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Dock Talk: Grab up new ice products now

By Jason Durham / For the Enterprise

Interest in ice fishing has exponentially increased in the past decade. The excitement and “buzz” of first ice arrival now rivals dates for hunting and seasonal openers for certain freshwater species.

Give them ice, they will come.

Such is the case on Upper Red Lake, where early ice attracts fisher-folk from beyond Minnesota’s state lines. The large but shallow body of water creates ice faster than most minnow ponds a fraction of the size. Keep in mind that Red Lake is Minnesota’s largest body of water but only has a maximum depth of 15 feet.

I dream of times when fishing from both a boat or fish house is an opportunity. Each is fun, but the worst is when neither is available.

Some years I’ve fished in the boat on one lake and ice fished on another on the same day. Currently, each means of venturing onto the water is compromised.

Today, anglers could access larger bodies of water using a boat, especially those with deep water access at their launches. Big Sand, Eleventh Crow Wing and Leech Lake might entertain someone in a boat this weekend.

But even the smallest ponds aren’t safe to walk upon, despite an icy layer. And long term forecasts put us in a holding pattern for several days.

Though you may not be able to actually ice fish, there’s plenty to do to prepare for ice.

A common project is to assemble the newly purchased portable shelter you’ve purchased at a great price. Ice shows and in-store promotions offer some of the best deals of the season right now.

Battery maintenance takes some time as well, since we need batteries for our Vexilar flashers, the headlamps we use to illuminate the darkness, seat heaters, interior L.E.D. lights and power for just about anything within a permanent or wheel-style fish house.

There’s line to change on reels, tackle to organize in boxes, registration for houses and beyond everything that could or should be maintained, there’s the holy grail of ice fishing; new product.

Every year something evolves that is so cool that it’s hard to simply not buy it.

This year is no different and now is the time to grab those unique products from the shelves, especially if you want to present something as a gift or stocking stuffer for Christmas. I don’t want to bring up the holiday so soon, but most retailers order product once and when their supply of gear has disappeared, it’s gone until next year.

` Technology plays a major role in this year’s products. Now you can use your smart phone or tablet device as a sonar, as an underwater camera or receive instant alerts if your tip-up flag tripped. There’s technology that’s been incorporated into safety devices such as life jackets specifically engineered for ice anglers and cold weather Lift Suits that provide buoyancy just in case an angler enters the water. But remember, if you don’t get the new products now, you might be left in the cold.