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Derek Lindow caught this nice largemouth bass on Lake Belle Taine this fall. Though the weather was nice and the water was warm, he still wore a waist-pack personal flotation device. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

Fall anglers want warmth and flotation

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outdoors Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

By Jason Durham / For the Enterprise

Fall greets changes. That entails children transitioning from summer vacation into school routine or an angler stashing away gear for the year. Opting to hunt, store the boat or attend the high-school sporting events, truly, fall has it all.

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Frost on the boat, steam from the lake, long johns forgotten at home. Perfect.

It’s not easy to hang around on the lake when your teeth are chattering or while the fishing line is sticking to the rod guides because of ice.

Yet there’s plenty of reason to keep fishing. Whine all you want about frozen rod guides and chilly hands. Remember, we do that for five months. It’s called ice fishing.

Remember, the ice hasn’t arrived. Yet.

Keep in mind that though anglers are still heading out onto the water, safety remains imperative.

The most important part is staying out of the water.

That doesn’t mean keeping your boat out of the water, it means keeping yourself out of the water.

Conventional personal floatation devices, (PFDs) are sufficient. But with the buffer of warm clothes, it’s difficult to function beneath the bulk of insulation in additional to a life jacket.

Realize that there are alternatives. Still safe, but with less bulk.

The first option is Onyx Outdoors manual inflate PFD It utilizes a CO2 cartridge to inflate the waist belt or over the shoulder floatation. In other words, if you fall into the water, you pull an easily accessible cord and, poof, you’re floating.

This won’t help if you fall into the water unconsciously. For instance, if you had a heart attack or stroke in the boat, while fishing by yourself, you’d still stink.

Another option is the Onyx automatic/manual inflate P.FD. The garment goes over the shoulders, like a traditional life jacket, but has a very thin, streamlined profile. It feels like wearing a pair of suspenders.

If you unfortunately fall into the lake, the CO2 cartridge automatically engages.

The operating mechanism that auto-inflates to protect the angler is actually very simple.

Imagine a Life Savers candy, in-line between the inflatable cushion and the CO2 cartridge. If you happen to hit the water while wearing it, the “candy” dissolves and the PFD inflates instantly with water contact.

When I fish alone, I wear the Onyx auto-inflate model. If something terrible happened; falling overboard or ejected from the boat, I’m protected. Hopefully neither happens, especially in cold water. In reality, we only have a couple months where hypothermia is a secondary thought

As fall growls and throughout the ice season, staying warm and afloat in the worst scenarios equates to safety. The safest is to not ever go fishing or hunting or driving or working or ever confronting the elements.

Yet we live in Northern Minnesota. We do all of that.

Ice Armor offers a new, unique garment for the cold weather seasons. Imagine a jacket and bibs, that double as a floatation device. The Lift Suit is not only about warmth in cold weather, but an integrated P.F.D. too.

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