ST. CLOUD — By mid-March, even hardcore ice anglers are normally praying for open water, able to stow their winter gear and prep the boat for the summer season season. Dave Genz, in the meantime, is hoping for an additional few weeks of secure ice.
Genz, of St. Cloud, is an revolutionary thinker and a gifted angler chargeable for growing most of the instruments we take as a right in the present day: the Fish Lure flip-over shelter; the Genz Field that holds fishing electronics and a miniature 12-volt battery; and even the maggots or Euro-larvae that many anglers use for sunfish, crappies and perch all through the ice season.
His newest innovation, although, is all about open-water fishing. He calls it the “Holy Boat” due to the 2 holes reduce within the backside of the boat to permit anglers to fish instantly beneath the hull. At first sight, it looks as if a novelty, nevertheless it’s additionally an extremely productive fishing platform.
PLANNING THE BOAT
Genz stated the ice-fishing revolution that started within the 1980s was all about adapting the instruments anglers relied on to catch fish through the open-water season to be used on the ice.
“On the time, the identical anglers that moved from spot to identify in a ship throughout summer season appeared content material to sit down in a everlasting fish home all winter lengthy — even after they weren’t catching fish,” Genz stated. “And whereas they looked for fish with electronics in open water, nobody was utilizing that expertise on the ice.”
The reel-less “jiggle sticks” utilized by anglers throughout the Higher Midwest had been changed by longer spinning rods and reels spooled with gentle monofilament line. Giant spoons had been changed by tiny jigs tipped with dwell bait to set off extra bites.
All of this gear was transported on the ice in a small sled that additionally served as a transportable shelter throughout harsh climate circumstances. The sleds had been gentle sufficient to drag by hand however sturdy sufficient to be towed by a snowmobile or ATV.
“With the best instruments, we immediately started catching many extra fish,” Genz stated. “As these displays had been repeatedly refined, many people thought that we had been extra productive and environment friendly on the ice than we had been within the boat. That actually bought the wheels turning.”
When pre-spawn sunfish are holding in deep weeds, for instance, a vertical presentation instantly beneath the boat typically works higher than casting a jig or float rig away from the boat.
“Many anglers have experimented with hanging their ice-fishing transducer over the facet of the boat and utilizing a brief rod to maintain the bait shut,” Genz stated. “Nevertheless it’s solely marginally efficient, particularly when the boat swings in wind or present.”
Genz envisioned a secure vertical-jigging platform that may permit him to make use of winter fishing ways all through the open-water season.
BUILDING THE BOAT
After contemplating quite a lot of designs, Genz settled on an 18-foot G3 Jon boat with a 50-horsepower tiller outboard. He purchased the boat at Frankie’s Marine in Chisago Metropolis, Minn., and had it rigged with a Minn Kota Ulterra trolling motor that mechanically deploys and stows with a push on the distant management. It additionally options Spot-Lock, which makes use of GPS to carry the boat stationary.
“That’s typically enough in calm circumstances, however when the wind blows I take advantage of two anchors — one on the bow and one on the strict — to stop the boat from swinging,” Genz stated.
The 30-pound anchors are deployed with two Minn Kota electrical anchor winches operated from the command middle at the back of the boat. Genz partnered with a welder in Chisago Metropolis to outfit the remainder of the boat.
“He appeared excited in regards to the mission and put loads of thought into the way it may be executed,” Genz stated. “After we mentioned the plan intimately, I left him with my new boat and returned dwelling.
“I known as him a few weeks later to ask how a lot progress he’d made. ‘I haven’t began but,’ he stated, ‘and Frankie needs you to name him.’ Once I known as the dealership, Frankie’s spouse answered and stated, ‘You didn’t suppose we’re going to let him reduce holes within the boat earlier than it’s paid for, did you?’ That was truthful.”
Every of the holes options an aluminum standpipe that rises a foot or so above the deck. Water rises about midway up the tube, simply because it does in an ice gap. When touring on airplane, a plug usual from aluminum and closed-cell foam seals the opening to stop water from capturing into the boat.
“The plugs have been essentially the most tough engineering problem,” Genz stated, “and I’m nonetheless not utterly happy with my present answer. It really works, however I’m at all times looking out for a extra useful execution.”
FISHING IN THE BOAT
Genz makes use of the identical rods, reels, lures and electronics that he makes use of all winter for panfish throughout the ice belt. Heavy however compact tungsten jigs fall shortly by the water column and are simple to see on the Vexilar flashers completely mounted subsequent to every gap.
“Generally I’ll use small, finesse plastic baits — particularly when fish are feeding aggressively,” Genz stated. “More often than not, although, I’ll load the jig up with 4 or 5 energetic maggots.”
Early within the season, Genz targets rising weed beds that maintain pre- and post-spawn sunfish. The fish would possibly maintain wherever within the water column in these areas, however he stated the largest fish normally are nearer to the underside.
“When the fish are actively feeding, it may be difficult to drop your jig by the smaller fish holding up excessive,” he added. “On this state of affairs, we frequently change to a heavier jig that falls sooner to the underside to keep away from smaller fish.”
An aggressive jigging cadence normally works, however generally the fish demand a extra delicate, virtually dead-stick presentation that enables them to fastidiously examine the bait.
“I normally begin quick then let the fish inform me what they need,” he stated.
Genz additionally famous that fish are interested in the shade instantly below the boat, and extra fish normally transfer in after the boat is anchored into place.
It’s a novel fishing expertise. A lot in order that Clam Outside — the ice-fishing deal with producer based mostly in Rogers — has displayed the boat at their sales space on the Minnesota State Honest.
Nevertheless it’s additionally an amazingly efficient fishing platform.
“I don’t suppose many anglers are going to drill holes by the underside of their boats,” Genz concluded, “however I do suppose they might catch extra fish by making use of ice-fishing ways to their summer season fishing.”