EFFICIENCY ON ICE
If you have ever been on Lake Winnipeg at the height of the ice fishing season, you would be shocked to see the number of UTV’s (a.k.a. side-by-sides). These are the most popular form of on-ice travel in the upper Midwest U.S marketplace. While not quite as popular in Canada, they are quickly attracting more customers to the ice market because of their versatility.
Since we have a whole new market of anglers this year that will want to try out ice fishing or spend more time doing this outdoor activity I decided to talk about different options on the ice. UTV’s are probably most flexible and comfortable other than a SnoBear.
OPTIONS AVAILABLE WHEN CHOOSING A UTV
Lee Fetterly, a salesman with Rond’s Marine in Winnipeg, says their most popular have been the Polaris Ranger 900s and new 1000s, especially the Ranger Crew XP1000, which has crew seating for up to six anglers. Most ice anglers are looking for that extra seat in the middle, which you get with the full-size. That’s preferred for taking out more friends or family fishing. The Ranger 1000 also has the largest engine available, a 1000 cc version that generates 82hp and a top speed of 35 miles an hour.
Lee prefers the Ranger XP 1000 version. He says the Pro-PVT clutch delivers ultra-smooth engagement, and with 3 drive mode throttle control, the rider can choose the ride mode for the task at hand. Combine the smooth ride with premium automotive-style interior fit and finish, an all-new steering wheel, and plush seating to deliver all-day comfort. He says an extra bonus when he is on the ice or trail with another UTV is the Ride Command, which is a factory install. You can track others with the same feature. There is also an app for your phone that allows the same function so you can plan your rides together.
It comes with a factory-installed 7″ infotainment system featuring in-dash speakers, GPS mapping, front & rear cameras and new features like plow mode and group ride. This package also comes standard with a sport roof with liner and Polaris PRO HD 4,500 LB winch.
“Many customers also invest in Ranger cab kits: windshields, roofs, windshield panels, doors, and heaters. When you’re moving from spot to spot, comfort is key. You’ve also got heated seat kits and heated steering wheels. Tracks are popular, too. Unless you’re fishing a lake that has plowed roads, getting out to spots can be treacherous at times with standard wheel kits, so track kits are useful.
ICE HOUSE ON THE BACK!
The Lock & Ride® Polaris® XT Pro Lodge by Otter® offers a generous 26.5 square feet of space to comfortably hold two fishermen. Engineered with Otter Thermal-Tec™ 1,200-denier layering system to block light and wind, while its quilted thermal inner shell locks in heat. This ultra-durable, triple-layer shell also reduces condensation, to further keep you warm and comfortable through the coldest days on the ice.
WHY A UTV?
By Dennis Nott
Two ice fishing seasons ago, I made the decision to go to a tracked UTV for my transportation needs on the ice. After watching the guys from south of the border with there rigs on the Big Windy it was time for a change. I had a set of CAMSO UTV 4S1 tracks put onto my Yamaha Viking. After installation, it did not take long to discover what a light-footed tank this unit now was. Playing in the snow at home along the dykes of the Assiniboine River, this unit was unstoppable. Couldn’t wait for the Big Windy.
Over the years I have had many combinations of snowmobiles and sleighs, ATV’s with sleighs and trailers. This worked for many years, but you were always loading and unloading sleighs for transporting back and forth to the lake. Plus, you are always working at keeping everything secured and dry.
I am always trying to improve the storage for my side by side, but with a storage box now built I have all my equipment (auger, pails, chair, cooler, propane tanks, heater, shovel, rod locker and tackle) in a secured/dry box with little chance of losing anything on the ice (I have recovered a lot of items that others have bounced out of a sleigh or truck over the years). The tents are secured to the top of the box and all that is in the cab is your backpack for the day. Now, at the end of the day the unit goes into the trailer, grab your bag and the catch of the day and close the door.
GREATER SENSE OF SECURITY
Compared to other standard wheeled units, there is a greater sense of security when it comes to pressure ridges, cracks, drifts and getting on and off a lake. Although a healthy respect is still required, there seems to be more options available on tracks in comparison to something on tires. Last March on Lake Winnipeg when the snow disappeared before the end of the season and I didn’t feel like putting my truck and trailer onto the lake from Werner Road, no problem, park high and dry on Gimli Road and travel to the lake with all season tracks and a self-contained unit. Watching others going down a gravel road with snowmobile or an ATV with sleigh (been there) only backed up my decision to go to tracks.
Another reason to go to tracks was our yearly trip to Clearwater Lake at The Pas in April. Over the years I have been caught more than once with the wrong equipment. Start the trip with a snowmobile and good snow, only to end up with a bunch of rain and no snow. Or start with a quad and little snow and end up with a two-day storm. With tracks it just doesn’t matter. With the low ground pressure of tracks, you are not tearing up the shoreline at the end of the season.
Overall, I am very impressed with the ride, traction, floatation and overall performance of my tracks. Along with the extra confidence in safety, it was money that was very well spent.