extent) began to quickly put Peck
on the map as a more civilized and accessible fishing destination. And ice fishing was a huge part of that plan. The magic of this area is its remoteness, and the fact that there are opportunities here that rarely exist in even the most infamous Canadian fisheries. The size of the reservoir is intimidating for most, the “where do we even start” mindset can scare many away. The good thing is, where you fish often doesn’t really matter, as the fish are almost literally, everywhere! Now, don’t take that to mean the numbers are such that you will catch 100 Walleye or Lake Trout in a day, or that you will take home limits of eaters every time out like on some of the other Northern Missouri impoundments. What is does mean is that if you are willing to put the time in, and fish in the likely places, you will experience a combination of action and quality rare in most fisheries, in an amazingly stark but beautiful place. Walleye to 10 pounds and thirty inches are common here, for those willing to put in the work. Yes, I said common. When you look at the Spring egg takes that the state does every year, you see fish being handled that are the envy of 99% of the trophy walleye fisheries across North America. Lake trout? While we rarely see fish exceed 20-25 pounds, numbers of fish over ten pounds are the norm. And Northerns are everywhere if that is your thing. The climate can be extremely harsh, and conditions fickle. In 2021, when everyone and their dogs were planning trips to Peck due to being locked out of Canada, our ice season lasted from
FORT PECK CONTACTS Howes Fishing/Team Lakeridge Guides and Lodging 406-526-3597 facebook.com/lakeridgefortpeck/services Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks-Region 6-406-228-3700 Tourism and Area Information https://missouririvermt.com/
early February until barely mid-March… at least as far as our deeper water fishery for Lake Trout was concerned, a species most anglers really like to chase in winter. The shallower bays where the Walleye and Northerns tend to hang lasted only a little longer, a Cruel joke Mother Nature, but that is the exception and not the norm. Typically, our ice season starts in early to mid-December, with bays like Duck Creek, Rock Creek and the Big Dry Arm icing up first. Then by mid-January we start accessing some deeper areas and the Lake trout fishing only gets better through Mid to late March. Some years, we are on the ice until early May. Ice on Peck, at least once outside the shallow bays, is rarely consistent enough to safely drive trucks around the lake, so towing larger wheelhouses is rarely an option. ATVs are the norm, as snow cover rarely justifies snowmobiles and lack of snow on shorelines will create problems for access. Wheels and tracks rule, as do portables, but the wind is often blowing so securing your shelter is a must! One of the most unique things about Fort Peck is our method of fishing. Each angler is allowed six lines in the winter, one of which can be a spear. Having four or five tip ups fishing for Walleye or Northern while jigging deep for Lake Trout, or sitting in the spear house, really helps up the odds for exactly what you are hoping to catch. Tip ups are considered a “set line” on Fort Peck and as such do not need to be kept a close eye on. Opportunity to spear Walleye, Northern, Lakers and large rough fish abound.
A typical guided trip with us on Fort Peck starts with setting tip ups over shallow structure. Live bait consists of shiners for Walleyes and large suckers for Northerns. A group of four plus guide means we can spread 30 lines across an area, and often do to pinpoint the feeding grounds we will focus on the rest of the day. All tip ups must be marked with the angler’s identification. Once some active feeding begins, we will often switch out to rods on Arctic Warrior tip downs and Jaw Jackers so we can fight fish on rod and reel.
keep away with a Lake Trout before they finally catch you slack lined and high sticked? I have kept one going for a solid twenty minutes before he finally lost interest! Every couple of hours or so, one or two in the group hop on a couple of machines and go and check the tip up sets. If you are lucky, your flag is flying! Twilight finds us back over the shallows again, and sometimes we even leave a few tip-ups out overnight (completely legal with the 24-hour check period). It’s always fun to see what lurks in the night, and many do it yourself anglers often choose to camp out on the ice, while the rest of us are warm and cozy in the cabins and rooms back at the Lakeridge!
YOU WILL BE INTRIGUED BY THE MYTH, TOUCHED BY THE MAGIC AND FOREVER ENAMORED WITH THIS AMAZING WESTERN RESERVOIR!
By mid-day, once conditions allow, we are out over the deeper structure, jigging for Lake Trout and Walleye on the drop offs. Utilizing Vexilars is like playing video games with Lakers, watching them chase baits up to sixty feet at times! How long can you play
If a trip to Fort Peck is in your bucket, there are a couple things that are very important to know. There are
less than six full time ice guides, most of them guiding under my outfitting license. While we can take up to four-five groups each day, with only eight cabins and a half dozen motel rooms, our lodging books up fast with outfitted clients, and then you are looking at rooms in Glasgow, about 15 miles away. The Lakeridge is a fully stocked bait, tackle and convenience store and the Gateway restaurant is across the street, for those who get tired of preparing their own meals in the cabin kitchens. We pride ourselves in offering everything from fully outfitted trips, to just some good, up to date info for the DIY angler. Many will come fully geared up, spend a day with a guide getting the lay of the land, and successfully spend the rest of their trip exploring Peck on their own. Others will just show up with their Ice Armor and boots, and leave all the work to the guides. No matter how you approach it, you will be intrigued by the myth, touched by the magic and forever enamored with this amazing Western reservoir!
