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Hunter’s Corner: Plenty of changes in ice fishing

If you missed Dave Genz’s ice fishing seminar, you missed a beauty. Genz hails from Minnesota, Land of a Thousand Lakes, and until recently had a limit of one line per angler. It was recently changed to two. I have seen Genz’s seminar in the past, but this one was truly exceptional.

Genz is a jigger and no matter what species he is fishing for, he is using Tungsten jigs. You will have to go online to track down these jigs. The main bait he attaches to the jig is maggot larvae. He also shows on his video a soft bait he was jigging that resembled a May fly larvae.

In New Hampshire, on lake trout lakes you are restricted to two lines. On non-lake trout lakes it is five lines per angler. Much has changed since I first started ice fishing. There were no power augers then. To make a hole, you used an ice chisel or spud. My current auger is a Jiffy with a 2-cycle engine that when properly maintained will last for several generations. The latest version of the power auger is battery powered. My son-in-law’s experience wasn’t that impressive, as the battery with this unit couldn’t maintain a charge in extreme cold temperatures. The units new to market seem to have cured that problem and, as a result, are much lighter than comparable engine-powered augers. There were no fish finders. There wasn’t a clothing line specifically designed for ice fishermen. There were bob houses, but these were fixed to a specific location. And there weren’t any pop-up shelters. And then there is the progress made in electronics.

Originally ice fishermen had two weapons: the tip-up and the jigging stick. The jigging sticks were primarily used for pan fish, with the most famous stick colored like a mallard duck in the hilariously funny movie Grumpy Old Men. They are still in use today and went through a phase in which they were molded in plastic. Today’s modern jigging rod has either a level wind or spinning real that allows for the storage of more line and a drag to ease in landing larger fish. The rods themselves offer a more balanced approach to jigging.

Vexlarr flasher fish finders were heavily promoted at the Genz seminar and, owing to their simplicity to use, I can see why many ice fishermen appreciate this finder. My personal preference is the Fishin’ Buddy. This is a portable side-sonar fish finder that provides depth, structure, fish and temperature. My reason for liking this unit is that while it is easily used on the ice, the clamp mount secures to most transoms and gunwales. So, when the ice is gone, I can attach this unit to my canoe.

My first pop-up was a Frabill two-seater. After seeing the Eskimo six-pack, I had to get one and picked up the four-pack. Last year it handily accommodated three adults in the most severe wind conditions. The difference between the Frabill and Eskimo is the Frabill’s floor serves as a sled and the Eskimo has no floor and is transported in a duffle bag. The Frabill is also black and not suitable for nighttime use. The Eskimo is a bright red and is easily seen in low light and storm conditions. The necessity of a pop-up is to get the ice fisherman out of the wind and elements. It is also important to allow younger fishermen the opportunity to get warm on cold days.

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According to the recently issued Vermont deer harvest report, it was a banner year for Vermont deer hunters. Overall there were 13,850 deer taken. This represents a 14-percent increase from the 2011 harvest. Rifle hunters took 6,300 deer, representing a 9-percent increase from 2011. Archers took 3,384 deer, a 25-percent increase from the previous three-year average of 2,825. Youth hunters experienced a 9-percent increase. Muzzleloaders experienced a 16-percent increase.

Last year’s relatively mild weather and shallow snow depths most likely contributed to this fall’s elevated deer harvest. Additionally, the low availability of traditional food sources such as apple orchards and beech and oak stands this past summer and fall resulted in deer changing their movement patterns.

“This was a particularly good year for hunters taking deer with larger body and rack sizes,” said Curtis Smiley, President of the Big Game Trophy Club. “There were multiple deer throughout the state that were reported to weigh over 230 pounds and one that was reported at 247 pounds.”

Thus far, the winter has been kind to the deer herd. The cold snap causes the deer to restrict their movement to limit the amount of energy expended. There is plenty of natural food for them to eat and I can’t wait to see the results the below-zero temperature will have on winter ticks. Vermont is experiencing a similar winter that will also assist its deer herd’s survival of the winter.

(Bob Washburn can be reached at

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