Well, the unofficial kickoff to the ice fishing season begins this weekend, with the opening of the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show in Minnesota. This show is the granddaddy of them all, the biggest and longest-running celebration of all thing ice fishing and winter sports. While every year there seems to be another show that happens earlier, this one is the big one.
I have been attending since 2007, and I remember that first event like it was yesterday. Firstly, I had my right arm in a sling due to just recently having had shoulder surgery! Cindy and I flew into the Twin Cities and were greeted with mind numbing cold and winter humidity like I hadnít experienced in a long time. Once we walked into the arena though, I forgot all about the cold and my shoulder and spent the next two days in ice fishing mecca.
Fast forward a couple years, and we decided to advertise our charter fishing service at the show, and reserved a booth in 2011. It was a great way to advertise our services to some of the most avid fishermen (and women) in the world; both open water and ice fishing anglers. We have been coming every year since, and have one of the best locations on the main floor of the show, which has now expanded from the one main hall to three total rooms.
To many, ice fishing is just something folks do to pass the time in winter. But to a growing segment of the angling population, ice fishing has become a huge part of their fishing passion, if not their main pursuit. In comparison to open water fishing, ice fishing can be a very affordable way to catch fish, enjoy comradery and put healthy, organic food on the table.
For me, I enjoy ice fishing for many different reasons, but the main reason is that, other than the cold, the weather doesnít mess up my ability to present bait to a fish in a manner that will catch the fish, if the fish is going to bite. Wind and waves can chase a boat off the water, rain has ruined many a fishing trip and snow can keep a boat parked in the garage. But I have ice fished in 22below zero, I just get in my ice shack and turn the heater up high.
Besides the ability to see, touch and try out all the hottest new products, the ice show gives me a chance to catch up with old friends, and of course make new ones each year. I get to answer questions about fishing in Montana, and invite folks to come visit our area and hopefully, come fishing with us here at Howeís Fishing. I also have been honored to be asked to present seminars over the last two years, allowing me one more opportunity to represent the Flathead Valley.
I especially enjoy watching all the kids as they get to see all the pros and legacies of the sport, guys and gals they see on YouTube, hear on the radio and read about in the magazines. One of the coolest things over the last couple of years is the development of high school fishing teams, including ice fishing teams, and it is a treat to watch these teams enjoy the show while wearing their team uniforms. These young men and women are the future of the sport and I am proud to see the future right in front of me.
The good news for those of you that canít be here this weekend is that a similar, albeit scaled down event will be happening this Saturday at Snappy Sport Senter in Kalispell. This is the annual ice fishing kick off that Chancy and the crew has been putting on for years and includes great deals, lots of new products and seminars by some of the finest anglers in the valley. Seminars begin at 8AM, and our very own Matt McComb will be conducting a beginning ice fishing seminar at 11AM. You wonít want to miss it. Iíll see you on the water!
ó Howe is the owner/outfitter at Howeís Fishing, A Able and Mo Fisch Charters. Call 406-257-5214 or at www.howesfishing.com