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Gary Howey

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Hard Water fishing by gary Howey

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

January 1, 2023

Ice fishing has really changed over the years, when the author ice fished with his daughter, Mieke (Howey) Slaba, a teacher from Wagner. SD.

  The art of hard water fishing has come a long way, since my brother AJ and got into the sport, back then, you had to be one tough hombre to as the equipment we used was prehistoric compared to what we have today.

  In and around Watertown, S.D. it was nothing to have over nine inches of ice, which we had to drill through to even start fishing.

  We started with a stud bar, an iron rod with a sharpened end and for some reason the large hole we   started to decrease in size, where our bottom hole was about as large as our spud bar, and we were worn out before we got a line in the water.

  Then came the manual ice auger, which worked ok, as it got through the ice faster, but you’d better a couple of fishermen along with you to take turns on the auger.

   Now days, things have really improved when it comes to augers, my first ice auger was a Jiffy, hand auger, and then a Jiffy gas auger, and once I used them, I was sold.

  Jiffy, out of Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, has a complete line of ice augers, including, gas, propane and cordless drills augers, rechargeable torque, and with the Torch conversion kit, you can convert your drill to a cordless ice auger. More information on their top-of-the-line augers can be found at

  In those days gone past, everything as far as what you needed to go ice fishing, the clothing was two or three layers of clothing, rods were a broken broom handle with a couple of small nails in it to wrap the line around, rods used now, can be anything from the ultra-lite in numerous different actions and lengths, to find out the depth was an alligator weight, hooked to the hook on the line, with a marker on the line, allowing us to know the depth we were fishing.

  Now days, you’ll can find about any style, length or action of rods, with many fitted with an appropriate reel.

  I’ve been with Berkley, Abu Garcia since I guided and fished tournaments as the company, along with its sister companies have a huge variety of good quality products like the Abu Garcia Veritas ice fishing combo.

   There are numerous fish locators and underwater cameras available to the ice fisherman, making it pretty darn simple to locate the fish.

   I learned how to read a flasher, with the one I take along on the Ice is my Vexilar FLX-28, with this unit you’re able to watch your micro lures descending to the bottom, with the fish appearing as a red line, the closer the fish gets to your lure, the red line will become wider. where you can raise or lower the bait as the fish move up and adjust to different depths enticing the fish to bite.

  The baits we used in years past was a tiny ice fly, with either a minnow head or a wax worm attached to lure or bare hook.

  Nearly every fishing manufacturer has numerous size jigs, with the newest ice jigs now being made of tungsten, heavier than then older jigs, allowing your bait to get back to where the active fish are located.

  As for my choice when hard water fishing, I go with the smaller Northland Puppet Minnow or one of their Rigged Tungsten glow-white bloodworm.

  The only thing that’s hard about ice fishing, is the ice.


  Gary Howey, Hartington, Neb, originally from Watertown S.D. is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide, an award-winning writer, producer, photographer, broadcaster and was inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame” in 2017.

  He developed and was the Producer-Host for 23 years of his award winning gary Howey’s Outdoorsmen

Adventures television series, and the Host of the award-winning Outdoor Adventures radio program.

If you’re looking for more outdoor information, check out www.GaryHowey’ , and, with more information on these Facebook pages, Gary Howey, Gary E Howey, Outdoor Adventure Radio, Team Outdoorsmen Productions.



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