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Gift ideas for the ice angler

As we get closer to Christmas, I usually receive a few messages from people looking for gift ideas for their friends and family.

If you know somebody who enjoys spending time in the outdoors, then gifts that might improve their outdoor experience probably will be well-received.

This past weekend, I attended the 20th-annual St. Paul Ice Fishing Show—the largest show of its kind in North America. Nearly all of the relevant tackle and ice-fishing companies in the business set up a booth at this event to showcase their product line.

Several retail vendors also set up to sell these products so if you’re interested in what’s hot in ice-fishing, this is the place to be.

For the ice angler on your gift list, the following ideas are sure to help them catch more fish or make their experience more enjoyable. I will try to cover a variety of price ranges and hopefully you can pick up a few ideas to make your Christmas shopping easier this year.

In the lure category, new products always are popping up that claim to help you catch more fish. Northland Fishing Tackle is one of the leaders in ice-fishing tackle and this year they’ve released a new lure called the Whistler Spoon that is very unique.

It’s a spoon with a small whistler blade above it that makes it unlike any other.

In tests late last season, my friends and I caught a bunch of walleyes on it. It is something that fish have not seen before.

Though the popular jig and minnow will catch plenty of fish, it’s fun to use artificial baits for walleyes that usually select for bigger fish. A proven lure that’s been around for years is the Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon—a lure I’ve literally caught over 1,000 walleyes on over the years.

Instead of using a full-sized minnow on these spoons, just use the head, which provides just enough scent to trigger fish to strike.

The use of portable shelters for ice-fishing has grown in recent years. There are two styles that are most popular: hub style and tub style.

The hub style models are pop-up versions that function like a tent. They are light, can be packed in a vehicle, and are economically priced.

The tub style versions, meanwhile, have tents that are built around a sled that can be pulled behind a snowmobile or stowed in the back of a truck. These are heavier duty and work great for piling gear into that can be towed all over the lake.

I generally use the tub style for my fishing, but they are significantly more expensive.

Frabill makes several models of both types that I really like. Either one of these shelter styles will work great to keep yourself or your kids warm and comfortable in any type of conditions.

If you’re really feeling generous, throw in a heater, too!

I’ve written about the use of electronic sonar devices a number of times in recent years because they are the single-most important thing that will help you catch more fish.

Flashers remain the best option on the ice because they are durable and easy-to-use. Humminbird makes three models in different price ranges that all work well—the Ice 35, 45, and 55, which is the Cadillac of ice flashers.

They show you fish that are beneath your hole and allow you to jig your lure in a manner that teaches you what triggers fish to strike.

Though plenty of fish have been caught across Sunset Country over the years without the use of flashers, the fact remains that they will help you put more fish on the ice.

Next week, I’ll throw around a few gift ideas for the open-water angler.