In my last column, I spoke of the excitement I was facing as I prepared for the St. Paul ice fishing show, not just for the opportunity to speak to show goers about the fishing opportunities Montana has to offer, but to actually see and experience all the new products that are introduced there every year.
Sure, there are also the opportunities to catch up with friends who you haven’t seen all year, telling fish stories, both new and old, but the main reason everyone is there, is to showcase the best their brand has to offer.
With social media, the World Wide Web and instant communications, if you are only hearing about or seeing something for the first time at the show, then either you are disconnected from all of that, or you are spending a LOT of time on the water or in the field.
If either is the case, then I applaud you as you are living life in Montana as it should be lived!
But part of my job description is to keep informed of all these advances, not just for the benefit of my guides and clients, but also for you the reader, as this column exists partly to report on just these things.
First off, I was so thrilled to see that ice fishing has really begun to appeal to the younger generation, as evidenced by the many fishing clubs, high school fishing teams and those that were in attendance to see a couple of very popular “You Tubers” (popular internet video stars for those of use over 40) that were there. Aaron Wiebe from the popular “Uncut Angling” series in particular grew a large crowd.
No one knew what to make of Wiebe when he first came on the scene, as his videos trended more towards goofy parody, but while he has matured into an incredibly talented angler, he still maintains his goof ball style, and that entertains the kids, and adults, while teaching valuable skills and social lessons as well.
Another very popular item this year is lithium batteries for fish finders, cameras and heated clothing. Energized Outdoors, as well as a few other companies, offers 7Ah-20Ah batteries that not only provide longer lasting power to many electronics, but they weigh half as much.
Some might argue that their extra cost is not worth it, I beg to differ, especially when dragging 5-6 items out onto the ice for clients. One fish finder/GPS unit in particular now runs for a full day with the lithium, compared to a maximum of 5-6 hours on the standard battery.
Lithium batteries have also changed the way we drill holes in the ice, as electric augers have taken the lead, with both dedicated power heads and light weight drill units that utilize high end cordless drills. The benefit of a cordless drill-driven power auger is that, when the ice is gone, you have a drill that you can use all summer long! While I do still have a gas-powered auger, it rarely gets used while the cordless drill/K-Drill auger has seen three hard years of use and has yet to let me down!
If you want to hear more about the shows, as well as all the great products, please come and visit with me from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21, at Cabelas in Kalispell. I will be helping you with your Christmas gift decisions, as well as presenting a seminar at 6 p.m. entitled “GO ice fishing.” There will be information about getting yourself and the entire family successfully catching fish through the ice! And, if you will be at the Missoula Cabela’s the next day, Dec. 22, the same program goes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the seminar at 1 p.m.
In the meantime, wish me luck as fellow guide Jason Mundel and I compete for the NAIFC national championship this weekends in Naytawaush, Minnesota!
I’ll see you on the ICE!
— Howe is the owner/outfitter at Howe’s Fishing, A Able and Mo Fisch Charters. Call 406-257-5214 or at www.howesfishing.com