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Ice fishing in tough conditions: Tony Boshold gives some two-ring advice and suggestions

Two-time NAIFC champion Tony Boshold gives advice and specific suggestions on how to approach the tougher conditions for ice anglers.

Tony Boshold, shown here with his rings for winning the North American Ice Fishing Circuit Championships in 2005 and 2013, had strong advice for how to ice fish in tough conditions. Provided
Tony Boshold, shown here with his rings for winning the North American Ice Fishing Circuit Championships in 2005 and 2013, had strong advice for how to ice fish in tough conditions.
Provided

At 5 a.m. Friday, I caught Tony Boshold.

“We are in a pretty tough winter doldrums right now,” he messaged back. “I’m driving to the lake right now.”

That’s why I reached out to Boshold. We are in an extended period where the ice has and will have significant snow cover, making for tougher ice fishing, especially after the weekend storm.

An ice angler sits on a partially snow-covered Axehead Lake on Friday before the storm. Reader provided
An ice angler sits on a partially snow-covered Axehead Lake on Friday before the storm.
Provided by a reader

“DOWNSIZE, downsize, downsize!,” Boshold messaged from the ice. “It doesn’t matter what color you use as long as it’s GLOW or UV.”

It’s worth listening to Boshold. His team won the 2005 and 2913 North American Ice Fishing Championships. He helped the 2010 USA Ice team win a gold medal, first gold in United States history.

While ice fishing, Boshold laid it out plain, “1) Glow jigs and glow tails like the VMC Nymph Jigs and the 5mm Fiskas Wolfram jigs tipped with Little-Atom Nuggies have been irresistible. Especially when reinforced with a smashed waxie or spikes. They will hold on to it more when they finally eat it. You have to CHARGE the glow baits up, during the day also! Glow and downsize everything! 1/6th-ounce VMC Flash Champ and Tumbler Spoons, size 3-5 Rapala Rippin’ Raps (rattles also help them hone in your location) and Jigging Raps.

“2) The fish can’t bite until you get there. That said, I’m a moon phase guy. I check for major events and fish during peak bite windows for that day. There is an app for that! I use Time2Fish Lite (free in your app store). Sometimes, like this last full moon, the freaks come out at night.

“3) As for safety after significant snow fall. . . . stick to known areas you have recently fished. Stay on the traffic lanes and paths that have seen traffic already. Don’t stray on water you don’t know to areas you have no idea about changes in thickness without using a spud bar. Some areas that were recently open water have just finally skimmed over and are not distinguishable from safer areas after the snowfall.

“ALWAYS BE PREPARED! Float suits like my Strikemaster Surface Suit offer peace of mind and are pretty much standard equipment these days. WEAR YOUR ICE PICKS AROUND YOUR NECK EVERY TIME YOU’RE ON ICE! Remember, ice is never considered safe.”

Boshold guides in southeast Wisconsin and northeast Illinois. He is also a much-sought speaker and presenter. He may called or texted at (630) 373-6682.

As we finished, he added an aside on the impact of the pandemic, “The guide business is really busy this year. Any recreational activities are busy with people looking for things to do with all the extra time they have. I only have three weekend dates left in February.”

File photo of Tony Boshold with a bluegill on ice. Provided
File photo of Tony Boshold with a bluegill on ice.
Provided

ILLINOIS HUNTING

Illinois bowhunters harvested a record number of deer for the second straight year, 75,544 in 2020-21 season compared to 67,743 in the 2019-20. That led overall harvest increasing to 162,575 from 153,174 in 2019-20 seasons. More breakdowns on Saturday. Click here for a fuller breakdown of the numbers.

WILD THINGS

A reader found chaga mushrooms and offered them to me for a health-alternative tea. I’m thinking about it. . . . The snow helped with feeder bird sightings. I guess that is a good trade-off.

STRAY CAST

The one musical thing I want to do is be Johnny Winter hollering on Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy;” the one outdoors thing I want is to go face to face with a wild gray wolf.