Gussy’s Tips to Hit the Ice!


There was a quote that I heard back in 2005 when I first attended the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show that still resonates with me today.  “Ice fishing is the fastest growing segment of the fishing industry”.  Back then, shelters, augers, underwater cameras and flashers were all improving greatly, making it more pleasant to be on the ice and improving our success.

Today, these products continue to improve every year. The ice fishing market continues to grow as more products become available to help us catch more fish and be more comfortable on the ice.  Ice fishing is about more than drilling a hole, sitting on a bucket, drinking a beer and waiting for a fish to show up.  Anglers today hit to ice to find and catch fish.



One of the questions I get asked all the time is “how long do you fish in a hole without getting a bite?”  My response was “if I don’t get a bite or see a fish on my electronics within five minutes, I’m on to a new hole or a new spot”.  I went on to elaborate more by saying what I believe to be one of the most important rules that I follow in my fishing.  It doesn’t matter what lure you’re using or what colour you’re using if you are not putting it in front of some fish.  Finding fish is always the most important element.


This all leads into using the great electronics we have today to find fish, the efficient augers to drill plenty of holes and the equipment to allow us to be mobile on the ice. I bought a new Strikemaster 4-stroke auger two years ago from Lake of the Woods Sports Headquarters in Kenora. When I told the owner, one of my best friends, that I wanted a new auger, a 4-stroke model, he told me I should consider one of the new electric augers. I dismissed that idea, worried that they would run out of juice after a few holes and were not as reliable as the gas models that had been around forever.



A few days later, a crew from Lindner Media in Minnesota visited me for a few days of ice fishing in Sunset Country.  They brought an electronic auger with them and after a day and a half of fishing, I wanted nothing to do with my gas model.  It wasn’t that the gas model was no good, it was, but it was so easy to jump off the snowmobile with the electric model, push a button and drill a hole.  Between six of us, it took all day, drilling dozens of holes to kill the battery, then a new one was inserted.  I was impressed.  Drilling more holes allows you to cover more water and catch more fish.  The electric augers are lighter and more efficient to use.



When it comes to electronics, I probably wouldn’t go fishing without having a flasher or sonar unit like a Humminbird Helix model to check the depth, see my bait and watch for fish.  Can you catch a fish under the ice without using electronics?  Sure, anglers have for years, but the fact is, you will have more fun and catch more fish if you use one of these units.



Flashers have been around for decades and still work great.  They are timeless and one of the few things in the fishing industry where the technology does not become irrelevant after a few years. The newer Helix Ice machines allow you to use a flasher mode or a regular sonar picture if you prefer that. As well, you have access to GPS, using Lakemaster mapping to mark good holes with a waypoint.  The most important aspect of using a flasher or sonar unit is you can watch your bait and how fish react to it.  It’s fun stuff to watch and you’ll be able to trick more fish into biting.



Finally, when it comes to being mobile on the ice, the sled-style flip-over shelters allow us to load up all the gear we want, even stuff for a shore lunch, hook up to a snowmobile and go anywhere we want to go.  I have been running a Frabill Predator model for years, it has a big, heavy duty sled, an insulated tent and a roomy interior that two anglers can fish comfortably from.  On cold days, these units make fishing much more enjoyable.



About Author


Jeff Gustafson, known in the fishing world as "Gussy", grew up on the shores of Lake of the Woods in Kenora, Ontario. He took out his first guide trip at age 14 on Lake of the Woods and has made his living in the fishing/outdoor industry ever since. A graduate of the University of Manitoba, Gussy has always been self-employed as a fishing guide, outdoor writer and photographer as well as fishing promoter. Today his fishes the Bassmaster Elite Pro bass circuit and as many local bass tournaments as he can find the time to enter. You can find him online through his website at

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