MIKE HOWES FORT PECK GO TO GEAR •
ATV and Portable shack (Clam Thermal flip over or X Series Hub Shelter)
Ice auger-8-10” bit (Electric on a Clam Plate with Power Drive, otherwise go gas for the big bits)
Vexilar FLX-Flasher and/or Digital sonar/GPS with mapping
Walleye Rod-Dave Genz Split Handle-32” Med-Heavy,
Lake Trout Rod-Genz Split Handle-36” Med-Heavy
Jason Mitchell Mack Rod, 45” Heavy Spinning
Clam Predator Reels-15-20# Frost braid by Clam and 12# Frost Mono for Walleye
Six Heavy duty tip ups (Clam Thermal Pro or Lunker Deluxe with hole covers)
Clam Super Leech Flutter Spoons, Tikka Minno (Size 6 and 8) ¾ oz to 1 oz White Tube Jigs
Zero Rigs and Big Tooth rigs for tip up pike, lighter minnow rigs for tip up walleye
Ball bearing swivels and quality split rigs
Heavy gloves for handling toothy critters, pliers and a lip gripper
Quality Headlamp, Ice cleats Sunglasses
IT’S ALL HERE ALL YEAR
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Ice House Restaurant and Holiday Beach Bar & Grill, both with a lake view Boat Slips & Rentals Banquet & Meeting Facilities Family Pool Area 700 Feet of Sandy Beach on Big Detroit Lake Entertainment & Event Specialists Stay Vacation Packages Available
1155 Hwy. 10 East | Detroit Lakes , MN | 218-847-2121 | 1-877-251-9348 | www.dlinn.com
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lot has been written and talked about over the years on how rod setups can affect your fishing for better or worse. Included in this is the type of line you fish. The problem for hardcore walleye anglers is that this conversation is typically directed towards panfish or rods designed for lighter lures. Three man things need to be considered when looking for the perfect rod when targeting trophy walleye or larger gamefish. Action - When it comes to fishing larger bodies of water for walleye current and depth of water usually demand larger lures than what you’d commonly use on a small inland lake. In situations like this a 1/2oz lure is not out of the norm, but most rods on the market aren’t designed to carry this much weight. The conversation gets even more muddied when you realize that this 1/2oz lure may weigh as much as a 1oz when tipped with a decent size minnow. This often causes the rod to load just with the weight of the lure. When this happens it makes it very difficult to work a lure with much intricacy. Starting and stopping a lures action feels like you are using a jello stick instead of a rod. A overloaded rod before you even get started is bad for feel and working a lure properly, it can also make it more difficult to get solid hooks into a trophy size walleye. When you have nothing left to give when you set the hook bad things end up happening. This is especially the case in deeper water. It should be noted that not all “medium” actions are the same. Length - In most cases when targeting larger gamefish the longer the rod the better you are. Longer rods allow for more options when it comes to actions and tapers. The problem is that many of us have ice shacks that we need to be able to jig inside and length can be an issue. The same could be said for storage. In most cases a 36’’ to 38’’ is a very good all-around option. When fishing outside and hole hoping that length increases to 42’’ for many hardcore walleye hunters. The increased length allows for more of a cushion and ability for the rod to fight the fish. At
the same time extra length makes it much easier to stand up without hunching over the hole. The longer the rod the more options you have. Feel - VBVI think its common knowledge that even a giant walleye has the ability to touch a lure as soft as the smallest bluegill you’ve come across. Because of this I always want the most sensitive rod I can get my hands on. It’s for this reason that a lot of anglers reach for braided line. While this is a long story for another day, braid can be a bad move when used as an all-around setup. The increased feel is great, but the lack of stretch can make you feel like you’re walking on egg shells when fighting even a mid sized walleye. When using braid it’s often best to look for a little bit lighter or “moderate” action. As an example if you are using the 38’’ MH Katana rod you may need to look at the 38’’ M action rod in order to keep fish buttoned up. In most cases I personally still prefer a hi vis monofilament line such as the Clam Frost mono. Another way to increase feel besides having a high quality blank is simply having the combo balanced. Tennessee handles are nothing new to ice fishing and have stood the test of time because they allow us the ability to move the reel up or down the handle until the combo feels just right. Clam has taken this one step further on the new Katana series which offers a synthetic cork replacement. This synthetic material is not
only lighter, but also has a roughed up finish that allows for better grip and feel. If you are searching for a new walleye, pike or laker rod this winter the new katana series of rods by Clam fills a huge void in the ice fishing world when a quality rod for larger lures are needed or larger gamefish are you intention. Models are available from 34’’ to 42” in a variety of actions. Capt. Ross Robertson Bigwaterfishing.com