I had the opportunity this week to take a small family out to show them how modern ice fishing equipment can make a morning on the ice more enjoyable for everyone. They work at the library with me and I had them come to my seminar to see the newest gear. They were very excited to actually see it in action, so I arranged a morning for us to get out on the ice at Stockade Lake. If the bluegills and perch were still in the area we fished a couple of weeks before, I knew they would have a good time.
So Steve and I got to the lake about an hour before the family arrived and we drilled a bunch of holes in six to twelve feet of water and fished a bit to see if the fish were around. We caught a few, but not nearly what I was hoping for, but I set up my new Clam Big Foot XL2000 hub anyways and turned on the Buddy Heater to start warming up the hub for the ladies. When they arrived, I was a bit worried at first because the ladies didn't have waterproof boots on and the top of the ice was covered in four to eight inches of frozen slush so they would be getting wet. But they took it in stride and we're very impressed with the set-up inside the toasty hub, complete with chairs, two flashers already going, and rods ready to go. Kim commented it was already a better set-up than any ice trip she'd ever been on.
After showing all three how to read the flasher screens, I started fishing again, making sure to check on the hub and trying to make the experience better for them. Well, they didn't catch anything at first, but then Steve and I decided to move out a bit deeper to see if the fish had moved further out. He started catching perch and 'gills in twenty-one so I drilled some more holes in the area, marked some fish, and we put up his hub and moved them out with us. Soon afterwards, I heard the tell-tale noises of a fish being caught so I rushed over to the hub and saw Kim had caught her fish. She caught more and soon their daughter caught one and Carlos, who was fishing outside with Steve and I, was catching some soon afterwards. I myself caught my personal best bluegill (10.25") as they were enjoying themselves. I was very pleased that they were able to catch some fish and commented on what a great time they had as we were starting to pack up later on. They already want to take another trip soon and were looking at possibly getting their own Vexilar in the future.
It is just a great time to go out ice fishing, even if you have very little experience. From the flashers we use to the hubs and sleds to the specific gear we catch the different species with, it is a great time to get on the hardwater. As long as we're comfortable on the ice, we'll keep going out and, hopefully, inspire others to want to get out as well and experience that which we hold dear. It can be a very rewarding and humbling experience.