I had a great time hitting the Saint Paul Ice show last week and I wasn't alone. Attandance was at or beyond record levels as anglers perpared themselves for the upcoming ice season.
If money were no object I probably would have dropped about $75,000 on a new luxury house with a matching truck, snowmobile and ATV! Unfortunately I have Ferrari dreams on a Fiat budget but still managed to come away with some fantastic products that will undoubtedly result in great fishing this winter!
1. Strikemaster - HardWater Ware Polar Parka & Bibs- $330
After several years of wearing make-shift ice wear I invested in this set of winter wear to keep me warm. I'm excited to see how it performs but trust I'll be comfortable. I'm not saying this is the best product available, however, I think it is arguably the best value for your money. Available in size Small to XXXXXL....there's one that will fit you! I also picked up a pretty sweet zipper-collar Strikemaster sweatshirt for $20 which could be the bargain of the show.
2. Frabill – Headquarters Hub Shelter - $299.99
With 3 young sons I’m rarely fishing alone and usually with another of my kid’s friends or two. This year we’re trying out the Frabill Headquarters Hub Shelter. This gives us plenty of room to fish as a group. I anticipate we’ll use it like a HQ with holes in and around the shack. Frabill Camp Chairs @ $15/chair will replace my orange Home Depot buckets….the buckets will be officially dedicated to holding all our fish!
3. Irish Setter – Snow Claw XT Boots - $209.99
I generally use my rubber hunting boots for ice but this year picked up a pair of Irish Setter Snow Claw XT boots. They pretty much had me sold on 2000 grams of Thinsulate but the serrated cleats and Aerogel layer between my foot and the sole also sound appealing. This is a very substantial boot but amazingly light. I can see myself on the ice for many hours without cold feet!
5. Northland - Assorted Jigs & Impulse-Infused Baits - $40.00
I’ll be honest…I’d buy anything Chip Leer tells me to buy! I watched him demonstrate the new Impulse Tapeworm and heard the pitch. If Chip is a believer so am I. It will be a matter of a few days before I know for myself how the products perform! $3.69/10.
6. Strikemaster – Lazer Mag Express Auger - $480
I’m upgrading my vintage Strikemaster with a Tecumseh engine to the Lazer Mag Express based on my experience using a loaner auger last year when mine was acting up. I’ve watched a fair amount of tips/video from the pros and know drilling holes and moving frequently can increase your success. With the Solo I can seriously drill about 5 holes for every 1 hole with my old Strikemaster…and that’s with sharp bits!
The beauty of the ice show was seeing absolutely everything that an ice angler could imagine under one crammed roof. There were also deals to be had. I also spent some time checking out the Vexilar FL-22 with the new Fish Scout Camera/Case..retails for $1,200 with the case. I’ve asked Santa to consider my good behavior in 2011 and bring me one!
Good luck ice anglers; be careful on early ice.
Watch out fish…I’m geared up and ready to roll!